Mix in the usual challenges posed by her resident ghost and her cat, and Hetty is hard pressed to keep up. But our amateur sleuth likes her life in downstate Illinois, and she is determined to thrive here. To that end, Hetty grabs a deep breath, turns her thoughts to the killer, and throws herself into her work.
Read a sample:
I’d hate to know when trouble is headed my way. Being blissfully clueless protects me from experiencing life’s meaner moments until they actually arrive. And so it was on this day.
It was a Thursday. I was seated in my favorite chair with knitting in hand. Blackie, my cat, lay in his basket next to my feet. Andrew, my resident ghost, hovered near the window. He was watching the day’s heavy rainfall and rattling off ways to improve Blackie’s life.
Yeah like he cared diddly squat about my poor cat.
Andrew turned to me and started in again on his list of improvements. “You really must put Blackie out at night. It isn’t good for a cat to be locked up indoors all the time. Besides, he’d get more exercise that way. That would help with his weight.”
Blackie lifted his head and glared at Andrew.
I pulled more yarn free from the skein. “That’s sheer nonsense. Blackie isn’t the least bit fat.”
“Well… if you’d look at him objectively, you’d see he’s not exactly skinny, either.”
I shook my head. “The vet says cats should always be kept indoors. He claims it solves most of the problems people have with cats.”
Andrew scoffed. “I suspect your cat could stand up for himself quite well out in the wilds or anyplace else for that matter. He’s not nearly as helpless as you’d like to believe.”
Andrew was a recent addition to our household. He had appeared in my living room shortly after my move here. He was the ghostly remains of a young man I’d loved during my college days. I’d hoped to marry him some day, but he’d died in a tragic auto accident before that could happen.
I turned my attention back to my knitting and wondered again what had brought him here?
The here I’m referring to is a little town called Hendricksville. It straddles the Illinois River midway down the state. Since I would turn sixty-five on my next birthday, my daughter had talked me into making the move. Having me near her made Megan feel better about my living on my own, and I saw my grandsons more often — which was always a win in my book.
I looked down as Blackie chose that moment to climb out of his basket and pad off toward the kitchen.
“Don’t worry,” I called out after him. “I’ll never turn you out of the house… day or night.”
Andrew shook his head and folded his arms over his chest. “Will you never stop spoiling that thing?”
I glanced up and studied the handsome man. He had asked me once if I was pleased he’d come back into my life. I hadn’t known what to say. I had never put much faith in ghosts, so having one banging about my house seemed a bit odd. But if I had invented him, I only wished I’d have created one who got on with cats.
Andrew raised his head. “Company’s coming.”
I frowned. “That’s strange. I didn’t hear a car.”
“It’s our new neighbor. She’s scurrying over on foot.”
“But It’s pouring buckets out there.” I pushed myself up out of my chair.
Ellen Locket and her husband had moved to town a little less than a week ago. They seemed a nice enough young couple, although why she was head my way today I couldn’t imagine.
She rapped on the screen door. When I answered, I found her standing on the porch with her hair plastered to her head. “Oh, you poor thing,” I said, swinging the door open. “Come in. Let’s get you dried off.”
Ellen stepped inside, looked around the room, and whispered, “I thought I heard voices. I don’t want to interrupt anything.”
“Don’t be silly. I was just talking to myself.” I laid a hand on her arm. “Please, don’t tell anyone you heard me. It would be so embarrassing.”
She gave me a shy smile, “I won’t.”
I nodded my thanks. “Now, let’s get you out of those wet clothes.” I led her to the bathroom and handed her a towel. “I’ll fetch a pair of slacks and a top. Once you are dried off, we’ll have a nice cup of tea and a chat. How does that sound?”
She nodded in agreement. ”You’re very kind.”
“Nonsense, what are neighbors for?” I scurried off to my bedroom and pulled out some clothes.. “Okay,” I said, when I rapped on the bathroom door a few minutes later. “You can bring your wet stuff to the kitchen when you’re decent. I’ll run them through the dryer.”
She opened the door a crack and plucked the clothes free from my hand. “Thank you.”
Ellen arrived in the kitchen not too much later. By then, I had the tea kettle heating up on the stove. I glanced over and saw again her worried face and asked. “So what brought you rushing over in all that rain? You didn’t even bother with an umbrella.”
Ellen’s mouth opened and closed several times. “Um…,” she finally said. “I was sorting through some of the things in the attic when I found it.”
I accepted her handful of wet clothes and set them in the sink. “Found what?”
She raised her gaze to mine. “It was wedged inside an old trunk, you see.”
“Well…. that’s just it. I’m not quite sure what I’ve found.”
I motioned her to take a seat at the table.
“You’re talking about one of your trunks? One you brought with you when you moved here?” I crossed to the counter and poured tea into two cups.
“Ah… no. It’s something the McNays left behind.”
Harold and Helen McNay were the elderly couple who had sold Ellen and her husband their house.
“Was it in your agreement that they could leave things behind?”
“No, it wasn’t. And my husband’s very upset that they have.”
I“And not without good reason. It’s no fun, cleaning up someone else’s mess. Have you called the real estate agent to complain?”
She sighed. “It’s not the stuff, you see. I don’t mind dealing with things. It’s just that I’m not sure what I’ve found. And I sure as heck don’t want to touch it.”
“It’s upset you?”
She chewed her lip and nodded. Blackie jumped onto her lap and purred loudly.
He seemed to have a way of knowing when humans were in serious distress.
She reached up and stroked his head.
“Can you be any more specific about what it is that you’ve found?”
She blinked as her large, doe-like eyes studied my face. Then, after grabbing a deep breath, she said, “I’ve never seen anything like it…. Now, don’t take this the wrong way. I think it might be a dead body.” She looked at me and frowned. “But it can’t be, can it?”
“Because a body would decay, right?”
“So… what is this thing?”
Well, at those words, I simply had to go see for myself.
Old bones is available to read for free with a Kindle Unlimited subscription or you may buy it as well. If you like cozy mysteries, you’ll enjoy this book. Grab you copy today.