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Too Sweet To Die

A Charlie Sanders Mystery, Volume 1

T. Doyle

Published by Hen Lit Mysteries, 2021.

This is a work of fiction. Similarities to real people, places, or events are entirely coincidental.


First edition. March 15, 2021.

Copyright © 2021 T. Doyle.

ISBN: 978-1393723349

Written by T. Doyle.

Too Sweet To DieA Charlie Sanders Mystery

T Doyle


To IGW, thank you for your encouragement.

To the “real” McGuffin, thank you for letting me use your name. To my readers, he’s NOTHING like the character, although he could probably rock a pirate look. He’d made a comment that he’d prefer not to read a cozy mystery with a retired cop, so OBVIOUSLY his name had to be in the book. But he’s nothing like Ray.

To my in-laws, I love you so very much. Thank you for making me part of your family. Thank you for loving my kids as fiercely as I do. And thank you for all the childhood stories about the hubs that I can tease him about:)

To Chuck and Sue, I’m sorry I didn’t get this published before you died. It’s the first book you could read without making me stand over the sink with soap in my mouth. You are in my thoughts often, I love you dearly, and miss you terribly.


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Also by T Doyle

Vicious Justice

Chapter One

Forest Forks runner-up for town gossip, Polly Cassidy eyed my buggy contents, six bottles of wine–buy two get one free!–, a bag of grapes, and a six pack of Joe’s favorite beer. I made a mental note that next time I should shop for food first and then wine. I grabbed a pack of multi-grain rolls and tossed it in to cover a couple bottles of wine. I smiled, checked out Polly’s buggy contents, corn chips, dip, and full-sugar soda, and smiled brighter. I attempted a “let’s keep this to ourselves” look, but Polly wasn’t having it.

“Hey, Charlie, have you heard from Oscar?” She pushed her buggy out of the way of traffic, signaling this would be a full conversation and not a quick hello. Darn it.

“We saw him last week.” Oscar was technically our tenant, living in our lake cabin rent-free while he went to college, but he’d become more to Joe and I.

“Weird. He hasn’t been to work for three days. It’s not like him. He’s not answering his phone, either.” Polly dropped that bomb casually.

“What? Why didn’t you call me?” A horrible itch taunted my brain, the one I always got when the kids called and started the conversation with, “Mom, I’m okay, but…”

She raised an eyebrow, “I thought you’d know.” She kept the, “because you’re a meddler” silent, but I still heard it.

I wasn’t a meddler. I was a concerned citizen, parent, and community member. Maybe I over-involved myself on occasion, but only when absolutely necessary. Like finding a home for Oscar.

“Has he done this before?” I asked. How did someone miss three days of work and not get fired?

She wrinkled her nose. “Not really. He’s been late a couple of times and missed a few days. He usually calls. It’s weird that he’s not answering his phone.”

“Uh-huh. You’re not worried?” Because I was. The itch was so strong now, it needed a tube of hydrocortisone, a bottle of Benadryl, and a gallon of calamine.

“Well, we figured we’d call you today since he doesn’t have an emergency contact listed. I guess it’s just luck I ran into you.” Her gaze dropped to the wine bottles again.

“I’ll drop by and check on him.” I turned my cart toward the checkout. I considered leaving it in the aisle, but that was rude and Piggly Wiggly rarely had a buy two get one free wine sale.

“Thanks, Charlie. Have him text me, please,” Polly called out to my back.

The cashier seemed to recognize my anxiety level and avoided the usual small talk, helping me get out of there fast. I sped to our family’s lake cabin, past the autumn-colored hues of the trees, and squinted in the bright light of October. I raced toward Oscar, calling his cell phone, hoping he was just screening his calls. My calls went to voicemail twice, and my text to Oscar went unanswered.

He’d missed work for three days?

Oscar played soccer with our son, Drew, from grade school through high school. His parents kicked him when he turned eighteen because he’d admitted he was gay. We moved him into the cottage immediately. The boys attended different colleges and drifted apart, but Oscar came over for family dinners and holidays occasionally. He’d worked at Tyler Rigby’s Law Office as Polly’s office assistant since he’d started college.

I ignored the hitch in my chest and instead focused on the hammering in my ears. He probably overslept and was in the shower.

The West Virginia sky held no clouds to blanket in warmth, and frost sparkled in the shadows of the trees. It should have been pretty, but the diamond-frost chilled my bones. My brittle fingers white-knuckled the steering wheel. I turned onto the county road toward the cabin on the shore of Ghost Cat Lake and through 120 acres of unspoiled woodlands of Forest Forks.

I swallowed my fear, covered it in common sense. Oscar probably had the flu and forgot to charge his phone.

I turned onto the private road marked with a “No Trespassing Sign”. Gravel pinged against my wheel wells, cautioning me to slow down. I parked next to Oscar’s Jetta.

It had been weeks since I’d been at the lake, and the porch needed a coat of stain. I rapped on the front door. Drew had disconnected the doorbell several years ago. Above the button Oscar had placed a placard: “For total annihilation, press.” I peeked through the window beside the door into the pristine living room. Apparently, I was

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