Saturday Sampler: Skiing Is Murder by Carolyn Arnold

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In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle is showcasing some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Saturday’s Sampler features an excerpt from Skiing Is Murder, a cozy mystery from Carolyn Arnold.

As one reviewer said: If you are looking to wile away a wintry Sunday afternoon with an entertaining cozy mystery that features a lovable couple and a snowy ski resort in Vail, Colorado, then Skiing is Murder by author Carolyn Arnold is the book for you!

The Story

They’re ready to hit the slopes when things go downhill…

Sean and Sara are supposed to have a relaxing vacation in Vail, but it all goes up in a puff of powder when there’s a suspicious death on the mountain. And the deceased is not just anyone; it’s Adrian Blackwell, a two-time Olympic skiing gold medalist.

Rumor has it Adrian died in a skiing accident, but he was too skilled for Sara to accept that as fact. But she doesn’t want to disappoint Sean by ruining his ski trip, even though she’s convinced Adrian was murdered and she’s itching to find the killer.

Sean has never been able to say no to Sara, but this time he plans to. However, all it takes is a call from their PI firm back in Albany to change his mind. A job’s come in to investigate Adrian’s death, and his agent is the one footing the bill, leaving Sean with more questions than answers.

Yet one major problem remains: their New York State PI licenses hold no legal authority in Colorado. They still can’t help but look into Adrian’s death on the sly, though. This case will definitely involve some underhanded tactics, all while trying to dodge the local police over the course of the investigation.

The Sampler

Carolyn Arnold
Carolyn Arnold

THE SNOW–COVERED MOUNTAINSIDE was glistening in the setting sun outside the window. It was so peaceful that it was hard to believe that a violent storm had passed through three days before and dumped five feet of snow. Luckily for Sean and Sara, all the runs had opened back up today.

They had gotten to Vail the previous evening. It was Monday now, and they were inside the chalet settled onto a couch and warming up next to the fireplace. Sara had her legs curled up beneath her, and Sean had his extended and crossed at the ankles.

He was sitting there thinking about how lovely the day had been. No murder. No mention of murder. Just him and Sara relaxing. Although they had retired their Albany detective badges when he’d inherited billions from Old Man Quinn, an elderly business tycoon, homicides were never far away. One murder after another kept dropping into their laps, starting on their honeymoon.

They hadn’t been looking for cases to solve, but after a year of it happening, they’d decided to make it official: they’d become licensed PIs and opened a firm.

Pay it Forward PI Firm was opened about eight months earlier, and despite some zany cases they’d taken on so far, neither Sean nor Sara regretted the choice to become investigators. But sometimes they needed a little break from things. That was what had brought them to Vail, Colorado. Sean had sold Sara on the trip by saying it could be a pre-anniversary celebration—not to detract from the real date, which would mark two years of marriage the next month.

“You know that wasn’t fair, right?” Sara lifted her glass of spiked hot chocolate and took a sip.

“Yes it was.”

“It was not.” She had a hardened look to her features, a concentration that usually showed when they were close to solving a murder. She flung her legs out from under her and angled her body to toward him. “You can’t say ‘race ya’ while you’re already taking off down the hill.” Her words were full of heat, but her eyes were full of mischief.

“For the record, I never said ‘race ya.’”

“Ah, Sean.” She turned to face the fire and sat back, her eyes drifting to the flames dancing on the hearth.

“What I said was, and I quote, ‘Whoever gets to the bottom last buys the drinks.’”

She leveled him with a glare, but the seriousness dissipated partway through the attempt. She was playing him, and her jig was up.

“I think I’ll take a cognac after dinner tonight,” he said. They were still a couple hours from that.

“Oh, what a lovely idea.” She lowered her mug to a side table, and it wasn’t long before a waitress came along and took it away. Sara declined the offer of a refill.

They had a full day of skiing, but Sean would be more than ready to hit the slopes again tomorrow morning. He appreciated the hum that was now vibrating through his muscles from the exercise. It invigorated him and even made sitting more enjoyable than it would have been if he’d done nothing physical during the day. He sank back against the sofa, letting his head rest on the cushion. He was so comfort—

“He’s dead. I can’t believe it, but he’s—”

“It must have been an accident.”

A nightmare? It has to be…

He must have dozed off. But sadly, when he lifted his head, he knew what he had heard was real. A group of five people had shuffled into the chalet, loaded down with ski equipment—three women and two men—and it was two of the women who had spoken.

“They say they found his body up on an advanced run,” one of the men pitched in.

“I think I heard someone say it was Adrian Blackwell,” the second man said.

“Adrian? He’s an Olympic medalist.” This from the third woman.

Sean’s gaze went from one person to the next as the discussion volleyed among them. He tried to stay calm. Just because someone was found dead in the area didn’t mean that he and Sara needed to get involved.

He reached for Sara’s hand, but he couldn’t find it. He pulled his gaze from the group to look at her. But she wasn’t sitting there anymore. She was making her way over to the group.

No, no, no! He had to stop her before she reached them. They were supposed to be on vacation, not getting involved with any investigations. If a body had been found, let the local authorities handle it.

He shot to his feet and bolted after her. He caught Sara’s arm on a backswing and then moved down to clasp her hand. “Sara.”

She looked from his eyes to his hand. “Did you just hear what they said?”

I wish I hadn’t.

He nodded. “But this has nothing to do with us.” He scanned her face. “We’re here to relax.”

She smiled ever so slightly, the corners of her mouth barely curving. “I’m just curious.” She cupped his cheek, the caress loving, soothing. Pacifying. And then she was off.

He was left standing there in the sea of people that had since gathered around the group spreading the latest gossip, and Sean felt his relaxing vacation slipping away.

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