I would have thought it was an urban myth until I saw cops in Krispy Kreme buying two boxes of the things. It's a quick snack for immediate energy and maybe that appeals to the profession.
There's lots of jokes about cops and donuts but are there any about cops and malasadas?
In Hawaii, there are a lot of Portuguese people, another thing I'm not exactly sure about. That culture has a donut named the Malasada. Basically, they are the same thing as a sugary homemade deep-fried donut but they have no hole in the center and I'd have to say there is more donut in there for your money and less air holes.
In my novel, Rocky Bluff, the police solve the mystery of a death at the old Iao Theater in Wailuki. A cast member is hit with a giant moon prop when it falls to the stage, and is killed. Two cops happen to be in the audience of The Rocky Horror Show and the investigation begins.
Although the story is attached to the Lei Crime Series by Toby Neal, you need not know the characters or read her books to enjoy this stand alone mystery. This, I've been told.
Or to eat the Malasadas.
In the back of the book I have the recipe for Malasadas, something I do in each of my books--include recipes talked about in the book.
Rocky Bluff is on for 99 cents on Kindle and takes about 4 hours to read. It's a mystery with no gore or graphic crime descriptions but does have some romantic moments in there.
Also, a word of warning...there is a ghost in the theater so if you like ghosts or books with ghosts, you'll like this one.
Perfect for a Sunday afternoon in March! The first chapter is posted below...
Find Rocky Bluff, the ebook, here... FREE on Kindle Unlimited or .99 on Kindle!
KIM HORNSBY is an Amazon #1 Bestselling novelist who lives in the Seattle area and writes books about women in dire circumstances rescuing themselves. She tweets her dreams most mornings over here on Twitter under the hashtag #StrandDreams
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Recipe for Malasadas (Portuguese Donuts)
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
6 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup evaporated milk
1 cup water
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 quarts canola oil for frying
1. Dissolve yeast and 1 teaspoon sugar in 1/4 cup warm water; set aside. 2. In small bowl, beat eggs until thick. 3. Put flour in large bowl, making a well in the center. Into the well add yeast, eggs, 1/2 cup sugar, melted butter, milk, 1 cup water, and salt. Beat thoroughly to form a soft, smooth dough. Cover, let dough rise until doubled. About one hour. 4. Heat oil to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Drop dough by big spoonful’s into oil, fry until golden brown. Remove from oil and drain on paper towels, shake in a bag of either regular sugar or powdered sugar to coat, and serve warm.
Lei Texeira stood on stage of Maui’s Iao Theater among the costumed actors and stared at the dead body. She’d seen the whole ugly mess. It looked like a freak accident, but all of her police training told her to keep the crowd back and not to touch anything. Sirens wailed outside, getting louder, closer. One minute, the fantasy of the Rocky Horror Show was in full theatrical swing on stage, and the next minute, a woman was dead.
Lei’s once fiancé, now simply her live-in boyfriend, Michael Stevens, had taken charge from the moment he flew out of his seat in the audience. He and Lei were both detectives with the Maui Police Department, but only one of them didn’t have PTSD from being abused as a kid. Or parents who let drugs control their lives.
Just now, Lei hadn’t reacted like a cop, something she wasn’t proud of, but would have to revisit later. Never having seen The Rocky Horror Show before, she’d almost believed it was part of the script. Strange things had been happening onstage for the last hour and a half. Not that she went to the theater on a regular basis but when the moon fell on that poor woman, it seemed like part of the show. Lei had long ago turned off her cop warning signal to simply enjoy the spectacle onstage. Apparently, it was normal for the crowd to yell “asshole” every time a name was spoken, and to wave flashlights and throw rice. Most audience members seemed to know when and how to perform each ritual.
So, no, Lei hadn’t reacted when the giant moon crashed to the stage. It was at least five seconds before she flew out of the seat.
Lei’s friend, Kali, who played the tap dancing groupie Columbia, now stood near the feet of the dead woman looking horrified. Her hands covered her mouth as if to keep from screaming, or crying. Nora, the victim, had been a favorite with the cast. That much Lei knew. Kali stood with Derek, the man who played the lead, Frank-N-Furter.
The murder weapon, a large quarter moon prop, that until ten minutes ago had held Derek as he descended from the theater’s rafters, lay on its side beside Nora. It reminded Lei of a dog who wouldn’t leave their dead owner. When the prop broke free, Derek had been seated on the curve of the moon singing “Don’t Dream It, Be It,” in full spotlight. When the moon fell, he’d slipped off the end and had landed on his side. He now looked flustered, but unhurt.
