AND … we’re back with another season of the Crime Cafe podcast! The upcoming guest is Daniella Bernett, a mystery author, who’s kindly provided a sample from her upcoming novel A Checkered Past.
In addition, Daniella is giving away a digital copy of the third novel in the Emmeline Kirby/Gregory Longdon series, From Beyond the Grave.
To win a copy, just leave a comment here. That’s all you gotta do! Easy, right? 🙂
You have until July 10, 2018 to leave your comment. So go for it—you have nothing to lose. 🙂
So … without further ado, here’s the sample from Daniella Burnett’s soon-to-be-published novel!
Emmeline burst out of the lift on the sixty-fifth floor. There was no one in the corridor. She half ran, half walked down to Sanborn’s penthouse. The door was slightly ajar. She raised her fist and rapped firmly as she pushed it opened. “Mr. Sanborn,” she called. “It’s Emmeline Kirby. I just wanted to check that you’re all right. Mr. Sanborn?”
She stepped over the threshold and pressed the door closed behind her. She leaned her back against it and listened. It was quiet, much too quiet. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. “Mr. Sanborn?”
A cold tendril of fear coiled itself around her heart making her shiver involuntarily. There was nothing for it. Her feet slowly, unwillingly, shuffled toward Sanborn’s study.
The door was closed. She knocked, but was greeted only by silence. So with a hand that was not quite steady, Emmeline reached out and turned the knob. The door creaked slightly on its hinges.
She sucked in her breath when her gaze fell on Sanborn’s body sprawled on the floor by the desk.
He’s not dead, she told herself. Please God, don’t let him be dead.
She hurried across the room and fell to her knees beside Sanborn’s body. “Mr. Sanborn?” she whispered. Uselessly, she shook his arm. And then, she straightened up and frowned. “That’s odd.”
But before this thought could take seed, the back of her head exploded in a thousand daggers of pain. She saw stars for a brief instant. Then, she was falling. Plunging so fast and so deep into a sea of blackness, where there was no more pain. No more nothing.
* * *
“You’ve taken leave of your senses. I don’t care what it looks like. If she did it, then explain to me how she managed to knock herself out.”
Emmeline heard the murmur of male voices as if she were at the other end of a very, very long tunnel. Why did they insist on talking so loudly? Honestly, men could be so inconsiderate at times.
Where was she? She had no idea. Why was everything so dark? It took a while for this question to reach her brain. Ever so slowly, she came to the realization that her eyes were closed. Thank heavens for that. She was beginning to worry that she had suddenly gone blind. She concentrated, hard—beads of perspiration formed on her brow with the effort—and finally managed to open her eyes a tiny sliver.
She blinked several times to clear her vision. Everything started to sharpen into focus, both mentally and visually. She was on the sofa in Max Sanborn’s living room, which was a beehive of activity. All manner of uniformed and plainclothes police officers were moving about. Not two feet away from her Superintendent Burnell, Sergeant Finch and Gregory stood arguing with Assistant Commissioner Fenton.
Emmeline tried to push herself into a more seemly position, preferably sitting upright. However, her head filed a protest in excruciating terms, chiding her for taking such mercenary action. You made your point. I’ll never do that again. She groaned and slumped back against the sofa.
The four men stopped quarreling. Gregory bent down beside her and folded one of her hands in his larger one. He smoothed back a dark curl from her forehead. “Emmy darling, how do you feel?”
“Like death warmed over.” Her voice was a hoarse whisper. “I think Moses took a wrong turn and decided to part my head in two, rather than the Red Sea. I must say it was not very sporting of a fellow Jew and I take great offense.”
Gregory smiled in spite of himself. Some of the tension eased from his body. He was grateful that she hadn’t come to greater harm, no thanks to him. He silently cursed himself for not being more vigilant. Doyle had made it abundantly clear that he had Emmeline in his sights, but she had decided to add fuel to the fire with that damn article. Well, she got what she wanted. She drew Doyle out of the shadows. One thing they could thank Max for was that his death will likely bump the Doyle article to the back pages of the paper. He glanced down at Emmeline. Then again, they were talking about Emmy. Most likely, the articles would run side by side on the front page. He sighed inwardly.
Burnell was hovering over his shoulder now. His eyes were full of concern. “Glad to see that you’re among us again.”
Finch’s pleasant face came into view too. “You gave us quite a scare.”
Emmeline tried to smile at them, but it hurt too much. “Just lie back and relax,” the superintendent said. He patted her shoulder awkwardly. “As soon as Dr. Meadows is finished with the bod…finished with his examination, he’ll come over and take a look at your head. Can you tell us anything that happened—”
“Stop mucking about, Burnell,” Fenton snapped. “If you don’t arrest Miss Kirby this instant, I shall.”
Emmeline’s eyes opened wide. Her dark gaze flickered from Gregory to Burnell, before finally settling with trepidation on Fenton’s angry countenance. The assistant commissioner was scowling at her. His lips were drawn into a thin, tight line, while his nostrils flared. There were two deep vertical grooves between his eyebrows. But what made Emmeline shudder was the malevolence she saw in those gray eyes.
