When Emma Lord discovers a body in a hen house, she's forced to figure out which came first--the victim or the killer. In life, the dead man was one of the nicest men in town, a pillar of the community, without an enemy in the world. Or was he?  Only Emma can tell.
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An obituary is received at the office of The Alpine Advocate, weekly newspaper in Alpine, Washington, of resident Elmer Nystrom. When Emma Lord, publisher, and Vida Runkel, House and Home editor, go to call on Elmer's wife, she tells them he's alive and well. When they go out to the henhouse to talk to him, they find his dead body lying on the floor half covered with straw. It is soon discovered that he was murdered. Strangest part was that his obituary was mailed before he died. It appears Elmer was well liked, although that can't be said of his wife or his son, the new orthodontist in town.

Sheriff Milo Dodge ends up in the hospital. So Emma and Vida strive to find out who killed Elmer and why. As they start investigating, they uncover a few suspects and motives. Since Elmer was killed, there has to be at least one person out there who didn't like him. Can Emma and Vida uncover the identity of that person without putting themselves in danger?

I really enjoy this series. This was one of my favorite books in this series. I always enjoy when Emma and Vida work together to uncover the killer. I love the setting of these books. I'm originally from Washington State and recognize many of the landmarks listed. I love Emma and her family. I always enjoy her interactions with her staff as well as the sheriff. I highly recommend this book and series.

Dawn Dowdle

In the morning mail the Alpine Advocate receives an obituary on Elmer Nystrom, Service Department Manager at Nordby Brothers General Motors dealership for 34 years. Everyone knows and likes Elmer.

Editor Emma Lord and House & Home Editor Vida Runkel go to see Elmer’s wife Polly. She said Elmer was fine and left for work at the usual time that morning, right after feeding the chickens. Deciding this had just been a bad prank, Vida and Emma head for their cars. Polly had offered them fresh eggs so they go to the hen house to get some. They find Elmer’s body under a pile of straw.

There was blood on the straw from the back of Elmer’s head. Sheriff Milo Dodge sends Elmer’s body for an autopsy to determine if the cause of death is foul play.

The autopsy shows Elmer died from a blow to the back of the head with something metal. How could this happen to someone that everyone liked? Or did they? At least one person didn’t.

There are several suspects throughout the book, including Elmer’s son, Carter, the new orthodontist in town. Also his receptionist recently quit and seemed upset. There seems to be strange things going on next door to the Nystroms. Elmer was known to lecture the Nordby kids. Did they hold a grudge? Polly was known to complain about everything and everyone and to spread gossip. Was someone after Polly?

Carole Johnson