A day in the life of Ellen McKenzie
There are times lately when I think I’m the luckiest woman alive. I live in a delightful small town, have a fairly successful and interesting career as a real estate agent, and am married to one of the most wonderful men in California, or possibly any other state, Dan Dunham, who also happens to be the chief of our small town police department. We live in the house where I grew up and have recently bought from my parents, he actually likes my college age daughter, and she approves of him. Life is good. It hasn’t always been that way.
Susannah’s father turned out to be arrogant beyond words. He never ran out of them, either and none of them were nice. So, after way too many years, I left, found a new career, a new life, and Dan. My real estate career in little Santa Louisa hasn’t been without incident, though. I found a dead body in the closet of the very first house I ever tried to show. I recounted the details of that in Dying For A Change, and what happened at an Arabian horse show I visited at the invitation of a new client in Give First Place to Murder. Finding the body of that dead groom wasn’t my idea of fun; neither was careening through the dead of night locked in the back of that horse trailer. However, it did bring Dan and me closer together. It wasn’t long after that my niece and her husband came to stay with me after they took jobs at one of our areas most prestigious wineries. They made the mistake of inviting a most difficult chef to prepare the annual harvest festival dinner along with many people he had insulted. He never finished that dinner. We found him bobbing like a cork in a wine fermenting tank. I recounted the details in And Murder for Dessert. It was during this time that Dan asked me to marry him. I wanted to, but hesitated. What if this marriage soured as well? But Dan wasn’t Brian and I decided life with him was much better than without him, so we planned a quiet, simple New Year’s Eve wedding. Only family and friends were coming in droves and the guest list grew, wedding plans were not falling nicely into place and I found the badly battered corpse of the town’s elderly doctor in the town cemetery. He was connected to a Grace House, a home for distressed women that had just become my newest real estate client. Only the house they lived in, the one I was supposed to sell, burned down and all the residents moved in with Dan and me. One of them, I was sure, was a murderer. How we solved that one, and how my friend Pat Bennington saved my wedding dress is all recounted in Murder Half-Baked.
Life has been quiet since our wedding. I think married life agrees with me. It certainly seems to with Dan. We have settled into a routine, breakfast together before we go off to our respective jobs, lunch at the Yum Yum café, dinner together while we talk over the events of our day. No murders, no drama has marred our lives. Until that morning a couple of weeks ago. My Aunt Mary, the oldest of my mother’s sisters and the only one still living in Santa Louisa, burst into the kitchen stating she was going to Virginia. My Aunt Mary never goes anywhere. However, Elizabeth Smithwood, her best friend from college had just inherited an old plantation close to Colonial Williamsburg and a ghost dressed in colonial garb was roaming the halls, creating havoc. She claimed it had tried to kill her. It was Aunt Mary to the rescue. Now, ghosts can’t commit murder, at least I didn’t think so, but something was going on at Smithwood that didn’t sound good, Aunt Mary refused to be talked out of going, so there was only one thing to do. I went with her. Elizabeth was partly right. We had a murderer to contend with, only it wasn’t the ghost. He was dead on the dining room rug with an empty syllabub glass in his hand, poisoned. Only, how, and who? The old house was really three houses connected with open passageways, all thoroughly locked. The police thought it was Elizabeth. She had a good motive and a bowl of syllabub was at that very moment sitting in her refrigerator. But there was more than one person who had motive to kill Montgomery Eslick, and solving this murder took us back into the eighteenth century as we unraveled more twists than a kitten let loose in the knitting basket could create. I also learned about hearth booking, that I have no interest in churning butter, and that my husband moves in mysterious ways and that I like them, and him, quite a lot. I have recounted all these new adventures in Murder by Syllabub, due out July 1, 2013.
It has been several weeks now, and Dan and I have resumed our quite routine. I sit at our kitchen table, staring into my coffee and wonder. I don’t want to but can’t help it. After all that’s happened…what next? Something, I’m sure.
"An enjoyable addition to the mystery scene"
- Kirkus Reviews
"Delaney's choice of setting, gossipy milieu and colorful...suspects helps keep Ellen scrambling and move the action right along."
- Publishers Weekly
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