Ivor Miskelson was a hated child.
Like a weed that sucks up repeated attacks of pesticide to become, finally, poisonous itself, he dealt with the rejection of his relatives and peers, raised himself from the garden plot, and became the grotesque focus of all eyes, unplanned impediment to the growth of everything around him.
Ivor Miskelson became a literary critic.
Read To Me, Miskelson’s television show, was a trainwreck. Millions tuned in every week to see if its host could, by a series of increasingly ugly jabs, again reduce a bestselling author to tears. He did not disappoint. Until Jonquil Esterhaus.
He questioned her lifestyle, laughed at her hat. She admitted her changing from writing children’s books to cozy mysteries could cripple the educational life of a generation. Her demeanor remained serene. After reading the teaparty scene from “I’m Afraid The Vicar Is Out,” she even kissed Miskelson during the closing music. Credits rolled with them deep in conversation, holding hands.
Police responded to a call from Esterhaus the next morning to find her in her bedroom, marking galleys. The late Mr. Miskelson sprawled fully dressed across her calico bedspread, dried spittle on his chin and an empty cup that looked like it had held cocoa clutched in stiff fingers.
“He said I was fascinating, that he wanted to see what I was working on next,” Esterhaus said to the detectives as people dealt with the body. She patted the galley of “The Coroner’s Cocoa.”
“So I showed him.”