A Death in the Highlands (Euphemia Martins Series #2)

A Death in the Highlands (Euphemia Martins Series #2)

by Caroline Dunford

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781786150929
Publisher: Accent Press
Publication date: 08/27/2015
Series: Euphemia Martins Series , #2
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.44(d)

About the Author

Caroline Dunford has previously worked as a psychotherapist, a journalist and a non-fiction author. She has a deep love of story, which she believes is at the heart of human nature. She first declared, at five years old, that she wanted to be a writer but was told there was little options of it being a full time job. Undeterred, she started writing short stories, plays and mini novels. She became known for writing plays at primary school including casting and directing the performances. She then grew up and went to university, studied sensible subjects and decided she didn't like the 'real world' one bit. She started out as a freelance journalist and writer, sending off short stories to every magazine she could find and received rejection after rejection until she learnt to better her writing. As a journalist, she was somewhat of a failure as she didn't like upsetting people and therefore never made it to tabloid press. She then studied a part time degree in psychology, which she enjoyed more than her past studied subjects. Caroline then spent years working with other people helping them shape their personal life stories (she is a Freudian at heart) until she decided to take the plunge and write her own stories full time. She believes that writing fiction is now the only way she can stay sane.

Euphemia Martins was partly inspired by the family legend of her great, great grandmother, who ran away from a very rich family and ended up working in service. Unlike Euphemia, she found the life far too hard, but was rescued by a tobacconist, whom she married and with whom she had thirteen children.

Murder casts a sharp light over those around it, revealing characters and morality in unique sharpness. What forces one to take the life of another and how those around react reveals so much about human nature and the fragility of society. Caroline finds the period before WW1, when everyone was setting their playing pieces on the board for global conflict fascinating. She is also intrigued by the start of female emancipation and the class-system breakdown that was taking hold.

Caroline loves puzzles and finds human beings the most exciting puzzles of all. But above all, she believes life must be enjoyed with humour. We must all bring whatever light we can to the darkness.

Read an Excerpt

Dearest Effy,

(So wrote my little brother in a remarkably fine hand and with a fluidity that I assumed only the boredom of a country cottage could have inspired.)

Thank you so much for the wooden soldiers. I have been having a jolly time with them all day. Mother says you are spoiling me and should have at least waited until my birthday, if not Christmas! Sometimes I think Mother is no fun!

I was delighted by your last letter. You are having the grandest of adventures! Two murders! One arrest! An absconded criminal and so many times when your life and virtue were in danger. Mother nearly fainted when I read your letter to her. The girl-that-does tried to burn chicken feathers under her nose and made such a mess!

I have written to you under your nom de guerre, so as not to expose your true identity. I’m writing it under the covers to keep it extra secret. Mother said I was to write and thank you for the soldiers, but not to encourage you in your disgraceful escapade. She misses you and hopes you will come home soon. She also told me to say she wonders why you have not written again at length as you did last February. She says you are sending no more than a few lines now and that it can hardly be called a correspondence.

She gave the money you sent last week to Mr Bulling, the butcher, to whom we owed a great deal. She said he was extremely rude, but now we can have sausages again for tea. Bessy and Tuggy grow bigger by the day, but they aren’t yet ready for slaughter. It will be devilish hard to eat them when they are. Why do sausages have to come from pigs? Tuggy is such a little terror. He keeps getting out of his pen and Mother has to chase him around the yard to get him back in. In all those black skirts she is like a giant crow and, as she would say, most undignified.

I miss Pa. So does Mother. Life isn’t very fair, is it, Effy?

Anyway have lots of adventures for me and when I’m big and rich I’ll buy us all a dozen houses bigger than Stapleford Hall and we will all live happily ever after. Sadly, Mother is still determined I shall go to school rather than letting me start my own business enterprise at once, so it may be a little while until I can afford the houses. Unless, of course, Grandfather ever comes through with the pennies. Mother still writes to him, but he never writes back. If it was Pa he was cross about, you would think he would answer now. If I ever have children I will never cast them off no matter what they do. Well, perhaps not no matter what, I mean there could be dreadful things one might do, but I can’t imagine Mother or Pa ever getting up to anything dreadful, can you?

Take care of yourself, Effy. Mr Bertram sounds like a fine chap. Perhaps you should tell him your real identity. He’ll get the title when they hang his brother. You mention him so much I was wondering if you might get married? With all that brown hair you’re quite pretty for a sister.

Your loving brother,

Little Joe

ps What is virtue? Mother kept going on about it, but when I asked she wouldn’t explain.

I tucked the letter into my bodice and sat back on my heels. I had been carrying it around with me for days, reading it often as if Little Joe’s words could somehow transport me to a happier place or time. It was a risky action, for the words written within it could expose me utterly.

I had taken a position far below my station and, while the money was most welcome, if any of my employers or co-workers discovered my true identity then for the sake of pride (my mother’s) and preserving the societal norm (not that I care of such things), I should be forced , one way or another, to quit my position. This would send my widowed mother, my little brother and me to the brink of destitution once more. We had noble relatives, but for their own reasons they had forsaken us.

I sighed and checked again it was firmly secured. There were reasons I had not again written at length to my mother. These reasons had much to do with the bucket of soapy water at my side and the maid’s cap still on my head.

It was 8th August 1910 and much was right with the world. The doomsayers had been forced to hang their heads in shame as the world passed unscathed through the tail of Halley’s Comet. King George V was safely installed on his throne. There were rumours that powered flight was only months away from total success and, in the small corner of England where I worked, we were enjoying a most glorious summer.

Of course there were many things wrong with the world. In a less self- absorbed moment I might have mused on the fate of the Russians, that dreadful fire in Hungary or the riots in France, but to be honest I was more concerned with the fourth set of dung-ridden footsteps Miss Richenda has stomped over the marble staircase for me to clean. She had unfortunately large feet and a weighty tread, being one of the more large-boned of the recently ennobled. I remained more than a little persuaded she was attempting to annoy me.

My father is now almost nine months dead and, despite previous hopes of becoming a secretary or more senior member of staff, I remain a maid in service.

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