MURDER ME NOW
Happily ensconced in her Bedford Street brownstone, Olivia Brown is having the time of her life: writing sonnets and downing martinis, making conquests and making love. Indeed, she doubts that anything could tempt her away from her Village home until she succumbs to the lure of a house party in Croton that promises sparkling conversation, bucolic views, and plenty of free-flowing gin.
Yet Olivia has barely arrived at the rustic farmhouse of Fordy and Kate Vaude, when the convivial atmosphere takes a decidedly nasty turn. Between the petty squabbles and the jarring silences, the backbiting and the broad hints of marital discord, Olivia can't shake the feeling that something is terribly wrong here. And then she finds the frozen corpse of the Vaudes' nanny, hanging from a tree.
Clearly, the young woman was murdered, and yet as Olivia and her friend, private investigator Harry Melville, join forces to learn why and by whom, they uncover more questions than answers. And when it turns out that the mysterious nanny was not whom she pretended to be, Olivia finds herself rushing headlong into a mystery that will take her from the swank and sophisticated Yale Club to the smoke-filled lair of a bootlegger and into the menacing clutches of the gang known as the Black Hand.
The deeper Olivia probes, the darker the threats. Surrounded by bold-faced danger and ominous smiles, she can't help but wonder: Is the murderer one of the thugs-or one of her friends?
Lavish Praise for Annette Meyers
"Annette Meyers writes of love and murder in old New York better than anybody."
-Lisa Scottoline, author of Mistaken Identity
"Entertaining... a unique amateur sleuth. Meyers's opening gamut will thrill... fans who will want more tales."
-Midwest Book Review
|Publisher:||Speaking Volumes, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.68(d)|
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Truth we call it, and it's a game. But there's truth and there's truth. And too much truth can be perilous.
The canvas of our lives was Greenwich Village. In the years after the Great War we created with broad strokes, with style, and I must acknowledge, with brilliance. We had come here to be our true selves.
In this small enclave of narrow, crooked streets lined with old brownstones and small shops, tearooms, cabarets, and speakeasies, we created our art, and we played.
Oh, how we played.
Certain tragic events, barely in the past, had turned my life upside down, inside out, when friends were not friends, and lovers, past loving. I'd despaired going on, yet here I was, frivolous soul that I am, in love again. The object of my current affections was Paul Ewing, that tall young man of the broad shoulders and fair hair, whom I, to rid him of his saintly moniker, had dubbed Paulo.
We'd come, a grand group of us, to Croton, where Fordy and Kate Vaude lived the domestic life, and where some of our Greenwich Village friends had let houses all along Mt. Airy Road. Now and again, Fordy and Kate would throw a house party, and we'd all arrive by train or motorcar, if we were lucky, for a weekend of conversation, wit, booze, games, and the lure of making love in a rustic setting. Food was the least of attractions. It was the company we kept.
The last time we'd come to Fordy and Kate's, we'd played with a round-robin ghost story, making it up as we went along. Larry Langner, who's gone uptown on us and formed the Theatre Guild company, made a play of it, The Haunting of M. Vaude, and our own JigCook, the heart and soul of the Provincetown Players, took the play and mounted it for the Players. I played the ghost of a woman who takes revenge on the man who'd murdered her. One critic said, "The ravishing Olivia Brown, poet one moment, actress another, continues to dazzle us."
On this particular night, to the accompaniment of the voluble fire in the grand stone hearth, we'd settled round the big trestle table in the kitchen of the farmhouse in Croton, gin lavishly replenished.
Drink up," Fordy said. "There's plenty more where that came from." Fordy had the moolah all right, thanks to some sort of Wall Street job by day, which also allowed him to keep a studio in the Village, where he pursued what he claimed was his true calling as an artist.
Amid hoots and whistles, Paulo said, "I'll have the name of your bootlegger." He gave my "ravishing Olivia Brown" thigh a loving fondle.
We'd been playing charades, but our play had gone dyspeptic, and in unspoken desperation, we'd turned to Truth.
It's deceptively simple. One of us is chosen. We then decide on the character, mannerism, even feature - it could be a nose - of the chosen one, and we each write a paragraph "biography" on a piece of paper concerning, let us say, the chosen's nose. Any approach may be taken, be it sensual, humorous, or serious.
We try to be literary, and clever, but we don't always succeed, and sometimes, as you can imagine, things get personal, even savage.
Folding our anonymous paragraphs, we deposited them in Dave Wolfe's soft felt trilby. As I did mine, our fingers grazed, and Dave winked a sultry eye at me as if we had a lover's secret. Dave, a Jew, dark and mysterious as a sheik, was writing a novel. He'd been encamped for the last few months at our friend Max's cottage across the way while Max was in Paris.
After a good shuffling, each paragraph was read aloud by a "reader," chosen by all of us, the "reader" never, of course, the subject for the round.
We'd even inveigled the Vaude nanny, a slim, severe girl named Adelle, to join us, as Harry had gone out for a walk, holding, he quipped, no brief for Truth. Harry is H. Melville, a private investigator with whom I work from time to time. I inherited him, along with my house on Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, from my great-aunt Evangeline Brown. Her will left the downstairs flat to Harry in perpetuity.
