24 November 2021

Secret Never Told (A Lady Dunbridge Mystery) by Shelley Noble Book Tour and Giveaway!

A Secret Never Told (A Lady Dunbridge Mystery) by Shelley Noble

About A Secret Never Told

 

A Secret Never Told (A Lady Dunbridge Mystery)  

Historical Cozy Mystery 4th in Series 

Publisher ‏ : ‎ Forge Books; 1st edition (November 23, 2021) 

Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages 

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1250750458 

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1250750457 

Digital ASIN ‏ : ‎ B08PSNGTZF

Miss Fisher meets Downton Abbey in A Secret Never Told, the fourth installment in the critically acclaimed mystery series from New York Times bestselling author Shelley Noble.

 

Philomena Amesbury, expatriate Countess of Dunbridge, is bored. Coney Island in the sweltering summer of 1908 offers no shortage of diversions for a young woman of means, but sea bathing, horse racing, and even amusement parks can’t hold a candle to uncovering dastardly plots and chasing villains. Lady Dunbridge hadn’t had a big challenge in months.

 

Fate obliges when Phil is called upon to host a dinner party in honor of a visiting Austrian psychologist whose revolutionary theories may be of interest to the War Department, not to mention various foreign powers, and who may have already survived one attempt on his life. The guest list includes a wealthy industrialist, various rival scientists and academics, a party hypnotist, a flamboyant party-crasher, and a damaged beauty whose cloudy psyche is lost in a world of its own. Before the night is out, one of the guests is dead with a bullet between the eyes and Phil finds herself with another mystery on her hands, even if it’s unclear who exactly the intended victim was meant to be.

 

Worse yet, the police’s prime suspect is a mystery man who Phil happens to be rather intimately acquainted with. Now it’s up to Lady Dunbridge, with the invaluable assistance of her intrepid butler and lady’s maid, to find the real culprit before the police nab the wrong one . . .

A SECRET NEVER TOLD

Chapter 1 


Philomena Amesbury, Countess of Dunbridge, sat on the veranda of the Manhattan Beach Hotel sipping a glass of champagne and looking out at the dark ocean. To her right the rowdy display of lights from Coney Island beckoned the masses. 

But on the veranda of this jewel of beach hotels, the diners were enjoying a quiet decorum—some more quiet than others, depending on their losses and wins at the Brighton Beach track that afternoon.

Phil and her friend Bev Reynolds had been here for nearly a week. Bev, who had had two horses running this week, spent her mornings at the stable, then joined Phil for a day of sunbathing and dipping their feet in the ocean. They’d spent one day discovering the wonders of nearby Coney Island amusement parks. They’d drunk lemonade, hiked up their skirts to ride the Steeplechase Races, mechanical wooden race horse ride. Neither of them won. They’d bought tickets to see the Wild Men of Borneo. Even grabbed places on the Human Roulette Wheel.

They attended the races. At night they rubbed elbows with members of the Jockey Club, danced with dashing men in the moonlight to the hotel orchestra.

And yet Phil felt an overwhelming, innervating sense of ….boredom. 

There, she’d said it. The fact of the matter was, the Countess of Dunbridge was bored. 

Sea bathing, horse racing, even amusement parks didn’t hold a candle to uncovering dastardly plots and chasing villains. And there had been very little of that lately. She hadn’t had a big challenge in months.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a boisterous crowd carrying one of their members on their shoulders bursting through the doors of the veranda restaurant.

They gained more than a few disapproving looks. This was not the behavior considered de rigeur by the exclusive Manhattan Beach Hotel. But it was also the hotel of choice of the Brooklyn Jockey Club whose largesse was important to the hotel’s success and so a little leeway was accorded. 

Bev Reynolds led the way, looking resplendent in a teal blue gown, trimmed with silver spangles and sporting a train of black tulle. The ocean air had wound her blond hair into tight curls, barely restrained by a sequined bandeau.

Since they’d both given their maids a holiday, Phil had opted for a fitted silver sheath made from one of the new stretch fabrics and an organza mid length jacket, both designed for easy dressing. She didn’t mind “living rough” as Bev delightedly called anything that didn’t include “a retinue of people telling you what to do and when to do it.” 

Bev saw Phil, held out both hands in greeting and made a beeline for the table. “A celebration and a wake,” she proclaimed.

“A celebration of Devil’s Delight winning me an obscenely large purse this afternoon. And black,” she added, twirling to show off her train. “Since the anti-betting law has just passed and this will likely be the last week for gambling. Legal gambling anyway. How will anyone make a living?” 

She sighed, snatched up an empty glass and poured herself champagne from the bottle chilling in the ice bucket. “I’ll be forced to take the horses to Texas and Arizona and those other places out there.” Places she dismissed with a flick of her fingers and a shudder. 

She turned to her motley entourage, most of whom stood barely over five feet tall—being jockeys and not exotic entertainers from the Coney Island amusements a few blocks away. They crowded round the table; waiters appeared immediately with trays of champagne.

Bobby Mullins, Bev’s stable manager—formerly her deceased husband’s right hand man, now Bev’s—stepped forward.

Stocky and medium height, Bobby was a former boxing champion, reformed denizen of the city’s underworld, and unapologetic lover of chorus girls. He dragged his derby from his head, unleashing a mass of untamable orange-red hair which, Phil noticed, was now laced with silver. 

“To Miz Reynolds!” he exclaimed and lifted his glass.

“To Miz Reynolds,” they all agreed and drank her health.

“To Holly Farm Stables,” Bev returned. “And to all of you.”

They drank again. Glasses were hurriedly refilled.

“To Devil’s Delight,” yelled one of the crowd.

“Devil’s Delight!

“And Johnny D!”

The little man who still sat astride of a set of brawnier shoulders than his, bowed to his fellow revelers and waved to the other astonished diners. 

“And to Madame Zhora!” Johnny added.

“Madame Zhora!” they chanted.

“Okay, you lot,” Bobby said. “Off you go. They’ve got a fine dinner waiting over at the Pabst for you. Curfew is extended until midnight, but don’t forget there’s another big race tomorrow.”

With a final cheer, they emptied their glasses and took themselves off, noisier if possible than when they entered.

The restaurant sighed into quiet conversation. 

“Sit down, Bobby and have some more champagne,” Bev said.

Bobby chewed the inside of his cheek, looking like he wished he could join his men in a boisterous dinner and evening on the town, but he sat.

“Congratulations,” Phil said, rousing some enthusiasm. “Devil’s Delight was certainly a delight today. And Juan rode him perfectly. Kudos to you all. But who on earth is Madame Zhora?”

Bobby scratched his head, unleashing even more unruly wires of hair. “She has a place over at Steeplechase Park. The boys go to her to have their fortunes told. You know, predict how they’ll do in the coming races. If they’re gonna be rich or find themselves a wife.” 

“Really?” Phil asked. “What happens if she predicts a loss?”

“Gawd, Your—ness.” 

After a year of knowing her, Bobby still had never figured out exactly how to address her. And she was too entertained by his attempts to correct him. 

“She don’t never give them a bad fortune. She tells ‘em they’re gonna win, make lots of money and marry a beautiful wife. In return, I drop her the occasional betting tip. Everybody’s happy.”

Phil laughed. “Well, in that case….”

A bell boy paused at their table. “Telephone call for Lady Dunbridge.”

A ripple of excitement coursed through her that had nothing to do with winning horses. At last …. 

“I’m Lady Dunbridge.” Dowager if Phil was truthful, but she saw no reason to announce it—ever. It wasn’t her fault that the earl dropped dead shortly after her twenty-sixth birthday.

Bev frowned. “I hope it isn’t bad news.”

“Oh.” Phil hadn’t thought of that. Preswick and Lily? She’d left them both in the city to have a few days off. What if something had happened to one of them. They might be servants but she didn’t know what she would do without them. And here she’d been selfishly hoping for a murder. 

“Surely not. Excuse me.” She hurried after the bell boy.

She returned a few minutes later. Not grieving, thank heaven. And not excited, but perplexed. She sat down and reached for her champagne.

“Who was it?” demanded Bev.

Bobby’s eyebrows made question marks over his eyes.

“It was Godfrey Bennington.”

“Godfrey Bennington—the aeroplane enthusiast?”

Phil nodded. 

“The richer-than-J. P. Morgan, Godfrey Bennington? The Godfrey Bennington who has the ear of every major politician and industrialist in the country? That—?”

Phil nodded. “That one.”

“What did he want?”

“He needs me in the city—immediately.”

Bobby groaned. “Oh your Lady-ness, what are you up to this time?”

“Absolutely nothing.” At least not yet. She couldn’t wait.

About Shelley Noble

Shelley Noble is the author of the Lady Dunbridge Gilded Age mysteries beginning with ASK ME NO QUESTIONS, and The Newport Gilded Age mysteries. As Shelley Freydont she has written several amateur sleuth series.

She is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nine novels of women’s fiction. WHISPER BEACH and BEACH COLORS, were Amazon and Nook bestsellers. The latest, LUCKY’S BEACH, was published in June 2020.

A former professional dancer and choreographer, Shelley lives at the Jersey shore where she indulges her passion for lighthouses and vintage carousels.

Author Links 

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