Rosemary for Remembrance
Book One of the
Thyme Will Tell Mystery Series
Within the garden lies a secret that led to murder. Will Regan solve the mystery. . .or become the next victim?
Regan Culver's beloved father has been poisoned, and the evidence against Regan is overwhelming. She is Alden Culver's primary heir and the person responsible for bringing him a cup of poisoned tea on the last night of his life.
As the favored youngest daughter of the naturopathic physician and his late garden-columnist wife, Rosemary, Regan has always been disliked by her older half-sisters. "It's been done before," her eccentic lawyer remarks at one point, "but it's a popular plot." Any similarity to Cinderella soon erodes, however, when it becomes clear that the formerly passive Regan is not as defenseless as she has always appeared.
Even the small-town police chief, Matt Olin, is resentful of the wealth wielded against him and of his reluctant attraction to the suspect he thinks spoiled and manipulative. With only her prickly foster daughter for support, Regan learns anger herself in the search for Rosemary's missing journals and a ten-year-old secret that someone is killing to keep.
Below, you will find reviews of and an excerpt from Rosemary for Remembrance. 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.
"Whether with the heroine's catty sister or the small-town cop who affects arrogance but used to stutter, Stallsmith is deft at creating real characters, not cardboard stand-ins. . .An irresistible British- style cozy. . ."--Booklist
"Stallsmith renders an enticing who-done-it. . .Twists and turns will keep readers guessing."--CBA Marketplace
"This engrossing mystery has plenty of suspense, interesting characters, the requisite romance, and an added bonus of fascinating tidbits of herbal lore."--Church Libraries
"Audrey Stallsmith plants clues as skillfully as Regan plants the gardens she designs for her Thyme Will Tell business. And her intriguing characters are a delight. I found it a perpetual necessity to read 'just one more chapter'. . .These are characters whose friendship is worth cultivating."--Waterwheel
Excerpt from Chapter 7:
By the time Regan reached the flower beds, the wind had dropped. Only a warm, insinuating breeze remained to grope intimately under the hair at the nape of her neck. Although she could only dimly see the flowers and herbs in the twilight, their scents were stirred up tonight, restless, jostling for position--sweet, spicy, sharp, cloying, aloof, brazen, evasive-- all in a discordant clash of personalities.
How ancient most of these plants were. Indifferent spectators of history's triumphs and tragedies. Used to scent, to soothe, to heal. . .to poison.
She half-ran up the path, through the pergola, wanting, for the first time in her life, to get away from them. The cat loped, smooth as a shadow, in her wake.
When she came out on the lawn, she saw that the western horizon was smeared with pale orange fading to blazing white in the south. That light glared off the roof of the car parked in the drive and silhouetted the man who had paused beside it to look across at her.
He had seen her. There was no use dodging back into the uneasy arch of rose and honeysuckle where she had evaded his notice that first time.
The wind rose again like her anger. Anger that this man had thought she was the type to go quietly. Behind her, the plants whispered urgently.
As quickly as the wind and her anger had risen, they subsided into something steadier, more resolute. She stepped forward onto the bright lawn.
* * * * * *
Watching her come toward him as if on a lighted stage, Olin was convinced that he should have waited until morning. He was as susceptible to atmosphere as anybody, and this was the kind of weather that prodded at the subconscious mind, that caused him to look quickly over his shoulder for no reason at all, that raised in him a restless half-dread, half-anticipation.
His words were quick, forced, as if they were prescripted, inevitable. "I knocked, but nobody answered."
A slight smile stirred her lips. "Tell them that I came and nobody answered. That I kept my word, he said."
A chill ran up his spine. The wind was turning cold.
Then, "A poem," she explained. "What you said reminded me of it. Walter de la Mare, I think. Nobody else is home." She turned toward the front door, then glanced back at him. Her lips moved, but her words were lost in the sudden gust that flipped his hat from his head and peppered his skin with fine bits of gravel.
He scrambled after the hat, looked up from his crouch, feeling bulky and clumsy, to find her watching him from the porch with that same bland patience. "Are you coming?" she asked, the words seeming unnaturally loud in a sudden lull.
He should say, "It's not important," but the wind was rising again, shrieking the length of the porch, flapping her skirt and whipping hair into her eyes. She turned away without waiting for an answer, opened the door,and groped for a light switch. As he came up behind her, the draft eddying down the dark hall swirled her skirt against his legs. The light bloomed, a homey, yellow glow, and, at a noise like a distant rifle shot, was as abruptly extinguished. Another clap of sound much nearer was the door slamming shut behind them to a simultaneous crack of thunder.
Regan started and grabbed at his arm. She trembled to the tuneless vibration of glass near them in the darkness. When the quivers in the air had ceased, she muttered, "A tree down on the wires, I suppose. Wait here. I'll try to find us some light."
She was gone before he quite realized that she was going, the warm pressure fading from his arm, a cool breeze wafting around his ankles. Even now, he should call after her, "Never mind," and go, but he didn't.
The old house creaked and groaned around him like a ship in a heavy sea. He heard something fall and roll across a hardwood floor above. A window must have been left open. He could imagine curtains streaming inward on an empty room, perhaps the room where Culver had died.
When his eyes grew accustomed to the dark, he saw that a faint illumination was seeping in through the window in the door behind him. But that faded away just before he caught a gleam at the back of the hall.
She held an oil lamp at waist level, its bowl cupped between her hands. It was quiet enough that he could hear the intermittent snap of the lamp's burning wick. "We might as well go into the living room," she said.
He moved thankfully. His holster jostled the hall table beside him, and he managed to grab a vase before it toppled onto the floor. There was something like a spark of amusement in her eyes again, or perhaps it was only the reflection of the flame.
In the other room, she sat in the middle of the couch and put the lamp on a coffee table in front of her. He went wide around her to take a chair opposite.
She folded her hands in her lap and waited. The cat jumped up beside her and looked at him with the same patient expectation. And he couldn't remember what he'd come to talk to her about.
He felt a tight constricting band around his head and looked down at his hat to make sure that he had taken it off.
He would have welcomed the thunder now, but the room was ominously quiet. A drape wafted away from the wall and settled back again with muted rustlings. Regan's eyes seemed to absorb the light much as did the onyx brooch at her throat.
He rubbed at his forehead and muttered, "Sorry, headache."
"Oh," she said, "I can get you something for that."
She was gone again before he could protest that that was unnecessary. It was not a headache really, and he doubted that aspirin would do it any good. She had taken the lamp away with her, but the cat had stayed, prowling up and down the sofa. A hard-driven gust of rain rattled against the window like thrown pebbles, and he started. He felt the cat stop and turn to look at him.
A glow preceded Regan's entrance. The lamp rested on a tray between two antique china teacups and saucers. He looked at the cups with a brief puzzlement, then a shock of realization. She set the tray carefully down on the table between them. As she leaned over it, she raised her head to look into his face. "I always turn the kettle on--on low--before I go out on my evening rounds of the garden," she explained. "So I have hot water waiting when I get back."
The voice was soft. The eyes were not. She was no longer intimidated by him, if she ever had been.
"That's our headache formula," she explained in the same gentle tone, picking up her own cup and sinking comfortably back onto the couch. "It's very good actually. There's honey too, if you would like to sweeten it."
He looked down at the pretty china, the greenish liquid wafting up its herbal steam. Seemingly so cozy, so harmless. It was the bedtime formula that had killed her father.
She was just playing with him. She wouldn't really--
The cat sat and watched him. Its gaze was not as knowing as hers was, simply curious.
"You'd better drink it," Regan chided, "before it gets cold."