Yes, my faithful followers, friends, and colleagues, Death in a Mudflat comes out tomorrow.
Here is a teaser for you: the first chapter! Hope you enjoy it!
The beach wedding of our good friends, Marsh and Bella, couldn’t have been on a more perfect morning – bright sunshine sparkling on the water, a soft breeze lifting skirts and curls, and the gentle lapping sound of small waves on the shore. We had gathered at Pequod’s Oceanside Pavilion for the ceremony and were now having a blast at the reception, laughing, drinking good wine and occasionally dancing to the music of a local band. It was a gala affair, following the whirlwind courtship of two people who were dear to me but who most resembled Mutt and Jeff. Marsh Adams was Mutt, a weight-lifting, doughnut-addicted fireplug of a man who happened to be an assistant medical examiner for the state of Maine and a pathologist at Sturdevant Hospital, where we both worked. Bella Zdundic was Jeff, a Maine Major Crimes agent and a strong-willed woman who towered over Marsh and had the bulk to go with her height. Currently working the crowd of attendees, they both looked deliriously happy, holding hands and with permanent smiles on their faces as they greeted their guests. I didn’t think I’d ever seen them more resplendent – Bella in an A-line, lace and tulle ivory gown and Marsh in a black tuxedo with a peacock blue vest.
Sam Brewster, the Chief of the Pequod Police Department accompanied me to the wedding. We were not only friends of the bride and groom, but, improbably, a couple. Always good friends, Sam and I had become even closer after the death of my husband Will, Sam’s brother. That closeness had led to love. Holding hands, we had moved with some of the other guests onto the pavilion’s deck. The broad wooden deck overlooked the beach and a considerable stretch of mudflat revealed by the outgoing tide. We found many of the guests already on the deck watching, mesmerized, as the owner of a Jeep Wrangler tried to get his vehicle out of the mud.
“What an idiot,” Sam said, handing me a fresh glass of Chardonnay from a waiter passing by with a tray. “Must be illiterate.” There was a warning sign at the end of the pavilion drive saying ‘Dangerous mudflats. Beach off limits to all four wheeled vehicles.’
“That’s Ethan Pettigrew, Mom. You know him, he’s in our class,” Jack told me.
We watched as Mr. Pettigrew, unable to get traction, unhitched the trailer and pulled it up onto the beach. He then made another try at reversing the Jeep, spinning the tires and spraying mud, which doused the boy. More hoots from Jack and Tyler.
“I always knew you sucked, Ethan,” shouted Jack. “Mud man!”
“Hey, you’re a sucker,” yelled Tyler.
“If you boys don’t stop that,” I warned, “you two will be the suckers when Sam takes you home.” They stopped.
“At the very least, you’d think he’d have backed in. This is a fubar waiting to happen.” Sam continued his deprecating commentary.
After an animated conversation with his son, Mr. Pettigrew unloaded all the unnecessary weight from the Jeep. Then he took out a shovel and dug dry sand from the beach, dumping it behind and in front of each wheel. He got in the Jeep, started it up, and rocked the Jeep a few yards back, spinning the tires and hurling muck everywhere. The boy, standing to one side and now plastered with mud, suddenly screamed, “Stop, Dad! Stop!” As his father turned off the Jeep and got out, everyone watching pressed forward, trying to see what had happened.
Sam took my hand and pulled me through the crowd and down the stairs from the deck to the beach. From there we could clearly see what the tires had unearthed – a decaying human arm, purple-green, dripping mud and sloughing tissue. It was still connected to something below the surface. I grabbed Sam’s arm and without thinking, pulled back.
A few horrified onlookers cried out, which brought still more wedding guests out to the deck, the noise of their conversation now sounding like a maddened bee hive. Sam looked at me with a raised eyebrow. “You wanna call it in, Rhe, or shall I?”
I looked up at him. “You might be a little tough to get a hold of, because you’re away at a wedding.”
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