Cover image for A comedy of heirs
Title:
A comedy of heirs
Author:
MacPherson, Rett.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
viii, 214 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
Geographic Term:
ISBN:
9780312205133
Format :
Book

Available:*

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Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks
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Orchard Park Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Julia Boyer Reinstein Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Audubon Library X Adult Fiction Mystery/Suspense
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Summary

Summary

As Torie O'Shea explores her family tree, she discovers that her great-grandfather was murdered, and that her great-uncle was the main suspect. She never dreams that the past history she thought was long-buried could resurface in the present in such a deadly way.


Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Just before Christmas and a family reunion in the quaint Mississippi River town of New Kassel, Missouri, Victory "Torie" O'Shea, a thirtysomething genealogist and amateur sleuth, learns two startling facts about her family: her mother is getting married, and her great-grandfather, who supposedly died in a hunting accident more than 50 years ago, was really murdered. Naturally, Torie must find the killer. This third Torie O'Shea novel is well paced (after a slow start), filled with intriguing characters and fascinating details about genealogy and quilting, and adorned with the picturesque atmosphere of a Mississippi Valley winter. This thoughtful cozy explores an intriguing paradox: close families and small towns can hide big secrets. Recommend this one to fans of Earlene Fowler's Benni Harper series and Leslie Meier's Lucy Stone series. --John Rowen


Publisher's Weekly Review

As a genealogist for a historical society in New Kassel, Mo., Torie O'Shea must examine her own family's history in this third entry in MacPherson's cozy series (A Veiled Antiquity, etc.). As she prepares to host her family's annual Christmas reunion, Torie is sent an anonymous packet of newspaper clippings. They reveal that her great-grandfather Nathaniel Ulysses Keith was shot to death in 1948 on his front porch while his family was inside the house. Because she had been told as a child that Keith died in a hunting accident, Torie now wants to know which story is true. Like a bloodhound on the scent, she scans library microfilm records to prove the veracity of the articles, then visits the county sheriff for further information. What she learns isn't pleasant: her ancestor was a brute to his children and publicly unfaithful to his wife. The list of people who wanted to kill him is as long as it is convincing. Torie's best sources of information, however, are the relatives about to descend on her home. When an aunt tells her that Keith's wife and children sat listening to his groans until he died, Torie is horrified. Could her great-grandmother have sanctioned the murder? Not according to another aunt who was inside the house that day. But since that aunt didn't see the killer, it's up to Torie to ferret out the culprit and clarify her family history. Torie's large, eccentric family provides plenty of entertaining characters, and MacPherson skillfully connects the family's many subplots (pregnancies, sibling rivalries, new romances) while keeping the murder at the center of the intrigue. Although the title promises comedy, there's much more than humor at stake in this heartrending tale of family pride and the coverups to keep it intact. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

New Kassel (Missouri) genealogist and part-time sleuth Torie O'Shea finds that her own great-grandfather was murdered, probably by her great-uncle. To her surprise, old history creates new problems at family reunion time. A pleasant return to a charming series. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


