Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Mystery of the Chatterley Cookie Cutters

by Maddie Briggs, baker extraordinaire and Olivia Greyson’s energetic sidekick in THE COOKIE CUTTER SHOP MYSTERIES, by Virginia Lowell.

It’s six a.m., and I, Maddie Briggs, am in one of my most favorite places on earth—the kitchen of The Gingerbread House. I am, of course, baking dozens of cutout cookies, which makes the whole store smell like a lemon grove in the sun. Except better. Livie will be here soon. We’re in the midst of a mystery involving a cookie cutter collection, so we have much to discuss before the store opens.

However, fascinated as I am by our current mystery, at the moment all I can think about is a different cookie cutter collection—the famous Chatterley family collection, to be precise. Some folks here insist the Chatterley collection is a myth, but I know better. My Aunt Sadie, who knows pretty much everything about our town, told me that the Chatterley wives had often mentioned specific cutters in their diaries, which go all the way back to the founding of Chatterley Heights, way before the American Revolution.

In the early 1700s, the long suffering wife of old Frederick P. Chatterley, accidental founder of our town, brought a collection of cookie cutters with her from Europe. As I remember, her name was Amanda, but don’t quote me on that. Anyway, Amanda was quite the cookie baker, although Aunt Sadie thinks her cook did the actual mixing, rolling, cutting, and baking. But Amanda definitely loved cookie cutters. According to Chatterley Heights legend, she amassed a large collection of the lovely little things.

Aunt Sadie, in her much younger days, spent a summer reading the journals penned by a succession of Chatterley wives. The journals dated all the way back to Amanda Chatterley. Luckily, Aunt Sadie has an excellent memory, especially for anything related to cookie cutters. She told me that most of the Chatterley wives carried on the cutter collecting tradition, resulting in a collection of epic proportions. Several of the wives even commissioned specially designed cutters to commemorate family events.

But here’s the mysterious part. Somewhere in the early 20th century, the wives’ journals stopped mentioning the family cookie cutter collection. It wasn’t sold, at least as far as Aunt Sadie could tell. None of the journals hinted that the collection might have been stolen, given away, sold, or buried in the backyard of the Chatterley Mansion—with or without a body.

Sometimes I dream about discovering the Chatterley cookie cutter collection, often in a delightfully quirky hiding place—like under the statue of Frederick P. Chatterley trying to mount his horse. I know Livie, too, would love to find out what happened to the collection, but apparently her dreams mostly involve actual decorated cookies and the consumption thereof. I can resonate with that. (I suspect her dreams also include her “special friend,” Sheriff Del Jenkins. Also understandable.)

So what do you think might have happened to the Chatterley cookie cutter collection? If you were me, where would you start looking? Playful answers encouraged, too! The collection will probably never be found, so we might as well make a game of it, right?

COOKIES AND SCREAM, the fifth book in the COOKIE CUTTER SHOP series, will be released on July 1, 2014. To celebrate, I’ll be giving away one free copy! Visit me again at killercharacters.com on June 24 and leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of COOKIES AND SCREAM!

Virginia Lowell
www.virginialowell.com

12 comments:

  1. Maybe someone hid them away in a "safe" place in the Chatterley mansion. Wouldn't searching the attics be fun? Or maybe interesting...

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    1. Good idea! We seem to be good at searching other peoples' attics!
      Maddie

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  2. i like the idea of the mansion. Maybe there are wonderful secret places (hidden stairways and such), and a family child took them to play with in one of the hide-aways and left them.

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    1. Oooh, that sounds like fun. Right up my alley... or secret passageway. It's a good thing I don't need much sleep!

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  3. I would look for them behind the wall the was built when they remodeled the kitchen not realizing they were boxing in the famous cookie cutters.

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    1. Interesting idea! The mansion was remodeled several times over the centuries, especially the kitchen. Those Chatterley wives loved to cook, and the kitchen always had to be up-to-date. My husband, Lucas, loves to work with architectural plans. He could look for anomalies that might indicate a space that shouldn't be there. It's a good thing I don't need much sleep!
      Maddie

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  4. Depends on the size of the collection -- if they're anything like mine and stored in a rolled up paper bag, they could slip behind a drawer and fall down....maybe a crack in the wall down to the basement or cellar... Or tucked on a very high shadowy shelf? I've got a real-life story about some very old family quilt blocks that were rescued at the last minute before the house was sold and we lost them forever.

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    1. Hm, I'll have to take a look. Chatterley Heights hasn't had a lot of money for renovations since the Chatterley family faded away, so there might be some surprises just about anywhere in that mansion. I so need the key to that place.
      Maddie

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  5. Cookie cutters through history are a mystery in themselves. Would love to read and review this cozy!! Ronnalord(at)msn(dot)com

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    1. They are indeed! Some were actually signed, but many were made by itinerant tin workers using scraps to make a variety of shapes and selling them door to door. I'd love to find those cutters and see if I could get any clues to the identity of the tin workers who made them. It would be so cool, especially if it meant I could explore the Chatterley Mansion from attic to root cellar.
      Maddie

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  6. Hidden in a hollowed out cookbook on the dusty top shelf - behind other dusty old ancient boring books! - in the library. Would you climb up that rickety ladder with missing steps to have dust, spiders and whatever float down on you...?

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  7. Maybe hidden in plain sight. That would work for my kitchen cupboards. Good luck finding anything in them.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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