Fall Into . . . Tied Up With Strings by Madeline McEwen @MadMcEwen #books #bookish #cozymystery #giv
Title: TIED UP WITH STRINGS
Author: Madeline McEwen
Genre: Cozy / Mystery
A pleasant diversion and a perfectly sized puzzle for PBS Mystery! fans. Kirkus Review
Betty Grape, an American amateur sleuth, visits a young friend, Catia, who is housesitting in a remote country village in England for a Christmas vacation. Although Catia appears pleased to see her visitor, Betty is immediately suspicious.
What is Catia hiding? A relationship with one of the young men in the decrepit caravan in next door’s back garden or is she implicated in the disappearance of the homeowner’s invalid wife?
Betty finds the local villagers are full of friendly gossip but taciturn about solid facts. They too seem determined to keep Betty from butting in on their territory. Never deterred, Betty blunders through the social morass of the small minded until she exposes the brain lurking behind chintz curtains.
Three days before Christmas in the remote village of Abbeyvayle, on the north coast of Devon, Betty Grape’s taxi drove past a non-descript gravel driveway and stopped by an overgrown hedge.
“There you go, Missus.” The driver pulled her luggage from the boot and opened the car door. “That’ll be ten pounds and fifty pence, please.”
Betty’s boots sunk into a bank of snow edging the narrow road. She struggled with her purse and handed him a purple note. “Keep the change.”
Making a U-turn, the taxi sped away leaving Betty on the brink of a foreign adventure and ankle-deep in virgin white flakes. She pushed down the handle on her trundle suitcase, shouldered her tote, and leaned over to gather a fistful of duty-free bags when she heard someone shout.
“Hope you got a good eyeful! Bugger off, you bloody pervert!”
Betty popped her head up above the greenery, patted her helmet of gray curls into place and saw Catia, standing on the doorstep wrapped only in a towel, clutching armfuls of mail to her chest.
“That’s not much of a welcome.” Betty blundered forward skirting the hedge and headed for the driveway.
“Betty! I wasn’t expecting you until tomorrow. I thought you were that Peeping Tom, again.”
“Maybe I’m early.” Betty hauled her battered suitcase through the snow. She paused for a breather. Catia was in no position to help with the luggage not dressed, or rather undressed like that.
A car blocked the driveway. Betty read the license plate CAT, for Catia Ann Titchell, and scoffed at the vanity of the young. She stomped onward, obliterating some other visitor’s footprints. Her progress was slow, hampered by a bulky puffer jacket.
“I’m glad you didn’t stand on ceremony for me.” She reached the doorstep and smiled. “I’ve nothing against informality, but even we Californian’s have a dress code—shoes and shirt required.”
Catia dumped the mail on hall table just inside the front door and threw her arms around Betty. Since when had that slip of a girl turned into this willowy woman? How many years since they’d last met? If Betty hadn’t found Catia like this, in the flesh, would she have recognized her?
“Enough of that, my girl.” Betty shook her off. “Get inside properly before you freeze. Your feet are turning blue.”
What makes this book a must-read and/or what inspired you to write this story:
My sons, who are autistic, and their autistic friends and families galvanized me into portraying realistic and inspirational characters struggling into adulthood and the world at large.
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Madeline McEwen is an ex-pat from the UK, bi-focaled and technically challenged. She and her Significant Other manage their four offspring, one major and three minors, two autistic, two neurotypical, plus a time-share with Alzheimer's. In her free time, she walks the canines and chases the felines with her nose in a book and her fingers on a keyboard.
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