The Vaude farmhouse was a comfortable old place with low ceilings and wide floorboards. The hearth gave off enough heat to keep us from the chill outdoors. Gin did the rest. The faces of the Truth players at the table appeared to me through an undulating mist. Our hosts, Fordy and Kate. Dave Wolfe. My Paulo. Bunny Wilson, one of my editors at Vanity Fair, and his girl, Daisy. And Adelle, the nanny.
We'd played several rounds as we worked our way through the hooch, and then the game slipped and took a bad turn.
In the days, the weeks, that followed, I would relive the strange intensity of each successive game we played that night and see it as foreshadowing the horror that was to come.
On the last round, Kate Vaude was "reader," and in her fanged presentation, each "biography" became spiteful and petty. And this last time, it was directed at poor Adelle, in particular, her heavy-lidded eyes, moistly myopic behind thick glasses. One of us, not I - as I do not write mediocre or mean verse - had written:
With Judas eyes does she betray
Thus will not live another day.
There was more, though perhaps not nearly so sinister. Adelle's reaction was bewilderment, and something else I couldn't quite fathom. She sat in stunned silence, listening to the cruel barrage.
"I love all my friends," I said, attempting to lighten the mood, "but not right now. See what a bad impression we're making on Adelle."
"Adelle knows it's a game," Fordy Vaude said in his condescending manner. "Don't you, my dear?" He took Adelle's "biographies" from Kate and tossed them into the fire.
Adelle responded with a small, stiff smile. The "something else" was fear. "You're quite right. I've played the game before." She excused herself and went upstairs.
What a nasty and competitive lot we can be when we drink too much. But still, we don't hold grudges. And we do not be-grudge one another's achievements.
The unsettling atmosphere eased with Adelle's departure and our move from the kitchen to the parlor. Harry rejoined us, and we sat around the fire, drinking, smoking, and talking well into the night.
Later, Jack Reed - writer, editor, poet, journalist ... lover - came and sat with us, in spirit only, for he was newly dead in Moscow. Already revered among the writers and artists who lived in the Village, he'd gone to Russia and reported on the Revolution, achieving international renown by writing its story: Ten Days That Shook the World.
Alas, my arrival in Greenwich Village coincided with Reed's return to Russia, so we had never had a chance to meet, but I'd read his stories and poetry, his plays. I'd seen in his photograph a man of some size, whose wild hair, burning dark eyes, broad intelligent forehead, all spoke to me of adventure and romance. I felt his magnetic force. Who could not?
As tales of Reed rose Bunyonesque, laughter filled the room, and I felt his presence linger like that of some departed lover. Just one last cigarette and I'll be gone.
Eventually we wore the night away, and all our talk and wine turned to making love.
What woke me was my brain, aswirl with quatrains and couplets. Or so I thought at first. But, no. What had interrupted my sleep was the curious swerve in the course of our game. I needed to know the author of the most sinister of Adelle's "biographies."
Detaching myself from the arms of my sleeping lover, I left our bed and glided down the stairs. The farmhouse was more than cold, the fires having gone out, our attentions elsewhere. Passion, with a jug of wine, could keep us warm.
As I passed through the parlor, stepping round cleaving bodies on makeshift pallets, a girl I didn't know peered bleary-eyed at me over the bolster of the sofa and then sank back into Dave's arms. I knew it was Dave from the brown corduroy shirt, which only he wore. I wondered briefly why he hadn't gone back to his own house just across the road.
The kitchen was dark save for the flicker of a candle near the hearth. I stood silent in the doorway. Someone had had the same thought as I. Someone, on her knees, was pawing through the ashes in the cold hearth. She turned her face into the light for a moment. Adelle.
I ducked into the hallway and listened to her soft tread upon the stairs, the even softer closing of a door.
Tibetan Arts of Love Snow Lion Publications
By Gedün Chöpel
Translated by Jeffrey Hopkins With Dorje Yudon Yuthok
Copyright © 1992 Jeffrey Hopkins. All rights reserved.
Table of Contents
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
In the 1920s in lower Manhattan, Olivia Brown lives life to the fullest. She enjoys living in the Village as a poet, loves to make love, and relishes assisting her neighbor, private investigator Harry Melville, with his cases. Olivia travels to Croton up the Hudson from her home to attend a party that she feels will include literary peers and plenty of illegal booze. However, instead of a good time, the attendees argue, verbally ripping one another apart. The gala event totally collapses when Olivia discovers the frozen body of the hosts' nanny. Unable to leave the crime to law enforcement, Olivia cons Harry into assisting her with investigating the homicide. MURDER ME NOW is a colorful historical fiction piece with a touch of a mystery to tie the vivid look at the literary set during the Roaring Twenties together. The story line is extremely entertaining for those readers who appreciate an opportunity to observe a bygone era. The who-done-it is well written and sub-genre fans will delight in its combination amateur sleuth cum private eye. Annette Meyers¿ second Brown mystery (see FREE LOVE) clearly belongs to the period that the plot lovingly describes to the audience. Harriet Klausner