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Sue Hollowell

Ladyfingers and Lies (PAPERBACK)

Ladyfingers and Lies (PAPERBACK)

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Rival gardeners, long-held secrets, and floral facade…

The annual Parade of Patios is the highlight of the spring season in Belle Harbor, showcasing the residents' green thumbs and creative flair. As the parade reaches the grand home of the esteemed town council president, the atmosphere turns chilling when a blood-curdling scream pierces the air.

In the council president's backyard, amidst a tapestry of flowers, the crowd stumbles upon a lifeless body.

As the danger grows like a stubborn weed, Tilly must unearth the truth before she becomes the next victim ensnared in this deadly flower bed. Will her keen eye for detail and unwavering determination be enough to expose the twisted roots of this mystery? Or will Belle Harbor's charming gardens forever hide the secrets of a killer?


 Paperback 116 pages
 Dimensions 5 x 0.5 x 8 inches (127 x 12.7 x 203 mm)
 ISBN 979-8862377163
 Publication date September 27, 2023
 Publisher Free Heart Productions


“Isn’t this just the most wonderful time of the year?” I exclaimed, my excitement bubbling over like an overflowing cupcake tin. Jack, my dear uncle and owner of Checkered Past Antiques, grinned in agreement while adjusting his straw hat to shield his eyes from the sun’s glare.

The sun shone brilliantly over the bustling town of Belle Harbor as the annual Parade of Patios commenced. Laughter and chatter filled the air, accompanied by the delightful scent of blooming flowers and freshly cut grass. Each backyard showcased a unique display of creativity and design, making it a feast for the eyes and senses.

“Indeed it is, Tilly! I always look forward to seeing what our neighbors have come up with,” he replied, glancing down at the map of participating homes we were following. Linda, Jack’s lovely wife and my baking assistant, chimed in, her eyes twinkling with anticipation.

“Last year’s displays were simply breathtaking! I can hardly wait to see what everyone has in store for us this year.” Her enthusiasm was contagious, and I couldn’t help but grin as we eagerly led the parade through the winding streets of our quaint coastal town.

We rounded the corner, and I caught my breath at the sight of Felix’s house. A charming coastal cottage nestled amongst lush greenery, with a meticulously maintained garden. The centerpiece of his backyard display was a miniature lighthouse, standing tall and proud amidst swaying beach grass. As we drew closer, I noticed that the tiny structure emitted a magical glow. It cast dancing shadows across the driftwood decorations scattered artfully throughout the space.

“Wow, Felix really outdid himself this year,” Unkie mused, scratching his chin in admiration. I nodded vigorously, unable to tear my eyes away from the enchanting scene before us.

“His creativity never ceases to amaze me,” Linda added softly, her gaze lingering on the delicate seashells dotting the flower beds. Just then, Felix emerged from his house, beaming as he spotted our awestruck expressions.

“Ahoy there, neighbors!” he called out, waving cheerfully. “Welcome to the Lighthouse Haven! What do you think?”

“Absolutely stunning, Felix!” I gushed, clapping my hands together in delight. “You’ve truly captured the essence of Belle Harbor.”

“Thank you, Tilly!” Felix replied modestly, his cheeks flushing pink with pride. “I wanted to create something that would remind everyone of our beloved town’s maritime roots.”

“Mission accomplished,” Uncle Jack chuckled, giving Felix a friendly pat on the back. “This is definitely going to be a tough act to follow.”

Felix grinned, his eyes twinkling with mischief. “Well, I have been known to cause quite the splash at these events,” he quipped, eliciting a round of laughter from all of us. “I just hope it’s enough to win this year. I think I was in the running last year until Mary came up with that interactive miniature river.”

“Alright, folks, let’s keep moving!” Uncle Jack announced, clapping his hands together.

I looked at my map. “Why don’t we go to Sylvia’s house next?”

“Oh, yeah,” Linda said. “She’s supposed to be the favorite this year.”

“I told Hazel we would be there soon. I hear she’s got something special planned this year.”

“Of course she does,” I mused, rolling my eyes playfully. “You know how competitive she gets about the Parade of Patios. She’s been trying to outdo herself ever since she took second place last year.”

“True,” Linda chimed in, her voice lilting with amusement. “Let’s hope this year’s display doesn’t disappoint.”

We bade farewell to Felix and continued down the path, anticipation building as we approached Hazel’s house. As the town council president, she had a reputation for being fiercely competitive, and her gardens were always a sight to behold.

“Keep your eyes peeled, everyone,” Unkie instructed, pulling out the map again. “We should be nearing Hazel’s backyard now.”

“Is that...a hedge maze?” I asked incredulously, squinting at the towering green walls that loomed before us.

“Looks like it,” Linda confirmed, shielding her eyes against the sun as she peered over the top. “Seems like Hazel’s really upped her game this year.”

“Come on, then. Let’s see if we can find our way through,” Uncle Jack encouraged, leading the way into the maze.

As we followed Unkie’s lead, weaving through the twists and turns of the labyrinthine hedges, I couldn’t help but feel a sliver of unease creeping up my spine. Something about the quiet rustle of leaves and the whisper of shadows felt eerily ominous.

“Unkie, are you sure we’re going in the right direction?” I questioned hesitantly, glancing back at the winding path behind us.

“Positive,” he replied confidently, though I could see beads of sweat beginning to form on his brow. “We’re almost there. I can feel it.”

“Wait, do you hear that?” Linda asked suddenly, her voice barely above a whisper. “It sounds like...water?”

“Could be a fountain,” I suggested, straining my ears to discern the faint sound.

“Only one way to find out,” Uncle Jack said resolutely, and we pressed on, the tension mounting with each step we took.

As we turned the last corner, our breaths caught in our throats at the sight of Hazel’s backyard masterpiece. The suspense had been worth it, but little did we know what lay beyond this enchanting display.

Just as we were about to step closer and admire Hazel’s garden, a piercing scream shattered the tranquil atmosphere. The crash of glass followed the scream, jarring in the otherwise serene setting.

“Good heavens!” Linda exclaimed, her eyes wide with shock. “What on earth was that?”

“Stay here,” I instructed, my heart pounding in my chest. I rushed towards the source of the disturbance, adrenaline fueling my movements. Unkie and Linda exchanged concerned glances but stayed put, trusting my instincts.

As I rounded a corner, I came upon a horrifying scene. Hazel stood frozen in place, her hands covering her mouth, her eyes filled with terror.

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