I grew up in northern Indiana which experiences all four seasons. Although spring and summer are often short, too short; here and gone before you know it. Winters can be long (and bitterly cold). However, fall is perfection. It’s my favorite time of the year. Why do I love fall? Let me count the ways.

Fall, more than any other season, touches all the senses. The days start out cool, but warm up as the day progresses. Its sweater weather and sweaters hide a multitude of sins (aka lumps, bumps and belly rolls). There’s nothing like a nice, warm cable-knit sweater to conceal where the shorts and sundresses of summer exposed every inch of unwanted cellulite. As the weather cools, the sight of the leaves changing from shades of green to the darker hues of orange, burgundy, gold and even brown are a thing of beauty. The aroma of apples and cinnamon or pumpkin spice fills the air. The taste of fall is earthy and spicy and comprises a mixture of spicy chili, hot chocolate or the nutty flavor of pumpkin spice lattes, only available for a small period at this time of year. In my hometown, South Bend, Indiana, fall sounds like the crunch of fallen leaves under foot as you walk and the roar of the crowd from a Notre Dame Football game. On a clear day you need not watch television to know when ND scores.

One of my strongest memories as a kid is walking the three blocks from my house to my branch library in the fall. I shuffled through leaves and heard them crinkle and crunch as I walked. I clutched my sweater around my body and inhaled the aroma of burning leaves. My library visits often included a brief stop at the neighborhood drug store for chocolate and a stack of Agatha Christie mysteries. I don’t know if it was the sights, the sounds, the chocolate or the smells which made those autumnal library visits standout, but years later fall looks, sounds, tastes and smells like mysteries. Each year when fall rolls around, I’m filled with an overwhelming desire to find a good mystery (and a chocolate bar) and set about figuring out whodunit.

 

A killer wants Lilly Echosby to roll over and play dead . . .

Lilly may be losing a husband but she’s gaining a toy poodle. That could be seen as a win-win, since her new adopted pooch Aggie (named after Agatha Christie) is cute and adorable, and Lilly’s dirty dog of a spouse is cheating on her with a blond bimbo—except for one problem: Albert Echosby’s just been murdered, and Lilly is the number-one suspect.

With the cops barking up the wrong tree, it’s a good thing her best friend Scarlett “Dixie” Jefferson from Chattanooga, Tennessee, decided to take a break from the dog club circuit to pay a visit, along with her own prize pair of poodles. With help from Dixie, her defense attorney daughter, and a blue-eyed man in blue with a K-9 partner, Lilly is determined to collar the real killer. But when a second murder occurs, it’s clear they’re dealing with one sick puppy . . .