Classic novels and crime solving intertwine in Katherine Bolger Hyde's charming series. Bloodstains with Bronte is the second in a series that will puzzle and please fans of mystery and masterpieces alike.
Windy Corner is being remodeled into a writers' retreat. Two of the young workers, Jake and Roman, are showing too much of the wrong kind of interest in Katie, Emily's young single-mother housekeeper.
It's a stormy autumn and Emily is reading Wuthering Heights. Roman, a dark and brooding type, reminds her of Heathcliff. At a Halloween murder mystery fundraiser at Windy Corner, someone is found stabbed to death. Windy Corner's very own detective, Luke, is reluctantly forced to investigate Katie.
Luke digs into the background of the contractor, Jeremiah Edwards, and Emily, now reading Jane Eyre, realizes Jeremiah resembles St. John Rivers in his obsessive, tormented piety. Will Luke figure out who the murderer is before Katie ends up in jail or someone else is killed?
About the Author
KATHERINE BOLGER HYDE has lived her life surrounded by books, from teaching herself to read at age four to majoring in Russian literature to making her career as an editor. She lives in California with her husband. She is the author of Arsenic and Austen.
KATHERINE BOLGER HYDE has lived her life surrounded by books, from teaching herself to read at age four to majoring in Russian literature to making her career as an editor. She lives in California with her husband. Arsenic with Austen is her first novel.
Read an Excerpt
I heard, also, the fir bough repeat its teasing sound ... "I must stop it, nevertheless!" I muttered, knocking my knuckles through the glass, and stretching an arm out to seize the importunate branch; instead of which, my fingers closed on the fingers of a little, ice-cold hand! The intense horror of nightmare came over me ... a most melancholy voice sobbed, "Let me in — let me in!"
— Wuthering Heights
Emily awoke disoriented in the moonlit room. The shadows, all in the wrong places, seemed plucked from her unquiet dream. And that sound — that high, keening, human wail rising above the shriek of the storm — did it come from the dream world or the waking one?
She reached to her right to turn on the lamp, but her hand met empty space. Groping to the left she found a switch, and the room came into focus along with her mind. Aunt Beatrice's room. Of course. She had moved down here yesterday in preparation for the remodeling on the third floor.
But the wail that had awakened her still sounded in her ears. Lizzie? Her infant lungs were powerful, but Emily had never heard her make a sound like that. Her young life could not have seen the depth of anguish contained in that wail.
Emily slid her feet into her slippers, wincing at the chill, and wrapped her ancient fraying bathrobe around her. Following the sound, she groped her way down the back stairs and into the kitchen. The wail did seem to be issuing from Katie and Lizzie's room next door.
Emily tiptoed to the bedroom door and eased it open a crack. She could see Lizzie in the cradle, sprawled on her back with all her limbs flung out, her breath soughing softly through her open mouth. Emily inched the door farther till she could see the bed. Katie lay tangled in a shroud of sheets, eyes closed but head tossing on the pillow. And that heartrending keening was issuing from her throat.
Oh, Katie. Emily had guessed there must have been difficult times in Katie's past — it wasn't likely her parents would have been perfectly loving and supportive for nineteen years before suddenly throwing her out with her newborn child — but this sound spoke of an even deeper pain, one mixed with terror and hopelessness. Emily tiptoed up to the bed, touched Katie's hand, and softly called her name.
The tossing stopped, and the wail subsided to a whimper. Emily smoothed the sweat-soaked bangs from Katie's forehead and kissed it. "Katie. Wake up. It's only a dream."
This time Katie's eyelids fluttered, then opened. She blinked several times before focusing on Emily's face. Then she sat bolt upright. "Mrs. C! What's wrong? Is it Lizzie? Is the house on fire?"
"No, no, nothing like that. I heard you — I think you were having a nightmare."
Katie passed a hand across her face and shivered. Emily grabbed Katie's robe from the bedside chair and wrapped it around her shoulders. "Yes ... a nightmare ..." Katie pulled the robe around herself and shrank into it.
"You need some cocoa. I'll be right back."
