Today, we’re visiting with
Marianna Heusler is an Edgar nominated author of ten novels and hundreds of short stories.
Her cozy series, taking place at St. Polycarp School, in which two amateur teachers solve murder mysteries, are originally published by Hilliard & Harris. The first three novels were chosen by Harlequin as part of their Worldwide Book Club. The fourth book in the series, Trouble Purse Sued, was just released.
A former elementary teacher at an all girls’ school, Marianna makes her home in New York City with her husband and her son and her little dog, Dolce.
Here’s an excerpt of Trouble Purse Sued…
Where are you?”
The desperation in Mrs. Hopwood’s voice immediately put Mrs. Johnson on guard. “I’m just leaving the baseball field, after watching the twins play. I have to tell you that they’re the backbone of the team. I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up being professional players.”
“They’re six years old. Listen, you have to do me a favor.”
“What sort of favor?” Mrs. Johnson was wary as she rifled through her handbag for her car keys.
“I need for you to come and pick me up at my Aunt Eunice’s. It’s not far, right on Franklin Street. And if you can, bring the van.”
“That’s not possible.” Mrs. Johnson was irritated by the request because she thought in spite of her protests, she was probably going to get roped into doing the favor. “I’m meeting Peter and the twins at Alfredo’s for pizza. He has the van. I thought Montgomery was picking you up.”
“Well, here’s the thing.” Mrs. Johnson hated it when Mrs. Hopwood said, “here’s the thing” because it always involved a long, complicated, convoluted explanation. “Evidently Aunt Eunice used to have a shop, where she sold used clothing, which, of course, now is vintage clothing. You wouldn’t believe what I found in one of the trucks. The most exquisite dresses and skirts and blouses and jewelry, and five handbags, well, four, because I took one. And Monte, well, he refuses to let me bring the stuff in the house. He actually had the nerve to call me a hoarder.”
“You are a hoarder, Julia.”
Mrs. Hopwood was undeterred. “Whatever. So I was thinking that maybe, just maybe, you could store the clothing and the bags and the jewelry, in your cellar, in that nice little space you have near your boiler. And then every morning you could bring me an outfit, your choice, and I could change in the teachers’ room and then I could change back at the end of the day and that way Monte would never suspect that I’m wearing the clothes and he couldn’t accuse me of hoarding because I’m not the one who is actually doing the hoarding. Of course, it would be really great if you could text me in the morning to let me know which outfit you choose and, then that way, I could make sure that I bring in the matching accessories.”
For a moment Mrs. Johnson was speechless. When she finally found her voice, she lashed out. “Have you lost your mind?!” She was screaming so loudly that a group of parents (on the losing team who stared at her every time she clapped for her twins) were now glaring at her. She lowered her voice. “You don’t think I have enough to do in the morning, trying to get the boys ready for school, prepping myself to come in to St. Polycarp and deal with a hostile staff, worried about losing my job in the fall, and now my back is killing me -”
“What’s wrong with your back?”
“I’m in horrible pain, probably from lifting the twins. You have asked me to do some insane things, some dangerous things, but this – this!”
“All right, all right, calm down.”
Mrs. Johnson did not liked to be told to calm down when she had every reason to be irate. And where were her darn keys? She hated this handbag.
“No one seems to realize how valuable this merchandise is, especially the jewelry. There are price tags on everything and even in those days, they were high end.”
“Then why don’t you,” Mrs. Johnson had finally located her key ring, stuck to the bottom of her purse, “for once in your life do something for someone else and sell all the clothing and jewelry and donate the profits to St. Polycarp?”
Mrs. Hopwood was silent. Mrs. Johnson suspected she had gone too far.
“That was unkind,” Mrs. Hopwood was clearly hurt.
“I’m sorry. I’m just really overwhelmed. I got to go.”
“No! Don’t hang up. I just got a brilliant idea. Why don’t we have a fashion show? You know the upper school girls think that they’re models already and they would love to strut down the runway wearing Aunt Eunice’s clothes.”
“And how exactly does this hair brain scheme make money for St. Polycarp?”
“We can hold an auction and sell the clothing right off of their backs.” Mrs. Johnson hesitated, which gave Mrs. Hopwood the opportunity to jump right in. “I’ll do all the work. You won’t have to do a single thing, except come and get me and the clothing right now. You have to admit, I might be a little shaky when it comes to the metric system and world geography, but one thing I do know is fashion. And there’s then Sister Grace Maria -”
“Sister Mary Grace”
“When she sees how much money we made and how hard we’re trying, she’s sure to reevaluate her plans for September.”
“Well, maybe” Mrs. Johnson was thinking of all the things which could go wrong.
“You won’t regret it,” Mrs. Hopwood promised.