A Penny Urned (Den of Antiquity Series #7)by Tamar Myers
All that remains of Lula Mae Wiggins-who drowned in a bathtub of cheap champagne on New Year's Eve-now sits in an alleged Etruscan urn in Savannah, Georgia. Further north, at the Den of Antiquity antique shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, plucky proprietor Abigail Timberlake is astonished to learn that she is the sole inheitor of the Wiggins
All that remains of Lula Mae Wiggins-who drowned in a bathtub of cheap champagne on New Year's Eve-now sits in an alleged Etruscan urn in Savannah, Georgia. Further north, at the Den of Antiquity antique shop in Charlotte, North Carolina, plucky proprietor Abigail Timberlake is astonished to learn that she is the sole inheitor of the Wiggins estate. Late Aunt Lula Mae was, after all, as distant a relative as kin can get.
Arriving in picturesque Savannah, Abby makes a couple of startling discoveries. First, that Lula Mae's final resting pot is more American cheap than Italian antique. And second, that there was a very valuable 1793 one-cent piece taped to the inside lid. Perhaps a coin collection worth millions is hidden among the deceased's worldly possessions-making Lula's passoing more suspicious than orginally surmised. With the strange appearance of a voodoo preistess coupled with the disturbing disappearance of a loved one-and with nasty family skeletons tumbling from the trees like acorns-Abby needs to find her penny auntie's killer p.d.q...or she'll be up to her ashes in serious trouble!
Read an Excerpt
A Penny Urned
Lula Mae Wiggins drowned in a bathtub filled with champagne. She was fully clothed. It happened on New Year's Eve.
Though someone had sent me a letter, I wasn't informed of her death until a full three months had passed, thanks to my ex-husband, who returns all my mail unopened. Fortunately the delay was no cause for added grief. Lula Mae was my daddy's second cousin, or something like that and had never been a part of my life. Frankly, her name didn't even ring a bell.
"It was cheap champagne,- Mama said that day we got the fateful call from Savannah. "The kind you kind buy from Food Lion for $3.75 a bottle."
"How do you know?" I asked. We were playing Hearts with Wynnell and C.J., two of my closest friends and coworkers. I had just been passed the queen of spades and was trying to maintain my cool.
Mama grinned. It was she who had passed me the queen.
"The coroner said so. He said the taste was sweet enough to set your teeth on edge"
"Did he taste it?" C.J.. asked.
"Yuck ," Wynnell said. "Did he?"
"I don't rightly know," Mama said, and passed me the ace and king of hearts. "I didn't speak to the coroner himself. I spoke with the executor of Lula Mae's will."
"Did this executor say how it was this Lula Mae person happened to drown in a bathtub of champagne"
"Apparently she had a heart attack while bathing. And get this, Abby. She was dressed to the nines."
"She was bathing in her clothes?"
Mama nodded. "You know, dear, your daddy's family has always been a little on the strange side."
C.J., Wynnell, and I all rolled our eyes. For Mama to call anyone strangewas like the pot calling the kettle black--in every language on earth. My mama, Mozella Gaye Wiggins, dresses like June Cleaver. Her sister Marilyn not only dresses like Marilyn Monroe, but also claims the blond bombshell stole both her name and her style from my platinum coiffed relative.
"What the heck am I going to do now?" I asked. I was referring to my lousy hand, having stupidly forgotten this was still Mama's conversation.
"You drive down and get her, that's what," Mama said. Her tone left no room for argument.
"Excuse me?" I set my cards down, fortunately face up.
"Don't show us your cards, Abby!" the trio chorused.
It was my turn to grin now that a redeal was in order. "What's this about me driving down to Savannah to bring back a dead aunt?"
"Cousin," Mama corrected me. "And she's been cremated. We could have them ship the ashes, but the executor said he'd been instructed to tell the mortician to place the cremains in an urn that was part of her estate. But get this." Mama paused to take a deep breath. "The mortician, who claims to be something of an expert on antiques, thinks the urn is worth a pretty penny. Said it might be something called a truck-san. Is that Japanese, dear?"
"He probably said Etruscan, Mama. That refers to the Tusci people who were contemporaries of the ancient Romans and lived in what is now Tuscany. So, shall we deal again? I mean, it isn't fair now that you've all seen my cards."
"Whose fault is that, dear?"
"Yours. You distracted me with this gruesome story of a dead cousin I've never even seen."
"Actually, dear, you did see her once. I think you were about three years old. Lula Mae came up here to visit. You called her a witch."
"I did not!
"You most certainly did, and to her face."
"Well, if I did--like you said, I was only three."
"Still, I can't imagine why she'd leave you everything"
"You heard me right, Abby. Your daddy's cousin left you all her worldly possessions. The executor--a Mr. Kimbro--said your brother Toy wasn't even mentioned."
"Mama, was that call intended for me?"
"Well, they called here," Mama said, pretending to study her cards, "and it is my house."
It did not surprise me that my mother had been able to intercept a call, even one of this nature, intended for someone else. Mama could charm a fly out of its wings, and barring success at that, could lay on such a guilt trip, the poor fly would leave behind his antennae and a leg or two to boot.
I glared at Mama, who of course didn't notice. "Maybe you should go down to Savannah to pick up Lula Mae's cremains. After all, you were married to her cousin. And I'll bet you anything you pretended to be me on the phone when Mr. Kirnbro called, didn't you?"
Mama sighed. "I can't believe your attitude, dear. I should think you'd jump at the chance to do this. That urn could be worth a lot of money."
"The Etruscan urn. is most probably a fake," I said, speaking from experience. "And besides, what do you propose that I do? Buy a cheap vase at Kmart and dump Lula Mae's ashes into that?"
Mama squirmed. "Well, I don't see that we have a choice, dear. I already told the man you'd be there day after tomorrow."
Mama cringed. "Well, it was either that or tell him to mail the urn. and sell off your cousin's estate. But seeing as how you're an antique dealer, I thought you might like to look over Lula Mae's things first. There might be some items you'd like to keep and maybe others you could get more for up here in Charlotte than you could get in Savannah."A Penny Urned. Copyright © by Tamar Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Meet the Author
Tamar Myers is the author of the Belgian Congo series and the Den of Antiquity series as well as the Pennsylvania-Dutch mysteries. Born and raised in the Congo, she lives in North Carolina.
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