Corpse on the Cob (Odelia Grey Series #5)

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Overview

BOOK FIVE IN THE AWARD-WINING SERIES STARRING UNFORGETTABLE AMATEUR SLEUTH ODELIA GREY

What do you have to lose when you go searching for the mother who walked out of your life thirty-four years ago? I mean besides your pride, your nerves, and your sanity?

Odelia finds ...

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Corpse on the Cob (Odelia Grey Series #5)

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Overview

BOOK FIVE IN THE AWARD-WINING SERIES STARRING UNFORGETTABLE AMATEUR SLEUTH ODELIA GREY

What do you have to lose when you go searching for the mother who walked out of your life thirty-four years ago? I mean besides your pride, your nerves, and your sanity?

Odelia finds herself up to her ears in trouble when she reunites with her mom in a corn maze at the Autumn Fair in Holmsbury, Massachusetts. For starters, there’s finding the dead body in the cornfield—and seeing her long-lost mom crouched beside the corpse with blood on her hands . . .



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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Jaffarian's delightful fifth cozy to feature supersized sleuth Odelia Grey (after 2009's Booby Trap), Odelia wanders into a whole crop of trouble when she discovers her long-lost mom, Grace, bent over a dead body in a Massachusetts corn maze. Surely Grace is no killer, but the woman's ornery refusal to speak has plenty of the local folks wondering. There's no mushy reconciliation after 34 years, but Odelia realizes her mom needs her, and she's determined to glean the truth from a growing list of highly questionable characters. Odelia soon gets another shock: the discovery that she has two half-brothers, both cops and neither overly excited to meet her. Enter Willie Proctor (aka Carter)—fugitive, con man, and dependable friend—to keep an eye on Odelia and help return her safely home to California, but not before bringing in Greg, her handsome paraplegic husband, as backup. Jaffarian keeps getting better and better at blending humor, suspense, and romance. (Feb.)
Library Journal
After her father's death, plus-sized Odelia Grey travels to Holmsbury, MA, where her long-lost mother is living. Odelia has not been in the small town for a minute before she finds a corpse and her mother kneeling beside it. VERDICT Like its predecessors, this fifth series title (after Booby Trap) is a delight. For all of her fast talking, smart reasoning, and the great group of supporters she gathers along the way, Odelia deals with some very human feelings and insecurities that add to her appeal. Fans of cozies and amateur sleuth mysteries will enjoy her latest adventure.
Kirkus Reviews
A California paralegal gets more that she bargained for when she travels to New England for a surprise family reunion. Four months after her father's death, Odelia Grey (Booby Trap, 2009, etc.) gets an upsetting 50th birthday present: a cardboard box of Dad's mementos containing an envelope addressed to him by his ex-wife, the mother who walked out on Odelia when she was 16 and is now living in New England under the name Grace Littlejohn. Urged by husband Greg, Odelia flies to Holmesbury, Mass., where she finds Grace kneeling beside a dead body in the middle of a corn maze at the Autumn Fair. Phoning the police just complicates Odelia's life. The first officer on the scene is Grady Littlejohn, Grace's younger son and Odelia's younger brother, and the chief of police is Clark Littlejohn, Grace's older son and Odelia's older brother. Worried Greg, who knows that sorting out this family tree will take brains, summons fugitive criminal mastermind Willie Proctor to Holmesbury. But even Willie's shrewd mind can't protect Odelia from Buster and Clem Brown, whose produce-stand drug business is seriously disrupted by her sleuthing. As the body count rises, Grace stonewalls, and Odelia has to figure out whom her not-very-maternal mom loves enough to protect. A trip to the East Coast blows a refreshing fall breeze through Odelia's fifth. So does the switch of focus from workplace woes to family drama.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780738713519
  • Publisher: Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2010
  • Series: Odelia Grey Series , #5
  • Pages: 330
  • Sales rank: 370,685
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sue Ann Jaffarian is a full-time paralegal who lives and works in Los Angeles. A member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters In Crime, Sue Ann is the author of three mystery series—Odelia Grey, Ghost of Granny Apples, and Madison Rose—and also writes general fiction and short stories. She is widely sought after as a motivational and humorous speaker.

