Release Day Blitz for The Mystery of the Golden Cat!

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Title: The Mystery of the Golden Cat

Series: Adele Gossling Mysteries: Book 4

Author: Tam May

Genres: Historical Cozy Mystery

Release Date: January 28, 2023

For Adele Gossling, Labor Day is about giving voice to progressive reforms such as the eight-hour workday and minimum wage for women. But for business owners in Arrojo, California, Labor Day is about making money. City slickers flock to the country seeking holiday deals they can’t get in San Francisco or Sacramento. What better way to celebrate than with bargains and the community picnic?

What they don’t know is there’s a thief in town. He’s already succeeded in getting away with burglarizing business owners in neighboring towns and the county police can’t seem to get their hands on him.

Who is stealing gold trinkets from the shops in Arrojo, California? Is it the dandified Mr. Lyman? The town’s junk collector and pariah, Zephyr Brown? or is it someone or something beyond their wildest imagination?

What reviewers are saying about the series:

“Great new series!”

“Characters come alive!”

You can get your copy of the book at a special promotional price at the following online retailers.


Excerpt

Hatfield said, “I’m sure your brother told you about the reports we’ve received from my friend Sheriff Hill about thefts they’ve had in Sacramento.”

“But that’s far away from here.”

“Not far enough, Del.” Jackson folded the paper on the crease and laid it down. “Last week, we had a few thefts in some of the towns in this county.”

“Vargas was the first,” Hatfield said. “And yesterday, we received a dispatch from Wells Fargo that Rosa Gris and Blue Springs reported items missing from some of their shops.”

“That’s ghastly!” Her cup dropped to the table, missing the saucer. Tomas mumbled his dismay in soft Spanish. “No one was hurt, I hope?”

“The thief is only interested in valuables, not people,” said Jackson. “There have been no reports of violence.”

“Still — it’s horrible to think —” She took another slice of toast from the holder, feeling her hand shaking.

Hatfield drew his hand toward the edge of the table between them. Adele’s shoulders gave a quick flinch, though she knew the sheriff would never take liberties. But there was something in the man’s gaze, his mouth closed but his eyes large and almost innocent, that gave her the feeling of being in a too-intimate corner with him just then.

“Perhaps Nin and I should warn the Bridge Street merchants before Monday,” she suggested. “From one shop owner to another.”

Silence buzzed around her, muting the brilliant blue sky to gray. Even the pair of doves nesting on the gazebo hushed up their morning song. 

“We’ll be very discreet, of course,” she continued, her voice less assured. “We’ll ask to speak to them in private.”

The sheriff cleared his throat. “I’m afraid you can’t do that, Adele.”

“Why can’t we?”

“Because,” Hatfield said, “the town council refused to allow it when I suggested it.”

“Refused!”

“They want us to keep it quiet, Del,” said her brother. “We shouldn’t have even told you.”

The butter knife slipped from her hand and scraped against her empty plate. Tomas darted forward, mumbling in Spanish, glancing around to see if anything had been broken. “That’s perfectly ridiculous! Why for heaven’s sake?”

“They believe it would cause ‘unnecessary panic’ and ‘soil the potential prospects for prosperity in our good town’,” Hatfield grumbled. “Those were Mrs. Faderman’s words. They all agreed with her, of course.”

“They didn’t have much choice,” Jackson remarked. 

Adele threw down her napkin. “So that’s what you meant when you said their behavior borders on negligence! That civic pride of hers has blinded her again!”

“Not to mention made her deaf and dumb,” Hatfield said dryly.

Adele rose, pacing the veranda. “Her behavior doesn’t border on the negligent, Sheriff. It is negligent. Even criminal!”

“Really, Del,” her brother mumbled. “Must you always exaggerate?”

“What else would you call it, Jack?” She insisted. “She’s prepared to risk what could be a mess of thieves roaming in our midst.”


