USA Today bestselling mystery maven Mary Daheim brings us another intriguing tale in her cherished Bed-and-Breakfast mystery series in which a trip down memory lane brings Judith and Renie back to their old neighbourhood, and they are drawn to a seemingly deserted house that is much more than meets the eye.
On a trip to Renie′s old neighbourhood, the cousins′ curiosity is piqued by a mysterious brick Tudor house that always looked deserted during Renie′s junior high school days. Surprised that the house still looks abandoned after all these years, Judith and Renie, of course, cannot resist an opportunity to snoop around. They discover that Mr. and Mrs. Bland have lived in the house since 1947, and after cornering the mailman and milkman, Judith and Renie also learn that the Blands receive regular mail and food deliveries, but no one has ever seen the occupants who simply pay the bills with cash they leave in the milk box. Although intrigued by these strange, but definitely not sinister, occurrences, Judith is ready to focus her attention once more on her neglected husband Joe and the busy B&B business. Until one day Judith finds a dead body in the trunk of her car. And it′s the Blands′ milkman...
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
This Old Souse
A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery
Judith McMonigle Flynn hurried to answer the front door, took one look at the hideous drooling green creature on the porch, and screamed. Panicking, she slammed the door and leaned against it. The thing was six feet tall, with gaping holes for eyes, viscous green scales, and sharp yellow fangs. Judith was so shaken that she couldn't move to call 911.
"Hey!" shouted a voice from outside. "Open up! It's me! Renie!"
Judith held a hand to her racing heart. Renie, along with other family members and friends, always used the back door. The front was reserved for guests at Hillside Manor. "Coz?" Judith croaked, and slowly turned to open the door just a crack. There, next to the gruesome green creature, stood Serena Jones, more familiarly known to her family as Renie.
"Did SuperGerm scare you?" Renie asked, brown eyes wide.
"Good grief." Judith wilted against the doorframe. "I thought I was going to have a heart attack. What is that awful thing?"
"I guess I shouldn't have stood behind it," Renie said, looking apologetic. "I would've gone to the back door, but this guy is kind of awkward to carry around." She gave the creature a pat on one of its long, scaly arms. "It's just a cutout. I created it for the county board of health's antigerm campaign. Garth Doyle made this model in his studio. The county will put posters of SuperGerm in all public restrooms to remind people to wash up."
"I'm about washed-up after that," Judith said, regaining some of her aplomb. "How about getting that thing off the front porch? It's not good advertising for a B&B."
"Hmm." Renie examined the cutout from stem to stern. "Probably not. But don't you think it's good advertising for hygiene?"
"Yes, fine, super," Judith retorted. "Now put it back in your car before you come inside."
Renie, who was on the small side, struggled a bit as she carted SuperGerm off to her car, which was parked in Hillside Manor's driveway. Waiting on the porch, Judith surveyed the cul-de-sac. Just three days away from the start of summer, the spring shrubs, trees, and bulbs had faded away. The grass was green, the leaves were glossy, and some of the roses were in full bloom. But the sky was overcast, the temperature lingered in the midfifties, and there was a 40 percent chance of rain. It was, Judith knew, a typical June day in the Pacific Northwest.
"All gone," Renie announced, bounding up the steps. "I could use some strong drink. You got any Pepsi?"
Judith nodded. "I just got back from Falstaff's Grocery. I have a full house tonight, so I had to fill the larder. Now that school's out, the B&B reservations are pouring in. I'm pretty well booked up through early August."
"That's great," Renie said, sitting down at the kitchen table. "I'm not so busy. Summer's always a slow time in the graphic design business. Everybody goes on vacation. Good for you, bad for me."
Judith took a can of Pepsi and a diet 7UP out of the refrigerator. Even after more than a year, she was still delighted with the renovations -- particularly in the kitchen -- that had been made following a disastrous fire almost two years earlier.
"Say," Renie said as Judith joined her at the table, "have you got time to take a little ride with me?"
Judith frowned at her cousin. "And with SuperGerm?"
"Well ... " Renie took a deep drink before finishing her reply. "Yes, actually. I have to drop him off at Garth's. He needs some fine-tuning. SuperGerm, I mean, not Garth."
Judith looked skeptical. "And why would I want to help chauffeur SuperGerm to Garth's studio?"
Renie reached into the sheep-shaped jar on the table and filched three oatmeal raisin cookies. "Booyoommerthathouthnmoo fle?" she inquired with her mouth full.
Judith was accustomed to her cousin's voracious appetite; she had also grown adept at translating Renie's food-marred speech. "The house on Moonfleet Street? Sort of. Why?"
"Oh." Judith nodded. "You've always been obsessed with that place, ever since you were a kid. What about it?"
