Tag Archives: historical mystery

A day in the life of Hannah Vogel by Rebecca Cantrell

a-trace-of-smokeHannah gets up early, even though she would rather sleep in. She’s a crime reporter in Berlin in 1931, and she has a lot to do before she has to show up at the courthouse.

She has a quick breakfast—a roll and some tea, with butter and sugar respectively if she’s feeling flush—dons her cloche hat, and takes the subway to the police station at Alexanderplatz. It’s an imposing building that covers a square block, but she’s used to dodging automobiles, cars, and the occasional earnest police officer.

Folding several newspapers under her arm, she has to keep up, she goes into the massive hall and heads down the gloomy corridor called the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Police hang death photos of unidentified bodies there. It’s a gruesome sight—a hundred corpses who have been shot, drowned, overdosed, or frozen to death stare down at her as she walks. She’s used to it, but after she saw her brother’s picture there, she averts her eyes.

At the end of her walk is an office that contains her childhood friend, Fritz Waldheim. He lets her look through the most recent crime reports. Sometimes she finds her next story there, and sometimes it makes her sad. Often, both.
After she takes her notes, she tries to get out before she’s spotted by Kommissar Lang. He’s a devout National Socialist and he’s paying too much attention to her. In her experience, it’s never a good thing when a cop or a Nazi gets too interested.

Then she’s off to the giant courthouse at Moabit. She’s covering a trial for the paper and she needs to get a good seat because she’ll be doing courtroom sketches. They often end up in the Berliner Zeitung, and they pay extra.
After the trial she’ll head back to the bullpen to type up her story, see if she can convince them to buy a sketch, and then it’s home to bed.

When her brother was alive she’d sometimes go to cabarets to watch him sing and enjoy a free drink. He usually sang at gay clubs, which meant no one bothered her. She liked the anonymity.

That’s an ordinary day. But Hannah almost never has one of those. She’s either investigating a murder or spying for the British or trying to control a drunken source or getting into prison to investigate or talking to a madam. It’s what she loves best—danger, excitement, and no day like the last.

You can read more about Hannah in A Trace of Smoke, the first book in the “Hannah Vogel” historical mystery series.

It’s 1931 in Berlin, and the world is on the precipice of change—the affluent still dance in their gilded cages but more and more people are living under threat and poverty. Hannah Vogel is a crime reporter forced to write under the male pseudonym Peter Weill. As a widow of the Great War, she’s used to doing what she must to survive. Her careful facade is threatened when she stumbles across a photograph of her brother in the Hall of the Unnamed Dead. Reluctant to make a formal identification until she has all the details, Hannah decides to investigate, herself. She must be cautious as Ernst’s life as a cross-dressing cabaret star was ringed in scandal, and his list of lovers included at least one powerful leader in the Nazi party.

She’s barely had a chance to begin before an endearing five-year-old orphan shows up on her doorstep holding a birth certificate listing her dead brother Ernst as his father, and calling Hannah ‘Mother.’ Further complicating matters are her evolving feelings for Boris Krause, a powerful banker whose world is the antithesis of Hannah’s. Boris has built a solid wall preventing anyone from disturbing his, or his daughter Trudi’s, perfectly managed lives—a wall Hannah and Anton are slowly breaking down.

As Hannah digs, she discovers political intrigues and scandals touching the top ranks of the rising Nazi party. Fired from her job and on the run from Hitler’s troops, she must protect herself and the little boy who has come to love her, but can she afford to find love for herself?

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Meet the author
rcantrellNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Cantrell has published twelve novels in over ten different languages. Her novels have won the ITW Thriller, the Macavity, and the Bruce Alexander awards. In addition, they have been nominated for the GoodReads Choice award, the Barry, the RT Reviewers Choice, and the APPY award. She and her husband and son just left Berlin for Hawaii’s sunny shores. Connect with Rebecca at rebeccacantrell.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Trace of Smoke is available at online booksellers.

A day in the life with Agnes Agatha Odboddy by Elaine Faber

mrs-odboddy-undercover-courierMy name is Agnes Agatha Odboddy. I live with my Siamese cat, Ling-Ling, and my granddaughter, Katherine. She lost her fiancé last year at Pearl Harbor but there’s a new doctor in town, and things are heating up in the romance department. Katherine works at the Curls to Dye For Beauty Salon and does the hair and make-up at the Whistlemeyer Mortuary, here in Newbury. We live close to the ocean and I serve a shift at the watchtower every Wednesday. Last year there was quite a to-do when I spotted a Japanese air balloon bomb. These days, every citizen is a home front warrior and must be alert to Nazi-Jap conspiracies and spies.

Thanks to the way I handled the balloon-bomb affair, Colonel Farthingworth asked me to carry a package to President Roosevelt, since Katherine and I were headed to Washington to join Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour. Naturally, I assumed the package contained secret war documents too sensitive to travel through the mail. What better way to get them delivered than in the hands of a plump, red-headed, elderly, eccentric old gal like me?

I fully expected evil-doers to get wind of our plans. As an experienced WWI undercover agent, I felt confident that I could thwart any attempt on the part of a Nazi spy intent on stealing the package.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier mostly takes place on the train between California and Washington, D.C. and the people we meet, the risks I’m forced to take and the consequences of pitting my intuition and unlimited experience against the most diabolical enemy agent. Along the way, we befriend two soldiers headed for training as Tuskegee airmen and face the Jim Crow laws in Tennessee. We meet the insensitive caregiver to a delightful child who steals Katherine’s heart, and experience first-hand J. Edgar Hoover’s bigotry toward Mrs. Roosevelt. The rotten scoundrel!

All that may sound pretty dull, but I assure you, there is a laugh a minute throughout the book. Katherine says my wild imagination always gets me into trouble but I’m never wrong. . .well. . .mostly never wrong. I know a Nazi spy when I see one. . .usually. There was that one time when I thought there was a Nazi plot involving stolen ration books. . .but that’s another story. (Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot)

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier is a hysterical romp on a train across the U.S.A. during WWII as I prove, yet again, that even old ladies can be home front warriors. In the exciting conclusion, when I come face to face with the enemy agent, determined to steal my package, I’m forced to acknowledge my own vulnerability when dealing with younger, stronger enemy forces. Are my undercover warrior days over?

Not on your tintype! Not as long as there’s henna in the shampoo jar and breath in this old body. Look for another adventure next year with Mrs. Odboddy – And Then There Was a Tiger!

You can read more about Agnes in MRS. ODBODDY UNDERCOVER COURIER, the second book in the Mrs. Odboddy WWII mystery series.

Asked to accompany Mrs. Roosevelt on her Pacific Island tour, Agnes and Katherine travel by train to Washington, D.C. Agnes carries a package for Colonel Farthingworth to President Roosevelt.

Convinced the package contains secret war documents, Agnes expects Nazi spies to try and derail her mission.

She meets Irving, whose wife mysteriously disappears from the train; Nanny, the unfeeling caregiver to little Madeline; two soldiers bound for training as Tuskegee airmen; and Charles, the shell-shocked veteran, who lends an unexpected helping hand. Who will Agnes trust? Who is the Nazi spy?

When enemy forces make a final attempt to steal the package in Washington, D.C., Agnes must accept her own vulnerability as a warrior on the home front.

Can Agnes overcome multiple obstacles, deliver the package to the President, and still meet Mrs. Roosevelt’s plane before she leaves for the Pacific Islands?

Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier is a hysterical frolic on a train across the United States during WWII, as Agnes embarks on this critical mission.

