Charming historical mystery reduced price one week only

Fatal February, the second book in Juliet Kincaid’s historical mystery series, is only $0.99 January 31 through February 6, 2018, at www.amazon.com/dp/B01781JHM and £0.99 at www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B017081JHM. (And it’s always free on Kindle Unlimited.)

It’s February 7, 1900, and a young woman has gone missing from a Kansas City garment factory. Price Investigations has been hired to find the girl, who may have come to harm. Minty Wilcox longs to help, but her boss doesn’t approve of women sleuthing. He also forbids any office romance at all, especially with the dashing Daniel Price. When Minty defies her boss, George Mathison, and goes undercover to find the girl, Daniel helps. But he also hinders Minty with outrageous flirtation and other ploys. And as she digs into the case, Minty comes into danger herself. Will Daniel rescue her? Will Minty even let him try?

Excerpt from Fatal February

Just then the door to Mathison’s office from the outside hall opened and a fellow shuffled in. He wore a loose, black jacket that came down to his mid thighs and brown corduroy trousers that bagged around his ankles. As the man sauntered toward them, he pulled a black, visored cap off his head.

“It’s getting cold out there,” said Daniel Price.

“Why, Mr. Price,” Minty said. “I didn’t recognize you in those clothes.”

He stopped, held his arms wide and looked down. “Like them? These are my workingman’s duds.”

“Fetching, Mr. Price, though they do look like you stole them from a larger man.”

“Not exactly. I bought them second hand or even fourth hand. Who’s to know? At any rate, these duds suit the work. And by the way, Miss Wilcox, I like your pretty hair ribbon.”

“Why, thank you, sir.”

“Enough of your banter, you two,” Mathison said. “It’s about time you decided to come in, my boy. I hope your efforts paid off better than Miss Wilcox’s.”

“But, Mr. Mathison, I discovered quite a bit . . .”

Praise for Fatal February

In the year 1900, Minty Wilcox has been hired by a private detective agency, her on again/off again beau’s employer, as a stenographer. For this spunky gal, typing and taking shorthand aren’t enough. She wants to be an operative. So, of course, author Juliet Kincaid, accommodates her protagonist by letting her delve into a missing person/murder case, sometimes sanctioned, but often not, by her boss. The ins and outs of the investigation, Minty’s romantic ups and downs, and her inside out family situations are fun to follow. It’s also interesting to learn about the physical layout and the social customs of Kansas City at the turn of the last century. Good follow-up to January Jinx, the first mystery in the series.

The calendar mysteries by Juliet Kincaid tell the story of plucky Minty Wilcox and detective Daniel Price from newly met to newly wed and beyond in Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago.

Job Hunting Jinxed in Old Kansas City

Buy January Jinx, the first book in the Calendar Mystery series, now at www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSSSBE4

The first chance Minty Wilcox gets in January 1899, she sets off to find a stenographer’s job in Kansas City. But her search is jinxed from the start. And in spite of her efforts to clear her name, bad luck spreads like a nasty cold from Minty to her family and to Daniel Price, their mysterious boarder as well. Minty feels that she brought all these troubles to her family and friends, so she must set things right. This won’t be easy in Kansas City that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago.

From January Jinx . . .

Mama slammed the kettle down onto the Grand Windsor Range. “What were you doing in the West Bottoms, Minty?”

Mama only banged the pots and pans around when she was truly agitated. The gas sucked the flame from the match and Minty jumped, but she kept her gaze on her hands twisting a napkin into a wet noodle. “I was looking for work. Besides, I didn’t actually get to the West Bottoms.”

“You were headed there on the stairs! And if you had made it to the bottom of the stairs, what then? Would you have crossed the tracks on foot? Oh, Minty, don’t you know how dangerous that is?”

“I’m sorry, Mama. I didn’t think it through.”

“I guess not. And why didn’t you take the car? Don’t tell me you went off this morning without a penny to your name?”

