Liz Mugavero – A Biscuit, A Casket
This week, I’m pleased to host author, Liz Mugavero
Liz Mugavero is the author of the Pawsitively Organic Mysteries. The first book in the series, Kneading to Die, is an Agatha Award nominee for Best First Novel. A Biscuit, A Casket, is available now. As you can imagine, her canine and feline rescues demand the best organic food and treats around. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Salem State College and a Master of Arts in writing and publishing from Emerson College. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Sisters in Crime New England, Mystery Writers of America, and the Cat Writers’Association.
A Biscuit, A Casket
The small town of Frog Ledge, Connecticut, has wholeheartedly embraced Kristan “Stan” Connor’s new business–preparing quality organic treats for dogs and cats. On a healthy diet, the animals may live longer. . .but one local farmer won’t be so lucky. As Halloween approaches, Stan is asked to cater a doggie costume party hosted by the Happy Cow Dairy Farm. Part of a local co-op, Happy Cow specializes in organic dairy products, and farmers Hal and Emmalee Hoffman have started opening up the farm for parties, offering a “haunted” corn maze as an added attraction.
When Hal’s lifeless body is found in the maze, the police at first suspect his wife, but Stan soon learns the dairy farmer had plenty of enemies–from bitter family members to shady business associates. If Stan can’t extract a kernel of truth from the labyrinth of lies, she may be the next one to buy the farm.
Here is an excerpt:
Emmalee bolted out of the gate and raced to the corn maze behind the vampire, Stan on her heels. Stan hoped Em knew her way around the maze, otherwise they’d be running through it like beheaded chickens. She’d been lost in a corn maze once and it hadn’t been pretty. Then again, she was quite directionally impaired.
Yellow, coarse corn stalks slapped at her as she hurried after Em, heart pounding, wondering what in the world was happening and wishing she had sneakers on instead of her glittery gold flats. Then again, she had planned on hosting a bunch of dogs on the patio, not running willy-nilly through a corn maze. The vampire led them through a series of twists and turns, slowing when they came into a straightaway.
Stan could already see a crowd of costumed people gathered up ahead. A short, skinny girl dressed like an evil nymph clutching the hand of a boy with a fake ax through his head fled past them, heading away from the scene. They were both crying, which sent a stab of dread through Stan’s belly. She’d been hoping to find Hal with a broken bone or something, after tripping and falling in one of the cornstalks. But why would people be fleeing from the scene crying? Stan thought of Danny Hoffman with his chainsaw and hoped he hadn’t been part of an accident.
They finally reached the crowd at what appeared to be the top of the witch’s pointy hat within the maze design. They were at the end of the field. Emmalee elbowed her way through the crowd of kids. A girl wearing the bottom half of a werewolf costume sobbed. A boy with Dracula fangs had his arm around her shoulder. Stan could see his fingers, white with tension, digging into her arm.
Then Stan heard another noise – a wailing sound, starting out low in volume, then reaching a disturbing crescendo. Emmalee had reached the front of the crowd, and whatever she saw was not good.
Stan moved forward to stand behind her, peering around Emmalee’s shoulder. In the growing darkness, she could just make out a figure behind the short, wire fence containing the corn, face up, upper half immersed in a mud puddle left over from the weekend rain. She moved closer to get a better view. And wished she hadn’t. A menacing, hook-shaped weapon protruded from Hal Hoffman’s chest, a dark stain covering most of his upper body, staining his blue and green flannel shirt. His eyes were open. Empty.
For a second, she thought maybe this was the farmer’s idea of a bad joke. A staged murder in the corn maze for full Halloween effect. She waited for Hal to jump up, laughing, and pull the rubber prop out of his chest. Chide them all for falling for it.
But he didn’t.
Liz and I would love to hear from you, so please feel free to leave a comment.
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