If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him (Elizabeth MacPherson Series #8)

If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him (Elizabeth MacPherson Series #8)

by Sharyn McCrumb

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Overview

When forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson becomes the official P.I. for her brother Bill's fledgling Virginia law firm, she quickly takes on two complex cases.  Eleanor Royden, a perfect lawyer's wife for twenty years, has shot her ex-husband and his wife in cold blood. And Donna Jean Morgan is implicated in the death of her Bible-thumping bigamist husband.

Bill's feminist firebrand partner, A. P. Hill, does her damnedest for Eleanor, an abused wife in denial, and Bill gallantly defends Donna Jean. Meanwhile, Elizabeth's forensic expertise, including her special knowledge of poisons, gives her the most challenging case of her career. . . .

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307567758
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/22/2009
Series: Elizabeth MacPherson Series , #8
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 177,846
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Sharyn McCrumb is an internationally acclaimed New York Times bestselling author whose work has been honored with all five of the major awards in crime fiction (Edgar, Agatha, Anthony, Macavity, and Nero)--and two Best Appalachian Novel awards. She is the creator of the Ballad Novel series, which began with If Ever I Return, Pretty Peggy-O. The most recent installment in her satirical mystery series featuring forensic anthropologist Elizabeth MacPherson is If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him . . . . She is also the author of the short story collection Foggy Mountain Breakdown.

Ms. McCrumb lives in the Virginia Blue Ridge Mountains with her husband, David, and their two younger children, less than a hundred miles from the Smoky Mountain valley where her ancestors settled in 1790.

Read an Excerpt

How do you like your snow white pillows,
And how do you like your sheets?
And how do you like the fair young maid
Who lies in your arms asleep?
—“LITTLE MARGARET”
(Traditional folk ballad)
 
 
Chapter 1
 
THE FACT THAT Eleanor Royden was putting on lipstick at 4:45 was not unusual; the fact that it was 4:45 in the morning, however, made it an unprecedented departure from her usual routine. Eleanor was not known as an early riser, although, since the divorce, she’d had to get a clerical job, which meant that she had to show up at the real-estate office at 8:30 looking presentable. But she didn’t get up at 4:45 to do it. On a good day, she managed to rise (if not shine) at 7:45. But today was Sunday—no real-estate office to go to, and usually Eleanor slept in, letting the drapes stay drawn and the Sunday paper turn brown in the delivery tube until midafternoon. She used to read the society column, but none of those people spoke to her anymore anyway, since Jeb had kept the house and the country-club membership; so she no longer bothered to keep up with them.
 
She blotted the Berry Stain lipstick with a square of toilet paper and looked at herself in the medicine-cabinet mirror. Not bad for fifty-one, she thought. She had long ago lightened her mousy-brown hair to blonde, and now that it was surely gray under all that L’Oréal, the hair coloring gave her carefully bobbed hair the shimmer of moonlight. Cucumber slices placed under her eyes for fifteen minutes each night had gone a long way toward reducing the baggy look of half-a-century-old skin, but a face-lift would have been easier and more effective. In the right light she might pass for thirty-nine, she thought, as long as she remembered to keep her eyes wide open, arching her eyebrows for a face-lift via muscle control.
 
She let her features relax into a series of crow’s-feet and laugh lines, and the dozen years came seeping back, etching a great weariness on her face. She might look better if she hadn’t been up all night. But what did it matter if you could look thirty-nine, when she—the Bitch—was twenty-nine, not by artifice, but by the simple expedient of having been born during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson?
 
It wasn’t fair. Jeb certainly didn’t look thirty-nine. He had more white hair than a skunk—not the only thing the two creatures had in common. Eleanor smiled, etching wrinkles back into her face, which made her solemn again. Jeb was fifty-one. He did not jog. He did not starve himself. He did not take any steps to keep from getting run over by Time’s Winged Chariot. And that simpering teenage bride of his didn’t mind in the least. It was okay if men got old. She would see about that.
 
It wasn’t fair. Jeb certainly didn’t look thirty-nine. He had more white hair than a skunk—not the only thing the two creatures had in common. Eleanor smiled, etching wrinkles back into her face, which made her solemn again. Jeb was fifty-one. He did not jog. He did not starve himself. He did not take any steps to keep from getting run over by Time’s Winged Chariot. And that simpering teenage bride of his didn’t mind in the least. It was okay if men got old. She would see about that.
 
It wasn’t fair for him to have it all. He got to grow old gracefully, and still be loved, despite his age. He got to make a lot of money, and keep it all, even though she had given up a perfectly good bookkeeping job to marry him all those years ago. Even though she had cleaned his house to his fanatical standard of cleanliness; cooked delicious, well-balanced meals from his short list of acceptable foods; and played the thankless role of stage manager to his star turn in their upwardly mobile, career-oriented social life. He got all the applause: she got to do the housework backstage.
 
And now the play had closed. And good old Jeb was starring in a new production: same old show, but this time with a young and pretty leading lady to share the spotlight.
 
Eleanor never said that woman’s name aloud; she hardly ever thought it. Someday she might try to summon up the first name to find it had escaped her completely. Their last names were the same. That was the problem. Two Mrs. Roydens: the hag of marriage past, and the whore of marriage present.
 
Eleanor called her replacement the Bitch or the Bimbo. Sometimes in public Eleanor had called her La Chaplin, which her women friends understood to be a code term, referring to the silent film star’s greatest role: the Little Tramp.
 
