At the annual Pumpkin Festival in the coastal town of Pequod, Maine, Rhe Brewster, an ER nurse and Police Department consultant, responds to screams at the site of the Pumpkin Drop. Racing to the scene, where a one-ton pumpkin was dropped from a crane to crush an old car, Rhe and her brother-in-law, Sam, Pequod’s Chief of Police, discover the car contains the smashed remains of a man’s body. After the police confirm the death as a homicide, Rhe embarks on a statewide search to identify the victim and find the killer. During the course of the emotional investigation, she survives an attempt on her life at 10,000 feet, endures the trauma of witnessing the murder of an old flame, and escapes an arson attack on her family’s home. There is clearly a sociopath on the loose who is gunning for Rhe and leaving bodies behind. With Sam unable to offer his usual support due to an election recall and a needy new girlfriend, Rhe realizes that the only way to stop the insanity is to risk it all and play the killer’s game.
Maine’s most tenacious sleuth is back, this time to confront a menace that threatens to destroy her life and those closest to her. The latest installment of the Rhe Brewster Mystery Series, Death by Pumpkin, is a murder mystery and thriller that tests the limits of Rhe’s strength and resolve like never before.
When I returned to the house to wait, I left the French doors to the pool area unlocked, as I had for the two nights previous, and sat with my own coffee at the kitchen table. Only the light on the stove lit the room. This night, I didn’t have to wait long. One of the doors opened silently and a small figure slipped in.
“Nice of you to leave the door open. I believe you were expecting me?” asked Bitsy, walking towards the kitchen.
I might have been expecting her, but hearing her voice was still a shock. “Yes. I just want to get whatever this is – a vendetta? revenge? – over with. Took you long enough. Have some coffee?” I pulled a chair away from the table and offered her a mug with coffee I’d already poured. This cup contained three of the sleeping pills I’d been given after Bob’s death, dissolved in its depths.
Bitsy hesitated for a minute. I knew the aroma of the fresh coffee would entice her because based on what I could see of her, she’d been living rough. Her black coat was filthy and stained with large spots of something dark, and stringy, unwashed hair stuck out of her watch cap. Her face wasn’t any cleaner, with smudges of dirt here and there, and a rank smell assaulted my nose.
“No thanks. No time and it’s probably spiked with something. Tricky Rhe. Come on, get up.”
N.A. GRANGER is a Professor Emerita at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. After forty years of research and teaching undergraduates and medical students, she decided to turn her knowledge of human anatomy to the craft of mystery writing. In addition to the Rhe Brewster mystery series, she has written for Death South and Sea Level magazines and the Bella Online Literary Review. She lives with her husband, a cat who blogs, and a hyperactive dog in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and spends a portion of every summer in Maine.
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