Read Skating on thin ice Online

Authors: Jessica Fletcher

Skating on thin ice

Advertising Download Read Online

Table of ContentsTitle PageCopyright PageDedicationAcknowledgements Chapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter NineChapter TenChapter ElevenChapter TwelveChapter ThirteenChapter FourteenChapter FifteenChapter SixteenChapter SeventeenChapter EighteenChapter NineteenChapter TwentyChapter Twenty-oneChapter Twenty-twoChapter Twenty-threeChapter Twenty-fourChapter Twenty-fiveOTHER BOOKS IN THEMurder, She WroteSERIESManhattans & MurderRum & RazorsBrandy & BulletsMartinis & MayhemA Deadly JudgmentA Palette for MurderThe Highland Fling MurdersMurder on the QE2Murder in MoscowA Little Yuletide MurderMurder at the Powderhorn RanchKnock ’Em DeadGin & DaggersTrick or TreacheryBlood on the VineMurder in a Minor KeyProvence—To Die ForYou Bet Your LifeMajoring in MurderDestination MurderDying to RetireA Vote for MurderThe Maine MutinyMargaritas & MurderA Question of MurderCoffee, Tea, or Murder?Three Strikes and You’re DeadPanning for MurderMurder on ParadeA Slaying in SavannahMadison Avenue ShootA Fatal FeastNashville NoirThe Queen’s JewelsOBSIDIANPublished by New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi - 110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England First published by Obsidian, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. First Printing, April 2011 Copyright © 2011 Universal City Studios Productions LLLP.Murder, She Wroteis a trademark and copyright of Universal Studios.All rights reserved. OBSIDIAN and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA: Set in Minion Bain, Donald, 1935–Skating on thin ice: a murder, she wrote mystery: a novel/by Jessica Fletcher and Donald Bain. p. cm.“Based on the Universal Television series created by Peter S. Fischer, Richard Levinson & William Link.”eISBN : 978-1-101-53326-01. Fletcher, Jessica (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Women dectectives—Fiction. 3. Women novelists—Fiction. I. Murder, she wrote (Television program) II. Title.PS3552.A376S57 2011813’.54—dc22 2010052156  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book. PUBLISHER’S NOTEThis is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

To Dick Button, with thanks for his many hours of figure skating commentary, and for not only teaching us the technicalities of skating but also sharing his love of the sport.ACKNOWLEDGMENTSThe wonderful folks at the Danbury Ice Arena run a first-class operation and made our research glide smoothly. In particular we’d like to thank assistant manager Patrick McGannon, Jr., for his insights into rink operation; skating director Karla Jones, for her information on staffing and figure skating schools; and especially instructor Alan Helms for his knowledge of skating and his patience with and encouragement of the only student over seventeen in his “adult” class. We’re also grateful to the lovely lady at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury, who answered our questions but hung up before we could get her name.Thanks, too, to Pete Nevin of Far West Ranch and Cattle Sales and Management for his real estate advice and for not hanging up when the cell phone reception became spotty.All the people we consulted were generous with their time and expertise. Any errors are solely ours.Chapter One“What on earth are you doing?”I was on my knees with my head buried in the attic closet when I heard Seth Hazlitt’s voice behind me. I turned sharply, bumping into a carefully piled column of books. “Hold on,” I called, putting up an arm to keep the column from toppling—again—and further fraying my already ragged nerves. Moments earlier I’d accidentally knocked an old mop to the floor, and the snap it made when it hit the wood had given me a real start. That was when the top rows of the leaning tower of literature had started cascading down, bopping me on the head one volume at a time like something out of a Saturday-morning cartoon show.“I know they’re here,” I said.“What’s there?”I scrunched down, ignoring the indelicate picture I must be presenting, and poked one hand deep into the recesses of the dark closet, pushing aside my old snowshoes and trying to grab hold of the purple canvas bag behind them. “I knew it!” I said, looping a finger into the handle and dragging it with me as I carefully backed out, hoping the books would stay put and my head would be spared another landslide.I sat up, clapped the grime off my hands, and smoothed down the back of my hair, which stood on end thanks to the static electricity created when I brushed against the hems of sweaters hanging above. “See?” I said.“What I see is a slightly mussed mystery writer with a smudge on her nose. May I ask what occasioned this archaeological dig into the bowels of the attic?” Seth asked, extending a hand to help me to my feet.I took his offer and, once upright, dusted off the knees of my blue jeans. “I really must bring up the vacuum,” I said. “It’s been far too long.” I leaned the mop in its place, picked up my purple prize, and headed for the stairs. “How did you know where to find me?”“The back door was unlocked. I called out your name, but you didn’t answer.”“I didn’t hear you.”“But I heard you. At least I heard something upstairs falling over—thump, thump, thump—followed by some muffled cursing.”“I wasn’t cursing. Those were expressions of frustration,” I said, closing the door to the attic steps.“I figured you were in some kind of difficulty, so I came to the rescue.”“No rescue needed, but thank you for the intent,” I said. “I’ve been meaning to box up those books and take them over to the library for its book sale. What just happened was a physical reminder that I’ve neglected them for too long. But,” I added, “I found what I was looking for.”We made our way to the ground floor and through the living room to the kitchen. I rested the purple canvas carrier on a chair and took two mugs from the cupboard.“And just how long are you going to keep me in suspense?” Seth said.“Coffee or tea?”“Coffee,” he replied, pulling out a chair and easing into it. “Now, what is that?” He pointed to the object of my search.“My ice skates.”“Your ice skates! I assume that you intend to donate them to some deserving teenager.”“Actually, I was planning to see if they still fit.”“You’ve done some foolish things in your life, Jessica Fletcher, but now I’ve heard it all. You can’t possibly mean to start ice-skating at your age.”“I’ll ignore the last part of that comment. And I’ll thank you to know I was second runner-up to the queen of the winter carnival in seventh grade. My talent was figure skating.”“It was, eh?”“Yes,” I said, pouring the coffee, and then taking milk from the refrigerator. “I was pretty good at stroking, had mastered the left crossover—the right was still a bit wobbly—but I could do a three-turn and was working on my Mohawk.”“Isn’t that a hairstyle?”“No. A type of turn.” I took the top off the cookie jar. “Snickerdoodle?” I asked.“Just one. I’m trying to take off a pound or two.”I fished out two cookies, one for him and one for me, and set the plate in front of him. My good friend and Cabot Cove’s favorite physician had a weakness for cookies—actually, for good food of any kind. He cautioned his patients about overeating but wasn’t very good at following his own recommendations, although he made an effort every now and then. Apparently this was one of those times.Seth picked up the cookie and took a small bite, savoring the cinnamon and butter flavor, and changed the subject. “I suppose having the old ice arena refurbished and reopened has prompted this bit of folly on your part.”“Having a nice place to skate is appealing, Seth. Half the town is talking about it, and I’m no exception.”He grunted before saying, “You do know, don’t you, that Coddington only decided to fix up the place in order to sell it?”“Did Eve Simpson tell you that?” I asked, referring to one of Cabot Cove’s leading real estate brokers.“Ayuh. My point is, Jessica, that all the excitement about the arena probably won’t last long. Whoever buys it from Coddington will probably turn it into a factory, or another of those mini-malls. Lord knows we don’t need more of those.” The Cabot Cove Ice Arena had once been a center of social activity for the town. But it fell on hard times. Skaters sought more modern facilities, such as the rink installed in a mall down the coast that had the added benefit of being surrounded by stores. Without celebrity skaters to bring attention to the sport, our ice arena seemed to fade in the public imagination. Paid hours on the ice, either for pure recreation or for classes, dwindled to the point where the owner, Eldridge Coddington, had closed it down, and the assumption was that he’d find a buyer for the building. But Coddington surprised everyone, including me, when he decided to invest money to renovate the skating center using a hefty portion of a considerable inheritance from his uncle, who’d made his fortune in the halcyon days of the lumber industry. Coddington’s plans were impressive. In addition to modernizing, he added a second rink to accommodate the growing popularity of hockey and was angling to bring in a semipro team. He had the name all picked out—the Cabot Cove Lobsters, according to Evelyn Phillips, the editor of theCabot Cove Gazette. On top of that, he let it be known that he was going to open a world-class figure skating school and was casting about for a star coach to bring attention to the program. He found one in Brian Devlin, a former gold medalist, who agreed not only to head up the school, but also to bring in elite athletes to burnish its reputation. You can imagine the excitement that announcement created; Cabot Cove was all abuzz.But that was almost a year ago. Devlin’s arrival unfortunately coincided with the start of the recent recession, prompting Coddington to scale back some of his more ambitious plans for the renovation. But that didn’t impact the general skating sessions that took place twice a day at the rink, or the revitalized hockey program. The vast space above the new hockey rink was colorfully decorated with large banners displaying every school with a hockey team in Maine, a blatant bid to draw playoff games to the arena, plus other flags representing the semipro teams Coddington hoped would play there. Lilting music poured from the new public address system, the concession stand was open and doing a brisk business, and there always seemed to be enough staff on hand to handle the skaters, who ranged in age from toddlers to senior citizens and covered the gamut from rank beginners to veteran skaters who didn’t want to let go of what for many was a lifelong passion.I’d stopped by the rink on a few occasions, not to skate but to watch. Each time I went, I thought of my skates in their purple bag hidden deep in the recesses of my attic closet, and I knew that the lure of being on the ice would eventually trump what my dear friend Seth Hazlitt would undoubtedly term common sense. Of course, that’s exactly what happened, much to his chagrin.My most recent visit to the arena was with Jim Shevlin, Cabot Cove’s popular mayor.