Death at Fair Havens
by Maria Mankin & Maren C. Tirabassi
About Death at Fair Havens
Death at Fair Havens
1st in Series
Setting – Massachusetts
Brain Mill Press (April 26, 2022)
Paperback : 318 pages
ISBN-10 : 194855965X
ISBN-13 : 978-1948559652
Digital ASIN : B09NCJDRCS
Wanda Duff is an unconventional New England clergywoman, addicted to chicken wings, high-octane ice cream, and saying yes to anyone in need of a prayer, even the folks her town might think don’t deserve one.
When parishioner Niels Pond dies unexpectedly at the Fair Havens assisted living facility, Wanda’s duty to minister to his family is beset by her suspicions about the circumstances of his abrupt passing. Wanda finds an unexpected co-detective in high school vice principal Prudence Rye, who fled town on graduation night a decade ago and returned only recently.
Rye puts her job on the line to investigate the mourning Ponds with the surprisingly edgy Wanda. As they expose difficult family truths and uncover a dangerous conspiracy operating out of Fair Havens, Rye and Wanda discover curiosity has an unanticipated cost.
Comfortably gossipy, with a fresh take on the characters and ethos cozy mystery fans will love, Maria Mankin and Maren C. Tirabassi’s Death at Fair Havens launches a series that celebrates intergenerational women’s friendship and the power of inclusion, curiosity, and love.
“Here’s small town life portrayed with humor and affection, peopled with quirky characters you’ll care about.”
—James Patrick Kelly, winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Locus awards
A Visit from Pastor Wanda Duff
It’s June already, if you can believe it! There are months when time drags, but this spring flew by, in no small part due to the investigation of a murder – a first for Rye and for me. Rye’s the vice principal over at Stoneridge High School, you know, and I’m Wanda Duff, pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ.
As a minister, I’ve seen more than my fair share of death, but I’ve never investigated one before – not even a few years ago, when I had my suspicions – well, that’s a story for another day. It might not have happened this time without Rye. She’s fearless, that one. Between the two of us, we wouldn’t let this death at Fair Havens Assisted Living Facility go, even if everyone, including law enforcement, thought it was “natural causes.”
I won’t spoil the surprises for you, although I suppose you know now that I survived. Rye and I may or may not have a future as sleuths, but we have a future. And we discovered the strangest thing … solving a mystery needs to be “crowd-sourced,’ and we have a pretty wonderful “crowd.” Unusual, yes. But this sunny June day I want to introduce you to our “team” and give a pat on the back to the friends who had our backs.
Dear Jenny, of course, wasn’t about to let her Parkinson’s keep her from being my eyes and ears on the ground inside Fair Havens. She’s a character, always ready with a new Norwegian joke – a pleasure of our shared heritage – and in the courage department she’s a Viking. I’m not sure I’d have been as brave in her vulnerable position, but she got the job done.
Then there’s Hardy, Rye’s father, the former sheriff. I thought he would oppose our investigation and tell us to leave it to the professionals (like Sheriff Ryan, my ex-boyfriend, did) but Hardy believed we were capable of making the call for ourselves. He even gave me a summer reading list of self-defense books and investigation procedures, so the next malefactors we meet had better look out. Rye says I should think twice before Hardy teaches me any of his “techniques.” She does have a lifetime of his unusual teaching methods to back her up!
And there’s Tony, my best friend, and world-class gossiper, who kept us in the loop. He jumps between his roles as the church musician, high school adjunct music staff, and gig musician, so he knows everything about everybody. His best gift? He doesn’t mind when I need to talk (although he likes to spoil our special moments by saying it’s better than hearing me sing!).
Then there’s Lisa, the church admin and her three-year-old daughter Lily, who deserve full honors; Andy Soucek, Rye’s childhood best friend she hadn’t seen in ten years, who gave us grace and courage; Luke Fairchild, a colleague who’s far too attractive for his role as funeral director; and Pieter Pond, blond and handsome and deaf, with hands so skilled you don’t need to Sign to understand him.
A few months ago, if you had told me a woman I barely knew from yoga class and a few fuzzy New Year’s Eve parties would be one of the people I most rely on, trust, and care for, I’m not sure I would have believed you. How much could Prudence Rye (do not call her Prudence or Pru or Priddy and hope to survive) and I have in common? Even being single is different two decades (and divorces) apart!
But Rye’s the best. Every once in a while, you get lucky and find a person who’s easy like Sunday mornings (joke’s on her, of course, because Sunday mornings are never easy in my line of work!). I didn’t realize how much I missed having someone who believed in me without question, and who didn’t need me to be the rock all the time. If I could go back in time to prevent this death, I would. No question. But since time travel is impossible, I can only sit here in the early summer sun and be grateful that we faced down this challenge side by side. I, for one, am ready for another. She says, “no way” … but I can be persuasive.
Thank you for visiting Wanda!
About the Authors
After teaching and working in early education for a decade, Maria Mankin has published six books with Pilgrim Press and has contributed to several anthologies. She is also a co-author of Circ, a mystery set in Skegness England, published by Pigeon Park Press, and Pitching Our Tents: Poetry of Hospitality. She is a regular contributor to Living Psalms, a collection in which the Psalms are reinterpreted in poetry and art as a reflection of God’s work of justice and compassion. She is currently working on a book of poetry and the third novel in the Rev and Rye Cozy Mysteries.
After trouping the country in the 70s as assistant manager of theatrical tours for choreographer Agnes de Mille, The National Theatre of Great Britain, The Royal Shakespeare Company and the Black Broadway production of ‘Guys and Dolls,’ Maren Tirabassi changed careers, to the surprise of everyone, to study at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and later Harvard Divinity School. Ordained in the United Church of Christ, she served as a bi-vocational pastor to seven churches in Massachusetts and New Hampshire while developing her writing career. Maren is the author of twenty-two books, fiction, non-fiction and poetry, the majority published by The Pilgrim Press.
A former Poet Laureate of Portsmouth, NH, and LAMDA Prize nominee for Transgendering Faith, Identity, Sexuality and Spirituality she currently facilitates programs for the NH Humanities Council with New Americans and people with cognitive difference and leads poetry and memoir workshops in prisons, recovery groups, churches and synagogues, hospice and survivor groups. She blogs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With frequent writing collaborator, Maria Mankin, she is currently editing Death in the Woods, the sequel to Death at Fair Havens, as well as plotting the third novel.
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