About the Author

As soon as Tam May started her first novel at the age of fourteen, writing became her voice. She writes engaging, fun-to-solve cozy mysteries set in the past. Her mysteries empower readers with a sense of “justice is done” for women, both dead and alive. Tam is the author of the Adele Gossling Mysteries which take place in the early 20th century and feature sassy suffragist and epistolary expert Adele Gossling. Tam has also written historical fiction about women defying the emotional and psychological confinements of their era. Although Tam left her heart in San Francisco, she lives in Texas because it’s cheaper. When she’s not writing, she’s devouring everything classic (books, films, art, music) and concocting yummy vegetarian dishes in her kitchen. 


Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammayauthor/

Instragram: https://www.instagram.com/tammayauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tammayauthor/ 

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tam-May/e/B01N7BQZ9Y/ 

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tam-may

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16111197.Tam_May

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The Theft Made the Mona Lisa Notorious

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The Mona Lisa has been scrutinized and poeticized and theorized for decades, even centuries. It’s probably one of the most famous paintings in all the world, if not the most famous painting. And yet, before the 1910s, it wasn’t that big a deal. Thousands of people had been through the Louvre and caught a glimpse of it in a row with other paintings of similar size. 

It might be a little hard to tell here, but the space on the wall is where the Mona Lisa was discovered missing after the theft. As you can see, the painting was hardly a standout among other paintings at that time. It sat below the massive painting of Paolo Veronese’s The Feast in the House of Simon the Pharisee (a painting, ironically, that was seized by Napoleon and his men illegally during the Napoleonic wars), which got top billing in the display.

Photo Credit: The Mona Lisa’s vacant place in the Salon Carre after it was stolen in 1911, unknown author, Century Magazine, 1914 February, The Century Company: Meidosensei/Wikimedia Commons/PD anon expired 

So what happened to make the Mona Lisa warrant a wall of her own with a heavy wooden railing and bulletproof glass to protect her? In a word: theft.

Many people aren’t aware the Mona Lisa was stolen in 1911. And not by some world-renowned professional gang of thieves or a highly skilled and experienced cat burglar either. It was a working man, an everyday house painter, who walked off with the Mona Lisa.

An Italian immigrant working in France by the name of Vincenzo Peruggia stole the Mona Lisa. He had been arrested twice before, once for theft (though he claimed it was a misunderstanding) and once for not having his immigration papers on him. He was highly suspicious of the French, who showed a lot of xenophobia at that time, especially against the Italians, who were the largest immigrant group at that time. There are theories he was psychologically unbalanced due to lead poisoning from the paint he used in his job as a house painter. Yet, he managed to steal the Mona Lisa (painting only – he left the frame on the service stairs of the Louvre) and keep it hidden for two years.

Why he stole it is still a mystery. One theory is that it was an act of patriotism. Tensions were heating up in Europe, especially between France and Germany, and Italy, tensions that would eventually cause the outbreak of WWI in 1914. Peruggia, as mentioned earlier, had been subject to a lot of ridicule and prejudice in France for being Italian. His coworkers had nicknamed him “Macaroni” and he vowed one day to show them just who was a “macaroni.” In addition, the Mona Lisa was painted by an Italian — Leonardo da Vinci — and it was believed at the time France acquired it illegally during the Napoleonic wars when it was known Napoleon and his army would loot a conquered city of its precious artifacts and ship them to France. This story turned out to be untrue (da Vinci left all his works to his assistant, who later sold them to representatives of European monarchs, including the King of France) but maybe Peruggia wanted to believe it to have a reason to steal the painting.

Others surmise it was purely for money. Though the Mona Lisa didn’t have the notoriety it has today, it was still pretty famous and could fetch a cool $5 million at that time by some estimates (today the Mona Lisa is estimated to be worth more than a quarter of a billion dollars.) 

Whatever the reason, this relatively small painting (roughly, 2 1/2 x 2 feet – compare with the Last Supper, which is roughly 15 x 29 feet) became a celebrity of its own after it was discovered missing. Media mayhem ensued and a frantic international search began, though it lasted only a few months. After that, all became quiet until 1913, when the painting showed up and Peruggia was apprehended.

Want the full details of this fascinating crime that didn’t involve murder? I’ll be doing a series of newsletters next month where I’ll be exploring all the ins and outs to celebrate the release of Book 4 of my Adele Gossling Mysteries (which is also about the theft of precious items, though none as precious as the Mona Lisa) on January 28, 2023. If you’re not a subscriber of my newsletter, now is a great time to join and find out all about the Mona Lisa heist. And you’ll get a free book when you do!

And if you’re into thieves and golden cats, check out Book 4, which is now at a special preorder price, here

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🥳Release Day Blitz for Death At Will!🥳

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Title: Death At Will

Series: Adele Gossling Mysteries: Book 3

Author: Tam May

Genres: Historical Cozy Mystery

Release Date: October 29, 2022

Teddy Roosevelt is running for president and even Arrojo can’t deny progressive reforms are here to stay. Rebecca Gold, one of the era’s New Women, chooses just this time to set up her own law practice in Arrojo and lands the affluent Thea Marsh as her first client.

When Thea dies unexpectedly, the trail of suspects leads to her own family. The beloved and favored eldest son, Theo, is accused of the crime. Could such a placid man really be guilty of matricide?

The police think so. So Rebecca turns to her new friend in town: businesswoman and fellow suffragist Adele Gossling. Adele has already proven herself to be adept at helping the local police solve crimes, much to the shock and chagrin of the town’s conservative citizens. Despite promises never to involve herself in crime detection again, how can she refuse a friend in need?

Will Adele make a case against Theo’s guilt for the police out of a stained teacup, a fountain pen nib, ashes that should have been in the fireplace, and daisies that should have been fresh? Or will Theo go to the gallows and the real murderer escape justice?

“The characters are true to life, and the early methods used in criminal detection are fun to read.” – Amazon reviewer

What reviewers are saying:

“Entertaining page-turner!”

“Intrigue that will draw you in and make you want more.”

You can get your copy of the book at a special promotional price at the following online retailers.


Excerpt

Within fifteen minutes, her brother sauntered into the shop, the silver deputy sheriff’s badge shining in the sunlight. “All right, Del, why the hush-hush?” 

“Does the sheriff know you’re here?”

“I told him I was going to the Bush farm to check on that stolen horse,” he said, amused. “Those girls of yours insist you have a murderer locked in your storeroom.”

Adele laughed. “I’m afraid they let their imaginations run away with them. No, no murderer, Jack.”

“Not yet,” Nin said.

“Are we playing guessing games now, Miss Branch?” he asked in a stiff tone.

“I never guess, Mr. Gossling,” she answered. “I take evil and death in any way it comes.”

He crossed his arms, looking at his sister. “Well?”

She told him all Rebecca had said about her employer’s death as the woman sat silently with her hands in her lap. It was as if Jackson’s badge made her nervous again.

He looked at Rebecca. “It would be better, Miss Gold, if you would tell the sheriff of your suspicions, just as my sister suggested.”

“I promised Theo I wouldn’t,” she insisted. “I promised him there wouldn’t be any scandal.”

“But if Thea Marsh didn’t die of natural causes —”

“I didn’t say that wasn’t true!” she insisted. “I merely said I had a feeling about it.”

He sighed. “I understand your trepidation. But there’s a procedure to these things, you know.”

“Fiddlesticks!” Nin burst out. “Don’t you believe in helping a friend?” Rebecca gave her a grateful look.

“When there’s no crime involved, I’m the first to help anybody,” Jackson’s tone was crusty. “But if there is a crime—”

Adele took his arm. “We need your professional and astute eye, Jack. If there is nothing in it, no harm done. If there is something, Rebecca will convince the family to go through the proper channels.”

“They won’t have much of a choice,” he remarked.