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About the author
Elaine Faber is a member of Sisters in Crime, Inspire Christian Writers, NCPA, and Cat Writers Association. She has elaine faberpublished three cozy cat mysteries and two WWII mystery-adventures. Elaine’s award-winning short stories are included in eight anthologies and various magazines. Elaine’s humorous mystery/adventure WWII novels, Mrs. Odboddy Hometown Patriot, and Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier are available at Amazon in print and e-book ($3.99).

All comments are welcomed.

Mrs. Odboddy Undercover Courier is available only at Amazon.

A day in the life with Rose Carroll by Edith Maxwell

called-to-justiceIndependence Day, 1888

During the parade to celebrate our country’s one-hundred-and-twelfth birthday that hot Seventh Month day, I found the militaristic marching distasteful. But I giggled and pointed along with the rest of the crowd at the various horribles (as they call them) walking by. My favorite was policeman dressed as a British bobby pulling an outhouse on a cart labeled “Amesbury Lockup.”

Thee might be aware that, while the rest of our bustling mill town of Amesbury enjoyed a day of rest and festivities, babies can decide to come into the world at any moment. As a midwife I was fortunate to have none appearing so far, but if I was called to a birth, I would go.

After the parade the new statue of Josiah Bartlett, an Amesbury resident and the second signer of the Declaration of Independence, was to be dedicated. My friend and fellow Quaker, the famous abolitionist and poet John Greenleaf Whittier, had been asked to write a poem for the occasion. Because John did not care for public speaking a professor from Andover, the assigned reader, rose and cleared his throat. The familiar cadences ended thusly:

And thou, O Land he loved, rejoice
That in the countless years to come,
Whenever Freedom needs a voice,
These sculptured lips shall not be dumb!

It was just like John to make sure freedom was mentioned. After the speech, I found myself following some paces behind a tall colored man whose jaunty gait looked familiar.

“Akwasi,” I called. “Is that thee?”

He halted and craned his head to glance behind him. “That it surely is, Rose. What a delight to see thee.” He pivoted and held out both hands to greet me, squeezing my pale hands in his when I arrived. His smile was broad and white in his dark face, and smiling made his ears stick out farther than they usually did. He was a warm and generous member of the Society of Friends, but he hadn’t always been. John Whittier had sheltered a teenaged Akwasi in the hidden quarters in the cellar of the Meetinghouse as part of the Underground Railroad during the last year of the War for the Union. Akwasi had chosen to stay on in Amesbury even though not all local residents had welcomed him. He’d been diligent about his studies, mentored by John, and had become a member of the Meeting.

“Did thee hear the poem of Friend John?” I asked.

He released my hands and laid his right hand on his heart. “‘Whenever Freedom needs a voice, These sculptured lips shall not be dumb!’ Let us hope that comes to pass, Rose. Let us pray it does.”

You can read more about Rose in Called To Justice, the second book in the “Quaker Midwife” historical mystery series.

Quaker midwife Rose Carroll is enjoying the 1888 Independence Day evening fireworks with her beau when a teenaged Quaker mill girl is found shot dead. After a former slave and fellow Quaker is accused of the murder, Rose delves into the crime, convinced of the man’s innocence. An ill-mannered mill manager, an Irish immigrant, and the victim’s young boyfriend come under suspicion even as Rose’s future with her handsome doctor suitor becomes unsure. Rose continues to deliver babies and listen to secrets, finally figuring out one criminal – only to be threatened by the murderer, with three lives at stake. Can she rescue herself, a baby, and her elderly midwifery teacher in time?

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About the author
National best-selling author Edith Maxwell is a 2017 double Agatha Award nominee for her historical mystery Delivering the Truth and her short story, “The Mayor and the Midwife.” She writes the Quaker Midwife Mysteries and the Local Foods Mysteries; as Maddie Day she writes the Country Store Mysteries and the Cozy Capers Book Group Mysteries. Her award-winning short crime fiction has appeared in many juried anthologies, and she is honored to served as President of Sisters in Crime New England.

