Coastal Corpse

It’s “tween time” before the holiday season on Coral Island, Florida, and Mallie Monroe’s life has taken a bizarre turn: she is engaged to her erstwhile boyfriend, Cole; her co-worker at the Observer is on her honeymoon; and her crusty editor, Anita, has just eloped with the newspaper’s el cheapo boss. Love and marriage are in the autumn air.

But Mallie is fighting off her insecurities about settling down, and she’s dealing with being in charge for the first time in her life—of the Observer as the temporary editor. Sadly, front-page stories prove to be as scarce as a hermit crab on the beach.

Even worse, the only reporters to help out are Madame Geri, the island’s freelance psychic; Bernice, Anita’s cranky sister; Pop Pop Welch, an aging handyman; and Joe Earl, whose claim to fame is his haunted violin.

In a desperate attempt to get some news, Mallie covers the town council election debate, which erupts into a melee. Afterward, one of the candidates— landscaper Bucky McGuire— turns up dead in a fish tank. Mallie has her headline. The only catch is that her landlady and best friend, Wanda Sue, becomes the prime suspect. To save her friend, Mallie has to swing into investigative mode to solve the crime before she winds up as yesterday’s news.