Question of Devotion by Anita Kulina
Publisher: Brandt Street Press (November 8, 2016)
Category: Cozy Mystery, Women Sleuths
Tour Date: March & April, 2017
Available in: Print & ebook, 256 Pages
Then she saw it – a sheet of paper in the mailbox, underneath the mail. It was white with large black letters and said LEAVE IT ALONE.
Mrs. B has a quiet life, and she likes it that way. Morning pinochle games at St. Mary’s Senior Center. Afternoon lunches with Myrtle, Anne and Rose. Peaceful evenings with a cup of coffee and the classic movie channel.
But one day she wakes to a phone call, which leads to consequences she could never have foreseen. Secrets snowball and threaten to change the neighborhood of Burchfield forever. Someone has to make things right. It’s up to Mrs. B.
Praise for Question of Devotion by Anita Kulina
“If you can picture Columbo when he’s retired, and spending more time in church and the kitchen, and Polish, and wearing a babushka, you have a sense of the down-home detective that Anita Kulina has created. I love Mrs. B!”-Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette columnist and author of The Paris of Appalachia
“A Question of Devotion is a comforting snapshot of an aging population, where the way of life is still bound by churches, neighborhoods, and countries of origin. Its heroine, Mrs. B, is not just an old woman living out her twilight years at the senior center, but an able detective engaged in solving a mystery as cozy as cocoa and afghans on a cold Western Pennsylvania day.”-Kathryn Miller Haines, author of the Rosie Winter Mysteries and the Iris Anderson Mysteries
Mrs. B chomped her toast. She tapped her stubby pencil on the table—tap tap tap. She couldn’t figure out what 8 down was. She had half the letters and was a little ticked at herself.
The crossword came in the evening paper but she had gotten into the habit of doing the puzzle in the morning. She always got the quick crossword but this Chicago one vexed her on a good day, and today was not starting out to be a good day.
An hour before, when she got out of the shower, the red light was blinking on her answering machine. It was Myrtle Monaghan, one of her friends from Burchfield’s Senior Center, and it sounded like she might be crying.
“Can you meet me, Edwina, before you play cards this morning?” Myrtle seemed to choke on the last word. “I’ll wait for you at the bench by the bus stop.”
Now, Mrs. B set her pencil down and glanced at the clock. Eight fifteen. She looked down at the milky coffee in her cup. It was tepid but she didn’t want to take the time to warm it. Myrtle could already be waiting on the bench across from the church.
Taking a last bite of toast, Mrs. B pulled on a heavy blue sweater and dug through her purse. With the key she finally found under a handkerchief, she unlocked the deadbolt her daughter Helen had insisted on buying the last time she visited, and opened her front door.
Mrs. B paused for a second in the doorway, taking in the new day. It was cool. Crisp. She pulled a square red scarf from the sweater’s pocket—a babushka, they called it back on Polish Hill, where she had grown up—and folded it into a triangle. Slowly, as she held the railing, she went down the five steps from the porch.
At the bottom of the steps she paused to put the babushka on her head. As she tied it under her chin she could hear the skritch skritch of Jimmy’s broom. “Morning, Jimmy,” she said.
“Morning, Ed!” Next door, Jimmy was sweeping his already-clean sidewalk. Though he was almost as old as Mrs. B, Jimmy never came down to the Senior Center. “No time,” he told her once. “Always something needs done.”
Jimmy had never married, but his house was always immaculate. Mrs. B was afraid to drop a crumb in his living room on the rare afternoons when his sister visited him and Mrs. B was invited for coffee.
“Isn’t it a fine day?” he said, not looking up from his broom. “A fine day.”
She nodded as she headed down the street toward the avenue. The gray sidewalk was cracked two doors down where a tree had grown too big, and Mrs. B stepped carefully to avoid tripping over the rise in the pavement.
Myrtle never called her on the phone. Whatever it was, it must be important.
Mrs. B passed the Roarke’s, the Farrell’s. Mrs. Papp was getting the paper from her front stoop. Across the street, Betty Daley was leaning out her window, shooing a pigeon off the roof of her porch.
“Morning, Mrs. B.”
Mrs. B waved as a teenager ran past her in a school uniform. It looked like it might be Julie Kennedy, but Mrs. B wasn’t sure. All those high school girls wore their hair so much alike, and with a uniform it was hard to tell. The girl ran toward the church. Probably late for Mass. The nuns sent the seniors at St. Mary’s High School to Mass on Fridays instead of religion class.
At the corner, Mrs. B turned to her right and crossed the street. Across the avenue, on either side of the school building, stood the bare skeletons of booths waiting to be decorated for St. Mary’s fall festival. When Mrs. B was a young mother, she’d taken her turn volunteering for the fair, sorting items for the New To You sale in the church basement, twisting crepe paper and hanging it along shelving while the school custodian tacked lights to the top of a booth. She was glad she didn’t have to do that anymore. It raised a lot of money for St. Mary’s, but it was a lot of work.
Making a sign of the cross as she passed the church, Mrs. B headed toward the bus stop. Myrtle was already sitting there.
“Are you okay?” Mrs. B sat down next to her friend.
This excerpt continues on Mar 2nd here:
About Anita Kulina
Like most people who love to write, Anita Kulina has been telling stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. Her first publication was in the letters-to-the-editor column of Adventure Comics #341. Nowadays, much of her work centers on the rich and colorful lives of Pittsburgh’s working poor. Since Anita spent much of her life in those ranks, it’s a subject dear to her heart.
Her book Millhunks and Renegades won her the Achievement in Literature award from the community of Hazelwood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is currently at work on the next two Mrs. B books.
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My Review: 3.5 stars
This is my first book by this author and I thought this was a good book to pick up and read. It’s not really my usual but sometimes reading things that are not your genere can be a good thing.
This Story seemed cozy for me it is considered to be a cozy mystery so I do love a good cozy mystery read. But I think it was more towards the Women Sleuths genere. The story was good and the mystery was my favorite part of the story. I also liked the characters Mrs. B was my favorite of them all.
It was a little slow at first but I am glad that I stuck with it. If you like cozy mysterys or Women euths books. This is for you.