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I couldn’t find the garden fairy. She was nowhere to be seen. Normally she rests ever so lightly on the lip of a flower pot that contains a rather unruly butterfly plant. Concerning, yes, but not a cause for true alarm. It was several days later when the plant ties disappeared that I began to worry. It’s true that I had been careless and left them on the patio table while gardening. What was going on in my back yard? It’s secluded, you see. There are two wrought iron gates but both are closed and locked. I sat in the glider under the ceiling fan in the Taj Mahal carport and pondered, my coffee growing cold.

Miss Marple slipped through the iron bars of the side gate and came to join me. She lives Miss Marplenext door and occasionally drops by when I’m out and about in the yard. I guess you could say we have a comfortable relationship. She will lounge on the concrete floor, or choose one of the patio chairs and stretch out along the seat. I think she finds the woven metal mesh a good air conditioner. We don’t speak on these occasions, nor do we go in for anything touchy feely. We respect each other’s space.

The next day when I went out to sit in the glider and drink my morning coffee, I discovered that one of the tassels was missing from my seat cushion. It’s a pretty coral color and I absolutely adore the peacock design with bold blues, greens, and a touch of mustard. It’s my new favorite summer thing and I’m disheartened to see that it has fallen victim to the mysterious thief in the night.

This could not go on. I needed to get to the bottom of things. As I sat trying to devise a plan to catch the thief, my neighbor appeared at the garden gate. I invited her in for coffee and as we sat she drew three items from her pocket: the garden fairy, a small bundle of plant ties, and a coral tassel. She informed me that she had been vacuuming Miss Marple’s bed and found them.

You can imagine my relief. I may never know who slipped into my garden and made off with my valuables or if such acts against me will be repeated but I am relieved to know that, true to her name, Miss Marple is on the case and what is lost will be found.

Head shot preferredAs a child growing up in the rural South, Rebecca Barrett became a lifelong reader and story teller with the arrival of the Bookmobile. That marvelous innovation of the county library system opened the door onto the greater world for her and set her on a path of tall tales that has been a vital part of her life since she was eight.

There were always cats and dogs on the farm. Dogs were easy, but cats, now that was a whole other story. The study of cats gives life to all kinds of personalities and creates a wealth of characters in a child’s mind, especially if you’re the only girl in a small community rife with rough and tumble boys. So, now, all those hours spent spinning stories around her cats has spurred her imagination to enter the world of Trouble, the Sherlock of black cat detectives.

Trouble in Paradise is Rebecca Barrett’s second book in the Familiar Legacy mystery series. She also writes historical women’s fiction. Road’s End is set in the South between the two world wars and is a story of love, betrayal, and dark secrets of three generations of Carroll women ruled by passion. Samples of her short stories and children’s stories can be found on her website.