Thanks for having me back again, Paty! I’ll be giving away two copies of Cinderella Six Feet Under to two people who post a comment.
CINDERELLA SIX FEET UNDER
This Cinderella goes from ashes to ashes in the new Victorian-era Fairy Tale Fatal Mystery by the author of Snow White Red-Handed . . .
Variety hall actress Ophelia Flax’s plan to reunite her friend Prue with her estranged—and allegedly wealthy—mother, Henrietta, is met with a grim surprise. Not only is the marquise’s Paris mansion a mouse-infested ruin, but Henrietta has inexplicably vanished, leaving behind an evasive husband, two sinister stepsisters, and a bullet-riddled corpse in the pumpkin patch decked out in a ball gown and one glass slipper—a corpse that also happens to be a dead ringer for Prue.
Strangely, no one at 15 rue Garenne seems concerned about who plugged this luckless Cinderella or why, so the investigation is left to Ophelia and Prue. It takes them through the labyrinthine maze of the Paris Opera, down the trail of a legendary fairy tale relic, into the confidence of a wily prince charmless, and makes them vulnerable to the secrets of a mysterious couturière with designs of her own on Prue’s ever-twisting family history.
Read on for an excerpt from Cinderella Six Feet Under. . . .
Ophelia stepped around some sort of half-rotten squash, and wedged the toe of her boot between two building stones. She gripped the sill to pull herself up, and her waterlogged rump padding threatened to pull her backwards. She squinted through the glass. “Most peculiar,” she whispered. “Looks like some sort of workshop. Tables heaped with knick-knacks.”
“A tinker’s shop?” Prue clambered up. “Oh. Look at all them gears and cogs and things.”
“Why would there be a tinker’s shop in this grand house? Your Ma married a nobleman. Yet it’s on the main floor of the house, not down where the servants’ workplaces must be.” A fire burned in a carved fireplace, and piles of metal things glimmered.
“Crackers,” Prue whispered. “Someone’s in there.”
Sure enough, a round, bald man was hunched over a table. One of his hands held a cube-shaped box. The other twisted a screwdriver. Ophelia couldn’t see his face because he wore brass jeweler’s goggles.
“What in tarnation is he doing?” Prue spoke too emphatically, and her bonnet brim hit the windowpane.
The man glanced up. His goggles lenses shone.
Holy Moses. He looked like something crawled out of a nightmare.
The man stood so abruptly that his chair collapsed behind him. He lurched towards them.
Ophelia hopped down into the vegetable patch.
Prue recoiled. For a few seconds she seemed suspended, twirling her arms in the air like a graceless hummingbird. Then she pitched backwards and thumped into the garden, a few steps from Ophelia.
“Hurry!” Ophelia whispered. “Get up! He’s opening the window!”
Prue didn’t get up. She screamed. The kind of long, shrill scream you’d use when, say, falling off a cliff.
The man flung open the window. He yelled down at them in French.
“Get me off of it!” Prue yelled. “Oh golly, get me off of it!”
Ophelia crouched, hooked her hands under Prue’s arms, and dragged her to her feet. They both stared, speechless, down into the dark vegetation. Raindrops smacked Ophelia’s cheeks. Prue panted and whimpered at the same time.
Then—the man must’ve turned on a lamp—light flared up.
A gorgeous gown of ivory tulle and silk sprawled at Ophelia and Prue’s feet, embroidered with gold and silver thread that shone like spider’s webbing in the gaslight.
A gown. That was all. That had to be all.
But there was a foot—mercy, a foot—protruding from the hem of the gown. Bare, white, slick with rainwater. Toes bruised and blood-raw, the big toenail purple.
Ophelia’s tongue went sour.
There was hair. Long, wet, curled hair, tangled with a leaf and clotted with blood. A face. Eyes stretched open. Dead as a doornail.
Ophelia stopped breathing.
The thing was, the dead girl was the spitting image of . . . Prue.
Maia Chance writes historical mystery novels that are rife with absurd predicaments and romanticShe is the author of the Fairy Tale Fatal and The Discreet Retrieval Agency series. Her first mystery, Snow White Red-Handed, was a national bestseller. Her latest releases are Cinderella Six Feet Under and Come Hell or Highball.
Visit Maia on the web at: