Spunky Bumpkin

Country Cousins Mysteries Book 3

In a small country town, justice might be swift…but rumor is swifter!

Joey’s friend, Deputy Arno Willager gets a call, and learns he must arrest his own mother for murder. And if that doesn’t turn his life upside down enough, he also finds himself dealing with an ailing senior dog, whose near fatal poisoning was allegedly believed to be the cause of his mother embracing vigilante justice.

Arno’s reeling and emotional, and not thinking clearly at all.

He needs Joey and Hal’s help to clear his mom of murder most foul.

And, when he finds the real murderer, he might need their help to keep him from committing murder himself.

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Praise for Mucky Bumpkin

Dorothy - Booksprout Reviewer

Spunky Bumpkin is a delightful mystery in the Country Cousin series by Sam Cheever. Joey and her P.I. boyfriend, Hal, are asked to help with an investigation by Deputy Arno Willager. His mother was found at a murder scene after her dog had been poisoned. The victim was the most hated man in town and suspects seem to multiply. Joey and Hal get closer, but so does danger. Spunky Bumpkin has a small town feel, likable characters, plot twists, and lots of humor.

Carol - Booksprout Reviewer

A fun and interesting read with juicy clues sprinkled all over the place. I think it is so sweet that Hal is so in tune with Joey and it shows how much he must love her to put up and deal effectively with her insecurities,. I enjoyed this cozy mystery and will be looking out for more from Sam

Read an Excerpt

I was a soggy, sobbing mess. I’d known I shouldn’t let Hal talk me into watching a movie about a boy and his dog. That never ended well for the dog.

Hollyweird just loved making pet lovers miserable.

On the screen, the eighteen-year-old gave his sad-eyed dog, which had been at his side since he was a small boy, a negligent wave and walked out the door, heading off to college and new excitement…without his faithful canine companion.

The dog sank dejectedly to the boy’s bed, nose on paws and liquid brown eyes sad enough to make a serial killer sob, and I broke down into loud, inconsolable sobbing of my own.

Hal looked alarmed. He tried to move closer to wrap an arm around my shoulders, but Caphy was having none of it. If there was consoling to do, she’d be the dog to do it.

After all, it had been the human male who’d gotten me into the mess, it would take a pibl to ease me out of it.

She’d jumped up onto the couch between us at the start of the movie, draping her heavy form across my lap as if she’d known we needed to store up a good dose of canine comfort, and she wasn’t letting anybody near me as I completely fell apart.

She’d even given LaLee a low growl, the hair on her back rising to reinforce the warning.

I wrapped my arms around her and buried my face in her sweet-smelling fur, sobbing uncontrollably.

Hal’s big, warm hand found my shoulder and patted ineffectually. He clicked off the movie, and the room fell silent except for my sniffling and the occasional hiccupping sob.

I could feel Hal’s regret like a vibration on the air.

I finally stopped crying and lifted my head, running the heel of my hand across my cheeks to sop up some of the copious moisture there.

Hal wordlessly handed me his pristine handkerchief.

“Thank you,” I said in a tear-clogged voice. “Sorry.”

He shook his head, squeezing my shoulder, which was the only part of my body Caphy was allowing him to touch. “It’s my fault. You tried to warn me.”

I gave a watery laugh. “I did.”

A deep rumble sounded behind me, and I turned my head to see LaLee had moved closer. She sat like a Sphinx on the back of the couch, her pretty blue gaze locked onto mine. “Hey, girl.” The cat reached out a paw and touched my cheek, not even releasing her claws as she did.

It was a huge concession for her and I deeply appreciated it.

I smiled, sniffling loudly. “Thanks, LaLee.”

Hal got up to get me some water, and I lay my head back, feeling drained from my cry-athon as well as from the deep sadness spurred inside me by the movie. I’d never understand why people liked to watch sad movies. All they did was drain me of energy and leave me feeling depressed.

My phone rang, making me jump. I glanced at the old-fashioned wall clock above the TV. Eleven o’clock at night. Who in the world would be calling me?

Then I realized it might be my mom and jumped on my cell phone without looking at the ID.

“Hello?”

“Joey.” His voice was raw, broken, and I sat immediately upright. “Arno? What’s wrong?”

Hal came in carrying my glass of water and looked a question at me. I shook my head to let him know I had no idea.

Silence was the only response Arno gave me.

My mind formed a picture of the Deputy lying broken in a ditch somewhere. I gently shoved Caphy off my lap and stood. “Arno, talk to me. Are you okay?”

“She…” Arno took a deep, trembling breath, clearly struggling to say what needed to be said.

I slipped into the flip-flops I’d kicked nearly under the couch. “Tell me where you are. Hal and I will come to you.”

Another short silence broke on the sound of Arno clearing his throat. “Twenty-five Sixteen Antler’s Way. Hurry.”

“We’ll be there in five minutes. Arno?”

I waited for him to respond. “Yeah?”

“Whatever it is, it’s going to be all right. Okay?”

He took a shuddering breath. “I’m not so sure about that, Joey.”

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