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Nude with Red Hat

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When a clueless artist searches for the dean’s wife in Mexico, she finds nothing less than murder.
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Nude with Red Hat

Book 2 in The Museum Mystery Series

by Joyce Richardson

Genre Cozy Mystery

Tags Contemporary mystery, murder, missing persons, whodunit, art museum, art shows, art classes, art fraud, women detectives, Mexico, San Miguel de Allende, Frida Kahlo, Mexican jails, black market adoption, Guanajuato.

Release August 18, 2015

Editor Anne Duguid

Cover Designer Cora Graphics

Words 75901

Pages 289

ISBN 978-1-77127-732-7

Price $5.95


Back Cover

Susan, winner of a painting fellowship from the Ridges Museum in the college town of Foothills, Ohio, finds her artistic intentions interrupted when the dean of the College of Fine Arts receives a nude painting of his wife in the mail: postmarked Mexico. His wife, Angelina, is missing, and when he receives a second, horrible painting of her a few days later, he believes she has been corrupted, big time. The dean asks Susan to go to San Miguel de Allende to find his wife and bring her home.

In this second book of the The Museum Mystery series, Susan, and later Amy, the wife of the museum director, once more haplessly try to figure out what happened to Angelina, while running head-on into art fraud, prostitution, and murder. The lovely colonial town of San Miguel seems to be more dangerous than anyone thought.


Excerpt

I felt cheerful the next morning; I don’t know why. I even half-expected Brita to be in class, just like normal.

She wasn’t. But Rosemarie was, looking very ruddy and Canadian. The turista was out of her system, thank God. Ronnie looked very pretty, and she and Emilio seemed to share a secret between them. They were eyeing each other and laughing at something that eluded the rest of us. Ronnie was still the teacher, a good one, encouraging me in my clown painting every step of the way.

No one said anything about Brita. I decided to prod a bit. “Maybe Brita’s in Guanajuato. You were in her room, Ronnie, Could she have packed a suitcase?”

“I suppose she might have. We’re not her keepers.”

“But to not tell her landladies…”

“Very strange for Brita,” Rosemarie added her assessment. “She always blabbed everything. I know more about her history than I do my own.”

I changed the subject. “You’ll get to meet my friend, Federico, today. He’s coming to meet me after class.”

Emilio laughed. “Yet another boyfriend picked up in el Jardin? I saw you cuddling up together. Quite the man trap you are.”

I wondered again at Emilio’s grasp of colloquial English. He had either been in the States, or had an American girlfriend, or studied English from an edgy phrasebook.

“Federico’s my friend from home, from Foothills. He’s on the art faculty of Foothills University. I’ve known him for several years, and he’s a good friend of mine.

I stressed friend more than once, and all my classmates laughed at me.

“Methinks the lady doth protest too much,” Ronnie said.

I was about to say he was gay, but I doubted if that mattered to any of them.

“What about Raimundo?” Rosemarie said.

“I haven’t seen Raimundo since the party,” I answered, and we went back to our paintings.

When the class was over, Ronnie suggested that we all go out for a drink, but I was still waiting for Federico. “He’ll be sorry to have missed you,” I told the departing group.

I waited and waited and waited. Was this something about Federico that I didn’t know about? Maybe, as restless as usual, he had gone to Querétaro to search for his roots. Maybe…

When I left the pintura studios, or, as I called them, the sheds and barns, following the paths to the entrance, I saw a crowd, standing in the gardens next to a fountain, pointing, whispering, exclaiming in high-pitched voices. The Spanish classes, who had been sitting around in circles, speaking excitedly in their new languages, and my art class: everyone, including Ronnie, Rosemarie, Emilio, with the addition of my friend Federico, all stood around the central fountain.

There, on the ground, lay a female body, large in its dimensions, with an excited group of colonial policemen gathered around it. They were stunning in their red, white, and blue uniforms.

I looked at Emilio who was a San Migueleño. “Doesn’t the town have regular policemen?”

“The horsemen must have been first on the scene. Sometimes they come down here to pose for photos and things. But they’re real policemen, don’t get me wrong.”

I looked for their horses, but there were none, not here, not in the courtyard.

“But who?”

The woman, the body beside the fountain, covered with green, yellow, and orange scarves, looked like no one I’d ever seen. But then her face was covered. Her long purple skirt was hiked up to reveal plump calves, sticking out at strange angles. Beneath her head lay a pool of blood, coming from underneath her, I surmised, for her clothing and scarves were unsullied.

“She’s not Brita, at least. Not the right size.” I was surprised I was so calm, but then this was not the only dead body I’d seen. Amy and I had discovered a few of our own. God, I needed Amy!

“She’s also blonde, like you and me,” Ronnie said. “Brita’s our resident redhead.”

“Blonde?” I almost screamed, for even calmness had a shelf life.

I tried to rush over to the body. “I need to see her,” I said, in the only language I knew.

One colonial horseman pushed me back and shook his head.

I appealed to Federico. “Explain in Spanish,” I said. “Tell them I might know her.”

Federico began speaking very rapidly, pointing to me, then pointing to the body.

The horsemen still shook their heads as they rapidly said something to Federico.

“They’re still investigating,” he said to me. “No one is to touch the body.”

“Then tell them to lift the scarves so I can at least see her face.”

I cried, big wet sobs. Both Rosemarie and Ronnie approached me from either side and put their arms around me. I rubbed my eyes on Rosemarie’s shoulder and blew my nose on Ronnie’s.

“Angelina!” was all I could say.

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