A Skeleton in the Closet (The Kate Lawrence Mysteries, #3) by Judith K. Ivie



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Book Three in The Kate Lawrence Mysteries: Everyone has a skeleton or two in their pasts, but the one that turns up at 185 Broad Street in Old Wethersfield is all too real. Afraid that the discovery of a corpse on their property might put off potential buyers, the elderly owners of the historic Victorian house turn to Wethersfield realtor and reluctant amateur sleuth Kate Lawrence to solve their problem. Join Kate and her friends as all of the skeletons—figurative and literal—come crashing out of the closets to challenge the women as never before.

This title is published by Mainly Murder Press and is distributed worldwide by Untreed Reads.

Excerpt:

As Margo was preparing to leave for her first appointment, we heard the front doors of the Law Barn crash open. Strutter rushed through the lobby and skittered down the half-staircase to the office, almost falling in her haste. She burst through the doorway looking about as pale as it’s possible for a black woman to look. “The Henstock sisters have a skeleton in their closet,” she announced.

“Don’t they always?” murmured Margo, still focused on her computer screen, “and it’s the primmest old gals that usually have the wickedest secrets.” She giggled delightedly. “I can hardly wait. Let’s hear it.” She punched Save, crossed one elegant leg over the other, and gave MACK Realty’s third partner her full attention. I stopped making notes to myself at my desk and did the same.

“No, really,” insisted Strutter. She collapsed onto the sofa next to Margo and looked from one to the other of us wildly. “Kate, Margo, listen to me. There’s a skeleton behind a false wall in an old closet in the Henstock sisters’ basement. Literally. It had clothes on, or at least, it used to.” She clutched her briefcase to her chest and swallowed hard. “I think I’m going to be sick.”

Instinctively, Margo leaned away and pulled her Jimmy Choos out of harm’s way. I leaped up, wastebasket at the ready, but Strutter waved me away.

“No, no, I’m not really going to hurl. I just feel queasy, and so would you, if you’d seen what I just saw.” She flopped back on the sofa and stuck her legs out in front of her. “I need coffee. No,” she amended hastily, holding one hand to her stomach, “make that water. Please,” she added feebly, eyes closed.

“You bet, Sugar.” Margo practically leaped to her feet, causing Rhett Butler to snap to attention. She hurried out to the water cooler and returned in seconds with a filled paper cup. Strutter sat up and sipped carefully, holding the cup between hands that trembled.

I could stand it no longer. “Charlene Putnam, I love you like a sister, but I’m going to walk over there and shake you if you don’t tell us what you are talking about right now.”

“Don’t make me turn Rhett Butler on you,” Margo threatened for good measure. The dog panted happily at the mention of his name. He might lick Strutter to death, I knew, but that was about the extent of her peril.

With an effort, Strutter pulled herself together. “As soon as I parked in front of that big, spooky house, I knew it was a mistake to go inside. There were those crazy old ladies peeking out at me from behind the front curtains, plain as day. Did they imagine I was there to rob them at nine o’clock on a Friday morning? You’d think they’d never seen a black woman on their front porch before.” She stopped shaking and took another noisy sip of water, irked by the memory. Margo and I exchanged glances.

“They were raised in another era,” I soothed, “and they don’t get out much these days either. They probably aren’t used to women being business owners, never mind black women.”

“Huh! Probably don’t know we can vote and own property now and everything,” Strutter fumed. Margo snorted, an unattractive habit of hers when something tickled her. “Anyway, I announced who I was, and Miss Ada let me in. At least, I think it was Ada. The bigger one with the kinky permanent wave and the sensible shoes.” I nodded. “The wispy one, Lavinia, just kind of fluttered around, waving a hankie and moaning to herself. We went into the front room, the one they’d been using to check me out, and sat on the sofa, and I asked as delicately as I could what had them in such a swivet. I didn’t want to be too pushy, them still being in shock at having a sister sitting right there on their sofa and all.” Another snort from Margo.

“And what did Ada say?” I prodded in an effort to move this along. Margo checked her watch none too discreetly.

Finally, Strutter kicked it into high gear. “She said they’d about run through all the money from their papa’s trust fund, and they were considering selling the house, but some pipes running to the old boiler needed serious repairs, and they’d had a fellow banging around in the basement tearing out walls and bricks, and he found something even worse than the leak, and they needed to know how it might affect the value of the property.” She sucked in a breath. We waited.

“It was a skeleton!”

  • Published by: Mainly Murder Press


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