A fourth-generation Californian and former tech writer, farmer, and doula, Maxwell now writes, cooks, gardens, and wastes time as a Facebook addict north of Boston with her beau and three cats. She blogs at Wicked Cozy Authors, Killer Characters, and with the Midnight Ink authors. Find her at edithmaxwell.com and elsewhere.

All comments are welcomed.

Called To Justice is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.

Giveaway: Leave a comment below for your chance to win a print copy of Called To Justice. US entries only, please. The giveaway ends April 9, 2017. Good luck everyone!

A day in the life with Cornelia Pettijohn by Gwen Mayo and Sarah Glenn

murder-on-the-mullet-expressCornelia Pettijohn’s morning went downhill in a hurry. Mr. Scroggins had shown up at her door with a feed sack full of mason jars, filled with illegal supplements to Theodora’s “prescribed” medicinal alcohol. Teddy had always enjoyed a nip at the end of a long day, but since being gassed in the trenches of France her drinking was more necessary than fun. Her lungs sometimes bled from the wracking cough that accompanied any prolonged physical exertion.

The lung injury had ended her service two years before the army granted nurses relative rank. That was a pity. Teddy was so proud, February 1, 1902, that morning in Manila when the two of them had signed their official enlistments. Teddy had danced the night away, then bounced through her shift the next morning. Her drinking wasn’t an issue then.

Cornelia bit her lower lip as she pondered how much of an issue it was now. It couldn’t be a good thing that Teddy had embroidered curtains for the local moonshiner.

She was shaken from her thoughts by Mr. Scroggins. He was standing in the doorway with a steamer trunk.

“This ain’t gonna fit in that footlocker I attached to the back of your sedan. I can’t even get the rest of Miss Teddy’s stuff in that.”

Her bright blue eyes scanned the luggage stacked on the front porch, then looked at her companion’s bubbling smile. “No. You can’t take all this—stuff.”

She pointed to the bag in Teddy’s hand. “That one have your medicine?”

Teddy nodded.

“Then hang on to it. No offence to Mr. Scroggins here, but I don’t want those jars to break and make my new Dodge Brothers sedan smell like a still.”

Scroggins grinned through a three-day growth of beard. “None taken, Miss Cornelia.”

“We still have Uncle Percival’s stuff to load, Teddy. Think of this as a duty assignment. We are the nurses caring for my uncle on this trip. Take only what you must have to do your duty.”

Teddy frowned. “But there’s going to be parties and adventures. You’ve read the brochure. I need to be prepared for any event.”

“The essentials, Theodora. Strip this down to the bare necessities.” She held up her carpet bag. “This is all I’m taking. Mind you, it is less than I would under other circumstances, but I wanted to give you and Uncle Percival extra space.”

After some grumbling, Teddy tucked an enormous book into her needlework bag, squeezed a few more items into the trunk, and settled for taking only one additional suitcase.

The process was repeated at her uncle’s house. Percival Pettijohn was every inch as vain as any woman. He insisted on two bags, a hatbox, and demanded his motion picture equipment ride inside the sedan.

Cornelia groaned, but accommodated his demands by having Teddy sit on her “medicine” bag and strapping the largest of his cases to the top of the footlocker. It wasn’t going to be a comfortable trip, but vanity beat good sense every time.

At least, with both of them pouting about what they left behind, she could concentrate on the road.

You can read more about Cornelia in Murder on the Mullet Express, the first book in the new “Three Snowbirds” mystery series.

Cornelia Pettijohn knows it is best to carry a sidearm when traveling with her Uncle Percival. The quirky retired professor has a talent for finding trouble. What she doesn’t know is that purchasing a winter home in sunny Homosassa, Florida is not the only item on his agenda.

A new movie camera, a highway breakdown, and a trip on The Mullet Express make the perfect formula for Uncle Percival to attract the interest of both law enforcement and a couple of rival mobs. Cornelia and her friend Teddy Lawless must use all their wits to get him out of the hole he’s dug for himself.