“Then you have no reason to object a look around Mrs. Marsh’s room, do you?” She gave him a sharp look. 

“I have no objection as long as there is a method to it,” he insisted. “One simply can’t go bursting into a room with a magnifying glass hollering ‘murder afoot!’”

“Don’t tell me the Anspatches never entered a room permission.” She eyed him.

He looked away and she was sorry she had spoken. But then, he said, “I suppose it can’t do any harm to look around as long as the family consents, and we’re very careful. But only if we have their full consent, Del.”

“That you have, deputy,” Rebecca said in a relieved tone.

And I have your full promise if there is anything in the least suspicious, you go to the sheriff.”

“You have my promise.” She bowed.

About the Author

As soon as Tam May started her first novel at the age of fourteen, writing became her voice. She writes engaging, fun-to-solve cozy mysteries set in the past. Her mysteries empower readers with a sense of “justice is done” for women, both dead and alive. Tam is the author of the Adele Gossling Mysteries which take place in the early 20th century and feature sassy suffragist and epistolary expert Adele Gossling. Tam has also written historical fiction about women defying the emotional and psychological confinements of their era. Although Tam left her heart in San Francisco, she lives in Texas because it’s cheaper. When she’s not writing, she’s devouring everything classic (books, films, art, music) and concocting yummy vegetarian dishes in her kitchen.

Social Media Links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tammayauthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tammayauthor/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/tammayauthor/ 

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tam-May/e/B01N7BQZ9Y/ 

BookBub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/tam-may

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16111197.Tam_May

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Amateur Doctors: Forensic Pathology in the 19th and Early 20th Centuries

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It’s well known that mourning practices were an art form in the 19th and early 20th centuries. When I did quite a lot of research on mourning for my Gilded Age family saga, the Waxwood Series, there was no shortage of information. These rituals and fascination with death is the subject of a future blog post.

Indeed, when it came to mourning death, early Americans were experts. But when it came to explaining death, that was a different story. It’s understandable when we think of how uncomfortable any discussion of death makes many of us feel. I have a friend who builds alters to honor the dead, and she’s always saying how difficult it is for her to talk about what she does because she’s afraid of getting into morbid territory and making people squirm. 

Photo Credit: Woman in mourning, carte de visite photograph, 1860s, Nashville, Tennessee: Et0048/Wikimedia Commons/PD US expired

And yet, in cases where death isn’t obvious (such as from illness or accident), it’s the law (then and now) to investigate the cause to determine if foul play was involved. For this, a medical examiner is called in and a pathologist (who may or may not be the medical examiner) conducts an autopsy on the body. 

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, you couldn’t even say American forensic pathology was in its infancy. More like it was in the womb. The role of the medical examiner was pretty ad hoc and didn’t even officially exist until the 1930s. Examiners were not explicitly trained in pathology and often were local doctors who were good at treating the living but had little experience examining the dead. They were amateurs in pathology, though there’s no doubt many of them did the best they could. 

In addition, medical examiners and pathologists were, like policemen and mayors, government-appointed, and as such, they were subject to the kind of corruption that ran rampant in the 19th and early 20th centuries (until the Progressive movement called for reforms). In other words, these men could be bribed to cover up evidence for various reasons. Maybe the victim was a well-respected citizen of the town and the pathology brought up something that pointed toward a less-than-stellar life the influential family didn’t want to be made public. Or maybe the examination of the victim showed foul play that would require important people to be involved in the case who didn’t want to be involved. The examination might even implicate someone important to the town in a dastardly crime so evidence needs to be covered up or distorted. I’m reading a true crime book right now about the death of a woman in the early 20th century where the writers surmise this is exactly what happened.

Pathology (whatever little of it there was in the early 20th century) plays a role in Book 3 of my Adele Gossling Mysteries, though not in a corrupt or gruesome way. A doctor is asked to write out a new death certificate because what looked like an accident proves to be anything but. It was possible to retract the death certificate if further examination suggested otherwise. This is what starts the investigation into Thea Marsh’s death in the book.

