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Judith A. Barrett

Donut Lady Cozy Mystery Complete e-Bundle

Donut Lady Cozy Mystery Complete e-Bundle

Regular price $17.99 USD
Regular price $35.99 USD Sale price $17.99 USD
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Dog, Cat, and Donuts

EXCERPT

My old friend and real estate agent, Shirley, pushed past me and grumbled as she opened the donut shop door. “What’s wrong with you? Change your mind? Come on in.” 

A wizened man who was at least three inches shorter than me scurried out of a back room.  His sparse gray hair stood out in all directions like it had been static-charged in an
electricity experiment. “Name’s Otto Rothenberger. People call me Donut Man.”

He brushed his gnarled hands on his apron, and we shook
hands. A black and tan German shepherd ambled to my side. The dog had amber eyes, a black face with a little gray around his muzzle, gray around his neck, and a saddle of black across his back. His tail, legs, and chest were light and dark shades of tan. I held out my hand for a sniff and was rewarded with a lick. I saw a gray tail flick and disappear around the counter.

Mr. Rothenberger grinned. “This here’s Colonel, and there
goes my cat, Mia. I think they like you.”

“My kids signed me up for a nursing home,” he said as I peeked into the stockroom. “They call it something fancier, but I can’t take my animals. My dog and cat need to stay with the shop.”

“I love the charm of your shop, and Colonel and Mia are part
of the charm, aren’t they?”

Shirley sniffed. I glowered at her. You liked animals when we were kids.

I took the old man’s arm, and we walked to the counter. “We
can work something out,” I said.

Shirley slammed the door when she left.

“Yep, dog and cat along with all my recipes.” He grinned.

Sweet Deal Sealed, Chapter One: Look Inside

“The voices say we need to move.”
Shorty picked up her tray, and I followed her. Shorty was one of my few friends in the Ohio prison where I’d spent the past eleven years, eleven months, three weeks, and one day of my life. She was a dozen years younger than me, but we were
staunch friends. We dropped off our breakfast trays and strolled toward the exit.

A woman two rows from us shouted and flung her tray at the inmate across the table from her. The edge of the tray caught the second woman across the bridge of her nose. Blood gushed down her shirt, and she collapsed to the floor. Someone slashed the first woman from her cheek to her ear, and a skirmish erupted at the farthest table from the exit. Shorty and I scooted out of the cafeteria. According to prison lore, whenever there’s a fight, there’s a murder.

“It’ll be a rough ‘un. Catch you later.” Shorty scurried to
the left, and I headed right. When I pushed open the prison library door, I paused and scanned the room. The welcoming fragrance of apples and cinnamon belied the cafeteria melee and stark surroundings beyond the library.

“Morning, Teach.” The tall librarian had twisted her gray-streaked brown hair into a bun on top of her head, but unruly wisps escaped. She worked
out in the gym every evening and was muscular from lifting weights and lean from running. “Nobody here except for me. It’s either a good sign or a bad
sign.”

The labels on my clothing read O’Brien, Karen with my inmate number, but in my current world where everyone had a prison name, Teach worked for me.

Charlotte set a carton on the counter and brushed hair away
from her face. “Here are the books you asked me to order, Karen. Are you sure about this? These are children’s comic books, not adult paperbacks. I’m not sure I could have gotten these books approved if the captain had been in his office when I ordered them. Aren’t you worried somebody will take offense and get the idea you don’t think they’re smart enough to read? Easy way to get a knife planted in your kidney.”

I shrugged. “Isn’t that a possibility every day? I
discovered in my years of teaching children that a graphic novel was less
intimidating for a reluctant reader with a short attention span than a book with pages full of words. Research shows adult learners are just as receptive because of the depth of the storyline and characters in graphic novels. We’ll see, won’t we?”

“I’m sure you’re right. I admit I had my doubts about the advisability of teaching inmates to read when I first came here, but you’ve
turned me into a believer. The desire to learn and the level of confidence that literacy has brought to this facility is amazing.”

I reached into the opened box and stacked the books on the
book cart. “I’ve cleared a shelf for the graphic novels and plan to showcase books on a table for curious readers.”

As I loaded the books onto their new shelf, Shorty sauntered into the library. “Looks abandoned.”

“You’re here early, Shorty.” Charlotte’s peevish tone startled me. “You’re not scheduled for library duty until this afternoon. You know my rules. Come back—”

“I wanted to get a peek at those newfangled books Teach
ordered. She around?”

“Back shelf with the books,” I called out.

“Shoulda known.” Shorty chuckled as she headed my way. Shorty told me years ago that prison makes everybody crazy, but she was crazy before she came to prison. “The rest of them is amateurs,” she cackled. Books were the
basis of our friendship, at least in the beginning. Shorty was a voracious reader and an avid supporter of my efforts to teach women to read.

Shorty pulled an envelope out of the top of her shirt, set it
on the cart, and handed me books as I put them in order. We wore the same gray uniforms, but because she was under four-foot ten inches tall, she rolled up her pants legs three times. I was a few inches taller and needed to turn up my
pants legs only twice. Shorty didn’t shower often, and her rank odor burned my eyes.

“You’re extra ripe today, Shorty. You about due for a
shower?”

“Somebody might try to sneak up on me. Like my old classmate, Ivy Gold. Her given name is Idella Violetta, but she is Poison Ivy. The voices say that’s how I’m going to die. Crazy, right?”

“Maybe to the amateurs.” I smiled.

Shorty snorted. “You remember everything, don’t you, Teach? That’s a talent. I see patterns. Patterns of death. Strange talent, but there I am.”

Donut Lady’s Specialties: pink-sprinkled donuts and solving murders.

Karen O’Brien moves to her hometown in south Georgia and buys a charming, old-fashioned donut shop, complete with the owner's dog, cat, and secret recipes, but the shadows and terrifying nightmares from her twelve years in prison disrupt her new life; or are they trying to help?  

Donut Lady’s sprinkled donuts and coffee attract her regulars, and her talent for uncovering clues and solving murders attracts the attention of killers who intend for her to die.

SIX cozy culinary mysteries sprinkled with a smidgen of paranormal.

Books included in the Bundle:

  • Sweet Deal Sealed
  • Sweet Deal Concealed
  • Sweet Deal Revealed
  • Sweet Deal Appealed
  • Sweet Secret Deal
  • Sweet and Sour Deal
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