Creeps Suzette (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #15)

Creeps Suzette (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #15)

3.7 4
by Mary Daheim
     
 

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The off-season blahs, a pyromaniacal mom, and a recently retired husband who is constantly underfoot have poor Judith McMonigle Flynn going stir crazy at Hillside Manor. So the harried R&B hostess leaps at cousin Renie's suggestion that Judith accompany her to Creepers—the stately estate of kindly old Leota Burgess. The wealthy senior is certain that

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Overview

The off-season blahs, a pyromaniacal mom, and a recently retired husband who is constantly underfoot have poor Judith McMonigle Flynn going stir crazy at Hillside Manor. So the harried R&B hostess leaps at cousin Renie's suggestion that Judith accompany her to Creepers—the stately estate of kindly old Leota Burgess. The wealthy senior is certain that someone is determined to do her in for money—most likely one of her disreputable relatives—and Judith and Renie have agreed to look into her allegations. And when they stumble upon Leota's bruised but still breathing body at the foot of the grand staircase, they realize the old lady's fears may be well-founded. But the decidedly dead corpse lying on top of Leota—his head bashed flatter than the proverbial French pancake—suggests that there's more to these homicidal doings than meets the eye. And now it's up to the cousins to follow the clues to the creep who's creeping around Creepers with murder on the mind.

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Editorial Reviews

Toby Bromberg
Mary Daheim has plotted the archetypical cosy mystery in Creeps Suzette albeit with a twist. It is all here, the stately mansion, the odd servants, the family secrets, but Daheim adds her own inimitable sense of humor, making the store all the more enjoyable.
Romantic Times
Devorah Stone
Daheim's regular stable of characters are, as always, entertaining and the quest for the killer keeps you guessing, but this is light reading. It's fluff...but enjoyable.
Mystery Review
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Seattle B&B owner Judith McMonigle Flynn and her ill-tempered cousin, Renie, leave behind their recently retired husbands to look after the elderly mother of an indisposed friend in this chatty mystery. Convinced someone is trying to kill her, and undeterred by her relatives' strong opposition to outside interference, wealthy widow Leota Burgess welcomes the middle-aged sleuths into the prisonlike confines of her aptly named estate, Creepers. When they find the family doctor's bludgeoned body at the bottom of the stairs, Judith and Renie quickly set about snooping into the reticent clan's sordid past. More than once, their probing unearths references to a mysterious past employee named Suzette, who some say still haunts the house. Daheim (Legs Benedict, etc.) pokes fun at Burgess's dysfunctional, WASPy family, whose skeletons include suicide, adultery, racism, mental illness and murder. Her acerbic wit and sarcasm propel the dialogue, but sadly, Daheim leaves few clues to the killer's true identity. 5-city author tour. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061736933
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/13/2009
Series:
Bed-and-Breakfast Series , #15
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
336
Sales rank:
92,377
File size:
1 MB

Meet the Author

Mary Richardson Daheim is a Seattle native with a communications degree from the University of Washington. Realizing at an early age that getting published in books with real covers might elude her for years, she worked on daily newspapers and in public relations to help avoid her creditors. She lives in her hometown in a century-old house not unlike Hillside Manor, except for the body count. Daheim is also the author of the Alpine mystery series and the mother of three daughters.

Read an Excerpt

JUDITH MCMONIGLE FLYNN grabbed the fire extinguisher from the kitchen wall, aimed it at her mother's feet, and squeezed the lever hard. A thick cloud of white spray all but enveloped Judith and obscured the rest of the kitchen.

"Hey!" Gertrude yelled, dancing as much as her arthritic legs would permit. "Cut that out! I'm not on fire!"

"Then move," Judith yelled back. "You're standing right by the flames."

Gertrude coughed. "Nasty," she gasped. "I can't ... breathe."

"Good," Judith said as the flames died out. "You're the one who set the dishtowel on fire. It serves you right. I think you did it on purpose." She opened a drawer, got out some rags, and began to mop up the foamy residue left by the extinguisher.

The white stuff must have looked like whipped cream to Sweetums, who appeared from behind Gertrude's walker and put out an experimental paw. Judith lunged for the cat, slipped on the wet floor, and fell flat on her face.

It wasn't turning out to be a good day.