At luncheons with her old friends, in the early days of the divorce proceedings, they had made a game of thinking up things to call the creature. To keep on saying the Whore would have been monotonous, and above all, one must not be tedious. Of course one had to put on a brave face, and affect amusement at Jeb’s stupid weakness and lust. (“Of course he had a pet name for his penis, dear. He wouldn’t want to be ordered about by a stranger.” Eleanor christened the future Mrs. Royden the Gap—not a reference to her fashion sense; the One-Trick Pony—not a musical reference; and, because the creature had been a landscape architect, the Lay of the Land.
 
Eleanor was the hit of the luncheon crowd with her wicked wedding parodies of Jeb’s second nuptials. “The organist ought to play ‘Send in the Clowns,’” Eleanor suggested. Her tablemates shrieked delightedly and countered with suggestions of their own: “Heat Wave,” “Almost Like Being in Love,” and “Call Me Irresponsible.”
 
She could get her wedding attire from Frederick’s of Hollywood, one of them suggested. “We could give him a certificate for prostate surgery!” whooped another. They spilled their cappuccino laughing at each other’s suggestions for additions to the traditional wedding vows. Eleanor Royden had kept everyone entertained for months. But underneath all the hilarity, Eleanor wasn’t laughing: she was using the only weapon she possessed to keep from going mad while she lost everything. And every hilarious luncheon had ended in an ominous silence, as the foursome contemplated the fact that no matter how much they ridiculed the problem, it wasn’t going away. And one of them might be next.
 
Now Eleanor no longer bothered to pretend to be bravely amused, because nobody cared. The idle, well-to-do friends in Jeb Royden’s set had drifted away to new amusements (or to troubles of their own). At any rate, they stopped including Eleanor in their get-togethers. For a while she didn’t notice, because her new job was time-consuming, and in the evenings she would come home too tired to cook, much less to socialize.
 
But lately Eleanor had been taking stock of what she had left to sustain her as she grew old, and the answer was: not much. The sprawling house in Chambord Oaks had been remodeled by that creature. Eleanor wished she had taken pictures of the rooms, so tastefully decorated in stripped pine woodwork and country French furnishings. She had spent many hours poring over fabric books and paging through North Carolina furniture catalogues to achieve just the right look, and then it had all been sold, and replaced with (in Eleanor’s imaginings) tubular steel chairs and erotic neon sculptures. Eleanor’s new apartment was furnished in discounted floor samples from the local furniture store and luxuriant green plants, trailing vines onto the carpet. She had sold the Mercedes and bought herself a sensible little Dodge, more in keeping with her new, muted lifestyle. And she now had paperback novels instead of friends, because you didn’t have to entertain fictional characters or buy them dinners.
 
Eleanor Royden was quite alone, with her aching feet and her Budget Gourmet evenings, while Jeb’s life sailed on like the ship of state. And that was not fair. She had sat up all night pondering the inequities in life—the fact that men got more than one chance to live happily ever after—and she decided that it just wasn’t right, this cosmic double standard.
 
At 4:58 A.M., her makeup neatly applied and her old London Fog belted across a gray wool dinner dress, Eleanor selected a sturdy but unmatching red Capezio handbag, large enough to hold her car keys, a flashlight, two lace handkerchiefs, and a Taurus PT92AFF fifteen-shot 9mm semiautomatic. People who wanted to start a new life ought to have to completely vacate their present one first— and hope that reincarnation was an option. Besides, it was about time that people started taking that phrase until death do us part more seriously.
 

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If I'd Killed Him When I Met Him (Elizabeth MacPherson Series #8) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 20 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have loved this book so much that I lent it and recommended it to friends. They like it so much that they, too, lend it and recommend it. So, it seldom returns to my library. Sharyn McCrumb has written a funny book full of the humor and sorrow of women left behind by their husbands. The husbands left by death, straying to other women, murder, and just plain being inconsiderate. I rolled in laughter at the book while feeling desperately sorry for some of the women involved. Prepare to lose your copies now, buy more than one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was my first experience with Ms. McCrumb's writing. The title grabbed me, encouraging me to purchase it for my Nook. I found the characters likeable, the story believeable, but just not enough intrigue or plot to really keep my attention. I found the Civil War mystery which was interwoven with today's story the more interesting. Fairly good for very light reading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually love Sharyn McCrumb's books, but the bit about the dolphin was totally disgusting. What was she thinking? In my opinion, her best work is She Walks These Hills, The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter, and The Rosewood Casket. I hope she continues to write these mountain-type books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was THE BEST of her series. I especially liked the part with the dolphin...and what was she thinking? Did she really think SPECIES would make a difference? Unfortunately, I read that book first, & then read the others. I will have to pick up the series & read them from first to last. Good work done by Sharyn McCrumb. I will read every Elizabeth McPhearson book Sharyn McCrumb writes...(I've read them all, though). I hope she hurries & gets a new one out soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
WHAT A HILARIOUS BOOK. I COULD NOT PUT IN DOWN, IT WAS VERY FUNNY AND UNPREDICTABLE. I AM HOOKED NOW. I HAVE STARTED READING ALL OF HER BOOKS. I GIVE THIS BOOK TO ALL OF MY FRIENDS TO READ.
jepeters333 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth MacPherson solves 2 arsenic poisonings - one from the 1860's.
chmessing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Elizabeth MacPherson series is a bit lighter than the Appalachian mystery series by Sharon McCrumb. Both series are great.
tripleblessings on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth MacPherson works as P.I. for her brother Bill's new law firm, as they defend two women accused of murder. Average. While these mysteries have some funny moments, I don't like them that much. They are okay, but they don't compel me to re-read.
hklibrarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
EXCELLENT book!!!!! Compelling book--I could not put it down!!!!!!!
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought the story was okay until the dolphin incident. If this is par for the course for this author, I will not read her again. That was disgusting and unnecessary.