The Mourning Coffee

Crabs, Clams, and Oysters, Oh My!

I’ve mentioned before that I am currently working on a book that is totally different from my Florence Nightingale and Lady of Ashes series. It is what I would term “Women’s Fiction,” and takes place in my home state of Maryland, a state really rich in history, water activities, and seafood cuisine.

I decided I wanted to bring some of that cuisine to the novel, in the form of a waterman named Kip who owns a family seafood restaurant. And that’s all I’m saying about him for now!

To perform research on the seafood industry in Maryland, I recently went to my local Friends of the Library book sale.

I confess right here that “research” is just an excuse to go buy a bunch of books. Who’s with me on that one?

Among other books, including a cookbook devoted to crabs, I discovered this little 1964 gem—a pamphlet, really—put out by the U.S. Dept. of the Interior Fish and Wildlife Service. In less than 20 pages, it describes for me how to catch clams, clean them, and prepare them. Where else but at a library used book sale could you find such a thing?

The pamphlet cost 30 cents in 1964. I paid $2 for it and consider it a good investment! I’m glad to have this information to use in the manuscript, as I do work very hard to be as accurate as I can be on any topic I explore in my books because YOU, dear reader, deserve it.
clams-cookbook
           My treasure find at my local Friends of the Library book sale: “How to Cook Clams.” Not only                 does it describe how to buy and shuck clams, it offers more than two dozen methods of preparing           them.

Molded Clam Salad, anyone?

Molded Clam Salad

2 7-ounce cans minced clams
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
3/4 cup clam liquor and water
1/2 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing
1/2 cup cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
3 drops Tabasco sauce
1 teaspoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 hard-cooked eggs, chopped
1/4 cup chopped pimiento
1 cup cooked peas
salad greens

Drain clams and save liquor. Soften gelatin in cold water for 5 minutes. Heat liquor; add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Add next 7 ingredients. Chill until almost congealed. Fold in egg, pimiento, peas, and clams. Place in 1-quart mold; chill until firm. Unmold on salad greens. Serves 6.

Speaking of seafood, Maryland is home to the U.S. Oyster Festival, which occurs the third weekend of October each year at the St. Mary’s County Fairgrounds. This year marks the 53rd annual festival. Sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lexington Park, it features entertainment, various vendors, and, of course, oyster-based food. You would be amazed at the number of dishes to be made from the humble oyster.

The centerpiece of the festival, though, is the National Oyster Shucking Competition.
It is exactly what it sounds like: men and women in separate competitions to see who can shuck (open) 24 oysters in the least amount of time. The winners of the shucking competition go on to compete in the International Oyster & Seafood Festival in Galway, Ireland. That event is sponsored by Guinness Beer.

However, in my opinion the oddest thing at the Oyster Festival is what is known as an Oyster Shooter.

Served in a shot glass, it contains the following layers:

  • One plump oyster.
  • Topped with a dollop of cocktail sauce.
  • Finished off with a splash of beer (I guess Guinness would be the preferred brand!).

You then dump it in your mouth in a single hit, blending it all together as you chew and swallow.
Now, I don’t know about you, but this seems like three things that do not belong all together. However, oyster shooters are very popular at the festival.

So, tell me, dear readers:

  1. What has been the best find you’ve ever gotten at a book sale?
  2. Have you ever had an oyster shooter? If so, what did you think?

Would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below. 

Well, I’m off to writing again. I’ll leave you with a bit of brief commentary on seafood from Felix.
~Christine

felix-wants-clams
 “Human, I *Iove* clams, crabs and oysters! You got some? Put ’em right here on my plate.” –Felix

Violet Harper’s Newest Short Story

I am pleased to announce that I have another short story being published, this time as part of Malice Domestic’s annual anthology. This year’s volume is entitled “Mystery Most Edible,” and features food-themed stories. Violet is on another adventure in “Mrs. Beeton’s Sausage Stuffing.” Violet Harper fans know exactly what she thinks of the revered Mrs. Beeton, so what could the famed domestic authority Mystery-Most-Ediblehave to do with Violet solving a murder? All will be clear inside the pages of the story!

The 2019 Malice Domestic anthology is available on Amazon and at most leading bookstores.

