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Something Foul at Sweetwater by Sandra Bretting
A Missy DuBois Mystery #2
December 20, 2016
Louisiana hat maker Miss DuBois is making a name for herself veiling Southern brides-to-be with her sophisticated designs. She’s also gaining a reputation for unveiling murderers…
Missy is shocked when she sees the asking price for the Sweetwater mansion…in a good way. With business thriving at Crowning Glory, it would be nice to set up shop surrounded by alabaster columns and gleaming mahogany. The Southern connections only deepen when it turns out the real estate agent is Mellette Babineaux, a college classmate and sorority sister. But when Missy drags her best friend Bo along to the mansion for a second look, they barely make it past the live oaks before they discover Mellette’s dead body in a shed. Now, for the sake of her college friend, Missy finds herself investigating everyone from a superstitious Cajun caretaker to a Rolls Royce-driving billionaire—and finding that lots of closet space can mean lots of skeletons, too…
1) What was the inspiration for the Missy DuBois Mystery series?
My husband and I traveled to the Great River Road in Louisiana several years ago, where I saw these beautiful antebellum mansions just dripping with intrigue. I remember thinking, “What better place for a mystery than a mansion full of nooks, crannies…and the occasional ghost?” That’s how it all began.
2) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Unbeknownst to me at the time, I married the world’s biggest travel junkie. Travel is a big part of our lives. I also have two daughters who fill my days (and my schedule). I do manage to work in some yoga classes, though, and I love to read books in other genres.
3) If you could write from anywhere in the world, where would you like to write from & why?
I’d write from Barcelona, because the city is one of the prettiest and the friendliest I’ve ever been lucky enough to see.
4) Do you have a favorite holiday movie?
My favorite movie is probably The Polar Express. My youngest daughter and I just watched it again the other night, and I’m always blown away by the beauty of the artwork.
5) What is your favorite holiday tradition?
Every year, my sisters and I get our families together, so the cousins can run around and basically ignore the parents. It’s the one chance for our families to all get together, and I cherish it.
6) What are you currently working on?
Missy’s next adventure. Book three is already written, but there’s still a lot of fun to be had on the Great River Road.
Thanks for having me here today; I’ve enjoyed chatting with you!
Heaven only knows I should have brought back a tote sack full of beignets that day, like I’d planned, and not a sales flyer for the old Sweetwater mansion down the road.
But how could I resist something so full up on Southern charm first thing in the morning? Especially when I rounded the last curve before Dippin’ Donuts and saw a For Sale sign waving at me from the property’s front lawn, like a friendly neighbor saying hey.
I swerved off the road, my tires spitting pea gravel and chalk dust, for a better look. Ever since I moved to Louisiana to open a hat shop, about a year and a half ago now, I’d been mesmerized by the antebellum mansions that seemed to sprout from the soil here every so often, like elegant daylilies planted in the sugar cane fields by mistake.
This particular mansion sat high on a hill. Two regiments of live oaks lined the front walk, their limbs bearded in wispy Spanish moss and their branches arching until the boughs touched. Beyond this leafy keyhole sat the mansion, which was held aloft by at least half a dozen alabaster columns. Bright August sun glanced off a column to the east, as if God wanted to shine a spotlight there, while the rest of the pillars patiently awaited their turns.
Best of all, a Plexiglas box full of flyers rested against the For Sale sign. My granddaddy always said it didn’t cost nuthin’ to look, so I scrambled out of my VW and retrieved a flyer, which was written in fancy cursive type:
Historic mansion for sale. Built in 1850. Jewel in the rough!
Which was all well and good, but not the most important thing. I found that two paragraphs later: Owners willing to finance. $250,000.
Well, that couldn’t be right. A house this grand—surely on the National Register of Historic Places and surely as pretty inside as out—should go for double or triple that amount. A builder would kill for the columns alone, not to mention the expensive iron railing that curled along a widow’s walk on high.
Between all that and a wide plank verandah that circled the ground floor like a hoop skirt, the flyer must be lying.
Ambrose needed to see this. Given my best friend was already at his design studio and waiting for me to bring him some beignets, though, I’d have to choose my words carefully and not go running off at the mouth. I dialed his cell and patiently waited through a few rings.
“Hi, Missy. What’s wrong?”
Unfortunately, that was the greeting you got when you’d called your best friend so early on a Monday morning. “Nothing’s wrong. Any chance you’re up for a little drive?”
“Why?” A suspicious pause. “You didn’t run out of gas again, did you?”
“No, nothing like that. I was driving along, minding my p’s and q’s, when I saw that old mansion on the road to the doughnut store. You remember the one? Only now it’s got a For Sale sign in the front yard, and I’m pretty sure it’s a sign from heaven.”
His sigh said more than any words could. “Missy, everyone knows those old houses eat money. Best thing you can do is walk away.”
That was my Ambrose—practical to a “T.” Whereas, I believed more was more and never less, Ambrose was of a different mind. Bless his heart.
In Bo’s defense, he couldn’t see the forest green shutters that bookended perfectly spaced windows or the attic dormers that gazed over the manicured lawn with obvious approval or how the whole shebang culminated in an actual widow’s walk. Breathtaking, it was. Simply breathtaking.
“That’s the thing.” I added my own pause for special effect. “The price is right here on the flyer. Could be a typo, but it’s a sight less than what they charge for new houses around here.”
“Missy.” Out came the voice he used when he tried to protect me from myself. “Think about it. Do you know how much it’d cost to cool a place like that all summer?”
“No.” I hadn’t even considered the more practical matters, like air-conditioning or heaters or keeping the grass green. “Wait a minute. Someone walked out on the front porch. Wonder if they’ll let me in?”
About Sandra Bretting
Sandra Bretting writes the Missy DuBois Mystery series for Kensington/Lyrical Underground. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, she’s written for the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle, among others.
The Missy DuBois Mystery series follows milliner and bona fide Southern belle Missy DuBois, who becomes entangled in several unfashionable murders on the Great River Road in Louisiana. The first book, Murder at Morningside, debuted in May 2016. The second installment, Something Foul at Sweetwater, will be available December 2016. Readers can connect with her at www.sandrabretting.com.
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When you start a new book, do you have all the characters in place and an ending planned, or does it come to you as you write?
I haven’t heard of this author before. I’m soo looking forward to finding the A Missy DuBois Mystery books so I can read them.
I’m so happy to find another author to read! I like the Southern mystery in a mansion aspect a lot! I have added this to my want to read pile and I can hardly wait!
I really enjoyed her first Missy DuBois book and am looking forward to reading the second. Thanks for the interview.
Really enjoyed reading what inspired you to write The Missy Dubois Mystery series.
This is a new author for me but would love to read her books.
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