Steps to the Altar
Earlene Fowler

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Benni Harper

About Steps to the Altar

Ninth in the Agatha Award-winning series that's been hailed as "engrossing"  (Publishers Weekly), Steps to the Altar finds folk art expert Benni Harper digging up clues to an unsolved murder -- and struggling with a very personal crisis of the heart.

Benni's life has never been so hectic.  She's busy preparing for two upcoming weddings -- first, her best friend Elvia will walk down the aisle...and just a short time later, her grandmother Dove will also tie the knot.  And she hasn't even looked at her costume for San Celina's Mardi Gras ball.  The last thing she needs right now is more work...

But when a friend from the local historical society asks her to catalog the contents of some old trunks, she agrees -- only to discover that they may hold clues to a crime that's remained unsolved for nearly half a century.  The trunks belonged to young Maple Bennett Sullivan, who married a local rancher in the 1940's -- and allegedly murdered him just a few short years later.  Rumor has it she ran off with her lover, her husband's best friend, and was never heard from again.

Benni is all too aware of how difficult marriage can be, especially now that her husband's blonde, gorgeous ex-girlfriend is back in the picture.  A disturbing reminder of his shadowy past, she poses a real threat to his future with Benni.  Suddenly, Benni finds herself empathizing with Maple Sullivan's plight -- and vows to prove Maple's innocence...or guilt.  But there's more to this cold case than meets the eye -- and more than a few people who would rather let sleeping dogs lie.

This is the Catholic cemetery in San Luis Obispo. Like the San Celina Catholic cemetery where Benni searches for Garvey Sullivan's grave, it was moved from its original spot next to the mission a long time ago.

   There actually is an octagonal barn being restored in San Luis Obispo like the one Hud was working on. Here's a picture of how it looked in April 2000.

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