A Muddied Murder (Greenhouse Mystery Series #1)

A Muddied Murder (Greenhouse Mystery Series #1)

by Wendy Tyson
A Muddied Murder (Greenhouse Mystery Series #1)

A Muddied Murder (Greenhouse Mystery Series #1)

by Wendy Tyson


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"Tyson gives us an evocative sense of place, a bit of romance, and dimensional characters with interesting backstories. Readers are left looking forward to the next book in the series and hankering for organic mushroom tartlets." - Publishers Weekly "A warmhearted mystery with an irresistible cast of characters, two- and four-legged alike. Tyson's small town setting is a lush bounty for the senses, and the well-structured plot will keep you guessing right up until the satisfying conclusion." - Sophie Littlefield, Edgar Nominated Author of The Guilty One "Tyson grows a delicious debut mystery as smart farmer-sleuth Megan Sawyer tills the dirt on local secrets after a body turns up in her barn. You won't want to put down this tasty harvest of a story." - Edith Maxwell, Agatha-Nominated Author of Murder Most Fowl "Fast paced, engaging characters, and a plot with as many twists and turns as a country road. Murder may be 'muddied' in Winsome, PA, but the book's a winsome winner." - Gail Oust, Author of Cinnamon Toasted "Hungry for a great mystery? A Muddied Murder is a delight and Wendy Tyson is a natural. She delivers a perfectly plotted mystery with well-planted clues and a healthy dose of secrets. This first Greenhouse Mystery will only whet your appetite for more." - Sparkle Abbey, Author of Raiders of the Lost Bark "Tyson weaves an irresistible story with delicious food, scheming villagers, and a secret worth killing for. Her heroine, prodigal daughter of Winsome, PA Megan Sawyer, may not carry a gun, but she's packing brains, courage, and loads of integrity. Megan is a star. She"ll carry this winsome new series far. Don't miss the Greenhouse Mysteries." - James W. Ziskin, Anthony Award-Nominated Author of the Ellie Stone Mysteries When Megan Sawyer gives up her big-city law career to care for her grandmother and run the family's organic farm and café, she expects to find peace and tranquility in her scenic hometown of Winsome, Pennsylvania. Instead, her goat goes missing, rain muddies her fields, the town denies her business permits, and her family's Colonial-era farm sucks up the remains of her savings. Just when she thinks she's reached the bottom of the rain barrel, Megan and the town's hunky veterinarian discover the local zoning commissioner's battered body in her barn. Now Megan is thrust into the middle of a murder investigation-and she's the chief suspect. Can Megan dig through small-town secrets, local politics, and old grievances in time to find a killer before that killer strikes again? Related subjects include: women sleuths, cozy mysteries, amateur sleuth books, murder mysteries, whodunit mysteries (whodunnit), book club recommendations. Books in the Greenhouse Mystery Series: • A MUDDIED MURDER (#1) • BITTER HARVEST (#2) Spring 2017 Part of the Henery Press Mystery Series Collection, if you like one, you'll probably like them all... Author Bio: Wendy Tyson's background in law and psychology has provided inspiration for her mysteries and thrillers. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Wendy has returned to her roots and lives there again on a micro-farm with her husband, three sons and three dogs. Wendy's short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she's a contributing editor and columnist for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers' online magazines. Wendy is the author of the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781635110050
Publisher: Henery Press
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Series: Greenhouse Mystery Series , #1
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Wendy Tyson is a lawyer and former therapist whose background inspires her mysteries and thrillers. Wendy lives in the Philadelphia area on a micro-farm with her husband, three sons and three dogs. Wendy's short fiction has appeared in literary journals, and she's a contributing editor and columnist for The Big Thrill and The Thrill Begins, International Thriller Writers' online magazines. Her series include the Allison Campbell Mystery Series and the Greenhouse Mystery Series.

Laural began working in regional theater as an actor at the age of 17. She has done over 20 years of stage work, and 16 years of audio book narration, having narrated over 100 titles in all genres. In addition, Laural has directed well over 100 audio titles, providing expertise on both sides of the microphone. In acknowledgement for years of excellence at her craft, Laural has received AudioFile's 'Earphones Award' many times over.

Read an Excerpt

A Muddied Murder

A Greenhouse Mystery

By Wendy Tyson

Henery Press

Copyright © 2016 Wendy Tyson
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63511-008-1


Early mornings at Washington Acres were dead quiet. It was usually Megan Sawyer's favorite part of day, a time when the farm's inhabitants went about their daily routines silently, ghosts in a tranquil pre-dawn landscape. Today there was a disturbance in the air, an almost palpable sense of something amiss. Megan had felt it as soon as she climbed out of bed at four forty-five, and she felt it now as she was checking on the last set of tomato seedlings.

Standing in the old den that doubled as a nursery, Megan was thinking about the day ahead when something outside the window caught her attention. She paused, straining to see from her spot across the room. The sun had just risen, bathing the farm in a milky bluish glow muddied by a cold, steady rain, and all that was visible was the hazy outline of the trees on the horizon. You're imagining things, she thought. Still, a shudder ran the length of her spine. She blamed it on the chill of the morning.

Returning to her work, Megan ran a finger down the stem of a seedling, grateful for the full set of leaves on its thin stalk, and blew on it gently to strengthen the young plant. This set was strong enough to be transplanted outdoors. She adjusted the grow lights over the plants and sprinkled water on the seedling. She needed to get the tomatoes outdoors, alongside the broccoli, spinach, and other vegetables she planned to offer through the farm's store in town and at the local Saturday farmers market. Tomatoes would be a big seller. She hoped.

This task complete, Megan walked to the room's east-facing window and gazed through the glass at the curtains of rain pummeling the ground. No, it wasn't looking good for planting. Ah, well ... this new life was certainly teaching her patience. Mother Nature had her own opinions about timing, and she wasn't hearing appeals.

Megan stretched, yearning for release in her tired back and arm muscles. Less than two years ago she'd been tied to a desk, living in Chicago and defending big companies from environmental claims. She shook her head. Life can certainly take a turn.

Megan cracked open the window and took a deep breath, trying to wash away a building sense of unease. The earthy smells of rain and dirt mingled with the scent of her grandmother's baking bread wafting from the kitchen. Cinnamon-raisin swirl today. Her stomach rumbled. Despite everything, she loved this place. She loved the old shadowy stone farmhouse with its low ceilings, wide-planked pine floors, and deep window sills. She loved the massive stone barn, with its cool, packed earth and sense of history. She loved the shady spots under old-growth oaks that allowed for stolen moments of solitude with the latest mystery novel. She loved the feel of the earth in her fingers and the sound of her goats bleating in the distance.

Goats ... bleating? Megan cocked her head, listening. Was that Bibi's voice coming from outside?

Megan slipped on her galoshes and grabbed a raincoat from a hook on the den wall. The Pygmy goats were adorable, but also a constant source of mischief. What had they done this time? She hustled through the hallway that led to the kitchen, certain that it was some minor mishap, and nearly tripped over the stray cat who was now a permanent resident of the farm. The cat, barely out of kitten-hood, was batting around what appeared to be a crumpled letter.

Megan reached for the paper. Spreading it flat, she quickly scanned the words on the page, color slowly rising to her cheeks. It was a failed inspection notice for the work that had been done on the barn and café. The inspections needed to be complete in order for Megan to start selling produce in a few weeks. And despite the work of competent contractors, the town's zoning commissioner, Simon Duvall, always seem to find something wrong.

Megan scanned the rest of the letter. At the bottom was a line with the next appointment date. Simon would be at the café. Today. At eight o'clock. Megan glanced at the kitchen clock, blood pressure rising. That didn't give her much time to get ready — or inspect the café before Simon arrived. Damn.

Bibi shouted again, this time louder. Megan glanced at the wrinkled paper before tossing it on the table next to the cat. She sprinted outside.

The rain had slowed, but the wind still whipped through the hilly courtyard between the old farmhouse and the barn. Megan pulled her raincoat tighter around her body and lowered her head against the drops. It was mid-May. Spring had been slow in coming to Winsome this year, and temperatures were well below normal. Megan followed the sound of her grandmother's voice through the courtyard and down toward the barn and the attached heated shed where the goats lived.

It didn't take long to discover the source of her grandmother's excitement. Heidi the goat was at the edge of the shed roof pawing at a gutter with one tiny hoof. A black leather glove dangled from her mouth. And Bibi, her petite body dwarfed by a man's raincoat, was dragging a ladder from the barn.

"Bibi!" Megan raced to her grandmother and took the wooden ladder gently from her grasp. Her grandmother had been "Bibi" since Megan was little, back when "Bonnie Birch" was too much of a mouthful. "Here, I'll get her down."

"That goat," Bibi paused to catch her breath, "is one stubborn animal."

Hmm, Megan thought to herself ... who was calling whom stubborn? Megan knew better than to tell her grandmother the myriad of reasons she shouldn't be climbing up ladders or lifting ornery goats. Bibi wouldn't listen anyway, and, at some future point, she might do it simply to prove she could.

Megan shook her head, both admiring her grandmother's independence and cursing her stubbornness. The latter trait was a Birch family staple.

Megan was getting ready to put the ladder against the shed when she noticed the goat had opened the shed gate this time — a first for the industrious animal — and the gate was dangling from two hinges. Normally Heidi simply squeezed Houdini-like around or under the bars. Megan looked into the covered shed. Heidi's sister Dimples was nowhere to be found.

"Bibi, can you call Dimples while I get Heidi down?" Megan asked, worried. She climbed the ladder and, taking a deep breath, hauled a squirming Heidi off the roof. After doing another quick inspection of the inside of the shed, she put Heidi back inside and closed and locked the gate.

When a look around the perimeter of the large barn didn't turn up a goat, Megan sprinted down toward the greenhouses and rows of hoop houses. No goat.

Catching her breath, Megan paused to survey her surroundings, hoping to catch a glimpse of the animal. She needed to hurry. Her gaze shifted from the rain-soaked hoop houses to the stone outbuilding lined with stacks of firewood and bordered by chicken tractors, small enclosures on wheels that housed the chickens and could be moved around within the outdoor pastures. The tractors kept the chickens warm and safe at night, and by day the birds were free to roam. Heidi loved to chase the chickens; maybe her sister had picked up the habit too. But the tractors were closed up and quiet.

On the other side of the tractors, barely visible from this angle, was the neighboring property: the old Marshall house, a failed farm with an empty, dilapidated stone house. The Marshall house's fields, long overgrown with weeds and saplings, were empty except for a single crow, which perched atop a broken fence rail, its head cocked in Megan's direction. Megan pulled her gaze away from the crow, the bird's cold stare mirroring the sinking feeling in her gut.

Megan turned, looking up the hill from the chickens at a thick forested swath of land on the edge of the woods, which housed Barney Creek. Beyond the woods was the road. The thought of Dimples down near the street, maybe even hit by a car, twisted Megan's stomach into ropes.

"I see something!" Bibi shouted from the top of the small hill. She pointed toward the creek.

Megan joined her grandmother up by the house. If the goat was in the water, she'd drown. Though goats could swim, Pygmies were small — Dimples was barely eighteen inches high. With all the rain they'd had over the past weeks, the creek was a raging stream. The goat wouldn't have a chance.

Megan looked in the direction her grandmother was pointing. After a moment, she saw Dimples through the budding maple trees, her head barely visible on an elevated rock.

"Go inside, Bibi," Megan said. "I'll get her. You're soaking wet."

"I'm fine. Save the goat."

Megan ran alongside the house, away from the fields, and down the small embankment that led to Barney Creek, her feet slipping in the slurping mud. Dimples was near the brush that lined the creek bed, her head on the rock and her body partially submerged in the rising creek waters. She scooped the tiny goat into her arms. Dimples was alive, but barely. Her body was stiff and cold, her fur matted with what looked like mud and blood.

Back at the house, Bibi was already running a tepid bath. Megan lowered Dimples into the water. Blood-red circles fanned out in all directions from the goat's little body. "Call Dr. Finn," Megan said to her grandmother. She glanced at her watch and sighed. "Tell him it's an emergency."

"We need to stop meeting like this," Dr. Finn said in his Scottish brogue, an accent that became more pronounced when the vet was animated. The goat was on his lap, wrapped in a yellow blanket, and Megan's dog Sadie was under the table, her head on the veterinarian's foot. "Your animals seem to be going mad."

Megan smiled. She watched Dr. Daniel "Denver" Finn as he attended to her goat. Once the animal's body temperature was back to normal, he'd checked her from head to tiny tail and discovered only a few surface lacerations on her left rear leg and one gash across her side that required stitches. Now he was giving her a shot of antibiotics. The goat didn't flinch.

Nearly six foot four and somewhere in his mid-thirties, Dr. Finn had the musculature you'd expect from a large animal veterinarian used to handling horses and birthing cows. Megan, brought up on James Herriot novels, thought Dr. Finn possessed the characteristics she'd come to expect of a man in his position: patience, strength and a sense of humor born of acceptance of the cycles of life. His reddish-brown waves were always tousled, his smile was of the dimpled, crooked variety, and a pale jagged scar ran across the bridge of his nose. The result was a ruggedly handsome man with a wicked smile who seemed capable of handling any emergency. They'd been flirting — if you could call it that — for months, and friendly for longer than that, but Megan didn't have the nerve or time to make it more.

Dr. Finn patted the goat's head. "Your wee lassie will be perfectly fine." He smiled. "At least this time."

Megan leaned against the table, relieved. "Thank you."

"Happy to help."

Bibi was bustling around the big farm kitchen. She put a steaming cup of coffee in front of Dr. Finn and patted his shoulder. He threw her a grateful smile.

"Cinnamon bread?" she asked. "It's fresh."

"Oh, I wish, but I have appointments waiting." His warm response brought a smile to Bibi's face. To Megan, he said, "I'll come back tonight to check those stitches. In the meantime, the area will have to stay open to the air. Anything I put on there, the lassie will eat."

Megan nodded. This was the fifth time Dr. Finn had been called to the farm in the last two months alone. Usually his presence was required because one of the goats had eaten an inedible object — like shoestrings, electrical wire, or even a garden hose. Visits were so common, she had a line of credit with the clinic.

Dr. Finn ran a palm along the length of Dimples' body. Not for the first time, Megan noticed his big hands, surprisingly long, slender fingers bare of rings, and nails cut short, neatly squared-off.

"She must have slipped at the edge of the creek. Wedged herself down between the rocks. That's how she got cut." He stroked the goat's head again absentmindedly. "She's a lucky one to be alive." Dr. Finn looked up. "Do you know how she escaped her pen?"

Megan glanced at Bibi, who shrugged and said, "I looked outside while I was baking and happened to see Heidi up on that roof."

Megan frowned. "I wonder how she opened the gate."

"It should have been latched," Bibi said. "Maybe she kicked it in?"

"I don't think so. The gate looked fine." Megan glanced at Dr. Finn and said, "Heidi's clever, but she's not that clever. She's never been able to open the gate before."

"Maybe the other goat did it?"

Megan shook her head. "She's less likely to get out than Heidi."

Dr. Finn looked thoughtful. He took a sip of coffee, swallowed, and said, "I guess there's always a first time." He thanked Bibi again and stood, unfurling to his full height. "Goats are smart little buggers."

"But what about the cat?" Megan asked, remembering their newest family member and the balled-up letter. "Bibi, did you let the cat inside?"

"Not that I can recall."

Megan was still thinking about the cat when Dr. Finn looked at her and said, "Will you be okay for now, Megan?"

Megan nodded, still distracted.

The goat still nestled in the vet's arms, he said, "I'll get her settled back in her pen to make sure she's okay. Then I'll be back around six thirty tonight. Does that work?"

Megan agreed and thanked him. When the vet was gone, she grabbed her keys off the wall.

"I'll see you later."

Bibi looked startled. "Where are you going?"

"To the café." Megan grabbed the crumpled letter off the table and handed it to her grandmother. "Do you know when this letter arrived?"

"A few days ago." Her grandmother looked chagrined. "I forgot to give it to you. Those stupid letters. Permits, inspections, licenses ... this farm has been standing since 1764 and now this arrogant man can tell us what we can or can't do."

"I know, it feels unfair," Megan said, keeping her tone steady to mask her own annoyance at the commissioner. "But we have to play by the rules. The fact that my father didn't is what got us in this predicament."

"Bah." Bibi waved her hand. "Simon never liked the Birch family. His mother doesn't like us either. Simon's only making trouble. It's what he does these days, make trouble for simple folk who want to be left well enough —"

Megan shook her head. "He's simply doing his job. And right now, I need to do mine by meeting him at the café." She looked down at her jeans and sweatshirt — now soiled by mud and pinprick spots of goat blood — and thought about changing. There was no time.

"Well, tell him we don't need his stupid inspection," Bibi said, but she looked worried. "We can get along perfectly fine without his blessing, right?"

Megan's lips twisted into the semblance of a smile. If only it were that simple. She kissed her grandmother on the forehead and thanked her for her help. "Don't worry, Bibi. I'll handle it. The farm will be up and running in no time, just as we planned."


Megan drove through Winsome at a greyhound's pace, her truck striving to cradle the backcountry curves. Winsome was a quintessential rural Pennsylvania town, the kind of place where family trees were deeply rooted and neighborly alliances — and grudges — measured their ages in decades, not months. Only forty miles outside of Philadelphia, it felt like a different world. The landscape was notable for its old stone farmhouses, cobbled streets, and tiny, iron-fenced graveyards, a favorite with history buffs. Tourists loved Winsome in the fall, when the horizon was ablaze with the burnt orange, crimson red and molten yellow leaves of birch, mountain maples, ash, and oak trees, but they especially loved Winsome in the summer, when the Bucks County farms bloomed and the wildflowers lining Winsome's main streets painted the town in a kaleidoscope of vibrant colors.

Now, with spring slow to come and summer seemingly far off, Winsome's muddied landscape didn't seem all that endearing to Megan. She drove her pickup truck straight through what served as a downtown, navigating around pond-size puddles of standing water, and made a left onto Canal Street, Winsome's main thoroughfare. She pulled right in front of the sign for Washington Acres Farm Café & Larder.


Excerpted from A Muddied Murder by Wendy Tyson. Copyright © 2016 Wendy Tyson. Excerpted by permission of Henery Press.
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.

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