Friday, November 25, 2016



As this captivating cozy mystery series featuring real estate agent Sam Turner continues, a dream home turns into a crime scene when murder intrudes on an open house.

Thanks to a few sales and a self-help book on becoming a super-agent, Sam Turner is well on her way to becoming real estate royalty in Arlinda, her eccentric hometown on the Northern California coast. And after settling into her new house with her teenage son, she’s finally a homeowner, too. Sure, things aren’t perfect—for example, her sister still doesn’t know that Sam is dating her ex, police chief Bernie Aguilar—but perfect is boring. And Sam’s life is never boring.

When Sam’s boss, Everett Sweet, assigns her an open house in Arlinda’s most exclusive neighborhood, she brushes up on her super-agent tips, hoping to wow potential buyers. But there’s nothing in the manual about stumbling upon the owner’s dead body halfway through the tour. When suspicion falls on her boss, Sam and her co-workers are suddenly out of work, their real estate licenses suspended. Now, with her job on the line and a mortgage to pay, Sam will need every trick in the book to clear Everett’s name.


It’s been impossible to get anything done around here.

Not because of the spectacular fall weather, which on the North Coast tends more toward the “liquid sunshine” spectrum. We had record-setting rain in October, three roof leaks, and a body of water at the foot of our driveway that rivaled Lake Shasta. But that’s just business as usual when you live in a maritime climate.

Not because our year-long bathroom remodel means there’s a bathtub in the middle of the living room, a state of affairs that’s gone on so long it seems almost normal. You keep your tub in the bathroom? How odd.

Not because of the bitterly-fought election season. Don’t even get me started on that. If I could, I disappear into my writing room and emerge in 2020.
No, truth is, in a moment of weakness, I succumbed to the charms of . . . a puppy. And the sweet, sleepy, limpid-eyed bundle of golden fur I fell in love with has magically transformed into a dervish of sock-chewing, puddle-producing, middle-of-the-night-summoning boundless energy.

Last night I was up at one, then two, then again at three, at which point I gave up sleep as a lost cause and sprawled out in the tub with a book, Aggie the pup curled around my feet, until it was time for breakfast (two scoops of kibble and a cup of coffee).

My intentions were good, as they say. Our old retriever, Scout, was lonely. My boys pointed out that our animal family had dwindled over the last few years – such is the sad truth of companion animals, that they never live as long as our hearts need them to. A small dog, I thought, mature and sedate, would keep the old girl company. And then I met Limpid Eyes. It was all over in seconds. Before I knew what had hit me, I was naming her Agatha after my favorite author and stocking up on indestructible puppy toys, which she ignores in favor of leather Birkenstocks. At least her tastes are refined.

But it’s clear she’s an unqualified success in our household. It’s impossible to keep from smiling when there’s a puppy around. She plays hard and naps hard, except, of course, at night. She’s happy to trot up the street with the boys, proudly sporting her little purple harness, or curl up in a warm lap after an afternoon of digging up the garden – her preferred activity after her bath. She’s universally adored by everyone she meets.

Except, possibly, for Scout, whose peaceful afternoons dozing in the sun may at any moment be interrupted by a nip on the ear or a shrill bark inviting her to wake up and play. On several occasions, she’s firmly squashed Aggie’s overzealous enthusiasm, as a pack leader should. Other times, the two tear around the living room, barking at top volume until our ears ring. It’s bedlam.

I often wonder, especially around 2 a.m., why the whole notion of a second dog had seemed like a good idea.

Then yesterday I found my younger son curled up with the pup, his face buried in her fur. “I love you, Aggie,” he whispered.

Oh yeah. Now I remember.


Sarah Hobart
 is a real estate agent and former newspaper reporter in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and two children in a majestic fixer-upper overlooking State Highway 101.

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