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!