I’ll be signing this book at the Malice Domestic Conference in Bethesda, Maryland, May 3-5, 2019. The complete list of authors and their stories included in this anthology includes:

  • Brown Recluse by Marcia Adair
  • A Slice of Heaven by Laura Brennan
  • A Death in Yelapa by Leslie Budewitz
  • Pie Sisters by Richard Cass
  • Too Many Cooks Spoil the Murder by Lynne Ewing
  • Pig Lickin’ Good by Debra H Goldstein
  • Quiche Alain by Marni Graff
  • Snowbirding by Kristin Kisska
  • The Blue Ribbon by Cynthia Kuhn
  • Up Day Down Day Deadly Day by Ellen Larson
  • The Extra Ingredient by Joan Long
  • Carne Diem by Sharon Lynn
  • Sticky Fingers by L.D. Masterson
  • Sushi Lessons by Edith Maxwell
  • Killer Chocolate Chips by Ruth McCarty
  • Dining Out by Rosemary McCracken
  • Bad Ju-Ju by M.A. Monnin
  • The Cremains of the Day by Josh Pachter
  • The Missing Ingredient for Murderous Intent by Elizabeth Perona
  • Canning Season by Adele Polomski
  • Diet of Death by Ang Pompano
  • Gutbombs ‘N’ Guinness by Lisa Preston
  • Turn the Sage by Stephen Rogers
  • Death at the Willard Hotel by Verena Rose
  • Deadly In-Flight Dining by Sara Rosett
  • Honor Thy Father by Harriette Sackler
  • Bring It by Terry Shames
  • The Gourmand by Nancy Cole Silverman
  • The Last Word by Shawn Reilly Simmons
  • Bull Dog Gravy by Mark Thielman
  • Morsels of the Gods by Victoria Thompson
  • Mrs. Beeton’s Sausage Stuffing by Christine Trent
  • First Day of the Year by Gabriel Valjan
  • Murder Takes the Cupcake by Kate Willett
  • The Secret Blend by Stacy Woodson

Christine’s Craft Room

I really love writing. Seriously. So much so that it almost feels a hobby because it doesn’t feel like work (shh, don’t tell my agent I said that!). I know how blessed I am to feel that way because so many people are in careers or situations they don’t enjoy.

Contemplating that got me to thinking about my actual hobbies—which of course I don’t have nearly enough time in which to indulge.

Any scrapbookers out there?

I started scrapbooking many years ago, after a woman in my neighborhood dropped off a card inviting me to a crop event at her house. Because I am a pack rat when it comes to memorabilia, I knew I had discovered the perfect hobby for me. I’ve made countless scrapbooks documenting my life. I guess it’s what was done before you could document your life on Facebook!

It’s fun to go back through the books and see pages decorated with pictures and ephemera from trips and events. Goodness, I even have scrapbooks containing Christmas cards and letters that are sent to me.
Right now, I’m working on a multi-volume scrapbook documenting my mother’s life. It really helps me re-connect with her even though she has been gone over 3 years now.

For several years I made my own Christmas cards, and would even give sets of personalized cards to friends and gifts. Alas, I eventually found it to be too much work to keep up with. However, the rubber-stamping supplies work quite well with my scrapbooking supplies!

I tried beading for a while. Literally everything I made fell apart because (1) I get too excited about beads and load pieces up with ridiculously heavy beads and (2) I was never good at judging the right size wire to use for individual projects.

I’ve done a tiny bit of sewing but have never attempted more than a few straight lines. Like with a placemat. A friend helped me shorten some 84” curtains to fit a canopied bed I bought. I helped remove stitches and re-pin the curtains, but she worked the machine. It was probably better that way!
Some crafts work for me, others don’t. I think a lot of the fun is in trying things out.

In the end, though, I think half of my fun is in organizing my supplies. I hereby present to you my craft room! Do you enjoy any fun or unusual crafts? I’d love to hear from you about it.

