First in a crafty new cozy mystery series from national bestselling author Nancy Haddock
There isn’t much crime in Lilyvale, Arkansas, but local authorities have their hands full with Ms. Sherry Mae Stanton Cutler and her housemates—a crafty group of retirees who’ve dubbed themselves the Silver Six. But when Sherry Mae’s niece, Nixy, arrives to keep them in line, Lilyvale also plays host to a killer.
When Leslee Stanton “Nixy” Nix gets the latest call from Lilyvale detective Eric Shoar, she knows it means trouble. There’s been another kitchen explosion at her Aunt Sherry’s farmhouse, and the dreamy-voiced detective has had enough. If Nixy doesn’t check on her aunt in person, the Silver Six could become wards of the court. But the trouble Nixy finds in Lilyvale is not at all what she expects.
The seniors are hosting a folk art festival at the farmhouse, featuring Sherry’s hand-woven baskets, when land developer Jill Elsman arrives to bully Nixy’s aunt into selling the property. When Jill is later found dead in the cemetery, Sherry is suspected of weaving a murder plot, and it’s up to Nixy and the Silver Six to untangle the truth.
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"Basket Case is an outstanding introduction to a very talented author…. I highly recommend Basket Case for an entertaining cast of characters and a gift for mystery.” ~ Delane, Coffee Times Romance and More
"Excellent writing and a wonderfully plotted mystery make BASKET CASE one of the “must read” new mysteries of 2015." ~ Lisa K's Book Reviews
“Nancy Haddock’s Basket Case has everything I could ask for in a cozy mystery. There’s humor, outrageously fun characters, great writing, a wonderful plot and of course, murder.” ~ Rating: 5, Read Your Writes
“This is a terrific cozy, complete with good and bad guys and at least one blooming romance between Nixy and Detective Eric.” ~ Suspense Magazine
“I absolutely loved this new series and I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all the characters and their personalities.” ~ Top Pick, Night Owl Reviews
Art Fair and Foul Play
As I climbed the front stairs, I spotted my five-foot-nothing Aunt Sherry standing behind two folding tables that blocked the front door. A coatrack held small baskets of woven hemp and willow, and larger baskets made of those and other materials were scattered on the porch floor. A long swath of blue gingham fabric lay in and around the fallen baskets, the edges fluttering as if agitated by the swirling emotions instead of the mild breeze . . .
Opposite my aunt stood the snarling star of the showdown in progress. She leaned over the folding table, her blood red fingernails scary long and lethal-looking as she pointed at Sherry.
“You’ll come to an agreement with me, Mrs. Cutler, and you’ll do it soon or you’ll be very sorry.”
“But, Ms. Elsman,” my aunt began.
“No buts,” the Elsman woman interrupted. “I want that option on your land, and I will by God have it.”
She tucked her asymmetrically cut black hair behind an ear, lifted a stiletto-shod foot, and deliberately speared one of the medium-sized hemp baskets lying on the porch.
Blame it on being tired and stressed, but the woman stomped on my last nerve, and my temper flared in a sonic boom of fury. “Back up and back off, lady,” I snarled.
The woman casually turned and arched a brow. “My name is Elsman. Ms. Jill Elsman, and I suggest you stay out of this. It does not concern you.”
“Actually, it does.” The black-haired, black-eyed demon woman towered over me, but I stood straight and let her have it. “It so happens that Mrs. Cutler, the woman you just threatened, is my dearest aunt.”
From Chapter One
Lilyvale or Bust
I, Leslee Stanton Nix, Nixy to my friends, had never been called on the carpet for anything. Up until four days ago, that is.
“Not if I can help it.” He’d paused, then continued, “I understand that you don’t think you know Miz Sherry well enough to stick your nose in her business, but none of her housemates have people left. We need this resolved, and you’re the only relative in sight.”
Now I had third-degree rug burns and the risk of being jobless.
Why? Because my boss at Houston’s Gates Fine Arts Gallery, Barbra (like Streisand) Vole, had blown her nonexistent fuse when the Lilyvale, Arkansas, police detective Eric Shoar called me at work. His fifth call in the last month, the second in the past ten days. Shoar’s deep, dreamy Southern drawl had stirred my feminine interest, but deep and dreamy hadn’t softened his complaints.
“We had another incident at Miz Sherry Mae’s yesterday,” he’d begun. “Neighbors across the road reported booming sounds and smoke coming from the kitchen.”
“Is anyone injured?” I’d asked on a gulp, my cell phone slick in my suddenly moist hand.
“Thankfully, no...but do you want whatever the problem is to go that far?”
“How can you think that?”
“Then prove you care. You have one week to get up here and see to your aunt and her housemates.”
“A week?” I’d echoed stupidly.
“This needs to be an in-person visit, ma’am. Not a phone call.”
“I hear you, but why the rush?”
“First, because the situation—whatever it is—seems to be escalating. Second, because my chief of police is asking questions about all the complaints coming in and why I’m taking the calls instead of the patrol units. I can’t deflect him much longer.”
And the light dawned. “You’re protecting Sherry.”
“Miz Sherry’s ancestors founded this town, and she’s served on the city council. Even been the mayor.”
“That’s enough to cut her some slack?”
“That and having had her for a teacher, but understand me, Ms. Nix. This is serious. I don’t want a tragedy on my hands, and I don’t want Miz Sherry and her friends to be declared wards of the court.”
“What?” I’d gasped.
“If the chief believes that Miz Sherry and her friends are a danger to themselves or others, he’ll have to act.”
“You’d tell him they’re dangerous? You’d take away their independence? Their freedom?”