For the most up-to-date list of all Sue Ann's activities, visit the calendar page at www.sueannjaffarian.com.

***

"Sue Ann Jaffarian never fails to make me chuckle with her three mystery series starring paralegal Odelia Grey, ghost Granny Apples, and now Murder in Vein, starring friendly, and not-so-friendly, neighborhood vampires."
Joanne Fluke, New York Times bestselling author of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries

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First Chapter

Corpse on the Cob

An Odelia Grey Mystery
By Sue Ann Jaffarian

Midnight Ink

Copyright © 2010 Sue Ann Jaffarian
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7387-1351-9


Chapter One

The dead guy on the ground did not look familiar. The woman crouched over the body did.

I tried to think of something to say to her, but what do you say to someone who walked out of your life thirty-four years ago without so much as a note, leaving worry and speculation of the worst kind in her wake? Not to mention shattering the already shaky self-esteem of an overweight, lonely teenage girl. And, honestly, a part of me always worried about what I would say to my mother, if given the chance. Would I be coldly polite? Weepy? Angry? Sentimental? Accusing? Or would I start off warm and fuzzy and morph into a stumpy Medusa, telling her to stick motherhood where the sun doesn't shine?

Dead body aside, I, Odelia Patience Grey, now had my big chance.

This whole misadventure started three weeks ago in Seal Beach, California, where I live with my paraplegic husband, Greg Stevens; a golden retriever named Wainwright; a one-eyed, raggedy-eared cat named Seamus; and a sweet, mischievous cat called Muffin. By trade, I'm a corporate paralegal at the Orange County law firm of Wallace, Boer, Brown and Yates. It was shortly after my fiftieth birthday. A pink plastic pig was involved. In fact, I'm blaming everything on that damn pig. And my husband. And my father. And not necessarily in that order.

It was a Sunday afternoon. The pig had just exploded before my eyes. I raised the hammer in my right hand and delivered another blow to its head, assuring that it would never oink at me or anyone else again. "Die, die, die," softly escaped my lips as hot tears streamed down my flushed face.

"What in the hell are you doing?"

Ignoring the question, I raised the heavy wood and rubber mallet and sent it crashing down for a third time. I would have hit the beast a fourth time, but as soon as I raised the hammer above my head for the next assault, it was snatched from my grip.

Whipping my head around, I faced Greg, who now held the hammer in his hand. "Give it back," I demanded.

His mouth hung open in undisguised shock. "What in the hell are you doing?" he repeated.

"Killing my birthday present."

Seated on the floor of our kitchen, I was surrounded by carnage. Shards of pink plastic decorated the floor like ill-shaped confetti. Seamus and Muffin had taken refuge under the buffet when the slaughter began. Wainwright had come in with Greg. He was now busy sniffing through the damage, looking for life. He found none.

"What birthday present?" Greg put the hammer on a nearby counter and maneuvered his wheelchair closer to view the deceased. "I don't recall any gifts made of pink plastic."

He was right. The weekend before, our closest friends, Seth and Zee Washington, had thrown me a big fiftieth birthday bash at their home. The pink plastic pig had not been among the many gifts.

I got up from the floor. With much of my anger released, I was as limp and rubbery as a deflated balloon. I disappeared into our bathroom to splash cold water on my face.

"This morning, right after you left to play basketball, I got a call from Gigi," I explained when I returned, a wad of tissues at the ready in my hand.

"Uh-oh." Greg hung his head in frustration. He knew no call from Gigi, my stepmother, would be pleasant.

