One, Two, What Did Daddy Do? (An E.J. Pugh Mystery)

One, Two, What Did Daddy Do? (An E.J. Pugh Mystery)

by Susan Rogers Cooper

The Family that dies together...

Everyone in the small, tightly knit community of Block Cat Ridge Texas, knows everyone else's business. And everyone is stunned by the slaying of the well-liked Lester family, minus its youngest member, in their own home. Apparently loving husband and father Roy did the bloody deed — before turning the murder weapon on himself

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The Family that dies together...

Everyone in the small, tightly knit community of Block Cat Ridge Texas, knows everyone else's business. And everyone is stunned by the slaying of the well-liked Lester family, minus its youngest member, in their own home. Apparently loving husband and father Roy did the bloody deed — before turning the murder weapon on himself.

The Pughs were the Lesters' nearest neighbors and closest friends. In fact, sharp-tongued housewife/romance writer E.J. Pugh first discovered the bogies... and four-year-old Bessie Lester, who may have witnessed the carnage. But Bessie isn't speaking. And E.J. may be the only one in Black Cat Ridge who believes th is case is not closed... and that a murderer still walks among them all.

Author Biography:

Susan Rogers Cooper is the Edgar Award-nominated author of fourteen books in three mystery series. She's half-fifth generation Texan and half-Yankee, although the Texas half seems to be winning. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband, daughter, and assorted animals.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Cooper, creator of the well-regarded Sheriff Milton Kovack series (Chasing Away the Devil, etc.), has a gutsy new sleuth in Texas housewife/romance writer E.J. Pugh—wife of oil-field consultant Willis and mother of two small children. The family's best friends in Black Cat Ridge are their next-door neighbors the Lesters—Terry, Roy, and their children Aldon, Bessie, and teenager Monique. One ordinary morning, E.J. walked into the Lester house and found everyone shot to death except four-year-old Bessie, mute with shock. The police say Roy killed his family, then committed suicide. But E.J. and Willis know that's impossible. E.J. makes a pest of herself, trying to convince anyone who'll listen that a murderer is on the loose. It takes a deadly attack on her family to convert police opinion, and a nearly missed clue (the alert reader will get it) to pin down motive and killer. E.J.'s rough mouth and confrontational ways make her the unlikeliest writer of romances one could imagine, but she's real, warmhearted, unsoppy, and tells her fast-moving, thoroughly engrossing story with straight-ahead verve.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
E.J. Pugh Mystery Series
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.89(h) x 0.65(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I threw myself spread-eagle across the doorway "No," I said.

"EJ.," he said. He looked at me. "Come on."

"You can't leave me alone with them."

Willis sighed. "It won't be long. They'll be gone in just a little while." He looked at his watch. "I've got a meeting in twenty minutes."

"Bullshit," I said, standing my ground.

That's when we heard them. Thundering down the stairs. Screams of "Did so!" and "Did not!" wafting our way. Then there was the sound of a thud, a wail, and our four-year-old daughter fell into the kitchen, holding onto her arm and screaming. "He hit me!"

"Did not!" came from the doorway where our seven-year-old son stood, looking superior.

I left my perch by the back door and went to Megan, picking her up and checking her arm. I

heard the door open and turned to see Willis scrambling through the opening with a quick "See ya!" over his shoulder.

"Coward!" I yelled after him. "Turncoat! Traitor!" Checking my daughter, I found no blood oranything resembling the beginnings of a bruise.

Graham marched into the room. "I didn't hit her," he said. "She tripped."

I glowered, Megan glared, and I started breakfast. The quick one. Cereal, milk, OJ, and toast. Looking at my daughter again, I said, "Megan, your pants are on wrong-side out."

Graham glanced at his sister and began to laugh. "Geek! Nerd!"

Four-year-old Megan looked at her brother and said, "Asshole!"

"Megan! We don't talk like that in this house"' I said, pulling down her blue jeans and turning them right-side out.

"Daddy does," she replied, looking at me with those big blue eyes.

Ithad rained that weekend. Howling, torrential downpours that lasted the entire weekend. The kind of Texas weather that songs are written about. Lightning, thunder, flash-flood wamings, tornado alerts-you name it, we got it. Ah, spring. Nothing stood between Willis and me and the wrath of our children but a much used and much seen videocassette of The Little Mermaid.

All I could think of was that, once breakfast was out of the way, I'd have them in the car, along with my neighbor's kids, drive them to two different schools, then have four blessed hours to myself. The thought alone was orgasmic.

That Monday morning in April was my day to drive the kids. My friend Terry and I traded off weeks. It was convenient, since Terry and Roy lived right next door. Our driveways even connected. The car pool was only for the younger kids: my Megan, age four and seven-year-old Graham, plus Terry's ten-year-old, Aldon, and her four-year-old, Megan's best friend, Bessie. Terry's oldest daughter, Monique, sixteen, usually grabbed a ride with her father, since the high school started earlier.

I herded the kids to the car, Graham grabbing blossoms off my rain-and-hail-trampled azalea bushes to stick down his sister's T-shirt.

"Stop-that and get in the car!" I said.

"She started it!"

"Did not!"

"Did so!"

I grabbed Graham by the arm and gently tossed him into the back seat. "Shut up! Fasten your seat belt!"

"I'm calling the child abuse hotline!"

"Fine. A few days in jail would be preferable to putting up with you. Now shut up." I fastened Megan into her seat belt, grabbing at her hands as she tried to pelt her brother with the seat belt's wicked end. Finally, I got behind the wheel and started the car, tapping gently on the horn for Terry. After about two minutes, I hit the horn again, not so gently. It was the third time that month I'd had to wait for the Lester kids and I wasn't in the mood. I turned off the ignition and got out of the car. Looking in the back seat, I noticed Graham reaching for his seat belt.

"You unbuckle that thing and I'll knock you unconscious."

"Yeah, you and what army?"

"Watch your sister."

"Why? Is she gonna do tricks?"

I gave, them both my "I'm the mistress of the universe-you fuck with me, you die" look and said, "Stay. Don't move. Not a muscle. Not an eyelash! I'll be right back." I turned, took two steps, stopped, and with my back still to them, said, "I said don't move!" Thus, in my small way, perpetuating the legend of mothers with eyes in the backs of their heads.

I walked quickly to Terry's back door and rapped on the glass, then opened the door and stuck my head in.

"Terry! Ya'll ready?"

There was no answer. The only light in the kitchen was the one over the stove top, the one I knew Terry used as a night light. There were no boxes of corn flakes and Froot Loops on the table. No milk spilled on the floor. And, omen of omens, no coffee in the automatic coffeemaker. I said, "Shit," rather loudly, knowing my friend and her family had overslept, and started through the kitchen into the dining room. From there I crossed the foyer, turned right, and headed for the stairs.

That's when I saw it. I wasn't sure at first what the mess was. just dark smears on the landing walls. I flipped the switch at the bottom of the stairs and a light shone down on stairs and landing. Then the smell hit me. That sweet, cloying smell. Leaving the light on, I backed down the foyer, staring at the mess on the walls. I'm not sure when my mind actually formed the word "blood," but when it did, I turned and hightailed it out of the house.

At that point my mind was mostly blank. At least I remember it that way. There were two things I knew had to be done. Get my children into their own home and call somebody. Anybody.

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