Book Title: Broken Strings
Author: Nancy Means Wright
Release Date: May 7th 2013
ONE LINER BLURB
When puppeteer Fay finds a friend dead of poisoned yew and her sister hanging from a rod like a marionette, she races after the killer.
When puppeteer Marion collapses during a performance of Sleeping Beauty, her friend Fay Hubbard promises to carry on. But Fay already has her hands full with three demanding foster children, Apple and Beets, who have a fractious jailbird father—and sixteen-year-old Chance, who has a crush on a much older guy in a band called Ghouls. And now Marion’s husband Cedric seems more interested in a drop-dead-gorgeous French teacher than in any string puppets. And who is the mysterious Skull-man who warns of death if the show goes on with one of Marion’s offbeat endings? When an autopsy reveals that Marion had swallowed a dose of deadly crushed yew—and a friend finds her sister dangling from a rod like a marionette, a shocked Fay goes after the killer.
“A vampire,” Cedric said. “A vampire to give Beauty the wake up smooch? Ridiculous.” He tightened his hands around the witch’s neck as though this was what he’d like to do to his wife.
Neanderthal, Fay thought. Kids loved vampires—though personally, they weren’t her
own cup of tea. She took a step back, a shivery breath. In the coming scene her fairy was
to carry Beauty off the stage and Fay worried about dropping her. She signaled the puppeteer for help.
“Here,” said Marion, putting down her herb tea to show Fay how. It was all so easy when Marion did it. After all, she’d studied under a puppeteer father. Fay was merely a failed actress, substituting a puppet for her own face before an audience.
“Never mind Cedric, he’ll come round. I’ll work on him,” Marion said with more confidence than Fay could muster up. Fay had seen Cedric’s icy blue eyes – it was like staring into the eye of a hurricane.
“Places,” Marion was calling out. “Scene Two!” The children were reassembling. Fay saw her foster boy, Beets, squat in the front row with the cell phone his father had sent – it had better not ring!
The teachers were yelling, “No talking! No drinks in the assembly room!”
“We’re on, guys,” said Marion. Fay took a breath, and the four masked puppeteers moved along behind the stage with their stringed puppets.
It was Beauty’s eighteenth birthday. The marionette took her place in the center, a smiling creature with black flowing curls like her creator, a white organdy gown threaded with gold and glass. Balloons and paper lanterns floated overhead; blue, yellow, and pink paper flowers fluttered in the palace garden. The teachers made shushing noises again and the scene began.
One by one the fairies arrived with gifts of books, slippers, bracelets, flowered gowns;
Chance’s fairy dropped chocolates at Beauty’s feet. The taped music rose to a crescendo and the door swung open to reveal – Nightshade again! Nightshade, her ugly face almost hidden behind a bouquet of thorny red roses. The Queen scurried to shut her out but Nightshade prevailed. With deadly accuracy, she flung the bouquet at Beauty; the puppet squealed with pleasure – and then pain as she pricked her finger. Beauty slumped sideways over the embroidered arm of her chair.
“She will not die!” Fay’s fairy shouted. But out front there was an outcry from teachers and children. Fay looked down to see Beauty’s controller with its multiple strings collapse into a tangled heap, and puppeteer Marion gag, then stumble off the set, clutching her chest and throat, as if she, too, were headed for a hundred years of sleep.
Nancy Means Wright has published 17 books, including 6 contemporary mysteries from St Martin’s Press and two historical novels featuring 18th-century Mary Wollstonecraft (Perseverance Press). Her two most recent books are the mystery Broken Strings (GMTA publishing) and Walking into the Wild, an historical novel for tweens (LLDreamspell). Her children’s mysteries have received an Agatha Award and Agatha nomination. Nancy lives in Middlebury with her spouse and two Maine Coon cats.
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