SILENCE FOR THE DEAD
By: Simone St. James
Published: April 1, 2014
Sadly, I can’t get to every single book I want to read. But, there are some books that sound so intriguing that I want to tell you about them. SILENCE FOR THE DEAD isn’t my typical genre. I don’t usually choose mysteries, but this tie into WWI really intrigued me. After reading the synopsis I bet you will be too. I can’t wait to read it, and if you can’t either, be sure to scroll down and enter to win your own copy!
This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered.
“Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself slowly as a long, low shadow….”
In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it?
Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.
|Simone St. James – Photo Credit Adam Hunter
Simone St. James is the award-winning author of The Haunting of Maddy Clare, which won two prestigious RITA® awards from Romance Writers of America and an Arthur Ellis Award from Crime Writers of Canada. She writes gothic historical ghost stories set in 1920s England, books that are known for their mystery, gripping suspense, and romance.
Simone wrote her first ghost story, about a haunted library, when she was in high school. She worked behind the scenes in the television business for twenty years before leaving to write full-time. She lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband and a spoiled cat.
Silence For the Dead – Excerpt
by Simone St. James
Portis House emerged from the fog as we approached, showing itself only as a long, low shadow. I leaned my temple against the window of the motorcar and tried to make it out in the fading light.
The driver watched me crane my neck. “That’s it, for certain,” he said. “No chance of confusion. There’s nothing else around here.”
I continued to stare. I could barely see cornices now, the slender flutes of Grecian columns just visible in the gloom. A wide, cool portico, and behind it ivy climbing walls of pale Georgian stone. The edges faded in the mist, as if an artist’s thumb had blurred them.
“A good spot, it is,” the driver went on. My silence seemed to make him uncomfortable, had done so for miles. “That is, for what they use it for. I wouldn’t live here myself.” He adjusted the cap on his salt-and-pepper head, then stroked a thorny finger through his beard. “Table’s low here, so it gets wet. These fogs come off the water. It all ices over terrible in winter.”
I pulled away from the window and tilted my head back against the seat, watching through the front windscreen as the house came closer. We jolted over the long, muddy drive. “Then why,” I asked, “is it a good spot?”
He paused in surprise. I tried to remember when I’d spoken last since I’d hired him at the train station, and couldn’t. “Well, for those fellows, of course,” he said after a moment. “The mad ones. Keeps ‘em away from everyone, doesn’t it? And the bridge from the mainland means they’ve nowhere to go.”
It was true. The bridge was long and narrow, exposed to the wind that buffeted us mercilessly as we navigated its length. Any man who attempted to reach the mainland on foot would be risking his neck. I wondered whether anyone had tried and fallen to his death in the churning ocean below. I opened my mouth to ask, then shut it again.
The driver seemed not to notice. “It wasn’t built as a hospital, you see. That’s what I mean. It was built as a home, and not too long ago, either. Twenty years, give or take. Family named Gersbach, with children, too. Got knows how they did it out here. Four hours on the train from Newcastle on Tyne to town, and then over that bridge. No place for a child, I say. No one saw them much, and no wonder—it was all they could do to get supplies from the mainland, and they never could keep servants for long. I guess there’s no explaining the rich. They left during the war. I hear they were standoffish folk. Typical for Germans.”
We were drawing up to the house now, and he steered the motorcar around the drive, headed for the front portico. We circled a stone fountain in the center of the lawn, unused, sitting dry and stained in an empty garden bed. Patches of mist moved across it, sliding soundlessly over the sad-eyed carved Mary as she opened her blessing arms over the empty basin, blank-faced cherubs flanking her on either side.
“You mustn’t worry.” The driver stopped the motor before the front steps. “It’s remote—that’s certain—but I’ve never heard of anyone being mistreated at the hospital. Your fellow is probably just fine. It’ll be too late for me to come back tonight, but they’ve nice guest rooms here, for family. I’ll just come by tomorrow morning, then, shall I?”
I looked at him for a moment before I realized he thought I was a visitor. “I’m staying,” I said.
For a second his eyebrows flew upward, as if I’d said I was checking myself in. Then they lowered in consternation. “A nurse? I thought—” His gaze flicked to the rear compartment, where my valise lay. It was small enough to be an overnight bag. When he looked back at me, I met his eyes and watched him understand that the valise contained everything I owned.
“Well,” he said. The silence sat between us for a moment. “I’ll just get your bag for you, then.”
He got out of the car, and I opened my door before he could come round, pulling myself from the painfully hard seat. He flapped his hands in frustration and retrieved my small bag. “Be careful,” he said as he handed it to me, his friendly tone gone. “These are madmen, you know. Brutes, some of them. You’re just a tiny thing. Young, too. I had no idea you were coming to nurse, or I would have said. Most of them don’t last. It’s too lonely.”
I handed him payment, the last money I owned. “Lonely is what I want.”
“I get called out here to pick the girls up sometimes when they leave. They’re quiet as ghosts, and we never see the nurses in town. Maybe they’re not allowed. I’m not even certain they get leave.”
“I don’t need leave.”
“What kind of nurse doesn’t need leave?”
Now he sounded almost annoyed. I turned away and started up the steps.
“It’s just you don’t seem the type,” he called after me.
I turned back. “You needn’t worry about me.” I thought for a moment. “It isn’t a German name, Gersbach,” I said to his upturned face. “It’s Swiss.” I glanced past his shoulder to the fountain again, at Mary’s slender, draped shoulders, her elegant arms. Then I climbed the steps toward the front door of Portis House.
Don’t you want to keep reading???
What is she running away from?
Why is she going to work here and not a regular hospital?
Well, I can’t wait to find out!
If you are as excited to read SILENCE FOR THE DEAD as I am, fill out the form below to enter to win your very own copy. This giveaway is open to US residents only and will run through 11:59 PM on Thursday, April 17, 2014. You may enter only once. I will chose a winner on Friday, April 18, 2014, using Random.org. I will email the winner. The winner will then have 48 hours to respond or I will choose a new winner. This giveaway is made possible by Berkley Books and Penguin Group. I am not responsible for items that are not delivered but I will do my best to make sure you receive your prize.
If you can’t wait and want to purchase SILENCE FOR THE DEAD right now, click on the photo below: