It Had to Be You: A Grace & Favor Mystery

Overview

Comfortably ensconced in their late great-uncle's "Grace and Favor" mansion, brother and sister Robert and Lily Brewster are riding out the Depression, penniless but in high style. Now a new day is heralded by Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration. Barely recovered from his trip to Washington to witness the historic event, Robert is rushed by Lily to a nearby nursing home, where the Brewsters have agreed to lend a helping hand to the staff.

But when an elderly resident is murdered ...

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Overview

Comfortably ensconced in their late great-uncle's "Grace and Favor" mansion, brother and sister Robert and Lily Brewster are riding out the Depression, penniless but in high style. Now a new day is heralded by Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration. Barely recovered from his trip to Washington to witness the historic event, Robert is rushed by Lily to a nearby nursing home, where the Brewsters have agreed to lend a helping hand to the staff.

But when an elderly resident is murdered in his bed, Robert and Lily realize the local police will need their able assistance as well — especially since the slaying isn't the only big trouble in tiny Voorburg. The spring thaw hasrevealed another body, and the Brewster siblings must expose acold-blooded criminal before he — or she — kills again.

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Editorial Reviews

Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
“Irresistible.”
Orlando Sentinel
“A refreshing answer to the spate of female-yet-macho detectives proliferating in the world of crime.”
Washington Post on Someone to Watch Over Me
“It will leave you feeling a little better about human nature.”
Washington Post
“It will leave you feeling a little better about human nature.”
Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
"Irresistible."
Orlando Sentinel
"A refreshing answer to the spate of female-yet-macho detectives proliferating in the world of crime."
Publishers Weekly
It's March 1933: FDR is inaugurated as president, Prohibition is repealed and Brewster siblings Robert and Lily must solve two puzzling murders in Jill Churchill's It Had to Be You: A Grace & Favor Mystery, the fifth entry in this gently amusing cozy series (after 2003's Love for Sale). Churchill, who's won both Agatha and Macavity awards, is also the author of Bell, Book, and Scandal (2003) and other titles in her Jane Jeffrey series. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The fifth entry in Churchill's Depression-era series featuring the sibling heirs of a land speculator shows the pair working at a nursing home near their own "Grace and Favor" mansion. Robert's and Lily's jobs require laundry toting, floor mopping, and little-old-lady sitting. Unfortunately, one old man on the verge of death is found smothered. The nurse suspects something immediately, authorities are informed, and statements are taken. True to form, Lily and Robert contribute their own sleuthing, especially after another corpse appears. The narrative seems a bit forced, the conversations mundane, and the transitions abrupt, but undemanding fans may appreciate the historical references. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Impoverished socialites Lily and Robert Brewster (Someone to Watch Over Me, 2001, etc.) try their hand at nursing-with a healthy dose of sleuthing thrown in. To maintain Grace and Favor, their cottage in Voorburg-on-Hudson, and to keep gas in their yellow Deusenberg, the siblings agree to help their neighbor, Miss Twibell, who's turned the house next door into a convalescent home. Eulalia Smith and Francine Jones are model patients: infirm and garrulous, but kind. They've also handed over their modest fortunes to Miss Twibell in return for medical care and a steady supply of knitting yarn. Mark Farleigh is an odd duck who spends most of his days working in the garden rather than resting in bed. Sean Connor, however, is just plain nasty, yelling nonstop at Betty and Mattie, the two nurses who clean and dress his badly infected knee. So no one, not even his wife, is terribly upset when he dies. But Miss Twibell is suspicious. Even though visiting nurse Lucy Mae Quincy pronounced him near his end, a bloody pillow next to Connor's bed suggests that someone may have helped him along into the next world. But who would kill an old man with a day or two left to live? That's what Lily has to help police chief Howard Walker-the man Robert suspects she'll marry some day-find out. Brisk as Nurse Twibell, Churchill's latest marches staunchly to its prescribed conclusion.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060528447
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/29/2005
  • Series: Grace and Favor Series , #5
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 646,888
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Jill Churchill has won the Agatha and Macavity Mystery Readers awards and was nominated for an Anthony Award for her bestselling Jane Jeffry series. She is also the author of the highly acclaimed Grace and Favor mysteries and lives in the Midwest.

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Read an Excerpt

It Had to Be You

A Grace & Favor Mystery
By Churchill, Jill

William Morrow & Company

ISBN: 0060528435

Chapter One

Friday, March 3, 1933

Here's another one," Lily said, putting a letter down on Mr. Prinney's desk at his secondary office at Grace and Favor.

This one was on brown bag paper, carefully folded and addressed to The Honerable Mr. Horatio Bruster.

Mr. Prinney carefully pulled it apart.

Written on the inside of the envelope to save wasting paper, it said,

Deer Sir, my wife is writing this for me. I aint got much edication. But Im a darned good farmer. Sad to say that the hale kilt our been crop last fall and we aint had no rain atall this year. We're sory we havent payed the morgage for a cuple months now but hope you understand. We will try to pay as soon as we kan. We hope its gonna rain this year.

