Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Murder by the Book (excerpt)

This is an excerpt from the new Haggerty book that I've turned in to Covenant (but it hasn't been accepted yet - so I don't even have a guess at the release date).

Murder by the Book
Chapter One
The day started out with a speeding ticket and ended with a murder. The ticket was only a minor inconvenience because the issuing officer was my ex-husband, Cade Burrell. He just pulled me over so he could try and finagle a date. He was wasting his time because I didn’t agree to go out with him and I have no intention of paying that ticket. The murder was another matter entirely.
My name is Kennedy Killingsworth and I live in the town of Midway, Georgia – home to four thousand people who don’t have anywhere better to go. I’ve never been able to get a satisfactory answer as to why the town is called Midway. It’s not halfway between anywhere as far as I can tell – unless you count despair and hopelessness.
Midway is so small if you blink during your drive through town, you’d miss it. And until a few weeks ago if you kept your eyes open, all you’d have seen was a blur of broken glass, drooped awnings, and peeling paint. For as long as I can remember Main Street has been pitted with potholes and lined by abandoned buildings. The only interesting thing about Midway was a stop sign that used to hang from the branch of an oak tree at the intersection of Main and First. But that was replaced years ago with an ordinary, stuck in the ground sign. My father said it was done in the name of progress. If that was the goal – the new sign was a failure.
I have two sisters, both older, one father and one mother. My parents live in the farmhouse that has been in the family for generations. I’ve always resented those original Killingsworths. If they’d had just a little foresight they would have pushed on past Midway and settled a mere fifty miles away on the Gulf coast. Then my parents would own valuable beachfront property instead of a few acres of mediocre farmland in southern Georgia.
My father is a quiet man who delivers mail for a living, tinkers with old cars as a hobby and fishes when he needs time away from my mother. My mother is an enthusiastic Christian and a consummate homemaker. She believes that true happiness can be achieved only through heavenly sanctioned matrimony followed after a respectable passage of time by pregnancy and childbirth. Both my sisters are married so she constantly harps on my single-status. She tries alternately to set me up with eligible bachelors or reunite me with my ex-husband so I can have children. You’d think she’d be satisfied. She already has four grandkids, but apparently in my mother’s circle grandchildren are like stocks and bonds – the more you have the more respect you command.
When I received the afore-mentioned speeding ticket I was on my way to the Midway Library, where I am the director, cataloger, purchaser, custodian and owner of almost every book on the shelves. I’ve been obsessed with books all my life. I blame this mostly on the fact that I live in the dullest spot on earth and during my uneventful childhood I found escape from the paralyzing boredom through the written word. My mother didn’t understand my need for books, but she allowed it. However, when my collection surpassed 500 books she said she had reached her tolerance limit and demanded that they leave her house.
So I built some shelves in my grandpa’s old barn and lined each volume up according to the Dewey Decimal system. Friends and neighbors came by to borrow the books and I signed them out in a spiral notebook.
For several years I did a respectable business and shortly after I graduated from the local junior college, the mayor of Midway came in to look around. Mayor Cook, who runs a towing business in addition to his civic responsibilities, said he was impressed with what I’d been able to accomplish and offered to give me the use of an empty trailer near the public pool where I could set up a real library for the town.
He went on to explain that once the library was established the county would be required to pay my salary and the monthly rental for the trailer. The mayor owned the empty trailer and was probably more interested in collecting rent than promoting literacy in Midway – but I didn’t care. Finally we were going to have a real library and I was going to be the director. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven.
The Midway Public Library has since expanded into two trailers – and my dream is to someday boast five trailers like our more prosperous neighbors to the south. Their trailers are arranged in a star-shaped design. We’re a T at the moment – but I’ve spent hours thinking of ways to add trailers in eye-catching ways.
I arrived at the Midway City Library fifteen minutes late, thanks to Cade, and found Miss Ida Jean Baxley waiting. She’s my mother’s next door neighbor and one of the most irritating people on the face of the earth.
“I thought the library hours were ten to five on Mondays,” Miss Ida Jean whined the minute I got out of my truck. She has a perpetual string of saliva between her lips that moves up and down as she speaks but never seems to break. Since childhood I’ve been morbidly fascinated by this phenomenon.
“You’re correct about the hours, Miss Ida Jean,” I returned in my fake-nice voice. “I was delayed by car trouble.” I figured this wasn’t a complete lie since I had been driving and Cade definitely qualified as trouble.

9 comments:

Jennie said...

Good start, but when do we get to read the rest of it?

Stacy said...

I love it! Course I am a big fan! Do we get to read any more?

The Ackers said...

We need more!!!

Cathy

Shelley said...

Don't let the ice melt in my lemonade before I get to read some more...

Julie said...

I'm hooked already! :)

Kristina said...

I love it!!

Betsy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TRIBE'S said...

I can't wait! By the way I really loved your last book. You have a gift, thank you for sharing.

Kim Sandling said...

I am hooked, by the second paragraph! Can't wait for Covenant to accept the book so that it can be published! I can't wait to read it!