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5 Books to Read that Take Place During the Holidays

The winter season is upon us, and what better way to celebrate than reading a book that takes place during the holidays! From Christmas in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo to New Year’s Eve in Gilded Age Manhattan, these books are sure to get you in the holiday spirit.


Image Place holder  of - 16It’s a Wonderful Woof by Spencer Quinn

Holiday time in the Valley, and in the holiday spirit—despite the dismal shape of the finances at the Little Detective Agency—Bernie refers a potential client to Victor Klovsky, a fellow private eye. It’s also true that the case—promising lots of online research but little action—doesn’t appeal to Bernie, while it seems perfect for Victor, who is not cut out for rough stuff. But Victor disappears in a rough-stuff way, and when he doesn’t show up at his mom’s to light the Hanukkah candles, she hires Chet and Bernie to find him.

They soon discover that Victor’s client has also vanished. The trail leads to the ruins of a mission called Nuestra Señora de los Saguaros, dating back to the earliest Spanish explorers. Some very dangerous people are interested in the old mission. Does some dusty archive hold the secret of a previously unknown art treasure, possibly buried for centuries? What does the Flight into Egypt—when Mary, Joseph and the baby Jesus fled Herod—have to do with saguaros, the Sonoran desert cactus?

No one is better than Chet at nosing out buried secrets, but before he can, he and Bernie are forced to take flight themselves, chased through a Christmas Eve blizzard by a murderous foe who loves art all too much.

Place holder  of - 41An Irish Country Yuletide by Patrick Taylor

December 1965. ‘Tis the season once again in the cozy Irish village of Ballybucklebo, which means that Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, his young colleague Barry Laverty, and their assorted friends, neighbors, and patients are enjoying all their favorite holiday traditions: caroling, trimming the tree, finding the perfect gifts for their near and dear ones, and anticipating a proper Yuletide feast complete with roast turkey and chestnut stuffing. There’s even the promise of snow in the air, raising the prospect of a white Christmas.

Not that trouble has entirely taken a holiday as the season brings its fair share of challenges as well, including a black-sheep brother hoping to reconcile with his estranged family before it’s too late, a worrisome outbreak of chickenpox, and a sick little girl whose faith in Christmas is in danger of being crushed in the worst way.

As roaring fireplaces combat the brisk December chill, it’s up to O’Reilly to play Santa, both literally and figuratively, to make sure that Ballybucklebo has a Christmas it will never forget!

Placeholder of  -52An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

Barry Laverty, M.B., is looking forward to his first Christmas in the cozy village of Ballybucklebo, at least until he learns that his sweetheart, Patricia, might not be coming home for the holidays. That unhappy prospect dampens his spirits somewhat, but Barry has little time to dwell on his romantic disappointments. Christmas may be drawing nigh, but there is little peace to be found on earth, especially for a young doctor plying his trade in the emerald hills and glens of rural Ireland.

Along with his senior partner, Doctor Fingal Flahertie O’Reilly, Barry has his hands full dealing with seasonal coughs and colds, as well as the occasional medical emergency. To add to the doctors’ worries, competition arrives in the form of a patient-poaching new physician whose quackery threatens the health and well-being of the good people of Ballybucklebo. Can one territory support three hungry doctors? Barry has his doubts.

But the wintry days and nights are not without a few tidings of comfort and joy. Between their hectic medical practice, Rugby Club parties, and the kiddies’ Christmas Pageant, the two doctors still find time to play Santa Claus to a struggling single mother with a sick child and not enough money in the bank. Snow is rare in Ulster, and so are miracles, but that doesn’t mean they never happen. . . .

Image Placeholder of - 12A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

The problems fracturing the Goss family as Christmas approaches are hardly unique, though perhaps they are handling them a little differently than most people might. But then a true emergency arises, one with the potential to not only ruin Christmas, but everything holding the family together.

Is the arrival of a lost puppy yet another in the string of calamities facing them, or could the little canine be just what they all need?

A Dog’s Perfect Christmas is a beautiful, poignant, delightful tale of what can happen when family members open their hearts to new possibilities. You’ll find love and tears and laughter—the ideal holiday read.

Poster Placeholder of - 48A Resolution at Midnight by 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 delightful series.

