Mirabel Sinclair – Excerpt from Chapter 1

Posted by on Jul 18, 2016 in Blog, Excerpts, writing | 2 comments

Mirabel Sinclair – Excerpt from Chapter 1

An excerpt from chapter one of the completed novel, Shadow of a Doubt, a standalone novel with series potential.

Chapter One

I would have enjoyed some sleep after pulling an all-night stake out, complete with bad egg salad for dinner and a chipped fingernail. I ended up with a roll of film—to be processed later—containing evidence that would be considered pornographic in twenty states, not to mention the final nail in the coffin of a client’s failed marriage. But I’d never learned how to ignore a ringing phone, even when it barked at me at two thirty in the morning. It didn’t help that I had to run downstairs to answer it.

“Hello,” I said, half awake. I was too tired to hide my anger at whomever had interrupted my chance to collar a nod.

“Lucky’s dead,” my boss’s voice said over the static on the line. “I need you to meet with a client today. Green’s his name.”

“When and where,” I asked, grabbing for a pen and scribbling the information down on the back of an envelope. My anger evaporated, replaced by regret at the tone of the greeting. I knew what Lucky meant to him.

“This afternoon at three; Patapsco Reservoir. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t ask –”

“—It’s no problem at all,” I said, cutting him off before he could continue. He had no sense of the time and no apology for the late hour or the interrupted sleep. He could have waited until morning to call me. But this was Mr. Templeton, and Lucky Gambini was dead. That made it impossible for me to be upset. It also guaranteed I got there long before the meeting, my stomach weighed down by large quantities of lousy coffee to help keep me awake.

I patted the side of my coat and felt the comforting weight of my revolver resting in its holster, tucked up against my side. “Why am I always early,” I said out loud, looking at my watch and noting that there were still a few minutes left until Mr. Green arrived.

There was no one to hear me; my model T was the lone vehicle in an otherwise vacant turn around located next to Patapsco reservoir. As I kicked at the rocks that pebbled the parking area, I stuffed my hands in the pockets of my long jacket to keep from glancing at the Timex again.

Instead, I looked out over the lake and saw fall the way it should have been. Not the feeble falls I’d grown used to growing up in Baltimore, with muted browns and dingy yellows, the leaves not falling until almost December, some holding on until January. An industrial, slow, tired fall. Baltimore seemed almost to regret its autumnal season, as though the idea of shedding its summer trappings was a ridiculous concept better left to other less sensible and less hard-working cities. This lake recalled the splendor of a proper autumn, and it coaxed its trees to produce the vibrant colors that were expected. I nodded my head in appreciation of the Dryads and Nyads who ran the local chapter of flora and fauna.

I turned at the sound of an engine and watched as a black car pulled into the parking lot at the exact time Mr. Templeton had indicated, a precision I found enviable. Mr. Green’s Cadillac Sixty Special was a muscular vehicle the size of a tank, and the gravel crunched under its tires. It was fitting, given the size of the man who slid from behind the steering wheel. He was huge, built like a linebacker, and walked like he knew how to handle himself.

He wore a long black trench coat and a bowler hat the size of a washtub, and his eyes were covered by dark shades. Though his face was hidden, there was something familiar about him, and I spent a moment trying to decide who he was. Then I saw one of his hands as he lifted a large lit cigar to his face, and his scent reached my nostrils, a vague whiff of musk and asparagus mixed with his tobacco. It was not a common flavor of aftershave he was sporting. The question was improperly phrased, so I amended it to what he was.

He was a troll. Possibly a goblin, but that was doubtful given his size, which was a good deal larger than even the biggest goblin athletes obtained. Those gentlemen tended to be more bloat then bulk, less muscle then massive, and this fellow bore none of those signs. This man was a huge, hulking presence that stated I like to break things without giving voice to the words. His skin was green tinged with the odd hairy wart or mole plastered to it. I realized that my gun wouldn’t do me much good. The snub-nosed revolver was loaded with silver jacketed cold iron slugs, the ends scratched with a holy glyph of warding, but getting shot would probably only piss him off without doing any lasting harm. If I needed to fight, I’d have been better off with some lighter fluid and a zippo, or a can of gasoline and some matches. Maybe a nice sturdy torch.

He stopped next to me and looked out over the still gray waters, puffing on his big cigar, the smoke curling a wreath around his melon-sized head.

“Nice,” he said, his voice a rough growl. “Nice spot. S ’good, isn’t it, Miz’ Sinclair? Is like being back in the old home.”

“I suppose if you like nature and such,” I said, playing down the view I’d been admiring. “So what can I do you for? Why’d you bring me all the way out here in the middle of nowhere?”





  1. This is fantastic! I love it.

    • Thanks Mary! It’s off to some agents now, and I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed. 🙂

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