“Daley’s mysteries offer as much sizzle and pop as fireworks on a hot summer’s day.” – Mary Kennedy, Author of The Dream Club Mysteries
“Daley’s characters come to life on the page. Her novels are filled with a little mystery and a little romance which makes for a murderous adventure.” – Tonya Kappes, USA Today Bestselling Author of Fixin’ To Die
“I’m a huge fan of Kathi’s books. I think I’ve read every one. Without a doubt, she’s a gifted cozy mystery author and I eagerly await each new release!” – Dianne Harman, Author of the High Desert Cozy Mysteries
“Intriguing, likeable characters, keep-you-guessing mysteries, and settings that literally transport you to Paradise…Daley’s stories draw you in and keep you glued until the very last page.” – Tracy Weber, Agatha-Nominated Author of the Downward Dog Mysteries
“Daley really knows how to write a top-notch cozy.” – MJB Reviewers
“Kathi Daley writes a story with a puzzling cold-case mystery while highlighting…the love of home, family, and good friends.” – Chatting About Cozies
Winter Carnival comes to Serenity, and with it Tj finds her schedule busier than ever. Not only is her ski and snowboard team heavily involved in demonstrations and local competitions, but her ragtag choir is about to debut in their first live performance. To make matters even more complicated, someone has killed Travis Davidson, a town favorite son, world-class snowboarder, and Olympic hopeful. Tj is determined not to get involved in the subsequent investigation until she learns the prime suspect is Chelsea Hanson, her high school boyfriend Hunter Hanson’s sister.
Although there’s no shortage of Sereninites with a grudge against the hometown hero, even Tj has to admit there’s good cause to suspect Chelsea of the murder. Balancing bridesmaid duties, Winter Carnival obligations, show choir duty, and after-hours investigation, Tj sets out to prove Chelsea innocent.
Related subjects include: cozy mysteries, women sleuths, murder mystery series, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), humorous murder mysteries, book club recommendations, amateur sleuth books, small town mysteries.
Books in the Tj Jensen Mystery Series:
- PUMPKINS IN PARADISE (#1)
- SNOWMEN IN PARADISE (#2)
- BIKINIS IN PARADISE (#3)
- CHRISTMAS IN PARADISE (#4)
- PUPPIES IN PARADISE (#5)
- HALLOWEEN IN PARADISE (#6)
- TREASURE IN PARADISE (#7) April 2017
Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all…
Kathi Daley lives with her husband, kids, grandkids, and Bernese mountain dogs in beautiful Lake Tahoe. When she isn’t writing, she likes to read (preferably at the beach or by the fire), cook (preferably something with chocolate or cheese), and garden (planting and planning, not weeding). She also enjoys spending time in the water, hiking, biking, and snowshoeing. Kathi uses the mountain setting in which she lives, along with the animals (wild and domestic) that share her home, as inspiration for her five cozy mystery series: Zoe Donovan, Whales and Tails Island, Tj Jensen, Sand and Sea Hawaiian, and Seacliff High Teen.
Read an Excerpt
Monday, February 10
"Okay, can I have everyone's attention?" Tj Jensen, Serenity High School's favorite teacher, coach, and choir director, shouted over the drone of the multiple conversations echoing throughout the room. The biggest storm of the year was barreling down on the alpine hamlet of Serenity, Nevada, causing a hyperactive frenzy that threatened to give her migraine a migraine. Not that the snow wasn't timely. The annual winter carnival was scheduled to begin in ten days, and the four feet of powder the National Weather Service had predicted to fall over the next forty-eight hours would be a welcome event.
"We have a little over a week until the concert and we're nowhere close to being ready," Tj continued as the drone settled to a hum. "I plan to devote every class period between now and then to rehearsal, but if we're going to put on the spectacular show I know you would all like to deliver, we're going to need extra sessions after school."
"What about the downhill team?" Blond-haired blue-eyed school heartthrob Connor Harrington had recently been voted captain of the snowboard team and seemed to be taking his new responsibilities seriously. "I thought you were planning to spend every day after school on the mountain with us. The team needs a good showing if we're going to make nationals. I get the fact that this choir thing is important to the school, but with regionals coming up, the downhill team needs to practice every day."
