Love for Sale (Grace and Favor Series #4)

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Overview

If Lily and Robert Brewster no longer have a penny to their names, at least they have a roof over their heads in this bleak Depression November of 1932 -- the sprawling estate of their late great-uncle in Voorburg-on-Hudson. But then a badly disguised stranger offers to pay generously to hold a very secret meeting there shortly before the national election. And soon one of the mystery guests is murdered in his bath, a local grade school teacher goes missing, and a little boy is kidnapped. With Pretty Boy Floyd ...

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Overview

If Lily and Robert Brewster no longer have a penny to their names, at least they have a roof over their heads in this bleak Depression November of 1932 -- the sprawling estate of their late great-uncle in Voorburg-on-Hudson. But then a badly disguised stranger offers to pay generously to hold a very secret meeting there shortly before the national election. And soon one of the mystery guests is murdered in his bath, a local grade school teacher goes missing, and a little boy is kidnapped. With Pretty Boy Floyd rumored to be somewhere near, the nasty business smacks of underworld activity -- or possible political conspiracy aimed at sabotaging Roosevelt's election. Either way, Chief Howard Walker has nowhere to house all the suspects except at the local Hospital for the Criminally Insane. And the Brewster siblings are going to have their hands full tying the various ends together . . . and ferreting out the killer who abused their hospitality.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Agatha and Macavity winner Churchill once again brings the Depression era to appealing life in her latest well-plotted cozy (after 2001's Someone to Watch Over Me), set in Voorburg, N.Y. Siblings Robert and Lily Brewster, genteel victims of the '29 crash, run a guesthouse at Grace and Favor Cottage. On the eve of the 1932 presidential election, a "Mr. Smith" offers Robert and Lily $500 as a down payment on rooms for himself and three of his "business associates," who wish to hold a private meeting over several days. Can these men be gangsters, desperate Hoover supporters plotting to stop FDR at the last minute, or even Reds out to disrupt the election? Badly in need of cash, brother and sister reluctantly agree to the arrangement. When one of their mysterious guests gets murdered in his bath, Robert and Lily have even more cause to regret their decision. The victim turns out to be Brother Mark Luke Goodheart, a scoundrel who preached love and goodwill on the radio while fleecing the poor, the indigent and orphans. Lending some mild suspense are the disappearance of a local school teacher, the brief kidnapping of the boy Joey Towerton and Joey's mother's wait to learn whether her husband has been killed while working on Hoover Dam. Older readers will especially enjoy this look at dire times now safely past. (June 17) FYI: Churchill is also the author of The House of Seven Mabels (2002) and other titles in her Jane Jeffrey mystery series. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A "Grace and Favor Mystery," this novel focuses on the case of the murdered evangelist. Lily and Robert Brewster are a brother and sister left destitute as a result of the Depression. Fortunately, they are taken in by their wealthy great-uncle who allows them to live in his mansion. When a local schoolteacher leaves unexpectedly, they are called upon to work as substitute teachers. They enjoy their time with the children as well as following the political events surrounding the presidential election involving Hoover and Roosevelt. Their lives are disrupted when a secretive and mysterious group of boarders comes to stay at the mansion, and it's leader, the Reverend Goodheart, turns up dead. On the case is police chief, Howard Walker, who spends his days interrogating potential suspects while Lily takes notes on what he discovers. Goodheart turns out to be not so good—stealing money from parishioners, raping several female employees and abandoning his son. As a result, several individuals have vendettas against him. In the end, a double identity is revealed, and the case is solved by the chief with a bit of help from Lily. Although the story itself is interesting and thoughtful (although rather predictable), the intended adolescent audience may find little resonance in the tale. Bogged down in details regarding politics of the time, centered around characters who are more adult than young adult, and told in a distant third person narrative, the novel lacks an immediacy often present in well-written novels for teens. 2003, HarperCollins, Ages 12 to 16.
— Wendy Glenn
Kirkus Reviews
"You won’t have to look at the body," Voorburg-on-Hudson police chief Howard Walker assures Lily Brewster (Someone to Watch Over Me, 2001, etc.) of the corpse in her B&B, in what could stand as a signature line for this cozy period series. As an anxious nation waits for Governor Roosevelt to unseat do-nothing Herbert Hoover, Lily and her brother Robert, born to privilege but ruined in the Crash, face (or don’t exactly face) problems closer to home. Lily’s premonition that the stranger who wanted to rent her biggest room for his group’s private weekend conference was up to no good is abundantly justified when the group’s head honcho, now identified as radio preacher Brother Mark Luke Goodheart, is stabbed and drowned in Lily’s nicest bathtub. Chief Walker naturally responds by shipping all the surviving cronies of Goodheart, né Charles Pottinger, off to Matteawan. Lily, meanwhile, is already in a tizzy because she and Robert have just started a new job substituting for Millicent Langston, a local schoolteacher who isn’t where she said she’d be. More briefly missing is little Joey Towerton, kidnapped for a few hours while his mother Mary waits to learn whether the "Rick Taughton" killed at work on the Hoover Dam was actually her husband. Though this byplay generates no more suspense than wondering if your self-rising biscuits are really going to rise, Churchill really does pull all her subplots together, which is more than you can say for President Hoover.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061031229
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/24/2004
  • Series: Grace and Favor Series , #4
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 0.68 (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