School Library Journal Review

-Torie O'Shea takes the first week of December off from her job as genealogist with the local historical society to organize the family's reunion and get a head start on the upcoming holiday season. Amid a house full of relatives, she receives a letter pointing out the fact that her great-grandfather was murdered, and not accidentally killed in a hunting accident. Why has the family done nothing to clear up the murder in all that time? Torie begins to search for the truth through the gathered family members, through research in old newspaper articles, and through notes left from her great-grandmother. An uncle's death adds to her burdens and acts as a red herring, drawing the focus away from the great-grandfather's murder. A drugged cup of tea eventually leads to the killer. MacPherson provides Torie with a large family full of some wacky characters and dreary perfectionists. Her relationships with the myriad family members add background to both the main plot line and details about the other relatives. Memories are everywhere, effortlessly and quickly adding familiarity with the major players. The setting, a Missouri river town, shows that small towns can be blessings as well as irritations to those who live in them. The logical plot and real-to-life characters result in a compelling skeleton-in-the-closet story. Teens interested in their own family's history will appreciate Tori's mystery, and those who are unfamiliar with genealogy may find themselves looking more closely at their own kin.-Pam Johnson, Fairfax County Public Library, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Chapter One December in New Kassel is the greatest. I walked along Jefferson Street on my way to the Gaheimer House. The handmade dresses that I give the tours in were on hangers, draped over my shoulders. All seven of them. I tried desperately to keep them from dragging on the ground, but when you're short that's an impossible task. My wrist ached from the strain on it and I tried not to slip on the icy sidewalk.     It hadn't snowed yet. Used to be when I was a kid we got our first snow before Thanksgiving. Now, I can't remember the last time it snowed before December. It rained last night, though, and little patches of ice had frozen to the low spots on the sidewalk.     All the homes and shops were decorated for Christmas as if there might never be a Christmas again. Some of it was really tacky plastic stuff, but some, like the Gaheimer House, were decorated as authentically as possible with live greenery, candles and antiques. I passed by the lace shop with its red lights strung through the low front window and the big green sign that said CHRISTMAS SALE.     The next building was the Gaheimer House, my point of destination and the place where I am employed. I stopped on the step and looked up at the sky. It was gray-white and heavy as if it were just waiting to dump ten feet of snow on Missouri. I took a deep, cleansing breath. Yup, there was snow in those clouds, I could smell it. People laugh at me when I tell them I can smell snow. I can smell rain, too. I smiled and entered the Gaheimer House with that peculiar contentment that I get when I am reminded how much I love winter and how happy I am with my life.     "Absolutely no!" I heard Sylvia scream.     "You're not God!" I heard a woman yell back.     "God or not, you're not wearing a conventional brassiere with historic costumes!"     I went through the ballroom as quickly as possible to get to my office where all the trouble seemed to be coming from. Wilma Pershing stood in the hallway, in a blue dress with tiny little Santa Claus's printed on it, wringing her hands. She was a nicely plump old woman in her nineties. Her nearly white hair hung down loose, rather than in the braids she usually wore. Her green eyes were wide and worried. "Oh dear," she said. She covered her mouth and pointed into my office.     I turned the corner and stopped in my office doorway. Sylvia Pershing, Wilma's sister, stood behind my desk in a forest green pantsuit, shaking her finger at Helen Wickland who stood on the other side of the desk. Sylvia's hair was in its usual double braids wrapped around her head with not so much as one loose hair.     "Victory, thank goodness," Sylvia said when she saw me. Only Sylvia and my mother call me Victory. Everybody else calls me Torie. "Tell Helen she cannot wear a conventional brassiere with the historic costumes. It is abominable."     "Uh," I said, standing in the doorway. "Helen, you cannot wear a conventional brassiere with the historic costumes." The words sort of fell out of my mouth, without any great emotion.     "Thank you," Sylvia said. She seemed happy that I had sided with her until she got a good look at me. "Get those costumes up! You're dragging the floor with them. I bet you dragged them on the ground outside, didn't you? Do you know how long it takes to make those? Do you know how much money they cost?"     "Which of those questions did you want me to answer first?" I asked.     Sylvia's face turned a purplish color. "Hang them out there on the coat rack," she said. "No better yet, just give them to me. I'll take them," she demanded and took the dresses from my hand.     I shook my wrist, trying to get the blood to flow back into it. Sylvia marched out into the hall and Wilma still stood at my doorway, still wringing her hands.     "Good morning, Wilma," I said. "Your hair looks very pretty."     She reached up and touched a strand of her hair and blushed. "Why, thank you," she said, and left.     Helen stared at me from across my desk. Helen was forty-nine and fought turning fifty with every ounce of energy she had. Her frosted hair was cut short, and the frosting was so heavy that you couldn't tell which was gray and which was frosting. I think she did that on purpose. She owned the Lick-a-pot Candy Shoppe down on the corner of Hermann and Jefferson; it was her pride and joy.     "I can't thank you enough, Helen," I began. I took my brown bomber jacket off and hung it on the coat rack by the door in my office. I was wearing beat-up jeans and my husband's big olive green sweater that hung almost to my knees. It seemed as though I never wore my own clothes if I didn't have to.     Helen just stared at me. I sat down. Helen glared at me from above. "Please, sit down," I said. Helen had graciously agreed to take over giving my tours here at the Gaheimer House for the upcoming week because I was going on vacation. Being a tour guide for an old house in a historic river town is really a lot of fun. I also compile all of the genealogical data and land records and that sort of thing for the historical society. Sylvia is the president of the historical society and Wilma is the vice-president.     Helen sat down, although it seemed as if it were against her will. "I'm going to kill her," she stated. "I'm going to kill her and then I'm going to go to jail."     "She's really not that bad," I said. "You were referring to Sylvia, I presume."     "Who on God's green earth do you think I was talking about?"     "Oh," I said. I smiled a big wide, fake smile. "Just pretend she's Wilma."     Helen did not find me amusing. "Why do you have to take a week's vacation in December?" she asked. "Why do you have to take a vacation at all? Ever?"     "My dad's family gets together every December. Every year, somebody sets aside their house and their town for a whole week and all week long aunts, uncles, cousins and whoever come to visit. There are activities and stuff, like caroling, and of course the big dinner. Everybody tries to make it to the big dinner."     Helen rolled her eyes.     "It's my turn to host it," I said. "Actually, it's my dad's but you don't want him hosting something like this, or all they'd get is coffee, cigarettes, and pork rinds. So, I'm hosting it for him."     "You sure you can't work and host this thing?" Helen asked, obviously still miffed at Sylvia. "She's gonna be on my case all week."     "If I want to keep my sanity, I need to be free from work to host this thing," I said. "Some of my family have really loose screws."     "I'm going to kill her and then God's going to be mad at me," Helen said. "And I think He was just starting to forgive me over the Woodstock thing."     I laughed and tried to hide it as quickly as possible.     "Well, you're about ten pounds heavier and three inches shorter than me," Helen stated, changing the subject.     "Gee thanks, Helen," I said.     "I'm just saying that I think the costumes will fit, but I may have to let the hems down," Helen said.     "Don't you even think about touching those costumes!" Sylvia yelled from the hallway as she was passing by. "Except to put them on!"     Helen and I looked at each other. Talk about Big Brother. We had Big Sylvia and that seemed to be far worse. "How does she do that?" Helen asked.     "I don't know," I said.     Sylvia came to the door of my office. "You got a package over there on the computer table," Sylvia said. "There's no return address."     "Oh, thank you," I said and got up to go get it.     "And need I remind you of what your family did to this town back in 1991, at the last Christmas reunion you hosted?" Sylvia asked.     "I was young then," I said, trying to come up with whatever excuse I could to plead my innocence to Sylvia. I sat back down at my desk with the manila envelope that was addressed to me clutched in my hands.     Wilma walked by the office, smiling and carrying a white poinsettia. Sylvia saw her and raised an eyebrow. "What are you doing with your hair down?" she asked and headed in the direction that Wilma had gone. "A woman of your age should never have her hair down." Her voice trailed off as she went farther down the hall, berating her sister over her loose hair. I wondered if there was ever a day in their lives that Sylvia hadn't berated Wilma over something.     "Really, Helen, I can't thank you enough," I said. "I really really appreciate this. You will never know."     Helen just stared at me.     "I'd offer you my firstborn, but I already promised her to Sylvia for putting the soda machine in. I hate to make you settle for second, but I only have one other child--"     "I'll take her," Helen said and laughed. The laughter told me that she would do the tours for me and she would forgive me for it.     "Just smile and say, `Yes Sylvia,'" I said. "That's what I do."     Helen stood and walked over to get her coat. "What kind of bra do I get to go with those costumes?"     "Ask Sylvia," I said. "It's one of those weird things that push you up and all that."     Helen rolled her eyes yet again as she put her coat on. "What if you don't have anything to push up?" she asked and looked down at her rather flat chest.     "Uh, well, ..."     "Never mind," she said. "So, your whole family is coming?"     "On my dad's side."     "The whole family?"     "Not necessarily on the same day, we have it for a whole week, but yeah, there's like seventy of them or so," I said. "And they just keep coming and coming."     "Like a swarm of killer bees," Sylvia said as she walked by the office, once again in perfect timing. I couldn't imagine what it would have been like to be raised by this secret agent.     Helen stared at me, frozen, as she was putting her scarf on. I looked around the room, trying to seem innocent. "She really isn't all that bad." Chapter Two Mom," I said. "Where did I put the cake pan of Santa's face?" I was standing on top of my kitchen counter trying desperately to see into the deepest recesses of the top shelf of my kitchen cabinets.     My mother, who was working on her handmade pen and ink Christmas cards never looked up from the snowman that she was sketching. "Downstairs in the seasonal stuff."     "Are you sure? It's bakeware. Would I put bakeware in the seasonal stuff?" I asked. The deep fryer that we never use came tumbling out of the cabinet and I caught it with my right hand, my left hand keeping my balance by gripping the cabinet door.     She looked up over the rim of her granny glasses, pen poised above the paper. "Well, obviously you would put a Santa bakeware with the seasonal stuff, because you did. That's where it's at." She went back to drawing the Christmas card. She was quite the gifted artist and I am very happy the polio that claimed the use of her legs and confined her to a wheelchair did not damage her arms.     I stood there for a moment and then decided that she was probably right. I stuffed the fryer back into the cabinet and then slammed the door shut before it had a chance to jump back out at me. I jumped down off the countertop. It would be just my luck that one of my two daughters would come in while I was up there and I'd have to explain how come I was allowed up there and they were not.     "Well, I'll go downstairs and see if I can find it," I said.     "Okay," Mom said.     Flipping on the basement light, I cautiously descended the steps. I don't like basements, not even mine. And ours isn't one of those nice finished basements with a family room and a bar. Ours is just the plain old concrete floor with metal suspension posts. The girls' bikes were leaning up against the west wall. Rachel's, which had yellow smily-face stickers all over it, was parked perfectly. Mary's, which was decorated only with dings and scratches, was parked just however it happened to land. My husband Rudy's workshop was in the very back. My brand-new washerdryer was down here along with an extra refrigerator and a deep freeze. We like food.     We also had a big storage area that I actually spent one whole month buying rubber tubs for and organizing all of our junk. If it's not used enough to be upstairs in the real part of the house, it's junk. I wasn't too upset about having to haul out the seasonal tubs, because we had to put the Christmas tree up within the next few days, and I'd need the lights and ornaments anyway.     I walked over to the storage area and pulled and shoved on tubs until I found the three or four labeled Seasonal.     Then I saw something move. I screamed, my hand flying instinctively to my throat. Well, now I knew where Mary's missing rubber snake was, I tossed the rubber snake over my shoulder and grumbled.     I opened up seasonal tub number one. Red tablecloth, red tablecloth with Christmas geese, matching napkins, ta dah; cake pan in the shape of Santa's head. I put the lid back on the tub and noticed that it felt a lot colder down here in the basement than it did when I first came down.     I looked around the room. The basement door stood wide open. It wasn't wide open when I came down here. It was shut. All the way. Now it wasn't.     "Rudy?" I yelled. I couldn't imagine a single reason why he would leave the Rams game that was on television to come down here in the basement. No answer.     I never know what to do at times like this. I wanted to just walk over and close the door, but then I could be shutting Marilyn Manson in the house with me. I cleared my throat and walked on over to the door, anyway. I shut it, turned around and screamed again.     Uncle Jedidiah Keith stood at the bottom of my basement steps, smiling with a mouth full of ... well, of nothing. He didn't have any teeth. He held a filthy and ancient pipe between his gums. The whites of his eyes were as yellow as his tobacco-stained beard, and his pants were pulled up nearly to his armpits.     "Hey, Torie," he said. "Come give Uncle Jed a hug." He held his arms out wide and winked. His armpits had a permanent stain on them. This red and blue plaid shirt had to be twenty years old. "I wore my Christmas socks for you."     He didn't have to raise his pants legs for me to see them. He was expecting the next great flood and I could see bright red and green socks blazing above dingy brown work shoes.     "Uncle Jed, you scared the bejesus out of me."     "What you want to go gettin' all scared for?" he asked. "Ain't like it's Halloween or nothin'. You gettin' your holidays all mixed up, missy."     "Can't you knock?" I asked, trying to let my heart get back to some kind of regular rhythm. "Or use the upstairs door?"     He looked at me peculiarly as if I'd just suggested something really far out. "Don't never use the front door. That's for company," he said. "And I did knock, nobody answered."     "Probably because we didn't hear you upstairs," I said.     "Well, I went on up to say hello to your mother and then remembered that I forgot to shut your door," he said.     "Oh," I answered. I finally walked over and gave him a hug, but I held my breath the whole time. Sometimes he forgot what soap was for. I remember one time when I was a kid I asked him why he never took a bath and he told me that water was for drinking, not sitting in. I didn't argue with him at the time, because it seemed rather logical to a seven-year-old.     "Ya miss me?" he asked.     "Of course," I said. I started back up the steps and he followed close behind. His wife had died about ten years ago, so he usually came to these things alone. His five children were all grown with families of their own, and would attend at their own leisure.     We reached the kitchen and I flipped off the basement light and shut the door.     "Look what the cat dragged in," I said to my mother.     "Yes, I know," she answered.     "Well," Uncle Jed said, and let out a long sigh. He patted himself on the stomach and smacked his gums together, his pipe bobbing up and down as he did so. "Where's the whiskey?"     "We don't have any," I said. "We're not big drinkers, Uncle Jed."     "I ain't talkin' about drinkin'," he said. "I'm a-meanin' for medicinal purposes. Lordy, missy, every house gotta have medicine."     "And just what do you need medicine for?" I asked. "I've got Nyquil, that's about as close to whiskey as you're gonna get. It's twenty-five percent alcohol."     He scratched his head and looked around the kitchen. He was probably trying to figure out just how much Nyquil he'd have to drink to get drunk. "Well. I got this pain a-goin' in my foot. And bad eyes. Got real bad eyes--"     "Whiskey isn't going to cure bad eyes," my mother said.     "Oh, you just go on and stay outta this, Jalena," Uncle Jedidiah said. "Well, you know, Torie. Hmmm, when's your dad gonna get here?"     He knew my dad would come armed with some sort of alcohol. I wasn't ignorant of the ways my uncle thought in. Uncle Jed was the oldest of the group of seven kids. He'd just turned seventy-eight. And let me just say for the record that having an uncle that is seventy-eight is freaking me out completely. If he's seventy-eight then I must be in my thirties. It's like, you say you're thirty-whatever, but you don't really think you are in your thirties. Having an uncle this old has to mean I'm actually, no way out of it, in my thirties. Jeez. I hate family reunions. All the pregnant cousins always freak me out, too. There's always at least five pregnant women at every reunion. That's been the number for the last ten years.     "Dad should be here tomorrow," I said.     "So, what? I'm early?" he asked.     "Yup, you are the first one to arrive," I said.     "Well, that oughta mean that I get a free bottle of whiskey," he said and smiled.     "Give it up, Uncle Jed," I said. "You want anything stronger than Nyquil you're going to have to go down to the Corner Bar," I said.     "You mean I gotta pay for it?" he asked totally offended.     "Yeah," I said.     "What's the name of the corner bar?" he asked all slump-shouldered.     "The Corner Bar," I said. "That's the name of it."     "Hmm," he said.     "What's this?" Mom asked, pointing to the manila envelope that I had thrown on the table when I came in.     "I'm not sure, I haven't had a chance to look at it, but I think it's some information on Rudy's family tree," I said.     "There's no return address," my mother said.     "I know, but the postmark is St. Louis. The only thing in St. Louis that I've sent off for is Rudy's stuff. I'll look at it later.     "Well, Uncle Jed," I went on, "I think I'm going to head in to town and go to Fräulein Krista's Speisehaus. I can drop you off at the Corner Bar, or you can go to Fräulein's with me."     "I'm not dressed for no fancy place. You better take me to the Corner Bar," he said.     My mother gave me her knowing smile. She handed me the manila envelope because she knew that's what I was going to Fräulein's to do. She knew I was wanting to grab a minute to myself and read whatever was in this envelope.     "I should be home before the kids get in from school," I said.     "Okay," she answered. "Make sure you bring Uncle Jed home, too."     "Don't worry," I said. Uncle Jed hiked his pants up even farther, spit on his hands and plastered his hair down in place. He was going out in public after all. * * * Fräulein Krista's Speisehaus is about my favorite place to eat in New Kassel. Especially because of its fattening goodies that I'm not supposed to have. I come here so that I can eat all the goodies I want without having to hide them on top of the refrigerator.     Fräulein Krista's is a big building that looks like it was magically picked up out of the Bavarian Alps and set down here in New Kassel. The interior is rugged with exposed beams. The waiters and waitresses look like adult Hansels and Gretels in their cute little knicker outfits, and the big stuffed brown bear that sits at the end of the bar only adds to the atmosphere. The bear, whom we affectionately named Sylvia, is a recent addition in the last six months. It's sort of become the town's mascot.     