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Claire Malloy discovers that house-hunting can be murder--literally--in the latest entry in Joan Hess's wildly entertaining series.
A part from small-town feuds and church scandal, things have been so quiet in the little Arkansas town of Maggody that even police chief Arly Hanks has found time for a vacation. But she returns to find trouble brewing and tongues wagging at fever pitch. The local old-folks' home has been sold to a mysterious outsider, and overnight the place has been transformed into the Stonebridge Foundation, an exclusive rehabilitation center complete with a stone-faced guard who doesn't speak a word of English and an even nastier dog. Soon there are rumors flying of mental patients roaming the countryside at night, and every character in town is keeping a gun close at hand, just in case. Everyone is dying to know what goes on behind those inhospitable gates, with the exception of Arly, who has enough rural business to keep her satisfied. When the beautiful young receptionist found drowned in the garden pool is identified as a local girl from nearby Farberville, it's clear the case may not only involve the suspicious characters who've recently moved to town, but also some of the citizens of Maggody, who may have a secret or two to hide themselves. There's the doctor who can't resist a dose of his own medicine and a roster of patients that reads like a who's who of tabloid headlines, as well as the local pastor who gets his spiritual inspiration with a little help from the sacramental wine, and the mayor's wife who makes it her business to know everything about everyone. Soon Arly finds herself on the trail of a killer and discovers she may be theonlyinnocent person left in town.
Under the benign watch of Police Chief Arly Hanks, things are pretty quiet in the sleepy Arkansas town of Maggody these days. Not even the prospect of a historical society-funded Civil War documentary on the locally touted (albeit historically insignificant) Skirmish at Cotter's Ridge of 1863 does much to stir up the denizens of this sleepy backwoods town. What does finally get the rumor mill buzzing, however, is the revelation that two saddlebags of Confederate gold were hidden in a local cave to keep them from falling into Yankee hands. Once word gets out that the saddlebags were never recovered, almost everyone in town has a plan to get their hands on the lost gold. Meanwhile, a colorful cast of outlanders has taken over Maggody. They include a dewy Charleston belle, a famous writer of historical romances, her ne'er-do-well son, and three dozen obsessive reenactors who have not yet acknowledged that the Civil War ended over a hundred years ago, as well as a documentary film crew and a handsome, if enigmatic, filmmaker with ties to Arly's past. Arly has more than enough on her hands trying to locate missing senior citizens and keeping the visitors from each other's throats, but when the genealogist of the Stump County Historical Society dies under questionable circumstances, and a member of the Buchanon clan is the victim of a vicious and fatal attack, Arly finds herself faced with the most baffling whodunit of her career, with a disgruntled ghost a possible prime suspect.
When Claire Malloy's best friend Luanne Bradshaw goes down with a badly sprained ankle, someone must fill in her shoes as Thurberfest Beauty Pageant coordinator and usher a bevy of aspiring beauty queens through the two-day event. Enter Claire Malloy to the rescue. But this is one job Claire would gladly be fired from. Now, already fending off a hostile theater-owner, an overly-aggressive personal trainer, an incontinent show-dog, a fifteen-year-old daughter with more growing pains than she can count, and a talent contest in need of some talent, Claire must face one more problem--someone is trying to kill the reigning Miss Thurberfest. When a ghastly murder scene signals the culprit's success, Claire's investigative instincts take over, but when she digs too close to the truth, the race is on to discover the killer's identity before Claire herself is crowned the next victim...
MURDER IS GOING TO THE DOGS... Bookstore owner and amateur sleuth Claire Malloy has donned another hat (or is that a collar?) as a petsitter extraordinaire. Her furry charges are Miss Emily Parchester's beloved basset hounds, Nick and Nora, and two very good dogs they are. Everything is just ducky...until Nick and Nora vanish. Other neighbors' pets have also disappeared, and no doubt a dognapper is on the prowl... Switching to her sleuthing chapeau, Claire quickly locates the shabby abode of Newton Churls, who runs a black market in stolen animals. But instead of a pen filled with purloined pooches, Claire finds one very dead Newton-and it appears his own pit bull terriers did him in. Or did they? Claire smells a human rat behind the brutal murder. And mysteriously, Nick and Nora are still missing. Now Claire is doggedly determined to find them...and run a killer to the ground.
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