Dirty Tricks (The Kate Lawrence Mysteries, #7) by Judith K. Ivie

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ISBN: 9780990510314
Pages: 234
No. 7 in the Kate Lawrence Mystery Series: Margo’s Auntie May is newly arrived from Atlanta. A mystery writer and the publisher of erotic romances, she becomes the victim of a series of dirty tricks. A rejected writer with a wounded ego lurks in the shadows, while a successful author’s husband blames May for his wife’s questionable career. As the harassment intensifies in the weeks before Halloween, Kate and her partners struggle to identify the prankster. Is this a case of trick-or-treating gone bad, or is something more sinister afoot?


It had been a very freeing moment when Isabelle Marchand learned, really knew, that nobody was paying attention to her. It came to her in a happy moment of realization that no one at all gave a hoot about what she was doing, saying or wearing. They were far too busy worrying about who might be looking at them. She found this to be especially true in a crowd, which meant that unless she made it a point to draw attention to herself in some way, she could go about her business all but unnoticed.  This knowledge had already served her well, and she expected to make even better use of it in the years ahead, since women of a certain age were virtually invisible in a youth obsessed culture.

If Isabelle ever suffered a stroke from sheer frustration, she had no doubt it would happen while she was standing in line at the supermarket. How the checkout staff could bear the endless procession of fumbling, querulous customers without becoming homicidal was beyond her.  Before she endured that experience today, however, she had first to wait her turn at the deli counter, where she customarily purchased the low sodium turkey breast upon which her internist insisted. She consoled herself that it was probably the last time she would have to do so. Her lawyer, with whom she had just finished consulting, had assured her that henceforth, she could afford to have her groceries delivered. It was a comforting thought.

She was delighted to see that the counter was deserted except for one clerk, who wiped down the slicing machine without enthusiasm, so she eschewed taking a numbered service ticket from the machine.

“Someone will be right with you,” the clerk acknowledged her, waving in the general direction of a door in the back wall, which led to the inner sanctum. It figured. One clerk, one customer, but still Isabelle had to wait. Half a minute or so later, another clerk scuttled through the door to resume his counter duties. Before asking her to state her business, he peered up at the screen displaying the number of the next customer due for attention. As he did so, another patron arrived and snatched a ticket from the machine. The woman’s excess poundage was encased in pink spandex, and her already overflowing shopping cart didn’t auger well for an improvement in that situation anytime soon. 

“Number forty-six,” the clerk announced, looking at his two customers with barely concealed contempt.

Isabelle stepped forward. “There was no one else here when I arrived, so I didn’t take a ticket, but I’m next.”

“Sorry. Gotta have a ticket to be served,” he pronounced officiously, clearly delighted to have the upper hand.

Spandex Woman was quick to pounce. “I have a ticket! Number forty-six, right here.” She waved the pink slip with glee to prove her worthiness. Isabelle noticed that the color of the paper matched the godawful stretch pants. She spoke up firmly.

“Nevertheless, Madam, I was here first, as you are well aware, and that should entitle me to first service.”

“No ticket, no service,” the clerk contradicted her. “You can take a number now or come back later.” Even behind thick lenses, his eyes sparkled with venom.

“I can also shop at another store,” Isabelle suggested.

“Okay, then, ‘bye ‘bye!” The clerk grinned full out and turned his attention to Spandex Woman, who unapologetically began asking to sample various mayonnaise-laden potato salads.

Isabelle paused to consider what would happen to the odious clerk after she’d had what would surely be a satisfying conversation with the store manager. Did the misguided troll perhaps have a dog or cat at home that would be abandoned at the pound if his master were suspended? It was, after all, a difficult economy in which to lose one’s job. Isabelle would feel bad about the pet if that happened. Still, the store manager deserved to know how his customers were being treated. 

Resolved, Isabelle turned to retrieve her cart, which remained empty. Her eye fell upon Spandex Woman’s cart, jammed to the rim with fat, salt and sugar, not a vegetable in sight. Unobtrusively, Isabelle transferred her handbag from one cart to the other and pushed Spandex Woman’s briskly away from the deli counter and toward the manager’s office at the front of the store. After a quick stop to rid herself of the cart in a discreet corridor outside the ladies’ restroom, she asked a customer service clerk at the desk to invite the store manager to join her for a moment. He did, and Isabelle outlined her experience to him clearly and concisely. When she left the store, the manager was headed purposefully in the direction of the deli.

  • Published by: Mainly Murder Press

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