A look inside my craft room

craft-roomJon built me this table—a 4’x8’ counter laid across some stock Lowe’s cabinets—and I can manage to spread across the entire thing while working a project, as you can see here. Plus Marcus needs room to supervise me!

craft-roomHow daunting is this? These cases containing all of my waiting scrapbooking projects!

craft-roomAll of these cases are full of cardstock. Why no, I’m not a hoarder at all! All of these papers are most necessary!

craft-roomJon built this cabinetry into a window dormer for me. Naturally I need a coffee maker located right next to me to keep up my energy!

craft-roomAnd if I’m going to have a coffee maker, don’t I also need a microwave, refrigerator, and induction plate? I can craft for hours on end without ever leaving the room.

 

craft-roomEverything not scrapbooking is in here: sewing machines and supplies, beading materials, paints, and so on.

craft-roomJon built me this clever little gift wrap center inside my craft room’s closet. I adore this built-in, it’s very useful.

craft-roomHow many scrapbooking and rubber-stamping supplies does a single crafter need? Apparently, quite a bit.

She Shall Not Grow Old

I recently had the great joy of seeing They Shall Not Grow Old in the movie theatre. Have you seen it? Director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) took old World War I footage from the Imperial War Museum and worked some magic with it—slowing down and smoothing out the shaky recordings, then colorizing much of it and adding in realistic sound effects. In the background, bits and pieces of old memoirs were read aloud.

For 90 minutes, the audience was transported to 1914-1918, to experience what trench warfare must have been like for the Allies. It was truly breathtaking—and sobering.

It got me to thinking about Florence Nightingale’s participation in a wartime effort, and the fact that she, too, shall not grow old in our minds. One reason why she won’t, is that we have a single recording of her voice, recorded on a wax cylinder in 1890, 20 years before her death in 1910 and almost 30 years before the end of World War I.

No doubt it would have been a very strange experience for her to have her voice played back for her via the peculiar machine!

In the recording, she offers a blessing to her “dear old comrades” from the Crimea. She loved the British troops, and they adored her right back.

I wonder what she would have thought about Great Britain getting involved in such a massive conflict as World War I—followed by World War II not two decades later! She would have had much to say about the organization of field hospitals, I’m sure.

Here is Florence’s brief voice recording. It’s crackly and imperfect, as you might imagine from the technology of the time. Enjoy, dear reader.

Remembering Caesar and Claudia: Bibliophile Felines who Enjoyed Great Mystery Books

cat-memorials
Longtime readers and Facebook followers know that I have great affection for my cats. Unfortunately, this year my husband and I have had to put down two of them.

Caesar was 17 when his kidneys began failing him, resulting in his death in March. He was a great cuddler and I miss snuggling up with him on the couch.

Claudia was 15 when she followed Caesar in July. She had also been ailing, but she loved Caesar and it almost seemed like she gave up once he was gone. They rest together now in our new kitty cemetery.

I got to thinking about the joy pets bring into our lives, and being that this is a time of year to express thanks, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos of Caesar and Claudia as a tribute of gratitude to their way-too-short presence in my life.

Favorite Feline Quotables & Photos


“So, yeah, I just read through the synopsis for A GRAVE CELEBRATION, and now I know whodunit. If you want to avoid me telling everyone on Facebook who it is, I want payment. Ten Pit-r-Pats and a tidy pile of Little Friskies chicken flavor party mix will do nicely. And you need to fix that scene where Violet runs into trouble at Port Said. Not enough tension.” ~Caesar


“There, I’ve finally finished up the Declaration of Independence. I bet Jefferson ends up taking credit for it.” ~Claudia


Not dead, just passed out drunk on catmint.


“Everything comes to those who wait… except a cat.” ~Mario Andretti, retired American race car driver


So, this is feeding time at our house. The three boys are off to the left together, because they all get along. The girls, Livia and Claudia, have to be separated from both the boys and from each other because they each are so temperamental. Amazing what individual personalities cats have.


“Please don’t ask us to use cat beds when we can more effectively deposit fur on the back of the couch.” –Caesar and Marcus


Rest in peace, Claudia and Caesar.

Giving Thanks to My Readers

WINNERS ANNOUNCED:

Lisa M. of Hampden, MA
JudyAnn L. of Mansfield, MO
LuAnn S. of Orion, MI

Warm congratulations to each for winning an eBook copy of A Grave Celebration, undertaker Violet Harper’s suspenseful adventure at the Suez Canal’s grand opening ceremonies. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Christmas, everyone! May your stockings be stuffed full of books or e-book gift cards!

