Ivy Morris Mysteries
With the Tasty Tomato Tournament just days away, the small town of Martha’s Point is all abuzz. This is the first year without a sure winner, and the competition is fierce to gain the judges’ approval, even before the tournament starts.
But when Ivy finds one of those judges dead in a shed across the street, things go from bad to worse. All she wanted was seven glorious, kid-free days of messing around with her husband. Instead, she’s going to be tracking down a killer, staying out of the way of a pickle-obsessed farmer, and dodging the new cop who seems out for her blood.
“Myrt,” I said patiently, as if talking to a small child. “First of all, this wasn’t the tomato crusher. It was Judge McIntyre.”
I didn’t even get to the next part since she started wailing. “Oh, my stars! I’m never going to win the Tasty Tomato Tournament now! It’s the fiftieth anniversary, and I wanted at least one chance before I die! And now I will never win this! I’ll be a dead woman long before I can ever show my face again in the tournament! And this was supposed to be my year!”
Not only was that a lot of exclamation points, but she also dragged the last word out until it sounded like a cat dying. I tried to calm her down by settling my hand on her shoulder. She shook me off while dropping her cane at her feet. With a ton of creaks and cracks, she knelt down beside him and started babbling about how sorry she was.
“I don’t think you should touch him.” I said this while definitely keeping my distance. I did not want to touch him more than I already had. To be honest, it had been some time since I was involved in anything more than feeding and playing with my kids or running my store and being a wife. Occasionally I would help Ben with a case or two in his work as a private investigator, but it was more paperwork than anything else. I did not want to even know what had happened to the judge, much less who had done it. Ben was not going to be pleased. At all.
“I’m so sorry, Mr. McIntyre,” Myrt said with her face close to his, her hand patting his chest. There was a crinkling noise, but she was still talking. “So very sorry. When Irma died last year in her sleep after winning her forty-ninth straight tournament, I thought I finally had a chance, and now I hit you, and I’m so very, very sorry, and I can’t believe I mistook you for a burglar.” She twisted her hands together like she was wringing out a dishtowel. And she was going to draw blood if she continued biting her lip in between babbling some more.
I had few choices right now. I have to admit here that I had no desire whatsoever to call the police. I didn’t want to be involved in things. I had plans this week. This was not going to keep me from swinging from the freaking chandelier if I could.
Of course, I could go across the street and call from the house, or have Ben call and then remove myself from the situation altogether. But that would be completely unfair to Mrs. Crandall.
I couldn’t help myself. I let out a scream that would have brought down an opera house, something between frustration and fright because, at that moment, something furry ran against my leg before shooting into the bushes.
In the end, the decision of what to do was taken out of my hands because the police came tearing up in the one marked car in town, screeching to a halt at the curb. A man in uniform was out of the car before I could blink again. And I’m glad I didn’t blink because I would have missed the way he jumped from the car and then did a forward roll across the front lawn as if he was in some crazy-assed shootout.