Read Steps to the Altar Online

Authors: Earlene Fowler

Steps to the Altar

Steps to the Altar
Fowler, Earlene
Berkley Prime Crime (2003)

SUMMARY:
Ninth in the Agatha Award-winning series that's been hailed as engrossing, Steps to the Altar finds California folk art expert Benni Harper preparing for two upcoming weddings, digging up clues to a decades-old unsolved murder-and struggling with a very personal crisis of the heart...

Steps to the Altar
Fowler, Earlene
Berkley Prime Crime (2003)

SUMMARY:
Ninth in the Agatha Award-winning series that's been hailed as engrossing, Steps to the Altar finds California folk art expert Benni Harper preparing for two upcoming weddings, digging up clues to a decades-old unsolved murder-and struggling with a very personal crisis of the heart...

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

Chapter 1 - GABE

Chapter 2 - BENNI

Chapter 3 - BENNI

Chapter 4 - BENNI

Chapter 5 - BENNI

Chapter 6 - GABE

Chapter 7 - BENNI

Chapter 8 - BENNI

Chapter 9 - BENNI

Chapter 10 - BENNI

Chapter 11 - BENNI

Chapter 12 - GABE

Chapter 13 - BENNI

Chapter 14 - BENNI

Chapter 15 - GABE

Chapter 16 - BENNI

Chapter 17 - BENNI

Chapter 18 - GABE

Chapter 19 - BENNI

Chapter 20 - BENNI

Chapter 21 - BENNI

Chapter 22 - BENNI

Chapter 23 - BENNI

Chapter 24 - GABE

Chapter 25 - BENNI

Chapter 26 - GABE

Teaser chapter

EARLENE FOWLER

PRAISE FOR EARLENE FOWLER’S

Benni Harper Mysteries

Steps to the Altar

“Fowler pulls off an enviable writing coup and gives readers
a book that . . . transports us to another time and place
peopled with friends we cherish. In the process, the author
shows us the power of true love.”

—Crescent Blues

“Interesting. . . . Readers are able to feel close to both protagonists
and understand their feelings and actions.”

—Midwest Book Review

“Hoorah! A new Benni Harper mystery!”

—The BookNook

Arkansas Traveler

“A cross between
Steel Magnolias
and
To Kill a Mockingbird
. . . thoughtfully written, laugh-out-loud funny, and
powerfully evocative.”

—Ventura (CA) County Star

“The sweet sentimentality of this paean to small Southern
towns—with shrine-like reverence for Southern cooking,
the Waffle House, and the Dairy Queen—is the glaze that
holds this story together.”

—Houston Chronicle

Seven Sisters

“Engrossing . . . a compelling story of families torn apart
by divided loyalties.”

—Publishers Weekly

“May be the best of the series. . . . The emphasis on skeletons
in a California family’s closet echoes Ross Macdonald,
while the tone and feel of the novel will remind
readers of Nevada Barr.”

—Booklist

Mariner’s Compass

Winner of the Agatha Award for Best Novel

“Captivating . . . [an] excellent addition to a notable series.”

—Publishers Weekly
(starred review)

“Fowler’s plots can be as outrageous as Ellery Queen’s, her
turf is Ross Macdonald’s, and her tone is heir to Grafton
and Paretsky. . . . An up-and-comer worth watching.”

—Nashville Scene

Dove in the Window
Nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel

“Excellent. . . . While the characters are perhaps the most
vivid feature, setting nearly edges them out. Best of all is
Benni’s sharp, sassy voice.”

—The Booknews

“Fowler writes beautifully about the picturesque Central
Coast, ranching, and local cuisine.”

—Booklist

Goose in the Pond
Nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel

“Engaging.”

—Booklist

“Brilliantly crafted romantic suspense . . . waiting to be
devoured by the reader.”

—The Mystery Zone

Kansas Troubles
Nominated for an Agatha Award for Best Novel

“Mayhem, murder, chaos, and romance . . . well-paced
mystery . . . fun reading.”
—The Kansas Daily Reporter

“A lot of fun to read. Fowler has a deft touch.”

—The Wichita Eagle

Irish Chain

“Terrific. . . . The dialogue is intelligent and witty, the
characters intensely human, and the tantalizing puzzle
keeps the pages turning.”

—Jean Hager, author of
The Redbird’s Cry

“This well-textured sequel . . . intricately blends social history
and modern mystery.”

—Publishers Weekly

Fool’s Puzzle
Nominated for an Agatha Award for Best First Mystery

“Characters come to full three-dimensional life, and her
plot is satisfyingly complex.”

—The Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger

“Breezy, humorous dialogue of the first order.”

—Chicago Sun-Times

Don’t miss the other Benni Harper Mysteries

Berkley Prime Crime Books by Earlene Fowler

THE SADDLEMAKER’S WIFE

The Benni Harper Mysteries

FOOL’S PUZZLE
IRISH CHAIN
KANSAS TROUBLES
GOOSE IN THE POND
DOVE IN THE WINDOW
MARINER’S COMPASS
SEVEN SISTERS
ARKANSAS TRAVELER
STEPS TO THE ALTAR
SUNSHINE AND SHADOW
BROKEN DISHES
DELECTABLE MOUNTAINS
TUMBLING BLOCKS

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

STEPS TO THE ALTAR

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

 

Copyright © 2002 by Earlene Fowler.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

eISBN : 978-1-101-52435-0

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
The name BERKLEY PRIME CRIME and the BERKLEY PRIME CRIME design are trademarks
belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

http://us.penguingroup.com

For
Tina and Tom Davis

dear friends, brilliant webmasters, ardent supporters my thanks for your sustaining help, both emotional and culinary

and

For
Clare Bazley
Jo Ellen Heil
Sue Morrison

your friendship and loving encouragement have been worth their weight in rubies

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

As with all my books, there have been many kind souls who rendered me assistance. My sincerest appreciation to all of them for taking time out of their busy lives to help me.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

—Psalm 20:7

For help with spiritual questions and technical advice—Father Mark Stetz, AnnE Lorenzen, Father Jerry Kahler.

For help with police-related issues—Jim Gardiner, Chief, San Luis Obispo Police; Chris Rodgers, Investigator, San Luis Obispo District Attorney’s Office; Burt Topham, Captain, San Luis Obispo Police.

For friendship and help in various areas—Joy and Lorna Fitzhugh, Jo Ellen Heil, Christine Hill, Karen and David Gray, Jo-Ann Mapson, Don and Lucille Rader.

For being a wonderful editor and friend—Judith Palais.

For their invaluable input on this book—my agent, Ellen Gieger, and my new editor, Christine Zika.

And always, my husband, Allen, whose daily courage, spirit, and generosity of heart continually amaze me.

The Steps to the Altar pattern most likely has its beginnings in things romantic, though there is a possibility that it also has a spiritual aspect. Before the twentieth century, marriage announced a major role shift in a woman’s life. A gift of a quilt from her closest friends both honored this event and served as a reminder of her friends’ love and support. The Steps to the Altar pattern is a fairly simple one using squares and triangles to make a block that is striking when contrasting fabrics are used. The name actually refers to at least three different patterns, some of which have their earliest origins in late-nineteenth-century Ohio and New York. It is also called Dish of Fruit, Flat Iron Patchwork, Strawberry Basket, Stair-step, Stairs of Illusion, English T Box, Jacob’s Ladder, and Building Blocks.

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