Enjoy this excerpt from “Felicity Carrol and the Murderous Menace” — an Amazon Kindle Deal for July. Get your copy for $2.99 thru 7/31.
Heiress and amateur detective Felicity Carrol makes a perilous journey to apprehend a notorious murderer who has terrorized England–and now continues his vicious killing spree across the pond.
Felicity and Helen stepped out of the stagecoach and the ground shook. Horses clomped dirt. Buildings tremored.
“My heavens,” exclaimed Helen who turned around and tried to get back in the coach.
“What an introduction,” said Felicity, who gently tugged on the back of Helen’s dress to stop her. “We’ve come all this way, Hellie. We can’t go back now.”
“Oh, yes, we can.”
Felicity straightened her velvet hat while their trunks were removed from the coach. At a café across from the station, a man leaned against the porch. A star glinted on his leather vest. A lawman of the West, how exciting just to see one. She noticed how he examined the face of every man in the vicinity. He was searching for someone, and from his severe gaze, she was glad it was not her.
Then the man’s focus landed on Felicity and Helen, and he ambled toward them as if he had more than time on his side.
“This is our lucky day, Helen. I wanted to meet the sheriff, and I believe here he comes.”
“I wouldn’t call that lucky,” Helen replied and pulled at her wrinkled dress. “He’s probably come to throw us out of town.”
“Don’t be so negative, Hellie.” Even if he threw them out, she’d come back, because she had a goal to achieve.
The sheriff walked straight, though perhaps a little too much so, as if he only followed a path he trusted. With his longish dark brown hair, he could have been a good-looking, young Allan Quartermain pursuing adventure in Africa rather than upholding the law in an unruly Montana town. Almost as if he had heard her thoughts, the man licked his fingers to tame a few unruly strands of hair behind his ears.
Pay attention, Felicity chided herself. You’re acting like a silly schoolgirl, not that you were ever were one.
“Welcome to Placer,” the sheriff told Felicity. His voice sounded of an American sunset, rich and rough.
“This place is certainly a long way from New York.”
“Or anywhere.” Helen adjusted her hat. “My insides have never been so shaken around as in that contraption.” Her thumb pointed back at the stagecoach. “And what in blazes was that explosion all about then?”
He noted his short shadow, took the watch out of a vest pocket, and smiled. “Wait one more minute, ma’am.”
Helen mouthed “ma’am” to Felicity and they both tried not to laugh.
A whistle blew in the distance, and the whole town rattled. In the street, horses reared and whinnied. Dogs barked. Windows shook.
“Another earthquake!” Helen started to climb back into the stagecoach, and Felicity
again pulled at the back of her dress.
“No earthquake, Helen. A dynamite explosion. If I’m not mistaken, the sound originated from the west.”
“You’re right, ma’am. It’s the noontime blasting at the mines.” The sheriff scratched his head.
From his face, Felicity could tell he was wondering how a woman knew about dynamite.
“I suppose the blasting takes place during the day so as not to wake everyone,” she said.
“That’s the general idea. You two sound British.”
“Your powers of observation are keen. Are you the welcoming committee?” The corners of Felicity’s mouth quirked up with mischievousness. The sheriff replied with a smile he probably used to impress women.
“Sheriff Tom Pike at your service.” He tipped up his hat.
“This is fortuitous. Exactly the person I wanted to meet,” Felicity said.
“How lucky can a fella get?”
Brilliant. Another sarcastic man. Her mouth straightened with determination. “I’ve come to Placer to learn about the murder of Lily Rawlins.”
Pike lost his amiable exterior and instead became a wooden pillar.
She pointed at the star on his chest. “You are the sheriff aren’t you?”
“Last I looked, ma’am.”
“Enough ma’am. My name is Felicity Carrol, and this is Miss Helen Wilkins.”
Pike shook their hands. “A pleasure. But what’s all this about Lily Rawlins? You a Pinkerton detective or something?”
“Heavens no. But what a delightful compliment.” Felicity’s eyes widened.
“When you came out of stagecoach, I told myself spring had arrived. Lovely and refreshing like the flowers on the mountainside,” Pike said.
“How poetic of you, Sheriff.”
“Then you opened your mouth.” Pike’s brow creased with irritation.
Even in America, I have this effect on men, Felicity thought. But she couldn’t worry about annoying this interesting fellow.
“Hundreds of people from all over the United States and other countries land in Placer to work in the mines and smelters or to seek their own golden vein in the ground. It’s my duty to find out who’s arrived in my town.”
“Not only poetic but efficient,” Felicity said.
“You two are among the most extraordinary I’ve ever seen.”
“How kind of you. Wait, was that a compliment?” Felicity said.
“I’m not sure.”
“Now about Lily Rawlins.”
“This is some sort of record, ma’am. You got into town a few minutes ago and have put me in a god awful mood.”
“I suspect you woke up that way, Sheriff,” Felicity replied.
“Why you asking about Big Lil? Her death isn’t exactly the nicest subject for a lady to discuss.” His tone turned harsh as if he hoped to scare her away.
Felicity brushed dust from her skirt. “My dear sheriff, if you’re not a lady then how can you determine what is proper?”