The Unsolved Case of The Secret Christmas Baby
Publication date: December 6th 2022
Genres: Adult, Historical, Mystery, Women 50+
A presumed dead baby who’s just turned fifty, a grieving widow on a mission, a female haberdasher hiding a scandalous secret
The Cotswolds, England, December 1895
Fifty-year-old Imogene Lynch has recently moved to the tight-knit community of Dartmond after her husband passed away.
In the decades of her husband’s job as chief constable of the neighboring Landdulton, the childless Imogene often assisted him in solving seemingly unsolvable crimes. On his deathbed Thaddeus Lynch has one last request to his wife: solve the secret Christmas baby’s mystery.
Overcome by grief, but with the promise as a stamp on her heart, Imogene sets out in her roundabout way to unearth Sir Finley Lowther’s mysterious origins. The first trace leads to Miss Eloise Platt, a well-respected Dartmond shopkeeper.
But when a baby’s skull is dredged up from the bottom of Tiverstock Lake and Miss Eloise confesses to the murder, Mrs Imogene Lynch faces a stalemate. While the Dartmonders squabble over Miss Platt’s fate, the widow-turned-detective worries she’ll never fulfil her promise.
To break through her impasse, she pays a visit to the elderly Lady Lowther in Ridgeview Asylum with far-reaching consequences. For Imogene, the mystery is now solved, but getting Miss Platt to tell the truth is another matter.
With her characteristic quirky style, Mrs Lynch confides in the most unlikely candidate in her arsenal, her landlord, Mr Richard Hopewell. If the mute bookkeeper can shed light on what he witnessed on that fateful Christmas Day in 1845, she has the ally she needs to confront Miss Platt.
After fifty-one years, Constable Thaddeus Lynch’s brown file on the Secret Christmas Baby can be closed for good. With Finley’s adoption mystery solved and Miss Platt redeemed, all Dartmond joins in the merry 1896 Christmas celebrations.
This first book in the Victorian Cozy Mystery Series introduces Mrs Imogene Lynch, a willy-nilly detective who talks too much and eats too little.
“Is that you, Maddy?” a croaky voice demands from under the same floral-patterned quilt as the curtains. I don’t know what to say; my tongue is glued to my palate until the voice calls out with more authority, “Maddy, do come closer, you know my eyes are poor. Why are you teasing me?”
“I’m… I’m not Maddy,” I stammer, inching towards the bed.
“Who are you then? I don’t recognise your voice. You sound London-like, just like Heloise.”
“Heloise?” My voice falters even more. “You mean Heloise Bowditch?”
“No, silly. I mean Heloise Lowther.” The figure moves in the bed, turns to me. “Come here. Let me have a look at you.”
I do as I’m bid, feeling more like a ten-year-old than a fifty-year-old. The woman in the bed has remarkable features, is very strong and very prominent. She’s old all right, her mouth sunken because of the loss of teeth, but her eyes burn with a bright-blue light as two sapphires in the sun’s glitter and her skin is still taut over her high cheekbones. Only the fallen mouth has wrinkles around it.
There’s no doubt that Aunt Kittie must have been an absolute beauty in her youth, and I instantly recognize Cousin Catherine’s prominent features and blue glare.
“You are there, Heloise? What took you so long?” she lisps. My Aunt lifts her head from the embroidered pillow and stretches out a bony hand layered with thin skin and thick blue veins. The hand that grips mine is strong and pulls me closer. “Let me have a look at you. Oh, these darn curtains, can you open them? My eyesight is so poor.”
I still have difficulty moving as I’m so moved inside. Here’s a very alive person who is not the unsound mind I had assumed she would be.
“I will open the curtains for you,” I stammer but she keeps holding my hand, peering in the dusk with these glittering eyes.
“You’re not Heloise! Who are you? What are you doing in my room?”
“Ever since I could hold a pen, I’ve written stories and poems, and I’ll write till my dying day.”
Historical fiction author Hannah Byron’s crib stood near the Seine in Paris, but she was raised in the south of Holland by Anglo-Dutch parents. In her bestselling WW2 historical fiction series, The Resistance Girl Series, Hannah’s heroines also traipse from one European country to the next, very much like their creator.
Now a retired university lecturer and translator, the European traveler and avid researcher is about to cross a new border and settle down south of Dublin.
What started as curiosity about her family’s connection to D-Day, evolved into an out-of-controlish study into WW2 history. To blame, or thank, must be Uncle Tom Naylor. If he’d not landed on the beaches of Normandy and help liberate Holland, her British mother would never have met her Dutch Dad after the war.
Strong women are at the core of her clean and wholesome romance novels. Every book is a tribute to the generations who started the women’s lib movement, got dirty in overalls, flew planes, and did intelligence work. Today’s girl bosses can but stand on the shoulders of these amazons.
Side-by-side with their male counterparts, Byron’s heroines fight for freedom, equality and… love.
In December 2022, Byron will launch her first Historical Mysteries. The Mrs Imogene Lynch Series stars the kind but opinionated Victorian widow of Constable Thaddeus Lynch.
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