Jimmy Brubaker in Gardan City Kansas

This was the sixth letter they'd received this spring. Most of them said virtually the same thing.

Lily and Robert's great-uncle Horatio had bought great tracts of land in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma long before the stock market crashed, and sold it to farmers. For the first four years the venture had been profitable. But the good weather had turned bad in 1929, and had progressively become worse. There hadn't been rain for two or three years.

Mr. Prinney, the executor of Horatio Brewster's estate, sighed. "Lily, would you write back. The usual wording." Which was that Mr. Brewster had passed on and that Mr. Prinney was in charge of the estate on behalf of Mr. Brewster's great-niece and great-nephew. On their behalf he was communicating that the mortgage payments didn't have to be paid this year, and that the penalty clause in the contract would not be enforced. He hoped the weather would get better this summer and that the mortgage holder could resume payments next year.

While Lily was typing the letter to Mr. Brubaker, Robert was preparing to go to Washington, D.C., to see President elect Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration. Even Mr. Prinney reluctantly agreed that Robert deserved the trip. On Election Day the previous November, Robert had worked every hour the polls were open, driving around town in his beloved Duesenberg and gathering up loads of voters, who got the car so dirty it took him nearly a week to get it clean again.

He was this very day standing with a huge crowd at the Hyde Park railroad station watching Roosevelt being lifted into his private train in his wheelchair by his sons. Hundreds of people from surrounding counties cheered as the next president appeared at the window of the train. The mobs of photographers hadn't taken his picture until then. Roosevelt was leaning out of the open window, waving, and grinning with his cigarette holder in his mouth. Robert was waving back madly.

When the train pulled out and Roosevelt's window was closed against the cinders and smoke from the coal, some of the people drifted away. Many more, including Robert, waited patiently with their tickets for the next train to pull into the station, and piled on gleefully to follow. Robert snagged his reserved seat that he'd booked weeks earlier, and realized how thirsty he was. He hadn't had anything to eat or drink since going to bed the night before, for fear he might have to give up his seat to go to the bathroom and lose his place to some of the people jostling him in the aisle.

A small price to pay, he thought.

He'd consulted the alumini address list his college sent out every year to graduates and discovered that several old acquaintances from his school days had moved to Washington, D.C., and hoped he could bunk down with one of them for a couple of days. He'd even managed to find a Washington phone book at the Voorburg library and looked up their phone numbers. It was two years old, but a few friends were certainly still at the same place.

When the train arrived in Washington, he found a bathroom first, washed his hands, and bought a sandwich and a cup of very bad coffee. Then he gathered his change and found a pay phone. The first number he tried didn't answer. Neither did the second. The third old friend answered on the third ring.

"James, this is Robert Brewster. A voice from the past. I'm down here to watch the inauguration. I wondered if I could sleep on your sofa or floor for a couple of days?"

"Robert Brewster?" the voice asked. "I remember you. Have you gone mad? Why would you want to come here for that? Most of us campaigned and voted for Hoover and wouldn't waste the time. In fact, I'm just going out of town to avoid the radical Commie crowds. I can't help you out."

Two more phones weren't answered. One number was answered by a woman who'd never heard of him. The next number was no longer in service. The only other person he reached said much the same as the first had. This old school chum said he was sick at heart at Roosevelt's winning.

Robert was disappointed. He'd have to find some fleabag hotel. Or sleep in a homeless shelter. He cringed at the idea of what a shelter would smell like. He'd rather buy a blanket and sleep in a park somewhere.

There was a knock on the front door of Grace and Favor, and Lily went to see who it was. They weren't expecting company. A smiling young man with curly red hair was standing there. Behind him was an odd vehicle, designed like a smaller version of a Greyhound bus, but without the windows down the sides. It was white with a painted sign on the side saying "Kelly Connor's Notions."

"I hope I'm not disturbing you, but I have some things in my bus that you might not be able to find anywhere close by. May I bring my sample case inside?"

Continues...

Excerpted from It Had to Be You by Churchill, Jill 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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First Chapter

It Had to Be You
A Grace & Favor Mystery

Chapter One

Friday, March 3, 1933

Here's another one," Lily said, putting a letter down on Mr. Prinney's desk at his secondary office at Grace and Favor.

This one was on brown bag paper, carefully folded and addressed to The Honerable Mr. Horatio Bruster.

Mr. Prinney carefully pulled it apart.

Written on the inside of the envelope to save wasting paper, it said,

Deer Sir, my wife is writing this for me. I aint got much edication. But Im a darned good farmer. Sad to say that the hale kilt our been crop last fall and we aint had no rain atall this year. We're sory we havent payed the morgage for a cuple months now but hope you understand. We will try to pay as soon as we kan. We hope its gonna rain this year.

Jimmy Brubaker in Gardan City Kansas

This was the sixth letter they'd received this spring. Most of them said virtually the same thing.

Lily and Robert's great-uncle Horatio had bought great tracts of land in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma long before the stock market crashed, and sold it to farmers. For the first four years the venture had been profitable. But the good weather had turned bad in 1929, and had progressively become worse. There hadn't been rain for two or three years.

