Excerpt from “Smoke: An Imogene Duckworthy Mystery” by Kaye George

In this second in the series, Imogene, who yearns to be a PI, has landed a job assisting Mike Mallett in Wymee Falls, Texas. In the course of bring a pot-bellied pig home as a birthday gift for her daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, Immy discovers the owner of Jerry’s Jerky hanging in his own smokeroom. The pig breeder, Amy JoBeth, is implicated, Immy feels compelled to try to find the real killer. The gentle, somewhat depressed woman couldn’t have killed Rusty Bucket. Could she?


Imogene Duckworthy did not like pigs. She was fairly fond of cattle, having grown up surrounded by them. She hadn’t been around pigs much. In fact, this was the first time she’d ever driven toward a pig farm.

Immy drove the ancient Dodge van out of Saltlick, a small Texas town with at least one foot planted firmly in the last century, and down the highway where cattle ranches, thickets of mesquite, and a few old oil wells stretched to the horizon. Cowboy country, not pig country. Not a pig in sight.

Her daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, three-years-old-going-on-four, was squealing like a pig in her car seat. Drew adored swine. She had recently transferred her passion from Barbie dolls to pigs (with a brief interlude of worshipping hippopotamuses–because she liked saying the word). Since Immy loathed the fixation on Barbies, she was trying really hard to like pigs.

In fact, she was on her way to pick one out for Drew’s upcoming birthday.

“Pig, pig, pig!” squealed Drew. “I’m getting a big, big pig!”

Immy cringed. Not too big, she hoped.

Immy would do anything for her daughter, anything in the world, but she wondered if this was the right thing.

Her mother, Hortense Duckworthy, thought Drew should have a pig. Drew certainly wanted a pig. But the money to pay for it was making a dent, a ravine–no, a crater–in the pile Immy had saved to buy herself a car. A nice, clean, used car that had shiny paint and no rattles. Or maybe less rattles than the van.

After the dent made by the payment for her online PI course, her pile of savings was more like an ant hill. Not a big fire ant hill, either, a puny mound made by those Yankee red ants.


Kaye George is a twice-Agatha-nominated novelist and short story writer. She belongs to Sisters in Crime and Guppies. Her stories have been published separately and in several anthologies. She reviews for “Suspense Magazine” and blogs for a group blogs and a solo one. She and her husband live near Waco, Texas. Visit http://kayegeorge.com/ for more details.