Nutty as a Fruitcake (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #10)by Mary Daheim
Hillside Manor's neighbors all adored proprietor Judith McMonigle Flynn's festive suggestion to deck the halls and houses in their cul-de-sac with eye-catching Christmas finery -- except Enid Goodrich.The grumpy old humbug refused to cooperate.Then someone cooked her Christmas goose -- silencing Enid's objections with a handy hatchet. Though Judith's/em>… See more details below
Hillside Manor's neighbors all adored proprietor Judith McMonigle Flynn's festive suggestion to deck the halls and houses in their cul-de-sac with eye-catching Christmas finery -- except Enid Goodrich.The grumpy old humbug refused to cooperate.Then someone cooked her Christmas goose -- silencing Enid's objections with a handy hatchet. Though Judith's already got a lot under her tree -- what with holidy business booming and the anticipated unwanted arrival of hubby Joe's soused ex-spouse -- she's not about to let murder mess up what's left of her seasonal spirit. With the help of irrepressible cousin Renie, Judith's determined to wrap up this case for Christmas -- and expose the Scrooge-slayer who felt strongly that the only Goodrich is a Deadrich.
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Judith Grover McMonigle Flynn grabbed at the pine branch, felt the ladder fall from under her, and held on with her might. Her booted feet kicked at the damp air while her glover hands tightened on the tree limb. Judith hoped that the branch was as sturdy as she was.
A glance at die frosty ground told her it was a good eight-foot drop. In her youth, Judith might have risked it. But at fifty-Plus, she wasn't as agile as she used to be. The Christmas season upon her; she had a bed-and-breakfast to run. There was no point in taking unnecessary chances. instead, she screamed. Someone would bear herthe Rankerses next door or the Dooleys in back or the Ericsons. on the other side. On this first Sunday of Advent, they should all be home.
Judith screamed again. Her husband had gone to Earnest Hardware to buy a new tree stand; her mother was deaf. Or so she pretended. Maybe the Rankerses were having one of their famous family feuds to kick off the yuletide season. The Dooleys might be Christmas shopping. The Ericsons could be jogging. Judith's arms were beginning to ache. The cold air hurt in her lungs as she cried for help a third time.
"Hey, coz," called a voice from below; "how come you're hanging in the tree like that? You make kind of a big ornament. Ha-ha."
Out of the comer of her eye, Judith saw Cousin Renie at the edge of the driveway. She was muffled to her short chin, gazing upward. "Move that ladder, you idiot!" shouted Judith. "Hurry!"
Renie shuffled a bit. "I wish I had my camera. This is good."Judith's hands were turning numb. "Get me down! If I fall and break my neck, you'll inherit my mother!"
The threatworked. Renie righted the ladder then angled it under Judith's feet. "It's too soon to make a swag. This is stiff November. The boughs will dry out by Christmas."
Somewhat shakily, Judith descended the ladder. "I know that, but when you run a B&B, your guests expect you to be decorated right after Thanksgiving. If I have to put up a new swag the week before Christmas, so be it but I'll buy one. I'm too old to swing from tree branches."
Renie helped Judith collect the clipped boughs as they headed for the house. "Is that one of your guests?" Renie nodded toward the cul-de-sac.
"Where?" Judith asked. "I don't see any strange cars except that pickup parked across the way on the through saw."
"That's what I meant," Renie replied. "It's got Oregon plates. I figured it was one of your visitors."
Judith peered the sixty yards to the far side of the street. The pickup was old, shabby, and a mottled orange, with what looked like tools in the back. "I don't have anybody due in from Oregon tonight," she said, setting her collection of boughs down on the porch.
Renie did the same, rubbing pitch from her hands. "Maybe it's some leftover Thanksgiving company for the people who live on the other side of the cul-de-sac."
"Could be." Judith opened the back door. The kitchen, with its old-fashioned high ceiling and modem appliances, smelled of ginger and nutmeg and cinnamon. Renie made a dive for the sheep-shaped cookie jar.
"Yum!" she exclaimed. "Ginger cookies! A great favorite of mine!"
"What isn't?" Judith poured water into a coffee can, then inserted the freshly cut branches she'd brought inside along with several sprigs of holly. "Speaking of neighbors I'm proceeding with my plan. The meeting is here, tonight at seven. That's why I made cookies."
Renie had seated herself at the kitchen table and was now devouring her second cookie. She knew that Judith intended to ask the neighbors to join forces in decorating their homes exteriors for Christmas. Hillside Manor was nestled among six other houses in a cul-de-sac on the side of Heraldsgate. Hill. Judith readily acknowledged that the holiday concept was selfserving.
"Sure," she admitted, expanding on the thought as she poured milk for herself and Renie, "I know a festive atmosphere enhancer, the B&B. But it's a chance for us to do something neighborly. We lead such busy lives that sometimes it feels like we're strangers. The only people I see much of are the Rankerses and the Dooleys, and part of that is because we're all SOTS."
Renie nodded faintly. Although she lived on the other side of the, Hill, she was also a SOT, as the parishioners of Our Lady, Star of the Sea Catholic Church were familiarly known. "I know. I've 'never actually met some of our newer neighbors. I hole up with my graphic design business in the basement den and all I can see out the window are the local cats and an occasional squirrel."
"It's a shame," Judith said, her strong features softening in a commiserating expression. "We live in the city, cheek by jowl, and we hardly recognize each other. We're just too isolated and self-absorbed. To tell the truth, I always feel guilty about expecting our neighbors to put up with the comings and goings of my guests
Renie snatched another cookie. "It helped some when Bill organized our block watch a few years ago. But not everybody. comes to the meetings. Even when they do, some of them move away a few months later. We've got three rentals along our street.
"Carl Rankers is our block watch captain," Judith said, as her cat, Sweetums, meandered into the kitchen. I 'We haven't...
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, the mother of three daughters, and has three grandchildren.
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This is the first B&B I have ever read and have found it a no put down type of book. I have always been into True stories and nothing else would do. However coming upon Mary Daheim books, I have found a new outlook, her words are not repeatative and much enjoyable. Some of her statements have me rolling on the floor. With my husbands curiosity, it has also got him reading them now. His reading of book have generally been fantasy and mystery. Keep up the good work