Tj smiled as she tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. Connor had just presented the perfect segue to the news she needed to share with the misfit band of students that made up the newly established Serenity High School Choir. When she'd first been assigned the task of making the group into a real choir, capable of competing in regional competitions, she'd truly believed the task impossible. But now? Somehow the mismatched group had bonded to form a show choir worthy of competing for a title. The group's first official performance was scheduled for the opening ceremonies of the winter carnival, which would provide a good dress rehearsal for the official competition season, beginning in March and concluding in May. Tj really wanted her ragtag choir to make a good showing, but first she needed to coach her downhill team to a regional title, starting with the competition against their arch-rival, Beaver Creek, during carnival week.
"I agree that working with the downhill team has to be my priority during the peak of the race season," Tj answered. "Beginning today, I've arranged for the team to have two hours on the mountain every afternoon and all day on Saturday. Obviously I can't be in two places at one time, which is why I asked my good friend, Kyle Donovan, to help out with the choir. Before he moved to Serenity three months ago, he was the lead singer of his own band, and he has an extensive background in both modern and classical music. He's a super-nice guy with awesome ideas and he should be here right about," Tj paused as Kyle entered the classroom, "now."
The kids were going to love him. At least the girls would. Not only did he have the musical background Tj lacked, but with his wavy blond hair, deep blue eyes, and exceptional physique, he was drop-dead gorgeous as well. As lead singer of his own rock-and-roll band, he projected an image Tj was certain the fourteen members of her choir would respond to. Tj watched as Kyle stopped to speak to several of the students who were bombarding him with questions as he made his way to the front of the room. She'd first met Kyle while he was in town for a job interview the previous October. As can happen when big moments collide with unforeseen destiny, Tj and Kyle had forged a special bond in the face of tragic events, and in the short time he'd lived in her small hometown, he'd become one of Tj's most trusted friends.
"My plan," Tj continued, as Kyle managed to separate from the pack and make his way forward, "is to work on the group numbers during our fifth-period class and then have Kyle work with each of the small groups after school. Since the three members of the choir who are also members of the ski and snowboard team haven't been assigned to small groups, there shouldn't be a conflict."
"Coach Jensen," Marley Davis, her least talented yet most vocal student, raised her hand. "As the natural leader of the choir, I think I should work closely with Kyle, sort of as an assistant."
Tj rolled her eyes as Marley tossed her thick black hair over one shoulder and smiled coyly at the man, who was almost old enough to be her father. Marley was smart, rich, and annoying as hell. There was no way Tj was going to saddle Kyle with Marley's irritating presence for any longer than was necessary. "I appreciate the offer, but I think Kyle will be fine on his own."
"But Coach Jensen," Marley whined as her green eyes narrowed and her full lower lip protruded in a well-rehearsed pout, "I think you're failing to consider that ..."
Tj closed her eyes and counted to ten as Marley made her case. She prided herself on getting along with almost anyone, but Marley had been stretching her last nerve since the first day of class. Not only was the establishment of a choir, and Tj's subsequent assignment as its reluctant director, Marley's idea in the first place, but as student body president, she assumed she would be handed a leadership role in spite of the fact that she couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. When Tj refused to be pressured into doing things her way, she'd refocused her energy from bossing everyone around to driving everyone crazy with incessant nagging and tooth-grating complaining.
"You know, Coach," Kyle winked to let Tj know he understood what he was getting into, "I really could use an assistant. Someone to run errands and operate the recording equipment; that type of thing."
Tj shrugged. "Okay, it's your show." The it's your funeral was implied. "Marley, you can assist Kyle, but only until the concert."
"Thanks, Coach Jensen."
As the final bell rang, Tj gathered the pile of books and file folders on her desk and entered the crowded hallway, where kids of all ages were running for the exits. She headed toward the administration building, which was centrally located to serve both the elementary and the high school. Serenity High School and Serenity Elementary School had been built on the same plot of land, with a common library, administration office, and cafeteria. The town didn't have a middle school per se. The elementary school housed grades K-7, while the high school handled grades 8-12. Large beige buildings with multiple wings and indoor walkways had been laid out in a pattern Tj likened to a giant spider caught in a web. The situation was ideal for Tj, since she was able to drive her two half-sisters to school and then walk through the covered halls from the elementary school to the high school, where she taught classes every day.
"Brittany," Tj shouted at the tall blond-haired senior over the thunder of lockers slamming in the background.
"Hey, Coach, what's up?" The co-captain of the downhill team, Brittany Baxter, jogged over to where Tj was maneuvering the obstacle course created by bodies in motion.
"I need to stop off to speak with Principal Remington before I head up to the mountain. Can you let the team know that I might be a few minutes late, but I'll be there?"
"Yeah, no problem. Everyone is stoked about all the new powder." Brittany's blue eyes sparkled with enthusiasm as they veered into the school library, where Tj dropped a pile of books into the return bin. "Connor and a couple of the guys cut sixth period and headed over to the mountain early."
"I know everyone is excited, but I really wish they hadn't done that." Tj sighed as they crossed the hall to the front office, where she checked her messages and turned in her attendance paperwork. "I get the allure of fresh snow, but, as ridiculous as this may sound, there are actually teachers who think classes like math and science are equally as important as demolishing Beaver Creek in the downhill competition next week."
Brittany laughed. "That's why you're so awesome. Even though you don't support the guys cutting sixth period and feel compelled as a teacher to show your disapproval, deep down you understand why they might and are therefore disinclined to narc them out."
"Am I that transparent?"
"You know I should contact their parents or assign detention at the very least. It is, after all, school policy. We can't have students cutting class whenever the mood strikes."
Brittany smiled. "Don't worry. I think today's absenteeism was a one-time thing brought on by powder fever. I'm sure everyone will be in class tomorrow."
"Let's hope so. I'd rather like to keep my job." Tj sorted through the paperwork in her box, tossing out a reminder to sign up for direct deposit. One of the toughest things Tj had to learn when she made the transition from student to teacher was that it was her job to make sure the rules were followed whether she agreed with them or not. Tj the student would have cut class in a minute if there was fresh powder to be had, but Tj the teacher was responsible for discouraging such behavior among her students. The only negative comment on her last employee review had been that her students tended to look at her as a friend rather than an authority figure. "I should be able to get to the mountain by three thirty. We'll meet at the base of Grizzly Run. I figure we might as well start with both men's and women's slalom. If you could pass the word along not to be late, that would be awesome."
"Don't worry, Coach," the tall blonde repeated. "I'll get everyone rounded up."
Tj watched Brittany jog away. The poor girl had had a rough year with the breakup of her parent's marriage, but in spite of the turmoil at home, she continued to be Tj's most reliable student. Tj was going to miss her when she graduated in the spring. One of the hazards of being a teacher was that every spring you said goodbye to the seniors you'd grown to love during the four years you'd coached and mentored them. A few of the students chose to stay on in Serenity rather than going to college, a handful more came back afterward, but the vast majority were never heard from again.
Tj waved to Leslie Grayson, her sister Ashley's third-grade teacher. Ashley had begun the year on a rocky note, but things seemed to have calmed down as the sensitive little girl had finally accepted the death of her mother and the subsequent changes to her life. Still, Tj tried to keep an open dialogue with Leslie in the hope of avoiding trouble in the future.
"I'm glad I ran into you." Leslie smiled as she approached Tj. "I was going to call you later this afternoon."
"What's wrong now?" Tj asked. Calls from Leslie were never good news.
"Ashley got into a fight with Loretta Baldwin during second recess."
Tj felt her heart sink. "I thought she was doing better." The first couple of months of school, Ashley had gotten into a number of fights with the students in her class, but after what had seemed to be a breakthrough the previous October, things had gotten much better.
"She was," Leslie confirmed. "She's been happy and agreeable and making friends. I have to admit I was as shocked as anyone when Loretta told me Ashley had ambushed her while she was waiting in line for the monkey bars."
"Do you know what caused the fight?"
"Neither girl is talking, but I have a hunch it has something to do with Loretta's birthday party."
"Birthday party?" Tj asked. "Ashley hasn't mentioned anything about a birthday party."
"That's because she wasn't invited," Leslie admitted. "To make matters worse, Loretta invited the entire class with the exception of Ashley. It's going to be a big event, with a bounce house, a magic show, and an ice-cream bar."
