The Terrible Tide - Charlotte MacLeod - ebook

The Terrible Tide ebook

Charlotte MacLeod

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Cliff House may be haunted, but no ghost is as scary as the women who live there. Holly Howe is just beginning to get traction in the cutthroat world of New York modeling when a car accident ruins her good looks forever. She retreats to the backwoods of Canada, to recuperate in her brother's ramshackle country house. Howe Hill is a wreck-dusty, ugly and utterly lacking in modern facilities-and her brother is no more hospitable. When she hears of a job in town taking care of an ancient invalid, Holly leaps on it. If nothing else, Cliff House must have indoor plumbing. Eerie by day, the invalid's mansion is terrifying by night. The other housekeeper is convinced it's haunted by the old woman's husband, but Holly fears no poltergeist. It's the old widow in the upstairs room that frightens her-and the secrets that lurk behind her dull, silver eyes. Review quotes. "The epitome of the 'cozy' mystery." - Mostly Murder. "The screwball mystery is Charlotte MacLeod's cup of tea." - Chicago Tribune. "Charm, wit, and Holmesian logic." - Audiofile. Biographical note. Charlotte MacLeod (1922-2005) was an internationally bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Born in Canada, she moved to Boston as a child, and lived in New England most of her life. After graduating from college, she made a career in advertising, writing copy for the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company before moving on to Boston firm N. H. Miller & Co., where she rose to the rank of vice president. In her spare time, MacLeod wrote short stories, and in 1964 published her first novel, a children's book called "Mystery of the White Knight." In "Rest You Merry" (1978), MacLeod introduced Professor Peter Shandy, a horticulturist and amateur sleuth whose adventures she would chronicle for two decades. "The Family Vault" (1979) marked the first appearance of her other best-known characters: the husband and wife sleuthing team Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn, whom she followed until her last novel, "The Balloon Man," in 1998.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

Cliff House may be haunted, but no ghost is as scary as the women who live there.

Holly Howe is just beginning to get traction in the cutthroat world of New York modeling when a car accident ruins her good looks forever. She retreats to the backwoods of Canada, to recuperate in her brother’s ramshackle country house. Howe Hill is a wreck—dusty, ugly and utterly lacking in modern facilities—and her brother is no more hospitable. When she hears of a job in town taking care of an ancient invalid, Holly leaps on it. If nothing else, Cliff House must have indoor plumbing.

Eerie by day, the invalid’s mansion is terrifying by night. The other housekeeper is convinced it’s haunted by the old woman’s husband, but Holly fears no poltergeist. It’s the old widow in the upstairs room that frightens her—and the secrets that lurk behind her dull, silver eyes.

Review quotes.

“The epitome of the ‘cozy’ mystery.” - Mostly Murder.

“The screwball mystery is Charlotte MacLeod’s cup of tea.” - Chicago Tribune.

“Charm, wit, and Holmesian logic.” - Audiofile.

About the Author

Charlotte MacLeod (1922–2005) was an internationally bestselling author of cozy mysteries. Born in Canada, she moved to Boston as a child, and lived in New England most of her life. After graduating from college, she made a career in advertising, writing copy for the Stop & Shop Supermarket Company before moving on to Boston firm N. H. Miller & Co., where she rose to the rank of vice president. In her spare time, MacLeod wrote short stories, and in 1964 published her first novel, a children’s book called “Mystery of the White Knight.”

In “Rest You Merry” (1978), MacLeod introduced Professor Peter Shandy, a horticulturist and amateur sleuth whose adventures she would chronicle for two decades. “The Family Vault” (1979) marked the first appearance of her other best-known characters: the husband and wife sleuthing team Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn, whom she followed until her last novel, “The Balloon Man,” in 1998.

The Terrible Tide

Charlotte MacLeod writing as Alisa Craig

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2012 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1983 by Alisa Craig

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Mauricio Díaz

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-394-7

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

For the Radles

Chapter 1

“WATCH IT, FAN,” CRIED Holly. “You’re popping your seams.”

“I don’t give a damn. Heave on this crowbar, can’t you?”

