At 4 a.m. the morning after Thanksgiving, Mrs. Eberly pulls into the slushy Alti-Mart parking lot, the first of an anticipated mob seeking the “doorbuster” sales. Instead, she finds the automatic doors wide open and the store manager dead on the welcome mat.
Jim McBee has been the community Santa Claus for fifteen years--he’s the closest thing to beloved that anybody can imagine. Despite the unlocked doors and shelves full of holiday merchandise, not so much as a box of cherry cordials has been stolen from the store. The well-meaning Rockton Mills police are at a loss without a fingerprint, a footprint, a weapon, or even a vague guess at a motive.
What they have is a cluttered office full of stacked reports, and someone finally phones the only CPA firm in town to get an opinion. That someone is twenty-eight-year-old Claire Spooner, just days into taking the reigns (reins) of her father’s sinking practice. The clients are in chaos, businesses failing one by one under pressure from Alti-Mart’s “lower than low!” prices. Old friends are suddenly much less friendly and familiar storefronts have locked doors and windows painted with neon for-sale signs.
"Skimming some papers" quickly turns into much more, as Claire turns a critical eye towards the people she’s known all her life. The truth might lead to a killer, but it also might destroy a community. Or is it already too late for that?
Start with Claire. She's your focus. You can work the insane Mrs. Eberly in later.
Follow the hook format I've posted somewhere earlier. (#239)
PS I like this idea a lot.