I roll over on my feather bed and moan, feeling vaguely hysterical, only mostly awake from a Detective Joe Singer dream. We were trapping a criminal together— a man who did unspeakable things. In the dream, the only way to catch the maniacal fiend and save our own lives was if Joe and I got perfect scores in ring toss.
But I woke up before we got to play, which is regrettable. I would love to play with Joe Singer, and I love catching criminals. I’m the smartest, bravest man on the force.
I catch my breath and pull myself to a sitting position, my lashes sandy, my bounteous bun sliding down my cheek like a melting scoop of ice cream. The alarm clock by my bed is alarmingly silent. I’d forgotten to set it. I’m due at the police station in fifteen minutes and just putting on my underwear will take that—corset, corset cover, chemise, drawers, petticoats, garters, stockings.
Adrenaline surges through the sludge of my sleepiness. I will need an excellent excuse. I’ll say I found orphaned children in the street. Twelve of them. That I instructed them in goodness and fed them Cracker Jacks. That I gave them my own clothes to wear. Even the boys.
Amendment. Not the boys.
I swing my feet off my giant oak canopy bed—which is only in the living room because it would not fit in the bedroom—and contemplate the daunting race to the kitchen. When my obscenely wealthy father cast me out, my mother’s heirlooms went with me into my dilapidated new apartment. By necessity, I crammed my belongings so close together, traversing the apartment now requires squeezing, climbing, and some vaulting. I crawl as fast as I can across an 18th century Louis the XV table and down onto a pouf upholstered in silk velvet, accidentally catching my toe on the cart where I keep my spirits—or rather spirit. My only bottle of whiskey topples to the floor and shatters. The amber liquid splashes across the planks of the floor, leaving them sticky and treacherous. Now I must climb over the baby grand piano to avoid the glass.
There would be no more whiskey. Not for at least a month, as I owe money to a dress maker and a purveyor of guns.
I dump a tin of kippers out onto a Wedgwood plate and gobble them daintily with a silver fork, even as a rat scuttles across the counter. I throw a box of Cracker Jacks at it and peg it squarely in the bottom. It squeaks and disappears into a hole in the wall.
On my “to do” list for the day: hawk gold hatpins, complain to landlord about rats, wash ugly police matron uniform in the communal bathtub, and lastly—if Detective Wolf lets me—trap a criminal.
You can read more about Anna in The Woman in the Camphor Trunk, the second book in the “Anna Blanc” mystery series, coming November 14, 2017.
Los Angeles, 1908. In Chinatown, the most dangerous beat in Los Angeles, police matron Anna Blanc and her former sweetheart, Detective Joe Singer, discover the body of a white missionary woman, stuffed in a trunk in the apartment of her Chinese lover. If news about the murder gets out, there will be a violent backlash against the Chinese. Joe and Anna work to solve the crime quietly and keep the death a secret, reluctantly helped by the good-looking Mr. Jones, a prominent local leader.
Meanwhile, the kidnapping of two slave girls fuels existing tensions, leaving Chinatown poised on the verge of a bloody tong war. Joe orders Anna to stay away, but Anna is determined to solve the crime before news of the murder is leaked and Chinatown explodes.
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About the author
Jennifer Kincheloe is the author of The Secret Life of Anna Blanc and The Woman in the Camphor Trunk. The Secret Life of Anna Blanc is the winner of the Colorado Gold Award for mystery and the Mystery and Mayhem Award for historical mystery. The novel was also a finalist for the Macavity Sue Feder Historical Mystery award, Left Coast Crime “Lefty” Award, and Colorado Authors’ League Award for genre fiction. Formerly, Dr. Kincheloe was the principal of a health consulting firm and a member of the research faculty for the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. She currently does research on the jails in Denver, Colorado. Visit jenniferkincheloe.com for more information.
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