********************************

Enter for a Chance to Win an eBook of A Grave Celebration

giveawayIt’s November. Time for beautiful fall foliage, those first cups of hot chocolate or pumpkin spice latte, and turning attention to how we will spend Thanksgiving with our loved ones.

As for me, I will confess that I skip the pumpkin spice lattes and go straight to the Christmas-y peppermint mochas. Yum!

However, even as I take those first delicious sips this year, I am thinking about how thankful I am this year for YOU, dear reader. If not for you and your enthusiasm, I wouldn’t have any books on the shelves. You keep me gainfully writing all year long.

To express my gratitude to you for being so special to me, I am offering a Rafflecopter giveaway of three (3) digital copies of A Grave Celebration, Book 6 in the Lady of Ashes Series.

 

enter-to-win

Why am I giving away this book in particular?

suez-canal-opening

 

November is not only a time of gratitude, but November 17 marks the 149th opening of the Suez Canal—and Violet Harper is on the scene!

Pictured: The opening ceremonies at Port Said, Egypt.

 

 

What will you find in A Grave Celebration?

a-grave-celebrationViolet and her husband Sam are attending the long-anticipated opening of Egypt’s new Suez Canal. The canal is the mastermind of the brilliant French engineer, Ferdinand de Lesseps. Fireworks, galas, and canal cruises are all part of the planned festivities at ports along the way. Tensions abound across the various European delegations in attendance. The Prussians, Dutch, French, British, Austrians, and Russians all have political grievances against each other, made worse by internal struggles inside Egypt itself.

All of this animosity is forgotten, though, in the midst of clinking glasses and deafening cheers. That is, until a seemingly innocent Egyptian is found stabbed during an evening of fireworks.

To keep the grisly affair out of the international newspapers, de Lesseps and the Egyptian viceroy, Isma’il Pasha, insist that there be no investigation, but Violet is determined to make a quiet inquiry. Who may have wanted the man dead? Or, rather, who didn’t have hatred for the French, whose total mastery of the Suez Canal meant they would be controlling canal shipping for the foreseeable future? Was the man the simple victim of a local criminal? Or is someone conducting a vendetta against the great man de Lesseps himself?

When a delegate’s servant is also found murdered, it becomes obvious that there are evil forces among the revelers, who will stop at nothing to keep Violet from discovering the truth.

Can the intrepid undertaker discover who is wreaking havoc during the canal’s grand opening ceremonies without risking her own watery grave?


enter-to-win

What Does Christine Do When She Isn’t Writing?

 

board-tasting

Photo: The Historical Novel Society Board food tasting at the Gaylord National Harbor. See the hard work this is?

I’ve always believed in volunteering for conferences and other events that I know run on volunteer power. It’s not only a duty in my mind, but something magical seems to happen whenever I do it. I’ve met people who have become dear friends through volunteer work. I met my agent through volunteer work. And I’m excited to see what happens through my work with the Historical Novel Society-North America Conference, scheduled for June 20-22, 2019.

I stumbled into this quite by accident. This biennial conference was held in Portland, Oregon, in June 2017. The conference moves from West Coast to East Coast to Midwest and back again. I jokingly observed to a board member that the conference should come to the Washington D.C. area in 2019, since it would be in my vicinity and I wouldn’t have to fly to the conference.

Next thing I knew, I was the venue chair for the conference!

(Some of you are saying to yourselves, “This is why I don’t volunteer for anything!” Stay with me.)
We went through a rigorous property search and ended up contracting with the Gaylord National Harbor Resort and Convention Center, a really spectacular hotel. It had been a long time since I’d done anything like a hotel negotiation, so it was fun to dabble in it again.

The board met at the Gaylord in June of this year for its pre-planning meeting, where the details of the conference begin to get hammered out. It was fascinating to watch (and participate in) the nitty-gritty of how a big event like this gets put together on pure volunteer power. I’ve already made new friends on the board and can hardly wait to see how the event unfolds next year.

It’s definitely a lot of work, and I’m not sure I could do it long-term, given that Violet is already yelling at me about getting her next book wrapped up, but working on a writers’ conference is something I wouldn’t trade for the world.

