by: Rose Kerr
Series: Breanna Flynn Mystery
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Publisher: TouchPoint Press
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Former high school guidance counselor turns amateur sleuth to save herself from murder charge on reality show.
Brenna Flynn, returns home to Bayview City after the sudden death of her husband. Unable to find work in her field, she signs up with a temp agency to find employment. Sent on an interview for a cooking reality show, she aces it and gets the job of a production assistant.
On her second day at work, Brenna discovers a body in the studio. She soon learns she's the police's primary suspect. Determined to clear her name, she uses some skills she's honed as a guidance counselor to learn more about the victim. Drawing people out comes naturally to Brenna, and she becomes a confidante to cast and crew on the show.
The stakes are raised with threatening notes, poisonings, and blackmail. Can Brenna uncover who the killer is before someone else dies?
I’m glad to have her back home in Bayview City. She was away for four years after she and her husband, Dave, got married. She’s had a tough year, with Dave dying in a car accident and then losing her job, but she’s a fighter and she’ll come out of this stronger.
We get together every Monday evening at our favorite pub–Charlie’s Pub. It’s downtown with magnificent views of Lake Superior. The food is so good and the variety is amazing. Charlie’s is a great community pub. They sponsor several sport teams for kids. Hockey, soccer, and baseball are the three that they’re most involved in. It's a family friendly atmosphere.
Last night, Brenna, Kate and I met up for supper at Charlie’s. Kate is a great friend of ours, too. Brenna told us about her new job as a production assistant for a cooking reality show. Kate and I chuckled because Brenna isn’t a cook, far from it. But she’s assured us she doesn’t have to do any cooking. Her job is going to focus on keeping the show running smoothly and making sure everyone is where they’re supposed to be.
And she’ll do great with it.
Except, this morning she ran into the studio to pick up something she needed for the farmers’ market and found someone dead in the studio’s kitchen! Not a great way to start a new job.
After she sent me a text and told me what happened, I rushed over there. I wasn’t going to let her deal with this alone. I’m glad I was there. The executive producer, Tim Harris, wanted her to have a meeting with the PR team. Well, I put a stop to that quickly. So did the police. They were clear that no one was to talk about what happened until they notified the next of kin.
Brenna was pretty shaken up. I told Mr. Harris she’d be going home and if they needed her for anything, they could connect with her there. He insisted Brenna needed to be the communication link between the police and the show’s cast and crew.
Fine, but she can do that from home. I got her home and was making coffee for us when she turned on the news. There was Tim Harris, Mathew Smith–he’s the producer, and someone from the PR team on the news announcing that the show was postponed for the day. The police detective in charge of the investigation called Brenna to find out who made that announcement. Brenna gave Detective Morris the information and then Brenna’s mom called. No one wants that kind of mom call!
I’m a family lawyer and had to be in court by nine-thirty. Before I left for the office, I told her I’d be available after lunch if she needed me for anything later today. And I told her I’d check with her as soon as I was through in court.
Brenna assured me she’d be okay. Her plan was to get the work she needed to get done that morning, and then she'd head over to her mom's for lunch and a break. She thought the work would help keep her mind off what had happened.
But what happens? After lunch, the police call her asking her to show up at the station. She called me and I told her I’d meet her there. We get there, and Detective Morris tells us she’s their primary suspect in the murder! As if!
So now, Brenna’s determined to prove her innocence, and she’s going to figure out who the actual killer is. I’m going to be the voice of reason here, and suggest she leave it to the police. But she’s determined to clear her name. Let’s hope nothing else happens.
“Come on, hurry up!” The light was taking forever. Brenna drummed her fingers against the steering wheel. Monday morning traffic should have been over by now. A glance at the clock on her Jeep’s dashboard showed she had less than ten minutes to get across town. She couldn’t be late for this interview. Finally, a lead on a job. The light changed, and Brenna hustled to her meeting. It had been a rough six months. Her husband’s sudden death and then losing her position at the school. Coming home to Bayview City in Northern Michigan seemed like a good idea at the time, but work as a high school guidance counsellor didn’t come easily. Most of the school boards had been impacted by the cuts to education funding.
For the last month, Brenna had been working with Jackie Randall from the Randall Temp Agency to find a temporary position. There wasn’t a lot available, but this position popped up this morning. Jackie had called before eight this morning to let Brenna know about the posting and had secured an interview for her. This job promised good pay and interesting work, even if it wasn’t in her field. How on earth could she translate her skills to a cooking show? Helping high school students deal with the challenges of being a teenager and navigating their futures demanded specialized knowledge, compassion, good listening and speaking skills, and being well organized. Jackie had told her the posting indicated no experience needed. She had to at least try.
Arriving at the studio, she noticed a publicity poster on one side of the door. The poster featured the three chefs starring on the show, Bayview Cooks! She paused for a moment, recognizing two of the chefs. She’d eaten in both of their restaurants. The food and the atmosphere were excellent. Walking into the lobby, she stopped and took a breath. She felt rushed and out of control—not how she wanted to present herself. Come on. There’s nothing to lose. I’ve got this. She squared her shoulders and went to the reception desk.
The receptionist asked Brenna to have a seat. She took deep breaths to settle herself. Looking around the reception area, she noticed large windows overlooking the harbor. Lake Superior was calm today, and she saw a few pleasure boats heading out toward Pebble Island. The reception area had comfortable seating and a low coffee table with the local paper. Brenna sent Jackie a quick text letting her know she had made it in time for the interview. A few minutes later, Brenna heard footsteps coming down the hall.
