Inn Keeping With Murder

By: Lynn Bohart


I have so many people to thank for this book. Up front would be my writing group: Lori Church-Pursley, Tim McDaniel, Michael Manzer, and Timera Drake. These guys read the manuscript chapter by chapter over a period of six months, helping to clear up ambiguities, character flaws, and plot points. Thank you to beta readers Kathy Perrin and Chris Spahn, who read it from cover-to-cover and helped with flow, clarification and consistencies. As always, thanks to Liz Stewart, who is an accomplished line editor and is so generous with her time. My deepest thanks go to Detective Peter Erickson from the Mercer Island Police Department, who vetted the book for me, along with prosecutor, Susan Irwin.

I am deeply indebted to my friend, Mia Bradshaw, who designed the cover. Mia is a wonderful artist and craftsperson in the Seattle area and shows/sells her work locally. Please check out her website at

Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction and while many of the businesses, locations, and organizations referenced in the book are real, they are used in a way that is purely fictional.


Because I could not stop for Death,

He kindly stopped for me.

The Carriage held but just ourselves

And Immortality.

~Emily Dickinson~


It was early morning. An insidious breeze skimmed the lake as she stepped onto the porch of her million-dollar home on Mercer Island. The breeze came unchallenged and alone, bringing with it the smell of lake water and pine and just a pinch of foreboding. As the breeze slithered past the branches and rustled the leaves, it seemed to whisper her name.

Ellen Fairchild.

The sound made her pause. She lingered with her hand on the doorknob, listening, trapped between this world and that, her thoughts filled with shattered dreams. With a sigh, she pulled the door closed, expelling any final doubts from the recesses of her mind.

It was time to go.

The man in the moon smiled down on her from the dark sky above, sending flashes of light to dance across the lake water. All around her, the exclusive neighborhood was quiet, the imposing homes standing silently on guard while their inhabitants slept peacefully inside.

It was 2 a.m.

She stepped off the porch and climbed into the front seat of her new, sky blue Lexus as a headache began to inch its way up the side of her head. She paused a moment to massage her temple before grasping the steering wheel, her perfectly manicured fingernails sinking into the rich leather. The internal message had now become her mantra.

It was time to go.

With a quick flick of her wrist she turned the ignition key and started the engine. Then she put the car in gear and pulled out onto Placer Drive, where she paused to look over at the sprawling St. Claire Inn that took up most of the block on the lakeshore side of the street. The romantic Victorian, with its asymmetrical roofline and wrap-around porch, welcomed guests year-round as the area’s most popular bed and breakfast. Her close friend, Julia, owned it. The inn was as familiar to her as her own home.

Certainly, Julia would be asleep at this time of the morning, tucked away in the privacy of her apartment on the ground floor. The normal comings and goings of the staff and guests at the inn would be stilled, leaving only the big grandfather clock in the entryway to mark the passage of time. Ellen would miss the monthly book club meetings there. She would miss the friendly banter and wicked jokes between the women who had become as close as most sisters.

“But I have to go,” she whispered.

She exhaled slowly and gave a nod as if to say goodbye to her friend. Then she turned the car toward the east side of the island. As she rolled through the neighborhood, Sybil Moore’s bedroom light glared from an upstairs window of her Tudor-style home. Sybil’s house was right next to hers, and Ellen glanced up at the window, thinking that perhaps the neighborhood busybody was conjuring up some sort of witch’s brew under the full moon. A smile played across her lips despite the blackness of her mood. She wouldn’t miss Sybil. She wouldn’t miss her annoying accent or the way in which she phrased her vacuous thoughts. But then, of course, she wouldn’t miss anyone, anymore.

“Goodbye, Silly Sybil,” Ellen said with a snicker.

The car moved on.

When it reached the large, modern home on the corner, she slowed to a stop. This house belonged to her best friend, Martha Denton. She peered up the drive to the plate-glass windows and broad decks, picturing Martha comfortably asleep in her big pillow-top bed.

“Goodbye, dear friend,” she whispered with a heavy heart. “Please don’t be mad. Please try to understand.”

But of course Martha wouldn’t understand. No one would.

A moment later, she had left her friends and the world she knew behind. By ten minutes past the hour she had circled the island and turned onto Marchand Drive, a two lane road which climbed to Widow’s Peak, a small butte that stuck out on the east side of the island, facing the Cascade Mountains. She passed pricey homes nestled amongst tall pines, long driveways with boats and recreational vehicles tucked under expensive awnings, and gated homes invisible from the road. This had been her world for over thirty years, and for thirty years it had been enough. Now, suddenly, it wasn’t.

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