FREE MYSTERY SHORT

Two Birthdays

An Old Kansas City Story

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.

For instead of George Mathison, Daniel Price, one of the agency operatives, stood in the open door. A young man of medium height, he wore a straw boater, a white shirt with a black straight tie knotted under its stiff collar, a white vest, and white trousers.

“Oh, Dan . . .” Minty caught herself in time. Mr. Mathison was ever so strict about employees maintaining proper decorum. He had also forbidden employees to fraternize with each other during business hours—or at any time, for that matter. It certainly wouldn’t do for the agency’s most newly hired employee to err in that respect.

“Why, Mr. Price,” Minty said. “Mrs. Bradford took the afternoon off. She said she had an important errand to run.”

Daniel Price took off his hat and ran his hand over his reddish brown hair, parted in the middle. His neatly trimmed beard and mustache were also reddish brown. “Golly,” he said. “I really need someone to help me.” He closed the door behind himself and hung his boater on the coat tree next to Minty’s parasol.

“I’m sorry that Mrs. Bradford isn’t here,” Minty said. “Is it something I might help you with?” Minty stood up, went around her desk, and took a couple of steps toward the door.

“Perhaps.” He brushed his beard. “You see. I have an appointment with Mr. Ferd Heim, Jr. at the brewery across town.” Daniel fumbled with the gold chain that crossed his vest and pulled out his pocket watch along with a couple of keys.

Minty looked down at her pendant watch at the end of a light chain and pinned to the front of her shirtwaist, white with garnet red pin stripes. She flipped her watch over and read the time. “Why, it’s already half past four.”

“And my appointment with Mr. Heim is for five o’clock. Well, you will have to do, Miss Minty.”

 

And so Daniel Price lures Minty Wilcox off on a case that starts to sound strangely familiar as he tells her about it and she wonders what he really is up to.

Click here to get “Two Birthdays” for FREE from June 20 through June 24: www.amazon.com/dp/B076JS3D2Y

Suitable Jobs for Women in 1900

Some times we historical fiction writers get so locked into the old days we write about, we forget that our contemporaries might not have the foggiest notion of what we’re talking about.

For instance, I’ve written a new short story called “Detectives’ Honeymoon.” And I’ve been promoting it with this blurb: “After resolving the mysteries of Mischief In March, Book 3 of the Calendar Mystery series, the newly wedded Daniel and Minty Price set off on their honeymoon. But due to a number of unforeseen circumstances, a Harvey Girl, and a would-be Sherlock Holmes, they come to fear they won’t have a honeymoon at all.” The “would-be Sherlock Holmes” still flies, but one of my Facebook friends asked me what a Harvey Girl was. So here’s a bit of history on suitable jobs for women in 1900 that ends with a description of a Harvey Girl.

Back in March 1900 when Mischief in March and “Detectives’ Honeymoon” take place, women still didn’t have many options for respectable employment  outside the home. But still women did work. In Kansas City, with a population of 50,000 in 1900, for instance, 5,000 women worked outside the home. Here are some respectable jobs for women back then.

1) Quite a few worked in Kansas City’s burgeoning garment industry, which I used as the major setting for Fatal February, Book 2 of my Calendar Mystery series.

2) Many were educators, working as “schoolmarms” in one-room school houses in the area, though Mary Louise Barstow and Ada Brann founded their own school for girls in the Quality Hill area of Kansas City around 1884. (Their school has moved several times, but it still exists as a co-ed institution.)

3) Some women went into nursing. A few became doctors.

4) Many women worked outside the home as business girls in assorted capacities, part of typing pools for insurance companies, for instance. Trained stenographers like my heroine Minty Wilcox and my own great aunt Melicent Perkins who inspired her could demand top dollar free-lancing their skills.

5) Women worked in assorted retail establishments around Kansas City like Emery, Bird, Thayer Dry Goods where Minty took her younger siblings to shop for shoes in January Jinx, Book 1 of my Calendar Mystery series.

6) Some women even owned their own businesses, a millinery shop or dressmaker’s, for two instances. Miss Ellen Schooley helped run the family stationer’s shop where Minty Wilcox goes for office supplies.

7) By 1900, most telephone operators in Kansas City and everywhere else in the world for that matter were women, young men having been found too rude and impatient for the work. Mrs. Flora Snodgrass, who lives at the Wilcox home as a boarder along with her husband Lemuel, is a telephone operator.

