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April Fool’s Alibi

Book 9 in the Holiday Cozy Mystery

Mystery is Afoot in Holiday Junction!

Dive into the heart of Holiday Junction, where April Fool’s festivities are no laughing matter. Violet Rhinehammer, the sharp-witted editor of the Junction Journal, is on the scene, capturing the frolics and fun of the Fool’s Festival for the eager readers of the village. But this year, the jokes take a backseat when a chilling prophecy from a festival palm reader turns Violet’s world upside down.

Celebrations turn to suspicions at the surprise party for Violet’s boyfriend, Darren, who’s just aced the bar exam. But the night is marred by a scuffle with a notorious bar regular, leading to a series of events that even Holiday Junction’s merry traditions can’t overshadow.

As Violet juggles her reporter’s notebook with her knack for sleuthing, the festive air is shattered by a grim discovery—the body of last night’s troublemaker. With Darren’s legal eagle eyes and Violet’s determination, they delve into a mystery where everyone’s a suspect and motives are as plentiful as easter eggs hidden in the park.

“April Fool’s Alibi” is a twisty, brain-teasing cozy that will keep you guessing until the very last page. If you crave a mystery that feels like a walk through a small town filled with big secrets, hit that one-click button and join Violet in unraveling Holiday Junction’s most perplexing case yet. No gore, no foul language, just pure, captivating intrigue wrapped in the charm of the South.

Ready for a killer party? “April Fool’s Alibi” is your invitation to the sleuthing soiree of the season!


April Fool’s Alibi

Book 9 in the Holiday Cozy Mystery

April Fool’s Alibi


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Chapter One

The cheerful sounds of carnival music filled the air, mixing with the happy yells of kids running around. It was the kind of day at Holiday Junction that had everyone feeling like a kid again. The Fool’s Festival was the highlight of the season, and Holiday Park was buzzing with tourists and locals enjoying the sunshine and the lake where swan paddleboats glided on the water like something out of a storybook.

“There’s just something special about seeing the world through the lens,” I mused quietly to myself.

Officially, I was here on assignment for the Junction Journal, snapping shots for the big article on the Fool’s Festival. Unofficially, I was people watching, like catching Fern Banks in the act. She was tucked away behind the oversized wooden jester hat, shoveling funnel cake into her mouth when she thought no one was looking.

Fern was a long way from her beauty-queen days, but she still had that knack for turning heads and pulling at the heartstrings of all the local moms. She’d sell them dreams of success and beauty for their kids, all while teaching classes that promised to set them on the right path so they could be pageant winners just like she was.

Camera in hand, I kept walking, the strap around my neck bouncing slightly with each step. The smell of fried dough and sweet powdered sugar was in the air, and every so often, a burst of laughter would rise above the constant buzz of chatter. Kids were chasing each other around, their faces painted with bright colors and their hands sticky from cotton candy.

I snapped a few photos of the happy chaos, making sure to capture the warmth and closeness of our little town during festival time. It was these moments that made Holiday Junction more than just a place on the map—it was a community, a family brought together by tradition and good old-fashioned fun.

I moved on, the merry music guiding me through the park, past booths of handmade crafts and games of chance that had folks grinning whether they won or lost. The wooden cutouts of jesters, rabbits, and oversized flowers made for perfect photo ops, and I caught more than a few families posing with them, their smiles genuine and wide.

The festival was Holiday Junction’s heart laid out for all to see, and through my lens, I planned to show every beat.

I rounded the corner, and there it was—the “Pawparazzi Photo Op,” decked out with all the trappings of a Fool’s Day bonanza. At the center of it all was Mayor Paisley, the Boston terrier with a knack for winning hearts and votes.

Decked out in a miniature jester hat and a sequined collar that sparkled in the sun, she was the undisputed star of the show.

Her owner, Kristine Whitlock, stood beside her, the lines on her face mapping out a life rich with laughter and sunny days. Her salt-and-pepper hair caught the light as she threw back her head, laughing at something one of the festivalgoers had said. Kristine and her husband, Hubert, were pillars of the community, their Jubilee Inn on Main Street a cozy haven for visitors and locals alike.

“Kristine, Paisley!” I called out, waving a hand to catch their attention. “Smile for the Junction Journal!”

Kristine turned, her smile lines deepening, and wrapped an arm around her four-legged counterpart. The two posed like the seasoned pros they were, with Paisley’s tongue lolling out in a pant that seemed to say, “I’m ready for my close-up.”

The click of the shutter captured the moment, a perfect snapshot of Holiday Junction’s warmth and charm. Kristine’s eyes crinkled with genuine affection as she looked down at Paisley, and I found myself smiling behind the camera. These were the moments that made our little village more than a collection of streets and shops—it was a tapestry of connections and shared smiles.

“Got it,” I said, lowering the camera. “That’s going to be a front-page contender for sure.”

Kristine chuckled, smoothing down the ruffles on Paisley’s costume.

“Oh, Violet, as if Paisley hasn’t had her fill of the spotlight already,” she teased, but her eyes were twinkling with pride.

“You know everyone loves seeing her,” I replied. “She’s got more charisma than most of the council put together.”

