About the Book
In the summer of 1925, ambitious and beautiful New York jazz performer Lizzie Crane and her troupe land a plum job that could give them their big career break: a week-long engagement celebration for the daughter of a wealthy (and shady) industrialist to a Russian count. But Lizzie barely has time to enjoy her good luck--which includes the amorous attentions of the heir to her employer's vast fortune--before the group's saxophonist is stabbed to death. The local police suspect her and her musician friends and place them under house arrest, where they're at the mercy of the very people who have the most to lose if the murder is solved. As Lizzie delves into her slain colleague's mysterious past, she discovers secrets worth killing to protect and risks her own life in the process.
August 1925: Ipswich, Massachusetts
Jazz singer Lizzie Crane strolled down to the Winslows’
private beach instead of going back to the stuffy third-floor bedroom in the
servants’ quarters of the mansion. Despite the late hour, she didn’t feel the
least bit sleepy. Her thoughts raced like a hamster in a treadmill––perhaps a midnight
walk would calm her.
The upcoming week of festivities was The Troubadours’ most
important engagement ever, and she kept tumbling the details over and over in
her mind. Ordinarily, the quartet played speakeasies and private parties around
New York. Now that they’d landed this lucrative job, they had a chance to meet
people in high places and take a giant step up in the entertainment world.
Although she tried to present an unflappable image, inside she felt giddy with
excitement. Who knows where all this might lead?
As she reached the beach, her thoughts turned to Peter
Winslow: his tousled honey-gold hair, his shapely calves, the easy
self-confidence that came with a lifetime of privilege. Stars twinkled
overhead. A cool breeze caressed her skin. She unbuckled her shoes and dug her
toes into the still-warm sand. Just offshore, she spotted his sailboat Rhiannon
rocking peacefully on the moonlit waves, and hoped Peter had been serious about
taking her sailing.
How lovely it would be to spend your days leisurely skimming
across the sea, free as a bird, with the sun on your shoulders and the salty
air in your nostrils. She’d known little leisure and freedom in her lifetime.
As a child, Lizzie helped her mother wash and iron other people’s laundry and
swept the floor of the barbershop where her father cut hair. At fifteen she
dropped out of school and left home to seek her fortune. Eleven years later,
she was still seeking.
The ebbing tide had left the sand littered with the former
homes of myriad sea creatures. In the bright moonlight, she spotted several
round white seashells, like silver dollars scattered on the sand, and bent down
to pick one up. Its surface was etched with a five-petaled flower. Farther down
the beach she found a strange, puffy green shell adorned with lines and spots.
To a city girl, the shells seemed as pretty and mysterious as stars. She slipped
several into her pocket before starting back toward the mansion. This is the
life I want. Maybe if I play my cards right with Peter . . .
Voices coming from the promenade interrupted her thoughts, but
they were too far away for her to hear what they said. A midnight tryst
perhaps? She approached quietly, trying not to interrupt. Suddenly the voices
stopped. As Lizzie passed a marble statue of Aphrodite, she saw a shadowy form
running across the lawn, but she couldn’t make it out or even tell if it was
male or female.
She continued on, nodding to statues of Poseidon and Apollo,
until she neared the bronze fountain of a nymph riding a dolphin. On the ground
beside it lay a dark mound. Perhaps someone had drunk too much and fallen
asleep on the damp grass. Curious, she stepped closer.
The man lay on his back, his legs crumpled at an awkward angle, his arms flung out at his sides. A huge, dark stain covered the front of his white shirt. His blank eyes stared up at the sky. It took Lizzie a few moments to recognize her saxophonist, Henry Ives. When she did, a high, strangled cry burst from her mouth.
About the Author
Skye Alexander is the author of nearly 50 fiction and nonfiction books. Her stories have appeared in anthologies internationally, and her work has been translated into more than a dozen languages. In 2003, she cofounded Level Best Books with fellow crime writers Kate Flora and Susan Oleksiw. The first novel in Skye’s Lizzie Crane mystery series, Never Try to Catch a Falling Knife, set in 1925, was published in 2021; the second, What the Walls Know, was released in November 2022; the third, The Goddess of Shipwrecked Sailors, is scheduled for 2023.