Every time I think I’ve finally settled into my position as President of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society, something happens. You would think that a staid Philadelphia institution would run smoothing after well over a century, but you’d be surprised at what really happens behind the scenes. I’m sure many institutions suffer from problems with documenting and caring for their collections, but I haven’t heard of many that attract crimes, including murders. Yes, plural.
And here I thought things were going well. We’d been approached by a Major Developer (one whose name is on a lot of buildings in the city) to check out the history of a property in the suburbs that he was planning to develop, because he didn’t want any nasty surprises. Well, he got them anyway, starting with the body of a local man in a pond on the land. I and another Society employee were unlucky enough to be on hand when the body was discovered. Not a good start for a major high-profile project.
Things got worse.
The victim was a zoning officer for the small township where the development was going to happen, and had no obvious enemies, so why had he been hit over the head with a rock and dumped in the pond? It didn’t take long for me to realize that it was more than a simple murder, and by the time we figured out what had really happened, there were more bodies, I had learned a lot about the history of the area—and I had helped to rewrite a small piece of the Revolutionary War. It’s not every day that someone in my position can say that.
But for me, that’s what preserving our history is all about, and why I like my job (in between finding bodies). I’m always surprised by the way the past intrudes in our lives today, and I want to make people recognize that. Philadelphia and the counties around us are so rich in history! Sadly, in the end we proved that the poor man in the pond had died because he was a history buff, and he found something that others had kept hidden for a long time.
You know, I met my, um─shoot, what do I call him? Gentleman friend? Boyfriend sounds stupid, but we’re not quite to the “partner” stage yet. But almost. Anyway, I would never have met him except that he’s a cousin of some sort to one of the Society’s board members, who comes from an old and distinguished Philadelphia family, and she dragged him to a party. Well, maybe that’s not true: he’s also an FBI agent, and with all the crimes I keep stumbling into, we probably would have crossed paths anyway. But I think he’d agree that we make a great crime-solving team.
You can read more about Nell in Razing the Dead, the fifth book in the “Museum” mystery series, published by Berkley Prime Crime. The first book in the series is Fundraising The Dead. Books are available at retail and online booksellers.
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Meet the author
Sheila Connolly is the New York Times bestselling author and the Anthony and Agatha Award–nominated author of three cozy mystery series. Her Museum Mysteries are set in Philadelphia; her Orchard Mysteries take place in small town Massachusetts. Scandal in Skibbereen is the second in her Ireland-based County Cork Mysteries, following Buried in a Bog. In 2013 she also published ebooks Relatively Dead, a paranormal romance, and Reunion with Death, a traditional mystery set in Tuscany.
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