A Conversation with Peggy Winn by Fran Stewart

WEE DOSE OF DEATHPeople who don’t like winter simply should not move to Vermont, as far as I’m concerned. Visit in the summer or fall, by all means, and buy lots of souvenirs here in Hamelin. Buy an extra number of them in my store, the ScotShop—preferably expensive items like kilts, or even lots of little items, like tartan ties or reproductions of the Loch Ness Monster. Buy one for every relative back home. But quit your infernal bellyaching. Ten degrees Fahrenheit is the way winter works here. Get over it. Get yourself a wood-burning stove and thermal underwear. Silk sock liners. Woolen hats and gloves. Gore-Tex.

Of course, I didn’t say any of this to Emily. Thank goodness this was a phone call. I couldn’t have hidden my irritation face-to-face.

“Mark left me all alone again, Peggy,” she whined yet again. “Why does he do that?”

I’d seen Emily’s husband only once. Tall and lanky beside his short pudgy wife, the two of them like cartoon characters walking up Hickory Lane, past my house. As far as I could see, he hadn’t said a word, but she’d talked nonstop, of course. I heard once that the loneliest people were the ones who were unsuitably married. Not that I had any way of knowing from personal experience.

I rolled my eyes at Dirk Farquharson, the fourteenth-century ghost I’d acquired on a recent trip to Scotland, who stood looking out my living room bay window.

I pointed to his left. “Whoops,” I said into the phone. “Have to run, Emily. There’s the door.”

“You go answer it, Peggy. I’ll wait.”

“No. I’ll probably be awhile. I’ll catch up with you later.” I disconnected and heaved a sigh.

“Ye were nae quite honest with Mistress Emily. There is naebody come a-calling at the door.”

Even though I could almost see through him, even though he’d been dead 653 years, he still had opinions that were hard to shake. “I didn’t say there was anybody standing outside. All I said was there’s the door. And,” I pointed again, “there it is.” It seemed perfectly logical to me. “If she wanted to think someone was knocking on it, that’s her problem.”

He made that low-pitched Scottish sound of disapproval.

“Don’t growl at me,” I said, even though I rather liked hearing it. It emanated from his massive chest. I tried to keep my eyes from scanning the length of him, but lost the battle. He was so tall, so black-haired, so gentle, so fierce, so . . . Scottish.

“Ye should nae tell untruths.”

So stubborn, too. “This is the way things are nowadays, as I’ve told you numerous times. I don’t like getting trapped on the phone. Anyway, what’s it to you?”

He gave me a long, level look from under those thick straight brows of his. “I didna ask to come here,” he said. “I didna desire to leave my home, and I dinna like some of what I see here. Now.”

“I may not like it either, Dirk, but there’s nothing I can do about it.”

“Ye are nae right about that. Ye could do something. Ye could stop telling untruths.”

“Would you rather have me tell her she’s boring me out of my gourd?”

“What would be a gord?”

“Never mind that. You just need to loosen up a little and accept things the way they are.” I tried not to sound supercilious, but from the look on Dirk’s face, I didn’t seem to have accomplished it.

“Mistress Emily seems lonely to me.”

He was probably right. She’d walked into the ScotShop about four months ago and spent an hour complaining. Since then she’d taken to calling me on my days off.

“Her husband’s looking to retire down here,” I said. “That’s why they bought the house.”

“What would be this retyre?”

The words Dirk didn’t know would fill a dictionary. Of course, I didn’t understand a lot of the words he used—he’d died in Scotland when people were still speaking Middle English, like Chaucer. I’d decided there was some sort of transcendental translation agency at work for most of our speech, but we still had a few words to learn. Sometimes I could figure out what he meant just through the context: Ye needna whinge so meant he wanted me to stop complaining. “Retire means to quit working and take it easy.”

He squinted. Two lines appeared between his heavy eyebrows. If he weren’t careful those lines would etch themselves into his face. No, wait. He was a ghost. He’d never get any more wrinkles than those crinkly laugh lines he already had around his eyes.

Retire. Back when he was alive, maybe nobody ever retired. If they survived infancy and childhood, then they worked all their lives, got old, and died. Or at least I thought so. Canterbury Tales was about all I’d known of the time back then, until I bought an old shawl and met Macbeath Donlevy Freusach Finlay Macearachar Macpheidiran of Clan Farquharson. You can see why I opted to call him Dirk.


A Wee Dose of Death is the second book in the “ScotShop” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime, January 2016.

About A Wee Dose of Death

Too Scot to Handle. . .

While business is booming at the ScotShop in Hamelin, Vermont, proprietor Peggy Winn doesn’t have time to toast her good fortune thanks to her hot-tempered, fourteenth-century Scottish companion. Being thrust into the modern world hasn’t been easy for Dirk, but Peggy is at her wit’s end trying to keep the ghostie galoot in line.

But when the local police chief finds the body of Peggy’s friend Karaline’s college professor in a deserted mountain cabin, everyone is thrown for a loop. It seems the secretive professor may have been killed over his ecological work, an idea that’s only reinforced when Karaline herself is shot. Now Peggy and Dirk must set aside their differences to put the cold-blooded killer under loch and key…

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GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of A WEE DOSE OF DEATH. US entries only, please. The giveaway will end January 11 at 12 AM EST. Good luck everyone!

Meet the author
Fran Stewart is the author of the Biscuit McKee Mysteries – GRAY AS ASHES is the seventh book in that FranStewartseries – as well as a standalone mystery – A SLAYING SONG TONIGHT. Her non-fiction work includes FROM THE TIP OF MY PEN: A WORKBOOK FOR WRITERS. Her ScotShop Mystery Series from Berkley Press began with A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP. The second book in that series is A WEE DOSE OF DEATH.

Fran lives quietly with various rescued cats beside a creek on the other side of Hog Mountain, Georgia, northeast of Atlanta. She is a member of the National League of American Pen Women, Sisters in Crime, and Mystery Writers of America. Visit Fran at www.franstewart.com.

62 comments

  1. I would love to win this book. I loved loved the first one in the series and can’t wait to read this new one. Thanks for the chance to win.

    • Lisa, I’m so glad to see that you loved A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP. I’d be delighted to hear what you think of book #2. You can message me through my face author page: http:facebook.com/franstewartauthor.

  2. This is a new author for me to read and I see there is a first book, so that makes me happy to be able to read the first book and then this new one. Sure would love to win it! Sounds like a really exciting mystery! Thanks so much dearest Dru for the chance to win!!!!!

    • I’m always happy to hear about brand new readers of my series, Beverly. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!

  3. This sounds like a delightful mystery with an unusual character (to say the
    least!) I’d like to enter into the spirit of the mystery and win this book!

  4. Oh, what fun to have Dirk’s commentary on all things modern! And a good whodunit to boot!

    • I had to think a lot about just what someone from that time period would think of the 21st century. Because practically EVERYTHING would be new and different, I had to pick and choose the details he commented on. Of course, the ways people interact with each other are always a wide-open field for exploration!

  5. Being of Scottish descent, I know I would love reading this book. Locale is an integral part of many books. I will be looking for book #1 also. Thanks.for the giveawa

  6. OMG this sounds like such a fun read! I don’t know this author but am going to add her to my list of ones to try! Thanks for a chance to win a copy.

  7. The first in this series was an interesting read and I’ve been looking forward to seeing what more Peggy and Dirk can get up to. Thanks for the chance to win.

    • I apologize ahead of time for what I do to one of my favorite characters, Meg. But I do hope you’ll be pleased with the opportunity that comes Dirk’s way as a result. (How’s that for a teaser?)

  8. Sounds like my kind of mystery. I too am not familiar with the author but I;ll see if I can find the first in the series at my library. Either way I can;t lose. drinckel at yahoo dot com. Happy New Year!

    • I do hope you enjoy the continuing saga of Peggy and Dirk (and Harper and Karaline and Gilda and Shoe and . . .)

  9. I understand what you’re saying about winter in VT. I live in NH and it’s just as cold here.
    I would love to read this book. Thanks for the chance to win.

    • They say authors always write themselves into their books – and that’s certainly the case with the reason I set the ScotShop mysteries in Vermont. I lived there for 26 years, and found the winters invigorating to say the least. My blood has thinned out considerably since I moved to Georgia! I thoroughly enjoyed the many times I visited New Hampshire — lovely state!

    • Glad you liked WEE MURDER! Let me know what you think after you read WEE DOSE OF DEATH – I’d love to hear from you.

  10. I usually care for ghost stories but this one sound rather cute, would love to read it and change my mind. ty for the chance

  11. Oooh, I have to go get the first book, this sounds great, a Scottish ghost definitely has my attention. I love stories with ghosts in them.

    • Definitely start with the first one, Debbie, as it will give you a foundation for some of the things that happen in this second book (and in the third one as well–that one should be out at the end of this year or early in 2017).

  12. I will definitely be reading this series. Sounds so good and I love trying to figure out the language.

  13. Thank you, Dru, for giving me a chance to share Peggy and Dirk with your readers. I’ve enjoyed the experience. – And I’ll continue to check in for the next few days in case anyone has questions for me.

    • Oh my gosh, Mozelle — win-Winn???? That’s marvelous. Why didn’t I think of it? [I know why I didn’t think of it – I have you to think of it for me, dear friend]

  14. I love the first book in this series, and I am looking forward to reading this one. Thank you for the giveaway.
    myrifraf(at)gmail(dot)com

    • I’m delighted that you loved A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP, Jen. You can always contact me through my Facebook author page – FranStewartAuthor to let me know what you think of A WEE DOSE OF DEATH. I thoroughly enjoy hearing from readers!

  15. I love that this is the first book in the series that is how i like to start a cozy mystery. I would love to read and review on 2 sites this book sounds so good i can’t wait to start it! ptclayton2@aol.com

    • Peggy, this is the second book in the series. Number 1 was A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP, in which Peggy goes to Scotland and acquires the shawl that has the ghost attached to it.

  16. I don’t think I want to move to Vermont and those winters, but I’d like to read about it. This sounds like a good series to start.

    • Be sure to visit Vermont during the milder weather, though, Sally. It’s gorgeous in the late spring and summer. (You might want to avoid Jue, though. That’s when the black flies usually come out.

    • Kari – thanks for letting us all know you loved A WEE MURDER IN MY SHOP. I hope you’ll be equally delighted with A WEE DOSE OF DEATH. Remember in book 1 how Karaline asked Peggy, “What good is he [the ghost]?” Well, I’m happy to say that in this new book, Dirk finds his purpose in the 21st century. I loved writing that part!

    • Most authors I’ve talked to like their second book better than the first one, and the third one better than the second, Kaye. Maybe that’s because as the series expands, we can delve more into the “inner workings” of our characters. If you loved WEE MURDER, I think you’ll be very very happy with WEE DOSE.

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