A game of charades ends in coldblooded murder in this entertaining cozy mystery, third in the Crime with the Classics series.
Having finished transforming Windy Corner, the grand Victorian mansion she inherited from her great aunt, into a writers’ retreat, widowed literature professor Emily Cavanaugh is ready to receive her first set of guests. But her careful planning is thrown into disarray by the unexpected arrival of outrageous true-crime writer, Cruella Crime, whose unpardonably rude behaviour is causing great offence.
Read an extract below, when Emily and Cruella meet for the first time . . .
The insistent ringer now stood on the mat shedding her outdoor garments. Layer after layer of brightly colored clothing peeled off until a short, dumpy, middle-aged figure remained. Emily took in the crimson knit hat shoved down over frizzy bleached hair; the kelly green sweater, through the holes of which gleamed a sparkly violet shirt; and the full, ragged-hemmed gauze skirt, a garish print in which every vibrant color known to the modern chemical imagination vied for prominence. The woman looked like a bag lady who’d lost a game of paintball.
‘Can I help you?’ Emily said when she’d recovered from the initial sensory shock.
The apparition stuck out a grimy, ill-kept hand. ‘Cruella Crime. Heard young Alex Gordon couldn’t make it and came along in his place.’
‘Did you say . . . Cruella Crime?’ The name sounded vaguely familiar, but it certainly couldn’t be real. And oddly, black and white seemed to be the only colors missing from her ensemble.
‘My pen name. Real one’s a closely guarded secret. Only my publisher knows for sure.’ She gave an exaggerated wink.
Now the name clicked. Emily had seen it splashed across the lurid covers of airport paperbacks. Cruella wrote the worst sort of sensationalist ‘true’ crime.
‘I’m very sorry, Ms . . . Crime . . .’ That sounded so ridiculous Emily couldn’t go on.
‘Call me Cruella. Everybody does.’
‘Cruella, then – but attendance at this retreat center is by invitation only. We don’t take in just anyone who happens to come by, open room or no.’
Cruella threw back her head in a raucous laugh. ‘Well, I’m afraid you’re stuck with me for now, honey. Have you looked outside? I slid in here on a two-inch coat of ice. No way are my poor bald little tires getting out till this thaws.’
CYANIDE WITH CHRISTIE is available from 30 November in the UK and from 1 March 2019 in the US. Read more here.