“You okay?” Lei asked him.
He nodded, but Lei knew no one was really okay.
Although Stevens had taken the victim’s pulse and found nothing, one of the cast continued CPR.
Lei stared at the grim scene on stage. From one angle it looked like Nora lay on the stage floor as if taking a nap. From another angle, the amount of blood pooled by the woman’s head indicated a fatal injury. Lei fingered the smooth stone in her jacket pocket, her reminder to not let the darkness take over at horrific moments like this. Dissociation was a bitch sometimes. Somehow, the stone helped.
The theatre stage door flew open and paramedics hustled into the once gorgeous, but now charmingly decrepit theater. Audience members had scattered, spilling into the aisles and maybe still hoping. Lei knew this woman was dead, never to be revived by any amount of CPR. “Let’s move over here,” she said, directing the cast to the back of the stage. “Make room for the paramedics.” She wasn’t wearing her police detective badge, neither was Stevens, but the cast of twenty actors and crew did as they were told. No one on stage looked like this death was what they’d been hoping for. She noticed things like that.
Both wires that had held the moon prop led to a carabiner-type loop that connected them to one central line that now dangled uselessly from the rafters. Lei bent over the wire attached to the moon and took a photo just in case anything was moved before the crime kit arrived. She wondered how a wire simply gave out. Someone would search the rafters tonight. The break looked too clean for fraying. As she watched the paramedics pronounce Nora dead, Lei was sure that this wasn’t a horrible accident, but a murder. But why?
When the theater cleared of audience members, and the cleaning crew had swept up the rice and garbage left behind, Lei offered to drive Kali home to Lahaina. Although Lei was coming to the friendship table kind of late in life, she was learning what friends did for each other by using her Aunty Rosario as an example and driving Kali home would be the type of thing her aunt would offer. Even after the paramedics took Nora’s body away and the theater started to clear, Kali continued to cry into a growing pile of Kleenex as Derek comforted her.
Having met Kali Baker only a month ago, Lei didn’t know her extremely well. But their friendship had blossomed fast, strangely similar to love at first sight. They hit it off immediately even though they appeared to be very different. Unlike Lei, Kali was an emotional person. She hugged everyone, blurted out compliments, and was able to show exactly what she felt at any given time. Normally, such a demonstrative person would have had Lei rolling her eyes and walking away.
Kali looked like an eighteen-year-old petite Barbie doll, but was actually Lei’s age—late twenties. Where Lei was Hawaiian, Portuguese, and Filipino, Kali was pure white bread. Where Lei had short brown curls, Kali had long blonde hair. They’d met while running with their dogs and in the last month, they’d spent a lot of time together, especially because Kali left her dog, Stripe, at Lei and Stevens’ house while she performed.
“I’ll take you home,” Lei told her. “Just leave your car here tonight.”
Kali was a mess, trying to talk through her sobs. “Nora always wanted to be onstage with us. After years of sewing and helping with costume changes, she got to join us.” Kali still wore the stage makeup that had transformed her into Columbia, along with her costume of a red bow tie, sequined tails, and a sparkly top hat. But by now, Kali’s face was a swirl of clownish color and tears. A false eyelash had come off with the mopping of tears and was stuck to Kali’s jawline like a giant cane spider hanging on. Lei reached for it. “Eyelash,” she said handing it over. They walked out the theater’s side door to Lei’s new silver Tacoma truck.
Stevens would stay behind with the crime kit and would manage the investigation. The Iao Theater was inside his jurisdiction, not hers.
She and Stevens had just moved to Maui from Kauai six weeks earlier. They’d been ready for something new, ready to leave Kauai. Stevens was offered a promotion as Detective Sergeant, a position with Kahului Station, headquarters for MPD. As luck had it, the timing was right and Lei joined her old partner from the Big Island, Pono, who was now working at Haiku Station on Maui.
If it looked like murder, Stevens would head up the case. Playing second fiddle to Stevens wasn’t a role she relished, but she could help by staying with Kali, asking questions, and maybe even coming up with a lead.
The director, lighting director, costumer director, and prop mistress for the play remained with Stevens for questioning. Two officers from the Kahului Station, Hensley, and his rookie partner, Sakamoto, would help. Lei would only get in trouble for sticking her nose into another station’s investigation, and that wouldn’t be good because she was terrified of her boss at Haiku Station, Lieutenant Omura. And because of that, Lei wanted to do everything by the book. Not piss off the Steel Butterfly again.
Weeks ago, when Lei reported to Haiku for the first time, Omura had barely looked at her, saying, “There’s no room for publicity hounds at my station.” That had been her welcome to Maui.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Lei said.
That same day, she and Stevens had found a perfect little cane cottage in the Iao Valley and were now officially living together. Thinking of their home just down the road, Lei had an idea.
“How about you stay at our house tonight? You’re upset.” It was a long drive back to the other side of the island and Kali looked traumatized, slumped against the truck’s door. “I’ll bring you back to your car in the morning. Stripe can have a sleepover with Keiki.” Lei threw that in for good measure. Her Rotty loved Stripe. The two dogs had spent a lot of evenings together while Kali rehearsed this show and were currently in Lei’s fenced yard. Double protection, as Lei saw it. Which was good any way you looked at it. Lei was kind of OCD about protection from bad guys, and with good reason. Having a Rotty and a Rhodesian Ridgeback in her yard on weekend nights for Halloween month, was a plan that benefitted everyone.
“That’s probably a good idea,” Kali sniffed. “I don’t want to be alone.” She looked out the window miserably. “Was it an accident, do you think?”
“Not sure, but maybe.”
“Who would want Nora dead?” Kali began to sob again.
Lei didn’t have an answer.
Their cottage in the Iao Valley wasn’t far from the historic theater and as they drove in to the valley, Lei hoped that once she settled Kali in, she could return to the crime scene. Stevens had told her to ask Kali a few questions about Nora and to look for a motive. See if Nora had any enemies. But on the drive to the house, Kali had nothing to tell. Everyone was good friends; there were no bad feelings between anyone, least of all Nora. What else could Lei do for Kali after she settled her at the house? It was hard for Lei to pretend that she didn’t want to speed back to the theater to help. She was a better detective than a friend. Always had been. She loved her work always wanting to dive in the center of a crime, get messy, and work her way out. It wasn’t in her nature to sit on the sidelines with a friend, wondering what was going on. She wanted in to the eye of the hurricane.
They parked and got out of the truck, the air fresh from recent rain in the valley. Keiki and Stripe wagged their tails, or in Keiki’s case, her stub, and jumped around to see the women approach the fence.
“See anything tonight, Baby?” Lei opened the gate and patted Keiki’s back. Lei never took safety for granted. The serial killer case on Kauai that she and Stevens cracked wide open had been crazy-weird enough for Lei to have new appreciation for her guard dog. She and Stevens had moved from Kauai to get away from all the publicity after cracking that one, and because they needed a fresh start somewhere new. Probably that’s what Omura meant when she’d called Lei a publicity hound.
After settling Kali on the couch with both dogs lying nearby, Lei made her a cup of tea.
“You’re so sweet, Lei.” Kali’s tears had subsided but the box of tissues was still within reach. Handing her the mug, Lei noticed Kali’s makeup had smeared enough to make her look like a dead person herself.
“Feel free to take a shower,” Lei said, sitting down on edge of the living room’s one chair.
“I might do that.” Kali took a sip and set the mug on the coffee table.
“Are you okay if I head back to the theater for a bit to take a look?”
Kali glanced to the bathroom door. “Sure. I’ve got Stripe to keep me safe.”
Kali depended on her dog the same way Lei did. Protection was important, especially when you were a single female. One of the first conversations Lei ever had with Kali was about how a large dog made them feel safe in the world. Able to relax. She and Kali had gone for smoothies after that parking lot conversation and talked for another hour about their dogs.
“Is my makeup all over my face? I’m sure I look terrible.” Kali smiled.
Kali was very pretty by All-American cheerleader standards. Lei smiled back sympathetically. “Even more terrible than usual.”
When Lei walked through the stage door of the Iao Theater, Stevens was up in the rafters with the lighting director, Keven. Several tearful cast members, still in costume and makeup, were sitting in the front row talking, watching; probably waiting to hear if Nora’s death had been an accident. After fielding questions Lei wasn’t at liberty to answer, the actors stood to leave. Hensley and his rookie partner, Sakamoto, told them they could go home, then moved to the stage to estimate the trajectory fall of the prop. Hensley stood by the bloodstain on the stage floor. His partner, who everyone called “Saki,” hung on every word from his mentor. From the rafters, Stevens and Keven spoke in hushed tones.
Lei approached Hensley. “What do you think? Accident or murder?” she asked.
