Mixing Up Murder
Dani Mackenzie is accompanying her best friend and business partner, Lily LeMay, to her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s funeral. Except Ray opens his eyes and winks at Lily, who promptly faints, and Dani, who screams. Ray claims he faked his funeral as a last-ditch effort to stop their impending divorce.
So when he turns up dead in the demolished kitchen of their diner, the Little Dog Café, Lily is sure he’s faking again. Except he’s not.
His terrier, Pip, is desperately trying to awaken her master, so Dani takes her in while the murder Investigation proceeds. There’s no shortage of suspects, including Spencer Sinclair, the father of Dani’s one-time love, Luke, who’s back in town after separating from his wife. Spencer’s blueberry farm is financially imperiled, which makes him a suspect, as Ray was trying to sell the farm to a developer at a foreclosure price.
Serving Up Suspects
Heiress Sue Ellen Baer is throwing an quilt auction party for the library at her palatial home, designed and sewn by her recently separated friend and assistant Judith Manning. She also hired Lily and Dani of the Little Dog Diner to provide desserts for the event, and the girls are delivering them when they find the quilt crumpled on the floor of the great room and Judith rolled in a carpet nearby. The videographer, Rudy Genova, was seen at the house at the estimated time of Judith’s death, but swears he had nothing to do with it.
Pip and Dani are in the job with the help of Dani’s grandmother Rose and her longtime friend — and Sue Ellen’s nemesis — Alice Cross. Luke is back in town as a widower— his estranged wife passed away unexpectedly — and helps with the investigation.
Dishing Up Deceit
Sue Ellen has gotten engaged to wealthy widower Wilson Lowe, who she met on an internet dating site a few months ago. She’s asked Lily and Dani to cater the reception. Wilson seems like a nice enough guy, but Sue Ellen is showing signs of seriously cold feet, so Dani and Maggie start looking into Wilson’s background.
Rose and Dani are also startled by the intrusion of one Ivy Mackenzie, a Scottish woman who claims to be the niece of a long-lost cousin twice removed on Rose’s grandfather’s side. Shortly after her less-than-welcome arrival, she takes a walk in the beach and is soon found with a knife in her back — a knife from Sea Breeze, Rose and Dani’s home.
It all seems too coincidental, so Dani and Maggie start a dual investigation. They discover plenty about Ivy, who’s a long-standing enemy of Rose, but little about Wilson. However, Pip has never liked the groom-to-be — the feeling is mutual — so Dani knows something is off-kilter, especially when Wilson pushes to have the wedding moved up several days to an evening dinner rather than a Saturday afternoon ceremony at the lighthouse. Dani and Maggie do their best to deter him, but in the end Pip saves the day with a castoff from the ocean.
And Luke wants to ask Dani a question.
The only problem with the first three books is that Dani’s past with Luke is never adequately explained. This may be resolved in future books, but it’s information that should have been explained in the first book.