8) Although Kate Warne worked undercover in the South for Allen Pinkerton during the Civil War, by 1900 very few women worked in law enforcement. Mr. George Mathison, the manager of Price Investigations and Minty Wilcox’s boss, is firmly against female operatives in all three books of my Calendar Mystery series so far.

9) But by 1900 being a Harvey Girl had become a most suitable job for a woman, mostly because of the very high standards Fred Harvey held for his employees including the waitresses who served meals in the restaurants he established along the Atchison, Topeka, and the Santa Fe Railroad. Before 1878, when Harvey took over a lunchroom above the train station in Topeka, Kansas, a traveler on railroads beyond Kansas City faced a vast food desert hundreds of miles long. If you didn’t bring your own food for the trip to Denver, for instance, or you did, but you ran out because the train was delayed, you would be very hungry by the time you reached your destination. Or you could risk food poisoning at a whistle stop along the way. By 1900, though, you would find a Harvey House, a top-grade eating establishment every hundred miles along the line. At a Harvey House you could count on getting a fine meal including anything you’d expect in the best New York City establishment served by young, efficient, intelligent, absolutely clean and tidy Harvey Girls of impeccable character. And you got good value for your seventy-five cents dinner, for Harvey Houses were known for slicing their pies into four pieces instead of the usual six.

If you’d like to learn more about the Harvey Girls, read Lesley Poling-Kempes’ lively book The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened the West. You might also enjoy The Harvey Girls film with Judy Garland. And by all means, please get your very own copy of “Detectives’ Honeymoon,” the latest installment in my Calendar Mystery series, now available for only $0.99 at wwww.amazon.com/dp/B07D89JXN.

You can find other books and stories in my Calendar Mystery series at www.amazon.com/Juliet-Kincaid/e/B00DB4HWRG

Good news about January Jinx

GOOD NEWS! The first book in my calendar historical mystery series now has a low price in thirteen countries across the globe. For example, my Aussie friends, if you go to the Kindle store on Amazon.com.au and type in January Jinx, you can get this fun cozy historical mystery for a mere $1.29 in your dollars.

 

 

And like all of my short stories and novels, January Jinx is always free on Kindle Unlimited. Click here to get this fun read, American friends: www.amazon.com/dp/B00HSSSBE4

 

 

 

 

Last day for FREE mystery story

Sunday April 8 is the last day to get “The 9th Street Gang,” the latest short story in my calendar mystery series, for FREE.

Join the fun as newly engaged Minty Wilcox and Daniel Price pursue a gang of thieves plaguing Kansas City in February 1900. Minty tries to focus on the case, but her wayward thoughts about the secret married couples keep to themselves distract her. Not only that, but her boss objects to her attempts to be a detective and any show of affection for Daniel inside the office or out.

Get your copy of “The 9th Street Gang” for FREE now at www.amazon.com/dp/B079YYVTTX

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.

Making Progress

WiP Report # 17: Mischief in March

MM6x9

Shown here is the working cover for the third book in my Calendar Mystery Series. (I’m keeping what the actual cover will look like as a secret for now since it’s a spoiler.) I’m happy to report that I recently completed the draft of Mischief in March, well sort of anyway.

The “sort of” comes from my ending the current draft with an outline for the last twenty pages instead of writing those scenes. I’m not beating myself up about it though. I’ve been at this point with at least one previous book and it turned out fine.

What happened was recently I found myself making excuses to do other things (like mowing the lawn, which you know has to be desperation) instead of working on MiM, dear MiM, such a fun project it’s been to work on. I do this pretty often as I write, in fact, whenever my subconscious mind is trying to tell me something about what I’ve just written. But one morning recently I woke up realizing what the problem with the current WiP is. I won’t actually know which characters I need to put in the climactic parts of the book until I’ve revised the book from the start and found out who they are. Also, I need to do some on-site research on the settings before I can move my characters around in those places.

So I’m happy with my decision to stop work on MiM temporarily. It has freed me up to knock off some of the smaller projects on my master plan. For example, I’ve almost finished editing a large print edition of Cinderella, P. I. and Other Fairy Tale Mystery Stories.

But now Minty Wilcox, the heroine of the Calendar mysteries, is calling to me from the wings of my mind and tapping her foot impatiently. “Come back,” she says. “How could you leave me and Daniel in the lurch on our . . .” Well, that’s all you get, dear reader except the assurance that I’ll get back to work on Mischief in March soon.

Best, Juliet

P. S. Check out this trailer for the new audio book of Cinderella, P. I. Around the World narrated by the very talented Alyx Morgan.