Read A Sinister Sense Online

Authors: Allison Kingsley

Tags: #General, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery & Detective, #Fiction

A Sinister Sense


Mind Over Murder

“A delightful read&[A] winning addition to the cozy paranormal mystery realm.”

—Yasmine Galenorn,
New York Times
bestselling author

“The breakout must-read mystery of the fall season. [It] is a definite contender for best new cozy series of 2011…Kingsley’s inhabitants are a sensational cast of players with exhilarating and quirky personalities that vibrantly jump off the page, engaging the reader immediately.”

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Allison Kingsley





Allison Kingsley



Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author


Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / July 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Cover illustration by Griesbach/Martucci.

Cover design by George Long.

Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-58101-8


Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


10   9   8   7   6   5   4   3   2   1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”



To my husband, Bill,
for all that you are, and all that
you allow me to be.


Grateful thanks to my editor, Michelle Vega, for your wonderful suggestions and good eye. It’s a great pleasure to work with you.

Many thanks to Sam and Alan Willey, for your constant support and help with the research. Your photos and descriptions of the Maine coast are invaluable to me.

Special thanks to my good friend, Mr. Bill, whose watchful eye keeps me on my toes.

Table of Contents
















Clara Quinn was in the act of rearranging a display of cookbooks when she heard the ruckus. It sounded like a big dog in a tizzy. A
big dog. After trying for several moments to ignore the commotion, she walked over to the bookstore’s window to get a better look.

Outside, the afternoon heat shimmered on the cars passing by, dazzling her eyes. A group of summer visitors wandered along the storefronts, seeking the shade of the striped awnings as they hunted for souvenirs. Some of them paused to watch the cause of the disturbance—a shaggy black and gray dog leaping up and down, barking at a tall, blonde woman.

Clara winced. Roberta Prince, owner of the stationer’s next door, would not appreciate being pawed by a dog.
Roberta never appeared in public without perfect makeup, an impeccable hairdo and an immaculate outfit.

One muddy paw print on that slim, white skirt or, worse, the coral silk shirt, and the image would be destroyed. Roberta’s day would be ruined, and everyone else around her would feel the repercussions.

As Clara watched, the irate woman backed off into the road. The dog advanced, apparently determined to knock her down. Roberta must have lost her nerve. She turned tail and dashed across to the nearest haven, which just happened to be the Raven’s Nest bookstore.

Unfortunately the door was on a strong spring. It didn’t close quite fast enough as Roberta charged through it, followed closely by her pursuer.

Roberta yelped and rushed toward the counter. The dog chased after her, its tail thrashing wildly. Colliding with the table, it sent Clara’s intricate display of cookbooks tumbling to the floor.

“Hey!” Clara flew over to the animal and grabbed its collar before it could do any more damage. The dog lunged forward, dragging her with it.


The loud bellow had come from the open doorway. In all the uproar, Clara hadn’t noticed Rick Sanders blocking out the sunlight. Rick owned the hardware store across the street and, by the looks of it, a very unruly animal.

Clara let go of the collar, allowing the big dog to trot around the counter, once more in pursuit of Roberta.

“Get that thing
from me!” Roberta flapped her hand at the dog, making it bark once more.

“Tatters!” Rick slammed the door shut behind him and strode forward, one hand raised in the air. “Here, boy.

Tatters ignored him and went on barking—loud, deep barks that seemed to reverberate throughout the shop.

Clara moved around the counter, leaned forward and laid a hand on the back of the dog’s neck. “It’s all right, Tatters. Just calm down, baby.”

Tatters whined and turned his head to look at her.

Cautiously, Roberta moved around the end of the counter. “You need to control that monster,” she hissed at Rick as she hurried to the door and hauled it open. “It’s a menace.”

Rick looked hurt. “He’s just a dog. He thought you had more cookies, that’s all.”

Roberta brushed imaginary hairs from her skirt and sent a disdainful glare at the offending animal. “That’s not a dog. It’s a…big…hairy…
.” With that, she swept out of the shop and disappeared up the street.

Clara met Rick’s gaze and burst out laughing. “I guess she’s not a dog lover.”

Rick’s expression was grim. “I can’t really blame her. Look at him. He takes up more room than my truck. The thing
a menace.”

Clara patted the silky coat and received a moist lick on her hand in gratitude. “Oh, he’s not yours, then?”

“Not if I can help it.” Still scowling, Rick joined her
behind the counter, where Tatters now sat panting, his tongue flopping out of his mouth.

Snapping the leash he held onto the dog’s collar, Rick glanced up at her. “You seem to have a way with dogs.”

The comment made Clara uncomfortable. She’d spent most of her life hiding the fact that the infamous sixth sense she’d inherited from her family gave her special insights into people’s minds. Not only people, it seemed, but animals as well. At least to the point where she could communicate with them in a way they understood. Some of the time, anyway.

The family called it the Quinn Sense. Not everyone inherited it, much to the disgust of Clara’s cousin, Stephanie, who owned the Raven’s Nest, loved all things paranormal and never got over the fact that the family curse, as Clara called it, had bypassed her.

Born just two months apart and more like sisters than cousins, she and Stephanie had grown up together, planned futures together, dreamed dreams together. They’d eagerly awaited the day when their powers would be fully developed. When they’d realized that Clara had the Quinn Sense and her cousin did not, it had caused an uneasy rift between the two of them. Unspoken, but there all the same.

“Did I say something wrong?”

Clara jumped, realizing that Rick was staring at her, no doubt confused with her silence. “I’m sorry, I was just thinking about Roberta and wondering why Tatters chased her across the street.”

Rick made a sound of disgust in his throat. “She came into the store with a handful of cookies for the dog. I don’t know how she knew he was there. That woman doesn’t miss anything that goes on in Main Street. Or the whole of Finn’s Harbor, come to that.”

Clare grinned. “She does have an ear for gossip. People are calling her Maine’s main mole.”

A smile flicked across his face. “Cute. I like it.”

“She doesn’t.”

“Yeah, I can imagine.”

“So she gave Tatters the cookies?”

Rick nodded. “I warned her not to, but of course she didn’t listen. The dog wasn’t happy with what she gave him, so he started sniffing around her, looking for more. She backed off and he took it as a game. Before I could stop him, he’d chased her out of the store and across the street.”

Clara couldn’t resist another grin. “Yeah, I saw her.”

“I had a customer back there thinking about buying a very expensive lawn mower. There’s another guy asking where to find City Hall and someone else looking at garden tools. They’ve probably gone by now. Thanks to this brute.”

Clare leaned down to pat the dog’s head. “Oh, poor Tatters. You just wanted to play, didn’t you?” She looked up at Rick. “Tatters?”

Rick pulled a face at her as he led the dog over to the door. “My ex-wife called him Tatters because he looked a mess when we rescued him from the pound. Lisa fought
tooth and nail to keep him after the divorce, and now, all of a sudden, she wants to dump him on me.” He hauled open the door, and Tatters made a leap for freedom, dragging Rick hard against the doorjamb.

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