Author Carolyn Arnold with Stiles PD Badge Whatever your taste in mysteries, it's covered...and more.
Author Carolyn Arnold holding a Stiles Police Detective badge and an image of police tape with a blurred out police car in the background

Family is Murder, a Humorous Cozy Mystery

by | Jul 6, 2016 | McKinley Mysteries |

Two years ago, Family is Murder, hit retailers. It marked the fifth book in the McKinley Mystery series. I love this book because it’s light and fun, and hopefully, it puts a smile on my readers’ faces.

If you haven’t yet met the McKinleys, here’s what you can expect from the series:

Romance. Humor. Murder. Do you enjoy murder mysteries without all the graphic violence and foul language? How about something that you can enjoy in an afternoon and walk away feeling good about afterward? How about a dash of humor and romance? If so, meet former detectives Sean and Sara McKinley. When a billionaire leaves them all his money, they no longer have to work, but they find themselves sticking to what they’re good at—solving murders. Undercover, off the books, and around the world, they’ll get to the bottom of things…and romance it up along the way.

This is the perfect book series for fans of Hart to Hart, Castle, Colombo, Monk, Rockford Files, Psych, and Magnum PI.

In Family is Murder, Sean and Sara’s search for a maid gets messy when a woman claims to be Sara’s birth mother and shortly thereafter a dead body shows up.

Here’s a snippet from Chapter 1 of Family is Murder:

THE BRUNETTE CAME INTO THE coffee shop, clutching her purse to her chest and staggering along at a fast pace. She wasn’t heavy-set, by any means, but her ankles seemed to have the tendency to buckle, telling Sara that, despite being in her late forties to early fifties, she didn’t have much experience walking in high heels. The woman spotted them, and Sara smiled, doing her best to put the woman at ease.

She and Sean had decided upon a local Starbucks as the meeting place to conduct interviews for a live-in maid. They had been in their new house for a week and the basic upkeep took time they’d rather spend elsewhere. One example was Sara still hadn’t taken cooking lessons and she knew Sean wasn’t impressed by her existing culinary skills, judging by the way he’d fill his mouth and expel the sentiment, yum. He was trying to appease her.

“Hello? Mrs. and Mrs. McKinley?” The woman didn’t seem to pass Sean a second’s glance but kept her eyes glued to Sara.

“Please, Sara and Sean.” She gestured toward him then turned back to the woman. “You’re Angela?”

“Yes.” Angela shook Sara’s hand, but took a seat without reaching for Sean’s. As she sat, Angela ran a hand along the back of her skirt, her eyes never leaving Sara.

Sara smiled to suppress her uncomfortable feeling. “Tell us about yourself.”

“Oh, yes, I’m from Maine. Augusta.”

“Such a coincidence. I was born there.”

Angela didn’t say anything. Her eyes now drifted to Sean, but flicked back to the table.

Sara glanced at Sean, back to Angela. “So, I take it you have experience with keeping a house?” She had the resume in front of her but preferred to have all the candidates say it in their own words.

“Absolutely.” Angela threw in a brief smile that didn’t touch her eyes. “As you can tell, I’ve been around a bit. This year will mark my forty-eighth birthday.”

“Well, happy birthday.”

Angela’s eyes dropped to the table and lifted back up a few seconds later. “The last family I cleaned for was many years ago. What is it you want me to do for you?”

Sara thought back to their ad—was it not clear enough? She and Sean had gone over the details and had decided to sum up the responsibilities under the title house manager. Basically, they required someone to maintain the interior and to oversee other things that would need organizing on the property, such as pool and lawn maintenance.

“We need someone who’s good with everything,” Sean said. “We need a cook, a cleaner—ideally, someone who can handle all aspects of running a household.”

“Yes, well, I have that. I even had a child.” Angela glanced quickly at Sean.

“Very nice.” Sara’s tendency was to sympathize with people and relate to them, but Sean had told her that when it came to something like this, she had to distance herself. While she didn’t need to think of herself as above anyone, for a healthy work environment, their employee couldn’t feel they were best friends either. It could lead to problems down the road.

She looked at the resume that Angela had submitted and took an aspect from it. “It says here that you worked as a tutor for a couple years with a family in New York City.”

“Yes.” Angela’s eyes were flitting about the Starbucks, not resting on anyone, or anything, longer than a half a second. Her aura had escalated from uneasiness to jitteriness.

Sara glanced at Sean. She could tell by his eyes that he’d noticed the odd behavior as well. “Is today a good time?” Sara asked.

“Uh-huh.” Angela ran a quaking hand down her cheek, and let her arm return to her lap. She looked Sara in the eyes. “You’re so beautiful.”

The entire scenario should have had Sara asking their guest to leave, but there was something about this woman, but what, exactly, Sara didn’t know.

Sean went to get up, but Sara held her arm out.

Angela’s eyes shot to him, and then went back to Sara. “I lied.”


The woman siphoned her bottom lip through her teeth and shook her head. “I’m not who you think I am. You’re here to meet someone to interview I take it. I just played along to get close to you. See, I need to talk to you.”

The current swirling in the woman’s eyes was electric—Sara couldn’t effectively read her.

Sean put a hand on Sara’s knee and she knew that he was about to step in and ask this woman, whoever she was, to leave.

“Why would you need to talk to me?” Sara asked. For some reason, this woman’s energy had Sara’s heart speeding up.

“Because my real name is Leslie Summers.”

“I’m still not sure what—”

“I’m your mother.”

You’ve reached the end of the sample, but this book is available in e-book and print. For retailer links, please visit the Family is Murder Purchase Options page.




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