Can a house vanish without a trace? What is the "super booze" that's available at clandestine drinking parties in Golden County? When mummified bodies show up at an archeological dig and a young man gets shot in a duel at a party, can Emory and Madison find the answers in the midst of a flood year?
“Wow. This is well made. And to think my great-great-greatgrandmother made it all by hand. She’s what, about eight inches tall? Obviously not part of a doll house, unless the girls wanted to pretend she was a giant.” Her voice sounded dreamy as she danced the doll gracefully from side to side. “Maybe a giant’s daughter.”
Madison picked up the smaller doll.
I watched as they danced the dolls around the piles of memories on my kitchen table and a knowin’ came over me as I did.
Madison was touched by the care put into the tiny handmade doll. She had never known a simple life like the little girl whose doll she held. Even though, as far as I knew, the Twombly family had always raised their children to be as down to earth as possible, it is still very different when you’re a child of the richest family in a small town.
Melva lived in the age of electricity and electronic gadgetry. She’d had comforts beyond the imaginations of the farm girls she was distantly related to. But, I sensed that as those long ago girls had, Melva had lived a hard life. She had worked at her family’s restaurant since she was little and had lost her mother when still a child. Yet I smiled at the soft smile on her face and the gentle way she moved the bigger doll. The doll moved like the accomplished dancer who controlled her had once moved—pirouetting high on her toes and leaping gracefully over objects that had strayed from the piles.
Strangely in unison, the dolls stopped dancing. The twenty-first century girls came back to the now.
Let me introduce my guest.
Emory Crawford is an amateur sleuth living in the town of Twombly, Illinois. Her husband is a professor at Twombly College. At this time, their children are grown and gone but Emory still likes to primarily be a wife and homemaker. She does many crafts and occasionally teaches classes in some of them.
Let’s see what make Emory tick.
1) In what situation is your self esteem most at risk?
When I’m with a group of highly educated and successful people. I know I’m not on their level of accomplishment and I still feel a bit embarrassed because for a long time I didn’t have any degree at all and I’d never had a career.
That probably seems strange seeing as Jebbin and I got married the summer between his graduating with his bachelor’s degree and starting his masters degree. I knew he was planning on getting a doctorate, which he did, and I knew he wanted to teach at a college, which he does. So I knew I’d be around the very kind of groups that make me feel self-conscious.
I didn’t even have a bachelor’s degree until after we’d been at Twombly College for several years. Spouses can take courses for free, so I took things I was interested in. Jebbin eventually figured I had enough credits for a degree, put the paperwork through as a surprise, and the college awarded me a Bachelor’s of General Studies degree.
It all works out because I love Jebbin and he loves me just the way I am and that helps. Plus, I’ve always found colleges to be wonderfully interesting places with a lot of energy and things going on.
2) Is there anyone in your life that you are attracted to?
Yes. Dr. Jebbin Crawford!
Really, I am. I somehow managed to win the heart of a wonderful man. Not that we never disagree. Not that we never fight. Not that there aren’t things about him that annoy me something fierce. There’s all that – we’re normal people. But we really do love each other and enjoy each other’s company.
3) What do you think he/she can do for you that no one else can?
Well, other than God, I think he’s the only one who loves me unconditionally. He’s there for me and I’m there for him. He has encouraged my dreams like I’ve always encouraged his.
4) What does this person know about you that no one else does?
If I tell you that in this interview then everyone knows, and Jebbin’s no longer the only one who knows. Where’s the logic in that? ;-)
5) When you walk into a room what do you notice first? Second?
I usually pick up on an overall “vibe” sort of thing. I do have a gift of “gettin’ a knowin’” as my southern grannies used to call it, and sometimes that kicks in and I can really tell if there’s something wrong in the room. This overall impression includes if the room seems light or dark, warm and welcoming or cold and uninviting, peaceful or scary.
Second, if there are people in the room I look at them to see if I know them or to get any impressions of them if I don’t. If the room is empty of people, I look at the décor to get a feel for the person/people who live there.
6) What are you most afraid of?
Mirrors. I’ve often been startled by reflections in a mirror I didn’t know was there. But particularly, I don’t like mirrors that are opposite each other so you end up with that infinity effect. Also, fun house mirrors that deform the reflection in them – those are not fun for me.
7) What do you like best about your best friend?
I have two friends that I consider close or best friends.
AnnaMay Langstock is just plain fun to be with. She’s very intelligent, up on most current events – which I’m often not. She’s different than me in that she’s organized, efficient, a good leader and basically tidy. That’s all part of why she’s good at her career as head librarian of the Twombly College and Public Library. She’s also very into crafts and creative pastimes like I am. She will often come over for an evening of playing board games with Jebbin and I.
The other is Aine McAllister. She’s very . . . Aine. She is mystical and yet very down to earth at the same time. And sometimes, I wonder if she’s a bit magical as well – like the old Irish goddess she’s named after. She takes good care of me at times when I need a woman’s advice instead of talking to Jebbin.
8) What’s your greatest source of frustration?
Myself. I appear more confident than I am. My mother was the sort that was rarely satisfied with the things or people in her life and that included her husband and children. I usually have the sense of not being good enough in anything I do.
Friends like my husband, AnnaMay, Aine and my young partner in sleuthing – Madison Twombly, help me to see the good I accomplish.
9) What’s your greatest source of joy?
Wow! That’s another thing that’s hard to just pick one.
My marriage to Jebbin.
Jebbin and I playing bluegrass music together.
Our children and their families.
My dear friends.
All the glories of God’s amazing creation.
10) What are you especially proud of in your life?
My marriage. We’ve made it last and we still really like each other. With that I’ll add my kids. They are both good strong people with a lot more confidence than I have.
And I’m proud of my sleuthing. It just sort of happened. It wasn’t something I said, “When both kids leave home, I’m going to be an amateur sleuth!” There was this murder of someone Jebbin and I both knew, on the college campus you see, and I just felt I needed to see if I could help Jebbin solve it. I think it’s all tied in with my gift of knowin’, at least Jairus Twombly thinks so, and he has the same sort of gift himself. It just seems that this is what I’m meant to do at this point in my life, and I do it well.
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Slightly quirky, always creative, Pearl R. Meaker has been an artist, singer and craftsperson her whole life. Although she's always had stories in her head, they didn't come out to play with others until the advent of home computers with their ease of making corrections and moving bits around.
After several years of writing fanfiction in the world of Tolkien's Middle-Earth, she took a couple of writing courses and dove into writing original works of fiction, and The Emory Crawford Mysteries were born.
When not playing with story ideas you can find Pearl playing with yarn either knitting or crocheting, doing other arts and crafts, bird watching and photographing nature, playing bluegrass fiddle (her husband plays banjo) or relaxing with her hubby on the sofa watching mystery shows on Netflix.
Oh - and reading all sorts of books, but especially cozy and other types of mysteries!
The books in The Emory Crawford Mysteries Series are reminiscent of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple mysteries, which is why Pearl has chosen to characterize her stories as "murder genteel."