Murder in Trall
From Anne Cleeland comes the first in a captivating new mystery series, following the perilous exploits of two Scotland Yard detectives as they track down London's most elusive killer. . . First-year detective Kathleen Doyle and Chief Inspector Michael Sinclair, Lord Acton, are a most unlikely pair. An Irish redhead of humble beginnings and modest means, Doyle is the antithesis of Acton, the British lord who has established himself as a brilliant but enigmatic figure with a knack for solving London's most high profile homicides. But Acton senses something exceptional beneath Doyle's awkward naivete and taps her to help him with his investigations. And her spot-on intuition is just what he needs to solve a chilling string of murders.
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Her eyes were five centimeters apart. Her face was proportioned perfectly; the wide set eyes, the spacing between the zygoma and the mouth, the ratio of chin to forehead to temples. He had taken a photograph of that face when she was unaware and he often studied it after he went home. He could not help himself.
“I am wretchedly sorry, Sir.” Doyle apologized for the fourth time in the past two hours. She was waiting with Acton in the unmarked police vehicle, the rain pattering on the roof. Although she was cold and miserable she would rather be tortured than admit to it, a demonstration of stoic atonement being needful at present.
“Whist, Constable,” he answered, without taking his eyes from the door of the pub. They had been staking it for over an hour.
Cautiously heartened, she stole a quick glance in the dim light at his averted profile and wiggled her toes in her boots keep them warm—she was fast losing feeling. Surely it was a good omen for her future prospects that he was imitating her; he was not one to joke about before lowering the boom. She stole another glance at his impassive face and recalled that he was not one to joke about at all, so perhaps it meant nothing. Or perhaps it did. She was Irish with an accent that tended to broaden when she was nervous; the present circumstance serving as an excellent example.
She ventured, “Is there a rank lower than Detective Constable?”
“Not at present.”
He continued his silent perusal of the pub and did not look at her. Snabble it, she thought, sinking into the seat. You’re only making it worse; keep this up and he’ll push you out of the car, he will.
They were outside the Laughing Cat pub, hoping their prime witness would make a reappearance. Doyle had lost him.
“D’you think he has gone to ground, then?” The words were out before she could stop them. Honestly; what ailed her that she couldn’t keep her mouth shut? Acton was going to rethink his ill-conceived plan to partner with a first-year and give her the well-deserved boot--it was a rare wonder she had lasted this long.
It was indeed one question too many and Acton turned to meet her eyes.
“I’m that sorry,” she offered yet again, feeling the color flood her face.
The Chief Inspector had been most displeased when he discovered she had allowed Capper to trick her. She knew this only because the words delivered in his modulated public school voice had become clipped. The signs were subtle but she was alive to them--it was a survival mechanism, it was.
The witness had been a fellow Irishman, from Limerick, who was coming to meet with the murdered man. Doyle was never to discover the purpose of his visit because the aforesaid witness, a man named Capper, had neatly given her the slip. He had thought to show her the tack room as a likely place to search for evidence, all the while expressing his profound shock at the horse trainer’s murder. So helpful he was, in his low county manner, that she had abandoned protocol and had gone in before him. The door to the room had then locked with a snap and she was left alone in the darkness, breathing in the scent of worn leather and muttering Gaelic curses. She was forced to ignominiously text Acton on her mobile to request a rescue and after springing her free, her Commanding Officer had told her in all seriousness that she had taken a huge risk and was lucky not to have been shot. He never raised his voice nor changed his tone but she was thoroughly ashamed of herself all the same; she wouldn’t care to lose his good opinion. She knew--although she couldn’t say how she knew--that she indeed held his good opinion. Or had held it until this latest misadventure in the tack room.
Anne Cleeland holds a degree in English from UCLA as well as a degree in law from Pepperdine University, and is a member of the California State Bar. She writes a historical series set in the Regency period as well as a contemporary mystery series set in New Scotland Yard. A member of Romance Writers of America, The Historical Novel Society and Mystery Writers of America, she lives in California and has four children. www.annecleeland.com; @annecleeland