As an added bonus, there will be a Readers Festival during the conference, on June 22, 2019. The doors will be thrown open for readers to attend their own special sessions to meet their favorite authors, as well as having the opportunity to meet 120+ authors and purchase personalized books. I’ll have further details as we get closer to the date. If you live in the area, I hope you’ll mark the date for this huge event.

Pre-Order A Murderous Malady – A Florence Nightingale Mystery, Book 2

It’s exciting to announce the pre-order page at Amazon is live for the second book in the Florence Nightingale Mystery series, A Murderous Malady. Click the button to pre-order your book.

order-now

What You Can Anticipate in A Murderous Malady

For fans of Charles Todd and Deanna Raybourn comes Christine Trent’s second Florence Nightingale mystery.

Florence-NightingaleCholera has broken out in London, but Florence Nightingale has bigger problems when people begin dying of a far more intentional cause―murder.

The London summer of 1854 is drawing to a close when a deadly outbreak of cholera grips the city. Florence Nightingale is back on the scene marshaling her nurses to help treat countless suffering patients at Middlesex Hospital as the disease tears through the Soho slums. But beyond the dangers of the disease, something even more evil is seeping through the ailing streets of London.

It begins with an attack on the carriage of Florence’s friend, Elizabeth Herbert, wife to Secretary at War Sidney Herbert. Florence survives, but her coachman does not. Within hours, Sidney’s valet stumbles into the hospital, mutters a few cryptic words about the attack, and promptly dies from cholera. Frantic that an assassin is stalking his wife, Sidney enlists Florence’s help, who accepts but has little to go on save for the valet’s last words and a curious set of dice in his jacket pocket. Soon, the suspects are piling up faster than cholera victims, as there seems to be no end to the number of people who bear a grudge against the Herbert household.

Now, Florence is in a race against time―not only to save the victims of a lethal disease, but to foil a murderer with a disturbingly sinister goal―in A Murderous Malady.

Did You Know…?

  • Cholera outbreaks in London were very common, and could tear through neighborhoods very quickly, taking the young, the old, the healthy and the sick? The outbreaks could last weeks and were like tornados—ending just as quickly as they began with a swath of devastation in their path.
  • Miasma theory—the idea that disease is carried on noxious clouds of air, or miasmas—was very prevalent at the time. Miss Nightingale was, at the time, a great proponent of the theory. It was during the 1854 cholera outbreak that Dr. John Snow’s research into the disease, suggesting that cholera replicated itself in the lower intestines, was used to bolster the now-accepted idea of germ theory.
  • Do you know what the revolting source of the cholera outbreak was? Read A Murderous Malady to find out…

Editorial Reviews

Praise for No Cure for the Dead:
“Skillfully blending the stories of actual people with fictional characters, including several from her ‘Lady of Ashes’ series, Trent weaves a serious tale with a sobering tone that will appeal to fans of Nancy Herriman’s British-born nurse.”
―Library Journal

“A natural fit for fans of Ann Perry’s William Monk mysteries.”
―Booklist

“Trent transforms the Lady of the Lamp, Florence Nightingale, into a natural and formidable sleuth. Filled with fascinating historical details, a cast of diverting characters, and a perplexing mystery, No Cure for the Dead is a riveting to start to this new series.”
―Anna Lee Huber, bestselling author of the Lady Darby Mysteries

“Mystery meets medicine in No Cure for the Dead, Christine Trent’s absorbing tale―a suspense-filled reimagining of the historic Florence Nightingale as a resolute sleuth, determined to keep both murderers and illness at bay. Weaving in authentic period details, Trent offers a fascinating glimpse into the grim world of nineteenth-century nursing, as well as the larger social conflicts of the day. Overall, an intriguing, well-crafted and satisfying read!”
―Susanna Calkins, author of the award-winning Lucy Campion historical mysteries

“The Lady with the Lamp proves herself to be no slouch as a sleuth in this historical mystery featuring nursing pioneer Florence Nightingale. The grislier aspects of murder―to say nothing of the only slightly less horrific details of 19th-century medical practice―are leavened with subtle humor, and sharp-eyed readers may spot characters from Ms. Trent’s earlier series featuring Victorian undertaker Violet Morgan.”
―Sheri Cobb South, author of the John Pickett mysteries

