The Alpine Xanadu: An Emma Lord Mystery.pdf

The Alpine Xanadu: An Emma Lord Mystery.pdf


Praise for Mary Daheim and her Emma Lord mysteries
“Always entertaining.”—The Seattle Times
“Mary Daheim writes with wit, wisdom, and a big heart. I love her books.”—Carolyn Hart
“Daheim writes . . . with dry wit, a butter-smooth style, and obvious wicked enjoyment.”—The Oregonian
“The characters are great, and the plots always attention-getting.”—King Features Syndicate
“Even the most seasoned mystery fans are caught off-guard by [Daheim’s] clever plot twists.”—BookLoons Reviews
“Witty one-liners and amusing characterizations.”—Publishers Weekly

Mary Richardson Daheim started spinning stories before she could spell. Daheim has been a journalist, an editor, a public relations consultant, and a freelance writer, but fiction was always her medium of choice. In 1982 she launched a career that is now distinguished by more than sixty novels. In 2000, she won the Literary Achievement Award from the Pacific Northwest Writers Association. In October 2008 she was inducted into the University of Washington’s Communications Hall of Fame. Daheim lives in her hometown of Seattle and is a direct descendant of former residents of the real Alpine when it existed in the early part of the twentieth century until it was abandoned in 1929. The Alpine/Emma Lord series has created interest in the site, which was named a Washington State ghost town in July 2011.

From the Hardcover edition.

Chapter One

I was stunned by the letter from my old pal and Oregonian newspaper compatriot Mavis Marley Fulkerston. Not having heard from her in over two months, I worried. The reason for the lapse was valid, but the rest of the message upset me.

“Dear Emma,” she began, “sorry for not thanking you sooner for the exquisite ­mother-­of-­pearl vase you sent for Christmas. Ray and I love it. Your backwoods gallery owner has surprisingly good taste.

“Ray and I took our usual ­post-­holiday Oahu trip to escape Portland’s gray skies. We had a great ­time—­until we were waiting for the airport shuttle to take us home and Ray had a heart attack. One quadruple bypass later, he was pronounced viable (if ornery) and sent to rehab for two weeks. He’s still grouchy and I may have to kill him.

“Your recent close call with death horrified me. Hope you’ve recovered by now. Hope you’ve also ­deep-­sixed your zany idea about marrying the local sheriff. That shocked me more than hearing about the nut who tried to kill you both. The last time we talked about Milo Dodge was years ago, just before you dumped him. He sounded so unlike your kind of guy and about as exciting as meat loaf. Maybe you’ve spent too much time in Alpine. What happened to the independent, culturally aware, freethinking gal I knew on the Oregonian? I envision you atrophying like a petrified cedar stump in that isolated mountain burg.

“Okay, it’s none of my business. I know you’ve been looking for a new man since Tom Cavanaugh died. I never met him, but when he abandoned you for his crazy wife and ­didn’t help support your son until Adam was grown up, I thought he was a jerk. I’d hoped you had something going with the AP stud, Rolf Fisher, but then he retired and moved to France. He was civilized, single, and, according to you, ­good-­looking. Maybe I’m venting, taking out my frustration with the Resident Grump, who ­doesn’t even like the way I make toast these days.

“Go ahead, marry the dull and boring sheriff. Just hope he never has a heart attack and falls on top of your new designer luggage. I don’t want to see you make another mistake when it comes to men. You’re too good for ­that—­you’re too good for Alpine.”

Mavis always sent her letters to The Alpine Advocate office instead of to my little log house. Maybe I’d complained too much about our often careless postman, Marlowe Whipp. It was the third Wednesday of February, ­post-­pub day. I might have time to answer Mavis.

“Well?” my House & Home editor, Vida Runkel, demanded, startling me out of my gloom. “You look like the pigs ate your little brother.”

