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Authors: Emilie Richards

A Lie for a Lie

BOOK: A Lie for a Lie
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for
Beware False Profits
“The heroine seems so natural as a sleuth that the audience will find her investigations believable . . . She makes this a fine small-town Midwest mystery.”—
Midwest Book Review
 
“I must say that I love this mystery series . . . If you enjoy testing your wits with a good mystery on cold winter nights, pick up this gem. Author Emilie Richards writes intelligent whodunits with some colorful characters.”

Huntress Book Reviews
 
 
 
Let There Be Suspects
“Charming.”—
The Wall Street Journal
 
“A lighthearted study in dysfunctional family dynamics,
Let There Be Suspects
is an answered prayer for fans of the cozy mystery.”—
Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“A great storyteller, Richards writes a humor-filled murder mystery that works . . . She develops enough suspects and action to keep readers turning pages. She plays fair and lays the clues for the astute reader to solve the crime. This reader looks forward to more adventures with Aggie.”

Gumshoe Review
 
“A charming cozy, full of memorable characters, suspense galore, and the unsinkable Aggie who is at her clever best when solving a mystery.”—
MyShelf.com
 
“Aggie is a fun character . . . A well-crafted mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end. I highly recommend this book and the whole series.”

The Best Reviews
“I love her sharp, quirky voice, her rich and crazy characters, and I love that she’s mixed murder and mayhem with the Church . . . A delicious Christmas romp into the murderous minds of those that live in and visit Emerald Springs, Ohio. You’ll want more of Emilie Richards.”

Armchair Interviews
 
“Satisfying . . . There are quite a few humorous moments in the novel, but there’s a poignant side as well.”

The Mystery Reader
 
“Zany characters add sparkle to this engaging cozy, where mystery is never in short supply . . . Witty and entertaining.”

Romantic Times
 
 
 
Blessed Is the Busybody
“A well-crafted story with both humor and mystery. Emilie Richards has a writing style that reels the reader in with her first words. Aggie is a fun character . . . Any of Emilie Richards’s books are keepers on my shelf!”

Romance Junkies
 
“A delightful cozy that stars an amateur sleuth who feels as if she swims upstream against the tide . . . All comes together in this fine Ministry Is Murder thriller.”

Midwest Book Review
(five-star review)
 
“An absolutely delightful mystery that fans of Emilie Richards and anyone who enjoys light mystery will adore . . . This novel takes a clever and unexpected turn at its conclusion. It also marks the beginning of a new mystery series involving Emerald Springs. I think Aggie is just getting started with her sleuthing and if future adventures are as well written as this one, we are in for a treat.”

The Romance Readers Connection
 
“An enjoyable read . . . Any new book by this gifted author is cause for celebration.”—
The Mystery Reader
 
“Fun and suspenseful.”—
Fresh Fiction
“A cozy mystery with style. Aggie is adorable and her sleuthing efforts will fill the reader with admiration—as well as chuckles . . . Ms. Richards’s characters are particularly vivid and all have interesting little twists that make them memorable and very real . . . A lighthearted and endearing read with a great deal of flavor and wit. If you are a fan of Dorothy Bodoin and Jan Karon, or an avid
Murder, She Wrote
viewer, then
Blessed Is the Busybody
is just the book for you! Great work, Ms. Richards!”

Roundtable Reviews
 
 
 
Praise for the Novels of
Emilie Richards
 
“Multilayered plot, vivid descriptions, and a keen sense of time and place.”—
Library Journal
 
“Richards writes with rare honesty and compassion and has a keen eye for detail. This is a beautiful, heartwarming story that will find its way onto many shelves.”

Romantic Times
 
“Richards pieces together each woman’s story as artfully as a quilter creates a quilt, with equally satisfying results, and her characterizations are transcendent, endowed with warmth and compassion.”—
Booklist
 
“Richards’s ability to portray compelling characters who grapple with challenging family issues is laudable, and this well-crafted tale should score well with fans of Luanne Rice and Kristin Hannah.”

Publishers Weekly
(starred review)
 
“A flat-out page turner . . . reminiscent of the early Sidney Sheldon.”—
The Cleveland Plain Dealer
 
“Unforgettable characters and complex relationships.”

