About the Book
An Uncollected Death is the first Charlotte Anthony Mystery.
Broke, friendless, and career in freefall – can a murder get her life back on track? Things appear to be looking up for Charlotte when she is offered a new editing job. Finding her new boss battered and left for dead on her first day, however, was most definitely not in the job description. She turns amateur sleuth in an attempt to continue with her editing assigment but complications set in from the start. The notebooks that she needs are well hidden and the only clues to their whereabouts are extremely cryptic. To add to Charlotte’s problems, she is not the only one with an interest in the notebooks. The town’s criminal element will stop at nothing, up to and including murder, to get their hands on the prize.
The First two pages of An Uncollected Death
Friday, September 13th
Charlotte Kleid Anthony took a big red mug of black coffee out to the deck, and the first cold barefoot steps in the morning dampness shocked her head clear. The hot mug felt so good in her hands. She took some deep breaths of fresh air, just making out the first ripe tang of autumn, and heard the crows calling to one another in the pines behind the house. Back in the kitchen the letter from the lawyer sported several purple rings from the Merlot she drank the night before. Her mouth was dry, she’d burned her breakfast bagel, but, all in all, it had been worth it.
She squinted from the bright reflections of the sun off the lake, and off the bank of windows at Helene’s old house across the way, where it nestled amid the tiers of other hillside houses and trees. It was almost time to go to Olivia’s, but she took a few more moments to ground herself, her fingers stroking the bleached cedar deck rail. Her instinct was to commit the texture to memory, because at some point that is all it would be. The crucial clause the lawyer quoted from the settlement played over and over in her mind: “…or at such time as the child should begin college or professional training, at which time the support money will cease and the expense will be borne by the father.”
He was right. It was always there, had been for the past ten years, of course, only not in the front of her mind in her rush to prepare Ellis, who had just turned sixteen, to attend the Paris Conservatoire to continue her piano studies. And not in front of her mind after the news last Friday (had it only been a week?) that both Fine Design and Emerson Home Monthly suddenly ceased publication, leaving Charlotte without a quarterly check for the first time in years.
Diane, her accountant, boiled it down: “You can’t afford to live in your house anymore. You can’t afford anything much, actually.” Then came a flurry of phone calls to the bank and the publishers, all to no avail.
Charlotte realized that she was going to have to throw over her entire life for the second time in ten years. But a few hours of wine and brooding in front of the fireplace was enough to get past the initial panic and see, if she was perfectly honest with herself, that she welcomed the distraction from suddenly having an empty nest. And now, as she surveyed the sparkling blue water surrounded by hills, architectural homes, and dozens of For Sale signs, she no longer saw Lake Parkerton as a magical valley but as a money pit.
Snap out of it, she told herself, and strode back into the house. Time to get ready. Charlotte added a cardigan to her white tee and straight jeans, and slipped on a pair of loafers. At the last minute she dabbed on a bit of lip color, and bent down from the waist to fluff up her shoulder-length hair. Helene warned her not to wear anything that required dry cleaning, describing her sister Olivia’s house as “cluttered” and “a bit heavy on the potpourri,” but it was the little things, thought Charlotte, that gave one confidence. Strictly speaking, she was qualified for the job, but her academic chops were rusty.
The news was on the kitchen TV, and her attention was caught by the young female reporter standing in front of Warren Brothers’ Pawn and Payday. One of the pawnbrokers hit the jackpot when he found a rare first edition of the novel Least Objects and sold it at auction for some ungodly amount of money. The story was getting a lot of play, and now everyone thought they might have a valuable book, too.
Charlotte watched as the camera panned the parking lot full of cars, pickup trucks, and potholes, to a line of people with books extending out the shop door across the length of the strip mall. She was working up the nerve to go there herself and pawn her jewelry and silverware. The Jeep needed work, and Diane warned her not to use credit cards anymore, no matter what.
The reporter wrapped up. “There you have it, Floyd, rare book fever among the truck stops. This is Judy Sargent, reporting from Elm Grove, Indiana.”
– An Uncollected Death by Meg Wolfe