The Plattsford Sun, Special Edition


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Dog In A Manger:

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Dog In A Manger

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All Gloria wants is a peaceful family Christmas, as she fills the pages of the Plattsford Sun and finds the perfect gift for her perfect, but absent, mate. What she will get, however, is a series of painful needles, several threatening phone calls, uncomfortable confrontations with the past, a nasty dog bite, and the discovery of a grisly corpse or two. And the holiday edition of The Sun must hit the streets on time....

"Peace on Earth" may be in short supply, but Christmas, Plattsford style, is all wrapped up and ready to go.

"The author leads the reader on an exciting chase for a particularly inventive murderer, and handles Gloria and Tony’s marital struggles with flair... a great holiday read."

-- Maura, Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance

“I did not come here to write an obituary.”

Gloria Trevisi, editor, writer, photographer, and general dogsbody of the Plattsford Sun, made this startling statement to the corpse that was lying, grotesquely twisted, almost at her feet.

Back arched, mouth wide open and eyes rolled back, the body lay across the remains of a broken coat tree and under a jumble of other debris in the front hall of what otherwise looked like a prim little house. The clothing was dirty and smelled. It was, by far, the worst sight Gloria had seen in her life.

Just seconds before, Mary Connors, the county’s Christmas Food Bank coordinator, had dropped a packet containing a perfectly delicious hot turkey dinner on the hardwood floor, releasing a tantalizing aroma of roast fowl to mingle with the other, more rank odors permeating the house, and propelled herself outside.

Gloria would have followed right behind her, if her coat had not become snagged on something sharp. And since it was her only winter coat, she was frantically attempting to free it without ripping the lining and sending clouds of goose down spewing into the shambles that had met them in the front hall.

“It certainly is not a good day to take your picture,” Gloria added to that taut, waxy face staring up from the floor, as she tugged gently at the fabric with shaking fingers. “For one thing, you haven’t shaved.” The stiff chin stubble, she noticed, glistened with old, dried saliva. She swallowed hard, averted her eyes from the horrid face, and concentrated on loosening her coat from the sharp spike on which it had become impaled. Her numb brain fumbled for the beginnings of a good Catholic prayer while from outside came the sounds of Mary, on her knees, noisily liberating her lunch. “Oh, hell,” Gloria muttered, jerking on her coat hem and battling a rising panic.

Once freed, she, too, stepped over and around broken tables, fallen pictures, and everything else that littered the floor. Being younger, somewhat taller, and a lot more slender than Mary, she made her exit quickly and with less fuss, and managed to maintain her calm until she was on the front walk. Then she collapsed. Her car was only a few yards away, but she had to sit for a minute on Reg McIvor’s porch steps, face pressed to her knees, eyes tightly shut, and take a few deep breaths of cold December air before she could reach it. Death smelled.

Opening her eyes, she stared down at her black leather boots, the toes partially covered with dry snow. A few minutes ago she and the food bank coordinator had trod on these very steps, and had knocked briskly on the unlatched front door. With country-bred neighborly confidence, Mary Connors had called a cheerful greeting, pushed the door open, looked back at Gloria, and whispered, “He always leaves the door off the latch when he’s expecting someone. He’s a bit deaf, you know.”

She could see Mary now, squatting face down in the neat box hedge, reminiscent of one of those tacky garden ornaments one sees propped up in perennial borders of houses in East Lister, except they showed big women in frilly underwear bending over the Sweet William, and Mary was a big woman bundled in gray stretch pants and maroon parka, gyrating over the remains of her midday meal. Between heaves, she tried to apologize to Gloria for something over which she obviously had no control. Poor Mary had seen him first.

Thoughts of lawn ornaments helped Gloria recover. The man inside was past help, and the woman at the hedge not yet ready for comforting words. Taking a deep breath, she tried to get her bearings after walking into that ghastly scene…and running out.

The house was about a half-mile from North Andover, a small village in Ramsbottom Township not far from Plattsford, the local metropolis of six thousand. It was small, and neat, with a one-acre lot of large old trees, flower gardens hidden under a bed of leaves and thin layer of snow, a snake wood fence, and a short paved driveway. For the retired gentleman farmer who lived here, it was probably a little piece of paradise.

So why did it look like hell?

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