You know me, I couldn't resist a book with the word skeletons in it. Add in a murder, mystery and psychics, and it sounds like a winner! So enjoy a preview from today's guest and her brand new work!
About the Book:
What goes on behind closed doors doesn’t always stay there…
Calamity (Callie) Barnstable isn’t surprised to learn she’s the sole beneficiary of her late father’s estate, though she is shocked to discover she has inherited a house in the town of Marketville—a house she didn’t know existed. However, there are conditions attached to Callie’s inheritance: she must move to Marketville, live in the house, and solve her mother’s murder.
Callie’s not keen on dredging up a thirty-year-old mystery, but if she doesn’t do it, there’s a scheming psychic named Misty Rivers who is more than happy to expose the Barnstable family secrets. Determined to thwart Misty and fulfill her father’s wishes, Callie accepts the challenge. But is she ready to face the skeletons hidden in the attic?
Excerpt from Skeletons in the Attic:
By Judy Penz Sheluk
I stared at Leith Hampton open-mouthed. “What the hell are you talking about? My mother wasn’t murdered. She left us when I was about six.” I may not have had a clear recollection of my mother, but I still remembered the way kids talked about it at school, their parents the obvious source of information. Small town floozy finds a new man and makes tracks for a better life. Until now I had no idea the gossip had surfaced anywhere other than Toronto.
“Apparently your father came to believe otherwise,” Leith said, folding his arms in front of his chest.
This surprised me. Growing up, my mother’s name was seldom mentioned. Most of the time it felt as if she’d never existed. My natural curiosity about who she was and where she went had been far from sated. The few things my father told me about her, usually after a couple of beers, hardly counted. That her name was Abigail; that she liked to bake; that she loved old movies, especially musicals from the 1950s.
“So you’re saying the Marketville house never used to be part of his will?”
“The house was always part of the will, and you were always the beneficiary. The codicil is the part where you have to go live in the house for a year and try to solve your mother’s alleged murder, or failing that, discover the real reason behind her disappearance.” Leith shook his head. “I’ll admit I didn’t support the idea, but he insisted. I did my best to talk him out of it, but you know how obstinate your father could be.”
I did. Look up stubborn in the dictionary and you might just find a picture of James David Barnstable. It was a trait I had inherited, right along with his unruly mop of chestnut brown hair and black-rimmed hazel eyes. The hair I could straighten into submission, given enough product and enough patience with a blow dryer and flat iron, and the eyes were probably my best feature. But the stubborn streak had almost proved my undoing on more than one occasion. My father’s, too.
“Do you know what led to his fixation?”
“I know he hired a private investigator when your mother first left, but nothing came of it. It was as if she’d vanished into thin air. There may have been some other attempts that I’m not aware of. But it was his last tenant in the Marketville house that reignited the fire.”
Leith gave a dry chuckle, but there was no humor in the sound. “Apparently the tenant was a psychic, or at least she claimed to be. A woman by the name of Misty Rivers.”
As someone named after Calamity Jane, a Wild West frontierswoman of questionable repute, I wasn’t about to criticize anyone else’s moniker. I was just grateful my parents had the good sense to give me a different middle name. “What did this Misty Rivers do or say to get my father’s attention?”
“She told him the house was haunted by someone who once lived there, someone who loved lilacs.”
“And from that he reached the conclusion my mother had been murdered?”
“It’s a reach, I know. But in the past another tenant had complained of weird noises. Creaking in the basement, footsteps in the attic, that sort of thing. We both dismissed the complaint as the tenant’s attempt to get out of her lease. If that was the objective, it worked. She moved out early without paying a penalty.”
“But then after the psychic—”
“Exactly. After Misty Rivers, your father wasn’t so sure. When you moved out of the Marketville house, he’d locked up all of your mother’s things in the attic. He said he couldn’t bear to go through them after she left, then the years just ticked on by. Misty made him believe there might be clues hidden amongst your mother’s belongings.”
It was as if Leith was talking about a stranger. “He never told me about any of this.”
“He wanted to be sure, to protect you from getting hurt. He didn’t want you believing in what might only have been a fairy tale.”
A fairy tale. Except this one didn’t seem to have a happy ending.