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The Good Intention of The New Year’s Resolution

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A Resolution at Midnight is the most recent installment in the Lady Dunbridge Mysteries by Shelley Noble, and it takes place in Gilded Age Manhattan during Christmas time. As the end of 2020 approaches, read Shelley’s thoughts on her love-hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions.


By Shelley Noble

The anticipation of…. The good intention of…. The determination of….

The New Year’s Resolution.

And then comes the New Year and that moment when you break it, or realize that you’ve forgotten to, do it, or just allowed it to pass out of your life without even noticing.

After years of grappling with this battle of good intentions v. back sliding, I ended the custom. I didn’t give up. I didn’t admit failure. I just made adjustments.

First of all, I never felt right about resolutions, everything depending on that one night into day. Flip a switch and you’re a better person, a thinner person, a more compassionate person. And can you really trust a resolution made after a glass or two of celebratory champagne?

For a long time after I faced my love-hate relationship with the New Year’s Resolution, I substituted my New Year’s Superstitious Transaction. When I was a dancer and toured the world, I always made a point to be out of my New York apartment when the clock struck twelve. Whether traveling to far away places, at a party or just taking a walk around my neighborhood, when that ball came down I was on the move. I wanted to start the New Year as I hoped to continue, in those days, energetically, traveling, working, going places, making new discoveries, and bringing a little joy to the audience.

After children and a move across the river to New Jersey, suddenly it was more important to create a secure space for my family. So whenever I could, I would be at home when the clock struck twelve. Even if I was out, celebrating or traveling, I would try to put myself in a cocoon of calm long enough for the countdown.

And though these talisman gestures were not resolutions, more of a fingers-crossed nudge to the universe, they did teach me something about myself and the new year.

Sure I’d like to write faster, be more efficient, be kinder, volunteer more. I’ll probably never write faster, this is just how I do it. I could be more efficient but that would come in increments by small, constant tweaks. Not by accomplishing A Resolution at Midnight like my fictional protagonist Lady Dunbridge. And volunteering? That would be dependent on my being more efficient which would give me more free time to help others.

These days, instead of yearly resolution, I’ve adopted the seasonal determinations, and their companions, the monthly cleanup restarts, and their companions, the weekly reminders.

The so you blew it—don’t give up—it’s not too late to start again answer to a resolution. A day or two of missing the mark, a week of forgetting what you meant to do or not do. A little reminder. A climb back on that proverbial horse. Much more useful (to me anyway) than the “Oh no, I ate that Chunky Monkey ice cream—I’ve failed—and all is lost” kind of resolution. And while not fireworks-worthy declarations, they have more of a chance of succeeding than that list you carefully saved somewhere around five to midnight last year and haven’t been able to find since.

So I don’t have a list of planned resolutions, not even one. Though I can’t resist making at least one wish for the coming year. For there to be more peace and harmony on Earth, and as the song goes, let it begin with me.

Grab a Copy of A Resolution at Midnight—on sale now!

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Books & Cozy Drinks that’ll Bring you Good Cheer for the End of the Year

By Ariana Carpentieri

Everyone knows that when the holidays are upon us, it also means a whole new layer of stress gets added on top of our everyday, regular busyness (and, not to mention, the extra stress of the ongoing Pandemic). But along with all the holiday madness comes something we all know and love: holiday treats and drinks! There’s nothing quite like curling up under a soft blanket near the warmth of a crackling fire with a good book in one hand and a festive drink in the other.

Get into the festive holiday spirit by pairing of our deliciously captivating books with some drinks that’ll pack a punch and warm your heart!


A Dog’s Perfect Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron

Poster Placeholder of - 92A Dog’s Perfect Christmas is a book about the Goss family; a family that has a hard time communicating with one another, and therefore always seem to be at odds. But they must learn how to get past their differences and bond together—and in the spirit of Christmas, no less. Since it’s a family-oriented book, This Creamy Crock Pot Hot Chocolate is perfect for serving your whole fam and drinking it together while gathered around the tree. It wouldn’t be the whole family without your faithful dog, so you can whip them up this Safe Hot Chocolate Alternative for Dogs so that they can be part of the festivities, too!

