excerpts from the Secret of Sooty Wick Inn

from Page 1
The old, ramshackle inn looked even scarier than the boarded-up coffin factory Beetle had seen on the way into town. The thought of having to spend an entire week in the dreadful house made her stomach churn. She wanted to call her parents and have them arrange for her immediate return to her home in Back Bay, Boston. But they had arrived deep in the Peruvian rain forest by now.

from Page 16
Beetle hung up her coat in the small hallway off the kitchen and headed for the bathroom. Bracing herself, she pushed open the door and was surprised to find a real toilet. Except it had a wooden water tank mounted high up on the wall behind the bowl with a long metal chain suspended from it. Smiling to herself, she guessed it had been a modern convenience back when women still wore corsets.

from Page 29
Arrested by a pair of eyes glowing like icy lanterns in the dark, Beetle froze in the doorway to Jezebel’s room. A low, undulating growl sent a chill up her spine. Frantically running her hand over the bedroom wall close to the door frame, she managed to find a light switch and flicked it on. Light flooded the room to expose Jezebel crouched on the twin bed. The cat dug her sharp, scimitar-shaped claws into the coverlet, scowling like a samurai warrior.

from Page 49
Melvin Dooley looked at Murtha. “Do you believe in the legend?”

“No,” Murtha said flatly. “There is a simple explanation as to why so many hunters perish in the swamp. They ignore the KEEP OUT DANGER signs clearly posted around its perimeter.”
“What makes the swamp so dangerous?” Melvin Dooley asked.
“Quicksand, bottomless pools, confounding fogs that appear out of nowhere, sudden and extreme fluctuations in temperature, maze-like channels. Some even say the swamp is haunted by the ghosts of lost hunters that stalk unwary travelers and drown them.”

from Page 61
After several reckless strides, she tumbled off the causeway and crashed through thin ice on a pool. Her heart pounded as she sank into frigid water. She thought her wet clothing was the reason for her rapid decent, but she quickly sensed a swirling current sucking her down. She flailed her arms with all her might as she struggled to keep her head above water.

from Page 85
Bernice scuffed toward Beetle in carpet slippers. Smoothing the front of her flowered housedress, she said, “Can I help you find something, dear?”
Beetle liked the sound of Bernice’s high, fluty voice. The woman’s wispy gray hair and soft brown eyes, magnified by the round lenses of her old-time glasses, made her look like a grandmotherly mole in a story book.

from Page 99
She searched the yard first, then the inside of the barn. There was no sign of Tildy. Disheartened and weary, she left the barn, trudged across the yard, and slumped against the gate. Her face and ears had long since gone numb. Tears filled her eyes, freezing immediately on her lashes. She had no idea where to look for Tildy next. Finding a white goat in a snowstorm seemed like an impossible task.

from Page 101
Beetle heard a huge splash. Spinning around on trembling legs, she shined the light through the jagged hole. Chunks of wood bobbed in black water below. Dank-smelling air rose from a stone lined well. Trembling, she stumbled back and clasped her hand to her chest. What if she had fallen into the old well? She would surely have drowned.

fromPage 126
A shocking pink bus with a yellow snowplow mounted on the front thundered into view. Beetle’s gaze widened as it barged into Murtha’s driveway. Kicking up a curtain of snow, it nearly smashed into the back of the game warden’s truck before slewing to a stop. The illuminated sign above the bus’s front windshield read DESTINATION HEAVEN. Thirty or so metal frames, partially buried in snow, projected from its roof. Just as Beetle doubted things could get any stranger, two outlandishly dressed men emerged from the bus and shuffled down the snowy steps.