Virginia Is for Mysteries is a collection of sixteen short stories set in and around the state of Virginia. All stories are written by Virginia residents with “murder” in mind. Each is a member of Sisters In Crime writers group. The idea of a themed anthology is popular in mystery writing groups and Virginia Is for Mysteries can be compared to Chesapeake Crimes, Fish Tales, Fish Nets, or Best New England Crime Stories.
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
All contributing authors of Virginia is for Mysteries, are members of ""Sisters in Crime"" and all bring a unique perspective and voice to the anthology.
Backgrounds range from teachers to MFA candidates to military spouses and soccer moms. Three of the authors have traditional mystery publishing experience with more than a dozen publishing credits between them. All three are experienced workshop presenters, and one teaches mystery writing and novel writing at the University of Virginia.
Read an Excerpt
MURDER AT MONTICELLO
By Meredith Cole
After spending two hours trapped with twenty esteemed members of the American Historic Horticultural Society on a bus to Monticello, tour guide Rory Adams was ready to murder someone-preferably a grumpy horticulturalist. But she restrained herself. First of all, murdering clients was bad for business. And second, they were finally about to arrive in Charlottesville for their tour and tomato tasting.
When Rory first conceived the idea of specialty tours for her family’s DC tour company, Your Capitol City Tours, she thought it would be incredibly refreshing to get off of the National Mall and see new sights in the area. But specialty tours inevitably meant specialty interests. And these plant experts were proving to be more rancorous then her usual customers.
Rory had attempted to make peppy conversation and stay off any loaded topics, but it soon became apparent that almost everything to do with plants and history was a loaded topic. Rory had no idea how controversial tomatoes were until she made an innocent remark about Thomas Jefferson. “The former president was an avid and enthusiastic gardener and is credited with helping tomatoes become more commonplace on American dinner tables.”
The bus erupted into an argument.
“The first tomato was brought over from Europe—and not by Jefferson. He was a talented horticulturist, but this is too much,” said Dr. John Powers. He had to be over eighty but was far from ready to be retired.
“I must disagree,” Dr. Randall Shuster interjected. “Jefferson was perhaps not the first to introduce the species, but his influence on the tomato is well known. His garden was both inspirational and educational.” Dr. Randall Shuster was a die-hard Jefferson fan who passionately believed the president’s efforts to import a multitude of plants to North America did more good than harm. Rory had perused his book on the subject in order to prepare for the tour.
“That’s right,” said Toby Handler. “Well said, Dr. Shuster.” Toby was a tall skinny graduate student whose main job appeared to be following Dr. Shuster around and agreeing with everything he said.
“Tomatoes are not native plants,” said Dr. Mary Walton with a sniff, “so it doesn’t matter who snuck them into the country.” Dr. Mary Walton was definitely the grumpiest member of the group. Only a little over five feet tall, Dr. Walton made up for her small stature with a particularly loud voice. A specialist in native flora and fauna, she apparently saw it as her mission to rid the world of all non-native species. No one disagreed with her, but Mary appeared to take any less strident views as an affront.
Herbalist Karen Long, wearing a flowing cotton dress and comfortable non-leather shoes, sat quietly in her seat up until now. But even she could not resist joining in. “Thomas Jefferson did valuable plant studies, but I find his use of slaves to work in his gardens disturbing. I don’t know how anyone can possibly say that a slave owner was an enlightened Renaissance man.”
As Rory sank back in her chair and let the group argue, she wondered if she should have made everyone go through a metal detector before they came on board.
Finally the Blue Ridge Mountains marched closer, and the bus wound its way up the road to Thomas Jefferson’s house. The heat hung heavy over the land like a yellow haze. Rory wrenched her eyes from the view and picked up the microphone again. “Imagine approaching the house as so many of Jefferson’s visitors did, on horse back or by carriage over rough terrain. Despite the distance and exhausting trip, visitors flocked to Monticello to meet Jefferson and to see his home.”
When the bus pulled up to the visitor center, Rory offered the group a chance to use the restroom and stretch their legs as she went to check on their tickets and other arrangements. “Meet me at the shuttle bus in fifteen minutes, and we’ll continue up to the house on the buses provided by the house. Remember, you’ll have time to shop at the end of the day before we return to Washington.”
Rory got in line to pick up their tickets, hoping they wouldn’t dawdle. Rory had arranged for a special tour with the head of the grounds, and she didn’t want to be late.
At the shuttle bus, Rory counted heads. Only nineteen were present and accounted for. There were supposed to be twenty, and it took Rory just thirty seconds to see who was missing. Mary Walton. Rory ground her teeth with frustration. They had just five minutes to climb the winding road up to Monticello, and they didn’t have time to wait around for stragglers.
“Has anyone seen Dr. Walton?” Rory asked. No one had, and Rory wasn’t exactly shocked. Since Mary had been arguing with most of them today, it was doubtful any of them had wanted to hang out with her when they arrived at the visitor’s center.
Just when Rory was considering putting an announcement on the PA system to page Dr. Walton, Mary strolled up carrying a large shopping bag. Rory wanted to yell at her for being so inconsiderate, but she managed to force a smile on her face. “Now that we’re all here, let’s head up for our tour, shall we?”
They all mounted the bus, and Rory took a deep breath. She only had to be with the tour group for the rest of the day, and then she never had to see any of them again. She could take it. Rory instructed herself to relax and enjoy the view out the window as they drove through the woods to Monticello.
At last Jefferson’s home slid into view and Rory smiled when she heard several of the horticulturalists gasp. She was glad the sight of something other than a plant could astound them.
Dr. Finn Dawson, the head of Monticello’s grounds, stood in front of the house checking his watch. Finn had reshaped the gardens and landscape of Monticello since he had started working there ten years ago. The literature stated that Dr. Dawson had recreated the gardens and grounds as close to Thomas Jefferson’s original vision as was possible, even though members of the staff were not opposed to using twenty-first century methods for upkeep.
Rory went first down the steps of the bus towards Finn and shook his hand enthusiastically. They had exchanged several emails, and she’d been so thankful that he offered to give the tour himself. Anyone with less knowledge and experience wouldn’t stand a chance with this group.
As the group got off the bus, Rory saw Finn frown as he spotted someone. Rory turned around, but she couldn’t be sure whom he was so displeased to see. Mary Walton? Karen Long? Or Randall Shuster? She wasn’t surprised that he knew one of them, but she was curious which of them had managed to offend Finn.
“Welcome to Thomas Jefferson’s home and gardens on behalf of the Monticello Historical Society. We’re going to begin our tour in Thomas Jefferson’s flower gardens, and we’ll walk around the house to get there,” Finn said loudly and clearly.
“Rory, can you take my picture in front of the house?” Karen asked.