After the sudden death of her husband, Minda Hobbs returns to Angel Heights, S.C., the home of her forebears, to seek peace and purpose in her life. Instead, she finds her n'er-do-well cousin Otto as cold and stiff as yesterday's grits in the ladies' room at the historic Minerva Academy.Shocked by her cousin's murder and still grieving over the loss of her husband, Minda has mixed emotions when she's greeted by her guardian angel, Augusta Goodnight. Shimmering with church window radiance, and smelling of strawberry jam, Augusta is a temp who's come on a double mission -- to help Minda solve Otto's murder and to take care of unfinished business from an assignment in 1916.Even though Otto could be unbearable at times, an annoying laugh is hardly cause for murder. Minda's only lead is a tiny gold pin, found wedged in a Minerva Academy bathroom stall, and its connection to a club called the Mystic Six. Together, Minda and Augusta trace the descendents of this secret society, piecing togetherclues that lead to a special quilt and the mystery behind Cousin Otto's unfortunate demise.
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April 01, 2003
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Excerpt from Shadow of an Angel by Mignon F. Ballard
Things got off to a rotten start when I found Cousin Otto dead in the ladies' room.
Of course, at first I didn't know it was Cousin Otto, and I certainly didn't know he was dead! All I could see were those big brown shoes in the stall next to mine when I bent to retrieve a roll of bathroom paper making a pathway across the floor. (Apparently the people responsible for the upkeep of historic Holley Hall had never thought to replace the broken tissue spindle.)
My neighbor's shoes were at least size twelve, scuffed at the toes, and obviously not on intimate terms with a buffing brush. I peeked again. Blue nylon socks stretched beneath creased khaki trousers. Had I wandered into the men's room by mistake? Gasping, I drew up my feet before I remembered seeing the tampon dispenser on the wall when I came in. Unless nature had taken a drastic turn, I was in the right place.
The man next door was terribly still. Did he know I knew? He was mortified, naturally. Maybe if I stayed where I was for a few minutes, it would give him a chance to escape.
It was then I noticed the small gold earring -- or it looked like an earring -- wedged in the corner of my stall. Whoever had dropped it would probably be glad to have it back, and I snatched up the trinket and put it in my shirt pocket, intending to turn it in to the academy's hostess later.
Surely by now the man to my left would realize he'd made a really big "oops!" and vamoose. I sat, afraid to breathe. Go on, I urged under my breath. Get out!
Nothing. Well, I couldn't wait forever. To heck with him!