To Judith's dismay, Gertrude was chortling. "I love a good belly flop," she said, stopping to catch her breath. "You're not bad, kiddo. But you better get up. The cat's lapping up that funny-looking foam like it's dessert."

"He wouldn't!" Judith clambered to her knees and grabbed Sweetums. "That stuff's poison. I wonder if I can make him throw up, just in case."

Gertrude tipped her head to one side as she gazed at the squirming orange,yellow, and gray mass of fur. "He does that all by himself. Hairballs. Gruesome."

"I know that, Mother," Judith retorted, finally getting to her feet and carrying Sweetums to the sink. "Now if I can put my finger down his throat ... Oww! He bit me!"

"Can't say as I blame him," Gertrude remarked, turning on her walker. "What's for lunch?"

"Mother. . ." Judith eyed the tooth marks on her index and middle fingers, then decided she might as well give it another try.

Sweetums, however, had other ideas. With a sharp twist of his head and a terrible growl, he wrenched himself from Judith's grasp and streaked for the back door.

"Damn!" Judith cried. "He's gone. Now he'll probably go off into the shrubbery where we can't find him and he'll die."

"I've thought about doing that myself," Gertrude said. "The trouble is, I can't get down on my knees. I'm too stiff. It doesn't seem right to hide yourself standing up. On the other hand. . ." She stopped, and her small, wrinkled face went blank. "Did you say pickled beets?"

"What?" Judith's gaze was still fixed on the cat's door where Sweetums had beat his hasty retreat.

"For lunch. Pickled beets. They sound mighty tasty."

"Pickled beets?" The response came not from Judith, but from her husband, Joe Flynn, who had just come down the back stairs and into the narrow hallway that led to the kitchen. "I hate pickled beets, Jude-girl. You know that."

Judith whirled on Joe. "Then I quit for the day. You get dinner."

"Dinner?" Gertrude echoed. "I thought it was lunch."

"I can't," Joe said, his green eyes looking startled. "I'm going golfing with Bill."

"Golfing?" Judith was aghast. "You don't like golf. Neither does Bill."

"I didn't say we were going to play golf," Joe said. "We just go over to the lake and wander around the pitch-and-putt course."

Fists on hips, Judith glared at Joe. "Does Renie know what you and Bill do in your so-called retirement?" she asked, referring to her cousin Serena and her husband, Bill Jones.

"Sure," Joe replied. "It's exercise. Sometimes we walk around the lake. It's over a mile."

"Then why do you call it golfing?" Judith demanded.

"Because we always meet at the pitch-and-putt course", Joe said reasonably. "Say, did you know your hand is bleeding?"

"Oh!" Judith had forgotten about the cat bite. "I'd better get some antiseptic," she said, racing for the back stairs and the third-floor family quarters.

"What about lunch?" Gertrude called after her. "What about pickled beets?"

Judith didn't respond.

After cleansing the tiny wounds and applying a couple of Band-Aids, Judith went in search of Sweetums. She got as far as the small patio when Joe called to her from the back porch.

"Where're you going, Jude-girl?" he asked, hands in pockets and a vaguely wistful expression on his round face.

"I'm looking for Sweetums," Judith replied. "He may have eaten some of that fire extinguisher foam."

"I hope he didn't eat all of it," Joe remarked. "I wanted to save some for your mother."

"Joe?" There was a tired note in Judith's voice. The Flynns had been married almost eight years. Joe and his mother-in-law had declared a cease-fire, but had never negotiated a truce. Which, Judith thought fleetingly as she glanced at her mother's small apartment just beyond the patio, was why Gertrude preferred living in the converted toolshed instead of under the same roof as her daughter's second husband.

"I'll help you look for Sweetums," Joe volunteered.

It was an offer that Judith didn't want to refuse, yet she was becoming increasingly annoyed at having her husband follow her around like a lost pup. It had been only two months since Joe had retired from the police force January first, and he hadn't seemed to be able to adjust. Judith loved her husband deeply, but he was getting on her nerves.

Joe searched the area along the east side of the old Edwardian-era house, including the mammoth laurel hedge that belonged to their neighbors, Carl and Arlene Rankers. Judith concentrated on the flower beds in the backyard, but had no luck. She moved to the west side of the house, peering under the azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons. There were rose bushes, too, but they had been pruned in the fall and provided nowhere to hide.

 

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