Welcome. I’m Jordan Bingham and I’m thrilled to give you a glimpse of a day in my life and the perfect job. It’s fun and fascinating and should help me save enough to return to grad school. Thanks for coming so early.
Please join me as we tour my home and workplace. First, step this into the massive granite dwelling that is Van Alst House. It’s crammed with rare books and priceless antiques. A dream for me! Sorry, we’re taking the back entrance. The front is more impressive, but you’re traveling with the help.
Before we get too far, I need to mention that discussions of my relatives are strictly off limits, no matter what you’ve heard. For the record, my uncles raised me and I love them to bits, but I am doing my best to be a solid citizen. Nuff said. Aside from that, feel free to cut in with questions. What’s that? Any problems with the job? Okay, I admit my employer, Vera Van Alst, is the most hated woman in Harrison Falls, New York. She’s also grumpy, frumpy and secretive.
Step up this way. Oh, didn’t I mention I live in the third-floor attic? It’s just two flights, although they are a bit narrow. Worth the effort. There are some issues with Vera’s Siamese cat so watch your ankles.
Glad we made it! I love my Victoria garret, with its sloping walls. Yes, I do realize the cabbage rose wallpaper is peeling, but just look at that amazing view of the grounds. I adore the iron bedstead and the flowered quilt. Sure, that moody Siamese cat keeps getting in, but there’s plenty of room for my mostly vintage wardrobe. Lucky for me, retro is trendy now because everything I can afford is from a church bazaar, Goodwill, or inherited from my mother. I don’t remember much about her, but I do love her sense of style.
I am required to eat breakfast at eight with Vera Van Alst and outline my plans each day. Let’s head there now. It will seem like two miles but the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee will help.
The conservatory is lovely and bright, and here’s Senora Panatone, Vera’s cook, serving a mountain of French toast, smothered in maple syrup. Eat up. Have fresh coffee. It will make her happy. Vera won’t pay the slightest bit of attention to you. As usual, she’s caught up in the Times crossword. I generally use this time to invent some positive spin on my work.
Speaking of, my current challenge is to locate an unpublished, unproduced and, in fact, unknown manuscript—a play that Agatha Christie, may have written during her mysterious eleven-day disappearance in 1926. Vera is obsessed with this idea. She doesn’t make finding it easy.
To get an idea of Vera’s obsessions, let’s head off to the library. The senora will come along, just in case. I trust you implicitly, but Vera’s … well, Vera.
It’s a long walk. Good to work off breakfast. But those portraits of long-dead Van Alst portraits give me the creeps. All Vera’s relatives must have suffered from constipation.
Now I’ll key in the code and … yes, it is breathtaking. Inhale the scent of old leather, aged paper and rosewood. You’re right. The carpet is an Aubusson, faded but real. There are more than ten thousand books on the main and the mezzanine level. The classic mysteries in this collection are the best editions that money can buy. That explains the high degree of security. Vera doesn’t take chances.
Heading back, we’ll pass the grand dining room. Dinner’s at eight, and I gaze at Vera down the mile-long antique Sheriton table. Senora Panetone creates a food miracle every night. Vera barely eats a spoonful, but I hate to hurt the senora’s feelings.
Although Vera always wears a ratty beige cardigan with frayed elbows and wrists, I am required to dress for dinner. I wear boots with my vintage dresses, so the cat can’t shred my ankles. That reminds me, I apologize for any injuries you have received on our tour.
Time for me to get to work. Frankly, the search isn’t going well. Discovering that my predecessor died in tragic circumstances threw me a bit. Vera should have mentioned that when she hired me. But I’m not a quitter.
It would be easier if that police officer, Tyler Dekker, didn’t find me quite so interesting. He’s everywhere. I’m surprised he didn’t weasel into this tour. What’s that about? In my family we don’t bring home cops to meet the relatives. Talk about awkward.
Never mind, as I said, I have the perfect job. And I get to be an honest citizen. Most of the time.
Thanks for coming. Hope to see you again!
Thanks to the publisher, I have one (1) copy of THE CHRISTIE CURSE to give away. Contest open to US residents only and ends March 7. Leave a comment to be included in the giveaway. The book will be shipped directly from the publisher.
Read the rest of Jordan’s adventure in The Christie Curse: a book collector mystery, coming March, 5, 2013. The Sayers Swindle, the second book collector mystery will be out December 2013!
Meet the author
Victoria Abbott is a collaboration between the always very funny and creative artist, photographer and short story author, Victoria Maffini and her mother, Mary Jane Maffini, award-winning author of three mystery series and two dozen short stories. Their four miniature dachshunds are understandably outraged that a pug and some Siamese cats have wiggled their way into the series. Visit them at www.victoria-abbott.com or www.maryjanemaffini.ca or on Facebook.
And check Jordan’s Pinterest!
Books are available at retail and online booksellers.