I decided to use the name Geraldine Brunton. It's not the name I was born with, nor the name I married, but it will hide who I really am...and what I have done.
I've taken a job as companion to wealthy invalid Emmaline Stubbs, whose fragile exterior hides a will of iron. Despite its opulence, the Stubbs household is not a happy one. Emmaline's equally stubborn daughter and charismatic, untrustworthy son-in-law want control of her fortune, forcing the entire staff to take sides in their power struggle. I must tread carefully in this tension-filled household if I want to keep my job and my secrets.
Events take a deadly turn when Mrs. Stubbs is nearly killed and a maid is found murdered. Though I ought to keep a low profile, it soon becomes clear I must uncover the truth. Because if I don't, my past will make me the prime suspect...
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About the Author
Janis Patterson is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children's books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.
Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups. She founded and was the original editor of the newsletter of the North Texas chapter of the American Research Center in Egypt, which for the nine years of her reign was the international organization's only monthly publication. Long interested in Egyptology, she was one of the founders of the North Texas chapter and was the closing speaker for the ARCE International Conference in Boston in 2005.
Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, a handsome Naval Reserve Captain several years younger than she, even proposed in a moonlit garden close to the pyramids in Egypt. Janis and her husband live in Texas with an assortment of rescued furbabies.
Read an Excerpt
I decided to use the name Geraldine Brunton. It is not the name I was born with, nor the name I married, but it would do, being as good a name to hide under as any other.
I wish I were pretty. Pretty women can get away with so much that we, their plainer sisters, cannot. I was fairly good-looking as a girl, but now I am best called "interesting" or "distinguished"epithets that more often than not wound in their clumsy kindness. It comes more from my remote and shuttered expression, I believe, than from the deformity of my broken and ill-healed nose. Whatever it is though, it sets me apart not only from others but from the me I used to be, as much as my carefully concealed scars.
I had been in Denver for over a week. Every workday of that week I had been seeking a job, a search which so far had turned out to be futile. I was not fussy, yet only two days ago one of the city's moderate hotels had refused me for the position of chambermaid. There was a time I would have disdained to stay in such a place, but now I was not considered capable of cleaning up its inhabitants' dirt.
The day had not yet turned hot, so it was a pleasure to sit in the park, to feel the strengthening sun on my face and maybe for a moment forget the problems that beset me.
For one thing, there was money. I possessed enough for the next few months at least, especially if I lived as frugallyand as uncomfortablyas I had been. After that, though, there would be no more. However much right I had to the fortune I left behind there was no way I could access it, so for all practical purposes it had ceased to exist.
It was essential I find work and so I perused the newspaper every day.
With so many men returned from the Great War there were few positions available. There were fewer for women, especially women with no skills. Again I wondered if I dared take the time and the money to take a course in typewriting. If I did, though, there was no guarantee of employment, as there didn't seem to be many positions open even for those with such a modern skill.
WANTED Companion to a semi-invalid lady.
Live in. Must be cultured, quiet and willing to
please. References required. Apply in person at...
I read the ad again. I was cultured, I suppose. My father had seen to that with a ruthless succession of governesses and private academies. Companionable? I didn't know. I certainly was quiet, having been hard schooled in its necessity. Willing to please? Oh, yes, I possessed a great deal of experience in trying to please. What a pity I couldn't tell anyone about it.
They were the sticking point. I knew no one, and no one knew Geraldine Brunton existed, let alone would write a reference for her. For me.
I read the ad again, sighed and moved on to the next, and the next, and the next. Either the job required skills I did not possess, or I would be disqualified immediately, as I had been for the chambermaid's position.
A slither of steel crept up my spine, giving it an unaccustomed stiffness. I could not simply sit around waiting for the perfect position to appear. I had to do something. Maybe references were something I could talk my way around. If not, what was the worst that could happen to me?
The worst? That they would recognize me, that they would send word...
But surely no one out here would know me. Even back East the scandal had died down months ago. Out here in the West they looked forward, not back. No one would care who I had once been.
Or what I had done.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book was a delightful mystery with a historical backdrop. It reminded me quite a bit of a cross between a classic Gothic mystery and a game of Clue. Like the game of clue the setting of the book is almost entirely restricted to the house. Like the classic Gothic mystery there is a heroine who just happens to be hired to be a companion to an ailing lady, there are numerous family members who enter and exit the story, and there are the servants. Plus a mysterious gentleman. All of this adds up to a wonderful romp from Janis Patterson, who is a new author to me. I found this story to be a wonderful escape with enough twists and innuendos to keep me interested in the outcome and enough classic heroes, heroines and villians to make the story enjoyable. I am certainly looking forward to reading more from this author.
I really enjoyed this book
In 1919 Denver, a young woman from the East is in financial straits and must find a way to support herself. Choices are limited for women at that time so Geraldine Brunton takes a position as companion to an elderly widow whose wealth comes from silver mining. Geraldine is also fleeing from her past, hoping that this employment will be the answer to her need to stay hidden from society. The Stubbs household is not a cordial one, though, and the widow’s son-in-law and daughter would like to take control of her fortune. The strain in the family is carried over to the servants and Geraldine, who is immediately disliked by the daughter, finds herself becoming very protective of Emmaline Stubbs. In turn, Emmaline finds much more than she bargained for in Geraldine and begins to appreciate her as more than an employee. When Emmaline has a sudden peculiar illness and then a servant is found murdered, several truths about Emmaline and her family as well as Geraldine come to light with devastating effect. The Hollow House is a cozy, an historical and a police procedural all rolled into one . I was very interested to get a glimpse into the Denver of 1919 which had some of the modern trappings of post-World War I but also was still somewhat in wild west mode. Patterson also has done a nice job of showing the reader how the views of society, and men in particular, towards women were in a state of flux at the time. That in itself lends much uncertainty to the mystery of who the killer is and what will happen to Geraldine who is threatened by a terrible secret from her former life. Patterson‘s setting is a bit unusual because nearly all the action takes place in the house. Her characters come to life on the page and I’d love to hear more about them. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any indication that there will be a sequel but one can hope.