Tj wanted to say that she didn't blame Ashley for punching Loretta, but for once she held her tongue. Siding with Ashley when she acted out had hurt rather than helped the girl's case in the past. "Do we know why Ashley was excluded?"
Leslie began sorting through the mail in her own staff mailbox. "I suspect it has to do with the incident during the field trip to the zoo."
Tj knew that Ashley had pushed Loretta into a pile of camel droppings after Loretta made a comment about the fact that Ashley's mother had died because she was an irresponsible drunk. Tj didn't condone what her half-sister had done, and their mother was an irresponsible drunk who had lived a life filled with bad choices that eventually led to her death, but to rub it into Ashley's face was uncalled for. Tj suspected that Loretta's stuck-up snob of a mother had filled Loretta's head with this information in the first place. Serenity was a small town, and although her mother hadn't spent any significant amount of time in the area for over twenty years, her deficiencies as a mother still tended to be part of the local gossip playlist.
Tj sighed. "I'll talk to her. Will there be other consequences?"
"I talked to Loretta's mother. She wants Ashley to be suspended but has agreed to settle for an apology because Loretta wasn't really hurt. Ashley has been given detention and will need to remain inside the classroom with me during recess for the time being. Did you ever look into that counseling we talked about?"
"No," Tj admitted. "Ashley seemed to be doing so much better. I'll look into it."
"I think that would be best."
Tj felt like crying as she continued down the hall for her meeting with the principal. The last thing she needed was for the behavior of one mean little girl to unravel everything she had worked for over the past several months. The previous July, Ashley's world had been turned upside down when her mother and her third husband were killed in an automobile accident, leaving her in the care of a half-sister she barely knew. At the time, Tj had been living in her own apartment in town and was involved in a semiserious romantic relationship with her boyfriend, Tyler. After Ashley, eight, and Gracie, five, came to live with her, she'd broken up with Tyler and moved back to the resort, where she had the help and support of her father, Mike, and Grandpa Ben. The first few months had been difficult, as everyone tried to adapt to the change in circumstances, but in the past few months, it had seemed like they'd turned a corner and settled down into a comfortable routine. She knew she needed to sit Ashley down and talk to her about channeling her anger into nonviolent outlets, but first she needed to deal with the impromptu meeting her boss had called just as she was getting ready to leave for the day.
Tj knocked on Greg Remington's office door. It seemed odd that he'd ask her to stop by when he knew she had downhill practice, but then again, Greg didn't always understand the importance of what it was she did for the school and the kids who had dreams of making it big in their sport of choice. To most of the kids on her downhill team, snowboarding was an after-school activity, but to serious boarders like Connor and Brittany, it was a future they had worked hard for their entire lives.
"Tj, have a seat," Greg instructed.
"If this is about the fight Ashley had with Loretta, I've already talked to Leslie," Tj said, attempting to head him off. Tj knew Greg tended to be a bit of a talker, but she figured the quicker they could get to the point of the conversation, the quicker she could get to the mountain and all that wonderful powder.
"This meeting isn't about Ashley and Loretta," Greg informed her. "I've spoken to both Leslie and Loretta's mother, and I believe we've come to an agreement."
"If this isn't about the fight, can whatever it is you'd like to discuss wait for another time? I have downhill practice," Tj reminded him. "The kids are already at the mountain. They'll be waiting."
Greg was a thirty-five-year-old transplant from a much larger school district in the Bay Area. He had big-city plans for their little school, and while Tj generally supported big dreams, it seemed at times that Greg's ideas translated into a bunch of extra work for her and the rest of the staff at the high school. The previous summer he'd hired a consultant to offer suggestions that would make them more viable in the competitive grant arena. One of the suggestions had been that the school offer more extracurricular activities in order to diversify their offerings, resulting in mandatory adjunct duty for all certified teachers. Tj had messed around, and by the time she'd gotten around to picking her adjunct duty, the choir had been all that was left. Eventually, she'd grown to enjoy her adjunct duty, but initially she'd been less than happy with the assignment.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Snowmen In Paradise"
Copyright © 2016 Kathi Daley.
Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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