“I suppose you’ve heard the rumors,” he said to me as we watched the skaters glide by.“No,” I said. “What rumors?”“The way I hear it, Coach Devlin has been venting his anger about some of the promised renovations not being completed, or even started. He claims that the pairs couple he’s training isn’t happy with the facility. At least that’s what he told Susan when she met him at a luncheon.” Susan was Jim’s wife and the town’s leading travel agent. “Devlin told her that the gym has never been completed, only has one weight-lifting bench and a few donated barbells. He complained that the ballet bar hasn’t been installed, and she said he was particularly irked by the lack of some contraption, a kind of harness rig to help figure skaters learn to jump. I’m really not sure of all the particulars, Jessica, but Susan says Devlin was really hot under the collar. And I’ve heard that he and Coddington have had some heated shouting matches lately.”“I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, meaning it. Having a potential world-class pairs team training in my hometown was cause for celebration, and I hoped that nothing would erupt to taint it. The situation that Jim Shevlin had mentioned wasn’t the only controversy surrounding the rink, and this one wasn’t dependent upon the town’s keenly honed rumor mill for verification.Luc Beliveau, the hockey coach and head of the youth hockey program at the arena, had made a series of statements to Evelyn Phillips at theGazettein which he dismissed the importance of having figure skaters training at the facility: “Let’s face it,” he’d told her—and she dutifully reported—“a hockey team will draw audiences to our town and be a huge boost to the local economy. That’s something a few figure skaters who haven’t even competed together can’t do.”Devlin was reportedly miffed at Beliveau’s comments and fought back by organizing a figure skating exhibition scheduled to take place following the upcoming youth hockey league game against Bangor. It all appeared to be a good example of healthy competition between the town’s hockey lovers and figure skating fans, but I wondered whether it might blow up into something more divisive.Evelyn and theGazettetook full advantage of the spat between Devlin and Beliveau. Circulation was up each week. Not only was there the possibility of a semipro hockey team to report on, but Devlin’s past glories on the ice, and the young skaters he was training at his new headquarters, provided material for a wealth of stories.But Evelyn certainly didn’t have an exclusive. Other papers in the state ran articles on what was happening in Cabot Cove now that it might get a hockey team and already boasted a successful former figure skater and coach who was preparing a new pairs team for big-time competition.Sports Illustratedand theBoston Globesent sports reporters to write about these big happenings in formerly sleepy Cabot Cove, and a Russian television crew had arrived to film a feature story on the pairs team—the unique pairing of a mixed-race American woman and a Russian male skater who’d abandoned his former partner in Moscow to skate for Team USA. Seth watched me suspiciously as I removed my skates from the bag and examined them. “They’re old,” I commented.“Exactly my point.”I changed the subject. “Mara said most folks in town would prefer that Coddington not sell,” I said, passing along the gossip I’d heard at Mara’s dockside luncheonette, a source of Cabot Cove news that rivaled theGazette.“Why’s that?” he asked. “He’s never been a popular sort. He’s moody and mistrustful and squeezes the last drop out of a dime if he spends it at all. I imagine that’s why he hasn’t made an appointment for his physical in years. Doesn’t want to pay for it.”“I suspect it’s a case of the devil you know being better than the devil you don’t know,” I replied. “They don’t like the idea of someone coming from out of town to take over one of our few winter recreational opportunities. And that’s assuming that whoever buys it would keep it an ice arena.”“ ‘Few winter recreational opportunities?’ What’s wrong with ice fishing, and sledding, and cross country skiing, or just taking a walk? There’s plenty to do when there’s snow on the ground.”“I should have saidorganizedrecreational opportunities, something our youngsters and teens can do indoors when it’s cold outside.”“Seems to me young people’s time is too organized as it is. They all need someone to tell them what to do. When I was a boy, we left home in the morning and didn’t get home until suppertime. There were no cell phones, and our mothers never worried where we were. If we weren’t in school, we were playing with our friends. Simple as that.”“Well, evidently it isn’t that simple anymore,” I said, hoping to head Seth off before he launched into one of his tirades on how spoiled today’s young people were. While I didn’t always disagree, his rants raised his blood pressure and upset his stomach.“Anyway,” I said, “the last time I spoke with Eve, she told me that Eldridge Coddington had stopped fixing up the arena, at least for now, and Mayor Shevlin heard it, too. Eve thinks he’s changed his mind about selling.”