Table of Contents
Praise for Patricia Sprinkle’s Mysteries
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, church-going, and crafty, down-home politics. Reading it is like spending an afternoon in the porch swing on Aunt Dixie’s veranda. Fun and family values triumph in a delightful book.”
—JoAnna Carl, author of
The Chocolate Frog Frame-Up
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.” —
“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 Southern setting . . . MacLaren seems right at home in her tiny town.”—
“Touches of poignancy mixed with Southern charm and old secrets make
Who Invited the Dead Man?
a diverting read.”
And others . . .
“Light touches of humor and the charming interplay between MacLaren and her magistrate husband make this a fun read for mystery fans.”—
“Sparkling . . . witty . . . a real treat and as refreshing as a mint julep, a true Southern pleasure.”—
“Sparkles with verve, charm, wit, and insight. I loved it.”
“Engaging . . . compelling . . . A delightful thriller.”
“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
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?
Published by New American Library, a division of
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,
New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand,
London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road,
Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,
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Penguin Books (NZ), cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads,
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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, June 2004
Copyright © Patricia Sprinkle, 2004
eISBN : 978-1-101-16160-9
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.
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.
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THANKS TO . . .
sister mystery writer Toni Kelner for the diamond story. Steve Kelner also did not propose until he’d earned enough to pay for her diamond, which puzzled and bewildered her. Toni, however, was a more faithful soul than MacLaren. In MacLaren’s defense, she was a little younger at the time, and hadn’t ever had a boyfriend except Joe Riddley. And Burlin was so very attractive.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Georgia magistrate, co-owner of Yarbrough Feed, Seed and Nursery
Joe Riddley Yarbrough:
MacLaren’s husband, co-owner of Yarbrough Feed, Seed and Nursery
MacLaren’s older son, high-school math teacher and part-time farmer
Ridd’s wife, emergency-room supervisor
(17): their children
(17): Bethany’s best friend, lives with Ridd and his family
(10): son of MacLaren’s younger son, Walker, visiting Ridd
Yarbroughs’ former neighbor, owner of Spence’s Appliances
Hubert’s son, antiques dealer
Winifred “Pooh” DuBose:
Hopemore’s elderly aristocrats
ne’er-do-well resident of Hopemore
Bailey “Buster” Gibbons:
Hope County sheriff
Hopemore police chief
assistant police chief
Georgia politician, former congressman
Burlin’s son, running for governor
Georgia’s husband, Burlin’s partner, Lance’s campaign manager
Abigail “Binky” Bullock:
Burlin’s younger sister
The Hopemore water tank murder was news all over the world. It happened right after my own face got plastered on the front page of every major paper in the country, so for a time Middle Georgia had two national celebrities: Judge MacLaren Yarbrough and the Hopemore water tank. I am the shorter of the two.
With the town swarming with reporters and cameras, was I going to have to confess what I’d done?
However, I’m getting ahead of my story. For me, it began one September Friday when it was finally cool enough to shove our windows up. I looked out my front living room screen and gasped.
“Joe Riddley, there’s a buffalo in our front yard!”
From the dining room table, where he was trying to summon the energy to lift his first mug of morning coffee, my husband gave a little snort I suppose he meant for a laugh. “Is a coyote slinking through the bushes?”
I have known that man since we were four and six. It’s a miracle I have let him live this long. “No, but there is a buffalo. Shaggy shoulders, big hump on the back, great clumps of manure falling on the grass—”
He sighed, but didn’t bother to turn around. “Then he’s fifteen hundred miles and a hundred and fifty years off course. I’ve been telling you to get your eyes checked. It’s probably a big dog.” I heard the thump as his coffee mug hit the table. “What’s it doing?”
“Cropping grass. And there’s nothing the matter with my eyes. It’s a buffalo, dang it!”
I spoke so loud that Bo, Joe Riddley’s scarlet macaw—prancing around his own placemat—flapped his wings and demanded, “Back off! Give me space!”
At that, the huge creature on the front lawn raised its head and looked straight at me.