Who killed the pottery teacher? Book excerpt from Gilian Baker’s new cozy mystery

I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Gilian Baker’s new Jade Blackwell mystery, A Time to Kiln.

Gilian chatted with me about Book 1 in this series on Episode 37 of It’s a Mystery podcast. Today you can read an excerpt from the newest book in the series. Take it away, Gilian!

Book excerpt Time to KilnIn this excerpt from the new Jade Blackwell Mystery Series, A Time to Kiln, Jade has formed a theory about who killed her pottery teacher, Paula Hexby.

After Paula’s husband, Dillon, made a scene at his wife’s funeral last night with local real estate agent, Jack Bristol, she thinks she’s got it nailed.

The next morning I was sitting in my office, but I wasn’t working. Instead, I was creating a timeline of the murder, struggling to connect the dots. Even though there was now another suspect, my money was on Jack Bristol. Last night’s brouhaha didn’t prove Jack was Paula’s murderer, but it did earn him another tick beside his name on my timeline.

I could see Paula falling under Jack’s spell—he was smooth and came off as worldly and sophisticated, even though he was really a small town boy. He was handsome and in my opinion, a better candidate for a fling than Roger Graver, who was much older and definitely not debonair.

Clearly Dillon hated Jack, but admittedly, it could have been for many reasons. Jack Bristol had few friends in the community, though we’d all done business with him at one time or another. But, Dillon detesting Jack because of an affair with his wife fit nicely into my theory.

Unfortunately, there were problems with my theory as well. For example, why would Paula and Jack use the studio as a love nest when they could’ve gone to Jack’s house? It would certainly be more comfortable and private since his house was farther out of town than the studio. If he were going to kill her, wouldn’t it be safer to do so at his own home? There he would’ve had time to bury the body on one of the acres he owned. It would have been nearly impossible for the sheriff’s department to find the body, even if he was suspected of the crime.

Even though I didn’t have the answers to those questions, I still liked Jack for the murder. I didn’t know him well since I’d never personally done business with him, and I’d been happy to keep it that way. However, I concluded that I now needed to get better acquainted with our local realtor.

***

Driving into town a few minutes later, I invented a story to sell my impromptu meeting with Jack. The melee last night would come up naturally in the conversation, Jack being the bragging type, but I came up with a lame cover story, just in case.

I slid into a parking space in front of Bristol’s Realty Office. All the lights were off, and even with my new bifocals, I couldn’t read the sign hanging on the door. Sighing, I unfastened my seatbelt and got out of the car. Seems he was out of the office, but there was a cell number listed so I could inform him of my real estate needs. Fat chance.

Sighing again, I got back into the car and dialed the number as instructed. It rang repeatedly until his voicemail kicked in. As I listened to his arrogant voice giving me instructions, I wondered if I should bother leaving a message. What the heck, I might as well, since he was probably rarely in his office.

After the beep, I left my fabricated story and asked him to call me on my cell phone. I clicked off the call after reciting my number. What should I do now? I’d been psyched to talk to him, so the thought of going back home to work left me feeling apathetic. Did I have any errands to run? I couldn’t think of any. Shoot.

On impulse, I started the car and headed to Paula’s Pottery Barn. I wouldn’t mind getting another look at those pieces with the opalescent glaze—the ones I suspected were the product of the pilfered recipe. Even if no one was around, I might be able to get a good look at them through the big front windows Paula had installed to show off her work before customers had even walked in the door.

It was another beautiful, breezy day, and I took full advantage of being out of the office. I rolled down my windows and turned up the 80s radio station. I sang along with REO Speedwagon …And I’m going keep on lovin’ youuuuuu…The song ended, and the station went to a commercial break right as I pulled into the driveway. Perfect timing. There didn’t seem to be anyone around, though I hadn’t really expected there to be.

I shut off the car in the middle of an ad by a local garage offering a special on snow tires. I didn’t want to think about the snow and cold on such a gorgeous day. Maybe I’d spend some time in the garden when I got home. I was speculating why weeds grew so much faster than things I planted when, out of habit, I turned and pulled on the door knob. To my amazement, it opened.

I’d want to keep my store locked up, even in rural Wyoming, but I shrugged to myself and walked around the large open space, viewing a matching set of teacups and pot all done in the opalescent glaze. Picking up one of the cups, I was astonished by how sturdy it looked, and yet, how light and elegant it was. It took a real artist to throw such a light cup. My attempt would’ve weighed five pounds if it weighed an ounce. I felt a sadness at the loss of such a talented young lady, even if she ended up being a thief and adulteress.

Caressing the smooth, glossy finish, I walked around looking at other pieces on display, when I saw a shoe lying on the floor near the studio door. As I neared it, I gasped and dropped the cup. The sound of it smashing into bits reverberated in my head as time seemed to stand still.

I now knew why Jack hadn’t answered his phone. He was lying on the cement floor of the dusty pottery studio, dead.

Find out if Jade eventually figures out who killed Paula and Jack by grabbing a copy of A Time to Kiln, the latest installment in the Jade Blackwell Mystery Series here.

Gilian BakerGilian Baker is a former English professor who threw in the towel and decided to show ‘em how it’s done. She’s gone on to forge a life outside of academia by adding blogger, ghostwriter and cozy mystery author to her C.V. She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.

Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She’s the author of Blogging is Murder and A Time to Kiln.
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A Time to Kiln: A Jade Blackwell Cozy Mystery (Book 2)

A Time to KilnDisenchanted with life after solving her first real case, Jade Blackwell, successful blogger and amateur sleuth, throws herself into a new hobby…until murder rears its ugly head.

But when Jade attempts to ferret out the killer of local pottery teacher, Paula Hexby, she comes up short and suspicion begins to descend on her daughter’s former boyfriend. Evidence and bodies are stacking up, as Jade finds herself caught between an untrustworthy client and her beloved community.

Now at a personal and professional crossroads, Jade must once again jump into the breech, along with partner Gabrielle Langdon, to uncover the truth behind this string of horrific murders. Is she really cut out for this life of sleuthing and danger? Has Jade been defending the real murderer all along? Or is there something much more sinister afoot?

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