Table of Contents

Book Cover
Author's Notes:
Please note that the novel contains pairings of m/f, f/f, m/m

Book Info


Motts Cold Case Mysteries

Series Type:
Individual Stories
Number In Series:
Cover Artist:
Tangled Tree Publishing
1 May 2021
Book Type


On a casual walk along the Cornish Coast, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley stumbles upon a body and a perilous new murder case in the second novel in the Motts Cold Case Mystery series.

As spring rolls into summer, Motts settles into her cottage. She’s enjoying a daily stroll when a body in the sea destroys her peace and quiet. It brings yet another mystery for her to solve.

How does a woman who vanished from Polperro three years prior wind up battered by waves?

Motts is drawn into the investigation despite her best attempts. She finds a family in turmoil and loads of suspects. With no easy answers, she tumbles further into chaos and ever closer to danger.

Can Motts find the killer before she’s the one put on ice?

Will she survive a bone-chilling brush with death?

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A cat, a turtle, and a stranger face off in the garden. The stranger blinks first. Right. The joke still needs some work.

“Do you always let your turtle and cat out in the garden together?”

“They’re friends. They like to gossip.” Motts set her trowel to one side and got to her feet. She dusted the grass and dirt off her knees. “They both need fresh air and sun in moderation. Are you lost?”

The man didn’t seem lost despite having popped up beside the back fence around her garden. He looked like a police officer. Though not quite as broad-shouldered, he stood as tall as Teo Herceg, the detective inspector she’d met in April and had been dating for over a month.

“I’m hoping to speak with Pineapple Mottley.” He sounded like a policeman. His suit, while nice, appeared rumpled from driving; his short grey hair, however, was gelled and styled perfectly. “I’m Detective Inspector Dempsey Byrne with the Metropolitan Police’s cold case unit.”

“Cold case?” Motts’s heart stuttered in her chest. She rubbed her fingers together nervously. “Jenny. You’re here about Jenny.”

Jenny Cleverly had been her lone best friend through her early childhood. Motts had stumbled across Jenny’s lifeless body on her way home from primary school while walking through a park, hidden behind a hedge. She still had nightmares about finding her.

The unsolved crime had haunted Motts. She’d developed an obsessive curiosity about cold cases as a result. And at least once a year, she searched online to see if anyone had been arrested for Jenny’s murder.

“Ms Mottley?”

“Motts.” She had a sudden sense of déjà vu; she’d had a similar conversation with Teo in April. He’d been investigating the murder of a Rhona Walters, who’d been buried in the garden behind her cottage. It had been an auspicious start to her life in Polperro. “Cactus.

Her beloved Sphynx cat had leapt onto the fence and then over to the detective’s shoulder. Detective Inspector Byrne didn’t bat an eyelid. He simply reached up to pat Cactus on his head.

Well, he certainly approves of the random strange man intruding on our afternoon.

Intruding inspector intrudes introspectively.


Not my best alliteration.

“I don’t often see a flowerless garden.” He glanced slowly around at her rows of fruits and herbs. “None at all?”

“My allergies try to drown me if I’m around them for too long.” Motts kept flowers far away from her cottage. Real ones, in any case. She made and sold origami and quilled floral arrangements as part of her small business, Hollyhock Folded Blooms. “Why don’t you come in for tea? Cold case curiosities can converse comfortably.”

Don’t frighten the fancy London detective with your peculiarities.

The judgmental voice in her head sounded suspiciously like her mum, who meant well but couldn’t always relate to Motts’s more unique traits. She didn’t understand her wayward autistic and asexual daughter. Motts had given up trying to fit into neurotypical moulds.

I am who I am.

Alliterations and all.

Oh, fun accidental alliterations are the best.

“I wouldn’t want to impose.”

“Wouldn’t you?” Motts stared blankly at the man, unable to decide if he was being polite or not. “You drove from London. At least a five-hour drive on a good day. Tea isn’t imposing. Sleeping in my garden and trampling the herbs would be.”

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“It has an aura about it.”

“Like a horror movie.” She shuddered. “Never seen a house more perfectly suited for a story of a doll coming to life and seeking revenge.”

“You have a vivid imagination.” Teo accepted the mug of coffee she offered.

“Too vivid. I carefully curate what I watch to avoid nightmares and bizarre dreams.” Motts had given up watching most television and movies. YouTube was far safer to ensure she got some sleep. “Can you imagine growing up there?”

Teo was the one to shudder this time. “I’d prefer to never put that visual in my mind. What happened to not investigating?”

Motts shrugged. “My curiosity has gotten the better of me. Naff thing. I apparently come by it naturally.”

She hoped finding dead bodies wouldn’t become a habit. The one in the garden had been terrifying enough. She didn’t know if her mental health could handle a continuing reoccurrence.

Jenny. The poor girl in the garden. Nadine O’Connell in the sea.

Am I cursed?

Don’t be silly.

Finishing up putting her usual breakfast together, Motts settled at the table after putting Cactus’s breakfast on the counter for him. She bit into her first slice of toast. Everything seemed better with freshly baked bread; she’d have to thank Nish for dropping it off for her.

“Handy having best mates who run a bakery.” Teo took a long sip of coffee. “New brew?”

“Mum sent some down from London. She’s got a subscription.” Motts shook her head and tried not to roll her eyes. “She’s tried about fifty different types. Dad says they’ve enough coffee to last a millennium. He’s exaggerating. I hope. I can never tell.”

“I’d imagine he’s joking.” Teo had another drink. “Good stuff.”

“Want a bag?” Motts gestured to the cupboard that hid several her dad had sent to her. “I’ve more than enough. It’s a tad stronger than my usual coffee.”

“Keep them. It gives me an excuse to come see you for breakfast.” He smiled.

“Why do you need an excuse?” Motts frowned at him. “Neurotypical flirting.”

Teo’s smile morphed into a chuckle. “Always an unexpected take with you.”

Deciding to take it as a compliment, Motts focused on her toast. Dating was strange. She didn’t think she’d ever get the hang of it.

Motts finished the last bite of her toast and washed it down with her milky coffee. “Did the torn bit of coat I found help at all?”

Teo eyed her over his mug for a second. “Too early to tell. We know it’s part of her coat. It hasn’t led us to the killer. I’m pulling all the CCTV footage available in the hopes of identifying ships going out to sea in the days before you found her.”


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Witty Absurd Romance & Mystery


Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

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