Love for Sale (Grace and Favor Series #4)by Jill Churchill
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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Love for SaleA Grace & Favor Mystery
By Jill Churchill
Harper Collins PublishersCopyright © 2003 Jill Churchill All right reserved. ISBN: 0060199423
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?"
"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 ...
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.
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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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. 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. 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. Harriet Klausner