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Authors: Nancy Atherton

Aunt Dimity Goes West

BOOK: Aunt Dimity Goes West
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Aunt Dimity

Goes West

NA N C Y AT H E RT O N

p e n g u i n b o o k s

Praise for Nancy Atherton and her

Aunt Dimity Series

Aunt Dimity Goes West

“A humorous, satisfying cozy with exceptionally likable characters.”


Booklist

“For those who consider Nancy Drew the ideal sleuth . . .

Atherton’s books are perfect.”


Rocky Mountain News

“With its delightfully descriptive imagery and quirky characters, the twelfth novel in Atherton’s series is the ultimate cozy mystery. Along with its humor comes a well-plotted and engaging story that holds your interest till the very last word. It’s great fun to read about Lori’s newest adventure, helped along by ghostly intervention from Aunt Dimity.” —
Romantic Times Book Reviews

“A pleasant, easy series, just the ticket to ease out of a stressful day.”


Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine

Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea

“The eleventh Aunt Dimity mystery is testament to the staying power of Atherton’s cozier-than-cozy premise. . . . Rainy Sunday afternoon reading.”


Booklist

“I adored it. . . . Just sit back and take a breather while immersing yourself in something a little fun.”

—Curledup.com

Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin

“Thoroughly entertaining.”


Booklist

“Atherton’s series is for those who like the puzzle of a mystery minus the corpses.This is a book entirely without edge, cynicism or even rudeness, and the characters are so nice you can’t just dismiss them—this is the way life really ought to be if only we were all better behaved. Put on the teakettle and enjoy.”


Rocky Mountain News

“Fans of cozy mysteries won’t want to miss this one.”


The Romance Readers Connection

“This is Atherton at her coziest. . . . Fans of the series will not be disappointed.”


Over My Dead Body! The Mystery Magazine

“Cozy mystery lovers wouldn’t dream of missing an entry in this series, and for good reason. . . . The quality of this series never runs down.”


The Kingston Observer

Aunt Dimity: Snowbound

“Witty, engaging and filled with interesting detail that will make the cottage-in-the-English-countryside fanciers among us sigh. . . .

A romp and a half, just the thing to veg out on when life gets too much, and you want to escape into a book.”


The Lincoln Journal Star

“The perfect tale for a cold winter’s night.”


Publishers Weekly

“Fans of this series will be delirious with joy. . . . This series is among the best of the cozies, and this book is my personal favorite. . . . What a treat!”


The Kingston Observer

Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday

“A thoroughly modern cozy . . . classic cozy elements abound.

The setting is delicious. . . . A very enjoyable read.”


The Washington Post Book World

“Delightful.”


Library Journal

“Charming.”


Booklist

Aunt Dimity: Detective

“Atherton’s light-as-a-feather series . . . is an excellent example of the (cozy) genre’s traditions. . . . Profoundly comforting.”


The Seattle Times/Post Intelligencer

“Entertaining, comforting, and charming.”


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil

“Nancy Atherton is a simply wonderful writer. Her descriptions of the British moors are breathtaking, and her protagonist, Lori Shepherd, is appealing and sexy.”


The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Aunt Dimity’s Christmas

“Here is a rarity: a book with a Christmas theme that is an engagingly well-written literary work.”


Rocky Mountain News

Aunt Dimity Digs In

“The coziest cozy of them all.”


Kirkus Reviews

Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed

“Atherton has a whimsical, fast-paced, well-plotted style that makes this book a romantic and graceful romp.”


Houston Chronicle

Aunt Dimity and the Duke

“Nancy Atherton is the most refreshingly optimistic new story-teller to grace the shelves in years. . . . charming!”


Murder Ink

Aunt Dimity’s Death

“A book I thoroughly enjoyed in the reading and which leaves me richer for having met charming people with the courage to care; and in places we all visit, at least in dreams.”

—Anne Perry

about the author

Nancy Atherton is the author of twelve previous Aunt

Dimity mysteries.The first,
Aunt Dimity’s Death,
was voted

“one of the century’s 100 favorite mysteries” by the In-

dependent Mystery Booksellers Association. She lives in

Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Visit the spirit of Aunt Dimity

at www.aunt-dimity.com

Aunt Dimity

Goes West

NA N C Y AT H E RT O N

pe n g u i n b o o k s

penguin books

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, NewYork 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4P 2Y3 (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)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, 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), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, 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 in the United States of America by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. 2007

Published in Penguin Books 2008

Copyright © Nancy T. Atherton, 2007

All rights reserved

publisher’s note

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either 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.

ISBN: 1-4295-5917-9

Set in Perpetua

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.