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Meet the authors
Gwen Mayo is passionate about blending her loves of history and mystery fiction. She currently lives and writes in gwen-mayoSafety Harbor, Florida, but grew up in a large Irish family in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She is the author of the Nessa Donnelly Mysteries and co-author of the Old Crows stories with Sarah Glenn. Her stories have appeared in A Whodunit Halloween, Decades of Dirt, Halloween Frights (Volume I), and several flash fiction collections. She belongs to Sisters in Crime, SinC Guppies, the Short Mystery Fiction Society, the Historical Novel Society, and the Florida Authors and Publishers Association. Gwen has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Kentucky. Her most interesting job, though, was as a brakeman and railroad engineer from 1983 – 1987. She was one of the last engineers to be certified on steam locomotives. Connect with Gwen at the following:

gwenmayo.com | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads |
Amazon Author page

Sarah E. Glenn has a B.S. in Journalism, which is a great degree for the dilettante she is. Later on, she did a stint as a graduate student in classical languages. She didn’t get the degree, but she’s great with crosswords. Her most interesting job was working the reports desk for the police department in Lexington, Kentucky, where she learned that criminals really are dumb. Her great-great aunt served as a nurse in WWI, and was injured by poison gas during the fighting. A hundred years later, this would inspire Sarah to write stories Aunt Dess would probably not approve of.  Connect with Sarah at the following:

sarahglenn.com | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Goodreads |
Amazon Author page

All comments are welcomed.

Murder on the Mullet Express is available at online booksellers.

A day in the life with Edith Jackson by Tessa Arlen

a-death-by-any-other-nameThe Lady Montfort series set in England in the early 1900s features amateur sleuths Clementine, the Countess of Montfort and Edith Jackson, her housekeeper.

Edith Jackson is a senior servant to the Earl of Montfort at his gracious Elizabethan country house Iyntwood, second-in-command in a servants’ hall of fifteen resident servants. Although Mrs. Jackson, aged thirty-five, is unmarried she is given the title of Mrs. out of respect. She is a handsome woman, not given to too much chatter and sometimes a little unbending as to the rules, but with a well-developed if rather wry sense of humor. A gifted organizer with a flair for making any grand occasion elegant, in this day and age she would make a very successful living as an event planner. In 1913 she is simply a housekeeper.

Today is Saturday and Mrs. Jackson’s day begins at half past six as twenty guests, accompanied by their maids and valets, will be arriving in time for tea at five ‘o clock for a shooting party. After breakfast Mrs. Jackson supervises the final preparations for their arrival. Each room in the house must be immaculate and welcoming, the food exquisite and every detail of their guests’ comfort assured. At eleven o’clock she does a tour of the guest wing to make sure that fresh flowers have been placed in all the bedrooms, that they are stocked with the latest copies of the Tatler, the Daily Sketch and Country Life, writing paper, cigarettes and Vichy water. She checks the guest list against the name cards that are placed on each door before she climbs the backstairs to the fourth floor of the house and the servants’ quarters to check that all is ready for the visiting servants – three to a room for this busy weekend!

Back belowstairs she meets with the butler, Mr. Hollyoak and the cook, Mrs. Thwaite, to run through the menus once again for the next three days. An abundant breakfast will be laid out in hot chafing dishes on the sideboard of the large dining room for male guests, while trays are taken up to women guests in their rooms. After a hearty breakfast the sportsmen will set off for a day’s shooting to be joined by their wives for luncheon.

Mrs. Jackson arranges for luncheon to be served in the pavilion by the lake at one o’clock each day. It will be taken down in a wagon, well wrapped up in hay boxes and blankets to keep the soup hot. Game pie, cold chicken or salmon, and salads will be served with fresh fruit and cheese and one of Mrs. Thwaite’s exquisite puddings.

