These minor small-town annoyances become more serious – and deadly – when the Skirt Man is killed in a tragic house fire during a benefit ballet performance starring Meredith Bly. Meredith’s father, State Trooper Sebastian Bly, and her uncle, Fire Marshal Billy Nightingale, are called in to investigate what some say is a case of spontaneous human combustion. Charred wood and chair remnants at the fire scene lead Sebastian and Billy to uncover clues that reveal hidden conflicts and a shocking discovery that will change the lives of everyone in Killdeer.
Bringing back the brave and imaginative family team from Tabula Rasa, author and fire investigator Shelly Reuben fans the flames of small-town passion and breathes life into an unusual local hero.
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About the Author
Shelly Reuben is the author of Tabula Rasa, Origin & Cause, Spent Matches, the Edgar-nominated Julian Solo, and Weeping. She is a licensed private detective and a certified fire investigator who has been investigating fires and arson for more than twenty years. She lives in New York.
Read an Excerpt
The Skirt Man
By Reuben, Shelly
HarcourtCopyright © 2006 Reuben, Shelly
All right reserved.
In retrospect, it is amazing how many lives he touched.
Of course, "Skirt Man" wasn't his real name. His real name was Morgan Mason. But nobody ever called him that. And you can't blame them. What else would you call an old farmer who stuttered and drove his tractor into town a few times a week with his dog yapping along at his side wearing a skirt?
Not the dog.
My husband and I live on Willow Keep Road, which is less than two miles from the Skirt Man's farm. Small towns being what they are, though, Morgan Mason did his shopping in Killdeer, I did mine in Fawn Creek, and our twain had never met.
Not, at least, until . . .
Oh, so many things seemed to happen at once.
There was my job at the newspaper and my boss trying to retire. There was the benefit to raise funds for the town hall and our daughter, Merry, coming home to dance. There were those adorable Dillenbeck boys deciding to run the Skirt Man for mayor and then both of them falling in love with Merry at once. There was Creedmore Snowdon's campaign to turn Killdeer into Disneyland. And there was poor Rose Gimbel secretly playing Robin Hood; Lillian Roadigger's incomprehensible mood swings; Lewis Furth trying to start a range war; and that horrible Domingo Nogales Ramirez doing what he did to the old Hobby HillsHorse Farm.
And, of course, there was the murder.
The journalist in me wants to start at the beginning of all these events and proceed logically to the end. But the involved citizen in me who knew, liked, loved, or loathed so many of the participants can't figure out where the beginning is.
So, I'll just close my eyes, take a deep breath, try to pin the tail somewhere on this donkey, and hope that I don't stab myself in the eye.
Copyright 2006 by Shelly Reuben
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