For

my friends in the Colorado Mountain Club,

who’ve taken me to new heights

Aunt Dimity

Goes West

One

T
hunder rolled and lightning stabbed the sky. Sav-

age waves battered the cliffs, and stinging rain

lashed my face as I sprawled across the stoney

ground, hurt and helpless.A figure loomed above me, a dark-haired man with eyes as black and fathomless as the pits
of hell. He raised a pale hand, to point at me.There was a
blinding flash, a deafening explosion—

—and I woke up, heart racing. My blankets were a

tangled mess, my pillows damp with sweat.With a sob-

bing gasp, I sat up in bed and stared into the darkness.

The night was calm and peaceful. A summer

breeze wafted through the bedroom’s open windows,

and an early bird chirped in the back garden, as if to

announce to all and sundry that it had successfully

gotten the worm. I heard no thunder, no crashing

waves, and the brightest light in the sky was a faint

smudge of gray heralding the dawn. I wasn’t sprawled

at the edge of a storm-battered cliff, at the mercy of a cold-blooded killer. I was safe at home.

My husband cleared his throat as he rolled over and

propped himself up on an elbow.

“Again?” he said, caressing my back.

“Yeah,” I managed shakily.

2

Nancy Atherton

“I’ll make a cup of tea for you.” Bill fell back on

his pillows and rubbed his tired eyes, then heaved

himself out of bed and reached for his bathrobe.

“You don’t have to,” I said hastily. “I’m okay now,

really.”

“A nice cup of tea,” Bill murmured sleepily. He

stepped into his leather bedroom slippers and padded

softly into the hallway.

Stanley, our black cat, took advantage of the open

door by trotting into the bedroom and vaulting grace-

fully into my lap for a morning cuddle. He purred

softly as I stroked the sweet spot between his ears.

Calmed by his soothing rumble, I closed my eyes and

released a tremulous sigh.

Six weeks had passed since an obsessed lunatic

known as Abaddon had put a bullet just below my left

collarbone at point-blank range, nicking an artery and

shredding a ridiculous amount of muscle tissue.A host

of excellent doctors had helped to heal the garish hole

Abaddon had left in my body, but they’d so far failed to repair the damage he’d done to my peace of mind.

For the past month and a half, my moods had swung

like a giddy pendulum, shifting from listless to restless, from cranky to weepy, without rhyme or reason, at

least fifty times a day. Sleep brought no respite because with it came nightmares, except that in my case there

was only
one
nightmare, the same vivid reliving of heart-chilling horror, night after night after night.

It was hardly surprising. For the past seven years,

my husband and I had lived an idyllic life in a cozy,

Aunt Dimity Goes West

3

honey-colored cottage amidst the picturesque, patch-

work fields of rural England. Although we were

Americans, the nearby village of Finch had become

our own. Our five-year-old twins had been dandled

on every knee in Finch. Bill was an honored member

of the darts team at the pub. I arranged flowers at the

church, brought casseroles to elderly neighbors, and

swapped gossip with the fluency of a native. We were

a normal family engaged in commonplace activities,

none of which had prepared us in the slightest for the

terrifying events that had spawned my nightmare.

I’d never dreamed that an insane stalker would

threaten to kill me and my family. I’d never dreamed

that Bill would send me and the boys to a remote Scot-

tish island for our own protection. I’d most assuredly

never dreamed that Abaddon would find the island,

kidnap the twins, and try to murder me in the midst

of a Force 9 gale. It wasn’t the sort of thing I could

have dreamed, until it happened. But once it hap-

pened, I could dream of nothing else.

I was sick of it. Abaddon was dead and gone, killed

by a providential lightning bolt that had jolted him

into the roiling sea, but he lived on in my mind, a

deranged squatter who ignored insistent demands for

his departure. I was desperate to evict him because

he was making a mess of the place and the mess was

hurting everyone I loved.

My bouncing, effervescent boys had emerged un-

scathed from their encounter with Abaddon, but they’d

taken to tiptoeing around the cottage and speaking in

4

Nancy Atherton

unnaturally hushed voices because “the bad man hurt

Mummy.” Annelise Sciaparelli, the boys’ inestimable

nanny, walked on eggshells in my presence because she

never knew from one moment to the next whether I’d

burst into tears, snap her head off, or lapse into a mo-

rose silence. My husband, a high-priced attorney with a

well-heeled international clientele, had taken so much

time off from work that half of his clients thought he’d retired or died.And I was so addled by sleep deprivation that I couldn’t muster the energy to arrange flowers,

visit my elderly neighbors, or contribute my fair share

to the great chain of gossip that connected everyone in

Finch. My world would never spin smoothly on its axis

again until I rid myself of Abaddon once and for all, but I didn’t know how to make him leave.

BOOK: Aunt Dimity Goes West
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