“That she does,” Kristine agreed, giving Paisley a gentle pat. “That she does.”

As Kristine and I shared a lighthearted moment, the familiar sight of my mama, Millie Kay, caught my eye.

She was approaching, holding a caramel apple, its glossy coating catching the sunlight. Her presence was like a soft Southern breeze, bringing with it a touch of elegance that stood out amid the festival’s casual cheer.

Mama made her way through the crowd with a grace that made it seem like the sea of people parted just for her. She arrived beside us, offering a genteel smile that matched her polished appearance.

In her monogrammed sweater, which was just the right balance of stylish and classic, she looked as if she’d stepped off a page of Southern Living magazine. Her blond hair, styled perfectly with soft waves, barely betrayed her age with whispers of gray at the temples.

“Violet,” she greeted, her Southern drawl wrapping around my name like a warm blanket. “Kristine, Paisley, y’all are looking as charming as ever.”

Kristine beamed at the compliment.

“Millie Kay, you’re looking radiant as always,” she said. “How do you manage it?”

“Oh, you know.” Mama waved a hand dismissively, though I caught the twinkle of pride in her eyes. “Just a little something I threw on.” She then presented the caramel apple to me with the flourish of a prized trophy. “Thought you might need a bit of sugar to keep you going. And good friends down at the Leisure Center keep me busy.”

The caramel apple looked like something straight out of a gourmet confectionery, the caramel smooth and inviting.

I thanked her and took a bite, the sweetness of the caramel merging with the tartness of the apple in a melody of flavors.

I gestured with the apple toward Paisley, who was eyeing it with a mix of curiosity and longing.

“Don’t worry, I won’t give her any,” I assured Kristine, who was watching her pup like a hawk.

“Isn’t this just wonderful? The whole town comes alive for these festivals.” Mama chuckled softly, her gaze drifting over the festival grounds.

“It sure does,” I agreed, my eyes sweeping over the vibrant scene before us, the laughter and joy of Holiday Junction encapsulated in this one sunny spring day.

Kristine got swept up in a wave of tourists eager for a photo with Mayor Paisley. I nudged Mama.

“Come on. You can walk with me while I take more shots. Are you heading over to the leisure center later? I’ll swing by and get photos of the Leading Ladies rehearsing Fool Me Once.” I had promised her she could take this week off from the Junction Journal now that Louise and Marge had hired Radley as another journalist.

Mama had been helping me google things and go to the courthouse to pull any information I might need for various articles, but with Radley being hired, she was able to open her leisure center—really a fancy name for ‘senior citizen building’—and she had honestly done a very good job.

Mama’s face lit up at the mention of the play put on by the Leading Ladies, of which was a member too.

“Oh, you’ll love what they’ve done with the auditorium. It’s all spring colors and April folly.”

Before I could answer, a voice, smooth as silk but carrying an odd edge, called out. “Miss! Miss!”

We turned to see the palm reader, her table a riot of colors with scarves that fluttered in the breeze like flags of a foreign land. Her eyes were rimmed with kohl, and her hair was a nest of curls, adorned with various feathers and beads. Rings adorned every finger, and her shawl was embroidered with mystic symbols.

“No pictures, dear,” she said, raising my camera in habit, thinking I wanted a free photo op. “But I have a message for you.”

I hesitated, the camera’s strap now a weight around my neck.

“I’m not really into—” I started to say after I heard Mama let out a harrumph.

“Come on, Violet,” Mama interjected, her tone laced with that familiar Southern charm that barely masked her disdain.

The palm reader, however, continued as if Mama hadn’t spoken.

“No charge,” she insisted. “A message you need to hear.”

“Don’t you fall for a fool’s errand, Violet.” Mama scoffed, pulling at my arm.

But curiosity rooted me to the spot. The palm reader walked over and leaned closer, her voice dropping to a whisper that seemed to slither into my ear.

“Beware, for there’s a fool among you, one whose final jest will be met with silence, not laughter.” The words sent a chill down my spine, despite the sunny day.

I walked away quickly, my face drained of color. Mama was hot on my heels.

“What did that zealot say to you, Violet?” Mama demanded.

“I need to get back,” I said, moving faster now, my heart thudding unevenly. “The photos, the article for tomorrow’s online edition…”

Mama was relentless.

“Violet Rhinehammer, you stop this instant and tell me what she said!” she protested.

I paused at the edge of the festival, where the laughter and music faded into the background, overtaken by the gentle lapping of the lake against the shore.

“She said… there’s a fool among us. That someone’s end is nigh.”

The words hung in the air, as heavy as the humidity that was starting to settle in with the afternoon.

Mama’s frown deepened, but I was already turning away, heading down the path that would lead me past the lake, through the dunes, and onto the beach, the quickest route back to the safety of the Junction Journal office.

As I walked, the palm reader’s words played over in my mind, a haunting echo that seemed to match the rhythm of my steps.

A fool’s demise, she had said. Or was it just another April Fool’s trick?

end of excerpt

April Fool’s Alibi

is available in the following formats:

Tonya Kappes Books

Mar 31, 2024



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