Silence of the Jams

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Silence of the Jams by Gayle Leeson

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In the latest Southern cozy from the author of The Calamity Café, small-town chef Amy Flowers can’t take her freedom for granted when she’s served up as a murder suspect... 

It's Independence Day in Winter Garden, Virginia, and the residents are gearing up for their annual celebration. The Down South Café is open and flourishing, and Amy Flowers is busy making pies and cakes for the holiday. The only thorn in her side is Chamber of Commerce director George Lincoln, who is trying to buy the café so he can tear it down and build a B&B on the site.
 
When George collapses while eating at the Down South, everybody assumes it's a heart attack—until the autopsy declares it to be poisoning. Now, it’s up to Amy to prove her innocence before her liberty is lost.

Includes delicious Southern recipes!

 

 

 

Excerpt from Gayle Leeson's

Silence of the Jams

Chapter One:

 

My cup of French vanilla coffee did its job, and I was wide awake and enjoying the morning before George Lincoln came in. George was the director of the Chamber of Commerce, and he’d been trying to buy the Down South Café ever since I’d bought it.

In fact, he’d tried to acquire it from Lou Lou Holman when it was still Lou’s Joint, and he resented the fact that I’d beaten him to the punch. That hadn’t been my intention, however. I mean, of course I wanted the café, but I’d encouraged the owner to take the best possible offer. Pete—who’d become the owner after his mother had died—had refused to sell to George because he knew George planned to demolish the café and build a bed-and-breakfast in its place because it was discovered that the land had some sort of historical significance. Pete didn’t want the café torn down. He wanted his grandfather’s legacy—the café—to survive in some form. By selling to me, he’d guaranteed that. I’d remodeled, of course, but the core building was still intact.

This morning, George ambled into the café and plopped his bulky form down on a stool at the counter. “What’s good today?” he asked Jackie.

“Everything,” she said.

“I’ll be the judge of that.” He perused the menu, but periodically peered over the top looking for me.

I decided to bite the bullet and go ahead and talk with him. He wouldn’t leave until I’d turned down his latest offer. “Good morning, Mr. Lincoln. We have some freshly made strawberry jam if you’re interested in having some with your biscuits or toast.”

“All right. That sounds good.” He looked back at the menu before saying, “I’ll have two eggs over easy, a side of bacon, and biscuits with jam.”

Well, that had gone easier than expected. He hadn’t even asked me about selling today. He usually came in and commented that there was a sparse crowd or that the food industry was in a downturn or something else just as negative before offering to take the place off my hands.

My relief was short-lived, as I should’ve suspected it would be.

Since we weren’t terribly busy at the moment and Jackie and Shelly were both with other customers, I delivered Mr. Lincoln’s plate of food rather than have one of the waitresses come and get it. He spread the jam on his biscuit, licked some off his thumb, and declared it to be “exemplary.”

I smiled. “Thank you. I made it just last night.”

“You know, if you’d agree to sell me this place, I’d be happy to let you run the breakfast part of the B and B.” He ate about half the biscuit in one bite.

“I certainly appreciate the offer, but I enjoy having my own business,” I said.

“How about if I make you a partner then?” His mouth was still full as he spoke, and crumbs tumbled out onto his plate.

“I don’t think so, Mr. Lincoln. May I refill your coffee?”

He nodded, and I topped off his cup.

“You’ll regret not taking my offer one of these days.”

“I might.” I nodded at a patron who’d just walked in. He was an older gentleman with short white hair and hooded brown eyes. “Good morning.”

“Hello.” He patted George Lincoln on the back before sitting down beside him. “How’re you this morning, George?”

“Fine, Doc. How are you?”

“Doing well, thanks.”

I handed the newcomer a menu. “Welcome to the Down South Café. May I get you started with a cup of coffee? We have dark roast, French vanilla, and decaf.”

“French vanilla sounds nice. I’ll try that.”

George screwed up his face. “No fancy stuff for me. I like the plain old dark roast.”

I extended my hand to the man George had called Doc. “I’m Amy Flowers.”

“Amy, I’m Taylor Kent.” The man shook my hand warmly.

“Nice to meet you. I’ll get you that coffee.”

“Dr. Kent is the only physician who resides here in town,” George said. “I’m not saying that’s the only thing he has to recommend him, but it’s handy to know where his office is in a pinch.”

As I turned with the cup of coffee, George was smirking at Dr. Kent. The physician was scowling.

“Where’s your office, Dr. Kent?” I asked.

“I’m up the street from the newspaper office. Come by anytime you’re feeling under the weather.” He smiled as he accepted the coffee.

“Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Where are you from, Ms. Flowers?”

“I’m from here in Winter Garden, but I went away to school for a few years. It seems a lot changed while I was gone.”

“That tends to happen sometimes.” Dr. Kent sipped his coffee. “This is good. Thank you.”

“Can I get you anything else?” I asked.

“Give me a minute to look over this menu, and I’ll let you know.” He opened the menu. “I never ate here while Lou Lou Holman was at the helm. I didn’t particularly care for her.”

I didn’t quite know what to say to that. I managed, “Well, I hope you’ll find something on our menu to your liking.” I went back into the kitchen.

I was making another batch of pancake batter when I heard a commotion in the dining room. I rushed out in time to see George Lincoln clap a hand to his throat.

“Poi—” George wobbled backward, eyes filled with panic, and then fell off his stool.

“Call 9-1-1!” I shouted as I ran around the counter.

Dr. Kent knelt beside George and took his hand, looking for a pulse. “Breathe, George. Try to breathe.”

I felt George’s forehead. It felt cold, despite the ninety-degree heat outside.

George clutched his chest.

I kept looking at the doctor. “Shouldn’t you be doing CPR or something?”

He shook his head. “It’s too late, dear. He’s dead.”

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