“I had fare both ways. I gave the soldier a nickel for breakfast at Mrs. McLean’s Up-to-Date Café. He looked like he was starving, Mama.” Minty recalled the soldier as she’d first laid eyes on him that morning. Slight of build, he stood near the fence along a Ninth Street mansion that needed paint. His sand-colored shirt, with gold cloth edging collar and cuffs and gold buttons down the front, had reassured her. How could she have known so much harm could come from her generosity? “All the soldiers who fought with Teddy Roosevelt at San Juan Hill are heroes.”

“Of that I have no doubt.”

“The sheriff took the other nickel.”

“That sheriff sounds like a common thief to me, making off with Uncle Edward’s watch like that. Are you sure he’s a sheriff? What’s his name? Where is he the sheriff?”

“He said he’s Sheriff Clayton Cole of Campbell, Kansas.”

“I never heard of Campbell, Kansas.” Across the kitchen, Mama flung open a cabinet so hard the door smacked into the next cabinet. On tiptoe Mama felt around the second shelf, but their maid Gerta had obviously pushed the plates too far back and out of Mama’s reach. “Where’s the stool?” Mama asked. “Oh, yes, the children took it into the parlor.”

Earlier, in the parlor, Mr. Price had impressed Mama with his credentials, with his arrangements for employment in town, and most of all with the thirty dollars deposit, a full month’s rent in advance. Then he left his satchel in the big bedroom upstairs and went off somewhere. He didn’t say where. A bit of a mystery, he was, with his unstated destination, his magician’s tricks and his new overcoat from Emery, Bird, Thayer, right downtown in Kansas City, though he claimed to have only just arrived from Chicago. Not that his goings-on interested Minty . . .

Praise for January Jinx

The delightful, creative, and charming January Jinx introduces a terrific character in Minty Wilcox, a good old-fashioned cozy mystery persona who will surely be able to carry the planned-for series. It’s Minty who drives the readable narrative, and author Juliet Kincaid keeps the pace steady and fast at the same time for quite a readable experience. The writing is appropriate for the historical setting without ever being gimmicky or archaic . . . The unique setting of 1899 Kansas City is full of flavor that never overwhelms the story and the characters. With a terrific, original, but still comfortable series concept, there are certainly big things afoot for Juliet Kincaid and Minty Wilcox’s Calendar Mysteries.

 

 

 

Free Short Story

Here’s a snippet from “The Barn Door,” a prequel story to my calendar mystery series, set in old Kansas City, that features an old gent named Hector Jones in need of a detective.

The elevator operator had started to close the door when someone shouted, “Wait for me” from outside and a clean-shaven man of medium height stepped onto the car. He didn’t remove his dark blue cap. “Thanks for waiting, Robbie,” the man said.
“Sure thing, Mr. Price,” the elevator operator said. “Going to the Ninth Floor, as usual?” he asked before he shut the elevator door.
Price? Hector Jones thought.
“Yes indeed,” the man said, now standing near the front of the car on the right with his back to Hector.
Hector lowered his gaze and studied Price from the heels of his brown boots, the left one scuffed, to his dark gray mixed Kentucky jean pants, baggy in the seat. A pair of sturdy farmer’s suspenders crossed a patch of his white shirt a little darker with sweat than the rest of it.
The attendant turned and looked at Hector. “Which floor you going to, sir?”
“As it happens, I’m going to the Ninth Floor as well, to Price Investigations,” Jones said.
The man in front of Jones turned and took off his cap. “I’m Daniel Price,” he said.

Take a break from expensive Christmas shopping and also get a change in the weather a lot cheaper than flying to Bermuda, and read my calendar mystery short story “The Barn Door” set on the July 4th weekend in 1898. This prequel story to my calendar mystery novels is FREE 12/08/17  #FreebieFriday through  #ShortStorySunday 12/10/17. Enjoy mystery and some possible romance in old Kansas City, a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago by getting “The Barn Door” for FREE at www.amazon.com/dp/B073G7ZXMP.

It’s NaNoWriMo!

Just a quick note to say that I won’t be around a lot November 1 through 30 because it’s National Novel Writing Month. Best, Juliet

New Calendar Mystery Story!

