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Best Cosy Books

Last Mango in Paris (PAPERBACK)

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Title

PAPERBACK. Book 6 in the USA Today Bestselling cozy mystery series, Australian Amateur Sleuth.

Even though Cressida’s builder gives her the crepes, she’s still a oui bit upset that their paths won’t croissant again. In fact, she cannot beret. That’s because he’s been smothered with a mango, and Mr. Buttons has been found standing over the body. 
But the police don’t give a Notre Dame—they believe it was Mr. Buttons the culprit wanted to kill! 
Soon Sybil realizes this is no ordinary crime. It seems as though Mr. Buttons has been Lyon about his past, and he baguette, not to mention a few secrets of his own...

Paperback. 

 Paperback 230 pages
 Dimensions  5 x 0.52 x 8 inches (127 x 13.3 x 203 mm)
 ISBN  9781925674583
 Publication date September 27, 2017
 Publisher  Best Cosy Books

 

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CHAPTER 1

We were sitting in the dining room at Cressida Upthorpe’s boarding house. Mr Buttons had insisted on giving it a good clean to celebrate the fact that his nemesis, Dorothy, had been arrested for murder, and so the silverware was sparkling. All the furniture had been waxed and polished within an inch of its life, and every piece of Victorian glassware and Victorian bone china had been washed.
The conversation was lively, but that did nothing to lighten the gloomy atmosphere of the formal dining room. Two small windows afforded the only light, and the blockout eyelet curtains in various garish colours blocked most of the early morning sunlight doing its best to find its way in. Of course, it didn’t help that one wall was lime green, and the other, bright red. The gloomy atmosphere was, I figured, also due to Cressida’s latest painting. The huge oil on canvas took pride of place over the fireplace, and was painted in every colour imaginable, primarily red. That was, no doubt, due to the subject matter—a giant octopus eating the head of a sailor. The anatomical detail was minute.
Cressida addressed the new boarders. “It’s lovely that you all arrived in time for breakfast, so we can all meet.” Cressida, and the only permanent boarder, the English gentleman, Mr Buttons, and I had become good friends in the short time that I had been in Little Tatterford, a small country town in rural New South Wales. Cressida had a penchant for applying make-up with a trowel, although she used far more finesse on her paintings. Right now she looked as though she was auditioning for the lead in a new version of the scary film, It.
“I don’t think that French chef is really French,” Mr Buttons said in a stage whisper.
Cressida looked alarmed. “Hush, Mr Buttons. He’ll hear you.”
I groaned and put my head in my hands. “Please don’t tell me you’re going to turn against every cook from now on,” I whispered to Mr Buttons. The last cook had been Dorothy, a particularly unpleasant woman, and Mr Buttons had insisted she was responsible for every crime in Little Tatterford. In the end, it turned out she was responsible for a murder. With Dorothy in prison, Cressida had wasted no time in replacing her with Albert Dubois, a French chef direct from Paris.
“Lord Farringdon advised me to hire him,” Cressida said in a tone that showed she would brook no argument. Lord Farringdon was Cressida’s fat cat, and she was convinced that he spoke to her. Of course, no one had ever heard him do so. Still, it was uncanny how accurate his ‘advice’ had turned out to be. Cressida stood up and fetched a cat treat from the nearest walnut credenza. Lord Farringdon accepted it graciously.
Mr Buttons rolled his eyes skyward in response, and I was tempted to do the same. “Mr Buttons, you have to admit that he’s better than Dorothy,” I said, hoping to placate him.
“Anyone is better than Dorothy.” Mr Buttons offered me a cucumber sandwich, minus its crusts.
I took one, and popped it in my mouth.
“Did you check his references thoroughly, Cressida?” Mr Buttons raised one particularly bushy eyebrow.
“Of course not,” Cressida said snappily. “Lord Farringdon vouched for him. I already told you that. Besides, Dorothy had references, and she was a murderer. What good are references! Oh, here’s Chef Dubois now.”
The French chef appeared through the door with a flourish. “Eez ze breakfahst to zee liking?” he asked in such a thick French accent that I was hard pressed to decipher what he was saying. He was a short man, stick thin, and with a combover—as far as I could remember, as he was usually wearing a rather outsized chef’s hat. He sported a particularly large handlebar moustache, and he looked like one of the line drawings from my high school French grammar book. All he needed was the French loaf of bread, a bicycle, and a spotted necktie.
“The French toast is delicious,” Cressida said, and then popped half a slice in her mouth in one go.
“French toast isn’t actually French,” Mr Buttons whispered, more quietly this time. “It’s only a slice of bread, most likely stale, soaked in egg and milk and then fried. It’s not French, and he’s not French, I tell you. Why, I spoke to him the other day in my perfect French, and he muttered something unintelligible in response.”
“He told me he came to Australia to learn English,” Cressida whispered. “Maybe that’s why he doesn’t want to speak French.”
Mr Buttons nearly choked on his cucumber sandwich. “My dear woman, why would anyone want to come to Australia to learn English? That is the most preposterous thing I have ever heard.”
One of the new boarders, a rather large and powerful looking man by the name of Dennis Stanton, addressed the chef. “This food is good. What’s your name again? Albert Dubois, isn’t it?”
The French chef gasped and clutched his throat. “Non! It eez certainement not Al-bearh Du-bwuh! It is Al-bearh Du-bwuh!”
Dennis Stanton frowned. “That’s exactly what I just said.”
The chef’s face turned red, so red that I thought he might have a stroke. “Non! You said, ‘Al-bearh Du-bwuh,’ but it eez Al-bearh Du-bwuh!” He made a strangling sound at the back of his throat.
Dennis appeared perplexed, and I was also. One of the other new boarders tried to stifle a giggle without much success. The chef left the room in a hurry. “Now, please tell me your names again,” Cressida said, “and don’t be upset if I get them wrong at first. We’re on a first name basis here. In case you’ve already forgotten, I’m Cressida, and this is Mr Buttons.” Her hand flew to her throat. “Oh, Mr Buttons is the only one not to use his first name. He’s English, you see.” She smiled and nodded as she said it. “And this is Sibyl, who lives down the end of the lane in that little cottage. Please introduce yourselves to each other.”
Dennis went first. “My name is Dennis Stanton. I lived in Sydney for years, but I’m escaping the hustle and bustle of city life and having a sea change. I’m looking around Little Tatterford for a nice house to buy.”
“And my name is Wendy Mason,” the woman who had tried not to laugh said. “I’m just here on a holiday, panning for gold. I’ve heard Little Tatterford is an old gold mining town.”
I took the opportunity to study her. Wendy had an official, stern manner about her, so I had been surprised when she demonstrated a sense of humour. She was well groomed, about fifty, and seemed pleasant enough.
The last boarder appeared to be waiting for Wendy to say more, but when she didn’t, he spoke. “My name is Adrian Addison. I’m in town working for the Office of Geographic Names.” He spoke with an English accent, not unlike that of Mr Buttons.
I thought I had misheard him. “Excuse me,” I said. “What office did you say?”
He laughed. “I know—most people haven’t heard of it. I work for the Office of Geographic Names.” Adrian was tall and well-dressed, possibly overdressed for a simple breakfast in a country town. He was attractive, although I wouldn’t say handsome. He was covered with masses of freckles, no doubt due to his fair skin. His hair was red, but many shades lighter than Cressida’s fire engine red hair. He reminded me of an older version of Inspector Humphrey Goodman, a former character from one of my favourite TV shows, Death in Paradise.
While I was studying him, a man burst through the door on the other side of the dining room. “I’m here!” he said loudly, scratching his stomach. His clothes were dirty and ragged.
“I can see that, my good man,” Mr Buttons said. “Kindly do not make an unannounced appearance in such an uncouth state whilst others are eating.”
The man ignored Mr Buttons. “Will I start work on the porch now, Cressida?”
“Yes please, Bradley,” Cressida said. “When you’re finished, come inside for lunch.”
I noticed Mr Buttons wringing his hands in distress. Mr Buttons was somewhat of a clean freak, and clearly the man’s dirty clothes were too much for him. Mr Buttons jumped to his feet, deftly pulling off his coat as he did so. He carried it over to the man and thrust it at him. “Put this on!”
The man looked shocked, but did as he asked. Mr Buttons adjusted the coat and fastened the buttons. He stood back to admire his handiwork. “Yes, that will make you far more presentable.” He patted the man on the shoulder.
Mr Buttons stood aside, and I noticed that the boarders had all turned around to see what was happening.
The man looked past Mr Buttons and gasped. His eyes went wide. He clutched his throat and hurried through the door without saying another word.