Since the onset of WWII, Agnes Agatha Odboddy, hometown patriot and self-appointed scourge of the underworld, suspects conspiracies around every corner…stolen ration books, German spies running amuck, and a possible Japanese invasion off the California coast. This seventy-year-old, model citizen would set the world aright if she could get Chief Waddlemucker to pay attention to the town’s nefarious deeds on any given Meatless Monday.
Mrs. Odboddy vows to bring the villains, both foreign and domestic, to justice, all while keeping chickens in her bathroom, working at the Ration Stamp Office, and knitting argyles for the boys on the front lines.
Imagine the chaos when Agnes’s long-lost WWI lover returns, hoping to find a million dollars in missing Hawaiian money and rekindle their ancient romance. In the thrilling conclusion, Agnes’s predictions become all too real when Mrs. Roosevelt unexpectedly comes to town to attend a funeral and Agnes must prove that she is, indeed, a warrior on the home front.
SERIES: Mrs. Odboddy Mysteries #1
GENRE: Cozy Mystery, Historical Mystery
PUBLISHER: Elk Grove Publications
RELEASE DATE: January 21, 2016
(from Chapter One)
Wearing comfortable walking shoes, a chic white blouse and a blue serge calf-length skirt, Agnes carried a tray of oatmeal cookies for the boys at the USO in Boyles Springs. She opened the door of her 1930 Model A Coupe and laid the covered tray on the cushions. She slid into the driver’s seat. Old Nelly is getting on in years, but weren’t we all? Aging had nothing to do with spunk and ability. She and Nelly had plenty of both.
She turned the key, tapped the dashboard dials to check the fluids, pulled the timing lever down, pushed the starter button on the floor, and gave it a little gas. The engine rattled to life. She smiled. That was easy!
Driving Old Nelly always took her back to her adventures during WWI when she had to hand crank the engine, then jump into the driver’s seat before the engine died. With the ruts in the road, most assignments included at least one blown tire. Jacking up the car and changing a tire while wearing an ankle length skirt and a corset took perseverance. Everything was harder for a woman back then, thanks to costume issues.
Old Nelly was at the edge of town when the first drops of rain splatted across the windshield. The single wiper swished across the glass. Whish-Yoo! Whish-Yoo! A drizzle of rain seeped through the door window and dribbled down inside the glass. Agnes peered into the gloom. Rain sloshed against the windshield, blurring the images. The road narrowed as it climbed the cliffs beside the ocean.
Agnes flipped on her headlights, slowing the car to the 35-mph speed limit set by the government to save fuel and tires. She smiled. Just a law-abiding citizen, adhering to the speed limit.
The sky darkened and the rain sluiced down. A touch of panic crept across her chest. She swallowed a lump in her throat. I should have canceled tonight. What was I thinking? She pulled the car to the side of the road. Should I go home? She hated to disappoint the boys at the USO, but other volunteers would be there; volunteers who didn’t have to risk their life in the pouring rain on a crooked road along the ocean.
A large black Packard roared up behind her, lighting up Nelly’s interior.
“Fool! At that rate, he’ll end up in the ocean. Well, Nelly old girl. Should we go on to the USO, or turn around and go home?” She squinted at the Packard’s tail lights. They blinked on and off as it dipped down and back up where the road rose. And then the tail lights stopped.
What am I doing, sitting here in the rain? Turn around and go home before you run off the cliff road and kill yourself. Her gaze moved across the black sea. There, far off the coast, a light flashed, barely visible through the mist and rain. Up ahead, the Packard still sat on the beach; its headlights blinked. Once. Twice. Three times.
Agnes gasped. “Call me a suspicious old woman if you want, but that’s a Japanese submarine out there signaling. And, sure as God made little green apples, there’s a spy in the Packard, waiting to pass off secret information.”
She wasn’t exactly able to take on a spy ring alone, but she wasn’t about to let the spy get away with his nefarious doings. She would record the license number and alert the authorities.
Agnes jammed the Ford into gear and inched her way through the darkness. Anxiety sharpened her senses. Her pulse quickened at the thought of the risk.
From the light of the quarter moon, she could just see a dark shape on the beach. The Packard! Likely the spy had left his car and was already rowing out in a small boat to deliver his stolen documents to the submarine.
Agnes drew off her shoes and crept toward the Packard, running in short spurts between clumps of ocean grass and driftwood logs. A run in her stocking zipped up her leg. The moon slid behind a cloud, preventing a good view of the Packard. She crept closer. Each breath burned in her throat.
Her chest rattled with short, raspy breaths. She paused. It wouldn’t do to rush headlong into the fray and get caught. One thousand one, one thousand two… Her breathing eased. She crept closer. The moon slid out from behind a cloud revealing the numbers on the license plate. 6X2358
Agnes threw herself face down into the sand. Another signal to the submarine? Or had they seen her?
Tiny shells bit her cheek. She spit sand and wiped her hand across her mouth. The door on the Packard creaked. If they catch me, I’m dead!
Agnes closed her eyes. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…Psalms. Good to remember, but doubtful the Archangel Michael would be hovering on the beach tonight after she put herself under the shadow of death on purpose.
Elaine is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers and Cat Writers Association. She lives in No. Calif with her husband and four house cats (the inspiration for her three humorous cozy cat mysteries, Black Cat’s Legacy, Black Cat and the Lethal Lawyer, and Black Cat and the Accidental Angel).
Mrs. Odboddy’s character is based in no way on Elaine’s quirky personality. Two more Mrs. Odboddy adventures will publish in the near future. Many of Elaine’s short stories have appeared in magazines and multiple anthologies.
Other Books by Elaine Faber
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