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How can a real estate appraiser in a New Jersey beach town get in this much trouble?

If your name translates to "pretty nice" in French, you've probably gotten used to being teased. That doesn't prepare you for finding out that your soon-to-be-ex-husband has a gambling problem, raided your assets, and embezzled from his bank.

Jolie Gentil moves to Great Aunt Madge's bed and breakfast at the Jersey shore, taking her cat, Jazz, and joining Madge's pair of prune-eating dogs. Jolie does not view this as a retreat, just a smart change. She had no idea her life was about to get even more complicated. Jolie is reestablishing friendships with Scoobie and Ramona, dodging low-level wise guy Pedone, and (oops!) finding a dead body. The late Ruth Riordan is Aunt Madge's closest friend and mother to Michael, a former arrogant classmate who can still push all of Jolie's buttons. Jolie and Aunt Madge seem to be the only ones who think the police are wrong in accusing him of his mother's murder. Soon, the mundane work of appraising real estate and dodging suggestions that she go to the 10-year high school reunion becomes mixed with calls from reporters, scary suggestions from Pedone who wants her to repay her ex-husband's gambling debts, and requests that she help the local busybody with First Presbyterian's social services work. And there's still Scoobie, the high school friend she hung out with most. With his blue jeans and longer hair, he's the antithesis of oil company executive Michael, and much easier to be with. His haunting poetry reflects how different his life has been since Jolie knew him. Jolie must balance her fear of Pedone, conviction that Michael is innocent, and friendship with Scoobie. Her growing list of other possible murder suspects includes Michael's soon-to-be ex-wife and a couple other beneficiaries of Mrs. Riordan's will. Those suspicions don't include Scoobie, but he makes it to the police department's list. Jolie tries various ways to prove both friends innocent. But will Pedone's plans leave Jolie alive to find the truth?

©2011 Elaine L. Orr (P)2013 Elaine L. Orr

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