Who Killed the Queen of Clubs?: A Thoroughly Southern Mystery

BOOK: Who Killed the Queen of Clubs?: A Thoroughly Southern Mystery
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for Patricia Sprinkle
When Will the Dead Lady Sing?
“Patricia Sprinkle takes the reader on a trip to the ‘real’ South, the South of family traditions, community customs, churchgoing, and crafty, down-home politics. Reading it is like spending an afternoon in the porch swing on Aunt Dixie’s veranda. . . . A delightful book.”
—JoAnna Carl, author of
The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up
 
Who Let That Killer in the House?
“Sprinkle’s third Thoroughly Southern Mystery is thoroughly absorbing.”

The Orlando Sentinel
 
Who Left That Body in the Rain?
“Forming a triumvirate with Anne George and Margaret Maron, Sprinkle adds her powerful voice to the literature of mysteries featuring Southern women. . . . Highly recommended.”

Mystery Time
 
“Authentic and convincing.”
—Tamar Myers
 

Who Left That Body in the Rain?
charms, mystifies, and delights.
As Southern as Sunday fried chicken and sweet tea.
Patricia Sprinkle’s Hopemore is as captivating—and as
filled with big hearts and big heartaches—as Jan Karon’s
Mitford. Come for one visit and you’ll always return.”
—Carolyn Hart
“An heirloom quilt. Each piece of patchwork is unique and with its own history, yet they are deftly stitched together with threads of family love and loyalty, simmering passion, deception and wickedness, but always with optimism imbued with down-home Southern traditions. A novel to be savored while sitting on a creaky swing on the front porch, a pitcher of lemonade nearby, a dog slumbering in the sunlight.”
—Joan Hess
 
Who Invited the Dead Man?
“A wonderfully portrayed Southern setting . . . MacLaren seems right at home in her tiny town.”

Library Journal
 
“Touches of poignancy mixed with Southern charm and old secrets make
Who Invited the Dead Man?
a diverting read.”

Romantic Times
And her other novels . . .
 
“Light touches of humor and the charming interplay between MacLaren and her magistrate husband make this a fun read for mystery fans.”

Library Journal
 
“Sparkling . . . witty . . . a real treat and as refreshing as a mint julep, a true Southern pleasure.”

Romantic Times
 
“Sparkles with verve, charm, wit, and insight. I loved it.”
—Carolyn Hart
 
“Engaging . . . compelling. . . . A delightful thriller.”

Peachtree Magazine
 
“The sort of light entertainment we could use more of in the hot summer days to come.”

The Denver Post
 
“[Sprinkle] just keeps getting better.”

The Post and Courier
(Charleston, SC)
Thoroughly Southern Mysteries
WHO INVITED THE DEAD MAN?
WHO LEFT THAT BODY IN THE RAIN?
WHO LET THAT KILLER IN THE HOUSE?
WHEN WILL THE DEAD LADY SING?
SIGNET
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto,
Ontario M4V 3B2, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,
Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
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Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany,
Auckland 1310, New Zealand (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
 
First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
First Printing, March 2005
 
Copyright © Patricia Sprinkle, 2005
All rights reserved
 
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
 
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
 
PUBLISHER’S NOTE
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.
 
eISBN : 978-1-101-09907-0
 
The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

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CAST OF CHARACTERS
MacLaren Yarbrough
: Georgia magistrate, co-owner of Yarbrough Feed, Seed & Nursery
Joe Riddley Yarbrough
: MacLaren’s husband, co-owner of Yarbrough Feed, Seed & Nursery
Ridd and Martha Yarbrough
: MacLaren’s older son and his wife
Cricket
(4) and
Bethany
(17): their children
Walker and Cindy Yarbrough
: MacLaren’s younger son and his wife
Tad
(10) and
Jessica
(12): their children
Clarinda Williams
: MacLaren’s cook and housekeeper
Hollis Stanton, Tyrone Noland, Smitty Smith
: teenagers in town
Bailey “Buster” Gibbons
: Hope County sheriff
Isaac James
: assistant police chief
Alexandra James
: Isaac’s cousin, director of the Hope County Library
Natasha
(4): her daughter
Edith Whelan Burkett
: clubwoman, bridge champion, now library assistant
Genna and Adney Harrison
: Edith’s stepdaughter and her husband
Olive Harrison
: Adney’s sister, also a librarian
Donna Linse
: children’s librarian
Shep Faxon
: local attorney
Valerie Allen
: young adult who lives with Edith
Frank Sparks
: biker, friend of Valerie’s
Henry Joyner
: Edie’s pecan grove foreman
Daisy Joyner
: Henry’s mother
1
The second Friday morning in November, I wasn’t thinking about murder. Two weeks to Thanksgiving with Christmas pounding along right behind, I was helping our clerks make our store festive with chrysanthemums, straw bales, and pumpkins. When the phone rang, I stumbled over a bale of straw answering the danged thing. “Yarbrough Feed, Seed and Nursery. MacLaren Yarbrough speaking.”
“This is Alexandra James. Would you happen to have a spare hour to come by my office? I really need to talk to you.” The syllables that rolled over the line were large, round, and perfectly enunciated. You could tell she didn’t grow up in Georgia.
I cringed like a kid invited to the principal’s office. I knew Alex as the first cousin of my friend Isaac James, Hopemore’s assistant police chief, and as the mother of Natasha, my grandson Cricket’s favorite preschool chum. But Alex was also the director of the Hope County Library, and she’d never called me before. “I thought I returned all my books.”
We’d recently moved into a new house, though, and I kept forgetting where I put things. Were a couple more library books stuck on a bottom shelf somewhere? Was there a limit to how many times you could return books late in a three-month period before they took away your card?
Alex laughed. “I don’t do overdue books. That’s handled by the front desk. This is something else, if you can spare me about an hour.”
Spare hours were scarce on the ground right then. Joe Riddley and I were spending most of our waking hours trying to sell hundreds of pumpkins, chrysanthemums, and a parking lot full of pine straw before a superstore opened at the edge of town on Thanksgiving Friday. In addition, as a Hope County magistrate, I was busier than a monkey picking fleas. You don’t have to be a lawyer to be a magistrate in rural Georgia, so except for the chief magistrate in each county, a lot of us fit magisterial duties around the edges of regular jobs. With the holidays approaching, we’d had more bad checks passed in the last week than in the whole month of July, and a sad number of couples had revved up their holiday spirit by pounding on each other.
BOOK: Who Killed the Queen of Clubs?: A Thoroughly Southern Mystery
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