Fan Howe was panting. Sweat beaded her blotchy red forehead. More stitches burst in the brown pants suit she’d bought three years ago at a Westchester shopping mall. Now it was baggy, stained, fuzzed with enough catches to make her look like a worn-out Teddy bear.

“I’m heaving as hard as I can, Fan. You know I shouldn’t be doing this. They told me at the hospital to take it easy.”

“You can’t baby yourself forever,” Fan snapped back. “Come on, put some beef in it.”

“Three weeks out after four weeks in isn’t exactly babying myself. Anyway, vandalism’s not my thing.”

“Holly, for God’s sake! These old farmhouses are abandoned, falling apart. Why let good lumber lie around and rot? Roger needs it.”

That was the clincher. What Roger Howe needed, Roger got, even if his wife and sister had to fight, steal, and wade through acres of poison ivy to find it for him. When Roger had decided to leave the bank and devote himself to his real love, which was certainly not Fan but the reproducing of fine antique furniture, Fan had left her comfortable home in a fashionable New York suburb and immigrated to Canada without a whimper.

Moving to New Brunswick had made sense, back in Westchester. The province had gorgeous scenery and status as a center for arts and crafts. Moreover, Roger and Holly had inherited a house there from some relatives they’d never seen. At that time, they hadn’t seen the property, either.

Holly herself had never set eyes on the place Fan had grandly rechristened Howe Hill until she’d needed a quiet place to recuperate and decided she might as well claim her half-share of its amenities. She’d soon found out there weren’t any, except for a handsome view of the Bay of Fundy and its incredible tides. The house was almost as derelict as the one she and Fan were dismantling now. Holly was still stunned at Fan’s calm acceptance of its discomforts and inconveniences for the sake of Roger and his art.

She was also astonished by her brother’s emergence as a master craftsman. That he was still the self-centered cold fish she’d known and mildly disliked since she could remember came as no surprise at all.

Nobody could actively hate Roger Howe. He never did anything rotten, at least not on purpose. His manners were courteous even when they didn’t have company. When he remembered to say anything at all, he made the right sorts of noises. On the surface, Roger was a model husband and a fair enough brother, but if Holly’d realized what he was really like to live with, she’d have stayed far, far away from Howe Hill.

How could she have known? Born fifteen years apart to career-oriented parents, she and he had never been given much chance to get acquainted. When she was little, Holly had met her big brother now and then on stopovers between school and summer camp. She had vague memories of a tall youth, handsomer than she’d ever be, who’d stayed in his room assembling model airplanes and never said anything to her except, “Don’t touch my tools.” Why couldn’t he be here to say it now?

Goaded to desperation, Holly threw all her weight on the hateful crowbar. Rusty nails gave with a screech. Fan whooped.

“Look at that! Roger will swoon for joy.”

Holly doubted that. She’d never seen her brother joyful, not even at his wedding, where she’d been forced to wear a silly pink ruffled gown and a Little-Bo-Peep bonnet. She’d thrown up in the bonnet at the reception to show them they couldn’t make a fool of her and get away with it.

After that, Roger and Fan had been rather standoffish with Holly until they’d met again at the funeral. Their parents had been killed in a car smash. Holly had cried because she’d always hoped some day her mother and father would stick around long enough so she could get to know them, and now she never would. Roger had shown only a decent gravity until he’d found out his only legacy was a few thousand dollars and half-interest in the Canadian farmhouse. Then he’d blown his stack.

“Come on,” Fan was urging. “Let’s get the rest of it.” Sighing, Holly picked up the wrecking bar and tried to dig it in behind what must once have been a charming overmantel. “Not that way! You’ll splinter the wood.” Fan grabbed the tool and worked it skillfully under the wide board. “Good work, Fan. You’re quite a demolition expert.”

“I ought to be. I’ve done enough of it by now.”

Fan wasn’t complaining, merely stating a fact. Maybe she was happier in Jugtown than she’d been back in Westchester. There she’d played the model housewife, angling for Roger’s praise and getting only his calm acceptance. Here she could wallow in valiant self-sacrifice as she battled tooth and claw to make her husband’s dream come true.

