Dinah loves Christmas. She loves history, the old Wagner House, and the elderly women working to preserve its heritage. She loves almost everything except Mick Wagner, her childhood nemesis.
But if they want to save the Wagner House and solve a mystery that's been hiding in the attic for almost eighty years, they'll have to join forces. And they have to do it quickly, before one of them dies trying.
The Farmer’s Almanac promised December would be cold and snowy. Wouldn’t be the first time farmers got something wrong. Eighteen days until Christmas, and it was warm enough for a spring jacket. Still, Dinah checked the extended forecast every day and tracked the national radar maps. She read barometric pressure, sun dogs, cloud formations, and the bands on woolly bear caterpillars with increasingly waning hopes of snow.
Dinah shrugged her camera farther up her shoulder and considered the house before her. It would be so much nicer with snow heaped on the bushes. Ah, well. Milwaukee was a typically stubborn Midwest city, prone to cantankerous mood swings and contrary weather. Snow could still happen, but in the meantime, she needed outdoor photos of the stately Wagner House. Ten days ’til the first Wagner House extravaganza, but only two photos on the website. Not enough to generate curiosity.
She took traditional shots, artsy ones, and some closeups to add to the wide-angle pictures she’d snapped yesterday. The Christmas lights were already strung but wouldn’t be plugged in until the sun went down, so she focused on the wreaths hanging on the door and in windows, and swags of garland wrapping the porch columns. Were such outdoor festoons common in the 1930’s era? Dinah pulled the door to enter the old home.
It didn’t budge. Must be stuck. Maybe the hinges needed oiling. One more shove on the door, and Dinah gave up. It was an excuse to push the ornate ivory doorbell button that connected to the chimes inside. They were programmed to play several notes from “Winter Wonderland,” the theme of the Christmas fundraiser.
She rang the bell and pressed her ear to the door to hear the chimes.
From inside came the bellow, “Coming!” followed by a loud thump and a scream that drowned out the cheerful tune.