On her way to open the bookstore, Tory stumbles on the body of best-selling novelist, Mason Grant, the star attraction at the Canterbury Falls Writer's Conference. Chief of Police, Chess Devon, and Inspector Thomas are called in to solve the case. With jealous colleagues, an ex- wife, her lover, and Grant's fiancée, there is no shortage of suspects. When another body is found, the conference director wonders if they have a serial killer in their midst.
Tintenberry cottage loomed out of the shadows. In the dim light Tory could make out the porch and the dark windows reflecting the half light like dead eyes. She peered at her watch, six-thirty. The partying had apparently been over for several hours. No one would be here this early, unless . . .
From the corner of her eye, she glimpsed something that looked like a person sprawled on the grass a few yards from the porch. She was tempted to keep going. Whoever was sleeping off last night's indulgence deserved a wet, cold awakening, but perhaps the person was ill. Her steps slowed as she got closer. In the dim light, she recognized the tweed jacket. She stopped abruptly. It was Mason Grant, best selling novelist and star of the Canterbury Falls Writers Conference. Personally, she found him arrogant and over bearing. Her first impulse prompted her to leave him where he was to sleep it off, but the dining hall would open for breakfast in half an hour. It wouldn't be appropriate for the students to find one of the faculty passed out on the lawn.
“Mason.” She crouched beside him. “Mason, you have to get up.” The smell of alcohol saturated the chilly morning air. Tory gagged and sat back on her heels. He'd been drinking more than usual this summer. This wasn't the first time he'd passed out, but usually it was inside Tintenberry, or on the porch, not the lawn. Maybe she could help him get onto the porch.
Overcoming her repugnance, she touched his shoulder and shook it gingerly. He flopped onto his back. Wide open sightless eyes stared at her. Tory's heart stopped. She gasped and nearly fell over backward. He didn't look like he was sleeping. The smell of Scotch choked her. It was so strong he might have bathed in it. She touched his cheek with the tips of her fingers. The cold rubbery texture sent a chill racing up her arm. Steeling herself, she reached inside the collar of his shirt and felt his neck for a pulse. No reassuring heartbeat throbbed under her trembling fingers. She yanked her hand back. Bile burned the back of her throat. Mason wasn't drunk. He was dead.