Murder Checks Inn (Book 3 in the Lighthouse Inn Mysteries)
deep in conversation with Hiram Blankenship, his one-time
rival for the sheriff’s elected office. Hiram was the town barber,
a man who had the unfortunate habit of waving his hands wildly in
the air whenever he spoke. It wasn’t so bad when Hiram held a sweet
roll in his hand, but he could be frightening with a pair of
scissors or a straight-edge razor slashing through the air.
    “ Hiram,” the sheriff said,
“what you don’t know about the law could fill an ocean.”
    “ I still say I would do a
better job than you, you old goat,” Hiram said, narrowly missing
the sheriff’s nose with a barrage of icing.
    “ The people of Elkton Falls
didn’t think so,” Armstrong said as he leaned back on his stool to
get out of harm’s way.
    “ This time.” Hiram
gestured, stabbing at the sheriff with his roll. If it had been a
sword, Elkton Falls would have needed a new sheriff after all. A
smudge of icing stained the front part of Armstrong’s
uniform.
    “ You’re going to pay for
cleaning my uniform,” Armstrong snapped as he pointed to the spot
on his chest.
    “ The way you’ve been
eating, who’s going to notice one more stain?”
    Alex knew he couldn’t wait for the two men
to wind down; they might be at each other the rest of the day. He
said, “Sheriff, I need to talk to you.”
    Hiram snapped, “You’re wasting your time,
Alex, he’s more interested in harassing taxpaying citizens than he
is in solving crime.”
    Armstrong started to say something in reply
when Alex added, “It’s important.”
    The sheriff tried to tuck in his massive
belly as he stood and faced Hiram. “If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got
police business to see to.”
    “ There’s no excuse for
you,” Hiram added just as they left the diner. Alex caught a broad
grin on the barber’s face as he managed to get the last jab
in.
    Armstrong said, “One of these days he’s
going to push me too far, Alex, you mark my words. Now what is it
that’s so all-fired important?”
    Alex held the appointment book firmly in his
hands. He wasn’t ready to give it up until he made his point with
Armstrong. “Nadine was too jumpy to keep this at the office.”
    The sheriff asked, “And how did you just
happen to be there, Alex?”
    “ I inherited Jase’s things,
remember? I’ve got to start an inventory to see what I’m looking
at.” He had decided from the start not to let the sheriff know
about his own investigation if he could help it.
    “ Sorry,” Armstrong
mumbled.
    Alex said, “But since we’re talking about
the appointment book anyway, there’s something you should know.
Nadine swears the entry about Julie isn’t in Jase’s handwriting.”
Alex flipped the pages randomly and said, “See? She’s right. None
of the other entries match it, though it’s pretty obvious somebody
tried.”
    Armstrong picked right up on it. “So someone
wanted to direct suspicion away from themselves, is that what
you’re thinking, that this is a frame-up?”
    Alex nodded. “Exactly.”
    “ I talked to Julie this
morning,” Armstrong admitted. “Of course, she denied ever making
that appointment, but what would you expect her to say?”
    Alex said, “But why would she forge her own
name and not someone else’s?”
    “ Hold on a second, Alex.
What if Julie Hart is the real killer? She could have planted this
to make it look like she was guilty at first, knowing the entry
would never stand up in court.”
    Alex shook his head. “Sheriff, you’ve been
watching too much television.”
    Armstrong bristled at the comment and
grabbed the book. “First Hiram and now you! Alex, you need to leave
the detecting to me. You’ve got an inn to run.”
    Alex knew from the tone of Armstrong’s voice
that he had overstepped his bounds, and he had to keep the
sheriff’s good will if he was going to get any information from him
in the future.
    “ I guess you’re right.
Maybe I’d better get back to Hatteras West, then.”
    When the sheriff saw that

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