Danger at Thatcham Hall












ISBN Digital: 9781509201976
ISBN Print: 9781509201969
Page Count: 282
Word Count: 69325
Rating: Sweet

Thatcham Hall Mysteries



Ambitious lawyer Nelson Roberts, embittered by war, jilted by his fiancée, and trusting no one, aims to make his name solving the mysterious thefts and violence at Thatcham Hall, a country house in Victorian England.

Olivia Martin, headstrong and talented, will stop at nothing to overcome the conventions of the day, avoid a miserable fate as a governess and fulfill dreams of a musical future.

The pair stumble on a body. Is the farmhand’s death a simple accident, or something more sinister? Who attacked the livestock at the Hall and why are the villagers so reluctant to talk? Can Nelson and Olivia overcome their differences and join forces to unravel the web of evil that imperils the Hall?

 

Excerpt:

The stranger watched, eyes widening. Oh! He was staring at her—at her—no, Olivia could hardly even think the words. He could see her—her shape. Shame drove out the chill, reddening her chest, and heightening the dreadful humiliation. Oh, if only the earth would open and swallow her whole! She gulped, strove for words, but none came.

Wait. The stranger wasn’t watching her at all. His gaze had come to rest beyond Olivia. The knowing smile faded, and Olivia’s insides turned to horrified pulp. What was he looking at? Something terrible? Slowly, heart hammering inside a tight chest, she twisted, awkward in the flow of water, to peer over one shoulder.

A brown boot, heavy and cracked with wear, wavered in the stream, barely an inch from Olivia’s fingers. She gasped. A swollen leg bulged from the battered leather, the pale stretch of waxen flesh exposed through torn brown trousers and the tattered remains of a sacking gaiter. Olivia snatched back her hand, biting the knuckles to stifle a scream. The man’s body lay on its back, head half-submerged, as the current stroked wisps of black hair across a pale cheek.

She’d almost sat upon it. Sickness gripped Olivia’s stomach. Clasping one hand to her chest, she scrambled to her feet, backing away, slipping and sliding. “No,” she whispered through stiff fingers, voice grating through a closed throat. “Oh no!”

“Let me help you out.” The touch of the stranger’s hand under her arm was firm.

Once she was safe on land, he leaned over the body in the stream, touching the thin neck with outstretched fingers. The head turned under his touch. Cold blue eyes stared, blind, sunken in a colourless face. The man was young, hardly more than a boy, and handsome, with dark eyebrows and a straight nose. Whose son was he? On his hand, a thin band ringed his finger. A married man, then. Olivia’s voice trembled. “Is-is he dead?”

The stranger stepped back. “Don’t look.”

She clutched his arm, grateful for the warmth of a living body. “What happened to him?”

“I can’t tell.” The stranger tried to lead Olivia aside, but she wouldn’t move.

“We-we must call for a doctor.”

“There’s nothing to be done for him, now.”

“He’s dead?” Olivia’s words echoed in her ears as though someone else spoke. She shook her head, trying to clear it. This must be a nightmare. She would wake in a moment, safe in bed.

The hem of her brown dress, heavy with water, weighed down Olivia’s legs. Half the river seemed to have trickled inside her boots. The stranger threw off his coat and dropped it without a word around her shoulders. She pulled the heavy material close but nothing could stop the shudders that gripped her body.

The stranger grasped her elbow. “I must take you home. Where do you live?”




Copyright © 2017 The Wild Rose Press, Inc.