A Pint of Murder
Agatha Treadway has done her own preserving ever since the day her husband was done in by a can of supermarket tomatoes. And after four vigilant decades of canning everything from peaches to spinach, it is her own green beans that kill her. Inspecting the fatal jar, Janet Wadman finds it has been tampered with, so that toxic botulism was allowed to seep in. But before she can tell the town doctor that Mrs. Treadway was murdered, the doctor joins the widow in untimely death. To investigate, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police sends Madoc Rhys, a Mountie who doesn't look the part. Masquerading as a relative, this squat Welshman helps Janet dig into the town's dark side. And what they find is a deadly secret that proves even more poisonous than botulism.
'One of the most gifted mystery authors writing today.' - Sojourner Magazine.
'Charlotte MacLeod does what she does better than anybody else does it; and what she does is in the top rank of modern mystery fiction.' - Elizabeth Peters, creator of the Amelia Peabody series.
'The epitome of the 'cozy' mystery.' - Mostly Murder.
Charlotte MacLeod (1922-2005) was an internationally bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Born in Canada, she moved to Boston as a child, and lived in New England most of her life. After graduating from college, she made a career in advertising, writing copy for the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company before moving on to Boston firm N. H. Miller & Co., where she rose to the rank of vice president. In her spare time, MacLeod wrote short stories, and in 1964 published her first novel, a children's book called 'Mystery of the White Knight.'
In 'Rest You Merry' (1978), MacLeod introduced Professor Peter Shandy, a horticulturist and amateur sleuth whose adventures she would chronicle for two decades. 'The Family Vault' (1979) marked the first appearance of her other best-known characters: the husband and wife sleuthing team Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn, whom she followed until her last novel, 'The Balloon Man,' in 1998.
A Pint of Murder
"JANET, COULD YOU SPARE me a slice of bread?"
"Come on in, Marion," sighed Janet. "I'll warm up the teapot."
This was ten days after Agatha Treadway had been laid to rest, and Janet was beginning to wish she'd stayed in Saint John to nurse her sore belly and her broken heart. Watching Roy parade his new love couldn't be any more irksome than fetching and carrying for Marion Emery.
Bert, who didn't find neighborly hospitality onerous since he wasn't the one who had to cope with their new star boarder, was getting a good deal of amusement from Marion's staying on at the Mansion. "Hi, how's the heiress this morning? Found the hidden millions, eh?"
"Nope," mumbled their self-invited guest through a mouthful of Janet's homemade doughnut. "Still looking."
"Keep it up. It's good, healthy exercise. Don't know's it's good for much else." Bert went out to start the tractor, and she glowered after him.
"Great little kidder, isn't he? When I think of all the nights I've sat freezing to death on that lousy Boston bus, and for what? Five thousand bucks in Canadian money and a half share in a white elephant. I know damn well Auntie had a boodle stashed away someplace, and I'll find it if I have to take that moldy dump apart board by board."
"Marion, I've told you over and over you're wasting your time," said Janet, not that it would do any good. "You know better than I do how your Uncle Charles managed to get rid of what his father left him. Your aunt had her old-age pension and that little bit left in the bank, and everybody around here was surprised she had that much. Gilly wasn't expecting any great windfall, was she?"
"How do I know what she expects? All she's doing is sitting down there on her backside expecting me to do the work for her. Boy, I wouldn't have wished a kid like her even on my cousin Elizabeth. Running off with that Bascom creep before she even got through high school, then crawling back with a brat on her hands after he ditched her. And holing up in that shack beside the diner instead of going home to that nice, big house when Elizabeth practically begged her on bended knee. But, no, Gilly had to be independent."
Marion bit savagely into another doughnut. "She's not going to let Elizabeth run her life, she says, but she sure doesn't mind letting ol' Mom foot the bills for the groceries. If it hadn't been for her folks, she and that kid of hers would have starved to death long ago."
Though she'd never been any great chum of Gilly Druffitt, Janet didn't like hearing Marion run the woman down like this. "Now, Marion, you can't say Gilly doesn't try. She works whenever she gets a chance."
"At what? Waitressing part-time at the Busy Bee when Ella's off on a drunk. Taking a course in poodle clipping when there isn't a poodle within fifty miles of this jerkhole. Now she's breeding dachshunds, for God's sake. Last year she was going to make a million bucks a week selling eggs. Then one of her hens got out of the pen and some kid ran over it in his jalopy and she bawled for a week and had to get rid of the rest because they weren't safe down there."
"I know. She brought them to us." Janet didn't add that she and her sister-in-law had had a quiet sniffle together over the tragic look on Gilly's thin little face as she dragged the makeshift crate of squawking poultry from her old Ford. The hens had proved to be incredibly poor layers, but Janet saw Annabelle was still protecting them from the stewpot.
Having drained the last dreg of tea and realizing that Janet had no intention of brewing any more, Marion set down her empty cup. "Well, I'd better get back to the mausoleum. Dot Fewter's coming up this morning, though why I asked her I don't know. Dot supposedly cleaned for Aunt Aggie every week, but I can't see any sign that she ever did anything. I'll probably get lung cancer from inhaling so much dust."