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The Key in the Attic is available exclusively from Annie’s Attic Mysteries. You can visit their website, contact Customer Service at (800)282-6643 (8 a.m. - 7 p.m. [CST] Mon. - Fri.) or e-mail them at for more information.

An Annie’s Attic Mystery


Up in her grandmother’s attic, Annie Dawson finds an antique key that is the first clue in a 150-year-old mystery. As she and the ladies of the Hook and Needle Club try to make sense of the clues, they must also figure out how to help Mary Beth when she fears she will lose her beloved needlework shop. Perhaps the key to both problems is in Annie’s hands. (SEE EXCERPT BELOW)


Mary Beth's cottage was much like her: warm and welcoming, unpretentious, neatly kept and eclectic. As always, a picture of her beloved niece had a prominent place on her mantle.
"This is a new one, isn't it?" Annie smiled as she looked at the pretty young woman with expressive blue eyes and long blonde hair. "How is Amy these days?"
"Oh, busy-busy as usual, but she's promised me a visit soon." Mary Beth's dark eyes glowed. "I have so many things planned for when she's here. I may even close the shop for a few days, just so we'll have time together."
"Couldn't Kate–"
"Kate's been pretty busy herself these days with her pattern sales and all. I hate to keep her tied down the shop."
Or can't afford to.
"Mary Beth . . . um, how is the shop lately?"
The older woman merely made an airy gesture with both hands. "Oh, ups and downs as always. You used to help your husband with your car dealership, didn't you? You know how it is. Do you want some coffee?"
Annie held back a wry smile. So much for finding out more about Mary Beth's financial problems.
"That would be great."
She glanced around the room once Mary Beth had left it. The living room window, hung with sweet floral-patterned drapes, overlooked a garden bursting with white wild-oats, showy yellow harebells and purple columbine, but the lovely cherry writing desk that had once stood in front of it was gone. An afghan-draped rocking chair stood now in its place. What else had she been forced to sell just to stay solvent?
Annie finally turned to the object of her visit: the gleaming round walnut table that stood at the end of Mary Beth's sofa. The top was perhaps twenty inches across. The apron around it was four or five inches deep and, as Mary Beth said, brass lion heads that matched the key were placed at regular intervals around it, connected by intricately carved swags of flower garlands. The tabletop rested on a six-sided pedestal mounted on a base shaped almost like a six-pointed star, the gentle inward curves coming out to blunted points that rested on clawed feet. Like the top, the pedestal and base were lavishly carved.
Annie got down on her knees so she could see underneath the tabletop. Obviously, the apron was strictly for ornamental purposes, because there were no inner workings to conceal. All the space inside was hollow.
"This is really a beautiful table." Annie got back to her feet when Mary Beth returned with the coffee. "I'd never really noticed it when I was here before. But I see what you mean about there not being any drawers or anything."
Mary Beth handed her a steaming cup. "That's been in the family a long, long time. I think if it held any secrets, we'd know about it by now. Maybe there was a matching piece that got sold or thrown out years ago."
Annie breathed in the rich smell of the coffee, grappling with her disappointment. Then she set the cup down on the mantle, leaving it untasted.
"You know I can't leave it like that. Would you mind if I turned the table over and gave it a really good look?"
Mary Beth laughed and cleared the table of the few pictures and knickknacks that decorated it. Annie got down on her knees again and turned it onto its side and then onto its top.
"No keyhole here," she reported as she examined the base. "I thought maybe there'd be one right in the middle here, but it's only a wooden peg."
Mary Beth didn't say anything, but there was an I-could-have-told-you-that-much twinkle in her eye.
Undaunted, Annie lay the table on its side again and rapped on one of the pedestal's six sides.
"It's hollow."
"Most likely," Mary Beth said, "but you can't get into it without taking the whole thing apart."
Annie examined the carving, searching from one side to the next to the next, looking for anything that looked even slightly different from the rest. Finally she sat back.
"You can't get into it unless you have a key." She grinned at Mary Beth. "And a keyhole."
"Did you find something? No way!"
"Look right here.
" Mary Beth got down on the floor beside Annie and squinted.
"Wait a minute."
A few seconds later, she was back, her reading glasses perched on her nose.
"Now show me what you mean."
"Right there." Annie pointed out a tiny carved rose, perhaps an eighth of an inch across, that was surrounded by a dozen others just like it. "See? It's got this little channel all the way around it. And this leaf . . . see there, right next to it? . . . it's split down the middle like all the other ones, but the split on this one goes all the way through. What if . . .?" She took the key from her pocket and examined it. "What if the hollow end of this key fits over this rose and the bit slides right into the leaf?"
She tried it as she said it. The fit was snug, but the key went in.
Mary Beth's eyes were round. "Oh, Annie."
Annie's heart was going a mile a minute, and she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.
"Maybe you should open it, Mary Beth. It's yours."
"Oh, no. I'd be so excited, I'd break something. Go ahead."
"Are you sure?"
"Open it! Open it!"
Annie took a deep breath. "Here goes."
Her fingers trembling, she turned the key. There was a tiny click, but nothing else happened.
Mary Beth huffed in exasperation. Annie glanced at her and then gave the key a tug.
The whole side of the pedestal came loose.
Mary Beth had both hands over her mouth, her eyes even rounder than before. "I don't believe it."

ANNIE'S MYSTERIES (in order of publication):

The Lady in the Attic by Tara Randel
Medals in the Attic by Cathy Elliott
The Photo Album by Marlene Chase
Letters in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
The Package by Sharon Dunn
The Map in the Attic by Jolyn Sharp
Rag Doll in the Attic by Jan Fields
Boxed In by Karen Kelly
The Deed in the Attic by K. D. McCrite
Emeralds in the Attic by Jan Fields
The Wedding Dress by Mary O'Donnell
The Valise in the Attic by Jan Fields
The Unfinished Sonata by K. D. McCrite
The Stolen Canvas by Marlene Chase
A Man of His Word by Karen Kelly
The Key in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
Road Trip! by Jan Fields
The Tapestry in the Attic by Mary O'Donnell
Gunns & Roses by Karen Kelly
The Legend of Fuller's Island by Jan Fields
A Stony Point Christmas by K. D. McCrite
A Spicy Secret by D. Savannah George
The Cats and the Riddle by Jan Fields
Jazzed by Donna Kelly
The Diary in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
Angels in the Attic by Mary O'Donnell
Wild Things by Karen Kelly
The Kennel Caper by Jan Fields
The Legacy in the Attic by DeAnna Julie Dodson
The Ring in the Attic by K. D. McCrite
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