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No Nest for the Wicket

Cover of No Nest for the Wicket

No Nest for the Wicket

Meg Langslow Mystery Series, Book 7
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LINE YOUR DUCKS UP IN A ROW…
The hilly terrain next to the old Sprocket house that Meg Langslow and her fiancé, Michael, are refurbishing is the perfect location for an "extreme" croquet field--even the legs of cows and sheep are convenient extra wickets. A sport  traditionally reserved for genteel society, croquet has become all the rage in Caerphilly…until it appears someone in town has taken the "rage" a bit too literally.
 
AND KNOCK 'EM DEAD.
While stumbling down a steep bank after her ball, Meg encounters the body of a fresh female corpse with a mallet-sized dent in her head. If that isn't reason enough to call a time-out, it turns out that Michael knew the woman from years before. Ever curious, Meg decides that playing arm-chair sleuth is far more important than working on her game…and soon she finds herself in the perfect position to solve the murder mystery--or become the next victim.
 
LINE YOUR DUCKS UP IN A ROW…
The hilly terrain next to the old Sprocket house that Meg Langslow and her fiancé, Michael, are refurbishing is the perfect location for an "extreme" croquet field--even the legs of cows and sheep are convenient extra wickets. A sport  traditionally reserved for genteel society, croquet has become all the rage in Caerphilly…until it appears someone in town has taken the "rage" a bit too literally.
 
AND KNOCK 'EM DEAD.
While stumbling down a steep bank after her ball, Meg encounters the body of a fresh female corpse with a mallet-sized dent in her head. If that isn't reason enough to call a time-out, it turns out that Michael knew the woman from years before. Ever curious, Meg decides that playing arm-chair sleuth is far more important than working on her game…and soon she finds herself in the perfect position to solve the murder mystery--or become the next victim.
 
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  • Copyright © 2006 by Donna Andrews. All rights reserved.


    Chapter One

    "Move," I said. "You're blocking my shot."

    The cow chewed her cud and gazed at me with placid bovine calm.

    "Go away!" I ran toward her, waving my arms wildly, only to pull up short before I ran into her. She was bigger than I was. Half a ton at least. Maybe three-quarters.

    I turned my croquet mallet around and prodded her black-and-white flank with the handle. Not hard—I didn't want to hurt her; I just wanted her to move.

    She turned her head slightly to see what I was doing.

    I prodded harder. She watched with mild interest.

    "Hamburger!" I shouted. "Flank steak! Filet mignon!"

    She ignored me.

    Of course, those words held no menace for her. Mr. Shiffley, her owner, was a dairy farmer.

    I walked a few yards away, feet squelching in the mud. I could see why the cow insisted on lounging where she was. The evergreen tree overhead protected her from the March drizzle, and she'd claimed the only high ground in sight.

    I glanced down. My croquet ball was sinking into the mud. Did the rules of eXtreme croquet allow me to pull it out? Probably not.

    The little two-way radio in my pocket crackled.

    "Meg—turn!" my brother, Rob, said.

    "Roger," I said. The cow still lay in front of—or possibly on—the wicket, but I had to move before the mud ate my ball. Didn't mud that ate things count as quicksand? I set down the radio and whacked my ball. It bounced off the cow's flank. She didn't seem to mind. She had closed her eyes and was chewing more slowly, with an expression of vacuous ecstasy.

    "Done," I said, grabbing the radio before it sank. "I need a cow removal here at wicket nine."

    "Which one is that?" Rob asked.

    "The one by the bog."

    "Which bog?"

    "The one just beside the brier patch. Near the steep hill with the icy stream at the bottom."

    "Oh, that bog," Rob said. "Be right over."

    I pocketed the radio and smiled menacingly at

    the cow.

    "Be afraid," I said. "Be very afraid."

    She ignored me.

    I leaned against a tree and waited. The radio crackled occasionally as Rob notified the scattered players of their turns and they reported when they'd finished.

    In the distance, I heard a high-pitched cackle of laughter, which meant my team captain, Mrs. Fenniman, had made a difficult shot. Or, more likely, had just roqueted some unlucky opponent, which she told me was the technical term for whacking someone's ball into the next county. Annoying in any croquet game, but downright maddening in eXtreme croquet, where the whole point was to make the playing field as rugged as possible. On this field, being roqueted could mean half an hour's detour through even boggier portions of the cow pasture.

    I pulled the cell phone out of my other pocket. Time to see what was happening back at the house—the construction site that would eventually be a house again, if all went well. Today we'd begun demolition of the unrepairable parts, and it was driving me crazy, not being there. I'd left detailed instructions with the workmen, but I didn't have much confidence that they'd follow them. They were all Shiffleys, nephews of Mr. Shiffley the dairy farmer. Everyone in Caerphilly knew that if you wanted some manual labor done, you hired a Shiffley or two—or a dozen, if you liked; there was never a shortage. They were cheerful, honest, hardworking, and reliable, as long as you didn't need anything done during hunting season.

    Everyone in Caerphilly also knew that when you had Shiffleys on the job, you needed someone else in charge. Not that they were stupid—some were and some weren't, same as any other family—but they were stubborn and opinionated, every one of them, and you needed someone equally stubborn and...

About the Author-
  • Donna Andrews is the author of the Meg Langslow mysteries, including Stork Raving Mad and Swan for the Money. She has won the Agatha, Anthony, and Barry awards, a Romantic Times award for best first novel, and two Lefty and two Toby Bromberg Awards for funniest mystery. When not writing fiction, Andrews is a self-confessed nerd, rarely found away from her computer, unless she's messing in the garden. She lives in Reston, Virginia.
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    St. Martin's Press
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