About the Author
Chris was born and raised in Chicago. Her father was a history professor and her mother was, and is, a voracious reader. She grew up with a love of history and books.
Her parents also love traveling, a passion they passed onto her. She wanted to see the places she read about, see the land and monuments from the time periods that fascinated her. She’s had the good fortune to travel extensively throughout Europe, the Near East, and North Africa.
She is a retired police detective who spent twenty-five years in law enforcement with two different agencies.
Her desire to write came in her early teens. After she retired, she decided to pursue that dream. She writes two different series. Her paranormal romance series is called, Knights in Time. Her romantic thriller series is, Dangerous Waters. She currently live in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, four rescue dogs and a rescue horse.
About the book
The summer of 1889 was proving to be a strange one for Detective Inspector Rudyard Bloodstone and his partner.
They had a sexual pervert loose. The man didn’t actually harm women but threatened them at knife point, fondling them, and ultimately stealing their stockings.
Far more serious were the murders of influential men, which appeared random other than they were all killed by arsenic poison. Never had he and his partner had cases with so little workable evidence.
Also, the rivalry between him and his detective nemesis at London’s other police department was intensifying. That nemesis was the boxing champion of their department and looking to challenge Rudyard, who never trained as a boxer.
Besides Rudyard’s pride being at stake, and the pride of his station, his nemesis also had in his possession a photograph of the woman Rudyard cares very much for. The new lady in Rudyard’s life had captured his heart and he’d fight the devil himself to save her reputation.
“What address do you show for the Cross family?” the Vicar asked. Her mind went completely blank. Finally, she blurted the only one that came to her, which was no doubt wrong. “Park Lane.”
The Vicar smirked. Not smiled. Smirked. That meant it had to be wrong.
“I suggest you start there. In the meantime, I will have my housekeeper escort you out. I don’t know what you’re playing at but I don’t care for mischief. You’ll do your soul a good turn to drop a coin in the poor box on your way to the street.” He rang a small bell on his desk and the housekeeper came. “See this lady out.”
Graciela stood on the top stair of the chapel cursing her luck when a man’s disturbingly familiar laugh interrupted her thoughts. She took a quick step to the left and flattened herself against one of the portico pillars. The horrible laugh rippled over from close by. It sounded like Detective Bloodstone’s from the morning she’d bailed out Addy. He’d said something that sent the shine boy scampering away and had all the detectives snickering, including Bloodstone.
Taking a deep breath, she peered around the edge of the pillar expecting to see the detective. His presence would’ve been the perfect end to this entire St. Jude’s Chapel mission-turned-catastrophe. To her great relief, it came from a carriage driver. She hadn’t noticed a group of them gathered at the corner waiting to be hired. Graciela, you had no reason to be frightened. You’d done nothing wrong. Stop being such a ninny.
She left the church and headed home. Zachary would be getting up from her nap soon. The whole way home she questioned her luck. A dozen people are murdered every day in London.
How hard can it be to kill someone?
The autopsy report and test results on the contents of the decanters were returned by midmorning the next day. Skinner had died of arsenic poisoning. The claret in the decanter was the same as in his stomach and both contained arsenic. The port did not.
“What the deuce kind of maniac do we have on our hands now?” Archie lamented.
“A strange one indeed.” And Ruddy meant it. “Shall we give Jameson the bad news?”
“Let’s get it over with.”
Jameson listened with a pained expression. The crease between his eyes deepened with each named similarity. When Ruddy finished, the Superintendent looked from Ruddy to Archie and back to Ruddy. “Is there no other way to look at these cases other than as connected?”
“We could. We can always take a different approach. Follow a different course of investigation but I think sooner or later we’d have to pursue this theory. If nothing else, to eliminate the possibility they’re related,” Ruddy said.
“I don’t like it. I don’t like it at all. The idea we may have a demented looney on the loose poisoning well-to-do businessmen curdles in me.” He fixed hard eyes on Ruddy as he made his objection known.
Ruddy had a response sitting on the tip of his tongue. He’d love to tell the Superintendent the nature of the case didn’t exactly set him doing a jig either.
“I’m beginning to think there’s something about you Bloodstone, that attracts these cases involving influential people. Somehow, someway while investigating the case I just know you’re going to overturn a rock and an ugly frog of information will pop out that has another influential person screaming like a banshee.” Jameson pointed a finger in Ruddy’s face. “I believe that. I truly do.” He turned to Archie. “I can feel it. The two of you. Get out.”
