A bum hip has bed-and-breakfast hostess Judith McMonigle Flynn limping off to Good Cheer Hospital -- a questionable "haven of healing" where two recent patients didn't make the cut after routine surgery. Judith's trepidation at undergoing the knife is eased only by sharing a room with cousin Renie, who's in for rotator cuff repair. Though the cousins survive their surgeries, the ex-pro quarterback next door is permanently sacked after minor knee surgery. With the scoreboard showing Grim Reaper 3, post-op patients 0, Judith decides that she and Renie are obliged to get to the bottom of Good Cheer's carnage. But in order to sew up the case, Judith and Renie must probe into the suspects' psyches. And suddenly it looks as if the cousins' own prognoses could take them out of the game...for good.
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.
Read an Excerpt
Judith Grover McMonigle Flynn took one look at the newspaper headline, released the brake on her wheelchair, and rolled into the kitchen,
"I'm not sure it's safe to go into the hospital," she said to her husband, Joe Flynn. "Look at this."
Joe, who had just come in through the back door, hung his all-weather jacket on a peg in the hallway and stared at the big, bold front-page headline.
Actress Dies During Routine Surgery
John Fremont Succumbs After Minor Foot Operation
"Who's John Fremont?" Joe asked after kissing his wife on the cheek. "The explorer? No wonder he wrecked his feet, going over all those mountains. Huh. I thought he was already dead."
"He's been dead for over a hundred years," Judith replied. "It's a-"
"A shame the local newspaper doesn't jump on those stories faster," Joe interrupted. "What's Queen Victoria up to this week?"
Judith made a face at Joe. "It's a typo," she said in a testy voice. "It's supposed to be Joan Fremont. See, there it is in the lead. You know who she is we've seen her in several local stage productions. She is was a wonderful actress."
Joe frowned as he read deeper into the story. "Jeez, don't these people proofread anymore?"
"That's not my point," Judith asserted. "That's the second well-known person in three weeks to peg out at Good Cheer Hospital. I'm getting scared to go in next Monday for my hip replacement."
Joe opened the cupboard and got out a bottle of Scotch. "You mean Somosa, the pitcher? That's no mystery. He was probably full of amphetamines." With an air of apology,Joe gestured with the bottle. "Sorry, I hate to drink in front of you, but I spent ten hours sitting on my butt for that damned insurance stakeout."
"Never mind." Judith sighed with a martyred air that would have made her Aunt Deb proud. "I'm used to sacrifice and self-denial. After a month in this stupid wheelchair and taking all those pain pills, I suppose I should be looking forward to surgery and getting back to a normal life. How'd the stakeout go?"
"It didn't," Joe replied, dumping ice cubes into a glass. "The guy didn't budge from his sofa except to go to the can. Then he used a walker. Maybe he's legit. The insurance company expected him to play a set of tennis or jump over high hurdles or do the rumba. I hate these alleged insurance-fraud assignments."
"They pay well," Judith pointed out, giving the amber liquid in Joe's glass a longing look.
"Oh, yeah," Joe agreed, sitting down at the kitchen table. "We can use the money with the B&B shut down for five weeks. I'm expensive to keep, and you're not delivering."
Teasing or not, the comment nettled Judith. just after Christmas, her right hip had deteriorated to the point that she'd been confined to a wheelchair. With the help of Joe and their neighbors, Carl and Arlene Rankers, Judith had managed to keep Hillside Manor running smoothly through the holidays. But Carl and Arlene had left the day after New Year's for a vacation in Palm Desert. And even though Joe was retired from the police force, his part-time private investigations had become almost a full-time job. It had been a difficult decision for Judith, but she had been forced to cancel all reservations for the first ten days of January, until the Rankerses' return. Her only consolation was that the days in question were the slowest time of the year for the Bed-and-Breakfast industry.
"We've lost at least four grand," Judith said in a morose tone.
Joe gave a slight shake of his head. "Dubious. The weather around here this winter isn't exactly enticing to visitors."
Judith glanced up at the window over the kitchen sink. It was raining. It seemed to have been raining for months. Fifty degrees and raining. No sun breaks, no snow, just relentless rain and gloomy, glowering skies. Day after day of gray, gray, and grayer. Even a Pacific Northwest native like Judith had an occasional hankering for a patch of blue sky.
"People still visit people," Judith said, unwilling to let herself be cheered.
