Fiction Friday: Still Life with Murder

Still Life With MurderWelcome to Fiction Friday, my opportunity each week to post an excerpt from one of my own books or those of my friends, present-day or long-departed colleagues.

Today’s excerpt is from my friend and fellow book tour survivor, P. B. Ryan, who was one of a multitude of authors I met on a bus tour of the Midwest some years ago. Great book tour, great authors and a wonderful chance to get to make new friends.

When I learned P.B. (also known as Patricia Ryan) was writing a mystery series, I knew these would be great reads. Right now the first book, Still Life with Murder, is free (yes, I do mean free) on Amazon Kindle, B&N, iTunes, and Smashwords.  Plus it’s only $.99 at Kobo.  What a great way to introduce a series. Here’s a little about Patricia.

Patricia Ryan is the USA Today bestselling author of more than two dozen mysteries and romances, including the #1 Barnes & Noble bestseller Still Life With Murder. Her novels have garnered rave reviews and been published in over twenty countries. A RITA® winner (for Silken Threads) and four-time nominee, she is also the recipient of two Romantic Times Awards and a Mary Higgins Clark Award nomination for the second book of her historical mystery series featuring Boston governess Nell Sweeney, which she wrote under the name P.B. Ryan.

And here’s the intro to Still Life With Murder:

Boston, 1868: When Nell Sweeney, a young Irish immigrant, earns a coveted position as governess to the wealthy Hewitts, she discovers that deadly secrets often lurk beneath society’s gilded surface. One winter’s day the family learns that their son William, a former battle surgeon thought to have died during the Civil War, is, in fact, still alive—and in jail for having killed a man while under the influence of opium. Enraged at his son’s deception and convinced of his guilt, August Hewitt is determined to see William hang and thus forbids his wife from aiding him. But Viola Hewitt believes her son is innocent and begs Nell to help her exonerate him. With little to go on, Nell must rely on her wits and her knowledge of the city’s dark underbelly to uncover the truth—before the hangman’s noose tightens around William Hewitt’s throat.

That sure got my attention.  Enjoy the following excerpt.  I’ve downloaded the novel and can’t wait to read it.


“A lady to see you,” announced the guard through the iron-barred door of the holding cell.

“I don’t know any ladies.” The voice from within—drowsy-deep, British-accented and vaguely bored—did not belong here. It was a voice meant for the opera box, the ballroom, the polo field…not this fetid little police station cage.

Nell’s view of Dr. William Hewitt was limited by her position against the wall of the cramped visitor’s alcove and the fact that it was only the cell’s door that was comprised of open grillwork; the walls were solid brick. From her angle, all she could make out through the barred door were two long legs in fawn trousers, right ankle propped on left knee. A hand appeared and struck a match against the sole of a well-made black shoe. The hand was long-fingered, capable—a deft hand with a scalpel, she would guess.

“Her name is Miss Chapel,” said the guard, using the false name she’d given. “She’s from the Society for the Relief of Convicts and Indigents.”

The aroma of tobacco wafted from the cell. “I don’t suppose it would do any good to point out that I am neither a convict nor an indigent.”

“You’ll be a convict soon as they can manage to drag your sorry…” the guard glanced at Nell “…drag you in front of a jury. And then you’ll be just another murdering wretch swinging from a rope over at the county jail.”

Nell clutched to her chest the scratchy woolen blanket and Bible she’d brought. She hated hated having to confront this man who may or may not have cut another man’s throat last night in a delirium born of opium—or lunacy.

“You can give him them things, ma’am, but I’ll have to check ‘em first.” The guard held his hand out. “The blanket, then the Bible.” He unfolded and shook out the former, fanned the pages of the latter, and handed them back.

“You can sit here if you’ve a mind to pray or what have you.” The guard scraped a bench away from the wall and set it up facing the iron-barred door from about five feet away. “You’d best keep your distance. If he tries anything, like grabbing you through the bars or throwing matches at you, you give me a holler—loud, ‘cause I’ll be all the way down the hall.”

Matches? Nell thought about the flammable crinoline shaping her skirt, and the newspaper stories of women burned alive when their dresses brushed candles or gas jets. She stood motionless after the guard left, listening to the receding jangle of his keys as he returned to his station at the far end of the hall.

“I’ll take the blanket.” The long legs shifted; bedropes squeaked. “You can keep the Bible.”

With a steadying breath, Nell stepped away from the wall and approached the door to the cell, staying a few feet back, as the guard had advised.

Its occupant was standing now, his weight resting on one hip, drawing on a cigarette as he watched her come into view. He was tall, somewhat over six feet, with hair falling like haphazard strokes of black ink into indolent eyes. His left eyelid was swollen and discolored, with a crusted-over cut at the outer edge. Two more contusions stained his beard-darkened jaw on that side, and his lower lip was split. They interrogated him at some length last night.


Still Life with Murder is available at online bookstores including:  Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Smashwords and iTunes.



  1. SueAnn Beer on January 25, 2014 at 10:03 pm my attention too! Very intriguing! On my list…..for sure! Glad you had a great trip and rest, and fun reading, too…

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