At five o’clock everyone one will be back at the house, ravenous from a day in the fresh air, for a lavish tea in the library: a variety of tiny sandwiches, hot scones with strawberry jam, Victoria sponge and fruit cakes, and little trays of brandy snaps filled with cream. Mrs. Jackson reminds the housemaids to keep the fires going and to tidy every room in the house as soon as it has been vacated.

The biggest challenge that faces the staff is dinner –timing is everything and Mrs. Thwaite’s delicious food must be faultlessly presented. The footmen are drilled on the menus, their white gloves and livery inspected. Mrs. Jackson and Mr. Hollyoak discuss which china to use –Sevres, or the Royal Doulton? Once again Mrs. Jackson checks her pantry inventory: is the fish sent up from Billingsgate perfectly fresh? Are there enough oysters? A haunch of venison is carried in. Cream and butter is delivered from the estate dairy and the hall boy is sent to the ice house for more ice. Wagons have been arriving all morning in the kitchen courtyard with fresh vegetables and fruit from the kitchen garden. Amid the bustle of final preparations Mrs. Jackson is everywhere at once!

With no time for lunch she is on her way to the kitchen garden to meet with the gardener to choose flowers for the house before she returns to the servants’ hall for a quick cup of tea. And then with the help of the first and second housemaids, Agnes and Elsie, she rolls up her sleeves and for the next three hours they arrange the fresh blooms in urns and vases of evergreens to be carried away to the morning room, drawing rooms, the great hall, the library, and the large dining room for the table. Mrs. Jackson makes a final inspection before she goes upstairs to report to Lady Montfort that all is ready.

Lady Montfort, dressed to receive her guests, is waiting for her. With three discrete murder inquiries successfully solved between them, their relationship has grown over the years from that of mistress and servant to one that we might call friendship. Lady Montfort knows her guests will be well taken care of and that their every need will be anticipated. And who knows what will happen with all these people in the house? If a body turns up in the library Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson will put their heads together and with discretely phrased questions, Mrs. Jackson below stairs, and the intuitive Lady Montfort upstairs, they will certainly piece together the puzzle!

You can read more about Edith in A Death By Any Other Name, the third book in the “Lady Montfort” mystery series.

Building on the success of her last two mysteries in the same series, Tessa Arlen returns us to the same universe full of secrets, intrigue, and, this time, roses in A Death By Any Other Name. The elegant Lady Montfort and her redoubtable housekeeper, Mrs. Jackson, investigate a murder among a group of amateur rose-breeders while the idyllic English summer days count down to the start of WW1.

When Mrs. Jackson receives a visit from a cook who believes she was an indirect witness to murder from a poisoned dish of breakfast kedgeree Lady Montfort promises to do what she can to clear the cook’s name, and contrives an invitation to Hyde Castle, the home of a self-made millionaire, to investigate a murder of concealed passions and secret desires. With the help of the invaluable Jackson Lady Montfort sets about solving the puzzle surrounding the death of the rose society’s most popular member and discovers a villain of audacious cunning among a group of mild-mannered, amateur rose-breeders.

While they investigate, the headlines bring news of the continuing conflict in Prussia following the assassination of the heir to the Austrian empire. As each day brings more threatening news and the very real fear that Britain will be drawn into war Lady Montfort and Mrs. Jackson must race the clock to solve the mystery before Britain declares on Germany.

Brimming with intrigue, Tessa Arlen’s latest does not disappoint.

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Meet the author
Tessa Arlen is the author of the Lady Montfort mystery series. Her first book Death Of A Dishonorable Gentleman was a 2016 finalist for an Agatha Award for Best First Novel. The latest in her series: A Death By Any Other Name releases March 2017. As the daughter of a British diplomat Tessa had lived in or visited her parents in Singapore, Berlin, Bahrain, Beijing, Delhi and Warsaw by the time she was sixteen. She and her family live on Bainbridge Island, Washington. Connect with Tessa at www.tessaarlen.com.

All comments are welcomed.

A Death By Any Other Name is available at retail and online booksellers.