The Ice Cream Shop Detective
 
Tarrytown Street Scene #1, by Ronnie Levine, the painting that inspired the novel.

    

An cozy mystery about art forgery, 

now available in print or as an e-book









Enjoy a taste of

The Ice Cream Shop Detective:

Prologue

 

When Danny didn’t answer the door, I was annoyed. It didn’t feel ominous at all. It was so like him. He’d practically begged me to come to his studio, and now he was leaving me out on this dark, cold, deserted side street?

Where was he?

I hesitated, then tried the door, which opened easily. “Danny?” I called out, then again, then louder the third time.

Silence.

Paintings were everywhere, on easels and stacked along the walls. Tables covered with paints, solvents, and mediums made the small room a maze. The piney, fruity aroma of turpentine mingled with the pungent smell of anchovies on a discarded slice of pizza. There was something else in the air, maybe some spoiled food. Not unusual for Danny, I thought.

Strips of frame moldings shifted as I walked, and I winced when one hit me in the shins. A small heap of pastels and paper sat next to a palette with blobs of paint that appeared to have been freshly squeezed, not yet mixed to use.

“Danny?” I tried again. My voice sounded a little shaky.

Now it was beginning to feel wrong. He’d been so eager to talk to me.

No answer.

I could see books, stretched canvases, six-foot-tall rolls of canvas waiting to be stretched. I could see brushes and buckets and shelves and taborets crammed with god-knows-what.

The only thing I couldn’t see was Danny.

I went past a standing screen that I knew some of his models used when they took off their clothing. It wasn’t that nude models are shy, of course, but most don’t want to do a striptease.

And there he was. Lying on his back on the floor, his face contorted, lips curled back, skin blue, staring blindly at the ceiling like the old-fashioned doll my grandmother had once given me. It had sparkling blue eyes that used to close when you laid it on its back, but eventually the connecting bands had snapped, and the doll could only stare into space. It had scared me. It was horrifyingly unresponsive, dead.

Now Danny was unmistakably, unblinkingly dead.

Or was he? With legs turning to jelly, I looked again. Danny was just the kind of immature guy to play some dumb trick. For a brief moment I told myself it was staged. A tableau. Performance art, just for me? Please let it be that?

But no, Danny wasn’t having fun tonight.

Danny would never have fun again.

Dizziness overwhelmed me. I wanted to run, but I couldn’t. I managed to find my cell phone, but I couldn’t speak.

How could this happen? It had to be some terrible freaky accident.

My knees began to buckle and I grabbed onto a table to keep from falling. Tubes of yellow and red paint went flying.

I turned around so I couldn’t see Danny’s horribly transformed face. I focused on the paintings until I could feel my legs again. I made it to the door.

Once outside, in the dry, crisp night, my shaking hands somehow found the directory entry for the Tarrytown P.D., and I made the call.

A calm, deep voice answered, “Police, what’s your emergency?” Anyone with a voice like that could handle this a lot better than me, I was sure. I wanted him there, right away. And Nick too.

“Hurry!” My voice was barely audible. Could he hear it? “Someone’s dead.” I gave him the address.

I walked a few feet and looked toward Main Street, where things seemed impossibly normal. People were coming out of the hot dog place, steam rising as they unwrapped their small packages. Distant, barely audible voices murmured in front of the Tarrytown Theatre, punctuated by a burst of exuberant laughter. People strolling down the street stopped to look in store windows.

None of them knew that a young artist was lying dead in his studio.

I wished I didn’t.

The sirens started almost immediately. Police cars filled the tiny street from both directions, slamming to a stop in front of me.

       “Where is he?” I’d seen the young officer a few times at Bellini’s, talking to Nick. I pointed to Danny’s door, silently instructing myself to breathe in, breathe out.

 




Chapter One

 
 

When is a Monet not a Monet?

Maybe when the colors are a little drab and the faces are without personality. When you study masterpieces for a long time, you learn to feel them as well as see them.

You become a danger to a forger. And you’d better have someone like Nick Bellini in your life.

The day Nick told me something was going on had started out like any other. I got to Main Street around 11 A.M., picked up a hazelnut coffee at the 7-Eleven, and made my way through the light coating of snow to my studio. We’d had one storm after another and I was getting tired of it. Snow can be beautiful, but too much of it can strand you at home, and I’d much rather be at my studio. I unlocked my door, picked up my mail, and wondered how many weeks were left until spring.

