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Irmajean Lloyd, volunteer gardener at historic Rosewood Estate, thinks there's nothing more deadly than black spot on the roses. She's proven horribly wrong when the director of the estate is murdered. Determined to help solve the crime, Irmajean uncovers a maze of carefully hidden secrets. Which of these was the catalyst for murder?
“Do you think Clarice Carmichael might have killed her husband?” Irmajean Lloyd watched as her husband Glenn lowered the morning newspaper and fixed her with a where-did-that-come-from look.
“Does it matter after all this time? It’s been what--seventy plus years?”
“Any bit of human interest matters. It definitely would add spice to the house tours at Rosewood. Heaven knows we need all the help we can get raising money to keep the estate up and running.” A volunteer gardener and a member of the board of directors at historic Rosewood, she was learning the hard way what it took to keep such a place operating. “People pay their five dollars for a tour of the house and garden, and they want to hear interesting stories about the people who lived there. Not just that the floors are oak, the fireplace tiles imported from Italy… Besides, people ask questions and we don’t have many answers. Which makes it look like we haven’t done our homework.”
“I don’t see how you can be expected to know every last detail.”
Irmajean dipped her tea bag up and down in her cup and then wrapped it around her spoon, squeezing every last bit of flavor from it.
“You’d be surprised what people expect us to know. And Priscilla doesn’t want to disappoint anyone.” She felt quite responsible for Priscilla, a friend of their daughter Gemma, since she’d been instrumental in hiring the young woman to be director of historic Rosewood Estate-the 1894 Queen Anne style mansion and five-acre garden bequeathed to the local historical society by the late Chalmers Carmichael. “Clarice was a bit of an enigma and visitors want to know why she became almost a recluse. For that matter, I’d like to know.”
“And you think it would bring in more money if Clarice turned out to be a murderer?”
Irmajean again wrapped the string around her tea bag, strangling it. “Priscilla is looking for ways to draw more visitors to the property. A juicy mystery would be just the ticket.”
Glenn Lloyd folded his newspaper with a sigh and focused his attention on the woman he’d been married to for thirty-five years. “If it’s mystery you want, it seems to me you’ve already got it in not having all the answers. Let people speculate on what might have happened.”
Irmajean shook her short brown curls and pursed her lips. “No, we need more than that. The number of visitors is down and other than two June weddings booked for the Rose Garden, we have absolutely nothing happening.”
“And you think a murder would change all that?” His tone was skeptical.
“Of course! People may shudder at the thought, but they do like to hear the grisly details. Look how they flock to supposedly haunted houses. Besides, whatever happened--if indeed a crime was committed--it was so long ago it can’t affect anyone alive today. Or anyone that we know of. Clarice’s only child, Chalmers, died without heirs.” She poked at her now cold poached egg.
Glenn looked at his wife and then his newspaper with longing. “What gave you the idea Clarice might have murdered her husband? I was under the impression he simply skipped town.”
“Well, yes, that’s the general consensus.” Irmajean did like to speculate on the truth and, in her own mind at least, enhance it appropriately. She felt a good story could always be improved upon. In the case of the Carmichael’s, there were a lot of gaps to fill.
“What has Priscilla thinking differently?”
I live within sight of the Pacific Ocean with one husband, two dogs and two cats. I have a degree in history with a special interest in the unexplained. Writing has been a part of my life for almost forty years and I have nine published novels to my credit. Old houses, especially those with a mysterious past, have always intrigued me and inspired the background for Maze Of Secrets. Gardening, my heroine's passion, is a serious hobby of mine. The background for managing a historic property like the one in the story, comes from my oldest daughter (one of a set of twins) who was the assistant director for a house similar to the one in the story.
Maze Of Secrets: “Move over Miss Marple and Jessica Fletcher. Irmajean Lloyd is here.” -- Suzanne Hurley
“Maze of Secrets is a mystery that keeps you turning the pages to uncover the secrets and solve this brilliantly-written whodunit.” --Linda Rettstatt
Book Publisher: Wings e Press
No. of Pages: 258
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