TWO BIRTHDAYS

An Old Kansas City Story

June 22, 1899

Price Investigations Office

Kansas City, Missouri

The office door opening that afternoon startled Minty Wilcox and she almost looked up to see who it was. But then she thought, I’d better keep my head down and look busy. It won’t do for Mr. Mathison to catch me reading a mystery novel when I’m supposed to be hard at work. Indeed, George Mathison, the manager of the Kansas City branch of the Price Investigations Agency, was quite strict about the office staff keeping busy, especially Minty, the newest member of the staff.

Not that there was much work to do at the moment, no one there to take dictation from, no operative reports to type, no papers to file.

Still, Minty closed the black book, a favorite of hers that she liked to reread that time of year, and hid it in her top desk drawer. After that, she began typing furiously at her ancient blind-strike Remington typewriting machine. As a precaution earlier, she’d loaded a blank piece of paper in the typewriter. A quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog, she typed. A quick . . .

“Where’s Mrs. B?” a man asked.

After Minty lifted her hands from the keyboard and looked up, her heart started going pitty pat.

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Two Birthdays, an old Kansas City story

After Minty Wilcox has worked for six months or so at Price Investigations as a stenographer/typist, the dashing detective Daniel Price appears in the office and carries her off to take notes on a new case the agency has been hired for. But once he starts filling Minty in on the details of the case, some of the information sounds strangely familiar. And she begins to wonder what he’s really up to on her twentieth birthday, June 22, 1899.

Praise for January Jinx, Book 1 in the Calendar Mystery series

The delightful, creative, and charming January Jinx introduces a terrific character in Minty Wilcox, a good old-fashioned cozy mystery persona who will surely be able to carry the planned-for series. It’s Minty who drives the readable narrative, and author Juliet Kincaid keeps the pace steady and fast at the same time for quite a readable experience. The writing is appropriate for the historical setting without ever being gimmicky or archaic . . . The unique setting of 1899 Kansas City is full of flavor that never overwhelms the story and the characters. With a terrific, original, but still comfortable series concept, there are certainly big things afoot for Juliet Kincaid and Minty Wilcox’s Calendar Mysteries.

“Two Birthdays,” a Calendar Mystery short story featuring Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price getting to know each other, is now available for your Kindle for $0.99 (and always free from KindleUnlimited)* at www.amazon.com/dp/B076JS3D2Y

*This fun story will be available for free to all on October 20 through 22, and October 26 and 27.

 

 

Minty Wilcox to the Rescue

Lost Dog

An Old Kansas City Story

Tuesday, July 5, 1898, shortly after noon

Kansas City, Missouri

As Minty Wilcox hurried home, she mentally reviewed the symbols from Mr. Gregg’s shorthand system she’d studied that morning at the Kansas City Business College. A pretty woman of nineteen years, she wore a white jumper dress with navy blue trim around the square neck—over a shirtwaist of course for modesty—that gave the dress a nautical air. A jaunty seersucker sailor hat with a blue and white band sat on top of her light brown hair and she carried the old waterproof black bag she’d used in high school over her shoulder.

She’d just crossed Tenth Street when shouts up ahead on the avenue pulled her out of her reverie. On the steps of a vast white Victorian pile near the other end of the block, a woman in black held up a broom as if it were a baseball bat. It looked like she meant to take a swing with it at two children standing on the sidewalk below.

“My gosh!” Minty said when she recognized the children as her youngest siblings and the woman as their neighbor as Agnes Shackleton. Minty promptly lifted her skirts to mid-calf and ran sprinted the rest of the way down Penn.

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In this prequel short story to her calendar mystery series that feature mystery,  romance, and touches of humor here and there in old Kansas City, Juliet Kincaid introduces Minty Wilcox, her female protagonist. Intent on gaining the skills she needs for a career as a business girl, typing and taking dictation in short hand, Minty nevertheless runs into considerable interference with her goal. A mean-spirited neighbor accosts Minty’s younger brother and sister and a sweet little lost dog. Minty’s mother doesn’t approve of her daughter’s plans to have a career. And several flirtatious gents distract Minty from her tasks.

Read the story as an eBook for only $0.99 (or for free on Kindle Unlimited) at www.amazon.com/dp/B0752SWBG1

Hollyhocks and Tomatoes

Like Hector Jones, a character in “The Barn Door,” my father always had tomatoes and hollyhocks in his gardens, no matter how large or small. He must have done this sketch from memory because it’s dated 11-16-39 in his neat civil engineer’s hand.

“The Barn Door,” a prequel story to my calendar mystery series set in Kansas City a hundred years or so ago is still FREE today, 07/08/2017, at www.amazon.com/dp/B073G7ZXMP.

 

 

A New Calendar Mystery Story

When Hector Jones needs a detective on the 4th of July weekend in 1898, he hires Daniel Price, in “The Barn Door,” a NEW prequel short story to my calendar mystery series. It’s FREE July 4 through 8th  at www.amazon.com/dp/B073G7ZXMP

 

The Gardener

Recently, while working on a prequel story for my calendar mystery series called “The Barn Door” that takes place on the 4th of July weekend in 1898, I decided to give one of the characters a vegetable garden. And that led me to think about my dad and his gardens. Here’s my piece on that subject, originally published on my website in 2011 as “My Father’s Gardens.”

My father, Homer Dale Willman, Sr., used to say, “When the Corps hired me, they took a great farmer and made him into a half-assed engineer.”

Still, though he worked over twenty years for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, my father always had a garden if only three strips around the patio. Until his last summer, he grew at least a little something, maybe vibrant begonias, a geranium in a big pot, a climbing rose, possibly hollyhocks, usually mint so he could watch the telecast of the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May with an icy julep in hand. And always, always, he had a tomato plant or two.

Back in the fifties and sixties, the prime years of his backyard gardens, he put lots of effort into his tomatoes. We lived in the tri-state region of Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia where winters were mild (though Dad always hoped for some snow to put nitrogen into the dirt). After the ground warmed and softened along about Easter, Dad took his shovel out to his garden patch to prepare the soil.

My mom used to kid my dad about “digging to China” because to him preparation meant digging a pit eighteen inches across and three feet deep for each tomato plant. He partially refilled each hole with compost, manure and other nourishing substances mixed with loose dirt.

The newly planted tomato plants–named Big Boy, Better Boy, Early Boy and Rutgers–looked scrawny so far apart, their sparse leaves insufficient to fuel growth. They did grow though. Usually by the Fourth of July, Dad would push aside those leaves, releasing the acrid odor that set our stomachs to growling, and with a gentle tug, pick the first tomato of the season. Mom, Dad, my brother Dale, and I fought over that first tomato, so ripe the skin peeled off clean and biting the tongue with its acidity. By late summer, the plants, lovingly tied to their stakes with strips of old sheet, stood eight feet high and loaded with tomatoes Mom canned, made juice with or begged neighbors to haul away.

Maybe the secret of Dad’s tomatoes lay in his compost pile that he researched, built and maintained like a true engineer. The compost pile I remember best was a four-foot cube of vegetable peels and melon rinds, musty grass clippings, twigs, lime, and goat manure he got as partial payment for a ship model he built for a friend who owned a herd of goats.

Dad made a hole in the center of the compost pile so air got inside and furthered the controlled decay. Once, out of curiosity, he tied some string to a thermometer and lowered it into the hole. In less than a minute, the thermometer broke. Later, with Mom’s candy thermometer, Dad discovered that the compost pile had reached 135 degrees.

Usually, Dad scaled his gardens small, but back in the late forties when we lived in the aptly named Garden Court, he almost filled the back yard with his vegetable plot. Forty by sixty feet, it ran from the house back almost to the tree-lined creek. Pieces of string stretched between sticks defined the plot so meticulously it looked like Dad had laid the garden out with a surveyor’s transit.

Dad bragged about that garden having fifty different varieties of plants. They included tomatoes of course, potatoes, corn, green peppers, red peppers, scallions, onions, cucumbers, and Black-seeded Simpson leaf lettuce. Instead of cantaloupe, that Dad said didn’t prosper in our climate, he grew muskmelons. Radishes started the growing season and beets finished it. Many of the vegetables I’ve forgotten now, but I still love to recite exotic names like zucchini, kohlrabi, and cocazelle.

