The police are convinced she's the killer and suddenly Lilias finds herself hanging on to a thread of innocence. But after her home is vandalized and her van broken into, Lilias begins to realize that she has something someone wants.
Determined to return to the craft circuit, Lilias is relieved to be accompanied by her 7'3" nephew who's on the run from an unwanted basketball scholarship. Along with the help of her colorful neighbor, Annie, a cutthroat attorney who means well and an overzealous FBI agent, they string together the clues and wonder if there really could be a gem in Lilias's collection of dusty old beads. Or is the killer after something more?
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Coming home was finally a joy. I still loved doing the rounds of art fairs and craft shows and even a few state fairs, but nowat lastI was finding a pleasure in returning home, even for a short time. When Jim died I didn't know if I would ever enjoy coming home again, a home without him, even a home where he had never lived. But the wheel of time turns, lives change, hurts become bearable and I was looking forward to a few days of sleeping in my own bed, even if I did have a lot of work to do. This had been a demanding tour, there was another just as demanding coming up soon and I was close to exhaustion.
Our little townhouse development was quiet. It usually was this early in the afternoon. I parked in the driveway, as always. The townhouse garage simply wasn't big enough for my enormous Ford van even when it wasn't stuffed full of junk, mainly the boxes of my married life that I hadn't touched since my move from the spacious suburbs. Maybe this time I'd clean all that out, get rid of what I didn't need, finally dispose of the majority of Jim's stuff.
Grabbing my purse and overnight bag, I locked the van. Everything else could wait until tomorrow morning. It was disturbing that the older I got the more I put things off, as if they didn't matter as much anymore.
Well, some things didn't.
There was a strange smell. I stopped putting the key in the door and sniffed. Nothing really pleasant, but not terrible either. Had one of the neighbors' pets staked out my miniscule front yard as a toilet? I didn't see any obvious evidence, but that didn't prove anything. Oddusually people in our little cul-de-sac were very punctilious about such things.
I finished putting the key in the lock and turned it, gasping as a thicker clot of smell washed over me, borne on a wave of uncomfortably cold air. This time it was much more unpleasant. My mind raced as I closed the door and punched in the alarm turn-off code. The smell was in the house. Had some rodent managed to get in? How? Had it died in here? And why was it so cold? When I was on the road during the summer I kept the air conditioner at eighty degrees and my electricity bill was still astronomical.
Something had indeed gotten in here, but it was much bigger than a rodent.
Lying in the middle of my hand-woven Indian rug from Mexico was the dark and crumpled body of a man.
A very dead man.