An Unthymely Death

Free An Unthymely Death by Susan Wittig Albert

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Authors: Susan Wittig Albert
Broil until golden. Serve hot. (You can prepare and refrigerate these, and broil them just before serving.) Serves four.
     
     
where the money came from. But I didn’t mention this to Jane. Instead, I said, “How can we get in touch with your brother?”
    “You can’t. Eric is in Europe on a buying trip. He left two weeks ago and won’t be back for another month.” Jane picked up the tray and put it in the refrigerator. “Somehow I don’t believe that anybody would steal the Cookery Book for the money. If you ask me, the thief wanted it for its own sake.”
    “Do you have any guesses?” I asked.
    Jane pursed her lips. “You might talk to Delia Murphy. Her mother was Myra Merryweather’s niece. Delia has always claimed that the cookbook belongs to her. Nobody believes her, of course, but I wouldn’t put it past her to—” She shrugged, leaving the sentence dangling tantalizingly in the air. It was obvious that Delia was not one of Jane’s friends.
    “Cora says Jerry Weber might be involved,” Ruby said. “What’s your take on that?”
    “Jerry?” Jane laughed scornfully. “He’d steal anything if he thought he could turn it into a dollar. But he wouldn’t know how to sell that book for enough to make it worth stealing. And Cora herself is a possibility. She told me that she’s thinking of running for Guild president in the next election. She might have taken the book just to make Pansy look bad.”
    After we left, Ruby and I compared notes. Jane had been very ready to accuse other people. But even though her brother was in Europe, she certainly could have taken the book and sent it to him. Pansy was still on the list. Jerry, too, in spite of what Jane had said. And Cora, who suddenly had extra money to spend—and a reason to put Pansy in a bad light. I’m always astonished at the ease with which even the most petty motive can become irresistibly compelling.
    It was time to talk to Delia Murphy. Maybe she could throw some light on this mystery.
     
     
    Delia, a heavyset woman with gray hair and snappy blue eyes, has a bead shop in the Emporium, the craft and boutique mall that occupies the big Victorian house next door to Thyme and Seasons. She shook her head sadly when Ruby said that we’d come to talk about the cookbook.
    “I really don’t have anything to tell you,” she said. “There’s already been enough unhappiness about that dreadful old book. Frankly, I’m glad it’s gone.”
    “What sort of unhappiness?” Ruby asked.
    Delia opened a box, took out a plastic bag, and opened it. “Have you ever smelled anything so sweet?” she asked with a smile, taking out a string of large black beads. “They’re rose beads. They’d make a lovely family heirloom.”
    Normally, I’d be interested in those beads, since I make my own to sell in my shop. But not today. “What kind of unhappiness, Delia?”
    She put the beads back in the bag and tucked the bag into the box. “It’s an old story. It doesn’t mean anything to anybody but me.”
    “I understand that your mother was Myra Merryweather’s niece,” Ruby remarked. “How did that valuable book get out of the family? You’d think it would be the kind of thing that Myra would want her relatives to have.”
    Delia turned away to put the box on a shelf. “Well, I hate to disillusion you, but Aunt Myra just wasn’t a very nice person. She and Mother didn’t get along. Mother tried very hard to satisfy her, but—” She turned with a shrug. “Aunt Myra always insisted on having her own way. She fancied herself a matriarch, as her mother had been.” Her smile was slightly askew. “To tell the truth, she was something of a bully, at least in the family.”
    “Still,” I said, “it must have been a disappointment when she gave the cookbook to the Herb Guild.”
    In our grandmothers’ time, everyone wore rose beads, beautiful black beads made from fresh rose petals. They took a long time to make—two weeks or more—and

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