The Nemesis Manifesto by Eric Van Lustbader

Image Placeholder of - 53The Nemesis Manifesto an epic and harrowing adventure of predatory forces that are threatening the very fabric of democracy. This book is thick with intrigue, adventure, and action, which we think calls for it to be paired with an equally as thick, rich drink like spiked eggnog! This Holiday Spiked Eggnog recipe suggests to mix Amaretto liqueur with some white rum and then add a dash of nutmeg to the top to really give it that holiday cheer. 

Midnight at the Blackbird Café by Heather Webber

Place holder  of - 98Midnight at the Blackbird Café is a captivating blend of magic, heartwarming romance, and small-town Southern charm. A book like this calls for some liquid magic! And liquid magic always has a touch of caffeine, right? Also, cafés are known for serving coffee! Try an Eggnog Coffee Latte / Eggnog Chai Latte (for the tea lovers out there), which will give you that touch of magic you’re looking for this holiday season.

Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark

Image Place holder  of - 22Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered  is Karen and Georgia’s irreverent recount of their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation today. There’s no better drink to pair with this book than Canned Wine, which we all know is Georgia’s choice of drink when taping My Favorite Murder. But if canned wine isn’t your thing, then we suggest trying a bottle of 19 Crimes Red Blend (because the name literally speaks for itself). And honestly: what would the holidays be without a little wine to liven up the night?

Lionhearts by Nathan Makaryk

Placeholder of  -37Lionhearts is a heroically riveting story of vengeance, redemption, war, and has some Game of Throne vibes. No drinks quite capture the essence of the Renaissance era quite like mead and beer, so those are necessities to pair with this book! Between this Holiday Mead Cocktail recipe or this Stout Hot Chocolate, you’ll definitely feel great tidings of comfort and joy.

An Irish Country Christmas by Patrick Taylor

An Irish Country Christmas is a cozy tale that takes place in the village of Ballybucklebo. While snow is rare in Ulsterand so are miraclesthat doesn’t mean they never happen! We feel this delightful story would go great with a drink that’s timeless and classic, like a nice Guinness and Pear Cocktail. Everything about this drink and book will warm you up from head to toe!

A Resolution at Midnight by 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 the holidays in Gilded Age Manhattan! Set on New Year’s Eve, A Resolution at Midnight is a perfect, cozy mystery read for the holiday season. For a book this lavish, we suggest a drink that’s equally as fancy. This Holiday Spiced Mulled Wine is the perfect pair for a story as dazzling as this one!

 

And that’s a wrap! Thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy treating yourself to these incredible reads and drinks during the upcoming holidays!

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Forge Your Own Halloween Party!

Planning on staying home for Halloween and searching for that perfect bookish costume? Look no further! Your friends at Forge have put together a handy costume guide for every kind of reader!


Karen Kilgariff & Georgia Hardstark, hosts of the My Favorite Murder podcast

Halloween is a great time for Murderinos. And dressing up like Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, the authors of Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered and hosts of the wildly popular podcast My Favorite Murder is a great way to join in on Halloween fun while keeping it super stylish. Grab your favorite mid-century vintage dress and tights to achieve Georgia’s look. Don’t forget your can of wine and trusty sidekick, Elvis the cat. If you’re more of a Karen, we suggest a black dress (with pockets, of course) and a guitar for a prop. Top either costume off with a microphone to show you’re a podcast queen… and you might as well add that 20-foot tall skeleton with light-up eyes from Home Depot. 

Jennifer, Marketing Manager

 

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Flashback to Emerald City Comic Con last year where we saw these really great Karen and Georgia cosplays!

 

Bailey and Ethan from A Dog’s Purpose

Have you waited until the last minute to pull a costume together, and just need something to tell your family or socially-distanced friends that you’re dressed up as? If you’re a dog owner, I have the perfect no-effort costume idea for you! Since Bailey from A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron has lived many lives as many different dogs, any dog no matter the shape or size can be Bailey for the night! Now for your costume as Bailey’s owner: theoretically, you could wear whatever you want, since Bailey has had many names and many owners. If you want your costume to be Ethan, Bailey’s first owner in A Dog’s Purpose, you could don a flannel shirt, jeans, and some boots to make it look like you live on a farm, just like Ethan. Here’s me and my Bailey! 

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A Christmas-themed picture, since we’re celebrating the release of A Dog’s Perfect Christmas!

