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Sue Hollowell

Buttercups and Betrayal (PAPERBACK)

Buttercups and Betrayal (PAPERBACK)

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A missing museum collectible, a scandalous bingo tournament, and a match-making mother...

Chloe’s newest project with the expansion of the hotel leaves her little time for a new love, let alone solving the mysterious death of the newly-hired, snooty museum curator, Bartholomew Higgons. Even so, she ends up smack dab in the middle of the murder and mayhem.

Partnered with her loveable cocker spaniel Max, they find themselves mired in a sticky situation. As Chloe and Max investigate, the clues lead to deeper secrets and complex relationships amongst the suspects. The plot gets thicker when a coveted museum treasure is stolen and the bingo scholarship money disappears.

Can the dynamic duo untangle the truth between disgruntled business partners, spurned romantic partners, and blackmailing bingo players before one of their beloved family members are arrested for murder?


 Paperback  112 pages
 Dimensions  5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
 Publication date  November 5, 2020
 Publisher  Free Heart Productions


Every light blazed in the normally dark Cedarbrook Historical Museum as Mom and I pulled into the parking lot. I maneuvered my car into a parking space as my mother eyed the bright, busy building from the passenger seat.

“They really pulled out all the stops tonight,” she said, but the way she grumbled made it sound more like an insult than a compliment.

“Well, it’s a big deal,” I said, trying to keep the mood chipper. Mom had been critical of the museum’s handling of the town history for a long time. “It’s been a long time since we’ve added a new piece to our small-town collection.”

I parked and helped her out of the car, and together, we walked to the front door. The two-story brick building was a historic landmark in the community, and had really been revitalized these last few years, especially recently with the appointment of a new curator. Tonight, the doors were propped open, and people milled about in the lobby, inspecting the displays and the buffet of hors d’oeuvres.

But Mom would not be sidetracked. She steered me through the double doors at the other end of the lobby and into the auditorium. Empty chairs lined the aisles. At the far end, a heavy, velvet curtain hid the new artifact from view. Much to Mom’s dismay, it was guarded by Angela.

Angela wore a period costume, displaying a full-length, long-sleeved dress covered by a pinafore apron. Above her pioneer-woman boots I saw the ruffles of bloomers. And to top it off, she wore a prairie bonnet over her bright red hair.

“Hi Chloe, Mabel.” She greeted us with hugs. Angela was married to my nephew at one point, and she stayed close to my sister through the years. Now, she was a supervisor here at the museum. It was the perfect position for her. She could recite the town history by heart and had endless stories about each piece owned by the museum.

“You won’t let me get a peek, will you?” Mom asked, trying to lean around Angela. She was somewhat of a collector herself, hoarding several items in the hotel office that she refused to donate to the museum in spite of many valiant attempts by the staff through the years.

Angela laughed good-naturedly. “Unfortunately not, but here, these front-row seats are available. Best seats in the house.”

We settled into the seats she offered.

“I’m going to go try to find Mr. Higgons so we can get started soon,” Angela said. As she walked back up the aisle to hunt for the curator, her skirts swished around her ankles.

The seat beside me was quickly filled by a chubby woman with short, black hair carrying an over-sized, leopard-print purse. The woman leaned around me and greeted my mother.

“Mabel, good to see you here.”

My mom gave her a cursory glance. “Donna.” Then, to me, she said, “Chloe, this is Donna. She’s on the board of the museum.”

I shook Donna’s hand. When she withdrew, she dug into her purse, extracting a butterscotch candy, which she offered to us. Mom declined, but I accepted her gift with thanks, if only not to be rude.

Donna looked around at the crowd. “Our little museum is really making a name for itself, don’t you think? Bart Higgons has been just an invaluable addition to the team.”

I glanced over my shoulder. “I think Angela went looking for him. We didn’t see him when we came in.”

Donna dismissed the comment with a wave of her hand. "He'll be here. It's a big day for him, after all."

But when I saw Angela hurrying down the aisle beside a severe-looking woman in a tailored pantsuit, I had my doubts. The woman climbed the stairs to the stage and took what was supposed to be Bart’s place behind the podium. The crowd hushed as she began to speak, the microphone crackling a bit at first.

“Welcome, Cedarbrook. I’m Judy Livingston. Many of you may know me as the mayor of our little town.”

As Judy paused while people clapped, Mom leaned around me to Donna. “What were you saying about Bart?”

Donna waved her away again.

The mayor continued, "I'm pleased to welcome you tonight to our growing little gem of a museum, putting us on the map of the national tour of museums. This is due, in no small part, to the stellar curator I hired to develop this place into an award-winning destination. At the moment, we are unable to locate Bart Higgons, so we'll begin the program."

Judy pulled a piece of paper from a folder and began reading. She described the new piece in the museum as the oldest-known functioning water canteen in existence from the pioneers exploring the west. She finished detailing the piece, handed her paper and folder to her assistant, and grabbed the cord to the curtain. She tugged on the heavy drape to slowly reveal the display in a dramatic fashion.

With a couple of tugs, the display was in full view.

And so was Bart Higgons’s body on the floor in front of the bench.

Spotlights blazed over the scene. Gasps filled the room. Someone rushed forward to check Bart’s pulse before looking up at Judy. "He's dead," he announced.

Beside me, Mom gasped and grabbed my hands, squeezing with her bony fingers. At the base of the stage, Angela clapped her hands over her mouth.

“Maybe we should go,” I whispered to my mom.

“Not on your life,” she bit back.

Judy rushed in. "The canteen's missing," she yelled. Then, seeming to realize her callous response, she tried to recover. "Poor Bart. And he was doing so well here. Who could do such a thing?"

Angela seemed to shake off her surprise and started taking charge. She gave two sharp claps of her hands to get the crowd’s attention, and then started herding all the rubberneckers up the aisle and back to the lobby where they could gossip to their hearts’ content until the police arrived. There would probably even be new arrivals once the news spread. The joys of small-town living.

I stood and helped Mom to her feet. Donna had already vacated the seat beside me and gathered with the small crowd around Bart’s body.

My mom was handling things in her normal fashion, grumbling as she gathered her purse. “I came out for a nice evening,” she said, “and now this.” She gazed with disgust at the body on the stage.

For once, I agreed with her.

This was definitely not the night we had planned.

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