I checked for messages. A routine day: just a robocall with a new approach to scamming me out of my hard-earned money, and a student postponing a class. As I walked towards the area in front of the windows where my easel was set up, I breathed in the pleasant fragrances of turpentine and linseed oil. Settling into my painting chair, I got out a fresh palette for working on my portrait commission.

It’s never easy to earn a living as an artist, especially a traditional one, but between teaching at my studio, writing about art for a local news website, and acting as my own sales agent, I was squeaking by. My current painting was of two children playing in a park on a beautiful autumn day. It was a commission, to be a birthday gift from the children’s father to their mother. I wished I had such a thoughtful guy in my life. Still, anyone who’s been burned in a relationship knows that it’s a lot safer to focus on work.

I began to squeeze my paints onto my palette. I started with white, then yellow, then through the rest of the color wheel, in the same order every day. I’d gotten as far as ultramarine when the phone rang.

“Hey, Lissa, how ya doin’?” It was Nick’s comfortably rough voice, with more than a little New York in it.

Not such an ordinary day anymore. Nick had never called me at this hour on a weekday. As a lieutenant with the Tarrytown P.D, he was always busy, whether at the police station or out dealing with some crime somewhere in town.

“Fine, Nick,” I said. “What’s up? Anything wrong?”

“No, no, just wondered if you’ll be at the shop tonight. I need your take on something.”

“Uh, oh,” I said, my tone light and teasing. “Did you buy another artist’s painting?”

He laughed. “No way. I’m sticking with you, kid,” he said. “It’s something else…something important.”

“Okay, sure,” I said. “Around seven?”

“That works. See you tonight.” He hung up abruptly.

Nick is the kind of guy who makes it seem like life is manageable. He can tackle problems and stay cheerful. My sister is a “no-can-do” defeatist, and though we’re close, it drives me crazy. Nick is refreshingly positive and capable. I’d met him when I’d come to Tarrytown not knowing anyone, had sat down on the street, set up my easel, started painting. He was among the many people who came along to see what I was doing.

I tried to force myself to concentrate on my painting, but I was distracted by the call. Damn! I’d almost ruined the little girl’s shiny hair. I took a swab, dipped it in turpentine, and repainted the section. I had to focus. There was no time for screwing up. This painting was on deadline.

 

©2014 Ronnie Gail Levine

All Rights Reserved


Buy it on Amazon.com!

As an ebook at http://www.amazon.com/The-Ice-Cream-Shop-Detective-ebook/dp/B00IJOCQZ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393203346&sr=8-1&keywords=the+ice+cream+shop+detective

Print version   http://www.amazon.com/The-Ice-Cream-Shop-Detective/dp/0692204482/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1401319369&sr=8-2&keywords=the+ice+cream+shop+detective


If you're in Tarrytown, look for the book at Main Street Sweets, Bella's Boutique, or Harnick Jewelers. In Pleasantville, find it at the Village Bookstore.
Order a signed copy direct from author Ronnie Levine using PayPal below. Delivery will be by USPS Priority mail, shipped within 2 weeks of order.
Signed copy, direct from author
$14.99

Some customer reviews from Amazon.com:


Sweet Treat

By JillLori on May 19, 2014

The Ice Cream Shop Detective is a very enjoyable book. The author does a terrific job of combining her talents as a writer and artist proving she is gifted in both areas. Great characters. You feel a warm connection to the main characters and the setting.
I look forward to reading additional works by Ronnie Levine.

 

complicated

By nancykb on August 12, 2014

Good mystery story with fine descriptions of the town. It has interesting characters but, if you are not an art affectionato, it can be complicated. I enjoyed it.

 

A thoughtful, engrossing and enjoyable read!

By Al W on December 10, 2014

Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

I have found Ms. Levine's novel to be fascinating, compelling, enjoyable and a really good read! I specially liked learning about the art world and its intricacies! I miss the characters after the book was finished. Always a good sign!

 

Interesting and informative

By terracatta "terracatta"on June 27, 2014

Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase

The writer is an artist herself and I enjoyed the references she has to the work of the impressionist masters. It is a nice little book, especially for those of us who also paint, even if we don't make a living at it.

 

What a fun story! I happened to be on vacation in ...

ByAmazon Customer on October 19, 2014

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

What a fun story! I happened to be on vacation in New York and drove through this town . Beautiful!

 

hated to see the book end

By Susan Greene "Susan" on November 7, 2014

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

Most delightful...hated to see the book end.