The Romance Reader
Berkley Prime Crime titles by Emilie Richards
LET THERE BE SUSPECTS
BLESSED Is THE busybody
BEWARE FALSE PROFITS
a LIE For A LIE
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
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(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
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(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
A LIE FOR A LIE
 
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / February 2009
 
Copyright © 2009 by Emilie McGee.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
eISBN : 978-1-440-69850-7
 
BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 

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1
The last time I saw a circus parade, I was only four years old. That sunlit summer afternoon is still absolutely clear to me. Vendors with pushcarts hawked sky blue cotton candy in paper cones. Clowns in pumpkin-colored wigs flapped giant shoes over cobblestones as they presented children with plastic pinwheels and monkeys on sticks. As the entourage drew closer my handsome young father lifted me in his arms and told me how Hannibal, his personal hero, had driven elephants, just like the ones coming toward us, across the Alps from Carthage to bring Rome to its knees. Thoughts of any powerful government falling prey to the “little guy” still bring tears to Ray Sloan’s eyes, and I’m sure that the day the circus came was no exception.
I know those memories of sunshine and the loving embrace of my father aren’t figments of my thirty-seven-year-old imagination. Nor is my memory of Ray slugging a greasepaint glutton of a clown who tried to chuck me under my chin. Then there’s my final memory, the two of us dodging toddlers and shrieking old ladies as Ray raced helter-skelter from the police who had been charged with escorting the parade, along with the cages of lions and tigers and bears.
Oh, my.
To this day, Ray is not a fan of chin chuckers. To this day I’m still a fan of circuses. I’m also a fan of Ray’s, although extra careful with what I choose to report in our letters and phone calls. These days Ray lives in an Indiana survivalist compound with a dozen other Vietnam vets, preparing for the moment when he, like Hannibal, might be called to send Rome, the ATF, or the CIA packing.
The good news is that so far, nobody seems interested in asking Ray for help.
I’m not sure where we happened to be living when that last circus strutted into my memories. I do know where I live now. Emerald Springs, Ohio, my home for nearly three years. Today, if a clown chucked me on the chin, I would be forced to smile and treat him with understanding, maybe gently suggesting a short course on good touch/bad touch. These days I am the wife of the minister of one of our town’s most historic churches. It will not do to slug anybody. Unless, of course, they’re trying to kill me, which has happened more times since my arrival in town than I care to think about.
Having Ray Sloan for a father, spending childhood summers marching and orienteering and flipping men twice my size, had its positive side. Thanks largely to Ray’s survival training I am still alive, even well. I’m hoping to stay this way for years to come. Like my daddy, I’m planning to survive.
“Aggie, what on earth are you thinking about? You’re waving your finger in the air.”
I glanced at my best friend, Lucy Jacobs, who was sitting in the driver’s seat beside me. Luce was trying to find a place to park her cherry red Chrysler, and it was no surprise she wasn’t having any luck since, for half a mile behind us, both sides of dusty Horseshoe Bend Road were lined with cars.
Clearly we weren’t the only good citizens of Emerald Springs who knew we were about to be invaded. In a town like ours, news travels as fast as butter melting on pierogies. There’s a certain collective osmosis here. I’m not sure words are necessary. Like lemmings with larger brains and better survival instincts, the entire population of Emerald Springs probably stepped across their thresholds half an hour ago and headed for their cars. Hopefully no one is going to end this simultaneous migration by throwing themselves under the wheels of the battered RVs turning in to the acreage ahead of us. But stranger things have happened.
I carefully curled the waving finger back into my fist. “You wouldn’t believe the places my mind can go.”
Lucy lifted one perfectly penciled eyebrow. “You’re kidding, right? We work side by side. I helped you solve three murders. Next to Ed, nobody’s seen your mind twirling into outer space more often than I have.”
“And yet, from somewhere deep inside, you still find enough goodwill to let me ride in your car.”
“What
were
you thinking about?”
“The day I was four and watched a circus arrive with my father.”
“That sounds like a perfectly normal thing to do.” She spared me a doubtful glance, wrinkling her perky little nose. “You did
normal
things together?”
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