Saturday, September 10, 2011

#SampleSunday: (How to Plan) Just An Old-Fashioned Murder

This is an excerpt from Just An Old-Fashioned Murder from love, murder, etc. a collection of eight stories available for Kindle or Nook. Miss Benedict loves her needlework group and woe-betide anyone who tries to break it up:

I thought being a murderer would be somewhat more upsetting than it has proven to be. Actually, it’s rather exciting, like having this interesting secret that would shock the b’jesus out of everybody if you let it slip, so you keep it to yourself a little smugly. I must say there have been times when I have wanted to say to someone, ”You know, Larry Anderson didn’t really disappear ― not at all. He’s down in my basement under the new quilting frame.”

But that really wouldn’t be prudent.

Listen, the plain truth is that there are people in this world who just need killing. I’ve had my eye on Larry Anderson since he was in my ninth grade biology class. Any child who enjoyed killing frogs as much as he did bears watching. It's sad really, he came from a nice enough family but there was always something unsettling about the boy. For years there were stories about his mistreatment of Felicity Burroughs, his first wife, who left him to move to Florida where her elderly parents, she said, needed her. No one ever saw her in Pitts Crossing again and there was occasional speculation that Larry had done her in and successfully hidden her body but I never paid those stories any mind.

No, after Felicity left him, Larry went from unsettling to flat-out scary. Of course it wasn't obvious. He was always a clever liar. Good with the schmoozing and the sucking up. It's embarrassing to realize how many women there are in this world who fall for that nonsense. Sad, too.

To give the devil his due, Larry was always good-looking which was part of the problem. Personally I've always been a little mistrustful of men who had those kind of good-looks - fine-features, dark eyes, pouty mouth. He'd have made a pretty girl but I'm an old maid so what the hell do I know? Even in high school he got away with an unnecessary amount of bad behavior just because the silly women who taught him couldn't believe a boy that good-looking could be such a sniveling rat. It was the obsequiousness that they fell for, telling them how nice they looked, how much he enjoyed their class, how he never understood algebra or chemistry or the fall of the Roman Empire until they explained it. He could really lay it on and they sucked it right up.

He tried that malarkey on me but it didn't get him far. He flashed that smile of his but I saw the resentment behind it. Still, as I said before, none of that exactly inspired murderous thoughts.

The Monday Night Needles & Murder Guild has been an institution in Pitts Crossing for over fifty years. It began in the home of Miss Georgia Pitts, the great-great granddaughter of one of our town's founders. Miss Georgia was the local librarian for sixty of her ninety-four years and she dearly loved two things, murder mysteries and needlepoint. So she began opening her home every Monday night to anyone who wanted to bring needlework and join her for tea and discussions of their favorite mystery books. Ladies loved it. They came with baskets of stitchery and plates of cookies in such numbers that Miss Georgia finally had to close the group to new members. After that you had to wait until someone either quit or died to be invited. I waited for two years. My invitations came, on pale blue tissue handwritten in Miss Georgia's elegant cursive, just a few months before I retired from the high school. I considered it a blessing because I knew I'd need some socialization. That first Monday I baked a batch of my best maple syrup cookies, packed up the patches for the piecework quilt I was working on, and headed off to Miss Georgia's. Since then I've grown to love the other women in our group, collected dozens of recipes for cookies, finished six quilts, and learned a lot about murder.

Just An Old-Fashioned Murder from love, murder, etc. a collection of eight stories available for Kindle or Nook.


  1. Love your sense of voice here Kathleen. You really do have internal thought as narrative, down pat. And such an authentic voice for the character! Maybe one, is the other? Food for thought. :-)

  2. Thanks, Morgan. Seriously, I just run the pen (or the keyboard). I have no idea where these story-tellers come from.


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