Joe gave a solemn shake of his head. "Not in January. Everybody's broke."
"Including us," Judith said. "Because of me. Renie and Bill are broke, too," she added, referring to her cousin and her cousin's husband. "Renie can't work with her bad shoulder. This is the busiest time of year for her, with all the annual reports. She usually designs at least a half-dozen, which means big bucks. She's out of commission until March."
"When's her surgery?" Joe inquired.
"A week after mine," Judith replied. "We'll be like ships passing in the night. Or should I say sinking?" Judith emitted another heavy sigh as she rolled over to the sink and took a Percocet. Then she took another Percocet. It couldn't hurt. Besides, she ached twice as much as she had the day before.
As a distraction, Judith read the rest of the story about Joan Fremont. The actress had been admitted to Good Cheer Hospital the previous day. Her surgery, pronounced successful, had been performed that afternoon. But at ten-thirty this morning, Joan had died suddenly and without warning. She left behind two grown children and her husband, Addison Kirby, the city hall reporter for the evening newspaper.
"No wonder her name got misspelled," Judith remarked. "Joan's husband works for the paper. The staff must be shaken by her death."
"Oh?" Joe raised rust-colored eyebrows above the sports section. "Kirby, huh? I've run into him a few times at city hall. Nice guy, but strictly business."
Judith put the newspaper's front section down on the table.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a very good novel, and is quite scary, or has a lot of suspense. It has the humour too, and a great story line, and is unassumingly easy to read. "It's like riding a bike", to read.
Coincidentally Judith and Serena are scheduled to have surgery and are admitted to the same ward at the same time. They are both unnerved by the two deaths that have already occurred at the hospital and even more unnerved by the one which occurs in the room next door. Naturally Judith's suspicions are aroused and despite the limited mobility with a hip replacement (and even consciousness at times), she manages to work it all out. This really is a cosy series, just like visiting old friends (and they really are getting older, hence the surgery).
Judith and Renie are at it again. These cousins are a hoot! Judith is off to the hospital for hip surgery. Renie is having rotator cuff repair. Unfortunately right before they are admitted, they learn that two recent well-known patients didn¿t make it after they had routine surgery. Then while they are in the hospital recuperating, the ex-pro quarterback in the next room dies after minor knee surgery. Was he killed? The cousins begin to look into the deaths at Good Cheer Hospital. This is not easily done. Judith is pretty much bed-bound, so Renie ends up doing a lot of the leg work. Most of the staff won¿t talk, but they do find a few who will give them a little information. But then most of them mysteriously go on vacation or are transferred. Plus Renie is not the best patient. She is constantly finding a way to order in better food. Their neighbor across the hall, assists in this activity on a few occasions. Then a snow storm brings the town to an almost standstill. This also means that their husbands can¿t visit. The husband of the first woman to die is a reporter. He stops in and chats with the cousins. A few minutes later Renie observes him being hit by a car in the hospital parking lot. They know someone is up to no good and hope that they can survive while working to uncover everything! I love this series. These cousins always make me laugh. They get into some of the wildest situations! Judith¿s husband and her mother are not as prominent in this book. They really add to this series as well. I like how the author can weave the various characters in and out depending on the setting. They still play a part, but maybe not as big. The author has a real winner! If you are looking for a cozy that you can fly through and enjoy, you¿ve found it! I highly recommend this book and the entire series!
When last seen, Judith McMonigle Flynn, owner of the Hillside Manor Bed and Breakfast, needs a hip replacement due to an accident that confines her to a wheelchair. In a strange coincidence, Judith¿s cousin Rennie needs an operation on her shoulder. Thus, the two best friends check into the Good Cheer Hospital, managing to share a room. Before the duo actually enters the hospital, a famous athlete and a locally known actress die while recovering from successful surgery. The police report that both of them died from an overdose of drugs. Judith learns from a gossiping nurse that neither of the deceased were users. When a third person dies under suspicious circumstances, Judith, who has solved previous homicides, decides to investigate without knowing how close the killer is to her. This long running series makes its hard cover debut with a tale that proves Mary Daheim deserves the status. SUTURE SELF is the best novel in a well-written series as the precious interludes between Judith and Rennie appear poignant and dramatic, yet humorous. The investigative techniques used by Judith while recovering from surgery is unique or at least along the lines of Rear Window. Ms. Daheim is at the top of her game as she provides her fans with a wonderful cozy. Harriet Klausner