The Nanny Murdersby Merry Jones
Zoe Hayes, who works in an institute for seriously deranged patients, is the single mother of an adopted and adorable little girl named Molly. Zoe gets involved with the missing nannies case when Molly makes a grisly
The Nanny Murders is a mesmerizing mystery about missing nannies who have disappeared, one by one, from a close-knit Philadelphia neighborhood.
Zoe Hayes, who works in an institute for seriously deranged patients, is the single mother of an adopted and adorable little girl named Molly. Zoe gets involved with the missing nannies case when Molly makes a grisly discovery while playing in the snow--She finds a piece of litter that turns out to be a human finger.
One of Zoe's neighbors--but which one?--seems to be a serial killer. Zoe helps a mysteriously scarred detective named Nick Stiles in the investigation when suddenly, she becomes the prey...
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The Nanny Murders
By Jones, Merry
St. Martin's Paperbacks
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
Small footprints led down the steps to the sidewalk where Molly played in the snow.
I sat on the front porch, absorbing a stray beam of late afternoon sun while my almost six-year-old daughter delighted in two inches of what would soon become puddles of sodden gray slush. I was tired from a daylong monthly staff meeting and craved some peace. A few houses down, a workman started up his chain saw.
Our neighborhood, Queen Village, was caught in an endless process of renovation and gentrification. We were sandwiched between South Philadelphia with its traditional ethnic households and Society Hill with its fancy colonial landmarks. Dowdy old row houses sagged beside gleaming restorations. The neighborhood was home to both rich and poor, the upwardly mobile and the newly disenfranchised. The area was struggling for respectability, but despite the disruption of continuous construction, it was unclear whether it would get there.
Watching Molly play beside parked cars and grimy gutters, I imagined living in some shiny suburb on the Main Line--Gladwyne, maybe, or Rosemont or Bryn Mawr. Someplace where trees, not trash, lined the streets; where kids played on grass, not asphalt.
I often thought of moving. But I still hadn't left. Despite my complaints, I thrived on the city's energy, itssounds and faces, its moving parts. I wasn't sure how long I'd hold out, but I'd worked hard to make us a home here, and so far I'd refused to give it up.
"Mom," Molly called, "what if my tooth comes out and falls in the snow?"
"It's not ready to come out yet."
"Are you sure?"
"Because we'd never find it. Everything's white."
"It won't come out today."
She was quiet again, working the snow.
"Mom," she called moments later, "it's not enough. I need more."
She knelt near the curb, gathering handfuls of snow in her mittens, packing them into a lump.
I came down the steps and stooped beside her. "What's the problem?"
"I need more snow." She stared hopelessly at the tiny mound.
I reached into my pockets and found an old phone bill. "Try this." I scraped snow with the envelope, making it a paper snowplow.
"Okay." She grabbed the envelope and plowed away. I wandered back up to the wrought-iron chair on the porch, leaned my head back against the wall, and closed my eyes.
"Mom, guess what I'm making?"
She wasn't going to let me rest. "A snowman?"
"I give up."
"No, guess again."
She won't always be five years old, I told myself. You can rest when she's in college. "Hmm. A sneaker."
"The letter Q?"
"Nope. Don't be silly. It's not any letter."
"Then it must be a washing machine."
"Stop being silly, Mom."
I opened my eyes. Dozing wasn't going to happen. Molly kept plowing, patting, building. "Well?"
"Give me time. I'm thinking." I stretched the pause, savoring it. Across the street, the blinds went up in Victor's second-floor window. I watched, hoping to catch a glimpse of him. Victor was phobic. To my knowledge, he hadn't left his house in years. I didn't know why, although local lore was rife with explanations. One rumor held that Victor's mother had died in the house and he hadn't left since; another that a fortune-teller had warned him he'd meet a violent end next time he stepped onto the street. Despite the stories, I suspected that Victor's real problems were locked inside the house with him, in his own head. Apparently, he had money to live on; groceries, laundry, pizza, and parcels arrived at his door regularly. Once in a while, Molly and I left him baskets of muffins or cookies; the food disappeared, but we rarely saw Victor. Now, pale hands taped a cardboard snowman to the glass. The blinds went down again. Hands, but no face. This wouldn't count, then, as an actual Victor sighting.
Even unseen, Victor was one of the only neighbors I knew. Victor and old Charlie, Victor's next-door neighbor. Charlie was the handyman for the remodeled townhouses across the street. Somebody new had moved into the house on the other side of Charlie. I hadn't met him yet, but I'd become well acquainted with the huge electric Santa and reindeer that flashed on and off, day and night, from his first-floor window like the sign at an all-night diner. Every blink announced that Christmas was coming and that I wasn't ready, hadn't gotten organized, didn't even have our tree. Or presents or baking ingredients or decorations.
Oh. Molly was still waiting for my guess. "Okay--I bet I have it. It's a song."
"A song?" She turned to look at me. "You're teasing. You can't make a song out of snow."
"You mean it's not a song? Then I give up."
"Okay. I'll tell you. She's a snowbaby. A little iddy biddy one." She busied herself gathering and shaping snow, narrating her process. "And her name's going to be Kelly. No. Emma . . ." She jabbered on, accompanied by the chain saw. I let my head rest against the bricks, my eyelids float down, my mind drift.