Renie finally swallowed. "Garth lives in my old neighborhood, about four blocks from that house. As you may recall, it's Spanish-style architecture, very unusual for this part of the world."
"I recall." Judith turned as her cleaning woman, Phyliss Rackley, stomped into the kitchen carrying two black plastic bags. Upon seeing Renie, she stopped and glared.
"You," Phyliss breathed. "Don't start in on me with your Romish ways."
"Bite me," Renie snapped.
Phyliss kneaded the plastic bags with her skinny fingers. "False gods. Painted idols. Craven images."
"Funny," Renie remarked, about to pop another cookie into her mouth. "I thought they were graven images."
"You're a blasphemer," Phyliss declared, pronouncing the word as if it were "blass-FEMUR." She turned to Judith and shook the black bags. "I don't like giving these to the St. Vincent de Paul. What's wrong with the Salvation Army?"
"Nothing," Judith replied, ignoring the long-standing religious animosity between Renie and Phyliss. "I'm the one who's giving that stuff away, and it'll go to whichever charity calls first. For now, I want those bags out on the back porch. They're cluttering up the second-floor hall."
With one last dark look for Renie, Phyliss proceeded down the narrow hallway to the porch.
"The pope has spies everywhere," Renie called after the cleaning woman. "Better check the recycling bin, Phyliss." Judith shook her head. "I never bait Phyliss the way you do," she admonished Renie. "I don't rile her. She's too good at her job."
"I didn't start it this time," Renie responded.
"You didn't need to," Judith said. "You've done it often enough in the past. Which," she went on as Phyliss returned from the porch and headed down the basement stairs, "brings us back to the house on Moonfleet."This Old Souse
A Bed-and-Breakfast Mystery. Copyright © by Mary Daheim. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is very good. The startin' lines were great. There was something, about the middle, I queried, song-lines or somethin', but Sweetums, shows 'e is a Doghouse Reilly himself. Gertrude is great, and Renie, an' Bill an' Joe, and Glen & Trashman, an' Sally with 'er society lady behavior. You can go through the pages at two shakes of the donkey's tail. As Mary isn't looking for a UNESCO Award, in alluvial Philosophy.
I'm not really sure what to make of this book. It was interesting and funny, but so far out of the realm of possibility that I was continually shaking my head in disbelief. Judith throws money around like it was water and people tell her just about anything she wants to know. You would think that a B&B owner would not be able to spend money so freely. Page 324 was especially unbelievable. A fun book as long as you don't expect anything close to reality.
Judith Flynn and her partner-in-crime-solving cousin Renie start snooping around an old house Renie was fascinated by as a child. They learn the Moonfleet Street residence belongs to Dickand Jane Bland, who have lived there for fifty years. The couple is so standoffish that none of the neighbors recall ever seeing them. While meandering around the grounds of the old house, someone stuffs a body into the trunk of Judith's Subaru. In between taking care of guests at Hillside Manor, sparring with her wise-mouth mother (who lives in a converted tool shed near the B&B), missing her ex-cop husband Joe (who's away on an investigation of his own), cleaning up after her mother's psycho-cat Sweetums, fretting over her son's breakup with his wife, Judith finds time to investigate the murder she has been drawn into. It's in her best interest, because it's apparent very quickly the police have picked Judith as suspect number one. The more she learns, however, the more she believes the fishy goings-on in the house on Moonfleet Street are what led to murder.Although I'm a big fan of Mary Daheim's Alpine mysteries featuring newspaper editor Emma Lord, I've never read any of her Bed & Breakfast mysteries. This Old Souse was my first. Like the Alpine mysteries, the B&B mysteries are set in the Pacific Northwest, where the author lives. Both series are well-written and feature quirky characters, plucky female heroines of a certain age, and a lighthearted approach.The problem writers of cozies face is creating a scenario in which it makes sense for an amateur to horn in on a police investigation of a murder. Readers of cozies want to imagine the story could happen and are willing to go through mental gymnastics to conjure up that belief. For some reason, I just couldn't make myself believe This Old Souse. Many of the doubts I had about the story were resolved in the end, but the lack of plausibility lingered. Still, it's a quick and fun read. By Diana. First published in Mystery News, October-November 2004 edition. Review based on publisher- or author-provided review copy.
Okay, this latest installment in the B & B series is lacking. I love the twists and this just didn't have them.
I consider this book to be a 'lost treasure.' Judith McMonigle Flynn runs a Bed and Breakfst in what was her parent's home. Her mother lives in a converted garden shed in the back yard because she hates Judith's second husband, though not as much as she hated the first. Judith has a large and strange family, dealing with them is much more difficult than her guests. even though they insist on dying while visiting her charming home.