“With the formidable Florence Nightingale as sleuth, Christine Trent has crafted a clever mystery rich with details of common medical practices, and which also lets us peek into the upper-class world of mid-19th century London. Great fun.”
―Nancy Herriman, author of the Bess Ellyott mysteries

“An engrossing murder mystery set in a 19th century version of a nursing-home with a cast of characters who might have stepped out of a Dickens novel.”
―Rennie Airth, author of River of Darkness

“Clever and complex, with many hanging threads that are ably clipped by Florence during the denouement. Trent is doing double duty here: telling a great story, and educating the reader.”
―Mystery Scene Magazine

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Buyer Perks to Pre-Ordering

Readers get perks to pre-ordering books, too. Several of those perks include:

  1. Amazon’s price match guarantee. If you pre-order the book and Amazon lowers the price you are guaranteed to get the best price. No one loves buying something at full price and then discovering it’s on sale days later. With the price match guarantee you’re covered and will reap the sale price and the savings.
  2. You may get early delivery. Amazon has been known to deliver books a few days before the official release date. So, get in early and get the story in your hands so you can reconnect with the characters you adore.

Why Pre-orders are so Important to Authors

Buying books supports authors and lets the author know you like the characters and the stories about these characters. When a book is pre-ordered it sends a message to the author’s publisher and to bookstores that people want this book, therefore, the stores will stock more books and the publisher is more likely to order more books in the series.

Stay Connected & Help to Spread the Word

There are a few ways you can stay connected and help spread the word about the Florence Nightingale Mystery series.

  1. Follow the Christine Trent Author Page on Amazon, click here. On the page under Christine’s photo click the Follow button. When new books are added Amazon will send you a notification.
  2. Subscribe to the newsletter. The sign-up box is the side bar.
  3. Follow me on both Goodreads and on Facebook, if you like being social. Feel free to ask me a question on Goodreads about any of my books. Use Ask the Author to probe about something in any of the books.
  4. Join in spreading the word about the pre-ordering the book by copying and sharing these posts to your favorite social media sites.

The second book in the Florence Nightingale Mystery series, A Murderous Malady, is now open for pre-ordering on Amazon. https://amzn.to/2OCOGb4

I just pre-ordered A Murderous Malady by Christine Trent on Amazon. You should, too. https://amzn.to/2OCOGb4

Florence Nightingale is no slouch as a sleuth in Christine Trent’s historical mystery, A Murderous Malady. Pre-order it here: https://amzn.to/2OCOGb4

Christine Trent skillfully blends the stories of actual people with historical fiction. Pre-order the book, A Murderous Malady, about Florence Nightingale. https://amzn.to/2OCOGb4

Florence Nightingale Book Cover Reveal

I am so excited to share with you the cover for A MURDEROUS MALADY, Book 2 in the Florence Nightingale Mysteries! So excited that I couldn’t wait until the next newsletter to do so! (Psst – if you’re not already on my mailing list, go ahead and subscribe. The newsletter sign up form is in the sidebar area. My subscribers get all my announcements FIRST before anything is shared on this website or appears on social media.)

a-murderous-maladyThe publisher did a great job of creating a striking cover which pulls the reader in. What’s in all of those bottles? Are they cures…or poisons? Who does that cabinet belong to?

Leave a Comment below and tell me what you think. I’d love to know your thoughts.

A MURDEROUS MALADY is now available for pre-order. >> https://amzn.to/2A1aZT5

Be sure to visit the Amazon page to pre-order your copy of the book. You will get the best price match guarantee from Amazon should the price drop later on. Plus, Amazon has been known to ship pre-ordered books to customers a couple days ahead of the release date.

It’s true. Pre-orders are really important to authors because they tell the publisher readers are interested in the series. And interest in series means authors get the “Go ahead!” to write more books you love around the characters you adore…or love to hate.

Feel free to forward this e-mail to other readers and friends whom you think might enjoy Florence’s adventures—nurses, Victorian-era buffs, historical mystery lovers, etc. We’re working hard behind the scenes to get the word out and having you join our efforts is icing on the cake. So, share the news and tell your friends about the characters in the books you’ve been reading.

What’s the story about?

Cholera has broken out in London, but Florence Nightingale has bigger problems when people begin dying of a far more intentional cause―murder.

