Gates Fine Art Gallery in Houston, TX opens at ten o’clock, but I went in at nine hoping to catch the delivery man. The same delivery man who knew precisely when we opened, and consistently arrived early anyway. When he did show up during our business hours, he’d complain that it was his third attempt to make the drop off.
But, hey, not my problem. Barbra Vole was the manager and my immediate boss. She dealt with the business glitches. My job this fine day was to finish unpacking and begin arranging the art for the plein air exhibition that would begin on Friday evening.
I usually had at least one pair of helping hands to hang a show, but Felicia Gates, the gallery owner, was looking to open a branch in San Antonio. She’s recruited Barbra’s two assistants to go along on the trip, so I was working solo. Not a problem since I’m a get ‘er done kind of gal.
Dressed down today in cargo pants and a Gates Fine Arts tee shirt, I focused on the exhibition lay out. By early afternoon I’d propped all the large pieces along the walls of the five gallery rooms. I tend to favor asymmetrical arrangements, so was contemplating placement of the smaller paintings, when my smart phone vibrated in my pocket.
One glance at the caller ID, and I knew trouble loomed. I had no idea how much, but I’d already talked with Lilyvale, Arkansas police detective Eric Shoar twice in the past ten days.
“We had another incident at Miz Sherry Mae’s yesterday,” he told me before I’d barely said hello. “Neighbors across the road reported booming sounds and smoke coming from the kitchen.”
“Is anyone injured?” I asked on a gulp, the phone slick in my suddenly moist hand.
“Did the fire department respond?”
“They don’t respond anymore unless I call them, but do you want whatever the problem is to go that far?”
“How can you think that?”
“Then prove you care. You have one week to get up here and see to your aunt and her housemates. The situation—whatever it is—seems to be escalating. I don’t want Miz Sherry and her friends to be declared wards of the court.”
“What?” I gasped.
“If the Chief believes that Miz Sherry and her friends are a danger to themselves or others, he’ll have to act.”
“You’d tell him they’re dangerous?” I demanded. “You’d take away their independence? Their freedom?”
“Not if I can help it.” He paused, then continued. “I understand that you don’t think you know Miz Sherry well enough to stick your nose in her business, but none of her housemates have people left. We need this resolved, and you’re the only relative in sight.”
I disconnected and sagged against the wall. Could I reach Lilyvale and my last living relative, my Aunt Sherry Mae, before the worst happened?
You can read more about Nixy in Basket Case, the first book in the NEW “Silver Six Crafting” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime.
About Basket Case
There isn’t much crime in Lilyvale, Arkansas, but local authorities have their hands full with Ms. Sherry Mae Stanton Cutler and her housemates—a crafty group of retirees who’ve dubbed themselves the Silver Six. But when Sherry Mae’s niece, Nixy, arrives to keep them in line, Lilyvale also plays host to a killer.
When Leslee Stanton “Nixy” Nix gets the latest call from Lilyvale detective Eric Shoar, she knows it means trouble. There’s been another kitchen explosion at her Aunt Sherry’s farmhouse, and the dreamy-voiced detective has had enough. If Nixy doesn’t check on her aunt in person, the Silver Six could become wards of the court. But the trouble Nixy finds in Lilyvale is not at all what she expects.
The seniors are hosting a folk art festival at the farmhouse, featuring Sherry’s hand-woven baskets, when land developer Jill Elsman arrives to bully Nixy’s aunt into selling the property. When Jill is later found dead in the cemetery, Sherry is suspected of weaving a murder plot, and it’s up to Nixy and the Silver Six to untangle the truth.
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Meet the author
Nancy Haddock is an award-winning and national bestselling author of mystery romance who now writes cozy mystery. Basket Case, the first book in the Silver Six Crafting mysteries, was released in Sept. 2015 with Berkley Prime Crime. Her earlier books, also with Berkley, are La Vida Vampire, Last Vampire Standing, and Always The Vampire, feature Cesca, aka Gidget with fangs, and are set in Haddock’s current hometown, St. Augustine, FL. Nancy draws on historic wealth, southern culture, and the plain old quirkiness of places for her books. She lives with her husband and rescue dog Baron.