Mr. Prinney, the executor of Horatio Brewster's estate, sighed. "Lily, would you write back. The usual wording." Which was that Mr. Brewster had passed on and that Mr. Prinney was in charge of the estate on behalf of Mr. Brewster's great-niece and great-nephew. On their behalf he was communicating that the mortgage payments didn't have to be paid this year, and that the penalty clause in the contract would not be enforced. He hoped the weather would get better this summer and that the mortgage holder could resume payments next year.

While Lily was typing the letter to Mr. Brubaker, Robert was preparing to go to Washington, D.C., to see President elect Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration. Even Mr. Prinney reluctantly agreed that Robert deserved the trip. On Election Day the previous November, Robert had worked every hour the polls were open, driving around town in his beloved Duesenberg and gathering up loads of voters, who got the car so dirty it took him nearly a week to get it clean again.

He was this very day standing with a huge crowd at the Hyde Park railroad station watching Roosevelt being lifted into his private train in his wheelchair by his sons. Hundreds of people from surrounding counties cheered as the next president appeared at the window of the train. The mobs of photographers hadn't taken his picture until then. Roosevelt was leaning out of the open window, waving, and grinning with his cigarette holder in his mouth. Robert was waving back madly.

When the train pulled out and Roosevelt's window was closed against the cinders and smoke from the coal, some of the people drifted away. Many more, including Robert, waited patiently with their tickets for the next train to pull into the station, and piled on gleefully to follow. Robert snagged his reserved seat that he'd booked weeks earlier, and realized how thirsty he was. He hadn't had anything to eat or drink since going to bed the night before, for fear he might have to give up his seat to go to the bathroom and lose his place to some of the people jostling him in the aisle.

A small price to pay, he thought.

He'd consulted the alumini address list his college sent out every year to graduates and discovered that several old acquaintances from his school days had moved to Washington, D.C., and hoped he could bunk down with one of them for a couple of days. He'd even managed to find a Washington phone book at the Voorburg library and looked up their phone numbers. It was two years old, but a few friends were certainly still at the same place.

When the train arrived in Washington, he found a bathroom first, washed his hands, and bought a sandwich and a cup of very bad coffee. Then he gathered his change and found a pay phone. The first number he tried didn't answer. Neither did the second. The third old friend answered on the third ring.

"James, this is Robert Brewster. A voice from the past. I'm down here to watch the inauguration. I wondered if I could sleep on your sofa or floor for a couple of days?"

"Robert Brewster?" the voice asked. "I remember you. Have you gone mad? Why would you want to come here for that? Most of us campaigned and voted for Hoover and wouldn't waste the time. In fact, I'm just going out of town to avoid the radical Commie crowds. I can't help you out."

Two more phones weren't answered. One number was answered by a woman who'd never heard of him. The next number was no longer in service. The only other person he reached said much the same as the first had. This old school chum said he was sick at heart at Roosevelt's winning.

Robert was disappointed. He'd have to find some fleabag hotel. Or sleep in a homeless shelter. He cringed at the idea of what a shelter would smell like. He'd rather buy a blanket and sleep in a park somewhere.

There was a knock on the front door of Grace and Favor, and Lily went to see who it was. They weren't expecting company. A smiling young man with curly red hair was standing there. Behind him was an odd vehicle, designed like a smaller version of a Greyhound bus, but without the windows down the sides. It was white with a painted sign on the side saying "Kelly Connor's Notions."

"I hope I'm not disturbing you, but I have some things in my bus that you might not be able to find anywhere close by. May I bring my sample case inside?"

It Had to Be You
A Grace & Favor Mystery
. Copyright © by Jill Churchill. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2005

    Reprint!

    Our story begins on Friday, March 3, 1933. Robert and Lily Brewster are siblings trying to make it through the Depression. They live in their great-uncle's 'Grace and Favor' mansion, penniless but doing well. Franklin Roosevelt's inauguration is under way. Robert even makes a very uncomfortable trip to Washington to witness the historic even. ............................................. The day after Robert returns home (he needed a day to recover), he goes with Lily to their new temporary job. Miss Twibell has turned her huge house into a nursing home and one of her employees is out sick for awhile. ............................................. Trouble follows the Brewsters, as it normally does, One of the elderly residents, Mr. Sean Connor, is murdered in his bed. The bizarre thing is that everyone knew Mr. Connor only had a few more hours to live anyway. Why would someone bother to kill him? Since he was such an ill tempered man, he had no close friends. No one seems to have liked the man; not even his wife or kids. His children has had no contact with Mr. or Mrs. Connor in years. ............................................. Chief of Police Howard Walker is on the case, but he cannot seem to make much head way. Not for lack of trying though. Howard is an excellent cop. The Connor case is not the only one on Howard's mind. Spring thaw has turned up another body that had spent the cold months under an iced over pond. .................................................................... ...................... ***** Be warned that this is a reprint! Now that you know, let me inform you about his good mystery. The author did an outstanding job with this tale. The characters are all believable and the era description is true to form. Historical data has been inserted as well, which gives it all a realistic glow. Author Jill Churchill's fan base is about to grow. *****

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2012

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