Wednesday, February 8, 2017

SVS Agent Round 1: NOTORIOUS, Adult Historical Mystery

Genre: Adult Historical Mystery
Word Count: 75,000

Is Your Main Character hot or cold?

Even in summer, the wind off San Francisco Bay drives the mist through your clothes until the damp lies frigid under your skin. Some nights, Vespertine dreams of life in the sun atop one of the seven hills of the city, but not tonight.

She draws her heavy shawl tight and prays the westerly clears the confusion from her mind. No hot act of passion will solve Mr. Founar's murder, only a determined application of logic will organize the facts of the case into a solution like a winter freeze crystallizes mist into snowflakes.  


Team Snow,

In gold-rush San Francisco, desperate people come to the Women's Benevolent Society for help. The ones with legal troubles come to see Vespertine Clement. She never expected Mrs. Adler, a wealthy director of the Society, to summon her to solve a crisis: the Society had arranged lodgings for a fallen woman, who was discovered kneeling over the corpse of a man, blood smeared on her mouth and hands.

Accompanied by the amiably corrupt Sergeant Cuinn, Vespertine accepts Mrs. Adler's challenge to solve the murder. Not every one approves: the coroner refuses to cooperate with a woman investigator, the accused cannot speak, and Vespertine's uncle just wants her to settle down and blend in.

Vespertine believes the victim was poisoned before his throat was slit. With a chemistry text from her uncle’s book shop, and some glass tubing borrowed from the dye makers, she arranges a test of her theory, with an audience, in the police station. When the test fails, she only has four days to discover what happened that night to save the Society from ruin and a woman from the gallows.

Readers who liked The Agency mysteries by Y.S. Lee or the Sally Lockhart books by Philip Pullman should enjoy this book.

First 250 Words:

Fortunate people didn't end up at the San Francisco Women's Benevolent Society, desperate people did. The gold strike at Sutter's Mill five years ago created a few of the former and a multitude of the later. The hungry came for a hot meal, the abandoned came for employment, and those mired in the legal system came to see Vespertine Clement.

Catherine, and her witness Mrs. Schoop, came to have a status petition drafted. The two reeked of lye soap and physical labor.

"Mr. Daniel Jackson, of Albemarle County Virginia, emancipated you last March?" Vespertine asked.

Catherine opened her mouth, but no sound emerged. She was the same age as Vespertine, but years of sun and wind had creased her skin until she appeared decades older than her twenty-three years.

"Mr. Jackson freed you last March?" Vespertine tried again.

"Yes, Miss," Catherine answered. Mrs. Schoop patted Catherine's arm like a mother reassures a child.

The three women sat close around a salvaged table wedged into an alcove. Fruit crates, stacked three high and brimming with papers, filled the space behind Vespertine. Cards tacked to the ends cataloged the contents. A curtain blocked the view from the hallway and riffled each time one of her visitors brushed it with the back of her cap.

"Did he free others at the same time?"

Catherine nodded. "Mr. Johnson—"

"Jackson," Vespertine corrected.

Mrs. Schoop clutched her bag tight to her abdomen.

1 comment:

  1. This is giving me chills! I’d love to read more. Please send your query, synopsis and first 50 pages to me via my online submission form at:
    Please enter #SunvsSnow as the query contest name.

    Looking forward to reading more.


    Lisa Abellera
    Kimberley Cameron & Associates