The Key to Secrets

The Crime

When Constable Hector Evans returns to Chalmsley Court, he doesn’t expect the violent crime to be the murder of one of Lord Chalmsley’s guests.

His lordship wants a quick resolution, before gossip about the crime’s salacious nature and trap-like killing becomes widespread.

With no murder weapon, no identifiable clues, and no eyewitnesses, Hector has little to build a case.  He has plenty of suspects, even when he realizes the murderer must be a woman.

The suspects

Even though other guests could have killed the man, Hector finds himself focusing on the Chalmsley family. 
  • Was it compulsive Cordelia? 
  • Obsessive Portia? 
  • Mad Aunt Beth, who gives him riddling clues as snippets of ballads?
  • Hector would blame George, who grew up tormenting his sisters and torturing small animals, but George left two years ago for a rest-cure in Vienna.  He can’t have returned, can he?
  • Or is it his lost love Bee?
Bee Seddars, the girl who broke his heart, is a distraction he doesn’t need, especially as she and her cousins are among those celebrating recent engagements.  Bee is as lovely as he once thought her and seemingly the most rational member of the Chalmsley family, but he wonders if a few brief months so many summers ago could possibly give him an understanding of who she is.

The Problems

Hector can’t get Bee to open up about the Chalmsley family secrets.  Unlocking those, he believes, is key to solving the murder.  Yet she mistrusts him—while he thought she was the one who broke the trust between them, since she refused to write him after he was sent away to join the Bow Street Runners.

In his first twelve hours on the case, the murder scene is torched and the victim’s journal is burned.  
In his second twelve hours, a second fiancé is murdered with the missing weapon.  And Hector’s suspect lists remains an ell long and a grief wide.

With madness looking like the strongest motive and only circumstantial evidence to build his case, will Hector find the murderess before she strikes again? 

Or will he discover his lost love Bee Seddars is causing bloody death?

He needs The Key to Secrets at Chalmsley Court.

View the trailer here:

 

A cozy mystery of 66,000 words, The Key to Secrets is the seventh entry in the Hearts to Hazard series of Regency mysteries.  Each book is a standalone novel, complete unto itself, with loose interconnections of characters.

Constable Hector Evans was first introduced in The Danger to Hearts, the sixth Hearts in Hazards.

The place to buy

The Key for Spies ~ book 8 in the Hearts in Hazard series of historical mysteries/suspense.

Spies and traitors.  Lies and treachery.  Unexpected love where bullets fly.

One traitor destroys loyalty.  What will two traitors destroy?

The British spy Simon Pargeter scouts the terrain for Wellington’s army in French-controlled Spain.  Miriella de Teba ye Olivita, the famed Doñabella, wants to give him aid, but she must first find the traitor lurking in her band of guerillas.

Can Simon escape the French patrol hot on his trail?  With Major Pierre LeCuyer actively seeking Doñabella’s identity, can Miri hold her guerrillas together long enough to get the information Simon needs?  Can she locate the traitor before she is unmasked?

Or will the traitors reap the reward while Simon and Miri swing from a gallows?

https://books2read.com/u/3RKYpj

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MTSQTY7

trailer https://youtu.be/Ehc7VxUxCp4

Hero and Villain

Meet the protagonist Simon and one of the antagonists for The Key for Spies, a January release by M.A. Lee in her historical mystery / suspense series Hearts in Hazard.

1st April 1813, Thursday

Thieves night.

That’s what his older brother called it, back when they’d run together.  They’d taken to the dark streets, smashed locks to steal pastries or sausages, pried open windows to climb into dark rooms, and stolen locked boxes with stashes of coins.  He never knew who Mattias worked for.  Belly stuffed with iced rolls or spiced sausage, he had trailed behind his brother.  Until the gendarmes caught Mat with a hand stuck in the alms box.

Hidden behind a dark column, he’d frozen when the gendarmes appeared.  Then black wings flapped before his face.  He ran until his sides hurt and his too-tight shoes split along the worn sides.  He’d abandoned his brother, a betrayal that had never left him.

