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To the Manor Dead

To the Manor Dead

5.0 2
by Sebastian Stuart

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After a messy divorce and fifteen years of listening to sob stories, former New York City psychotherapist Janet Petrocelli is burnt out. Leaving behind life as a stressed shrink, Janet has opened a used-stuff shop in the quirky Hudson River Valley town of Sawyersville.

Unfortunately, Janet is a magnet for nut jobs. In this case, it's the Livingstons, an


After a messy divorce and fifteen years of listening to sob stories, former New York City psychotherapist Janet Petrocelli is burnt out. Leaving behind life as a stressed shrink, Janet has opened a used-stuff shop in the quirky Hudson River Valley town of Sawyersville.

Unfortunately, Janet is a magnet for nut jobs. In this case, it's the Livingstons, an aristocratic family gone to seed in a disturbingly seedy way. Daphne, the clan's not-so-grande dame, offers her prized heirlooms to Janet for a hasty sale, but the deal ends abruptly when she turns up dead. Soon, Janet gets pulled into a tangled web of lust, insanity, avarice, and murder. Did a greedy developer kill off the biggest obstacle to his high-rise condo development? Or was it a family affair of the vengeful—and very twisted—variety?

Despite her resolve to steer clear of the murky depths of degeneracy and deceit, Janet becomes obsessed with finding justice for the dead . . . if the killer doesn't find her first.


"Sebastian Stuart is a knowing, witty, and tough writer."—Robert B. Parker, bestselling author of The Professional



Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This deliciously oddball first in a new series from Stuart (The Hour Between) introduces witty Janet Petrocelli, who finds high crimes and nasty misdemeanors thrive in even the most bucolic landscapes. After leaving a stressful psychotherapy practice in the Big Apple, Janet settles in the Hudson Valley’s sleepy Sawyerville. Hoping for a peaceful life with her pets, she opens Janet’s Planet, a collectibles shop, and starts dating a laid-back landscape architect who operates “on Rip Van Winkle time.” When Janet agrees to inspect some antiques at Westward Farm for an elderly local heiress, Daphne Livingston, Janet discovers the rambling place is creepier than Grey Gardens, and Daphne’s feuding family makes Little Edie and Big Edie look almost Rockwellesque in comparison. Janet can’t resist turning amateur sleuth after finding Daphne hanging from the rafters of her octagonal folly. Readers will be left wondering what fun she’ll get into next time. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Fleeing her life as a psychotherapist in New York City, Janet Petrocelli moves to Sawyersville on the Hudson River and runs a collectibles/resale shop. But an agreement to sell some high-end items for a wealthy client goes sour when the woman is murdered. VERDICT The small-town atmosphere and eccentric characters make for a humorous, light read. The author is the partner of novelist Stephen McCauley.
Kirkus Reviews

A retired psychotherapist who's departed the city can't leave the nut jobs behind.

Having had her fill of New Yorkers and their neuroses, Janet Petrocelli moves to the Hudson Valley to open "Janet's Planet," an antique shop. Part of Janet's retirement involves not offering on-the-spot counseling, even though her hippie boyfriend Zack and several of her new friends seem to need her advice. She thinks she's got her life under control, but her calm is soon challenged by the small town's famed Livingston family. Daphne, the elderly heiress, wants to unload some goods to Janet, but when Janet comes to collect them, Daphne has disappeared. Instead, Janet meets the extended Livingston family: Godfrey, Daphne's housemate, brother and nemesis; Maggie, his nudist adopted daughter; Becky, Daphne's strung-out niece; Rodina, Becky's wild-child offspring; and Claire, Daphne's straitlaced prep-school niece, who guides Janet through Westward Farm, the family's home. Although Janet at first finds the apparently deranged bunch innocuous, her opinion changes when she discovers Daphne's body in the farm's summerhouse. The Livingstons have so much money that the cops don't mind calling Daphne's death a suicide. But Janet, convinced there's more to the story, begins to investigate the twisted world of the rich and reclusive. Her interest is especially piqued when she hears that local developer Vince Hammer can't wait to get his hands on the Livingston land.

Stuart's (The Hour Between, 2009, etc.) aristocratic characters will charm and disgust you—and make you grateful that you're more sane than wealthy.

Product Details

Llewellyn Worldwide, LTD.
Publication date:
A Janet's Planet Mystery , #1
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Barnes & Noble
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File size:
964 KB

Read an Excerpt

To the Manor Dead

By Sebastian Stuart

Midnight Ink

Copyright © 2010 Sebastian Stuart
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7387-2293-1

Chapter One

It was raining, pouring, cascading down the front window in gray sheets—cats and dogs and lions and tigers and bears. Fine with me. Less chance that some member of that overrated, self-obsessed, narcissistic species—the human race—would darken my shop door. I could hang out with Sputnik, Lois, and Bub, get a few lamps rewired, frame a picture, wax a table, and get going on hiring someone to help out on weekends, when the place actually pulled in a few customers.

I made myself a pot of coffee. Out of a can, thank you—this whole mocha-latte-Sumatra-chino thing bugs me. Does everything have to have five-dozen goddamn pucci-gucci variations? If you ask this gal, too many choices equal one thing: a tension headache.

While it was brewing I made up a small sign reading "Part-Time Help Wanted—Weekends." I put it in the front window, slipped in a CD—French cocktail pop—filled my mug, and headed to my workshop, a big room at the back of the store. Sputnik followed me on foot, Bub flew down and hitched a ride on his rump, and Lois just lay there curled on her favorite spot, a ratty old armchair with great bones that I would have loved to get rid of, but was afraid to sell. I've seen too many psychotic cats in my day. And psychotic people.

I've seen way too many psychotic people.


Excerpted from To the Manor Dead by Sebastian Stuart Copyright © 2010 by Sebastian Stuart. Excerpted by permission of Midnight Ink. 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

Sebastian Stuart (Cambridge, MA) has been a full-time writer for more than twenty years. He is the author of plays, screenplays, political satire, and critically acclaimed novels, and was the credited ghostwriter of the novel Charm! (Hyperion), which spent five weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

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To the Manor Dead 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago