Chapter no 25 – A Visit from Patti Love

Where the Crawdads Sing


Alight knock sounded on the door of the sheriff’s office. Joe and Ed looked up as Patti Love Andrews, Chase’s mother,

appeared shadowy and fractured through the frosted glass. Still, they could recognize her in a black dress and hat. Graying brown hair in a tidy bun. An appropriately dull shade of lipstick.

Both men stood, and Ed opened the door, “Patti Love, hello.

Come on in. Sit down. Can I offer you some coffee?”

She glanced at the half-empty mugs, lip-drips running down the rims. “No, thank you, Ed.” She sat in the chair Joe pulled up. “Do you have any leads yet? Any more information since the lab report?”

“No. No, we don’t. We’re going over everything with a fine-tooth comb, and you and Sam’ll be the first to know if we come up with anything.”

“But it wasn’t an accident, Ed. Right? I know it wasn’t an accident. Chase woulda never just fallen off the tower by himself. You know what an athlete he was. And smart.”

“We agree there’s evidence enough to suspect foul play. But it’s an ongoing investigation and nothing definite yet. Now, you said you had something to tell us?”



“Yes, and I think it’s important.” Patti Love looked from Ed to Joe and back to Ed. “There was a shell necklace that Chase wore all the time. Had for years. I know he was wearin’ it the night he went to the tower. Sam and I had him over for dinner, remember I told you that—Pearl couldn’t come; it was her bridge night—and he had on the necklace right before he went out to the tower. And

then after he . . . well, when we saw him at the clinic, he didn’t have the necklace on. I assumed the coroner had taken it off him, so I didn’t mention it then, and with the funeral and all, I had forgotten about it. Then, the other day I drove over to Sea Oaks and asked the coroner if I could see Chase’s things, his personal effects. You know, they had kept them for the lab work, but I wanted to hold them, just to feel what he wore that last night. So they let me sit at a table and go through them, and, Sheriff, that shell necklace wasn’t there. I asked the coroner if he had taken it off, and he said no, he had not. He said he never saw any necklace at all.”

“That’s very curious,” Ed said. “What was it strung with? Maybe it came off when he fell.”

“It was a single shell hung on a piece of rawhide that was just long enough to go over his head. It wasn’t loose and was tied in a knot. I just don’t see how it could’ve flung off.”

“I agree. Rawhide’s tough and makes a mean knot,” Ed said. “Why did he wear it all the time? Did somebody special make it for him? Give it to him?”

Patti Love sat silent, looking off to the side of the sheriff’s desk.

She dreaded saying more because she’d never admitted that her son had been involved with marsh trash. Of course, there had been village rumors that Chase and the Marsh Girl had been involved for more than a year before his marriage. And Patti Love suspected even after, but when friends had asked about the stories, she’d always denied them. But now it was different. Now she had to speak out because she just knew that wench had something to do with his death.

“Yes, I know who made the necklace for Chase. It was that woman who boats around in that old rattletrap boat; has for years. She made it and gave it to him when they were seeing each other for a while.”

“You talking about the Marsh Girl?” the sheriff asked.

Joe spoke up. “You seen her lately? She’s not a girl anymore, probably mid-twenties and a real looker.”

“The Clark woman? Just trying to be clear,” Ed asked. Brows bunched.

Patti Love said, “I don’t know her name. Or even if she has one.



People do call her the Marsh Girl. You know, she sold mussels to Jumpin’ for years.”

“Right. We’re talking about the same person. Go ahead.” “Well, I was shocked when the coroner said Chase didn’t have

on the necklace. And then it occurred to me that she’s the only one who’d have any interest in taking it. Chase had broken off their relationship and married Pearl. She couldn’t have him, so maybe she killed him and took the necklace from his neck.”

Patti Love trembled slightly, then caught her breath.

“I see. Well, this is very important, Patti Love, and worth pursuing. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Ed said. “You’re sure she gave it to him?”

“Yes, I’m sure. I know because Chase didn’t want to tell me, but he finally did.”

“Do you know anything else about the necklace or their relationship?”



“Not much at all. I don’t even know for sure how long they saw each other. Probably nobody does. He was very sneaky about it.

Like I said, he didn’t tell me for months. Then after he told me, I never knew whether he was going out in his boat with his other friends or with her.”

“Well, we’ll look into it. I promise you that.”

“Thank you. I’m sure this is a clue.” She rose to leave, and Ed opened the door for her.

“Come back anytime you want to talk, Patti Love.” “Bye, Ed, Joe.”

• • •

AFTER CLOSING THE DOOR, Ed sat again, and Joe asked, “Well, what d’ya think?”

“If somebody took the necklace off Chase at the tower, that would at least put them at the scene, and I can see somebody from the marsh being involved in this thing. They got their own laws.

But I just don’t know if a woman could’ve pushed a big guy like Chase through that hole.”

“She coulda lured him up there, opened the grate before he got there, then when he came toward her in the dark, she coulda pushed him in before he even saw her,” Joe said.

“Seems possible. Not easy, but possible. It’s not much of a lead.



The absence of a shell necklace,” the sheriff said.

“At this point it’s our only lead. ’Cept for the absence of prints and some mysterious red fibers.”


“But what I can’t figure,” Joe said, “is why she’d bother to take the necklace off him? Okay, as the woman wronged, she was hell-bent on killin’ him. Even that’s a stretch for motive, but why take the necklace when it could connect her smack-dab to the crime?”

“You know how it is. Seems like there’s something in every murder case that doesn’t make sense. People mess up. Maybe she was shocked and furious that he still wore the necklace, and after committing murder, it didn’t seem like a big deal to snatch it off his neck. She wouldn’t have known anybody could link the necklace to her. Your sources said Chase had something going on out there. Maybe, like you said earlier, it wasn’t drugs at all, but a woman. This woman.”

Joe said, “’Nother kind of drug.”

“And marsh folks know how to cover prints because they snare, track, trap, and such. Well, it won’t hurt to go out there and have a talk with her. Ask her where she was that night. We can question her about the necklace and see if it shakes her up a bit.”

Joe asked, “You know how ta get ta her place?”

“Not sure by boat, but I think I can find it in the truck. Down that real windy road that goes way past a long chain of lagoons. A while back, I had to make house calls to see her father a few times. Nasty piece of work, that one.”

“When we going?”

“Crack of day, see if we can get there before she takes off.



Tomorrow. But first, we better go out to the tower and search really good for that necklace. Maybe it’s been there all along.”

“I don’t see how. We’ve searched all over that place, looking for tracks, treads, clues.”

“Still, we gotta do it. Let’s go.”

Later, after combing through the muck under the tower with rakes and fingers, they declared no shell necklace present.

• • •

PALE LIGHT SEEPED UNDER a low, heavy dawn as Ed and Joe drove down the marsh track, hoping to get to the Marsh Girl’s place before she boated off somewhere. They took several wrong turns and ended up at dead ends or at some ramshackle dwelling. At one shack somebody yelled, “Sheriff!” and mostly naked bodies took off in all directions, charging through brambles. “Damn potheads,” the sheriff said. “At least the moonshiners kept their clothes on.”

But finally they came to the long lane that led to Kya’s shack. “This is it,” Ed said.

He turned his outsized pickup onto the track and cruised quietly toward the dwelling, easing to a stop fifty feet from the door. Both men got out without a sound. Ed knocked on the wooden frame of the screen door. “Hello! Anybody home?” Silence followed, so he tried again. They waited two to three minutes. “Let’s have a look ’round back, see if her boat’s there.”



“Nope. Looks like that log’s where she ties up. She’s a’ready gone. Dag-nabit,” Joe said.

“Yep, heard us coming. She can probably hear a rabbit sleeping.”

The next time they went before dawn, parked way down the road, and found her boat tied to its log. Still no one answered the door.

Joe whispered, “I get this feelin’ she’s right here watchin’ us.

Don’t you? She’s squattin’ right here in the damn palmettos. Purt’ near. I just know it.” His head swung, eyes scanning the brambles. “Well, this isn’t going to work. If we come up with anything else

we can get a warrant. Let’s get outta here.”

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