Today, please help me welcome Amy Reade to The Write Stuff. Amy has a brand new book coming out (already up for pre-order) and she’d like to tell you more . Amy, the floor is yours!
Thank you, Marcia, for giving me the opportunity to talk to your readers about my upcoming release, A Traitor Among Us. It is the second book in my Cape May Historical Mystery Collection (the first book, Cape Menace, was released in 2020).
I have lived in Cape May County, New Jersey, since 2003. Cape May County is at the southern tip of the Jersey Shore, which you may be familiar with because of a certain, ahem, television reality show. Cape May County is nothing like the Jersey Shore portrayed on the small screen. My Jersey Shore is quiet, peaceful, and almost rural. We’re just 65 miles from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and not far from the Washington, DC-New York City corridor, but you’d never know it.
If you’ve ever heard of Cape May, it’s very likely because the entire city is a National Historic Landmark. It was America’s first seaside resort and even today, beautiful Victorian homes line the streets of town. It was a summer getaway spot for at least five US Presidents: Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Ulysses S. Grant, Chester Arthur, and Benjamin Harrison.
It was at my husband’s urging that I wrote my first book set in Cape May. As I researched the book, though, digging deep into the history of the area, it became clear that I couldn’t stop at one novel; the seed of an idea started to take root.
What I needed to do was write a group of novels set throughout the history of Cape May, and so the Cape May Historical Mystery Collection was born. The first book, Cape Menace, is set in 1714. Book Two, A Traitor Among Us, is set in 1777, during the American Revolution. The books are not a series—there is no character or plot thread that continues from one book to another. The only thing the novels have in common is their setting in Cape May County.
Very soon I’ll be starting Book Three, which is as yet untitled. I’ve got some ideas percolating for the mystery…but you’ll have to stay tuned for that.
I’m sharing with you the first chapter of A Traitor Among Us. I hope you enjoy it.
September 24, 1777
It was long before dawn and I had not yet slept. There were so many thoughts tumbling through my anxious mind. I did not want to wake my sister with my tossing and turning, so I rose to start my chores for the day. I dressed quickly without the aid of the oil lamp, closed the bedroom door behind me with a soft thud, and hurried to the kitchen. I reached for my apron where it hung on a hook next to the back door and tied it over my skirts as I slipped outside.
I stood near the door for several moments, listening. The only sound was the occasional far-above rustling of bird wings as they flew toward the south in great flocks. Cold weather would be here soon. The bird songs I enjoyed in the daylight were absent, lending an unsettling hush to the darkness.
It was not unusual for me to be out-of-doors in the early morning, but this time was different. This time, not far away, I knew a stranger shared the darkness with me. A stranger who did not belong here. I hoped he was still asleep and that I could retrieve my washing tub without waking him. Something in my abdomen flipped over and twisted, reminding me to be quick and silent.
Fog swirled low above the ground. I hurried past the storehouse, which we were filling every day now with more bounty from the late summer’s crop of fruits and vegetables, and on toward the barn. The fog shifted, its wisps pulling apart and forming again as my shoes padded along the damp ground. I held my lantern aloft to dispel both the darkness and my relentless worries as I approached the barn that stood nestled against the woods that separated our home from the waters of the bay.
I set my lantern down to retrieve the heavy iron key from my pocket, before realizing with a start that the door was slightly ajar. I whirled around and peered into the darkness that had crept behind and surrounded me, but I heard nothing. Saw nothing.
I shook my head, chiding myself for my silly fears. Of course my brother, Jesse, had forgotten to lock the door.
It was Jesse’s job to take the animals out every morning and return them to the barn every evening. It was also his job to make sure the door was locked when the animals were inside the barn. I would not tell Mother or Father of this carelessness, but I would have to mention it to Jesse. For all we knew, a party of British soldiers might come foraging for supplies and livestock in the barn. I wondered if the stranger—Oliver Doolittle was his name, though speaking it left a sour taste behind—was inside. I presumed he was. He was lazy, so he was unlikely to be awake and moving about at such an early hour.
I placed the key back into my pocket and stooped to pick up the lantern again. I stepped gingerly into the gloom of the barn, taking care to be as quiet as possible. I listened for the snufflings and snortings of the animals and was relieved to hear their comforting murmurings. I approached the stalls and small pens, trying to count the animals in the darkness to make sure they were all there, but I abandoned my task after just a few moments. The animals, annoyed that I had awakened them, were making known their displeasure with a series of loud grunts, clucking, and lowing. I moved away as quickly as I dared, hoping their sounds had not awakened Oliver, whom I suspected—I hoped—was still asleep toward the rear of the barn.