Roger ought to be pleased by today’s haul, assuming he had no qualms about receiving stolen property. Anyway, Fan didn’t seem to need so many pats on the head as she used to. She’d made up her mind she was married to a genius. Everybody knew what wives of great men had to go through before they got to write their memoirs. Fan was already compiling her scrapbook.

Holly might come in for a paragraph or two. “My sister-in-law, tragically disfigured by the accident that ended her career as a professional model—”

Nuts to that. Holly wasn’t going to be disfigured. At least not permanently. Anyway, not much. She’d get back into modeling.

Sure she would. The scars on her face and body had to heal before plastic surgery could begin. Then there’d be more healing, and by then she’d have lost her contacts. The flesh machine would have ground out too many fresher, smoother, prettier, younger girls. She was a has-been at twenty-one, and she might as well admit it.

Right now, Holly didn’t care as much as she’d thought she would. Modeling was just something she’d drifted into because her half of the inheritance hadn’t been enough to send her to college. She’d done some fashion shows, then wound up in front of a camera because she was tall and skinny and had good cheekbones. Having no illusions about her beauty or talent, she’d been untemperamental to work with. Photographers liked her vivid blue eyes, her habit of turning up on schedule with her face already fixed and her light brown hair already combed. They’d begun steering better assignments her way. She’d been on the way up, until she’d been so suddenly and agonizingly brought down. Well, back to the wrecking bar.

They were in luck. The nail holes had rotted out and the panel came off without a struggle. Holly was all for quitting then and there, but Fan insisted they stay and rescue as many as they could of the old hand-forged nails.

That was a tedious, touchy job. If pulled too fast or bent too far, the nails would snap off. Holly broke two, then left the rest to Fan and went to stare out the window. This was beautiful country, if only she didn’t have to view it while listening to her sister-in-law’s groaning and muttering. She tried to concentrate on the birds flitting among the tangled briars she and Fan would soon have to fight their way through to where they’d hidden the truck. All at once, something else caught her attention.

“What do you know? We’re going to have company.”

“Who? Where? Quick, get back from that window.”

“What for? I thought you said we weren’t doing anything wrong.”

“Don’t be funny.” Fan elbowed Holly out of the way and peeked anxiously through the spider-webbed pane. “It’s okay, they’re turning—well, can you beat that?”

“Beat what?” Holly managed to catch a glimpse over Fan’s head before the two walkers disappeared. All she learned was that the woman had glossy black hair and the man was wearing a tweed cap and a blue plaid shirt. “What’s so exciting? Do you know them?”

“I know her.” Fan’s face was one vast, malicious grin. “So this is why she takes long walks in the country. For exercise, she says. I’ll bet that guy gives her plenty.”

“Goody gumdrops, a scandal. Who is she?”

“Claudine Parlett, the village virgin, or so we’ve been led to believe. She runs an antique shop and everything else she can poke her nose into. Come on, we’d better leave in case they take a notion to come back. Not that way, stupid! Out the side door.”

Holly was only too happy to obey. They wrestled their booty through brush and briar to the Howes’ old truck and stowed it under a dirty tarpaulin in case a shower happened to come up and soak the wood. At that moment there was only one tiny cloud in the whole, vast, late-summer sky. As Fan said, though, you couldn’t be too careful.

Chapter 2

FAN ENTERTAINED HERSELF ALL the way home wondering whose husband Claudine Parlett was sneaking out to meet. Since all the husbands in Jugtown dressed pretty much alike in tweed caps and plaid shirts, she had a wide-open field for speculation.

Holly, not knowing any of the men and not giving a hoot anyway, sat gritting her teeth against the lurches and yearning for the hot bath she wouldn’t be able to take. The Howes still hadn’t been able to afford indoor plumbing.

When they’d made their decision to sell out of the Establishment and move to the Good Life, Fan and Roger had been dismayed to find they really hadn’t much to sell. They’d played the status-symbol game like their neighbors even though Roger’s salary at the bank had been barely adequate to keep them afloat. Their equity in the Westchester house had been next to nil. Furnishings they couldn’t afford to ship had been sacrificed for whatever they’d bring. They’d practically been down to living on roots and berries before Roger landed his first and only customer.

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

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Lesen Sie weiter in der vollständigen Ausgabe!

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