Murder on Oak Street
I. M. Foster
New York, 1904. After two years as a coroner’s physician for the city of New York, Daniel O’Halleran is more frustrated than ever. What’s the point when the authorities consistently brush aside his findings for the sake of expediency? So when his fiancée leaves him standing at the altar on their wedding day, he takes it as a sign that it’s time to move on and eagerly accepts an offer to assist the local coroner in the small Long Island village of Patchogue.
Though the coroner advises him that life on Long Island is far more subdued than that of the city, Daniel hasn’t been there a month when the pretty librarian, Kathleen Brissedon, asks him to look into a two-year-old murder case that took place in the city. Oddly enough, the case she’s referring to was the first one he ever worked on, and the verdict never sat right with him.
Eager for the chance to investigate it anew, Daniel agrees to look into it in his spare time, but when a fresh murder occurs in his own backyard, he can’t shake his gut feeling that the two cases are connected. Can he discover the link before another life is taken, or will murder shake the peaceful South Shore village once again?
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Enjoy an excerpt:
“This is it, sir.” Caleb Croser, the young stable boy, tugged on Daniel’s coat and hopped out of the buggy, leading him up the path to the large house set amongst enormous maple and oak trees. Well kept, it’s blue siding and gray roof stood out against the leafy backdrop that surrounded it. So this was where Kathleen Brissedon lived? It seemed to fit her perfectly, the color almost matching the shade of her eyes.
Letting out a sigh, he knocked on the wooden frame of the etched-glass door. Too bad he had to visit under such sinister circumstances. He would much rather be coming to call with a bouquet of flowers for the lovely librarian. He scrubbed a hand across his face and was just about to knock again when the door opened.
“Good morning, sir.” A tall man wearing a tailored black suit stood gazing at him, clearly distraught and most certainly the butler. “May I help you?”
“He’s Doc Sam’s assistant,” Caleb said, sticking his head out from behind Daniel. “The doc’s out on calls, so he came instead.”
“Thank you, Caleb,” the butler said. “You’d best return to the stables. Mrs. Quinn is too upset for cookies today.”
The boy fiddled with his hat a moment. “I was sorry to hear, sir.” Without another word, he slapped the cap back on his head and ran off toward the stables.
“Thank you for coming, sir,” the butler said. “I do remember seeing you with Doctor Tennyson at Mrs. Brissedon’s funeral. I’m the butler, Forbes. Do come in. The younger Mr. Brissedon is awaiting your arrival. It’s a terrible state of affairs, I’m afraid.”
Daniel followed the butler into a well-appointed parlor, much like his parents’. Whoever had decorated it had impeccable taste, and he couldn’t help but wonder if it had been Miss Brissedon.
Colin looked up from the sideboard and frowned. “Where is Doctor Tennyson?”
“He’s making his rounds, I’m afraid, but I’m his assistant.”
“Assistant?” Colin looked over to Kathleen. “Perhaps we should wait for the doctor. We need someone who knows what they’re doing.”
“Colin.” Kathleen took a moment to blow her nose before continuing. “Dr. O’Halleran is a physician and more than qualified. He used to work for the coroner’s office in the city before coming to assist Dr. Tennyson.”
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry,” Colin said. “Yes, I do remember seeing you at the funeral now. Thank you for coming so quickly. My father appears to have been murdered. Cut down in his sleep, it would seem. Why, or by whom, I’m afraid I have no idea.”
“He’s upstairs, then, I gather?” Daniel shot a look at Miss Brissedon, who sat staring at the floor, another, younger man’s arm around her shoulders. Patrick, if he remembered correctly. Her beautiful eyes were puffy and red, and it was all he could do to keep from going to comfort her himself.
Forbes cleared his throat, and Daniel looked over to see the butler standing with Sergeant Owens from the local constabulary.
“Glad you’re here, Doc,” the man said. “I’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.” He tilted his head before adding, “From what Doc Tennyson says, you have, though, right?”
“Sadly, on a number of occasions.”
Colin put his glass down and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth. “Yes, well, if you and the sergeant will follow me, I’ll take you up.” The others remained in the parlor while Colin led the way to his father’s rooms. “In there,” he said, clearing his throat, “just beyond the sitting room. If you don’t mind, I’ll wait out here. It’s quite a gruesome sight.”
Daniel nodded, then suggested Sergeant Owens stay with the man while he went into the bedroom. Colin had been right: the ashen corpse that lay before him was a grisly sight indeed. Rigor mortis had already begun to set in around the neck and jaw muscles, though the rest of the body remained flaccid. His skin, however, was still warm, and his wide eyes had already completely clouded over, telling Daniel that he could not have been dead more than four or five hours at the most.
“Dear God!” Sam Tennyson stopped short as he came to stand beside Daniel. “I got your message and came straightaway.”
“I’m glad you did. This is clearly a murder.” Daniel hesitated for a moment, reluctant to say what was on his mind but feeling he must. “But then I don’t suppose we’ll need to know any more than that.”
“This isn’t the city, Danny. We don’t have many murders out here, but when we do, we find out who’s responsible—rich or poor. I’ve sent word to District Attorney Smith. I told him you were investigating and that we’ll give him a progress report in a few days.”
“Will the sergeant and his men . . . ?”
“I’ve also contacted the new chief. The sergeant and his men are at our disposal. Though from what your uncle Timothy says, you’re quite an investigator yourself.”
“You know Uncle Timothy as well as my father?”
Sam smiled. “One of these days, lad, you’ll learn the world’s a much smaller place than you think it is. Now, tell me how Mr. Brissedon died.”
I. M. Foster is the pen name author Inez Foster uses to write her South Shore Mystery series, set on Edwardian Long Island. Inez also writes historical romances under the pseudonym Andrea Matthews, and has so far published two series in that genre: the Thunder on the Moor series, a time-travel romance set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Borders, and the Cross of Ciaran series, which follows the adventures of a fifth century Celt who finds himself in love with a twentieth-century archaeologist.
Inez is a historian and librarian, who loves to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogically speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. Inez is a member of the Long Island Romance Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and Sisters in Crime.
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