Leaving the Hillside manor in capable hands, bed-and-breakfast hostess Judith McMonigle heads north to Vancouver's Hotel Clovia with her irrepressibly voracious cousin Renie for a pre-Thanksgiving getaway. But when an addled and impoverished popcorn vendor is murdered along with his foul-mouthed pet parakeet a local copper's suspicious gaze settles on the two visiting Americans. The cousins, in turn, suspect one of the "Sacred Eight" an odd-duck assortment of glamorous showbiz glitterati currently gathered at the historic hotel. And unless Judith and Renie can pluck a killer from the secretive, star-studded group, their geese will be thoroughly cooked in short order!
About the Author
Mary Richardson Daheim is a Seattle native with a communications degree from the University of Washington. Realizing at an early age that getting published in books with real covers might elude her for years, she worked on daily newspapers and in public relations to help avoid her creditors. She lives in her hometown in a century-old house not unlike Hillside Manor, except for the body count. Daheim is also the author of the Alpine mystery series, the mother of three daughters, and has three grandchildren.
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By Mary Daheim
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.Copyright ©2006 Mary Daheim
All right reserved.
Judith Grover McMonigle brought her full weight down on her suitcase and jumped. Angling one foot carefully, she clicked the lock shut and let out a sigh of triumph. She was ready.
Hopping off the handsome brown leather case, she smiled in anticipation. It wasn't a honeymoon in the Bahamas as she might have hoped, but even a three-day trip to Canada with Cousin Renie would be a treat after the past two years of struggling to get the bed-and-breakfast under way. Hearing the squeal of tires in the driveway below, Judith knew that Renie had arrived on the dot of nine.
Judith paused, gazing around the third-floor bedroom under the eaves of the old Edwardian house on Heraldsgate Hill. Her last-minute inspection took in her handbag which contained her birth certificate, the dark green leather coat over her arm, and the brown suitcase which was finally shut.
Judith couldn't believe her eyes. The finely tooled case she'd received the previous month as a birthday present from Renie and her husband Bill was sliding across the braided rug. Not an earthquake, surely: November in the Pacific Northwest usually held no seismic terrors. Judith's big black eyes stared at the mobile luggage. Then she pounced.
Flipping open the latch, she swore aloudas the contents heaved, a growl erupted from the vicinity of her neatly stacked underwear, and Judith's cat, Sweetums, emerged with teeth bared and scraggly fur on end.
"Insufferable mange-ball!" cried Judith, diving in vain after the cat.
"What are you doing?" demanded Judith's mother, Gertrude, who was standing in the bedroom door. "Customs won't let pets in, you dope! You want to start a war with Canada?"
Judith made another swipe at Sweetums who was now tearing around the room, leaving a trail of tangled clothing. In an orange and white blur, the cat raced for the door, sailing between the legs of Gertrude's walker-and Gertrude.
"I'll kill him!" Judith vowed, flinging scattered apparel back into the suitcase. "How'd he sneak in there? No wonder I couldn't shut the blasted thing! I wish I'd squashed the little fleabag!"
Gertrude staggered slightly in the wake of Sweetums's flight. "Probably sniffed that new perfume you got in there. Smells like rat bait to me," she declared in her raspy voice. "But then," she added, her beady eyes narrowing at her daughter, "that's who you got it for, I'll bet. The Rat."
Judith gave her mother a baleful glance, but avoided the verbal trap. "You know I got it from Mike for my birthday."
"Hunh!" snorted Gertrude. "My grandson has screwy taste in perfume. What's it called, Obnoxious?"
"Obsession, and I love it," replied Judith, closing the suitcase a second time and brushing the salt-and-pepper curls from her high forehead. "There's Renie at the doorbell. Move it, Mother."
But Gertrude was deliberately barring the way with her walker. "A fine thing," she muttered, "you and Serena running off to a foreign country like a couple of gallivanting hussies! Just before Thanksgiving, too. I suppose I'll end up doing all the work. As usual. You've probably even got paying guests coming here while you're gone."
"Of course I don't. Nobody's booked until the day after Thanksgiving." Judith tried to wedge her way out into the little foyer that had once been part of the servants' quarters in a bygone era of Grover affluence. "Mother -- you know I've got everything ready for Thursday. We'll be back early Wednesday evening. All you have to do is make the creamed onions."
Gertrude's small eyes darted up at her daughter. "And the cranberry sauce. I suppose Deb will be too puny to fix the green beans and Renie will ruin the gravy again."
"Renie will break down the door if you don't move it," said Judith, using her statuesque size to nudge her mother's walker a couple of inches to the right. "Do you realize that except for visiting my mother-in-law in Arizona this is the first vacation I've had in over twenty years?"
"Big deal. It's not my fault you married a lazy slob." But Gertrude gave way as Renie's buzzing turned to banging.
Judith raced past her mother and down the short flight of stairs to the second floor with its four guest rooms and two baths. Taking the front staircase, she called out to Renie to hold on. The pounding stopped. Sweetums poked his head around the comer of the living room and hissed. Judith ignored him.
"Hi, coz," greeted Renie, looking amazingly alert for a woman who didn't usually function in a human capacity until after ten a.m. "Where were you?"
"Upstairs, packing my cat. Here," said Judith, swinging the suitcase across the threshold, "let me put this in my car. Then I'll go out to the toolshed."
Suddenly solemn, Renie shook her head. "I'll do that. I already put my stuff in your trunk. It was open."
"I know, I was just coming down." Judith peered out the front door, briefly savoring the crisp scent of autumn. "Give me your keys so Mother can turn them over to Bill when he collects your car tonight."
"Right. I'll load your suitcase, then I'll go get . . . the box. "Renie and Judith exchanged meaningful gazes along with luggage and keys. The Jones family sedan would be picked up that evening by Renie's husband after his daily stint as a professor of psychology at the university. The two-and-a-half-hour drive to Port Royal would be made in Judith's blue Japanese compact.
Renie disappeared around the corner of the old house while Judith watched with an anxious eye. It was just as well that Gertrude hadn't gotten downstairs yet. Judith preferred that her mother didn't know what Renie was doing in the toolshed.
After a final check of the kitchen, Judith was back in the entry hail when Gertrude clumped down the stairs. "Where's that moron of a niece of mine?" she growled around the cigarette she was . . .
Excerpted from Fowl Prey by Mary Daheim Copyright ©2006 by Mary Daheim. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I semi-enjoyed this second book in the series. Judith and her cousin Renie head to Vancouver just before Thanksgiving. The mystery kept me guessing although I admit to being a little bit bored with it. The murder suspects were all interesting but I found myself skimming past some parts about the 'Sacred Eight'. I enjoyed learning about the continuing relationship of Judith and Renie and all of their misadventures. I have read other books in this series and this one isn't the best. That being said I do recommend this series.
Too many characters you just end up mixing them up
I really liked the interactions between the characters. The mystery kept me guessing til almost the end, when my hunch was right. I'm going to continue to buy these in order & read the entire series.
Tall brown hair loves anything green eyes