Hensley knew who Lei was. Sort of. When she and Stevens arrived on Maui, they’d bumped into him in Takamiya Market and the near-retirement cop had zipped his lips shut when he saw the couple together. It wasn’t against police policy to date, but Hensley probably sensed they liked their privacy.
Hensley looked to the rafters. “Could’ve been an accident, but Stevens says there’s room for doubt.” He shook his closely-shorn head.
“You knew the victim?” Saki asked Lei.
“I knew of her. One of the cast members is my running partner.” Lei could still smell the blood even though it had been wiped from the stage floor.
Stevens descended the ladder from the rafters and Lei walked over to meet him. The only people in the theater now were the caretaker, Mack, the lighting director, Keven, the show’s director, a man named Mike, the set designer, Dan, and the four cops. Everyone else had been asked to leave. Keven was upset, tears rolling down his plentiful cheeks and Lei knew it didn’t look good.
The four cops congregated near the stage’s stairs and in whispered tones discussed what Stevens had seen. “It looks like the main wire holding everything was cut. The wire cutters are missing from the theater toolbox.” He shook his head gravely. “The prop was checked two hours before the show started so it was cut after that. Keven insists the prop’s lines were fine.” Stevens motioned to where Nora had died. “Apparently Nora was out of place on stage; too early in the script to be where she ended up, so I’m thinking it wasn’t necessarily meant for her. Still, looks like we have a murder on our hands.” No one batted an eye. Everyone knew what this meant. The investigation had begun.
Hensley and Saki went downstairs to take a look in the basement dressing rooms of the old theater. Lei stayed with Stevens. “Someone wanted that moon to fall.”
Stevens glanced at the production group gathered by the stage door. “But why? No one was supposed to be on that side of the stage.”
Lei inwardly cringed. This friendly community theater production of The Rocky Horror Show was now living up to its name. At least the horror part.
It was almost dawn when Lei and Stevens pulled in their driveway. They both felt more at home in this type of dwelling even though they could afford something bigger, newer. The small cottage was painted green with white trim and a rust-colored tin roof and the sight of it made Lei happy every time she drove up. This type of house was called a cane cottage in Hawaii and was typical of what was built when sugar cane production started in the islands, long ago. A perfect place for Keiki to hang out while they worked, the cottage was only a few miles from the heart of downtown Wailuku. Regardless, Lei could imagine they were in the most remote part of Maui, back in the folds of the West Maui Mountains, beyond Kahakuloa, where the wild boar lived.
The Iao Valley State Park was tropical rainforest at its finest, with every shade of green imaginable. From their house, they couldn’t see the Iao Needle, the famous tourist attraction in the Valley, but the evidence of its presence was reflected in the daily traffic on the road when the park gates were open. The Needle, resembling a breaching humpback whale covered in jungle growth, stood guard to the remote part of the valley.
Lei climbed the cottage stairs and opened the door carefully. Kali was probably sound asleep, unaware that tonight’s accident had become a murder case. No one had been charged. Not yet. There were no suspects. Stevens didn’t see motive from the director, the caretaker, or any of the crew. By all accounts, no one was supposed to be standing under the moon at the time of its fall. Maybe the killer had the wrong victim. Maybe the killer hadn’t anticipated Derek jumping clear the way he did. Maybe the killer simply wanted to scare or hurt Derek.
Keiki lay beside Stripe on the floor and when Lei and Stevens walked through the living room on the creaky wooden floor, both dogs watched. It was time to get a few hours’ sleep then head back to the station. Lei would help work the case today seeing Saturday was her day off, the one day she and Stevens had off work together. Usually. Trails got cold fast in the islands and clues faded away if you didn’t get some answers in the first forty-eight.
“We can hit this in a few hours, after some sleep,” Stevens whispered as they entered their bedroom.
Keiki entered and settled on the floor by Lei’s King-sized bed, a monstrosity that she’d moved from the Big Island to Kauai and now to Maui. Stevens pulled off his collared shirt and chinos, and slipped into bed beside her. His body was warm and comforting in a very boyfriendly way. She nuzzled into him, one of her favorite positions—tucked into his shoulder, top arm flung across his well-muscled abdomen. Stevens always seemed so big to her, so elegantly long, especially in bed. Tonight the thought of getting frisky was completely vetoed by their exhaustion. “Think it was Keven?” she asked, her exhausted words barely audible.
He sighed. “I’m gonna say no.”
“That moon wasn’t meant for Nora,” she mumbled.
“I agree. But who?” Stevens sounded on the edge of consciousness.
“Me,” Kali said from the open bedroom doorway. “I think the moon was meant to kill me.”
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