Knowing Penelope

By Donna Carrick

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5 tales of deadly intent: Volume II of the Toboggan Mystery Series. These disturbing stories will touch the reader’s sense of reality and reveal the dark forces that drive ignoble deeds.

A Happy Customer: Smart, sexy and ready to rumble, petite PI Penelope Canon makes her fictional debut in in this ‘confidence’ case. Can Penelope follow the money to swindler Jeff Winger and recover her client’s life savings? If there’s one thing Penelope really likes, it’s a happy customer.

Axe Husband: People often asked Kimberly why she’d left Ray. He was a good husband and father who never raised his voice. But when a camping trip in Northern Ontario sparks unexpected tension, her lack of options becomes frighteningly clear.

Low Roller: What do a brash young realist and an elderly artist have in common? When wealthy widow Mattie Oaks hires Penelope Canon to find her drug addicted stepson, the pint-sized PI cannot refuse. As she learns, though, the line between ‘helping’ and ‘enabling’ is a thin one.

Prepared: Do you believe in angels? When Helen dreams she is visited by a messenger from God, she hopes her suffering may soon be over. But is Helen really listening to what the angel is trying to say? There are some things, after all, for which we cannot be prepared.

Appearances: Val and Carmen don’t know what to make of Janie. Fresh from her husband’s funeral, the renowned author seems untouched by grief. Even her step-children find the young widow to be, well, not really cold, but odd. In life, though, as in fiction, things are not always as they seem, and judgement can be a false mistress indeed.

 

Excerpt

Low Roller

It isn’t just that the holidays bring out the worst in people.

Sure, some of us blame the stress and bustle of the season for causing family arguments, a trail of mini crises we leave in our wake as we shop, cook and clean.

The painful struggle to maintain permanent smiles throughout a marathon of entertaining.

It isn’t easy being gracious for weeks at a stretch.

But we really shouldn’t blame it on the holidays. Some people are just miserable all year round.

The Christmas season, with its artificial twinkle of good cheer, serves to highlight the fact some souls are bleak at the best of times.

Staying cheerful is easier for people like me.

I’ve got no family to speak of, except for Aunt Rachel, and she never puts up much fuss over Christmas. You see, she never married, so her festive table, elaborately decorated as it is, seats only the two of us.

She detests turkey, preferring a nice steak or a bit of ham.

We usually eat in silence, but it’s a comfortable silence. I never doubt her love.

It’s her sense of tradition that could use a shot in the arm.

**

“Would you like more tea, dear?”

“No thank you, Mattie,” I said. I’d be awake half the night as it was, hopped up on caffeine and peeing a blue streak.

“What did you say your name is?” Mattie’s daughter, Delilah – forty if she’s a day – pointed her pen my way.

“Penelope Canon,” I replied, hiding my annoyance for Mattie’s sake. Delilah would have been a good looking woman, except for the permanently pinched look where a smile would have been welcome.

“And how do you know my mother?” she said, scribbling down my name.

I couldn’t blame her for being suspicious. From where she sat it would appear odd, me on the young side of thirty-something and claiming a close friendship to Mattie Oaks, a sixty-five year old widow of comfortable means and tremendous elegance.

I was tempted to say ‘We met in yoga class’, but I chewed on my short-bread cookie instead.

You see, I knew the truth about Delilah.