I sat in a booth eating a pastry that I could not pronounce and drinking a cup of hot tea, relaxing before the influx of my father's side of the family. I knew that I would not get one spare moment to myself once the week's festivities got underway. And they would start arriving today.     As my mother had known, I wanted to read the contents of that mysterious manila envelope. The package had no return address on it and the handwritten letter on the inside was not signed.     The letter was short and to the point. Were you aware of this? was all it said.     Inside were copies of newspaper articles. Newspaper articles from a hot August day in 1948 in Partut County. LOCAL MAN SHOT TO DEATH ON FRONT PORCH Nathaniel Ulysses Keith, 72, of Pine Branch, was shot to death on his front porch while his family was trapped inside the house. Authorities have no suspects at this time.     What the heck? I looked around the restaurant, uncomfortable. Unless there was more than one Nathaniel Ulysses Keith who was seventy-two years old in 1948 and lived in Pine Branch, this article was about my great-grandfather. Pine Branch was a community with a church, later a gas station and about 102 residents. There was only one Nathaniel Ulysses Keith.     I scanned the next article. If I had any doubt that this article was about my great-grandfather, this article squelched it. There was a photo of my great-grandparents' front porch, with a bloodstain on it that ran down the steps and into the flower bed. I remembered this porch. My grandfather, John Robert Keith, inherited this house from his father when he died. This was the house that my father grew up in. He was eight when his parents moved in there.     When I was a kid there was a big throw rug on the porch right where that bloodstain was. I used to sit on it and try to embroider, much to my grandmother's amusement. I was not a very crafty child.     The article gave my great-grandmother's statement. They called her by her full name, Della Ruth. Not just Della or Mrs. Keith, but Della Ruth. Her statement said that they heard gunfire and that a few hours later somebody came by, knocked on her door and told her that her husband was on the front porch dead. She was unaware that the gunfire had been that close and that anybody was on her front porch.     That totally undid the first article, which said the family was "trapped inside." Strange, though, that the journalist did not mention that.     Goosebumps traveled down my arms and back. How could this be? My great-grandpa Keith died in a hunting accident. Everybody knew that.     I took a sip of my tea and tried to remember how I knew that. I received Nathaniel Keith's death certificate back in the eighties. The cause of death said gunshot wound. I remember that clearly because for a moment I was stunned. Who did I call? Who had I called the first time and asked how Great-Grandpa Keith died?     Who had told me the lie?     It wasn't my father, although I do know that I discussed this "hunting accident" with more than one person in the family and with my father on occasion. I think it was Aunt Ruth that I called first and she had said, yes, he died of a gunshot wound during a hunting accident. I never questioned her story. Why would I? She was my aunt. I never expected her to lie to me. It never occurred to me that the man was murdered and that she'd need to lie to me. But why would she need to lie to me? Why the secrecy? Why hadn't this information been part of our family folklore? Why had all my aunts and uncles, and my father included, gone along with her story?     I couldn't help but wonder, sitting there in my favorite restaurant, did Aunt Ruth actually lie to me or was this what she was told too? She would have been twenty-four years old when this happened. Was it possible that she didn't know the truth?     I drank the last of my tea and browsed through the other articles. The last one said that six months later the case was closed unsolved.     This was not possible. Maybe somebody was playing a really ugly prank. I would, first chance, go and look at the original newspapers. There was always the chance that for whatever sick reason I couldn't even dream of coming up with, somebody made these up to look real. That had to be what it was, even though any logical reason escaped me. I didn't have enemies. Not like this anyway. Eleanore Murdoch liked to get the best of me whenever she could, but she wouldn't stoop to something like this. The coincidence of the timing of this "present" did not escape me. My dad's entire family would be here sometime this week.     I scrounged around in my change purse for a couple of bucks in change and set it on the table next to the salt and pepper shakers.     I sat there for a minute unable to move. If these articles were real, this was a betrayal unlike any I had ever known. To suddenly realize that I'd been lied to by the people I loved and trusted was too much to comprehend. Maybe they figured that it was none of my business, and who's to say they aren't correct, but to out and out lie to me when I asked how the man died?     First I would find out if the articles were genuine and then I'd ask my father about it. Maybe I'd ask my mother what to do, since my father could get really riled up about things. I looked at my watch. Three-fifteen. Rachel and Mary would be home in about fifteen minutes. I got up and left Fräulein Krista's with the manila envelope clutched to my breast.

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