Love for Sale

A Grace & Favor Mystery
By Jill Churchill

Harper Collins Publishers

Copyright © 2003 Jill Churchill All right reserved. ISBN: 0060199423

Chapter One


Tuesday, November 1, 1932

It was late morning and the weather had suddenly turned cold. Lily Brewster and her brother, Robert, were sitting in the dining room of the mansion known as Grace and Favor, arguing over Governor Franklin Roosevelt and the upcoming election. It was a fairly amiable tiff.

"But what does he really mean by 'the New Deal,' and 'the Forgotten Man'? And why only men?" Lily asked. "Why not 'the Forgotten People'?"

"It's political rhetoric. But it sounds good. And the word 'the' before it means 'mankind.'"

"Why isn't he explaining, at least a little bit, what he means? It couldn't hurt him to be a tiny bit specific, could it?"

"Why should he tell President Hoover what he's going to do? Hoover might have enough brain cells left to get in and do it first. Lily, even if Roosevelt wins next week, which he certainly will, he can't do a thing until March. Which is so stupid."

"But won't he need some time to come up with a cabinet?"

"Not five months. There's already talk about moving the inauguration to early January. That would give an incoming president plenty of time. In fact, I'd bet Roosevelt already has his list ready right now. He'sbeen in politics most of his life and has a huge circle of friends."

Robert was flipping through the latest issue of the Voorburg-on-Hudson Times. "I'm glad Mr. Prinney is no longer riding herd on Jack Summer. Young as he is, he's a good reporter. He's still dogging the Bonus March. According to his sources, Hoover said he would allow MacArthur and his toadies to use the Army to run the men out of Washington only if Superintendent of Police Pelham Glassford signed a statement that he was asking for the Army's help. MacArthur told the President that Glassford had done so.

"It was an outright lie," Robert went on. "Glassford hadn't even been asked to make such a request. Hoover should have busted MacArthur to private. Or pitched him out of the Army on his big fat head. But he did nothing."

"And does that surprise you?" Lily asked. "It's widely known MacArthur was forbidden to cross the Eleventh Street Bridge or use weapons. And MacArthur ignored the orders. Those pictures of the tanks crossing the bridge and Patton with his cavalry and swords drawn were horrifying."

Robert said, "But can't you just imagine MacArthur telling Hoover how the country was grateful to him, Hoover, for getting the commies out of the Capitol and Hoover believing it and taking the credit? That's why Governor Roosevelt is going to win the election. Hoover was wrong to take the credit for the traitorous acts of MacArthur. Whatever Roosevelt means to do, he means to do something. Hoover is a pushover.