When cousins Judith and Renie smell a mystery you can guarantee that trouble is not far behind. This time is no different. When Renie's interest hones in on an old Spanish villa situated on Moonfleet Street, Judith tries to stay focused on her B&B. But then the villa's milkman ends up dead and in her trunk! So Judith gets sucked into the mystery of the old villa also. .......................... The house, owned by the Bland family since WWII, has not changed in sixty years. The cousins are determined to find out why, as well as learn just how the milkman ended up dead in Judith's trunk. Better yet, if he was not a milkman, then just WHO was he? ................... **** A slow start, but true to all mysteries it quickly grabs you and pulls you in. Once I got into it, I was lost in the follies of these cousins and all the humor they leave in their wakes. A definite read for mystery fans! ****
Judith¿s cousin Renie asks her to accompany her to her old neighborhood. She wants to take a look at an old house on Moonfleet that has always intrigued her. It has always seemed deserted. Judith¿s husband Joe is out of town and she can get away from her Bed & Breakfast for a little while, she agrees. When they arrive, they run into an old mailman that Renie had run ins with years ago. They learn that the house isn¿t deserted. People do live there. They get mail, milk and packages delivered. The milkman tells them that Dick and Jane Bland, along with Jane¿s spinster sister, Sally, live there. Judith comes back alone one day to get a better look. She parks her car in the alley behind on the house and gets out. She finds out that they get one UPS package a year from Austria. Finally she goes on with her errands. At the grocery store, she opens the car trunk to load her bags and finds the dead milkman from the Moonfleet house. Of course, she is a suspect. Her car is impounded. Renie comes to pick her up. On top of all this, Judith¿s son Mike and his wife Kristen have split up. Neither Joe nor Judith can understand this. Mike and their two boys go to stay with Uncle Al until Kristin can get her stuff out and head to her parents¿. Judith and Renie must uncover the truth before Joe returns. They end up getting themselves into much hot water before they can sort everything out. The author has done a fabulous job of creating these characters. All of them are terrific. I love reading books in this series. They are entertaining and there is always a good mystery for them to unravel! I highly recommend this book and series.
For those who like their mystery delivered with a light touch, Mary Daheim's back with the 20th in her highly readable Bed and Breakfast series. Of course, protagonists are the deft and daffy pseudo detective cousins Judith and Renie. As an interesting aside, author Daheim has said that she bases her characters on family members. Guess who Renie is? That's right, Mary herself. And Judith is based on Mary's cousin Judy. At last report all relations have a great sense of humor and enjoy seeing what this writer will come up with next - as do readers. With This Old Souse Renie returns to her former neighborhood in Seattle and B & B hostess Judith. As women will, the two began talking about anything and everything when the subject of an old, rather creepy Spanish villa came up. It seems the manse on Moonfleet Street has been abandoned, vacant for many years. They remember it from high school days; why not pop over there and see how it looks now. Much to their surprise, despite its appearance, the house has been lived in since the mid 1940s by a family, the Blands - Dick and Jane and her unmarried sister, Sally. The inquisitive pair find out more from a friendly, voluble milkman who tells them he's been delivering milk there for ages. The mailman can't contribute much to this puzzle as he's never seen the family. Their groceries are delivered, and they pay all their bills in cash which is left in the milk box. This is more than enough to pique the girls' interest, but they decide the Blands are simply eccentric - that is until Judith opens her car trunk to find a dead body. The recently departed? The milkman. Now, things are more than serious, they're sinister. As they begin to investigate further Judith and Renie find that the Blands may be more than they an handle. As always, Mary Daheim keeps readers laughing and guessing until the last page. - Gail Cooke
The owner of the popular bed and breakfast Hillside Manor, Judith McMonigle Flynn is having a nice day when her cousin Renie asks her to go to the old neighborhood to see Moonfleet, a beautifully looking home badly in need of repairs. The owners of the home have lived there for over five decades but nobody has ever really talked to them. They keep to themselves and have their food delivered. Their sister Sally lives with them but she is as reclusive as they are.................................. While casing the premises, Judith and Renie meet the dairy man who tells them he never sees the occupants of Moonfleet. A UPS truck delivers a package to them leaving it outside their home. He tells the cousins that once a year on the same date the package is delivered to that address. When Judith goes shopping, she finds the murdered body of the dairy man in the trunk of her car. The mystery surrounding Moonfleet becomes very personal to the cousins so they seek answers................................ The latest Bed-and-Breakfast mystery is a great amateur sleuth story due mainly to the heroine. She has to keep her husband from finding out about her investigation, find her lost precious cat and cope with the marital woes of her son and her daughter in law while solving a mystery. This is a fabulous book in a fantastic mystery series. Mary Daheim deserves a career achievement award for her continuous high quality and unique originality................................. Harriet Klausner