Back at their desks, Ruddy snatched his coat from the stand where he had carefully hung it. “I hope we do discover some toff involved up to his wealthy neck in these cases,” he said without bothering to lower his voice. “I hope it turns into a carbuncle on Jameson’s bum.”
“Shh,” Archie raised a finger to get Ruddy to quiet down. He’d drawn the attention of the other detectives who were listening with interest to the tirade.
“Let’s talk to Cross’s staff first. His residence is closest and on the way to Belgrave Square. If they don’t recognize Skinner as a friend or associate, we’ll move on and speak to Skinner’s family,” Ruddy said, changing the subject and putting on his coat.
“Good idea. I’m happy to get out of here for a while,” Archie said with a quick glance toward Jameson’s closed door.
A glow of light in Ruddy’s peripheral vision caught his attention and he turned. It came from Flower’s dressing room. The star exited and closed the door. She smiled as she walked toward them, wearing a lavender dress of lace-covered silk with a sheer silky material over her shoulders to her throat. She smiled and walked past the short stairs to the stage and over to Will.
“You were here yesterday. You sat there.” She pointed to a table for two in the front row.
Ruddy had never seen his brother at a loss for words. If only a moment could be bronzed in time.
“I’m gobsmacked you remember me,” Will said at last.
“What lady doesn’t remember a fine example of a man in service to her majesty?”
“You flatter me.”
“Are you with the Queen’s Guards here at the palace?” she asked.
“No. I’m just on leave in London. I’m deployed in India.”
Honeysuckle turned to Ruddy. She looked from him back to Will and then to Ruddy again. “You’re brothers?”
“Yes. And he does live here in London,” Will rushed to add.
She peered over her shoulder in a coquettish way that women do. “Is he mute?”
Ruddy hoped Will read his I’m going to kill you look. “No, he is not,” Ruddy jumped in with. “But he does have an irksome brother who blathers on unnecessarily before I can get a word out. I know from your poster outside that you’re the star, Honeysuckle Flowers. I’m Rudyard Bloodstone and the vexing man to your right is my brother Will.”
She gave each a warm smile accompanied by a slight feminine tip of her head. When she smiled and tipped her head Ruddy’s way, she kept her eyes up and on him. If he knew her even a little better, he’d have pulled her behind the curtain and kissed her. He knew a little about heat between a man and a woman and there was heat in those pretty green eyes she’d locked on him.
“May I buy you a drink?” he asked.
“No thank you, detective. Not before the show. But afterward, I’d love to share a bottle of champagne with your brother and you.”
A stunned Ruddy asked, “How did you know I was a detective?”
She put her forefingers to her temples. “Read it in the leaves of my afternoon tea.”
She’d said it with a straight face. Ruddy’s heart sank. The woman was mad as Mr. Carroll’s hatter. Or worse, she was part gypsy. He hated dealing with gypsies and their alleged metaphysical abilities. Whether it was reading tea leaves, or the Tarot, or crystal balls, they were all nothing but tricks to part a hard working person from their money.
Flowers burst into a laugh and then said with a tiny push to his chest, “You should see your face. You believed every word.” She turned to Will. “You did too, didn’t you?”
“In our defense you said it with such a serious face,” Will said, sounding haughtier than their upbringing justified.
“I am an actress.” She turned back to Ruddy. “I saw you and another gentleman this afternoon looking at the theatre posters. You pointed to something and your jacket moved and exposed your shield. I’m not one to delve into fortune telling of any kind.”
“That’s a relief,” Ruddy said and meant it.
“Are you with the City or London Metropolitan?”
“My uncle is a constable in Norfolk.”
Another pleasant surprise. His profession caused the demise of his relationship with Allegra the year before. “Oh. Norfolk’s a lovely area to work.”
“There’s the emcee. I’m next,” Honeysuckle said. “I’ve another show in an hour and then I’ll be free to join you gentlemen. I sing new tunes but some old favorites as well. You must sing along with the favorites. I’ll be watching from the stage.” She raised her skirt high enough to scandalously show a shapely ankle and bit of leg as she climbed the stage stairs.
On stage the curtains parted to show a backdrop that was painted to look like a city park with a promenade. Honeysuckle opened with the popular melody, When I Take My Morning Promenade. Members of the chorus joined her on stage, the ladies carried ruffled parasols that they twirled and danced around. The men dressed in morning coats and high hats served mainly as dancing props for the women.
To Ruddy’s delight, twice while she danced she came over with a flounce that flashed those lovely ankles again.