"Putting the entire burden of the Depression on the Red Cross and private charities is ridiculous," Robert went on. "The Red Cross had already run out of supplies, and when they do have them, they don't know where they are. Banks are going down like ninepins. There's a drought in the breadbasket of the country, and farmers are losing their farms. So much for Hoover's statement about a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. Not with Henry Ford shutting down his plants and laying off sixty thousand people. I don't care what Roosevelt does. It's necessary to simply do anything that puts people back to work and to get the crooked bankers in jail for putting their customers' money into the stock market."

"Okay, okay. You convinced me. But how do you think Governor Roosevelt is going to fix this?"

"Lily, you're not really paying attention. Roosevelt is the sort of man who tries things, and if they don't work, he tries something else that might. He's not a man who sticks to his guns when an idea fails. Hoover does nothing and pretends it works. I'm going to run down to Voorburg and talk to Jack Summer and see if he knows anything he's not printing in the paper."

"While you're there, would you pick up ten pounds of flour for Mrs. Prinney to make biscuits? She says the grocer has run out of yeast and doesn't know when he can get more. Hers died."

Robert looked puzzled. "Her what has died?"

"The yeast."

"Yeast is a living thing? Good Lord above. I'll never eat bread again."

"It's not still alive when you eat it. Are you going to give up all meat since it was once alive?"

Robert said, "I guess you have a point."

When he had gone, Lily was a bit at loose ends. She helped Mrs. Prinney in the kitchen for a while, but when the doorbell rang, she had to answer it because Mrs. Prinney was elbow-deep in a salad she was making for lunch and Mimi the maid was washing linens.

The man at the front door was wearing an enormously heavy, expensive-looking winter coat. His hat was pulled forward, and what little of his hair showed was obviously a cheap wig. His eyes were shaded with sunglasses.

"I'm James Smith. I understand you rent out rooms."

"We do sometimes. Would you like to come inside? I'm Lily Brewster."

Mr. Smith, if that was really his name, didn't remove his hat or glasses, but looked around. "I need to house three of my business associates and myself for a few days in privacy," he said.

"We have a large bedroom at the end of the second-floor hall that could serve as a meeting room, with attached bath and valet quarters. But your other people would have to stay in smallish rooms on the third floor ...

(Continues...)


Excerpted from Love for Sale by Jill Churchill
Copyright © 2003 by Jill Churchill
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

Love for Sale
A Grace & Favor Mystery

Chapter One

Tuesday, November 1, 1932

It was late morning and the weather had suddenly turned cold. Lily Brewster and her brother, Robert, were sitting in the dining room of the mansion known as Grace and Favor, arguing over Governor Franklin Roosevelt and the upcoming election. It was a fairly amiable tiff.

"But what does he really mean by 'the New Deal,' and 'the Forgotten Man'? And why only men?" Lily asked. "Why not 'the Forgotten People'?"

"It's political rhetoric. But it sounds good. And the word 'the' before it means 'mankind.'"

"Why isn't he explaining, at least a little bit, what he means? It couldn't hurt him to be a tiny bit specific, could it?"

"Why should he tell President Hoover what he's going to do? Hoover might have enough brain cells left to get in and do it first. Lily, even if Roosevelt wins next week, which he certainly will, he can't do a thing until March. Which is so stupid."

"But won't he need some time to come up with a cabinet?"

"Not five months. There's already talk about moving the inauguration to early January. That would give an incoming president plenty of time. In fact, I'd bet Roosevelt already has his list ready right now. He's been in politics most of his life and has a huge circle of friends."

Robert was flipping through the latest issue of the Voorburg-on-Hudson Times. "I'm glad Mr. Prinney is no longer riding herd on Jack Summer. Young as he is, he's a good reporter. He's still dogging the Bonus March. According to his sources, Hoover said he would allow MacArthur and his toadies to use the Army to run the men out of Washington only if Superintendent of Police Pelham Glassford signed a statement that he was asking for the Army's help. MacArthur told the President that Glassford had done so.

"It was an outright lie," Robert went on. "Glassford hadn't even been asked to make such a request. Hoover should have busted MacArthur to private. Or pitched him out of the Army on his big fat head. But he did nothing."

"And does that surprise you?" Lily asked. "It's widely known MacArthur was forbidden to cross the Eleventh Street Bridge or use weapons. And MacArthur ignored the orders. Those pictures of the tanks crossing the bridge and Patton with his cavalry and swords drawn were horrifying."