Sarah, Digital Marketing Coordinator

Marion from Nottingham by Nathan Makaryk

There’s nothing quite as good as the thrill of DIY’ing your own Halloween costume! I mean, store-bought ones are cool and all, but putting together your own means you’ll stand out from the crowd! And while Halloween might be spent socially-distanced this year, that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the fun of putting together your costume. If you’re looking every which way for a bookish character to dress up as but you’re having a hard time narrowing down an idea, I highly suggest drawing your inspiration from Nottingham and dressing up as Marion! If you love the Renaissance era and happen to have costumes lying around that you adorn when you visit local Ren Faires, then look no further; you’re all set! But if corsets and billowy, long dresses aren’t your thing, then you can easily DIY your costume with what you already have in your closet. If you’re riding in style as Marion, one thing to have on hand is a dress–preferably something with long, flowy sleeves. A long sleeved white shirt under a short sleeved/tank-style tunic would also work! Tall brown boots, a circlet crown or flower crown, a long skirt underneath, and a hooded cloak are the perfect accessories to help complete your look. Now you’re ready to go forth and be the finest Marion in all of the land! 

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Ariana, Assistant to VP. Marketing & Publicity

Lady Dunbridge from A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble

A gilded age costume may seem intimidating, but you don’t have to wear a ball gown to dress as the countess/detective from Shelley Noble’s historical mystery novels. After all, Lady Dunbridge spends a lot of time searching New York for clues, so she has plenty of day dresses. To put together a costume from what you likely have at home, start with a neutral-colored maxi skirt, then pair it with one of those blazers from the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in months. Under the blazer, wear a high necked shirt, or if you have a shirt with lace on the front that works too. And of course, a Lady Dunbridge costume is not complete without a cocktail in hand, so you’ll need one of those. For the costume.

Julia, Associate Marketing Manager

 

Evan Ryder from The Nemesis Manifesto by Eric Van Lustbader

If your Halloween plans are looking like they might be lowkey this year, then a lowkey costume to match is the move. Evan Ryder from The Nemesis Manifesto has to wear comfortable but functional clothes – so you could wear this costume all Halloween day! In order to tap into this character created by Eric Van Lustbader, you will first need to step into some black pants (I wore black jeans, but whatever works), throw on a cashmere sweater and then a black leather jacket over it, and end with ankle boots. If you want to truly nail the look, Evan wears her up out of her face, so grab a ponytail holder to finish the look. 

Elizabeth, Marketing Intern

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Writing the Past While Living in the Present

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A Resolution at Midnight is the most recent installment in the Lady Dunbridge Mysteries by Shelley Noble, and it takes place in Gilded Age Manhattan. Read what it’s like for Shelley to write historical mysteries set in the past while living in the present!


By Shelley Noble

I write historical mysteries; 1900s in Manhattan, the Gilded Age. 1907-8 to be specific. A time of conspicuous consumption and widespread poverty. The era of “the modern woman.” More women are working outside the home, going to college; they still don’t have the vote. Women have lunch in restaurants without male escort—some restaurants. Women who play the stock market, drive automobiles, drink cocktails.

Wives and daughters are still committed to sanitariums to be cured of “hysteria.”

Automobiles are becoming more prevalent on the streets. Telephones grace the homes of the wealthy and businesses.  The police department has been reformed by Teddy Roosevelt and has slipped back to its old ways now that he has left for Washington.

Tammany Hall still rules politics. Theater has moved uptown to Broadway. The poor live in crowded tenement buildings on the lower east side. Luxury apartment buildings are springing up on the upper west side. Everyone is saying they are the wave of the future.

The New Years Eve ball will be dropped for the first time in Times Square to welcome in 1908. It’s five feet in diameter, will be lit by 100 electric lights and lowered by pulleys and ropes by five strong men. If it’s a clear night it will be seen all the way to New Jersey.

And as always, change faces great resistance. And from this resistance, stories are made.

Today, walking the same streets, living in the same neighborhoods, going about our own lives, it’s easy to forget the people who went before, who they were, what they wanted,  and where their passions led them. There is much about them that is similar to us and much that isn’t, and it’s important not to equate the two when constructing a story.

As writers we all have our quirks, the things that make us unique, drive us crazy, or that  we’d like to be able to ignore. Or the worst (for me) wanting to tell it all. So I made myself a little crib sheet. To remind me how to stay on track.

