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Tag: murder

Deaths Reported in Shropshire

Letter to London from Clun, England

Dearest Ophelia,

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?

Want to read more? Here is my Amazon Buy Link: 

Excerpt from the Book:

Clun, England

February, 1839

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

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.

Where you can find her:




A shocking murder; a hasty marriage

Gentle Readers will no doubt recall the tragic Death of the sixth Viscount Fieldhurst last Spring, and the Criminal Investigation which followed. It has recently been brought to our Attention that his lordship’s Grieving Widow has repaired to her childhood Home in Somersetshire. But rumor has it that she did not go alone.

According to our Sources, the former Lady Fieldhurst (last seen at Drury Lane Theatre on the night of the Fire, in the company of an Unidentified Man) has remarried, and a scant ten Months after the shocking Murder of her First Husband. Her new husband (and we would find this very Hard to Believe had the information not come from an Unimpeachable Source) is none other than the Bow Street Runner who brought her first husband’s Killer to Justice.

Her Departure from London is ostensibly for the Purpose of introducing said New Husband to her Parents (one would Love to be a Fly on the Wall during that Conversation), but one suspects it is in Reality an attempt to Escape the Scandal that is sure to follow hard on the Heels of her recent Nuptials.

While the young Man is undoubtedly Handsome (if it was in fact he who accompanied her to the Theatre on that Fateful Night) and she is undoubtedly—and quite Properly—Grateful to him for his Efforts following her husband’s Death, her Fall in the eyes of Society will be Swift and Sure, and should serve as an Example and a Warning to all Young Ladies who might be tempted to Succumb to a Pleasing Countenance and an Engaging Manner.

 For Deader or Worse

After a modest wedding ceremony, Bow Street Runner John Pickett and his bride Julia, the former Lady Fieldhurst, set out for a wedding trip to Somersetshire, where Pickett must face his greatest challenge yet: meeting his in-laws.

Sir Thaddeus and Lady Runyon are shocked at their daughter’s hasty remarriage—and appalled by her choice of a second husband. Pickett, for his part, is surprised to learn that Julia once had an elder sister: Claudia, Lady Buckleigh, disappeared thirteen years earlier, leaving no trace beyond a blood-soaked shawl. When Sir Thaddeus confides that his wife is convinced Claudia’s spirit now haunts her childhood home, Pickett sees a chance to redeem himself in the eyes of Julia’s family. He agrees to investigate and, hopefully, lay the Runyon “ghost,” whoever—or whatever—it is.

Matters take a grisly turn when Sir Thaddeus’s groom is discovered with his throat slit. The timing could hardly be worse, for the whole village is aflutter with the news that Lord Buckleigh has brought home a new bride, just when Major James Pennington, the vicar’s son who was Claudia’s childhood sweetheart, has returned on leave from war in the Peninsula. The major was apparently the last person to see Claudia alive, and Pickett is convinced he knows more about her disappearance than he’s telling. Suddenly it seems the distant past is not so distant, after all. It may not even be past . . .

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They set out at first light, and although Pickett was in agony after three hours due to the injury he had sustained escaping the fire, he resisted Julia’s efforts to dose him with laudanum, determined to be awake and alert when he made his bow to the squire and his lady. Julia at last prevailed by offering to slide to the end of the seat and let him rest his head on her lap. It made for a tight fit, with his bum wedged against the outer wall of the carriage and his long legs stretched out on the seat opposite, but he rather liked the warmth of her thigh beneath his cheek, and there was something wonderfully soothing about the rhythmic caress of her fingers as she stroked his hair. . .

Thus it was that, when the post chaise turned off the road onto the long drive to Runyon Hall, Julia was obliged to shake her husband by the shoulder in order to rouse him.

“John? Wake up, darling, we’re almost there.”

“What?” Pickett sat up, frantically straightening his cravat and raking his fingers through his untidy curls. “You should have wakened me an hour ago!”

“Nonsense! You needed the rest,” Julia insisted.

And so it was that Pickett descended the post chaise a short time later flushed and disheveled from sleep. Furthermore, as he helped Julia disembark, he noticed on her skirts a small damp spot which he very much feared was his own drool.

“The squire is going to kill me,” he muttered under his breath.

“I beg your pardon?”

He shook his head. “Never mind.”

She sailed up the front stairs with the ease of long familiarity, then raised the iron door knocker and let it fall.

“Good evening, Miss Julia,” said the butler who answered, opening his eyes wider at the sight of the recently widowed daughter of the house arriving with a tall young man in tow.

“Good evening, Parks,” she replied. “I trust Mama and Papa received my letter?”

“Indeed they did.” The butler inclined his head. “Your lady mother ordered dinner to be held back for your arrival.”

“Excellent! Are they in the drawing room, then? We shall go to them at once. You need not announce us.”

Since he could not have announced them in any case without first being informed as to her companion’s designation, Parks merely bowed his acquiescence. Julia took Pickett’s arm and steered him across the hall, stopping in the doorway of a cheerful salon decorated for comfort as well as fashion, with a sofa and two overstuffed wing chairs arranged about an Adam fireplace over which hung a rural landscape executed by the hand of a skillful amateur.

“Mama! Papa!”

At the sound of her voice, the squire (whom Pickett recognized from their brief meeting in London almost a year earlier) cast aside his sporting journal and rose to welcome his adored child, his jovial greeting dying on his lips as he realized she was not alone. In the chair adjacent, a frail little woman laid down her embroidery and regarded her daughter with an expression of bewildered disbelief that exactly mirrored her husband’s.

Julia took a deep breath. “Mama, Papa, I should like you to meet Mr. John Pickett”—her fingers, which had been tucked into the curve of Pickett’s elbow, slid down his forearm to cling tightly to his hand—“my husband.”

A moment of stunned silence greeted this pronouncement. Pickett, finding himself the object of two penetrating and far from admiring gazes, addressed his beloved under his breath.

“You didn’t tell them?”

“I thought it would be better done in person,” Julia murmured.

“But you wrote a letter—”

“I told them I was bringing a surprise,” she offered, half hopefully and half apologetically.

Pickett sighed. “I suppose that’s one way of putting it.”

Lady Runyon, whose cool composure few circumstances had the power to disturb for long, found her tongue at last. “Well, Julia, this is very sudden,” she said in a voice that shook only slightly, as she crossed the room to kiss her daughter’s cheek.

To her new son-in-law she offered her hand, and Pickett, correctly surmising that any attempt to raise it to his lips would be seen as either toad-eating or impertinence, contented himself with pressing her fingers with what he hoped was the correct degree of respectful deference.

“Damme, I know who you are!” exclaimed Sir Thaddeus, who up to that point had been puzzling over where he might have seen this vaguely familiar young man before. “You’re that fellow from Bow Street!”

“Yes, sir,” Pickett said, sketching a bow. He would have expressed his pleasure in meeting Sir Thaddeus under happier circumstances, but his tongue was bridled by the realization that Sir Thaddeus was unlikely to view his daughter’s unequal marriage in such sanguine terms.

Meet Sheri Cobb Smith

Amazon Bestselling Author Sheri Cobb South is the author of more than twenty books. In addition to the award-winning John Pickett mystery series, she has written a number of Regency romances, including the critically acclaimed The Weaver Takes a Wife. Her works have been translated into five languages, released in large print and audio editions, and recorded by the Library of Congress for its Books for the Blind program. She and her husband live in Loveland, Colorado—an excellent town for a writer of romantic novels to call home.


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