Amy Simms here with a few words about my latest misadventure, which I’ve labelled in my diary for the sake of convenience as the FOWL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER. When I first headed out to the Stanley Usher house at my ex-boyfriend’s request, I had no idea I’d be entering a spooky old house filled with dusty old duck decoys. It turns out that the home’s original owner had been an avid duck decoy collector and amateur carver. Who knew? Who knew that duck decoys were so collectible? So valuable? Not me, that’s who.
As it turns out, Derek’s dad, Ben, knows a thing or two about duck decoys. He’s been to conventions featuring both modern and early examples of waterfowl-based carvings. There’s even an annual World Championship Wildfowl Carving Competition and Art Festival held each spring at the Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art at Salisbury University in Ocean City, Maryland. This event attracts many thousands of woodcarvers, collectors and just plain fans. With everything to see from beautiful works of art to functional hunting decoys, about 1200 different wildfowl carvings and approximately $60,000 dollars in prize money up for grabs, it’s no wonder!
According to Ben, some of the antique duck decoys can sell in the tens of thousands of dollars. And to think, the Usher house is littered with the things. Some of today’s best duck decoy sculptors can command upwards of two thousand dollars apiece for their creations. How much does that work out to per feather? If you decide to give this hobby a try, take my advice: have a very sharp carving knife and even sharper eyesight. I’ve still got bandages on three of my fingers…
It really is the dead of winter in Ruby Lake when a party becomes an invitation to murder for Birds & Bees owner Amy Simms . . .
No one ruffles Amy’s feathers like Craig “The Gigolo” Bigelow. Not only has the two-timer returned to town, but his new girlfriend has invited Amy to a dinner party. And at Usher House of all places—legendary home to ghosts, freak accidents, and now, most horrifying of all, an ex-boyfriend and his fiancé. Regrettably, there are also sick ducks on the property that need attention. For a bird lover like Amy, it’s fowl before pride.
When everyone becomes snowbound, Amy can’t imagine the evening getting worse. Until a guest is found with a carving knife stuck in his chest. And he’s not the first to call it a night. Now Amy’s got till dawn to go hunting for a killer—before someone else ends up a dead duck . . .
Praise for J.R. Ripley’s Beignets, Brides and Bodies
“Appealing . . . A clever, amusing cozy.” —Publishers Weekly
“Ripley’s entertaining second series outing is a tasty option for foodie mystery fans.” —Library Journal
Saturday, August 4, 2018
5th Annual Suffolk Mystery Authors Festival
Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts
110 W Finney Ave, Suffolk, VA 23434