When I was thirteen, my mother had insisted on a divorce from my father, Horten Grey. Their marriage had been as rocky as the Maine seashore and just as cold and stormy, and I was caught in the middle. Both of my parents had their flaws. My father was sweet but extremely passive, allowing himself to be led around, first by my mother, later by his second wife and her disgusting family. I don't think my mother ever forgave him for not living up to her expectations. My mother, Grace Grey, was delusional, brow beating, and an alcoholic. Both were disappointed by the cards life had dealt them, yet neither seemed to realize they could discard and be dealt more, at least not until much later, when they finally divorced. A few years after the divorce, my mother discarded me and moved on to play in a new game.

I still remember the day I came home from high school to discover my mother had moved out-lock, stock, and vodka bottle. There was no note, no forwarding address, not even a prior clue that this might happen. That morning, I had left for school, as usual. She was getting ready for work, as usual. When my day was over, I returned to find her and all her personal items gone. I lived in our apartment alone for nearly a month, wondering if she'd return, half-hoping she wouldn't but not daring to call anyone. I even paid the rent out of my savings account to avoid having to call my dad. On the surface, I was sure she'd be back as soon as her bender was over. In my heart, I knew she wouldn't be. I wasn't a favorite handbag she'd simply forgotten. I was old baggage she didn't want to lug around anymore.

Eventually, of course, I had to call my dad, who was already married to Gigi, a hateful woman with two grown, just-as-hateful children. I went to live with them and moved out almost before the smoke had cleared from the candles on my eighteenth birthday cake.

Between my sixteenth and my fiftieth birthdays, I'd not heard one word from my mother. I didn't even know if she was still alive. My father never spoke of her and wouldn't allow me to discuss her. Until now, Grace Grey was the elephant in the corner of the room that is my life-the always-present yet never-acknowledged boogey-mom.

"And?" Greg encouraged me to continue.

I heaved my shoulders in an exaggerated sigh. When I started to talk, my tears started again.

"Come here, sweetheart."

Greg rolled over to the sofa. Positioning his wheelchair and locking the wheels, he hoisted himself from the chair and onto our sofa with a strength and grace that always astounded me. Once he was settled, he indicated for me to join him. When I sat down next to him, he wrapped his protective arms around me and pulled me close. I burrowed into the solid warmth of my husband. We sat that way for several minutes-me crying softly, and Greg giving me time to get it out and collect myself.

"I'm sorry I'm so sweaty," he finally said, breaking the silence and referring to the fact that he'd just returned from playing basketball.

I looked up at him. "That's okay. I like you this way." I gave him a weak smile. He smiled back and kissed my forehead.

"So what's up with Gigi?"

"She called me to say she had a birthday present for me and a box of Dad's stuff she'd forgotten to give me the last time we were there." I blew my nose again. "So I went over to the house. She gave them to me. I left."

"Is what you just destroyed the gift?"

"It was a pink plastic pig."

"A piggy bank got you this upset?"

I shook my head from side to side. "No, it wasn't a piggy bank. It was this obnoxious plastic pig that you put in your fridge. Every time you open the door, the pig lets out this horrible snorting noise."

Greg pulled me closer. "Sweetheart, this isn't about an offensive gift, and you know it. You usually take Gigi's insults in stride."

He was right. At just over five feet tall and tipping the scales at two-hundred-plus pounds, I was used to barbs and insults from Gigi and her family about my weight. I had endured them for decades, from the moment my father married Gigi when I was a plump teenager.

"This is about your dad, isn't it?" Greg squeezed me tight, as if his arms could shut out the pain. "It's tough being orphaned, Odelia. Even at your age. Inevitable, but tough."

It was true; my father was gone. He had died almost four months ago. And even though he was elderly and his health was starting to break down, his death had devastated me. One morning, he simply got up and started scrambling himself a couple of eggs. Somewhere between the cooking and getting the plate to the kitchen table, he'd had a heart attack. The doctor told us it'd been fast, leaving no time for anyone to get help.

I pulled away just enough so I could look Greg full in the face.

"But that's just it, Greg. I'm not an orphan."

"Your mother is long gone, sweetheart." His voice was soft and gentle. "And she'd be in her late seventies, possibly her eighties."

"Seventy-seven, actually."

