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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Broken Strings by Nancy Means Wright

By Nancy Means Wright

Release Date:  May 7th 2013
Genre:  Mystery
Publisher:  GMTA Publishing, LLC
Presented by:  As You Wish Tours

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.


“Whoa!” Fay told Glenna, looking up from the dictionary. “You planted a poisonous tree out there. You trying to kill us all? I think we better pull it up, don’t you?”

“No,” her cousin said, putting her size-eleven foot down. Stamping it, actually. “I won’t have it. I love that tree. You can put a fence around it, but I won’t pull it up. You can ask Willard to make a warning sign.”

“So the animals can read it?” But Glenna wasn’t listening, she was back in the living room, turning up the volume on the old black and white TV. She couldn’t see the screen with her glaucoma eyes, but she could hear it. Ingest it as it were.

Which made Fay wonder how Marion had gotten the poison. By ingesting it? Could taxine be absorbed through the skin? That new controller she’d used for the Beauty puppet – why, it was made of yew!

“Yew,” she told Willard when he walked in to shower in the downstairs bathroom–showering was one of his perks for mowing and weeding. It was unusually warm for late September, his forehead was oozing beads of sweat. “Marion’s new controller is made of yew. It was a gift from somebody. She had lots of secret admirers, people sending her stuff. And detractors. Uh oh – I practised with it, too.”

“You’re still alive,” Willard reminded her. “I don’t think you can absorb the poison through the skin. I’ll find out for you, though.”

“Then it had to be in her tea, I’d expect, crushed up yew leaves and seeds? What do you think?” She read aloud the symptoms, most of which Marion had had. She was thankful that the medical examiner, smart fellow, had pushed for an autopsy in spite of Lieutenant Higgins. The trembling, the convulsions, nausea, the irregular heart beat. “She died of cardiac and respiratory failure,” she reminded Willard. “Meaning too much taxine in the system. Though at that point the doctor didn’t know it was yew. Or how it got in there. We still don’t know how.”

“On the other hand,” Willard said, “there could’ve been fresh sap in the yew wood. She think she might have kissed the controller – for luck or something?”

“Oh! Maybe. Though I never saw her do it.”

Poisoned by her controller, Fay thought, that would be an irony.


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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