Murder Has a Sweet Tooth - By Miranda Bliss


BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THERE ARE ACTUALLY SOME people who think I’m a jim-dandy detective.

Even after solving four cases, it blows me out of the water just to think about it.

I mean, I don’t look like a detective. I’m short and curvy, a former bank teller whose hair is too curly and a shade of brown as ordinary as acorns. I’m a conservative dresser, a careful thinker, and as cautious about investigating murders as I am when it comes to everything from deciding what to order for Saturday night takeout to choosing the flowers for my upcoming wedding. I love clothes—as long as they’re as matter-of-fact as I am. I love shoes—provided the heels aren’t too high and the toes aren’t too pointy. I love color, all color—as long as it comes in shades of beige.

And private detectives are supposed to be daring and flashy, right?

But talk to my best friend, Eve, and she’ll tell you that there’s a lot more to me than meets the eye. Eve’s investigated a few cases with me and though she’s been there at my side through thick and thin, she doesn’t always get it, not when it comes to clues and suspects. She doesn’t understand that for me, solving a murder is like putting together a puzzle. Since I’m all about neatness, all about order, and I refuse to move forward until I find every one of those flat-sided pieces that make it possible to build the frame and from there, to fit all the funny-shaped pieces inside, I don’t stop until I have all the answers. I’m logical and I’m methodical, and I don’t like when things are out of place.

And private detectives are supposed to be freewheeling free thinkers, right?

Then there’s Jim MacDonald, the love of my life and the hottest hunk to come out of Scotland since Mel Gibson wore a kilt. Jim may not always be happy when I get involved with a murder investigation, but he’s always supportive. He’s as impressed by my detective skills as I am baffled that he (or anyone, for that matter) loves to cook. When it comes to trying to work out the details of a crime, he’s a great brainstormer, and more times than I like to remember, he’s put himself in harm’s way to save my neck. Yeah, I’m nuts about him.

And private detectives are supposed to be loners, right?

Even Tyler Cooper, Arlington, Virginia, homicide detective, has had to admit (well, a time or two, anyway) that I’m smarter than the average PI and I get better results. In his own hard-nosed, hardheaded way, Tyler lets me know that he values my help. For one thing, now that he and Eve are dating again (they were once engaged and when it ended, it wasn’t pretty), Tyler’s treating Eve like a queen. Just like she deserves. For another, he’s actually admitted that sometimes, an amateur can gain access to places and people that a professional can’t. He shows his appreciation by dropping hints about where I should go to investigate and who I should talk to.

And private detectives aren’t supposed to get along with the police, right?

I’ve even heard our friend Norman Applebaum sing my praises as a detective and, believe me, I didn’t think that would ever happen, not after I found out in the course of an investigation that he wasn’t who we all thought he was, and that he’d once been in prison. Of course, since then, Norman realized that he could turn the missteps of his youth into a whole new career. In addition to running his gourmet cooking store, Très Bonne Cuisine, Norman now hosts The Cooking Con, a wildly popular cable TV show. In fact, since I’m all about details, I’ve just proofread the final manuscript of Norman’s new cookbook, Prison Potluck. It is destined to be a best-seller, and I am thrilled for him.

And private detectives (well, at least the ones on TV) are often disgruntled malcontents, right?

It’s all so crazy, sometimes I have to tell myself I’m not dreaming. I mean, me, Annie Capshaw, once divorced and now engaged and the business manager of Jim’s wonderful restaurant . . . me, a detective? But then, maybe that’s why I find solutions to cases when even Tyler can’t: I’m not the kind of detective anyone expects. It certainly helps encourage me when I think how much my friends admire what I do. They provide a boost, and, sometimes, backup. They believe in me, even when I