"Well, by now, it's quite possible she's dead also."

I shook my head and fought the tears starting to pool again. "She's not dead, Greg. She's alive. I called her today."

"You what?" He stared at me.

I pointed towards the dining room, drawing his attention to a small cardboard box sitting on the table.

"Gigi gave me that today. It contains some of my dad's stuff. Scraps and clippings and small mementos of his life." I took a deep breath. "I went through it when I got home and found an envelope addressed to Dad. It was from my mother. The postmark was more than twenty-five years ago."

"What did the letter say?"

"There was no letter, just the envelope."

I got up from the sofa and retrieved a business-size envelope, yellowed with age, from the box on the table and brought it to Greg. He held it as if it were a snake, disbelief radiating from his eyes like heat waves over asphalt.

"Grace Littlejohn," he read from the return address. Greg looked up. "I can't read the address-it's smudged. But it looks like New Hampshire."

"She's in Massachusetts now-a small town called Holmsbury. I ran a search on her using an online company."

"And you talked to her? What did she say?"

"Nothing but hello." When Greg shot me a curious look, I continued. "I called her. Someone answered the phone, a man. I asked for Grace Littlejohn. When she came on the line and I heard her voice, I knew it was my mother. But I couldn't say anything. I was completely tongue-tied. Can you believe it? So I hung up."

"After all this time, you just hung up?"

"What did you expect me to say, Greg?" My voice rose in frustration as I paced in front of him. "'Hi, Mommy, can you bake me some cupcakes for school?'" I stopped pacing. "Not that she ever did that anyway."

"It would have been better than nothing, don't you think?" Greg's voice was also increasing in volume.

We stared at each other, surprised at ourselves. We seldom raised our voices to each other. It told me how much his emotions were feeding off my already near-hysteria. Wainwright, sensing the disturbance between us, trotted over and nudged Greg, looking for reassurance that we were okay. He received a reassuring pat.

"Sweetheart, I'm sorry." Greg toned down his voice like the volume on a radio. "I know this must have been a shock to you today, but if you went to the trouble of looking her up, why not speak with her too?"

Tears rolled down my face again. I was turning into a regular waterworks. "Greg, she left me when I was sixteen, and not once did she try to get in touch with me. Why would she want to hear from me now?"

"Maybe she did try, Odelia. Maybe that's what was in that envelope. She might have written you a letter, and Horten didn't give it to you for some reason."

"The envelope was addressed to my father, not me." I pointed at the envelope in his hands. "Look at it."

He studied the address, then looked up at me. "Odelia, this letter was sent when you were about twenty-five years old and already out on your own. Maybe she wrote to your father asking about you- where you were, what you were doing. It stands to reason she would assume you wouldn't be living with Horten and Gigi at that age."

"If that's true, then why didn't Dad tell me or let me see it?"

Greg held out a hand to me. I took it and squeezed. This man wasn't just my lover and husband, he was my rock.

"I don't know why Horten didn't let you know about this letter. And unfortunately, you can't ask him about it."

No, I couldn't. It was a secret he took to his grave.

"I could always go to a séance and see what he has to say for himself."

Greg chuckled.

"Don't laugh. There's a woman at the office who goes to them regularly."

"Better yet, Odelia, why don't you make that call again. And this time, talk to the woman."

I eyed him as if he were crazy.

"I mean it, sweetheart. What do you have to lose?"

Silently, I ticked off three things inside my head: pride, nerve, sanity.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Corpse on the Cob by Sue Ann Jaffarian Copyright © 2010 by Sue Ann Jaffarian. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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  • Posted March 27, 2010

    Another winner

    Love this series. The character Odelia Grey is so real. She admits to having some of the same problems we all do but she overcomes, copes and enjoys life. She reminds me a bit of Lucy Ricardo, always with a nose where it doesn't belong. The other characters like her husband Greg, her friend Willie and the rest of the gang are so true to life.

    I can't wait for the next Odealia Grey story. This author is so much fun as well as a good story teller.

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