Death At Will is coming out at the end of this month, but you can grab your copy now at a special preorder price here. And did you know Book 1 of the series, The Carnation Murder, is now free? Get your copy here

If you love fun, engaging mysteries set in the past, sign up for my newsletter to receive a free book, plus news about upcoming releases, fun facts about women’s history and mystery, and more freebies! You can sign up here

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The Separate Sphere Advantage: Lizzie Borden

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I love historical true crime and I love family crimes. That’s one of the reasons why Book 3 of my series uses one of the staples of mystery fiction: The family gathering at the family mansion for the holidays (though usually, the mansion is haunted, which isn’t the case in my book). So it’s no surprise that I, along with many other people, have always been fascinated by Lizzie Borden and the Borden family murder. 

There have been countless films, TV shows, and mini-series devoted to unraveling the Lizzie Borden case. I dug up an older movie recently, a made-for-TV film dating back to the 1970s. The Legend of Lizzie Borden (1975) stars Elizabeth Montgomery (aka, Samantha in the 1960s Bewitched series) and follows the events of the murders of Andrew and Abby Borden (Lizzie’s father and stepmother) and trial and acquittal pretty much as many sources report them. The film adds another element, though — it gives a theory (that has been accepted by many) of how the crimes were committed.

Photo Credit: (Elizabeth Montgomery (as Lizzie) and Katherine Helmond (as Emma, Lizzie’s older sister) from a scene from The Legend of Lizzie Borden, where women are picketing in front of the courthouse in support of Lizzie. 10 Feb 1975, Paramount Television: 995577823Xyn/Wikimedia Commons/PD US no notice

The film also takes a definite stance as to whether Lizzie was guilty or not. Keep in mind that, technically, the case is still unsolved. There’s also a lot of controversy over whether the evidence really shows Lizzie’s guilt. This film takes the stance that Lizzie was guilty because she had all the necessary requirements that point toward guilt: means, motive, and opportunity.

But this film brings in also another element to the motive piece I found especially interesting. It didn’t really surprise me, considering the film was made at the height of the second-wave women’s movement in the 1970s. Part of the movement’s purpose was to bring awareness to women’s oppression in the past. We already know the 19th century was not exactly a time of freedom for most women. They were dominated by the ideology of the separate spheres which kept them confined to certain areas of life (home, family, children, church), and venturing outside of that was considered transgressive. 

For a young woman of Lizzie’s social standing (small town high society), those confines were present and oppressive. She and her older sister often complained to their father about not being able to go where they liked or do what they liked and of being chained to the house. Both unmarried, they lived with their strict father and stepmother with little or no money of their own and were expected to fulfill household duties assigned to them. The film doesn’t fail to bring this out in some scenes between the family and also in one interesting scene between the prosecuting attorney (who is dead-set on convicting Lizzie) and his own wife (who, much to his chagrin, shows sympathy for Lizzie’s situation).

But could it be the separate spheres actually worked in Lizzie’s favor during the trial? This is a theory many sources put forth and the one the film supports. Since Lizzie was a well-respected, well-to-do young woman, active in her church and high society, and, of course, a woman, she couldn’t possibly have committed such horrendous crimes as to chop up her father and stepmother. Many believe Lizzie was acquitted not based on the evidence but based on who and what she was and the jury’s refusal to believe such a woman could commit murder.

If you want to know the ins and outs of the Lizzie Borden case and weigh in on your opinion on whether she did or did not commit the crimes, I invite you to join my mailing list. In honor of the release of Book 3 of my series, Death At Will, I’ll be talking all next month about the Borden case, bringing forth the details like the crime itself, the victims, the perpetrator, and the trial. But you only get access to those emails if you’re on my list.

Oh, and did I mention you also get a free book if you sign up? If you don’t want to miss out, you can join here

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