I is for If Two of Them Are Dead. It’s my steampunk mystery novella. This is one of my favorite stories. I originally wrote it for Dreamspinner’s Steampunk anthology. It wasn’t accepted but the editors asked me to expand it to a novella. I was over the moon. It was the first time I had ever been asked that. I felt like ‘wow they really believe in me!’
In full honesty, I think that a short story format was a disservice to this story. Mysteries deserve longer stories. I have NO idea how the Ellery Queen authors did it. Unlike a lot of steampunks which are set in London, I set mine in the Hyde Park area of New York’s Hudson Valley. For one reason, I wanted something different than London (and if I’m remembering correctly, the anthology had asked for that). The second reason is, I lived nearby for a year during my residency and its rich history made for a great setting. The title is from a Ben Franklin quote: “Three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.”
Mysteries are my first love. The first adult books I read were mysteries, moving up from Nancy, Trixie and the Hardy Boys to Agatha Christi and Ngio Marsh. Mysteries are devilishly hard to write, especially in a shorter format. Still, I wanted to pair up my first genre with one of my newer ones, steampunk. This novella was that (with a strong romantic subplot of course). It is, however, more mystery than steampunk.
Victor and Abraham were so much fun to work with. I would love to revisit them someday. There is a trickiness to their relationship of course. They can’t exactly live openly in the 1800s but they could pull of an eccentric friendship no doubt.
I’ll let the blurb speak for itself.
Blurb Called to Hyde Park, New York, ex-Air Corpsman turned detective Victor Van Voorhis comes to only three conclusions about his newest case: the gulf between his status and the wealthy Westbrook family is no trifling matter; someone brutally killed a young mother; and the victim’s brother-in-law is one of the most intriguing men Victor has ever met.
Inventor Abraham Westbrook lost his wife five years ago and is worried about the effect another death in the family will have on his children. He spends most of his time tinkering with steamships, but even his inventions can’t distract him from wishing Victor was in his life for any reason other than a murder investigation—one where Abraham himself is a suspect. He’s hidden his desires all his life, but no longer. Somehow, he’ll catch the detective’s eye.
With murder standing between them and a killer stalking the Westbrooks, Abraham and Victor’s chance at happiness could go up in steam.
If you’re interested in this novella you can find it here.
And check out Paul Richmond’s beautiful cover for it!