“Hello, Ms. Flynn? I’m Tim Harris, executive producer for Bayview Cooks!” He held out his hand.
Brenna stood to greet him. At five-two, Brenna had to tilt her head back a bit to see him. He was probably just over six feet tall, and his dark brown hair was cut close on the sides. With his round tortoiseshell glasses and casual sweater and pants, he reminded her of a former college professor. On his feet were a pair of black Keds.
“Nice to meet you.” Brenna clasped his hand.
Tim smiled as they shook hands. “Let’s go to my office. The producer is waiting for us. We’ll talk there.” He pointed down the hall.
Brenna picked up her brown leather tote bag and followed him. They arrived at his office door, and she could hear someone speaking.
“To be clear, you’re saying you’ve completed the job even though I’m telling you the lights don’t work? And you aren’t coming back? What kind of bullshit is this? You can’t do this. No, your contract doesn’t specify a date. I have it right here in front of me.” The man’s voice rose as he spoke.
As Brenna and Tim walked into the office, Brenna could see his face was red. A vein in his neck was bulging, and he was scrunching up some papers in his left hand.
“Fine. We’ll see what happens! I’ll be taking this up with our lawyer.” The man banged the handset down on the phone’s base. He ran his hands through his black hair, making it stick straight up.
Tim cleared his throat. “Mathew, what’s wrong?”
Mathew put his hands on his hips. “We’ve got a situation. The electrical contractor isn’t coming in to work on the lights on the set. He says the contract is to do the wiring only. Any issues aren’t his problem. I’ve never heard of such crap.” Mathew’s voice vibrated.
Tim shook his head. He addressed Brenna. “We’ve had some challenges with this contractor. Less than quality workmanship and now refusing to fix the mistakes his employees made. It’s holding up production. Without the lights, we can’t film.”
“Which contractor did you use?” Brenna asked.
Mathew checked the contract. “Bayview Electric.”
“And what does the contract say about them having to fix mistakes or issues that come up as a result of their work?” Brenna’s gaze moved from Mathew to Tim as she asked the question.
Mathew threw the contract on the desk. “Nothing! You’d think a reputable company would do it without question, but these guys are impossible to deal with.” His brow furrowed as he stared at the contract.
“I might be able to help you out with this.” Brenna glanced at Mathew and Tim.
“If you can get the lights working again, the position is yours,” Mathew stated.
“You might want to read through my resume before you make that kind of promise.” Brenna reached in her bag and handed each of them a copy of her resume. She pulled out her phone and moved by the table at the back of the office to place a call.
“Hi, Mary, Brenna here.”
“Brenna, how are you?”
“I’m well. Mary, I’m at Studio One. They have a problem with the lighting on their set. Are any of the electricians available today to come by and see what the issue is?”
“Let me check the schedule. I just had it open a moment ago. Did Flynn and Family have the contract? I don’t remember seeing anything from Studio One.”
“No. It was Bayview Electric.”
“We have a team of electricians available this afternoon. I can make certain they know to be there by one today.”
“Sounds great. I’ll let management know to expect them. Do you want to talk to someone here about the invoice?”
“Yes. We don’t have anything in our system for Studio One.”
Brenna turned around. “Who does she need to speak to about invoicing?”
Tim glanced up from skimming her resume. “You found someone to come in today?”
“Yes. My family owns a contracting company. They have most of their own tradespeople. The contract with Bayview Electric is completed, right? Otherwise, no one else will come in to do any other work.”
Mathew held out his hand for Brenna’s phone. “Yes. That’s the reason why they aren’t coming in again. I can talk to her about the invoicing.”
Brenna smiled and held up a finger. “Mary, I’m going to hand you off to one of the producers from Studio One. He’ll let you know about the invoicing. We’ll talk soon.” She handed the phone to Mathew.
Tim put her resume on the desk. “Well, I’m impressed. Are you that good with anything else that can go wrong?”
Mathew finished up with Mary and returned Brenna’s phone to her. “I agree. Can we expect the same results with any other problem that may come up?”
Brenna wondered what problems they might be referring to. “I have a lot of personal connections with contractors and people in the construction business. My grandfather started the company, Flynn and Family. My father and one of my uncles run it now. I grew up in Bayview City and studied at the university here. I worked for the city for a while before leaving four years ago. There have been some changes with the city council, but the city employees haven’t changed.”
Tim pointed to her resume. “Which city department did you work in?”
“I worked in marketing and public relations. The position crossed several Departments.”
Mathew interrupted. “Is this necessary? As far as I’m concerned, she has the job. Brenna, welcome to the team. You’ve proven to me you can deliver when we need it.”
Tim frowned at Mathew and adjusted his glasses. “Yes, well then… Brenna, let’s get you signed up. We’ll go over some of the duties you’ll be responsible for.”
Mathew’s phone pinged. “I’m needed in the studio. Tim, can you make sure Brenna has all the information regarding the position?”
“Of course. I’ll make sure our expectations are clear.”
Mathew was already out the door.
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Rose and her husband settled in a small town, on the shores of Lake Superior in Northern Ontario to raise their family. A strong believer in lifelong learning, Rose took creative writing courses and began writing mysteries.
More recently, Rose, her husband, and their dog Jake have moved to Southern Ontario. When she isn’t writing, Rose and her husband enjoy exploring the new region.
Rose is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Guppy Online Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and Crime Writers of Canada.
Places to find Rose Kerr:
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This was a fun post to write! Thank you for hosting me!ReplyDelete
I really enjoyed the post. Thank you.
What a great feature! This looks like the start of a good series!ReplyDelete