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The little town of Foxglove Corners offers tornado survivor Jennet Greenway country peace and a new romance, but the secret of the yellow Victorian house across the lane holds a threat to her new life.
Can Jennet solve its mysteries in time to avert another disaster?
The Queen Anne Victorian was deserted when I drove by. I half expected to see the voluptuous Mina Hendrickson measuring something or planting shrubs. Camille was outside, sitting on her porch, though. As I pulled up in my own drive, I waved to her. Then I gathered my mail and Halley and walked with her over to the yellow Victorian, stopping first at Camilleâ€™s mailbox. The only item inside was a manila envelope with a Maple Falls postmark and â€˜Donâ€™t fold--photograph insideâ€™ scribbled beneath the address.
I handed Camille the envelope. "It looks like the Secret Mourner strikes again.â€
She stared at it dully. "Letâ€™s go inside where itâ€™s cooler.â€
I followed her into the dining room, where she had set one of her gathering baskets on the sideboard. Inside were the recipe, the clipping, and the scarf. We sat down, and I watched her slowly open the envelope and draw out a black and white photograph.
"Oh, dear God. No.â€
Her face was pale, and she didnâ€™t move, even when the picture fell out of her hand to the table. I reached over and picked it up.
"Maybe I never killed Richard after all,â€ she said. "What if heâ€™s still alive?â€
I took the picture over to the window, where there was more light. In the uniform of a state trooper, Richard Vesper was indeed an impressive figure. He was leaning on a car from the seventies. By its shape, Iâ€™d guess it was a Plymouth Duster. It was parked in front of a motel, and in the background was a sliver of a lake.
As I studied the manâ€™s face for another second, I could see why Camille had been instantly attracted to him. "So this was Richard. My, he was a handsome devil, and Iâ€™m sure devil is the right word to use.â€
She said, "Look closely, Jennet. Donâ€™t you something wrong?â€
I saw then what she meant. I was surprised Iâ€™d missed it. Richardâ€™s hair was flecked with gray, and his handsome features were marred or improved, depending on your preference, by the fine wrinkles of age. He looked fifty-nine or sixty, but the car was sleek and new.
Camille said, "Iâ€™ve never see this picture before, but that was his Plymouth, Iâ€™m pretty sure, and I recognize the motel. I think it was called the Lakeside Motel, something like that. It was near the State Park.â€
"So you think Richard is alive and youâ€™ve been in hiding for a murder you never committed? There has to be another explanation. The man grows older, but the car doesnâ€™t? I donâ€™t remember seeing a motel near the Park. This picture was taken thirty years ago. If he were still alive, wouldnâ€™t he have tried to find you?â€
"Remember, I thought I saw him once, right after I came home, but you just visited his grave.â€ She came to an abrupt stop. "Maybe heâ€™s not there anymore.â€
"We havenâ€™t suddenly stepped into a Stephen King movie,â€ I said. "Hereâ€™s what I think. The man in the picture is Richard, but heâ€™s still in his coffin. Photographs can be altered in many ways. You can use a computer to age a personâ€™s face. Thatâ€™s apparently whatâ€™s going on here.â€
I turned the picture around, and as I did, I saw three words: Poisoner! Liar! Witch! Written in bold black marker on the white background, they seemed to scream out their rage and hatred. It was as if the very letters were fire-hot with venom.
I handed the paper back to Camille and pointed to the words. "This time the message isnâ€™t obscure. You have to show this to Cameron Lodge tomorrow and to the police too.â€
"Iâ€™m afraid to think whatâ€™s coming next.â€
"You look really spooked. Why donâ€™t you stay at my house tonight?â€
"Thank you for the offer, Jennet, but I wonâ€™t let Richard Vesper drive me out into the night again.â€
So she didnâ€™t believe in my theory of the altered photograph. She was talking about her husband as if he were still alive and a threat resurrected, even though three decades had passed.
To take her mind off her morbid imaginings, I told her about my encounter with the man in the Slayer shirt, describing him as well as I could.
Dorothy Bodoin lives in Royal Oak, Michigan, with her black collie, Holly, who appears in the Foxglove Corners cozy mysteries as Halley. After attending Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where she earned Bachelorâ€™s and Masterâ€™s degrees in English, she taught secondary English for several years. Now she is a full-time writer of cozy mysteries and novels of romantic suspense. At present she is working on a novel of romantic suspense.
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 342
Paper Weight (lb): 14.4
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