A Slippery Slope

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It's the dead of winter in coastal Somerset Harbor, Maine, but the lively Snowball Festival has residents flocking to the recently reopened Snow and Sea ski resort just outside town. The festivities offer a welcome diversion from the winter chill -- not to mention a lift for the local economy -- and Maggie Watson is eager to hit the slopes with her daughter, Emily, and future son-in-law, Austin.

Events start to go downhill, however, when Maggie happens upon the dead body of Snow and Sea co-owner Duke Duncan during a ski run. Duke was an expert skier unlikely to take a tumble, but the police rule his death an accident. Considering the evidence, not to mention the polarizing personalities of the other resort moguls, Maggie suspects Duke was iced.

Duke's untimely death is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Duncan family tragedies. When he was a toddler, his mother, popular 1960s actress Beverly Duncan, also suffered a fatal fall. As Maggie learns more about the cold case from her friend Ruth Harper, Duke's babysitter at the time Beverly died, doubt starts to snowball: Is fate to blame for this double run of bad luck? Or is a cold-blooded killer at work?

Helping Emily plan her upcoming wedding and spending cozy evenings fireside with her beau, handsome alderman James Bennett, offers Maggie some much-needed respite from the slope opera up at Snow and Sea. However, tensions on the mountain keep piling up as tales of unrequited love, shady business deals, and macho rivalries crystallize. Can Maggie navigate the treacherous conditions at the resort before more innocent victims catch their death? Or is the ice she's skating on too thin for her own survival?

The Characters

Maggie Watson is 44 years old. She has lived in the beautiful town of Bennington, Vermont, most of her life with her husband, Richard, who was a successful professor of archeology at a nearby university. Together, they built a loving home and raised their daughter, Emily. And then, three years ago, Richard suddenly died. Maggie had thought they'd spend the rest of their lives growing old together in their cozy New England cottage. But with Richard's passing, Maggie's life changed in ways she never anticipated. And now with Emily off at college, Maggie still isn't sure quite how she fits into this new, lonely phase of her life.

Then, when she unexpectedly inherits Sedgwick Manor -- her aunt's 19th-century colonial mansion -- and the adjacent Carriage House Antiques shop, she wonders if this is the change she needs to move forward with her life. So, on a chilly day in mid-September, Maggie and her equally curious cat, Snickers, head to the small seaside village of Somerset Harbor, Maine, and begin an adventure that will change their lives.

June has run the Carriage House Antiques shop for over 10 years and was a close friend and confidant of Maggie's late aunt. She's outgoing and witty, and she has a natural talent for decorating with antique furnishings. Maggie loves June's enthusiastic spirit and caring nature, warming up to her immediately. It's no surprise that June soon becomes Maggie's best friend and "partner in crime" as they dig into the mysteries of Sedgwick Manor.

Maggie's daughter is warm and friendly with a big, bright smile. She's always been close to her mother -- even more so since her father died three years ago. But now she has left Maggie in order to study nursing at St. Joseph's College in Maine. Maggie understands that Emily needs space to spread her wings and become the independent, responsible young woman she raised her to be, but she still misses her daughter.

An avid quilter, Ruth is the president of the Somerset Harbor Historical Society. She extends a warm welcome to Maggie and invites her into this small group of friendly women. Maggie takes an immediate liking to her. Ruth offers to help Maggie solve the mysteries of the antique pieces found in Sedgwick Manor. She has lived in Somerset Harbor her entire life and always seems to know the buzz around town. Ruth knew Maggie's aunt Evelyn very well, and Maggie can't help but wonder if Ruth might also know Evelyn's secrets.