Painfully, she pushed herself to a sitting position. Her mouth felt very dry. She cleared her throat. “Arrest me? But I haven’t done anything.”
“Don’t play that game with me. We had an anonymous call into the station that a woman was seen fleeing from this penthouse a little over an hour ago. Everyone knows that you and Mr. Sanborn had several heated arguments over the course of the last few days. In fact, rumor has it that he wanted to sack you.”
“But I didn’t kill him.” She clutched at Gregory’s hand. “I didn’t. You have to believe me.”
He sat down next to her and put an arm protectively around her shoulders. “Hush, darling. Don’t upset yourself. Just ignore Fenton. He’s simply lost what little marbles he once possessed.”
“And you—” Fenton rounded on Gregory, “—I’d have a care what I say if I were you. I’d like nothing better than to see your miserable hide behind bars where it belongs.”
Gregory gently settled Emmeline against the back of the sofa and pressed a kiss to her temple. Then, he rose slowly to his feet and took a step toward Fenton. They were only inches apart. “You forget that I’m a law abiding citizen. The papers tend to take a dim view of police harassment. And another thing I might remind you, despite the fact that we were estranged for years, I am still Max Sanborn’s nephew. The Sanborn name wields a great deal of influence. So I’d say you’re the one who should have a care, old chap.”
Burnell and Finch did their best to bite back their smiles.
“Why, you impudent bastard,” Fenton blustered.
Gregory wagged his finger at him. “Ah, ah. Language. There is a lady present.”
This only served to enrage the assistant commissioner even further. “I’ll wipe that smirk off your face, Longdon. We both know that your fiancée is guilty. Who knows, you probably helped her do it. I’ll enjoy finding out.”
Gregory opened his mouth to reply, but Emmeline tugged at his sleeve. “Darling, don’t. It will only make matters worse.”
Burnell stepped between the two men. “Naturally tempers are running a bit high at the moment. Murder is always such a nasty business. However, sir, don’t you think you’re too close to the case to be objective? After all, Mr. Sanborn was your friend. Wouldn’t it be wiser to allow Finch and me to handle things?”
Fenton’s cheeks turned an ugly shade of crimson. “What? How dare you try to undermine my authority? I’ll see that a note is put in your record about this…this disgraceful display of insubordination.”
So what else is new, Burnell thought. My file already makes for such colorful reading because of your literary flourishes. However, he swallowed his pride. “I meant no disrespect, sir. I was just concerned about your professional reputation. I mean, consider how it would look to the public and the press.”
Fenton was somewhat mollified, but not entirely. “I see your point.” He was silent for a moment. Then another thought struck him. “Why were you still pestering Max? I heard talk at the station this afternoon that you and Finch interviewed him again. Why? I took you off this case. I told you to turn it over to the Arts & Antiques squad.”
“Oh, but sir, we did. We always follow your orders to the letter. Finch and I are working on a new case. The murder of the Bond Street art dealer Maurice Boinet.”
“So why were you talking to Max again?”
“As I’m sure you’ll remember, sir, Mr. Boinet was the one who helped Mr. Sanborn acquire his…the disputed Constable painting. We thought Mr. Sanborn might be able to help us with our inquiries. We believe that Boinet’s murder was connected to the sale of the painting. And now, the very next day Mr. Sanborn himself is found dead. It sets the curious mind to wondering. Rather a lot of coincidences are piling up. Wouldn’t you say, sir?”
Fenton dismissed the superintendent’s conjectures with a brusque wave of his hand. “I don’t find it remotely curious. If you ask me, you’re grasping at straws.”
“Indeed, sir? Of course, Finch and I welcome your opinion, don’t we, Finch?”
The sergeant merely nodded, as he tried hard to look sincere.
“As well you should, Burnell. Glad to see that you know your place.”
The superintendent had pasted an obsequious smile on his face and it was beginning to crack slightly. “There’s just one thing that’s bothering me, sir. Perhaps you can help us puzzle it out.”
Fenton made a show of looking at his watch. “Just spit it out. I don’t have all night.”
“How do you think Mr. Sanborn and Boinet came to be mixed up with a former IRA commander named Doyle and now they’re both dead?”
Daniella Bernett is a member of the Mystery Writers of America NY Chapter. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. in Journalism from St. John’s University. Lead Me Into Danger, Deadly Legacy and From Beyond The Grave are the first three books in the Emmeline Kirby-Gregory Longdon mystery series. She also is the author of two poetry collections, Timeless Allure and Silken Reflections. In her professional life, she is the research manager for a nationally prominent engineering, architectural and construction management firm. Daniella is currently working on Emmeline and Gregory’s next adventure. Visit www.daniellabernett.com or follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008802318282 or on Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/40690254-daniella-bernett.
PS: The podcast now has a Patreon Page! 🙂