Emily ducked into the kitchen and put the kettle on. Had Katie had such nightmares before? Emily doubted she would have heard her from her third-floor tower bedroom. The girl seemed content and carefree during the day, often singing as she went about her household chores — which made this descent into terror even more troubling. Emily had never yet had cause to regret her impulsive decision to hire Katie as housekeeper when she'd turned up, friendless and homeless with a seven-week-old baby, on the doorstep of Windy Corner last summer. Since then she'd come to see Katie almost as a daughter and Lizzie as a beloved grandchild. But was it possible Katie had buried issues that Emily, for all her love for both mother and baby, would not be able to help her with?
The kettle's whistle made Emily jump as it echoed Katie's nightmare wail. She mixed up two mugs of cocoa, took them both back to the bedroom, and handed one to Katie, who still sat upright, clutching her robe about her and shivering. She wrapped her hands around the mug and sipped gratefully.
"That nightmare must have been a doozy," Emily said. "You seemed really upset."
"Yeah. A doozy."
"Want to tell me about it?"
Katie looked up at her, her eyes full of the same keening her waking had silenced. Her lips parted, as if the words were hovering there, waiting for a chance to escape. But the lip-gates shut firmly down, and she shook her head. "Thanks, but it's already fading. I don't want to call it back."
Emily swallowed her own hurt, wishing she were Katie's real mother rather than her pretend-adoptive one so she would have the right to coax her into confidence. She would have to give the girl time and hope eventually she would trust Emily enough to share whatever was eating her up from the inside.
There was no possibility of taking a walk that day ... the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the question.
— Jane Eyre
Emily had to rise early next morning despite her broken night's sleep. Today was Monday, the day the remodeling of her inherited Victorian mansion into a writers' retreat was set to begin. They'd had workers on the property for weeks already, refurbishing the old chauffeur's apartment over the carriage house into a snug little nest for Katie and Lizzie, so they could have some privacy and their current bedroom could be used for retreat guests. But today would be the first time Emily's own personal space would be invaded. The next phase of the plan was to turn the third floor into a private retreat for Emily, adding a sitting room and full bath to the dear little tower bedroom she was already using.
For the first time a flash of doubt assailed her: Why had she decided to turn her home into a semipublic space? Oh, yes, the guilt. The unreasoning guilt of someone who had always merely subsisted over becoming suddenly wealthy, with a gorgeous home much too large for her, but which she loved far too much to give up. The guilt was only compounded by the fact that Emily had inherited Windy Corner (along with a large chunk of the nearby village of Stony Beach) as a result of her dear aunt Beatrice being murdered. The only way she could live there in good conscience was to share it. She would just have to buck up and endure the remodeling as best she could; but her old, quiet, safely boring life in the literature department at Reed College in Portland looked strangely attractive by contrast.
Emily was finishing her breakfast in the dining room when she heard the sounds of truck engines, doors slamming, and booted feet clomping up the porch steps. She sighed as she addressed Bustopher Jones, the aging, portly tuxedo cat she'd inherited with the house, who sat by her chair doing a poor imitation of a cat with no interest in table scraps. "No rest for the wicked, Bustopher. Here come the troops."
She pushed to her feet and entered the hall just as Katie came out of the kitchen. Emily opened the door while Katie hung back by the stairs. Jeremiah Edwards, the contractor who was handling her remodeling project, ducked his towering head beneath the lintel and pulled off his cap as he stomped the water off his boots on the mat. Two young men Emily didn't recognize hovered behind him.
"All done with the garage apartment, ma'am. Except the painting, as per your instructions." Edwards nodded toward Katie. She had insisted on doing her own painting in her new home, and in fact had finished the first coat in the living room over the weekend. "Brought in some new fellas for the work upstairs. This here's Roman Martinez —" He pulled forward a swarthy young man not much taller than Emily herself, who also doffed his cap. He nodded briefly at Emily, then his black eyes fastened on Katie's face and stayed there.
"And this is Jake Newhouse." The other young man, who'd been hidden behind Edwards, stepped forward. Emily heard Katie's sharp intake of breath and shot a glance at her. The girl had gone whiter than Beatrice's bone china. She put out a hand and gripped the newel of the banister next to her.
