Murder She Did: 14 Killer Short Stories by Gillian Roberts

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Gillian Roberts has been recognized and presented with multiple awards for her Amanda Pepper mystery series. Now, collected here for the first time, are 14 short stories by this bestselling mystery author.
From cats to marriages and dogs to dentists, these stories cover a wide range of themes and all are infused with Roberts’ well-known sense of humor. Pulled from out-of-print anthologies and recovered from magazines, these stories represent 25 amazing years in the writing career of one of the mystery genre’s most-beloved authors.
From One Beautiful Body:
One by one we were okayed by the guard and then finally admitted into the absolute splendor of Ivy Jean Hoffman’s abode. Muted, exquisite colors were on the glazed walls, oversized paintings, bleached and waxed floors, rich fabrics, fresh flowers in exquisite vases. It was, in short, your generic incredibly rich person’s living room.
We whispered, as if in a museum, running reverent light hands over smooth woods and exquisite accessories, and then we sank into downy sofas and waited.
And waited some more. Half my break time and all my patience were now completely gone. “I’m going to have to leave,” I said.
“Me, too,” another woman said. “Do you think I could take a peek around before I go?”
“Might as well while you can.” Nikki’s mood seemed permanently soured ever since the altercation with Barby. “The creditors will probably be up to repossess it before the next reunion committee meeting.”
She greeted our shocked expressions with a shrug. “It’s no big secret. Ivy’s uncontrolled spending on this place has Mitchell near bankruptcy. He’s always saying so.”
“He must be using hyperbole,” I suggested.
“I don’t know who he’s using,” Nikki said. “But I know he probably couldn’t afford anybody too expensive anymore.”
“Exaggerating,” I said. “Using a figure of speech.”
Nikki raised an eyebrow. “I know Ivy and her spending, so I doubt that he’s hyper anything.”
Maybe because our curiosity was the only thing we could feed, we began investigating, heading for the kitchen first, perhaps hoping for a stray grape or cracker. Instead, we found a twenty-first-century laboratory, a prototype for a space station, with not an alien microbe in sight. Except for what the harried caterer had forgotten to remove. A Styrofoam container and two salad dressing lids lay on the black granite counter. I personally thought plastic pollutants were a wonderful touch, and very much in keeping with the futuristic theme, but somebody joked about how angry Ivy would be. On behalf of the caterer’s future, I tidied up. It took a while to find the compactor and when I did, it was filled to the brim with more Styrofoam boxes floating atop a sea of plastic wrap, but I shoved my trash in, slammed the gizmo shut, and pushed the button to squeeze it all in. Ivy’s kitchen was now the way she liked things—devoid of any sign of life.
We moved on, stomachs growling in the lettuce-colored dining room where the bread sticks and salads the caterer had put out looked as good as the baronial decor. We toured Mitchell’s paneled lair, admiring its “manly” color scheme and aroma, both dark, both tobacco, and the ornately carved racks—one for pipes, the other displaying antique, expensive pistols. We moved to the media center, electronics swaddled in fine cabinetry that silently opened at the push of a hidden control panel. We murmured through Ivy Jean’s Art Deco home office, and in the mirrored state-of-the-art gymnasium we stared at our non-state-of-the-art reflections.
And then we reached the master bedroom. Nikki had been right. Ivy Jean was in bed. But she’d been wrong about the rest. Ivy was alone and she wasn’t doing aerobics because she wasn’t doing breathing. There was a large and ugly hole in the center of her chest and an ivory-handled gun in her hand on the bloodstained spread.
I don’t know who screamed first, but the whole group backed up. Some, gagging, rushed off to bathrooms. Barby, skin now parchment hue, shook her head, over and over, and Nikki exhaled loudly, the way you do when a hard job is finished.
I stared, horrified and immeasurably sad for Ivy and the dead body she’d never enjoyed. I looked at the wisp on the bed, all bones and no conviction, a heartbreaking waste, and wished for another chance at lunch with her, another chance to convince her that she did, indeed, exist.
“Don’t touch anything,” I whispered to whichever committee members were still in the room. It was a foolish thing to utter, even in a whisper, because we’d already fondled and stroked most of the apartment. “I’ll call the police,” I added. At least that made sense.

  • Published by: Untreed Reads

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