Eww, yuck? I didn't want to get up again. I didn't even want to open my eyes. The sun felt so gentle and soothing. A warm caress. "Molly. Remember, don't touch stuff you find in the street. Leave it alone. Okay?"
Silence. Damn. What relic of city life had she found now? I always worried about debris she might encounter on the sidewalk. Broken Budweiser bottles, used needles. Discarded underwear. Used condoms. "Molly? What are you doing?"
She was fixated on it, whatever it was; her monologue had stopped. I opened an eye and watched her dig, retrieving something from the snow.
"Molly, don't pick up stuff from the street." How many times a day did I have to repeat that? Ignoring me, she closed her hand around it and lifted the thing.
"You're not listening to me. Okay. Time to go in."
She didn't move. She held on to whatever it was and stared.
The gravel eyes of a snowbaby followed me as I came down the front steps.
"Molly. Drop it."
Silently, she let it go, and it landed on the snowy sidewalk with a tiny frozen thud. I looked down. At first, I thought it was a stick. Then I saw the red part. Damn. What had she picked up? A hunk of rotting meat? A half-eaten hot dog?
"Molly. Answer me. Are you allowed to touch stuff from the street?"
She looked up with wide, baffled eyes. "No."
Taking her by the wrist, I glanced once more at the thing on the ground. It lay at our feet, filthy, bright red at one end, its form gradually taking definition. I blinked at it a few times. Then, holding on to Molly, I fled with knees of jelly, in slow motion, up the steps.
Under the grime, there was no mistaking what it was, even though the nail was broken and the crimson polish chipped.
Copyright 2005 by Merry Jones. All rights reserved.
Excerpted from The Nanny Murders
by Jones, Merry
Copyright © 2006 by Jones, Merry.
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.
Meet the Author
MERRY JONES is the author of eight books, including the humorous bestseller I Love Him, But… and the nonfiction Birthmothers: Women Who Have Relinquished Babies for Adoption Tell Their Stories. She lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband and two daughters. This is her first novel.
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This was a pretty good read. It took me a few days but once I got about halfway through I COULD NOT put it down. The way the author writes makes you feel as if you are right there in the middle of the action. This was in the bargain book section and I thought I'd give it a try. I am glad I did.
I started reading this and could not put it down it was so good
I LOVE THIS BOOK! Can't wait to read more by Merry Jones. She has become a personal favorite!
The Nanny Murders provided just the tonic I needed on a rainy, book-slump kind of a day. It couples a fast-paced plot with well written, believable characters for a perfect Sunday afternoon read. I finished it in a single day. At once grisly, funny and tender, The Nanny Murders has a little something for everyone. That said, it is still a book that I would recommend primarily to my female readers. Merry Jones writes women and the female perspective very well. When I consider a target audience for a book, I often think in these terms: "would I recommend this to my mom, my dad or both?" I doubt that Dad would be all that into a heroine who is driven to distraction by the rippling muscles of a homicide cop. So ladies, this one's for us. Is it "chick lit?" Chick lit typically doesn't include asylums, stalkers and trash bags full of body parts. (The book started out with the discovery of a severed finger, for heaven's sake.) On the other hand, the romance between Zoe and Nick does seem to take center stage, even overshadowing the murders at times. This mystery is full of twists and turns and suspicious characters. all set in a diverse and eccentric Philly neighborhood. I swear. at some point, I suspected everyone in it of murder! I did grow ever-so-slightly tired of our otherwise intelligent heroine putting herself (and her child) in needlessly dangerous situations. But at the end of the day, The Nanny Murders is a reasonably well-crafted murder mystery written from a decidedly feminine point of view. I couldn't wait to get to the end and find out "whodunnit?" The Bottom Line: Fast-paced novel with a comfortable mix of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. A perfect beach read. This review originally appeared on my blog, The Lit Witch: A Book Blog.
Zoe Hayes lives in the Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia with her five year old adopted daughter Molly. It is an ethnic mixed neighborhood caught between gentrification and stagnation, a place where she knows most of her neighbors and feels secure. That security is destroyed the day Molly plays in the snow and finds a woman chopped off nail polished finger. The police think that the digit belongs to one of the nannies who have recently disappeared from the neighborhood.................. Detective Nick Stiles is in charge of the case and asks Zoe to look at the profile psychologist Beverly Gardner prepared. She believes that ¿The Nannynapper¿ is someone who lives or works in the neighborhood. She agrees to help out because as an art therapist for the mentally disturbed and familiarity with the neighborhood, she might have insights that Beverly missed. Little did she know that her decision would gain her a lover, become involved in a hostage situation, chased by a killer, and kidnapped by someone she thought of as a friend........................... Merry Jones¿ debut fiction thriller is absolutely fantastic, a novel with so many unexpected twists and turns that readers will feel like they are on a fast merry-go-round. This is a character driven who-done-it it with plenty of action so THE NANNY MURDERS will appeal to a wide range of readers. The protagonist seems realistic; the neighbor next door one might visit to borrow a cup of sugar (or for the Atkins crowd ¿ a pack of calorie free sweetener) and stay for coffee because she is so friendly......................... Harriet Klausner