Death in a Bygone Hue

Hear a narrated excerpt from Death in a Bygone Hue

Don’t you just a love a mystery that centers around a will? You have the people who get money and treasures and those who don’t. It’s the ones who get nothing that start cooking up schemes to get what they think they are entitled to from the deceased. In Susan Van Kirk’s latest Art Center Mystery, Death in a Bygone Hue her main character, Jill, is the lucky one who inherits, but is she?

About the Book

When Jill Madison returns to her hometown to become executive director of a new art center, she never dreams unexpected secrets from the past will put her life in danger. Her parent’s old friend and Jill’s mentor, Judge Ron Spivey, is murdered. He leaves behind more than a few secrets from the past. His baffling will makes Jill a rich woman if she survives the will’s six-month probate period.
She finds a target on her back when the judge’s estranged children return. They form an unholy alliance with a local muckraking journalist who specializes in making up the news. According to the judge’s will, if Jill dies, the family inherits.
Jill and her best friend, Angie Emerson, launch their own investigation determined to find the judge’s killer. In the meantime, Jill must run her first national juried exhibit, launch a new seniors group, and move the weavers guild into the art center. Easy peasy, right?


The rest of the day was an endless whirl of last-minute details to nail down before the installation of Harvest Time. But now Louise had left, the day was starting to get dark, and Chad was whistling as he worked upstairs. Time I should go home and fix something for dinner.
I glanced at the Apple Grove Ledger in the stack of mail on my loveseat. I could take a few minutes to look through it. As always, the police blotter was the best part. 
10 a.m. the police department received a call from a resident of Gooseberry Lane who said someone had broken into the henhouse on his property and let all the hens out. They shouldn’t be hard to track because of a trail of fluffy feathers.
11:44 a.m. A resident called saying their neighbor’s dog, who was in heat, was chased by their dog, who broke through a glass sliding door to go after the female dog of his dreams. Broken glass was everywhere. They needed a police report to file an insurance claim. They also wanted the police to fill out some form saying they weren’t responsible for any progeny that resulted from that chase.
Gee, what an exciting town I live in.
I glanced through the want ads and sports pages. The editorial page was once again filled with nasty innuendo by Jezbhel Gushman, Executive Editor. And her lies all pointed to me. Screaming one loud, angry reaction, I threw the paper on the floor in disgust. I was so angry I grabbed my phone and called [my best friend] Angie. She was the one who helped me at times like this. Was I being unreasonable? I thought not.
“That does it!” I said to her. I was sure my blood pressure was going up, up, up, and I could feel my heart pounding. “I’m going over to her office and tell her off. How can she continue to print these lies about my nonexistent part in the judge’s death?”
“It sells papers,” Angie said.
She was being too reasonable.
“Are you determined to go yell at her?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Great! I’ll meet you there. You’ll need a witness in case she sues you.”
“Keep me from slugging her, OK? I don’t need an assault charge. She doesn’t need more material.”
“Gotcha. No assault.”
I grabbed my car keys and purse and tromped out the back door and down the deck stairs. By the time I reached Gushman’s office, I was a little calmer but not much. Angie was already waiting in the parking lot.
“Who does she think she is?” I shouted. “I’ll tell her a thing or two. Then, I’ll talk to my lawyer, Ken Winters, about libel.”
“Right behind you,” said Angie. “Carry on. No assault. Well, no physical assault.”
We marched through the front door of the Apple Grove Ledger. Straight ahead of me a counter contained a stack of newspapers. No one was sitting at the desk behind the counter. In fact, I glanced around the small newsroom, and while the computer screens were still on, no one was sitting at their desks. They must be out on errands, stories, or at dinner. I had no idea what hours newspaper people kept, but this was the dinner hour in Apple Grove. 
Angie broke the silence. “We have met the enemy, and she is missing.”
“Somebody has to be here. Let’s find her office.” Walking around the counter, I found a hallway with office doors. Two doors down, the window said, “Jezbhel Gushman, Executive Editor” in gold letters.
“This is it,” said Angie. “What’s the plan?”
“A straight-ahead attack.” I paused, thinking. “Maybe we should knock on the door.”
Angie nodded. “Sounds like the civil thing to do.”
Pounding on the door, I noticed lights on through the frosted glass. Feeling my adrenaline pumping, I shouted, “I know you’re in there, Gushman, you crummy excuse for a journalist!” The door was open a fraction of an inch, and I pushed my way in, Angie following behind me.
Shock was my first reaction. Papers all over the floor, books fallen off the desk, a lamp turned over and the bulb broken, two chairs on their sides, and general chaos. 
“What the heck?”
“Terrible housekeeping,” remarked Angie.
We gingerly walked around the papers and books and pulled up short at the side of the desk. Jezbhel Gushman was lying on her side on the floor, an ornamental dagger in her back and blood everywhere. So much blood. I felt light-headed. She wasn’t dead, but her eyes were starting to get glassy.
I knelt beside her. “Hang on, Jezbhel. I’m dialing nine-one-one. Stay with me.” I punched in the numbers on my phone and put my hand on her shoulder.
Angie whispered as she knelt beside me. “I never realized how good you were at finding bodies. Is she going to be alright?”
“She’s still alive. Stay with me, Jezbhel,” I repeated as I heard the dispatcher come on the line.
In my shock, the first thing I thought of was Ivan the Terrible, president of my art center board, counting all the dead bodies I’d found in the last few months. I could see his text in my head:
  AGAIN? ANOTHER BODY? How do you do this? You need to hire yourself out like one of those dogs who sniff out slugs, only you  find bodies. God in heaven, what is going on in your life?
I rolled my eyes at “slugs.” Autocorrect strikes again.

Find Death in a Bygone Hue at Amazon

About the Author

Susan Van Kirk is the president of the Guppy Chapter, the online chapter of Sisters in Crime, and a writer of cozy mysteries. She lives at the center of the universe—the Midwest—and writes during the ridiculously cold and icy winters. Why leave the house and break something? Van Kirk taught forty-four years in high school and college and raised three children. Now that the children are launched, she writes.
Her Endurance mysteries include Three May Keep a Secret, Marry in Haste, The Locket: From the Casebook of TJ Sweeney, Death Takes No Bribes, and The Witch’s Child. She also wrote A Death at Tippitt Pond. Her latest Art Center Mysteries include Death in a Pale Hue and Death in a Bygone Hue from Level Best Books. She is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.

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