The Grub-and-Stakers Quilt a Bee
The Grub-and-Stakers gardening club has traditionally limited its activities to serving tea and gossiping about wildflowers, but when water department supervisor John Architrave is found murdered in the woods, club member Dittany Henbit turns to solving mysteries. After Architrave's will reveals that he bequeathed his ramshackle old house to the Grub-and-Stakers, with instructions for it to be turned into a museum, Dittany resigns herself to weeks of cleaning out the mansion and sorting through donated town 'artifacts.' The task turns interesting, however, the minute bodies start falling from the sky.
The new curator is airing out the house's attic when he takes his tumble off the roof. So unlikely is it that he would fall out the tiny attic window, that Dittany has no choice but to attempt to add one captured killer to the young museum's permanent collection.
'The screwball mystery is Charlotte MacLeod's cup of tea.' - Chicago Tribune.
'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.
'MacLeod can be counted on for a witty, literate and charming mystery.' - Publishers Weekly.
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.
The Grub-and-Stakers Quilt a Bee
"WELL, FRY ME FOR a doughnut!" cried Hazel Munson.
Therese Boulanger whanged her gavel. "May we have that in the form of a motion?" Therese was a stickler for protocol.
"Stuff it, Therese," muttered Dittany Henbit Monk, who was not.
Her utterance was drowned in cries of "I don't believe it!" "My stars and garters," and similar outbursts including a "gadzooks" from Arethusa Monk, the famous author of roguish regency romances. How could their president drag in Robert's Rules of Order at a time like this? Never before in all its long and checkered history had the Grub-and-Stake Gardening and Roving Club of Lobelia Falls, Ontario, received a bequest of any magnitude at all, much less a whole dad-blanged museum.
The "dad-blanged" was contributed by the aforementioned Dittany Henbit Monk. Her vocabulary had taken strange new directions as a result of her recent marriage to Osbert Monk, better known to the sagebrush intelligentsia as Lex Laramie. Osbert would be back at the house on Applewood Avenue right now, throwing his literary lasso over the neck of some dreamed-up maverick and wondering if he'd meant to write "dogie" instead. Did he but know! Dittany could hardly wait to tell him.
She'd jolly well have to wait, though. Therese was no slouch with a gavel. The meeting was back to order.
"For the benefit of those who may not have grasped the details of the matter before us" (Therese meant everybody who'd been too busy gabbling to pay attention, but was too good a parliamentarian to say so) "I shall read the terms of the bequest again. The subject will then be thrown open for discussion. If you wish to speak, please raise your hand and wait to be recognized by the chair. Otherwise," she added, for Therese was human too, "we'll be here all night."
"Read on, Macduff," boomed Arethusa.
Therese cleared her throat. "Under the terms of the holograph will that was found in the files down at the water department after we'd all assumed John Architrave had died intestate, his house on Victoria Street, which we all know to be a fine though sadly rundown example of Early Lobelia Falls architecture, of which we have far too little left, thanks to what some people choose to call progress ..."
"Is that all in the will, for Pete's sake?" Hazel Munson whispered to Dittany.
"Shh!" The shush was Samantha Burberry's. Being an elected town official and chairman of the club's legislative committee, she felt duty-bound to uphold the torch of parliamentarianism.
Therese got herself back in hand. "The gist of it is, John has left his house to the club free and clear, on condition that we maintain and operate it as a museum dedicated to the memory of John's wife, a former president and four-time winner of the Winona Pitcher Award, and that the museum be in fact known and designated by an appropriate sign or plaque as the Aralia Polyphema Architrave Museum. Before we begin our discussion, I'd like to ask our legislative chairman whether there's anything in the bylaws that might preclude our accepting such a bequest."
Samantha rose, poised and elegant as always. "Nothing whatever, to my knowledge. It would appear to fit nicely under Section A, Clause 3 which states that the club shall initiate and carry out projects for the general education and beautification of our community."
"Thank you, Samantha. Any objections?"
Hazel Munson's hand shot up. "I'm not objecting. I'd just like to know if that old meathead left us any funds to run the place with."
For one long, horrified moment, there was not a whisper in the room. Everyone knew John had left his life's savings to his one surviving relative, their own beloved Minerva Oakes, co-chairman of the landscape committee. They also knew how desperately Minerva needed the cash, and they'd rejoiced over the elderly widow's great windfall. Hazel, realizing too late what a brick