We all got involved in Dad’s gardens. One year we had so much cabbage that Mom canned it. Dad paid Dale a penny a hundred head to pick bugs and beetles out of the garden. Dad never let me forget that those pretty yellow hollyhocks I picked one year were actually squash blossoms. Once, we tried to shell tough-hulled soybeans by putting them through Mom’s washer wringer. The beans popped out the other side and Dale and I chased them as they bounced around the kitchen floor.

My father’s gardens . . . Whenever I think of them, I see a picture of him in my mind.

Small-boned, with a mustache, my father wears a billed cap to keep his scalp from burning, a tan shirt dark with sweat under the arms, tan pants cut off and neatly hemmed above his knobby knees, and muddy shoes too worn to wear to work anymore. He leans against a shovel stuck into a pile of dirt. And dreaming of fresh tomatoes by the Fourth of July, he grins.

I don’t have a picture of my dad in his gardening togs, but here’s one of him, taken around 1973 when he was 70, that shows his wonderful grin.

January Jinx, Fatal February, and Mischief in March, the first three calendar mysteries set in Kansas City a hundred years or so ago, are available as eBooks and trade paperbacks from Amazon.com. Look for “The Barn Door,” a calendar mystery prequel short story, coming soon as a Kindle eBook.

A Family Story

A Family Story

Part of the backstory for my calendar mysteries explains how Minty Wilcox, her mother, and the two youngest members of the family came to live in Kansas City. This story focuses on Minty’s youngest brother, Eddie, born with a clubfoot. When Eddie was around six or so and going to a country school, the other kids made fun of him for the way he walked. Similar to the way Lord Byron was said to move, first he thrust one foot forward and then dragged the other up next to it.

After Eddie came home from school crying day after day, his mother Laura Girard Wilcox moved her youngest three children (Minty, Eddie, and Peach) into Kansas City where she could find much better medical care than she could in rural Kansas at the time. Her effort paid off, and several operations partly cured Eddie’s condition though when we first see him in January Jinx, he wears special shoes and sometimes limps.

The boy with the clubfoot is based on my great uncle Croswell Doane Perkins, also born with a clubfoot. Not long after my uncle Doane’s birth on October 15, 1884, our great grandmother Laura Wilcox Perkins sold the family farm in Hobart, NY, and moved to New Brunswick, NJ. From there, she took her baby son by train into New York City for several surgeries, so he spent much of his infancy with a foot and leg inside casts.

Please note that the family story credits only my great grandmother Perkins with saving our uncle Doane from a cripple’s life. It doesn’t mention our great grandfather Charles Samuel Perkins, born around 1844. My cousin Sarah Faye Morse recently checked the family records for me and confirmed that Charles S. Perkins fathered two more children with his Laura and died in 1905. So he undoubtedly was around in 1884/5 to help make important decisions like selling the family farm and moving his family from the place his forbears settled in the late 18th century if not earlier. But perhaps my mother, born on November 1, 1910, and Faye’s mother, born on March 12, 1913, omitted our great grandfather Perkins from the story because he died before they had a chance to meet him.

Suffice it to say, both our great grandparents Perkins made considerable sacrifices to ensure that their fourth-born child lived and prospered. Indeed, after he grew up and got married, our great uncle Doane won dancing contests with his wife. Or so the family story goes . . .

In this photograph, taken around 1896, Uncle Doane is the boy on the right, slightly behind his mother, Laura Perkins. The girl in the back is my great aunt Melicent Perkins. The young woman on the left is my grandmother Juliet Perkins Smith, for whom I’m named. The little boy in front is the youngest boy, Charles Andrew Perkins, and the little girl is Faye Marguerite Perkins, for whom my cousin is named.

January Jinx, Fatal February, and Mischief in March, the first three novels in the calendar mystery series that feature Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price from newly met to newly wed and beyond in Kansas City  a place that could get downright deadly a hundred years or so ago, are available as Kindle eBooks and trade paperbacks at Amazon.com.