Marigolds for Mourning
Book Two of the
Thyme Will Tell Mystery Series
Was Hayden High's football star a victim of a tragic overdose. . . or is someone else involved?
At Homecoming, Hayden's popular football star, Jack Hargrove, collapses into a coma--apparently the victim of a drug overdose. "It was bound to happen," the disillusioned townspeople whisper, recalling the murder- suicide of Jack's grandparents forty years earlier and the suspicious "accident" which crippled his unwed mother.
Estranged from police chief Matt Olin, Regan Culver probes the older tragedy at Speedwell, a private hospital lauded for natural healing. Why, she wonders, would a promising young doctor have killed his pregnant wife and himself one bright October day in 1957? And why is Jack's paraplegic mother, Trudy, so antagonistic to Speedwell's present dangerously attractive head physician, Howard Keegan?
Matt pursues evidence of racism and drug abuse towards a more modern calamity. A teenage friend of Jack's is gunned down. Before Matt and Regan and Jack's bickering classmates, Gabe and Lucerne, can make peace with the truth, they must make peace with each other. And time, for Jack, is running out. . .
Below, you will find reviews of and an excerpt from Marigolds for Mourning. You can order new or used copies from Amazon or Barnes and Noble, or a Kindle edition from Amazon or a Nook edition from Barnes and Noble.
With a diverse cast of characters that are anything but usual and a gripping story that leaves you wondering to the end, Marigolds for Mourning is anything but run of the mill. Ms. Stallsmith's writing is top notch, her characters so easy to identify with. . .and the ending wide open for the next Thyme Will Tell mystery. I, for one, can hardly wait!"--Rendezvous
"Stallsmith has skillfully pulled together the threads of a complicated plot, meshing past and present. Her characters are well drawn and engaging. . . Stallsmith's narrative is a smooth ride to the climatic finish. . .Like a roller coaster, this one takes you steadily to the top, then drops you over the edge!"--The Literary Times
Excerpt from Chapter 3:On this particular stretch, the road inclined toward the lake, giving drivers a brief, panicked notion that they were tipping sideways. Regan was not surprised that Trudy had gone into the water there, though a brief, smeary glance at that tree-studded plunge made her doubt it had been on purpose. There were much easier ways for a doctor to attempt suicide.
The jeep hissed around the final bend to the Hargrove home and then plunged into the drive without slowing. Regan brought the vehicle to a grinding halt on the gravel, unclenched her hands from the wheel, and patted it, as if it were a horse that had brought her through safely. She waited for her pulse and the rain to slow.
Across the water on her right loomed the blur of lights that was Speedwell. Lights were on to her left too, in the Hargrove house. Somebody was still here.
She left the Land Rover running as she jogged up the steps to the covered porch and rang the bell, shivering in the damp trench coat which was all she had worn over her evening gown. She was relieved when no one answered. They must have left in a hurry and forgotten the lights. She turned to look across the lake at Speedwell. Big, white, and rambling with a multitude of porches and balconies, downstairs and up, the private hospital had an airy, pristine feel in good weather. Just now, it wavered aloofly like a mirage.
Warmer light fell across the porch behind her, and Trudy said, "Regan? Daddy told me you would come to see me, but I didn't expect you so soon. Won't you come in?"
She doesn't know. "Didn't they call you?"
"Call me about what?" Now Trudy was watchful, tense.
Regan's stomach churned. "It's Jack. Something's happened to him."
Trudy's fingers tightened on the hand rims of her wheels.
"He got stung," Regan stumbled on. "They've taken him to Clearview Hospital. The paramedic thought there was something else too. Some kind of drug. I'm afraid it's bad. Gabe and Lucerne were giving him CPR."
Trudy's blankness of expression was unsettling. She shoved back abruptly, then spun the chair around and began to wheel rapidly away. "We'll have to take my van. It's in the garage here. We should stop for Amos too. He's down at Speedwell."
Minutes later, Regan was in the driver's seat of the van, edging it around her own jeep. At least the jeep had four-wheel-drive and was familiar, while this. . . She stopped to switch off the Land Rover, to give it a wistful glance before clambering back into the van.
"Whatever happens," Trudy said, as they approached the road, "don't swerve."
Regan looked sharply across, but the other woman's gaze was on the steep curve with the lake at one side and a high, brushy bank on the other. "Whatever happens, just keep going," Trudy repeated.
Edging onto the blacktop, Regan barely touched the accelerator as they coasted into the bend. She should have moved the seat forward; everything was too far away. Although the road was arcing to the right, she could already feel the perceptible drag to the left.
It was like a certain slope in her yard at home. Event though she always had safely navigated the side of that slope on the riding lawn mower, each time she felt the sickening tilt, she experienced the irrational conviction that the mower would lose its grip and roll.
Just then a human body plunged from the bank above, straight down into the headlights. Regan gasped and jerked at the steering wheel, but it was now held in Trudy's inflexible grip. The other woman stared straight ahead at the road, her left hand turning the wheel gradually to follow the curve, her profile like granite. She was very strong.
The tires thumped over the body. The van continued its relentless course until the road straightened. Then Trudy released her hold, and in a spasmodic, delayed reaction, Regan's foot stomped the brake. The van jerked to a stop.
Regan could only sit, breathing hard, staring aghast at the other woman's mask-like face in the dim reflection of the panel lights. Then she shoved the gearshift into park, groped frantically for the door handle, and couldn't find it. Trudy's hand dropped on her arm. "Don't worry. It wasn't a body. It was a dummy. It won't be there now."
A flashlight was clipped to the dash. Regan jerked it free, threw open the door, and jumped down to aim the beam back the way they had come. Let her be right. Nothing was there but the snakish twist of blacktop. Regan ran to make sure--heart drumming to the rhythm of her feet--all the way around the curve. She stood for a moment in the chilly dark, throat hot and raw, breast heaving, looking over the steep embankment. The lights of Speedwell shone peacefully through the skewed trees.
Regan walked back, slanting the beam of the flash downward. There was little undergrowth and no body. The van waited on the inside of the curve, breathing quietly like a large animal, huddled close to the high, brushy slope. Regan opened the door, said to Trudy, "H-h-how d-d-did you know?" and realized only as her words shook that she was trembling violently.
"Because that's what it was the last time. Eighteen years ago, I reacted like you did. Anybody would have. But this time I was expecting it. . ."