You Can’t Get Blood Out of Shag Carpet

Wanda Jean Milton discovers her husband, local exterminator Hilton Milton, dead on her new shag carpet with an Old Hickory carving knife sticking out of his chest. Beside herself over how she’ll remove the stain, and grief-stricken over Hilton’s demise, Wanda Jean finds herself the prime suspect in the case. But she is also a member of “the” local Study Club, a bastion of independent Texas feminism 1960s style. Club President Clara Wyler has no intention of allowing a member to be a murder suspect during her administration. Aided by her younger sister and County Clerk, Mae Ella Gormley; Sugar Watson, the proprietress of Sugar’s Style and Spray; and Wilma Schneider, Army MASH veteran and local RN, the Club women set out to clear Wanda Jean’s name — never guessing the local dirt they’ll uncover in the process.

“I usually don’t take time to write reviews, but, I laughed at so many pages, I can’t help but feel I have to recommend this book.” – Avid Readers Who Loves Kindle, Amazon Reviewer

“Juliette Harper completely nailed the whole “Texas in the 60s” attitude and lifestyle, and the book was so funny that I laughed out loud and actually read parts of it to a friend. This is different than her other books, but I think it’s my new favorite series. I’m excited to see her branching out and can’t wait for the next one!” – MysteryMaven, Amazon Reviewer

“If you are a Southern woman, are related to a Southern woman, or have ever known a Southern woman… the Study Club ladies will tickle your funny bone.” – Marjorie McKinstry

“Funny and thoughtful, this satire of a small Texas town during the late sixties is really perfection. I came of age during the sixties, and do not remember the teased, bouffant hairdos and uncomfortable hard plastic molded furniture with much fondness, but this novel gave me a new perspective on the decade. My mother, and the mothers of many of my friends, were terribly frustrated and bored by the social standards of the time, which required women to stop working once they started reproducing. This novel shows how the steering committee of a small town women’s study club found meaning in their lives, despite the strict strictures of the day that limited their sphere of influence, and proceed to basically ran the town behind the scenes, as well addressing many of the social issues of the day.” – Amazon Reviewer

Read an Excerpt

Sugar Watson took a long drag on her Camel and critically appraised the height of Clara Wyler’s black bouffant. “You want me to go a little higher, honey?” she asked, punctuating the question with a well-developed smoker’s cough. “If I rat it up real good, I can get you another 2 or 3 inches on top.”

Clara squinted at herself in the mirror. “I think I’m good, Sugar,” she said. “What with Wanda Jean finding Hilton dead in the living room, I don’t want to look insincere at Study Club.”

Sugar leaned in conspiratorially. “I know we don’t ever throw anybody out of the Study Club, but my Lord, what in the world are we gonna do if she really did kill him?”

Clara glanced around to confirm that all the other women in Sugar’s Style and Spray were safely tucked under the dryers. “Well, she called me herself to assure me that she didn’t do it,” Clara said. “She owned up to wanting to, but she didn’t do it.”

“Well, hell,” Sugar said, “we’ve all thought about killing our husbands. That’s just part of being married. But nobody’s ever walked in my house and found Slim laying there with an Old Hickory carving knife sticking out of his chest. What did Wanda Jean say about finding him?”

“She told me the first thing she thought about was how hard it was gonna be to get the blood out of that new shag carpet they put in last month,” Clara said. “You know they went with the deep pile.”

“I know,” Sugar said. “I looked at it too when T.J. put the ad in the paper, but my vacuum cleaner just won’t suck up dirt good enough for that. Is it a light carpet?”

“I didn’t think to ask her,” Clara said, unclipping the plastic cape around her neck and handing it to Sugar. “Anyway, she said she just stood there thinking about how you can’t get blood out of shag carpet. Then it dawned on her maybe she ought to check him for a pulse.”

“I hope it wasn’t a light carpet,” Sugar said, rearranging cans of Aqua Net on the counter. “Those boys from the ambulance service never think to wipe their feet before they go in to get a body. You should have seen the mess they made when Blake Trinkle died. They just ruined Maybelline’s carpet. She spent as much getting it cleaned as she did on the funeral.”

“That’s so inconsiderate,” Clara agreed. “People just don’t think. Now you’re not gonna be late this afternoon, are you?”

“Of course not,” Sugar said. “Flowers knows not to book me on the third Thursday at three. Study Club day is sacred.”

“Good, I have to go by the bakery and . . .”

The look on Sugar’s face stopped Clara mid-sentence. “Good Lord, Sugar,” she said. “You look like you swallowed one of your Camels.”

“I think we’re gonna be one short for Club,” Sugar croaked. “Look.”

Clara glanced out the front window in time to see Sheriff Lester Harper helping a handcuffed Wanda Jean Milton out of the backseat of his car. “What is that man thinking!” she exclaimed. “Parading her in front of God and everybody on the courthouse square!”

“Well, Clara,” Sugar said, “he is the law.”

“Horsefeathers,” Clara snorted, heading out the front door. The minute she hit the sidewalk, she bellowed, “Lester! What in the hell are you doing?”

Sheriff Lester Harper turned toward her and his face fell. “Now, Clara,” he began.

“Don’t you ‘now Clara’ me,” she declared, ignoring the cars that skidded to a stop as she charged across the street. “I don’t care if you do think Wanda Jean killed her husband. Murder’s not a good enough reason to embarrass a woman in public.”

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