Title: An Embarrassment of Itches
Author: M.K. Dean
Genre: Cozy Mystery
As a house-call vet, Ginny Reese has seen her share of the weird and wacky. But nothing in her previous experience could have prepared her to find one of her clients floating in her own swimming pool.
Local artist Amanda Kelly was extremely wealthy with her share of secrets. By naming Ginny as her heir, not only did she make Ginny the number one suspect, but she painted a big bull’s eye on her friend’s back as well.
With her trusty German Shepherd at her side, it’s up to Ginny to find the real killer and prove her innocence to the sheriff. The new sheriff. Who happens to be her ex.
Piece of cake, right?
He tossed down the pen. “Thank you for your cooperation, Dr. Reese. We’ll be in touch if we have any further questions.” He switched off the recorder and fixed me with a hard stare. “Don’t get any bright ideas about being an amateur sleuth. I know you, Ginny.”
“Moi?” I said, in my best Miss Piggy imitation.
“Yes, you. If it’s a kitten in a drainpipe or a dog being kicked or a just cause of any sort, you’re the first one to dive in the drain, so to speak. You were the kid in middle school who collected over fifteen hundred signatures to protest the clubbing of baby seals.”
“It was wallabies, not seals,” I said stiffly.
“Right.” His smile grew wider. “And as I recall, you confronted Mr. Burrows over his treatment of the neighborhood squirrels when you were only nine. Walked right up to him and told him to stop shooting them.”
“He called me “honey” and said he was just scaring them.” I glowered at the memory. “I told him he was doing such a good job of scaring them, they were falling dead out of the trees. And he stopped shooting them, so there. Standing up to him was the right thing to do. What’s so funny?”
“You think he stopped because some kid scolded him? More likely it was because you were covered in squirrels at the time. They popped out of your pockets and sat on your shoulders, cursing him a blue streak in squirrel-speak. He probably thought you were a witch or something.”
I rubbed my nose to hide my embarrassment. “That was a long time ago. I’m not that person anymore.”
He tilted his head to one side, as though he couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. “No?”
I shook my head. That person, the one who believed in fighting for what was right? Life had beaten a lot out of her over the years. “No. I grew up.”
I took on too many responsibilities. I got tired. More than tired. I was exhausted.
He shook his head sadly, a smile ghosting his lips. “That’s not what I saw the other night when Taylor said he’d sold the horses to the slaughterhouse. Taylor saw it too. He was backing up when you climbed over that fence.”
“Yeah, but that didn’t stop him from accosting me on the street last night.” I winced as soon as the words came out of my mouth. I hadn’t meant to say that.
The playful look was gone. Joe’s eyes had gone still, like a fox noticing the rustle of a mouse in the grass. “What do you mean, accosted?”
“Bad choice of words.” I waved a dismissive hand. “It’s just when I saw him at the restaurant, he came out and accused me of spying on him.”
“No!” Annoyed, I became defensive. “Like I said, I saw him through the window. He followed me to my car and got testy with me. Which strikes me as a sign of a guilty conscience, if you ask me. It wasn’t a normal conclusion to leap to.”
Joe sighed as he stood up and came around to my side of the desk, only to hitch a hip up and rest it on the corner. “I understand Amanda was your friend. Someone killed her. You’re going to want to stick your nose into the investigation; it’s only natural.”
“It’s only natural.” I repeated his words back at him, sensing a trap but not knowing where it lay.
“To someone like you. You’re a puzzle solver. It’s why you like medicine: the search for clues, asking questions to find out what happened, running tests to determine what’s wrong… It’s a lot like solving crimes. You’re going to pick at this like it’s a scab over a pocket of infection.” The sense of camaraderie abruptly snuffed out. “But this is murder, not a case of what’s wrong with Muffy. For your own sake, I’m telling you to leave it to the professionals.”
Before I could tell him exactly how condescending he sounded, the noise of a commotion outside reached our ears. Joan said loudly, “You can’t go in there!” just as the door flew open.
The woman in the doorway stood bristling with belligerence like a pint-sized Annie Oakley about to enter a saloon. “Virginia Reese, not another word without your lawyer.”
My mother had arrived.
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A good plot, a spunky heroine, engaging animals, and snappy dialog means An Embarrassment of Itches is Diagnosis Murder meets All Creatures Great and Small.
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Runs August 10 – August 17, 2021.
Winner will be drawn on August 23, 2021.
M.K. Dean is the new pen name of award-winning author McKenna Dean as she delves into the world of cozy mysteries. Ms. Dean lives with her family on a small farm in North Carolina, which she shares with dogs, cats, and various livestock. She likes putting her characters in hot water to see how strong they are. Like teabags, only sexier.
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