I did not relish being alone in the barn in daylight, let alone in the grim darkness of predawn and with the knowledge that Oliver slept nearby, so I made haste, as quietly as possible, to retrieve the washtub I had come for. It hung on the back wall. As I made my way toward it my skirts swished against rough-hewn boards, tendrils of hay that protruded from wooden mangers, and the large crates of corn husks that Prissy and I would soon use to make floor mats and stuff the mattresses in the guest rooms of the inn.
I stumbled as I reached the back wall. My lantern swung wildly in my hand and cast long, grotesque shadows on everything the dim light touched. I very nearly exclaimed aloud, but I caught myself in time and pressed my lips closed.
I reached for the washtub and set it down on the ground with a hushed thump as the lantern flame stabilized. I knew there was no hope that Oliver would remain asleep now.
Whatever had tripped me needed to be put away, since I knew I would be blamed if Mother came out and tripped, too. I picked up my skirts and searched the floor for the thing that had tripped me.
Looking down, a glance was all I needed.
A man lay at my feet.
When I saw his head cocked at a strange angle, his shirt front slashed in several places, and his eyes staring at me with a glassy emptiness, my horrified scream broke the morning stillness, reaching through the woods and echoing over the waters of Great Egg Harbor Bay.
The war for American independence rages just seventy miles away from the country inn and tavern owned by the Rutledge family in southern New Jersey. Tensions are running high between those who support the Continental Army and those who remain loyal to the English crown.
When Etta Rutledge stumbles upon the body of a ne’er-do-well British sympathizer on her family’s property, unsettling questions regarding her older brother, Jesse, begin to arise. What was his connection to the victim and why was he keen to keep it hidden?
Another shocking death, this time much closer to the heart of the family, draws Etta ever closer to unlocking the secrets swirling around her—secrets that someone will go to any length to protect…
Will Etta survive the discovery of the traitor in their midst?
You Can Buy A Traitor Among Us HERE
One final note…
I am pleased and honored to be part of Authors for Ukraine, a charity auction featuring books from 150+ authors. I invite you to visit https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsforUkraine and like the page.
From 8 a.m. on March 29th until 11 p.m. on April 12th, you’ll be able to bid on signed books from great writers. ALL PROCEEDS will benefit CARE’s Ukraine Crisis Fund.
(NOTE from TWS: Most of you know I don’t allow politics to come visiting here at The Write Stuff, but I believe helping these people in crisis to be a completely apolitical subject, and hope you’ll consider visiting the link Amy has provided above.)
Author Amy M. Reade
Amy M. Reade is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of cozy, historical, and Gothic mysteries.
A former practicing attorney, Amy discovered a passion for fiction writing and has never looked back. She has so far penned fourteen novels, including three standalone Gothic mysteries, the Malice series of Gothic novels, the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery series, and the Cape May Historical Mystery collection. In addition to writing, she loves to read, cook and travel. Amy lives in New Jersey and is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
You can find out more on her website at www.amymreade.com.
You Can Buy Amy’s Books HERE:
Juniper Junction Cozy Holiday Mystery Series
The Worst Noel: https://books2read.com/u/brvGne
Dead, White, and Blue: https://books2read.com/u/bQR9Le
Be My Valencrime: https://books2read.com/u/bwvjjO
Ghouls’ Night Out: https://books2read.com/u/m2ZB86
The Malice Series (Gothic)
The House on Candlewick Lane: https://www.amazon.com/House-Candlewick-Lane-Malice-Novel-ebook/dp/B01FBZXR3K/
Highland Peril: https://www.amazon.com/Highland-Peril-Malice-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B01N9GF9WF/
Murder in Thistlecross: https://www.amazon.com/Murder-Thistlecross-Malice-Novel-Book-ebook/dp/B071L5C6C7/
Secrets of Hallstead House: https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Hallstead-House-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B00IO3QR70/
The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor: https://www.amazon.com/Ghosts-Peppernell-Manor-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B00OEW5SR0/
House of the Hanging Jade: https://www.amazon.com/House-Hanging-Jade-Amy-Reade-ebook/dp/B0138NHCMO/
Trudy’s Diary: https://books2read.com/u/3k1rMO
You can reach Amy on Social Media HERE:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Amy-M.-Reade/e/B00LX6ASF2/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0
Goodreads Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8189243.Amy_M_Reade