Emily turned frowning eyes on Jake Newhouse. Six feet tall at a guess, well built, blond and tanned, and much too handsome for his own good. The smile with which he ogled Katie made Emily want to punch him. She'd have to keep an eye on this one.
Edwards, seeing Katie's face, frowned down at Jake from his height of six foot five. Emily was comforted to think he would be keeping an eye on this one, too. Edwards hitched his jeans up on his skinny hips and said, "Best get to work. Idle hands are the devil's workshop." With a nod to Emily, he started up the stairs, treading carefully on the plastic sheeting he'd laid down the week before to protect the treads from all the tromping boots.
As Jake approached, Katie turned and fled to the kitchen. Jake followed her with his eyes, smirking and whistling some unknown tune. Emily deliberately placed herself in his line of sight and summoned her best imitation of Aunt Beatrice's signature glare. He dropped his eyes and his whistle and followed his boss on up.
Roman trailed after them, also watching Katie but with a strikingly different expression — like a starving man who sees food just out of reach. Goodness, what was it about that girl? She was lovely, certainly, but hardly a femme fatale — more like the girl next door.
When all the men had disappeared upstairs, Emily headed toward the kitchen to find Katie leaning over the sink. Hurriedly Katie turned the faucet on full blast with her left hand while she wiped her mouth with her right. The unmistakable stench of vomit rose from the drain.
"Katie, what's wrong?"
She kept her back turned to Emily. "Just a tricky tummy. Maybe I picked up a flu bug somewhere. Better stay back; I don't want you to catch it."
"Picked up where? You never leave the house. It's that Jake, isn't it? You know him?"
Lizzie whimpered from her play space on a blanket under the table. Katie turned, avoiding Emily's gaze, and knelt to pick her up. She clutched her daughter to her chest, burying her face in Lizzie's fuzz of red-gold hair. "It's nothing. I'm fine. I've seen J —" She made a choking sound. "I've seen him around, that's all. From high school."
Emily was baffled, and a little hurt. More proof she hadn't yet won Katie's full confidence in the four months they'd shared this house. Katie was more like a daughter to her than an employee; but apparently the feeling wasn't fully reciprocated.
On the other hand, daughters didn't always tell their mothers everything. Especially where young men were concerned.
She put her arm around the girl's shoulders. "Katie, you know you can trust me, don't you? I only want to help."
"I know. And thank you. But there's really nothing to tell." Katie kissed Lizzie and put her back on the floor. "I'd better get busy. Lots to do. Have to finish up here so I can go paint when Lizzie goes down for her nap." She turned to the sink and began to pile dirty dishes into it haphazardly. She turned the faucet on again, full hot, and plunged her ungloved hands into the steaming water.
Emily knew when she was beaten. She blew Lizzie a kiss and left the room.
PROPERTY OF KATIE PARKER — PRIVATE! KEEP OUT!
I never thought I'd write in this journal again. Never thought I'd have time, after Lizzie was born. Certainly never thought I'd have the need.
But now I have the need.
Mr. Edwards brought in more guys to work on Mrs. C's new apartment upstairs, and he was one of them. Last night's nightmare come to life.
When I first saw him, I thought I was back in that nightmare. Then I thought I was going to faint. Then I thought I was going to puke. Which I did.
I wish I could have kept my cool, not let him know it bothered me to see him again. Then maybe he would have had the grace to be embarrassed. But no. I was trembling and I'm sure as white as new paint, and he — he smiled at me. That horrid, greasy, knowing smile. That was what turned my stomach.
If I asked Mrs. C, I'm sure she'd give Mr. Edwards a hint to get him off the job. But then I'd have to tell her why. And I don't think I can do that. I can't even write the words in this journal. I'll just have to try to avoid him, I guess. It's a big house, and the work is all upstairs. I should be able to stay out of his way.
But if he so much as looks at Lizzie — I won't answer for my actions.
Emily's own part of the overall project of turning Windy Corner into a writers' retreat was to plan the redecoration of the bedrooms. She and Katie had decided to theme each of the six guest rooms around a different classic author. Some of them were already furnished appropriately and would only need a few extra touches — Aunt Beatrice's room could become the Forster room with ease, and the front bedroom with the balcony evoked the red-room from Jane Eyre so strongly Emily shivered whenever she went in there. It was a natural for the Brontë room.
But the other rooms — Austen, Montgomery, and Dostoevsky upstairs, and Dickens on the main floor — would need more work, and Emily was clueless as to how to begin. She'd always had a passive interest in decorating but had never had the time or money to indulge it. Her first step in any new endeavor was always to read about it, so now she turned her attention to the ranks of books in Beatrice's library.
Her search was fruitless, however. Only serious literature was allowed to grace these venerable shelves. She would have to pay a visit to Ben Johnson, Stony Beach's bookseller. He might not have what she needed, either, but he would know how to get it. And by this time she was feeling desperate to get out of the house. The sounds of demolition from the third floor were filtering down more insistently than she had hoped.
She moved to the library windows, a broad semicircle that looked out over the ocean. The bangs and crashes from upstairs had diverted her attention from the steadier drumming of the rain slanting in sheets against the glass, driven by what looked to her landlubber's eyes like a gale-force wind. She could barely see the ocean, though it crashed to shore only a few hundred yards away, but what she could see of it was a froth of whitecaps. If the Brontës had lived on the Oregon coast, this would have been the weather they gloried in. Too stormy to make that trip to Ben's bookstore now.
Emily sighed and returned to her chair in front of the fire, wincing at a particularly reverberating crash from upstairs. If only she'd had the foresight to lay in a stock of earplugs. Another errand to do when the weather cleared.
Before she could pick up her knitting, Levin leapt onto her lap, rubbing his sleek gray cheek against hers before circling and settling down for a nap. Kitty, his nearly identical sister, already dozed on the opposite chair, snuggled up to Bustopher Jones. The harmony between the two cats she'd brought with her from Portland and Bustopher, the original king of the house, was a small miracle among the many that had brought Emily to this place. She should be grateful. But at the moment she was merely annoyed.
She reached for the nearest book and read the same page three times without absorbing a word. Finally another sound shrilled over the hammers and the rain: the telephone. She leapt to answer it, dislodging an indignant Levin. Even talking to a telemarketer could provide a welcome distraction from all this noise.
Luke's favorite endearment for her, left over from their halcyon days as teenage lovers but still uttered with complete sincerity, always sent a thrill through Emily. "Luke! You're a sound for sore ears. I swear, this remodeling is going to put me in my grave right next to Aunt Beatrice. And this is only the first day."
"I thought they were still working on the carriage house. They're in the main house now?"
"Yeah, they finished up Katie's apartment Friday. Except for the painting — she's doing that herself."
"So where are they starting with your place?"
"Third floor. They're tearing down walls today, then they'll start framing in the bathroom and sitting room. I've moved into Beatrice's bedroom for the duration." Even now, more than four months after her death, the room was still full of the old woman's presence. And her belongings, which Emily would have to start clearing out soon.
Excerpted from "Bloodstains with Brontë"
Copyright © 2017 Katherine Bolger Hyde.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I will admit I asked to review this book based on the Title and the cute cover helped also. I loved the classic touch I will also admit that I wasn’t sure the catchy title would follow through to a readable and entertaining book. So it sat in my review que for a good while. Clearly I did eventually get to it and I’m glad I did. Classic novels and cozy Mysteries are the theme in Katherine Bolger Hyde’s charming series. Bloodstains with Bronte is the second in a series that will delight any cozy fan. Windy Corner is being remodeled into a writers’ retreat. Two of the young workers, Jake and Roman, are showing too much of the wrong kind of interest in Katie, Emily’s young single-mother housekeeper. It’s a stormy autumn and Emily is reading Wuthering Heights. Roman, a dark and brooding type, reminds her of Heathcliff. At a Halloween murder mystery fundraiser at Windy Corner, someone is found stabbed to death. Windy Corner’s very own detective, Luke, is reluctantly forced to investigate Katie. Luke digs into the background of the contractor, Jeremiah Edwards, and Emily, now reading Jane Eyre, realizes Jeremiah resembles St. John Rivers in his obsessive, tormented piety. Will Luke figure out who the murderer is before Katie ends up in jail or someone else is killed? (summary from Goodreads) The town of Stony Beach sounds amazing and I settled right into it immediately. I so wish it were areal placethat I could go visit the charming places that she takes us to in this book. I really had the feeling I was there. It’s a great setting for a murder mystery Bronte related. The setting added so much to the story and I now must visit the Oregan coast. . I also loved heroine. She was charming intelligent and spunky and definitely wise beyond her years. I also liked how the classic books played into the mystery itself. It was a unique approach that will stand out to cozy fans. In my opinion, the use of the classic books as part of the murder mystery is different and memorable. I think this will become a popular series with readers and it matures and evolves. If you love cozy mysteries and are looking for something set in a new and unique area, with a heaping dose of charm and coziness then this is a great series to pick up, plus it’s a new series so you don’t have too many books to catch up on!
Bloodstains with Bronte was a fun follow-up and second book in this cozy mystery series. Also, how great are these titles? I was really looking forward to jumping back into this series as I enjoyed the first book so much. In this book, Emily is working on converting her house into a writer's retreat. As I absolutely love her house and the descriptions of it, I couldn't get enough of this part of the story. I find it so fun to imagine inheriting a big rambling house like this filled with secret passageways and other fun stuff. It is just one of those things that makes these books such a pleasure to read! Then she is talked into hosting a murder mystery dinner at her house and that is when the real trouble begins. I've got to be honest and say that the premise is what made want to read this book (and ultimately got my reading this series) in the first place. Such a fun idea! This book had my attention from the very beginning thanks to all of this. I just couldn't stop reading and really didn't want to. That's really what I am loving about this series - how easily I fall into the books and the fact that I just can't seem to stop reading. It makes for a really great reading experience. All of those positives being said, I did not care for Emily's choices in this book and found her to be quite frustrating at times. She basically punished Luke for doing his job and I just couldn't get behind that. I did appreciate though that the story wasn't told just from her viewpoint or I don't think that I would have enjoyed this one as much. Instead we also got to see Luke's point of view and even Katie's at times. I adore her as a character so much so that was really a delightful surprise! I really appreciated that we got to see more of her history in this book even if it wasn't always easy to read about. I've been curious as to who her daughter's father was and now we know (although I won't spoil anything by saying who). The mystery portion of this book was fun although I was able to pick out the killer myself. I definitely didn't figure out the why's behind it all until the very end which helped to make this still a suspenseful read. Overall, I enjoyed this book and thought that it was a solid follow-up to book one. I'm really looking forward to continuing on with this series whenever the next book is released. I have added this series to my must read cozy series list because I have enjoyed the books so much. This book was a fun read and a great change of pace from some of the darker reads that I have finished lately. And while I had a few complaints with it, I still really enjoyed my time with this book. That should tell you everything that you need to know! I don't think that you necessarily "have" to read this series in order but with only two books, why wouldn't you? Recommended to fans of cozy mystery series and also those who enjoy classics. The author does a great job of really including pieces here and there from books by the authors that she includes in her titles (and I've actually read Wuthering Heights so that's a win for me). Bottom Line: An enjoyable read! Disclosure: I received a copy of this book thanks to the publisher and NetGalley
Bloodstain with Bronte by Katherine Bolger Hyde is the second book in the Crime with the Classics series and was a good follow up to the first book in the series. This book starts shortly after the first book ended so readers are now immersed in Emily's renovations of Windy Corners. Katie is the focus of this mystery has her past now come back into her life. The personal revelations lead to murder that Emily feels that she must solve to protect Katie and her daughter, Lizzie. I was perplexed by this plot as to who the murderer might be until the last few chapters. A smoothly paced plot with well hidden clues that can keep readers turning the pages. The romance between Emily and Luke is also worked into the plot and they must negotiate their "dark moment" in order to reach the next milestone in their relationship. Katie also seems to have found love although that seemed to be more pushed in to the last chapter. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from St. Martin's Press/Minotaur Books via NetGalley. All of the above opinions are my own.
I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.