Suture Self (Bed-and-Breakfast Series #17)by Mary Daheim
A bum hip has bed-and-breakfast hostess Judith McMonigle Flynn limping off to Good Cheer Hospital a questionable "haven of healing" where two recent patients didn't make the cut after routine surgery. Judith's trepidation at undergoing the knife is eased only by sharing a room with cousin Renie, who's in for rotator cuff repair. Though the cousins survive… See more details below
A bum hip has bed-and-breakfast hostess Judith McMonigle Flynn limping off to Good Cheer Hospital a questionable "haven of healing" where two recent patients didn't make the cut after routine surgery. Judith's trepidation at undergoing the knife is eased only by sharing a room with cousin Renie, who's in for rotator cuff repair. Though the cousins survive their surgeries, the ex-pro quarterback next door is permanently sacked after minor knee surgery. With the scoreboard showing Grim Reaper 3, post-op patients 0, Judith decides that she and Renie are obliged to get to the bottom of Good Cheer's carnage. But in order to sew up the case, Judith and Renie must probe into the suspects' psyches. And suddenly it looks as if the cousins' own prognoses could take them out of the game...for good.
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Judith Grover McMonigle Flynn took one look at the newspaper headline, released the brake on her wheelchair, and rolled into the kitchen,
"I'm not sure it's safe to go into the hospital," she said to her husband, Joe Flynn. "Look at this."
Joe, who had just come in through the back door, hung his all-weather jacket on a peg in the hallway and stared at the big, bold front-page headline.
Actress Dies During Routine Surgery
John Fremont Succumbs After Minor Foot Operation
"Who's John Fremont?" Joe asked after kissing his wife on the cheek. "The explorer? No wonder he wrecked his feet, going over all those mountains. Huh. I thought he was already dead."
"He's been dead for over a hundred years," Judith replied. "It's a-"
"A shame the local newspaper doesn't jump on those stories faster," Joe interrupted. "What's Queen Victoria up to this week?"
Judith made a face at Joe. "It's a typo," she said in a testy voice. "It's supposed to be Joan Fremont. See, there it is in the lead. You know who she is we've seen her in several local stage productions. She is was a wonderful actress."
Joe frowned as he read deeper into the story. "Jeez, don't these people proofread anymore?"
"That's not my point," Judith asserted. "That's the second well-known person in three weeks to peg out at Good Cheer Hospital. I'm getting scared to go in next Monday for my hip replacement."
Joe opened the cupboard and got out a bottle of Scotch. "You mean Somosa, the pitcher? That's no mystery. He was probably full of amphetamines." With an air of apology,Joe gestured with the bottle. "Sorry, I hate to drink in front of you, but I spent ten hours sitting on my butt for that damned insurance stakeout."
"Never mind." Judith sighed with a martyred air that would have made her Aunt Deb proud. "I'm used to sacrifice and self-denial. After a month in this stupid wheelchair and taking all those pain pills, I suppose I should be looking forward to surgery and getting back to a normal life. How'd the stakeout go?"
"It didn't," Joe replied, dumping ice cubes into a glass. "The guy didn't budge from his sofa except to go to the can. Then he used a walker. Maybe he's legit. The insurance company expected him to play a set of tennis or jump over high hurdles or do the rumba. I hate these alleged insurance-fraud assignments."
"They pay well," Judith pointed out, giving the amber liquid in Joe's glass a longing look.
"Oh, yeah," Joe agreed, sitting down at the kitchen table. "We can use the money with the B&B shut down for five weeks. I'm expensive to keep, and you're not delivering."
Teasing or not, the comment nettled Judith. just after Christmas, her right hip had deteriorated to the point that she'd been confined to a wheelchair. With the help of Joe and their neighbors, Carl and Arlene Rankers, Judith had managed to keep Hillside Manor running smoothly through the holidays. But Carl and Arlene had left the day after New Year's for a vacation in Palm Desert. And even though Joe was retired from the police force, his part-time private investigations had become almost a full-time job. It had been a difficult decision for Judith, but she had been forced to cancel all reservations for the first ten days of January, until the Rankerses' return. Her only consolation was that the days in question were the slowest time of the year for the Bed-and-Breakfast industry.
"We've lost at least four grand," Judith said in a morose tone.
Joe gave a slight shake of his head. "Dubious. The weather around here this winter isn't exactly enticing to visitors."
Judith glanced up at the window over the kitchen sink. It was raining. It seemed to have been raining for months. Fifty degrees and raining. No sun breaks, no snow, just relentless rain and gloomy, glowering skies. Day after day of gray, gray, and grayer. Even a Pacific Northwest native like Judith had an occasional hankering for a patch of blue sky.
"People still visit people," Judith said, unwilling to let herself be cheered.
Joe gave a solemn shake of his head. "Not in January. Everybody's broke."
"Including us," Judith said. "Because of me. Renie and Bill are broke, too," she added, referring to her cousin and her cousin's husband. "Renie can't work with her bad shoulder. This is the busiest time of year for her, with all the annual reports. She usually designs at least a half-dozen, which means big bucks. She's out of commission until March."
"When's her surgery?" Joe inquired.
"A week after mine," Judith replied. "We'll be like ships passing in the night. Or should I say sinking?" Judith emitted another heavy sigh as she rolled over to the sink and took a Percocet. Then she took another Percocet. It couldn't hurt. Besides, she ached twice as much as she had the day before.
As a distraction, Judith read the rest of the story about Joan Fremont. The actress had been admitted to Good Cheer Hospital the previous day. Her surgery, pronounced successful, had been performed that afternoon. But at ten-thirty this morning, Joan had died suddenly and without warning. She left behind two grown children and her husband, Addison Kirby, the city hall reporter for the evening newspaper.
"No wonder her name got misspelled," Judith remarked. "Joan's husband works for the paper. The staff must be shaken by her death."
"Oh?" Joe raised rust-colored eyebrows above the sports section. "Kirby, huh? I've run into him a few times at city hall. Nice guy, but strictly business."
Judith put the newspaper's front section down on the table.
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