The London summer of 1854 is drawing to a close when a deadly outbreak of cholera grips the city. Florence Nightingale is back on the scene marshaling her nurses to help treat countless suffering patients at Middlesex Hospital as the disease tears through the Soho slums. But beyond the dangers of the disease, something even more evil is seeping through the ailing streets of London.

It begins with an attack on the carriage of Florence’s friend, Elizabeth Herbert, wife to Secretary at War Sidney Herbert. Florence survives, but her coachman does not. Within hours, Sidney’s valet stumbles into the hospital, mutters a few cryptic words about the attack, and promptly dies from cholera. Frantic that an assassin is stalking his wife, Sidney enlists Florence’s help, who accepts but has little to go on save for the valet’s last words and a curious set of dice in his jacket pocket. Soon, the suspects are piling up faster than cholera victims, as there seems to be no end to the number of people who bear a grudge against the Herbert household.

Now, Florence is in a race against time―not only to save the victims of a lethal disease, but to foil a murderer with a disturbingly sinister goal―in A Murderous Malady.

An exclusive excerpt

And now, in celebration of the book’s upcoming release, here is a snippet for your reading pleasure:

But even as I considered making another visit to the priest, a story was forming in my mind. It was a tale full of anger and hatred, and was so malicious as to be unfathomable, given how many people could have actually died had the killer’s entire plan worked properly. If my theory was correct, Liz might not ever feel safe again.

The killer’s face loomed large in my mind and I shuddered. But I was still missing one important piece of the puzzle.

“Goose, I believe I know what happened,” I said quietly to her as we made our way back to St. Luke’s.

Mary gave me an expectant look. “So I was correct in thinking that Caroline Norton would do anything possible to destroy the Herberts’ domestic bliss? That she would not only attack Caroline herself but murder her servants?”

I sighed. “The reality is much more sordid than that. There’s just one connection I cannot seem to make, and I’m not sure how to do so.”

“How can I help?” she asked.

“Right now, you can stay at my side. Strength in numbers, right?” I laughed weakly, but I was becoming deeply concerned that the killer might know by now that I was figuring things out.

I took a deep breath. The sooner I finished my investigation, the sooner a murderer could be arrested.

Be sure to click here to visit the Amazon page to order your copy of the book. And don’t forget to leave a Comment below and tell me what you think may be inside the bottles shown on the cover. I truly do want to read your guesses.

Being a Florence Nightingale Living History Interpreter

Some of you have visited me during my various appearances as Florence Nightingale at bookstores and conferences, and I am very grateful for your attendance. I have been asked about my research for this Florence-Nightingalerole, and I’m happy to share it first with my newsletter readers.

I decided early on to have authentic attire for becoming Florence. My first stop was Gettysburg, where I visited a reenactor’s shop armed with an iconic photograph of Florence. I said to the head seamstress there, “I want to look like THIS.” 

She took me in hand and showed me what undergarments I needed and how to put them on. Pantaloons, chemise, corset, socks, and boots all got added to the shop’s counter, after I was taught exactly how to fasten and lace a corset by myself.

Then she sent me off to a fabric store to purchase silk taffeta, a cloth that would have been a popular choice for a woman of Florence’s station in 1854. Naturally, I managed to buy the wrong thing, so then there was a bit of a fuss in getting it exchanged.

Christine-Trent-Florence-NightingaleThe Gettysburg seamstress constructed the main part of the dress then shipped it to me, where I had it “finished” by local seamstress Dana Dement of North Beach, Maryland. Dana made my headpiece, lace collar, and undersleeves, as well as doing a final fitting/hemming.

To prepare for the role itself, I re-read a couple of biographies of Florence, then typed up several pages of important dates, critical people in her life, and blurbs about her various major achievements. Then I paced around for hours, practicing a British accent as I told “my” story.

No doubt my cats thought I was out of my mind.

My first appearance was at the Mechanicsburg Mystery Bookshop in Mechanicsburg, PA, where I spun Florence’s tale for 90 minutes. I loved every one of those 90 minutes and continue to thrill at portraying the Lady with the Lamp.

Do you know of a group that would enjoy having a visit from Florence Nightingale? I am available for private hire for nursing conferences, historical events, museum presentations, etc. Please contact me for details.