“My big brother ­wouldn’t appeal to pigs,” I said, trying to shield the letter from ­Vida’s probing eyes. “Ben’s still on the Mississippi Delta getting reacquainted with his former parishioners.”

Vida sat down in one of my two new, if used, visitor chairs. I’d replaced the originals after my former ad manager, Ed Bronsky, broke one of them just before New ­Year’s. “Of course,” she said testily. “He and Adam discussed their mission work on my radio show. Such hardships. So cold for Adam in that Alaskan village, so hot for Ben in Arizona. Are you going to Delia Rafferty’s funeral at the Lutheran church?”

I grimaced. “I forgot. It’s at one, right?”

“Yes. Despite the Irish name, the Raffertys ­aren’t Catholic.”

“I went to Tim’s service, remember?”

Vida adjusted the green bow on her ­wide-­brimmed purple hat. “So sad when Tim was killed and their house burned down. Poor Delia had been gaga for some time. The ­baby’s a year old now. Walking, according to Dot Parker. What kind of name is Ashley for a girl?”

It was better than Tank or Pewter, both of which had been given to recent local newborns. “Tiff’s lucky her mom and grandmother babysit so she can work at the Grocery Basket,” I said, aware of ­Vida’s sharp gray eyes fixed on the letter I was trying to hide.

“Dot and Durwood enjoy their ­great-­grandchildren,” she said wistfully, probably thinking about her spoiled grandson Roger who’d finally disgraced himself. “Is that letter from an irate reader? It looks long.”

As the Advocate’s editor and publisher, I’m the boss, but Vida is over twenty years my senior, and keeping secrets from her is futile. She sees all and knows all, and God help anyone who ­doesn’t tell all. “It’s from my friend Mavis. She’s in a lather because Milo and I are engaged.”

Vida harrumphed. “What does Mavis know? She lives in Portland!”

“True,” I said, accustomed to ­Vida’s disdain for anyone who ­didn’t call Alpine home. She was also a bit jealous of my other female friends. “Maybe she’s off her feed because her husband had a heart attack.”

“Many people have heart attacks,” Vida asserted, “but their loved ones don’t go around meddling in other people’s affairs. ­Really, I cannot understand why she thinks she should give you advice. Has she ever met Milo? To my knowledge, Mavis has never been near Alpine.”

“True on both counts,” I agreed. “She thinks he’s the wrong type of man for me. Face it, Vida, you used to feel the same way.”

She bristled a bit, her imposing bosom heaving under her black vest and purple blouse. “That’s because you had so little in common. Now it’s ­obvious—­too obvious ­sometimes—­that you love each other. That trumps the rest. It would be nice, however, if you actually got married.”

“You know we have to wait for an annulment of ­Milo’s first marriage. Ben’s started the process with the Seattle Archdiocese.”

“Yes, yes.” She pursed her lips and frowned. “I still say that given your high profiles you should have a civil ceremony first. It simply ­doesn’t look proper for you to live together without being married.”

“We ­aren’t living together. Tanya’s been staying with him for over two weeks. I’ve hardly seen Milo. His daughter still has nightmares.”

Vida grimaced. “I thought the Hawaii trip would’ve cured her of that. It must’ve cost Milo the world to send her and her mother, Tricia.”

“It ­wasn’t cheap,” I said. “But I’m not unsympathetic to ­Tanya—­or even Tricia. It was traumatic for them to be held hostage by her crazy fiancé and have Tanya get shot before watching the guy off himself.”

“You and Milo had your own trauma. You don’t have nightmares.”

“I did for the first week or so,” I admitted. “I still dread the possibility of a trial. Maybe our perp won’t be judged sane enough to be tried. It’ll take two more months before he’s evaluated at Northern State Hospital. Giving all those depositions was bad enough.”