 

NOTE TO SELF: How to Write the Past While Living in the Present.  

  1.  Every Era is the modern era to the people living in it. Don’t look down or back on your characters. They are the culmination of history thus far. Their stories are current events. Breaking news.
  2.  Take yourself down the rabbit hole.

    Immerse yourself in real history. Like Alice, you may find yourself in uncharted territory – for you anyway. But somebody charted it before you. Embrace it. Live it, don’t be afraid to stay there. You won’t get lost. Not for long anyway. You have a deadline.  You’ll get it done. (Note to others: If you don’t have a deadline, give yourself one. There is definitely addictive temptation in research.)

    Research matters a lot – it’s really important. But only when it affects your characters. The description you depict is the description they live. What they see. Not what you’ve learned. You’re just the fly on the wall. No, not a fly. You’re an eager paid assistant. Pay attention. Don’t talk, don’t opine, don’t suggest. Just do the work.

  3.  Location, location, location

    If you can walk it like a local, see it like a tourist, listen like a history whisperer, your setting will come alive. Setting is interactive. Make it breathe with your characters. There is no setting outside the people using it, living in it, experiencing it, sometimes being destroyed by it.

  4.  From the horse’s mouth…

    Use primary sources. The New York Times archive reaches back 150 years. Plenty of stuff there, plenty of reporters out getting the news, risking their lives for the story. Memoirs, diaries, letters… but remember a person’s need to protect their  own secrets. The written word is not  always the truth. Crawl into your characters until you understand them, feel their feelings, speak their language, because they are the modern people of their history. Make sure they aren’t speaking your language. Check your dates on dialogue.
  5.   …And the eyes of the beholder.

    See what the characters see or choose not to see or what they might see if they paid more attention. You are not the arbiter. You don’t get to tell the present about the past, they do. It’s their job. Let them be who they want to be. Trust them. They won’t act out of period (if you’ve done your research). They live there.

  6.  Clap your hands to the music.

    Life was different then, the speed, the way of doing things. Living had a different rhythm, different priorities. Don’t be impatient, this is their story, give them time (even though it would be a lot simpler if they had cell phones).

  7.   Stuff matters.

    Get it right. Most people won’t notice little mistakes, but the people you create will, and you have to live with them, maybe forever. (That one sometimes keeps me up at night.)

  8.  It’s not always what you think.

    Actually it’s hardly ever what you think. There are misconceptions about every age. Preconceptions abound for every era, you don’t have to further them. Some readers will complain because you question what they’ve heard. Be brave. Don’t let indecision thwart your story. Take responsibility. (And clarify things in the Author’s Notes. That’s what they’re for. Fifth Avenue was not always one way south.)

  9.  Decide what’s important

    Be prepared to change your mind. It’s hard to throw out days or weeks of research.  Especially if it’s fascinating. It’s still there even if you don’t use it on the page. It might be the skeleton, the foundation you don’t see. It’s still a part of the world you recreated. And it is important.

  10.  Yeah it matters.

    When you think about skimping, don’t. Take the space the story needs, not a word more or less. Repeat this aloud ten times. Then do it right.
    And sometimes, surprisingly, I do.

Grab a Copy of A Resolution at Midnight—on sale now!

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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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Eight Mysteries We Can’t Wait to Solve This Year

Eight Mysteries We Can’t Wait to Solve This Year

By Alison Bunis

The new year is finally here. Take a deep breath and savor the clean slate. But what’s that scent drifting in? Is that…new book smell?? Of course it is! Forge has a whole new lineup of fantastic mysteries for 2020, and they’ll be bringing you all the new book smell, mysterious thrills, and page-turning plot twists your heart could ever desire. To get you excited, here are just a few of the books you can look forward to this year from Forge. On your marks…get set…read!

 

Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero (3/3/20)

Image Place holder  of - 59The nurses of the US Army’s Field Hospitals contend with heat, dirt, German counterattacks,  and a flood of horribly wounded GIs. At the 11th Field Hospital near Palermo, Sicily, in the summer of 1943, they also live with the constant threat of violent assault by one of their own—until someone shoots Dr. Myers Stephenson in the head. Former Philadelphia beat cop turned Military Police lieutenant Eddie Harkins is assigned the case, and he has no idea how to investigate a murder. But Eddie is determined to get to the truth. As his investigation gets more complicated and more dangerous, it becomes clear that this hospital unit is rotten to its core, that the nurses are not safe, and that the patients who have survived Nazi bullets are still at risk in this place that is supposed to save them.

