Family Traditions by Judi Lynn

Once a year, in the spring, I like to invite my two sisters and my cousin to my house for a tea.  When our daughters were little, we took them to Chicago and went to the Drake hotel for an afternoon tea.  We dressed up.  A woman played a harp as the waiter brought us tiers of scones, finger sandwiches, and fancy little desserts.  The girls still talk about it.

My sisters were jealous.  There was an old, brick house downtown that served afternoon teas, and I went with them.  The food was fancy and delicious, but nothing like the tea at the Drake.  The tea house finally closed, and later, Diane Mott Davidson came to town, and the restaurant, Joseph Decuis, hosted a tea for her to promote her book.  It was during the day, and my sisters couldn’t get off work, so a friend of mine and I went to it.  It was extravagant and wonderful.   Diane Mott Davidson spoke, and she was a joy to hear.  It was the first time in my life I ever tasted a macaron—the French filled cookie made with almond flour.  I still crave them.

The next spring came, and I decided to create my own tea for my sisters.  I have to admit, I love to cook, but I don’t usually fuss over finger foods.  But this was a labor of love.  I made chicken salad, ham salad, and roast beef salad finger sandwiches.  I even made cucumber sandwiches and pimiento cheese triangles.  I baked scones.  And I made fancy little desserts—phyllo cups with a cream cheese filling, tiny eclairs, shortbread cookies.  I even bought antique blue glass plates and a dessert tier, a pitcher, and a glass bowl for a green salad.  But best of all, I bought a blue and white teapot that I love.  We enjoyed ourselves so much, that it’s become an annual event.

High summer in River Bluffs, Indiana, is always sweltering and sweet. But the heat is really on when a decidedly dead body turns up in the neighborhood.

When established house flippers Jazzi Zanders and her cousin Jerod donate a week’s worth of remodeling work to Jazzi’s sister Olivia, they’re expecting nothing more than back-breaking roofing work and cold beers at the end of each long, hot day. With Jazzi’s live-in boyfriend and partner Ansel on the team, it promises to be a quick break before starting their next big project—until Leo, an elderly neighbor of Olivia’s, unexpectedly goes missing . . .

When the friendly senior’s dog tugs Jazzi and the guys toward the wetlands beyond Olivia’s neighborhood, they stumble across a decomposing corpse—and a lot of questions. With Jazzi’s pal Detective Gaff along to investigate, Jazzi finds her hands full of a whole new mystery instead of the usual hammer and nails. And this time it will take some sophisticated sleuthing to track down the culprit of the deadly crime—before the killer turns on her next . . .