The next day he ran on to Marseilles.  There, he re-invented himself as Pierre LeCuyer.

Continue reading “Key for Spies ~ Meet Hero & Villain”

First Off:  a new cover for A Game of Spies,

the second book in the Hearts in Hazard series

by M.A. Lee. 

Originally published in November 2015, the cover needed updating after M.A. Lee’s HnH books 4, 5, and 6 came out in Spring 2017.  Here’s a first look at the new cover.

Giles Hargreaves is hunting a French spy who somehow manages to steal government documents.  Josette amuses herself playing whist at salons hosted by her sister-in-law.  When Giles and Josette met, they are attracted immediately. 

But he believes she is connected to the French spy.

And she thinks he will break her heart.

Giles and Josette have their first serious conversation on a settee under a stairway in the Sourantine house.  The cover models perfectly capture that scene from the book.

The cover designer at Deranged Doctor Design combined the old cover with the new in a clever way.  The playing cards and the sealed letters from the old cover along with the dominant color image transfer from the old to the new while the focus is on the couple.

Here’s the former cover image.  I still love it, but I love the new one more.

A Game of Spies by M. A. Lee
After Publishing, What’s Next?

For a writer, it’s freaky hard to go to a site that has THE BOOK for sale, type in the name of the author, and nothing comes up for three or four pages.

A writer with part of my name shows up first in the Amazon Kindle store.  And then, oh the ignominy, the other writer with exactly my name shows up before my books do . . . and this after I did research before my first published book to ensure that no other Amazon writer was using my name.

Oh well.

Okay, all is not lost.  We can do a search for the title.

Digging into Death . . . Bam!  Got it in one.

A Game of Secrets . . . not on the first three pages.

A Game of Spies . . . 2nd page!  Yippee!

A Game of Hearts . . . Wow! 1st page.

The Danger of Secrets . . . 1st page.  Yippee!  Yippee!

The Danger for Spies . . . Success!  1st page, second one listed.  Wait, the first book doesn’t even have The Danger for Spies as a title.  🙁

The Danger to Hearts . . . 1st page, first one listed.  2nd Coming of Happiness!  Bliss Again!

But my author page doesn’t come up quickly unless you find one of my books and then click on my name.

And you can find the Hearts in Hazard series just by typing “Hearts in Hazard”.

Indie Challenges

Indie Writers face many challenges long after they have a story they believe is ready for print.

We want to present the best manuscript, one that is polished and as error free as possible.  100% perfection is not possible . . . so we strive for the highest level that is.

Then we can make a cover for ourselves or find someone who can do it at a cost we can afford.

I knew I couldn’t make a good cover.  I am artistically creative as well as verbally so, but a professional designer knows to look for things and add things in and use balance and proportion in ways that I never thought.

Plus, a professional designer knows the photoshop program they are using.  I would have a huge learning curve.  Shouldn’t I spend my time writing?

It took me 18 months to find a cover designer that fit my aesthetic.  I found Deranged Doctor Design by sheer luck . . . for a “God wink”.  They are life savers, believe me.  During my 18-month search, I worked on other books, which enabled me to put out three books back to back, October and November and December in 2015: my first three books, the first three in the Hearts in Hazard trilogy, a one-two-three punch.

DDD is the BEST!  I love working with them.  Their covers are lovely, no matter in which genre they are working.  They provide options and previews, and they are willing to switch things around.  They are clear in what they can and cannot do.  DDD works within a time frame that I understand.  They have a great template that pulls from the author the information they need to work with.  DDD is brave for working with Indie Writers.

Discoverability

After the writing and the editing and the cover designer, the job of an Indie Writer is not over.  Marketing comes next.  I am still working on this one.

Discoverability is now on my ToBeRead list.  By Kristine Kathryn Rusch, it discusses what a writer needs to know about getting their works to the audience in the current state of the reading marketplace.

Getting the book out there, getting the name out there, attracting attention with the right cover and the right blurb and the right audience, these are the five essentials for all Indie Writers.

But I’ll keep writing, and hopefully the “God wink” will happen soon. 😉

I did drink the water in Greenville, MS!

~ M.A. Lee