Robert said, "But can't you just imagine MacArthur telling Hoover how the country was grateful to him, Hoover, for getting the commies out of the Capitol and Hoover believing it and taking the credit? That's why Governor Roosevelt is going to win the election. Hoover was wrong to take the credit for the traitorous acts of MacArthur. Whatever Roosevelt means to do, he means to do something. Hoover is a pushover.

"Putting the entire burden of the Depression on the Red Cross and private charities is ridiculous," Robert went on. "The Red Cross had already run out of supplies, and when they do have them, they don't know where they are. Banks are going down like ninepins. There's a drought in the breadbasket of the country, and farmers are losing their farms. So much for Hoover's statement about a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage. Not with Henry Ford shutting down his plants and laying off sixty thousand people. I don't care what Roosevelt does. It's necessary to simply do anything that puts people back to work and to get the crooked bankers in jail for putting their customers' money into the stock market."

"Okay, okay. You convinced me. But how do you think Governor Roosevelt is going to fix this?"

"Lily, you're not really paying attention. Roosevelt is the sort of man who tries things, and if they don't work, he tries something else that might. He's not a man who sticks to his guns when an idea fails. Hoover does nothing and pretends it works. I'm going to run down to Voorburg and talk to Jack Summer and see if he knows anything he's not printing in the paper."

"While you're there, would you pick up ten pounds of flour for Mrs. Prinney to make biscuits? She says the grocer has run out of yeast and doesn't know when he can get more. Hers died."

Robert looked puzzled. "Her what has died?"

"The yeast."

"Yeast is a living thing? Good Lord above. I'll never eat bread again."

"It's not still alive when you eat it. Are you going to give up all meat since it was once alive?"

Robert said, "I guess you have a point."

When he had gone, Lily was a bit at loose ends. She helped Mrs. Prinney in the kitchen for a while, but when the doorbell rang, she had to answer it because Mrs. Prinney was elbow-deep in a salad she was making for lunch and Mimi the maid was washing linens.

The man at the front door was wearing an enormously heavy, expensive-looking winter coat. His hat was pulled forward, and what little of his hair showed was obviously a cheap wig. His eyes were shaded with sunglasses.

"I'm James Smith. I understand you rent out rooms."

"We do sometimes. Would you like to come inside? I'm Lily Brewster."

Mr. Smith, if that was really his name, didn't remove his hat or glasses, but looked around. "I need to house three of my business associates and myself for a few days in privacy," he said.

"We have a large bedroom at the end of the second-floor hall that could serve as a meeting room, with attached bath and valet quarters. But your other people would have to stay in smallish rooms on the third floor ...

Love for Sale
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
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Great reading for mystery lovers

    In 1932 in Voorburg-on-Hudson siblings Lily and Robert Brewster recover from their sudden fall from wealth by turning the mansion they can live in for life (according to their late uncle¿s will) into a bed and breakfast. When an obviously masqueraded stranger leases a room for the outrageous price of $500, Lily hesitantly agrees though she suspects the worst from this individual and his cronies coming for the weekend.<P> However, Lily misread what the worst is when someone stabs and subsequently drowns radio preacher Brother Mark Luke Goodheart in one of the B&B bathtubs. While Police Chief Walker investigates the homicide, Lily and Robert begin work as a substitute teacher temporarily replacing Millicent Langston who seems to have vanished. Meanwhile someone abducts young Joey while his mom waits for news whether her husband died while working on the Hoover Dam project. Lily being Lily cannot resist making inquiries into the murder, the misplaced teacher, and the kidnapped child.<P> Though this is a Grace and Favor mystery, the suspense elements take a back seat to the Depression Era ambiance of the story line. Readers can feel the mood at least near the Hudson River of the change in presidential administrations from Hoover to the New York Governor Roosevelt. The intrigues tie together, but never really hook the reader as deeply as the historical perspective as LOVE FOR SALE is more a strong 1930s fiction that contains mystery subplots.<P> Harriet Klausner

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    Posted July 9, 2012

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