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Excerpt: A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble

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Miss Fisher meets Downton Abbey in this critically acclaimed mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble.

Roasted chestnuts from vendor’s carts, fresh cut spruce trees lining the sidewalks, extravagant gifts, opulent dinners, carols at St Patrick’s Cathedral, a warm meal and a few minutes shelter from the cold at one of the charitable food lines . . .

It’s Christmas in Gilded Age Manhattan.

And for the first time ever an amazing giant ball will drop along a rod on the roof of the New York Times building to ring in the New Year. Everyone plans to attend the event.

But the murder of a prominent newsman hits a little too close to home. And when a young newspaper woman, a protégé of the great Jacob Riis and old Vassar school chum of Bev’s, is the target of a similar attack, it is clear this is not just a single act of violence but a conspiracy of malicious proportions. Really, you’d think murderers would take a holiday.

Something absolutely must be done. And Lady Dunbridge is happy to oblige in A Resolution at Midnight, the third book in this best selling series.

A Resolution at Midnight will be available on October 13, 2020. Please enjoy the following excerpt.


1

Philomena Amesbury, Phil to her friends, the Countess of Dunbridge to everyone else, handed her armful of packages to the footman of the Plaza Hotel and stepped out of the red Darracq taxicab.

“Lovely day, isn’t it, Mr. Fitzroy?”

The doorman, dressed in the full fawn and gold braided livery of the Plaza, smiled and looked dubiously at the gray clouds that overcast the sky.

“Indeed, Lady Dunbridge. Did you enjoy your morning of shopping?”

“I did. Everyone is so festive.” Of course there had been that unsightly shoving match between two ladies over who went first up the escalator) at Bloomingdale’s and the disappointing moment when the proprietor at the little book store across the street had informed her that he’d sold his last copy of the new Arthur Conan Doyle novel, her butler Preswick’s, favorite author.

A misstep on her part. She shouldn’t have waited until ten days before Christmas to reserve a copy. But after six months in Manhattan and three at the Plaza, she was still learning her way in a place where countesses did things for themselves.

“There are more packages in the taxi and even more being delivered, if you’d please have them stored until I call for them.”

“Yes, Lady Dunbridge.” Mr. Fitzroy nodded to the bellman, who reached into the taxi and took the remaining packages into the hotel.

The taxi drove away and Phil took the opportunity to look across the street to where a small boy hawked his newspapers at the entrance to Central Park. He had designated himself as her small but vigilant lookout, and who went by the soubriquet of Just a Friend.

Phil waved though he wasn’t looking her way. He was wearing a new scarf and mittens to add to the winter coat Preswick had bought him a few weeks before. Her butler might be a tad old-fashioned in his ways and a bit long in the tooth, but he had a heart warmer than the bag of chestnuts nestled inside her purse.

Oh the freedom of leaving England, with its peerage and restrictions, for America where she could come and go as she wished at any time of the day and be whatever she wanted. If it hadn’t been for the earl dying and leaving her a dowager at twenty six, and her last rather public indiscretions with a certain Frenchman, she would never have known the excitement of life in Manhattan.

Well, to be honest, there had also been that little incident of a murder that she’d inadvertently solved and which made all the major newspapers—much to her father’s chagrin. Her father might look the other way at affaires de coeur and other minor indiscretions by his daughter, but he wouldn’t stomach her hobnobbing with the metropolitan police. He’d intended to pack her off to Aunt Sephronia in the wilds of Yorkshire, hence Phil’s quickly organized trip to the new world.

And as it had turned out, that one little involvement with the London police had done much to insure her success in New York. For there was no one people admired more than someone with a title who could solve their most dastardly crimes while keeping their family secrets locked in her breast—and a few others locked in the safe in her apartment upstairs.

Phil headed toward the bank of bronze elevators where Egbert, her favorite operator, nodded and gestured her inside the cage.

“Lovely day, Lady Dunbridge,” he said in a melodious voice that always sounded like a song.

“Indeed, Egbert. Do you think we’ll have snow for Christmas?”

“Perhaps.”

Phil opened her handbag and pulled out a brown paper cone of chestnuts. “I thought you might enjoy these.”

“Ah, roasted chestnuts. Thank you.” Egbert quickly slipped off one white glove and took them from her.

“Make sure you enjoy them while they’re still hot,” Phil said.

He slipped them into his pocket and slid his hand back into his glove just as they reached the fifth floor.

He opened the gate and waited for her to reach her door and let herself inside.

All was quiet. She’d given her maid, Lily, and Preswick the day off to do their own shopping and to enjoy the festivities of the city. This would be their first Christmas as a household and they were all looking forward to it.

Preswick after a rough start, had taken to life in Manhattan, and Lily was thriving.

At least Phil thought she was. She knew very little about Lily before the day Phil had first encountered her as she fought off several sturdy British customs officials who had discovered her attempting to stowaway on the ship to America. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Phil had paid her passage and hired her as a ladies maid, her own maid having refused to board the ship at the last minute. When she refused to give her name, Phil called her Lily because of her porcelain complexion. Preswick had done the rest.

They’d become quite a team, the three of them.

Phil unpinned her hat and tossed it and her handbag onto the occasional chair set next to the hall table. A white envelope lay on the floor by the door.

Strange, usually when there was a message, the concierge, a kind but inquisitive creature, made sure to stop her on her way upstairs.

She picked up the envelope and read one handwritten word.

Countess.

There was only one man who called her that, a deliberate misuse of proper address. She was certain he knew better. Perhaps he was letting her know his opinion of titles. A form of challenge? Or dare she hope, a term of affection. Whichever, it sent a thrill of excitement through her.

She ripped open the envelope, let it fall to the ground as she opened the single sheet of paper. Theatre Unique. 1:15 Last Row.

It was written in the bold classic script that she knew well. She glanced at the Ormolu clock on the mantel. Twelve forty-three. She’d never make it. She didn’t stop to equivocate, but grabbed her purse and hat from the chair and hurried back down the hall to the elevator.

Copyright © 2020 by Shelley Noble

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