“I bet the coaches were none too happy to hear that,” Seth said.“To hear what? That he changed his mind about selling?”“No! That he’s stopped fixing up the place.”“Both Jim Shevlin and Eve said that Devlin was furious. He’s been counting on the renovations to draw more top-ranked students into his program.”Seth pointed to the second Snickerdoodle.I broke it in half and put the rest back on the plate. “I’m wondering what all this is going to mean to the girl from California and this Russian partner of hers who came here to train with Devlin.”“Well, all they need is a pair of skates and ice, and Devlin’s got plenty of that.”“He must have promised a lot more than ice to convince her father to move them across the country,” I said. “Devlin has a lot to live up to for that pair. They’re both supposed to be good, but they haven’t skated together for very long.”“If Devlin’s as all-fired wonderful as everyone claims, that pair should be on their way to the Olympics in no time.”I shook my head. “Pairs skating is more complicated than that, Seth. It’ll take time for them to adjust to each other’s styles. They need to see how they measure up in skills, and work together to match their steps so their movements are in unison.”“How do you know so much about pairs skating?”“Television, of course,” I said. “I love watching the competitions on TV. It’s more than a sport; it’s also an art. Everything I know I learned from Dick Button. And from Peter Carruthers. He and his sister Kitty were Olympic silver medalists.”“You going to finish that cookie?”I shot Seth a look. “Go ahead,” I said, taking my coffee cup to the sink. “It’s your diet.”“I have a theory about that.”“About what?”“Diets. If you starve yourself, you lose a little weight at first, but then your body adjusts to the new regimen and stops burning calories as effectively as it did in order to conserve energy. You stop losing weight. But if you give your body a jolt by eating something sweet, like this cookie, it says, ‘Oh, it’s all right to burn those calories again,’ and you continue to lose weight.”“Did they teach you that in medical school?”“You don’t learn everything in medical school. You hone your knowledge with years of experience and practice.”“Exactly why pairs skaters need to skate together for years before they’re ready for competition.”“We’re back to them again, are we?” Seth rinsed his mug in the sink. “I had a hunch you’d feel you’d have to go down there to look around once you heard the rumors the rink was having a run of bad luck.”“Running out of money to fix up the rink may be bad luck,” I said, “but a strange man hanging around the girls’ locker room is not.”Some of the casual female skaters had complained to staff that a young man had been lurking near the entrance to the ladies’ room. No such person was seen when the staff and a security guard went to investigate, and the incidents, two of them, were quickly forgotten.“It was probably just some hormonal adolescent with a crush,” Seth opined. “You know how these things get blown out of proportion.”“Perhaps. But what about the person who scattered screws on the ice? That is something else entirely. There are a lot of children who skate there. Wasn’t the young woman from San Francisco injured?”“Her fall was not the result of a screw on the ice,” Seth said. “Her father claimed that someone purposely pushed up the rubber mat in a place where she would trip on it. But if you ask me, that’s just the overreaction of an overindulgent parent protecting his coddled youngster. I suggested as much.”“Seth, you didn’t.”“ ’Fraid I did.”“I’m sure that went over well.”“He already thinks I’m a dinosaur. Said so, in so many words. Referred to Cabot Cove as a ‘hick town.’ ”“That must have been quite an office visit.”“I got my licks in. Bottom line is, apart from a couple stitches, the girl wasn’t badly hurt. Just to be sure, I recommended she take it easy for a day or two, but I’m told she was back on the ice that afternoon. So much for following my good medical advice.”“Youngsters are resilient, but I’m not sure I like how these athletes play with pain,” I said. “It can’t be healthy.”“You’re changing the subject, Jessica. We were talking about your skating, not Christine Allen’s.”“Well, I’m going to do it. I want to see if I can still skate.”“You may say that you want to take up ice-skating again, but I know better.”“You do?”“You want an excuse to spend more time at the rink and poke your perpetually curious nose into what’s happening down there.”“Well, maybe a little of both. All the news articles about the arena have inspired me. I want to see the pairs skaters train.”“You don’t need your ice skates to snoop around, Jessica. Besides, don’t you have a book to write?”“Seth, aren’t you always telling your patients to get lots of exercise?”“Of course, but exercise appropriate to their age and condition.”“Well, I’m not going to argue with you about my age, but I’m in pretty good shape. I still jog when it’s not too cold, and I certainly get in plenty of walking and bike riding.”
Other books
beartrapped by jaide fox
whisper by kathleen lash
the taming of jessica by coldwell, elizabeth
ever fallen in love by wendi zwaduk
disturbing the dead by sandra parshall
maizon at blue hill by jacqueline woodson
once upon a proposal by allison leigh
claiming ana by brynna curry
american lady : the life of susan mary alsop (9781101601167) by de margerie, caroline; fitzgerald, frances (int)