Gone By Midnight by Candice Fox (3/10/20)

Image Placeholder of - 37It’s every parent’s nightmare. Four young boys are left alone in a hotel room while their parents dine downstairs. When Sara Farrow checks on the children at midnight, her son has disappeared. Distrustful of the police, Sara turns to Crimson Lake’s unlikeliest private investigators: disgraced cop Ted Conkaffey and convicted killer Amanda Pharrell. For Ted, the case couldn’t have come at a worse time. Two years ago a false accusation robbed him of his career, his reputation, and most importantly, his family. But now Lillian, the daughter he barely knows, is coming to stay in his ramshackle cottage by the lake. With Lillian at his side, Ted must dredge up the area’s worst characters to find the missing boy. The clock is ticking, and the danger he uncovers could put his own child in deadly peril.

Do No Harm by Max Allan Collins (3/10/20)

Poster Placeholder of - 24The latest book in the Nathan Heller series picks up in 1954, with Heller taking on the Sam Sheppard case: a young doctor is startled from sleep and discovers his wife brutally murdered. He claims that a mysterious intruder killed his wife. But all the evidence points to a disturbed husband who has grown tired of married life and yearned to be free at all costs. Sheppard is swiftly convicted and sent to rot in prison. But just how firm was the evidence…and was it tampered with to fit a convenient narrative that settled scores and pushed political agendas?

Dead West by Matt Goldman (6/2/20)

Place holder  of - 34In Matt Goldman’s fourth standalone entry in the Nils Shapiro series, Nils accepts what appears to be an easy, lucrative job: find out if Beverly Mayer’s grandson is throwing away his trust fund in Hollywood after his fiancée’s tragic death. But nothing is what it seems in Los Angeles. Nils quickly suspects that Ebben Mayer’s fiancée was murdered, and that Ebben himself may have been the target. As Nils moves into Ebben’s inner circle, he discovers that everyone in Ebben’s professional life—his agent, manager, a screenwriter, a producer—seem to have dubious motives at best. With Nil’s friend Jameson White, who has come to Los Angeles to deal with demons of his own, acting as Ebben’s bodyguard, Nils sets out to find a killer before it’s too late.

Of Mutts & Men by Spencer Quinn (7/7/20)

Placeholder of  -17Get ready for another canine crime caper, narrated by the world’s fluffiest PI: Chet the dog. When Chet and his human, Bernie Little of the Little Detective Agency. arrive to a meeting with hydrologist Wendell Nero, they’re greeted by a shocking sight—Wendell has been killed. What did the hydrologist want to see them about? Is his death a random robbery, or something more? Chet and Bernie, working for nothing more than an eight-pack of Slim Jims, are on the case. As Chet and Bernie look into Wendell’s work, their search leads to a struggling winemaker who has received an offer he can’t refuse. Meanwhile, Chet is smelling water where there is no water, and soon Chet and Bernie are in danger like never before…

The First to Lie by Hank Phillippi Ryan (8/4/20)

We all have our reasons for being who we are—but what if being someone else could get you what you want? After a devastating betrayal, a young woman sets off on an obsessive path to justice, no matter what dark family secrets are revealed. What she doesn’t know—she isn’t the only one plotting her revenge. 

An affluent daughter of privilege. A glamorous manipulative wannabe. A determined reporter, in too deep. A grieving widow who has to choose her own reality. Who will be the first to lie? And when the stakes are life and death, do a few lies really matter?

And Now She’s Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (9/22/20)

Isabel Lincoln is gone.

But is she missing?

It’s up to Grayson Sykes to find her. Although she is reluctant to track down a woman who may not want to be found, Gray’s search for Isabel Lincoln becomes more complicated and dangerous with every new revelation about the woman’s secrets and the truth she’s hidden from her friends and family—even as Grayson is forced to confront secrets from the past she thought she’d finally left behind.

A Resolution at Midnight by Shelley Noble (10/13/20)

It’s Christmas in Gilded Age Manhattan. 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 puts something of a damper on the festivities. And when a young newspaperwoman is the target of a similar attack, it’s 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.

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