Let There Be Suspects

Published by: Berkley
ISBN13: 978-0425213070
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Now that the recent excitement in her husband's congregation has "died" down, Aggie is certain her life in bucolic Emerald Springs will return to normal. Then mother Junie decides Christmas is a perfect time for a family reunion. At Aggie's house, during an all-church open house. The holidays can really be a killer, particularly when sisters squabble and peace and goodwill are noticeably absent. Can Aggie give her family the best Christmas gift of all? Clearing her youngest sister of murder charges?


“A delightful cozy.”
—Midwest Book Review (five-star review)

“On a one-to-five scale, with five being a ‘must read,’ Let There Be Suspects is a six.”
—Cozy Library

“A well crafted mystery with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing to the end. I highly recommend this book and the whole series.”
—Spinetingler magazine

“Zany characters add sparkle to this engaging cozy, where mystery is never in short supply.”
—Romantic Times BOOKreviews


I loved introducing the Wilcox family in the first book of the Ministry is Murder series, Blessed is the Busybody. Clearly, though, my heroine/sleuth Aggie Sloan-Wilcox has a colorful family history all her own. Aggie’s dad is a former Vietnam vet who lives in a survivalist compound in Indiana, and Aggie’s mom, the much married Junie Bluebird, spent Aggie’s childhood following the craft show and Renaissance fair circuit coast to coast with her three daughters, Aggie and sisters Vel and Sid. Although Vel and Sid are Aggie’s half-sisters, they have always been particularly close. After all, they need to present a united front when it comes to dealing with their beloved flower child mother.

As I envisioned the life Junie and her children had led, one thing was clear to me. This was a woman who would reach out to anyone in need. And as much as she loved children, a child in distress would tear at her heart. So the portrait of Ginger Newton began to form. Ginger, the child of stained glass artist “Fig” who participated in the same shows Junie did, was in need of the love and nurturing her neglectful alcoholic mother couldn’t give. Junie was the obvious person to step in to try to fill that gap. So Ginger was far too often an addition to Junie’s family, sometimes for months at a time.

Of course Ginger wasn’t unscathed by her childhood, nor was she a willing sister to Junie’s girls, with whom she was forced to compete for attention. So Ginger was a manipulator, a girl and later a woman, who used every means at her disposal to get what she wanted. Sid, Aggie’s youngest sister, was often Ginger’s victim, and Ginger’s frequent presence in their lives was Sid’s particular cross to bear.

So what would happen if Aggie’s mother and sisters came to Emerald Springs for a Christmas reunion? And what would happen if Ginger and her husband showed up, too, courtesy of optimistic Junie? Do old patterns die to be replaced by new and better ones? Unfortunately, as a former family counselor, I know the answer to that one. Not always.

While I was mulling over the delicious possibilities, I came across a series of newspaper articles about a pain management doctor in McLean, Virginia, who was on trial for prescribing too many drugs to his patients. I followed the case with interest, and I wondered, as did the court, where the line has to be drawn between pain management and exploitation.

The result is Let There Be Suspects. I loved delving into Aggie’s childhood, and will continue to. Whenever I sit down to learn more, I am fascinated by the stories she tells me.