find. Henry said she lived right across the hall.” Chapter 14 “So, this is the scene of the crime,” Ida said as they pulled up in front of an old Victorian. From outward appearances, it was hard to imagine that something sinister had happened inside. It was nicely kept, with off-white siding and purple trim. “Looks like a birthday cake,” Ruth said as they walked up the steps toward the purple door. She opened the door to reveal a small entryway. A set of stairs loomed in front of them. Old-fashioned green flowered wallpaper papered the walls. The floor was hardwood, scuffed from years of wear. To the right was a solid oak door with the number Two on it. “According to the case files, Rosa and Henry lived at number two.” Nans gestured toward the door on the other side of the hall which had a number One. “So this one must be Mrs. Pettigrew.” Ruth was standing closest to the door, so she knocked. “Who is it?” A voice drifted out almost before the knock stopped echoing. Clearly, Mrs. Pettigrew kept a close eye on the place and had seen them come in. “It’s the Ladies’ Detective Agency.” Nans’s voice took on an official tone. “We have some questions on a case if you’d be so kind as to answer them.” Of course, Doris Pettigrew would be thrilled to answer questions. If she was truly the busybody that it sounded like she was, she wouldn’t be able to resist the lure of gossip and finding out exactly what case the ladies were referring to. Lexy heard a series of locks clicking and chains sliding, and then the door cracked and a rheumy blue eye appeared. “Do you have any credentials?” “Of course.” Nans shoved a business card at her. It was in a laminate case, so it resembled an official badge of some sort. Doris snatched the card and pulled it inside. It took her a few seconds, but Nans’s card must have passed muster because the door opened and Doris said, “Come in.” Ida went in first. “Oh, this is… unusual.” Lexy peered over Ida’s head. She couldn’t be sure exactly what Ida thought was unusual. There were so many things. It could have been the giant four-foot-tall dolls that stood around the edge of the room. Or it might have been the knitted afghans that covered every surface. Or maybe it was the stuffed animals that were sitting on the couch as if holding a conversation. Then again, it might have been the herd of cats that was sniffing around Ida’s ankles. Doris handed the card back to Nans. “I’m Doris Pettigrew, by the way.” They all introduced themselves, and Doris gestured toward the living room for them to sit. Ida gingerly plucked a large pink elephant off the sofa and put it on the floor then took its place. A black cat immediately jumped into her lap. The rest of the ladies followed her lead, moving dolls aside, disturbing stuffed animals, and pushing cats out of their laps. Lexy sat in the only chair not occupied by a stuffed animal. The smell of mothballs wafted up as the rough wool of the crocheted granny square pillow irritated her arm. Achoo! Helen sneezed and pushed the fluffy tail of a white Persian out of her face.