Vida stood up. “But you’ve come through it. As for Tricia, she may be manipulating Milo. She can’t accept the idea he’s marrying again, especially since her second husband betrayed her and they’re divorcing. So foolish to think he ­wouldn’t philander after cheating with her while they were both still married to other people. Which reminds me, I must work on my advice column. I still can’t believe Pastor Purebeck ran off with Daisy McFee. What will become of us Presbyterians?” Straightening her hat, she walked away in her ­splay-­footed manner.

I decided to delay answering Mavis’s letter. My sole reporter, Mitch Laskey, entered my office and put some hard copy on my desk.

“Here’s the last of my RestHaven series,” he said, placing a foot on the chair Vida had vacated. “I finally got some straight answers from Dr. Woo, the chief of staff. ReHaven is the corporation out of New York and RestHaven is for smaller facilities, like here. Have you taken a tour?”

I shook my head. “Is the grand opening still firm for Saturday?”

He nodded. “Converting the former Bronsky villa took longer than they figured. Ed and Shirley weren’t big on upkeep even before they blew all of his inheritance on fancy furniture and expensive cars.”

“ ‘All for show, not much for go,’ as Vida would say. The architect, Scott Melville, is very competent. He worked on a RestHaven project when he lived in California.”

“So Scott told me,” Mitch said. “The facility’s already at seventy percent capacity. They can take ninety ­patients—­forty in rehab, a dozen ­post-­ops in the adjacent unit, and ­twenty-­two in what they call the emotional restoration ward.” His lanky frame slumped a bit.

I knew what he was thinking. After his son, Troy, had failed in his second escape from the Monroe Correctional Facility just before Christmas, Mitch’s wife, Brenda, suffered a breakdown. She’d spent time in the psych ward at Seattle’s Harborview Hospital. Instead of bringing her back to Alpine, he felt it might be better for her to stay with their daughter, Miriam, in Pittsburgh. The Laskeys were newcomers to Alpine, having moved from Royal Oak, Michigan, in September. While he ­hadn’t said so, I wondered if Mitch thought Brenda might benefit from a stint at RestHaven.

“I may go on the formal tour,&rd...

A new exhilarating installment in Mary Daheim’s beloved and long-running small-town murder mystery series set in Alpine, Washington, and featuring unforgettable newspaper editor Emma Lord.
Winter in the small mountain aerie of Alpine should be as quiet as new-fallen snow on the Cascades, but from the Grocery Basket to the Venison Inn, the town is humming. At the Alpine Advocate, editor Emma Lord and her staff are on deadline with a feature about the opening of RestHaven, a new rehab and mental health facility. Front Street is buzzing with gossip about Emma’s recent engagement to Sheriff Milo Dodge. And now that fool Wayne Eriks has climbed an electric pole in the middle of a storm and got himself electrocuted.
Sheriff Dodge doesn’t buy the idea that Wayne’s death is an accident. But how—and, more important, why—he died is only one of the conundrums that keep the sheriff and Emma working overtime. Why is RestHaven giving Alpine so many restless nights? What to make of allegations that someone’s trying to kill the richest man in town . . . or whispers of a rash of indecent behavior at the local high school? After Vida Runkel, the Advocate’s stalwart House & Home editor, disappears into thin air, Milo and Emma suddenly have too many loose ends to solve before they can even think about tying the knot.
Featuring beloved characters from the series alongside some sinister new ones—not to mention a mystery that will shake Alpine to its core—The Alpine Xanadu may be Mary Daheim’s most delicious novel yet.
Praise for Mary Daheim and her Emma Lord mysteries
“Always entertaining.”—The Seattle Times
“Mary Daheim writes with wit, wisdom, and a big heart. I love her books.”—Carolyn Hart
“Daheim writes . . . with dry wit, a butter-smooth style, and obvious wicked enjoyment.”—The Oregonian
“The characters are great, and the plots always attention-getting.”—King Features Syndicate
“Even the most seasoned mystery fans are caught off-guard by [Daheim’s] clever plot twists.”—BookLoons Reviews
“Witty one-liners and amusing characterizations.”—Publishers Weekly


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