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When Marla Holland falls to her death on the stairs of the Foxglove Corners Public Library, nobody realizes that she has been poisoned. In her life, Marla antagonized several people, including Jennet Greenway on the night of her murder, but which one of her enemies killed her?
Distracted by a battle to save Marla’s collie from will-ordered euthanasia and a Halloween prankster who threatens Jennet and her dog, Jennet doesn’t realize that she is in line to become the killer’s next victim.
That was the signal for the unofficial end of class. Chairs scraped on the floor, papers rustled, a book fell, and the noise level increased dramatically. The strident voice of Carly Carson broke through the uproar.
“Miss Greenway, will you look at my story, please?”
I walked to the back of the room where a girl in a purple cheerleader’s uniform sat at a table by herself, surrounded by pages of the Free Press.
“Is this okay?” she asked, handing me a neatly clipped article.
The words of the headline slammed into me like separate jolts. ‘Owner’s Will Condemns Dog to Die’. A familiar face looked back at me from the accompanying illustration, her hand resting on the head of a collie.
Oh no! The girl in the picture was Nikki Holland. The doomed dog was Magic.
As I read the story, my initial shock turned to anger. In her will, Marla Holland had ordered the humane destruction of the collie, Malindra Black Magic, giving no reason for her decision. The attempts of the deceased woman’s lawyer to take possession of the dog were being thwarted by Mrs. Holland’s niece, so far successfully. “No one has the right to will an animal to death,” Nikki Holland said. “I will not turn Magic over to Ansel McLaren.”
“I cannot in good conscience fail to carry out my late client’s directive,” McLaren countered.
Nikki had enlisted the aid of the Humane Society and Foxglove Corners’ respected veterinarian, Dr. Alice Foster, who refused to put the animal down. The rest of the story dealt with possible court intervention and the liability of Ellen Grove, whose daughter had allowed Nikki to remove the dog from Colliegrove Kennels.
Nikki had found her cause, and I knew I was going to play a part in it, even though it might place me nearer to the murder case.
“Is anything wrong, Miss Greenway?” Carly asked.
“This entire situation,” I said.
“Can I still use the article?”
Remembering that I was a Journalism teacher, I said, “Of course. The lead tells us who and what, and it’s written in classic, inverted-pyramid construction. You could cut off the last two paragraphs and still have the basic story.”
“They can’t really kill that dog, can they?” she asked.
“I’m not sure what the law says, but there’s a great difference between legality and justice. This is unjust. It’s wrong.”
Not everyone would think so. Crane, to whom the law was absolute, would most likely agree with the lawyer, unless a court ruled otherwise. But I felt that people would rally around Nikki. The facts, along with the picture, were guaranteed to evoke strong emotion in a reader. Everyone loved a dog-in-peril story and a good battle. I imagined that soon Nikki’s plight would attract more influential help.
I returned the clipping to Carly. “Nikki Holland chose a powerful ally.”
“The Humane Society, you mean?”
“Yes, but especially the press. Everyone who reads this story will want to save the dog. No one is going to side with the lawyer. I’m pretty sure he’s going to lose this fight, but in the meantime it’s painful for everyone involved.”
Especially for Nikki who had just discovered Magic and for the dog who had found a good home at last, only to face execution. Tears burned my eyes as I remembered my last glimpse of the beautiful black collie, her soft, warm fur, and the dignity in her dark eyes.
Marla Holland must have been crazy to want a healthy young dog euthanized. Or any dog. But why was I surprised? I’d met the woman.
“This story would make a good movie,” Carly said.
“Only if it has a happy ending.”
The bell rang, and the class dashed out of the room, dropping assignments, jars of rubber cement, and scissors on my desk. Carly rose more slowly, reassembling the newspaper and tucking it inside her notebook. “Can’t we do something?”
“Maybe. I’ll talk about the story in class tomorrow, and we can write letters to the Editor. Remember the power of the written word.”
“I’ll start working on one tonight,” she said.
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 Bachelor’s and Master’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 ePress
No. of Pages: 279
Paper Weight (lb): 11.8
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