CORPSE IN COLOR: A Mark Stoddard Mystery by J. D. Crayne

"The action starts quickly and the characters were exceptionally drawn. Absorbing." —In the Library Reviews.

The body of gorgeous, blonde Alix Montgomery wasn't even cold when Detective Mark Stoddard, of the Pomo Police Department, found her sprawled on the floor of her art store, artistically covered with splashes, splotches, dribbles, and drops of beautifully mixed acrylic paint. The handle of an artist's paint brush had been jammed up into her heart, and there was an expensive antique watch chain clutched in her well-manicured hand.

As Detective Stoddard unravels this mystery of death and deceit among the painters of Pomo, he finds his list of suspects to be a lot longer than he'd like. The dead woman's embittered husband (who was trying to get a divorce without going bankrupt from alimony), admits openly that he hated her guts, and his live-in girlfriend wanted to see her underground years ago. Two women who taught art classes in her back room had reasons to want her dead, and a guilt-ridden art student said that Alix Montgomery was a sinner and wasn't fit to live. A local miniaturist knows more about that antique watch chain than he wants to admit, and the clerk who discovered the body may not be as innocent as she looks. The way the paint was slopped over the corpse points a decorative finger toward a local eccentric, already in trouble with the law for malicious use of acrylics, and the police chief's own wife has no alibi for the fatal moments. Detective Stoddard finds a healthy wad of cash among the dead woman's elegant undies, and the nasty odor of blackmail begins to ooze though the case. Just as the truth seems to be in sight, another beautiful woman is found dead. Is it suicide, or is it murder—carefully set up to lead suspicion away from the real killer?

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