Letter to London from Clun, England
The most unusual and upsetting of occurrences has happened, and I wish now more than ever that Randall would leave this forsaken place and move back to civilization. I imagine the snow is beautiful banking along the Thames, and how I long for an outing to Mrs. Starling’s millinery shop. I am in dire need of a new hat and there is not a one milliner worthy of such a task here in Clun. I suppose I shall just catch cold rather than wear such an atrocity upon my head!
But back to the urgent matter at hand, the Constable here has up and died by his own witlessness. The man had some sort of infirmity and ended up dying in the woods. They found him frozen through, but thank goodness no animals had yet discovered him. Otherwise, I might have fainted straight away.
And, the worst of it, the absolute most obscene part of it, is that a woman, an odd although in other respects pretty and intelligent creature, has decided to become Clun’s new layer-out of the dead. She even enlisted her poor younger sister to aid her in such an endeavor.
I do have some semblance of sympathy for them as they did lose their parents not long ago in another entirely different grizzly affair, which I relayed to you last month. But to resort to such unseemly means to provide for themselves is more than I can fathom. I have insisted that Randall speak with her and forbid it, but he tells me there is no law against women making foolish decisions. I told him there should be. The girls are throwing away any chance of a future by making such a choice.
I am spent in writing this to you and find I must now retire for a spell to regain my spirits. All this ghastly business has worn me through.
Send my love to your sweet daughters and please do invite me to come visit for I must escape this place. . .and soon, my dear.
With an urgency to be elsewhere,
About the Book: Lovely Digits
When two murders strike the sleepy Victorian town of Clun, England, an unlikely partnership forms. But can the killer be found before there is a third?
Lovely Digits is the town oddity…
But quirky spinster Lucy Wycliffe prefers to ignore gossip and embrace her position as the town’s layer out of the dead, despite how her parents’ deaths thrust her into such unlikely work. Lovely Digits, as she’s known to the local townspeople, no longer dreams of marriage, but takes pride in providing dignity to the dead. Desperate to hold on to her family’s cottage and support her widowed sister and young niece, an unexpected offer of employment as assistant to the constable arrives at the perfect time.
Former sailor John Brodie is the mysterious new constable…
But John Brodie is far from a stranger to Clun or the events of its past. Accepting the position as constable in the small town is a double edged sword meant to heal his past and redeem his future, but falling for the beautiful and intelligent Lucy Wycliffe was never part of his plan. As the killer closes in, will John reveal his secret and risk losing everything to save Lucy’s life?
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Excerpt from the Book:
Old Man Codger’s frozen toe rolled across the floor toward the door.
“Lord above. Mind the corner, sister,” Lucy muttered. She blew an errant curl from her cheek as they swung the man’s stiff body onto the scarred wooden table in front of the hearth. The body landed with a thud.
Blast. Lucy scanned the floor. Nothing. Where had it gone? She lifted her skirts.
“There you are,” she grumbled. The rogue digit rested between the scuffed heels of her old brown boots. Using the edge of one of the sleeves of her faded blue blouse, she leaned down and clutched the rather putrid, large hairy toe and placed it on the man’s chest. Now she’d have to sew on a toe, too. A frozen toe.
Priscilla covered her mouth with the back of her hand and yielded a dry retch. Plugging her nose, she rolled her eyes. “There has to be another way.”
Lucy eyed her pert younger sister and sighed. At thirteen, Cil was on the cusp of womanhood. There were so many things she would miss from their parents not being there to guide her. The guilt over the death of Mother and Father a month past stung like a barb under Lucy’s skin. If only she’d arrived home at the cottage sooner instead of lingering about the forest to find her pet starling. She banished the thought away.
After tying back her hair, Lucy pushed up her sleeves to the elbow. “If there had been any other option, we’d have done it. It’s either prep him for burial or starve. It’s just us now, Cil.”
The old man’s time in the woods had not been kind to him, but at least the extreme cold had kept the insects at bay. A white milky maggot dropped from his nose to the table. Lucy shuddered. Most of them. She loathed insects, especially worms. Things that could move without legs weren’t natural.
“Hand me the needle and thread.” Lucy rested her hands on her hips. “I need to get this toe sewn back on when he thaws. I’ll not be docked pay for him missing parts.”
About the Author
Jeanine Englert is a Golden Heart ® Finalist and Daphne du Maurier Award winner in historical romantic suspense. After years of writing in secret, she joined Romance Writers of America and Georgia Romance Writers in 2013 and has been an active member ever since. She writes Scottish Highland historicals and historical romantic suspense novels.
When she isn’t wrangling with her characters on the page, she can be found trying to convince her husband to watch her latest Masterpiece or BBC show obsession. She loves to talk about books, writing, her beloved pups, and of course mysteries with other readers on Twitter @JeanineWrites, Facebook, or at her website www.jeaninewrites.com.
Her debut novel, Lovely Digits, released in June of 2019 by Soul Mate Publishing, is a Victorian romantic suspense that won the 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award and was named a 2018 Golden Heart ® Finalist for best unpublished romantic suspense.
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