Who Let That Killer In The House?

BOOK: Who Let That Killer In The House?
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Table of Contents
 
 
Praise for Patricia Sprinkle’s Mysteries
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.” —Linda Hutton,
Mystery Time
 
“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
 
“Captures true Southern customs and personalities, small-town politics and mores perfectly.”—
Romantic Times
 
“Authentic and convincing. This series is a winner.”
—Tamar Myers
 
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 others . . .
 
“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 Charleston 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?
SIGNET
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 ORL, England
Penguin Books Australia Ltd, 250 Camberwell Road,
Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue,
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, Cnr Rosedale and Airborne Roads,
Albany, Auckland 1310, New Zealand
 
Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices:
80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
 
First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
First Printing, October
eISBN : 978-1-101-16149-4
 
Copyright © Patricia Sprinkle, 2003
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.
 
BOOKS ARE AVAILABLE AT QUANTITY DISCOUNTS WHEN USED TO PROMOTE PRODUCTS OR SERVICES. FOR INFORMATION PLEASE WRITE TO PREMIUM MARKETING DIVISION, PENGUIN GROUP (USA) INC., 375 HUDSON STREET, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10014.
 
 
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Thanks to . . .
Judge Mildred Ann Palmer, magistrate from Burke County, Georgia, remains my inspiration for the character of MacLaren Yarbrough and continues to give technical help when I need it. I thank her and her delightful family—who know, I hope, that MacLaren’s family in no way resembles theirs.
Judge Curt St. Germaine, chief magistrate of Burke County, patiently answered questions about various aspects of the Georgia judicial system as it relates to the work of magistrates. Eddie Slay, coordinator of the Cobb County, GA, CASA program, explained procedures involving juvenile offenders.
Emöke Sprinkle provided information about hospital psychiatric wards and introduced me to Dr. Greg Brack, associate professor of counseling and psychological services at Georgia State University and a trauma specialist, and Dr. Michele Hill, a conflict resolution specialist. Drs. Brack and Hill helped me understand the psychological dynamics of various characters in this book. They also spoke of the characters as real people and discussed them as such—a rare and precious gift for any author. And they steered me to
Trauma and Recovery
by Judith Herman, which provided further insights into not only the trauma of several characters but also possible outcomes for their lives.
Since I knew nothing about girls’ fast-pitch softball when I began, I am very grateful to Jaime Caroti, who played the sport both locally and in national games, and to Leonard Hill, a fast-pitch softball coach, who helped me understand the game.
High-school chemistry teacher Dwight Jinright researched several methods of killing yourself in a high-school chemistry lab. Thanks, Dwight. I hope you forget all you learned.
I also thank my agent, Nancy Yost, for finding a home for the book, and I especially thank my editor, Ellen Edwards, for helping me shape it into what it was meant to be.
CAST OF CHARACTERS
MacLaren Yarbrough:
amateur sleuth, Georgia magistrate, co-owner of Yarbrough’s Feed, Seed and Nursery
Joe Riddley Yarbrough:
MacLaren’s husband, a former magistrate, co-owner of Yarbrough Seed and Nursery
Ridd:
the Yarbroughs’ elder son, high-school math teacher and part-time farmer
Martha:
Ridd’s wife, an emergency-room supervisor
Cricket
(4) and
Bethany
(16): their children
 
Clarinda Williams:
the Yarbroughs’ longtime cook
Ronnie Hayes
Clarinda’s grandson, just graduated from the University of Georgia
 
DeWayne Evans:
high-school science teacher, coach of the Honeybees fast-pitch softball team
Yasheika Evans:
DeWayne’s younger sister, just graduated from Howard University
 
Sara Meg Stanton:
widowed owner of Children’s World, a clothing/toy shop
Garnet
(18) and
Hollis
(16): her children
Buddy Tanner:
Sara Meg’s younger brother and a local CPA
Smitty Smith
(17): young skinhead, leader of a gang of hoodlums
 
Tyrone (Terrible Ty) Noland
(17): member of Smitty’s gang who likes Hollis
Willie (Wet Willie) Keller
(16): another gang member
Art Franklin
(18): poet, student at community college, waiter at Myrtle’s, likes Garnet
 
Charlie Muggins:
police chief
Isaac James:
assistant police chief
1
An empty locker room shouldn’t have anybody in it—not even a dead body.
My son Ridd pushed open the door and called, but he got no answer, of course.
To make sure, he pushed the door wider and put his head inside. “Anybody he—?”
He cut off midword, gave a lurch, and clutched the door for support. “Oh, God, no!” He clung to that doorframe and his knees buckled.
I will never know how I covered the distance between us in time, but I caught him before he slid to the floor. Holding him tight around the waist, I peered past him into the dimness.
That was the morning we found the body.
 
This story didn’t begin then, of course. I’m not sure that even the United Daughters of the Confederacy could trace its genealogy with reliable accuracy, but for me, it began the first Saturday in June, the day Hollis Stanton socked a softball the center fielder couldn’t catch. Nobody had an inkling that day that evil, like contained poison gas, was fixing to be released, that it would ooze across town in an invisible cloud that, by the end of the month, would leave one person dead and another clinging reluctantly to life.
We were all there. How did we miss what was going on? How did I?
When Hollis hit her ball, two hundred people in the high-school bleachers gasped in surprise. Hollis was a great little catcher, but she was a dreadful batter.
BOOK: Who Let That Killer In The House?
5.12Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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