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/

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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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For Richer or Poorer: The Gold Standard in America

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As of this writing, America is experiencing the highest inflation rate in 40 years. Inflation shot up from 1.7% in 2020 to about 7% in 2021 and 2022, with the highest rate in 2022 being 9.1% in June! In spite of the fact that we’re shelling out more money at the grocery store (a friend of mine recently reported she spent over $100 on baking supplies for the holidays), the 7% this year is peanuts compared to 1920, when the nation had almost 24% inflation, or after the American Revolution in 1778 when inflation was 30%.

But there is one way to fight inflation: create a gold standard. This is exactly what people in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era did, though the results weren’t favorable to all. The concept of the gold standard is very difficult to explain and for people to wrap their heads around, so bear with me while I try to outline what it is and why it failed.

In 1900, Congress passed the Gold Standard Act which meant the value of American money was tied to the value of gold. Until then, the currency exchange was based on bimetallism (gold and silver). That meant people were able to buy gold or silver coins with paper money, which was to their advantage because these precious metals were much more stable in their value over time, whereas the value of paper money was basically determined by what federal or state officials determined it to be worth. It was also not an international currency (just as today when we can’t use British pounds to do our Walmart shopping in Cleveland) and it wasn’t even always, at that time, transferable from state to state, since states had their own paper money. So if you moved from Vermont to California and tried to cash a $20 Vermont bill in a California bank, you weren’t guaranteed to get the full $20 value of that bill in exchange.

The gold standard also meant silver was no longer an accepted exchange for paper money. People could only buy gold coins. There were a few problems with this. First, gold coins were in limited supply. Second, since gold was valued at the time at about $22.00 an ounce, people needed to shell out $22 in paper money for one ounce of gold ($1 bought them about 25 grams worth of gold). 

Why did people even want to buy gold coins when they paid much more for them with paper money? Why didn’t they just keep the paper money? Because at that time, paper money was very unreliable in terms of value, as I explained above. Also, gold and silver were precious metals and scarce compared to paper money so they were worth more and their worth didn’t fluctuate as much.

The gold standard was such a hot-button issue that this campaign poster for the Republican party (with William McKinley as the presidential nominee and Theodore Roosevelt as the vice-presidential nominee) put the party’s support of the gold standard as the top political issue on their party’s agenda during the campaign.

Photo Credit: Headshots of William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt against the American flag for a Republican party campaign poster during the 1900 elections, Library of Congress: Picryl/Public Domain

The gold standard became a major political issue in the Progressive Era because it was tied to class. The poor and working class were usually paid in paper money and used paper money to buy their goods, and since the value of paper money was now tied to the gold standard, they had to pay more for their purchases. For example, if something cost $2 gold coins, they would have to pay $44 in paper money for it. 

Hence, the Populist movement was born. This movement largely consisted of farmers and poor people who wanted to convince congress to go back to the bimetal standard (because silver was valued less than gold and they were able to secure silver coins more easily than gold.) In 1896, the Populists merged with the Democratic party, as the two shared several items on their political agenda such as limiting the number of terms a president could serve and advocating an eight-hour work day, as well as the call for bimetallism. This accumulated in Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan’s moving and rallying “Cross of Gold” speech.  

Bryan ran for president in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era with bimetallism as one of his main themes three times and lost three times. But then, so did the gold standard, eventually. It was withdrawn in the early 1930s by FDR in an effort to combat the Great Depression. From the post-World War II era to the 1970s, the gold standard did make a comeback, but in 1971 Nixon abolished it, both to combat the inflation at the time and to keep foreign governments from buying up American gold supply with their dollars. 

In my upcoming new release, The Mystery of the Golden Cat, the Gold Standard Act is in full force (the book takes place in 1904) and not everyone is happy about it. For one person, it leads indirectly to crime. Though the book comes out at the end of this month, it’s at a special preorder price now, so don’t wait to snag your copy!

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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Making Progress: Thanksgiving in the Progressive Era

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It’s that time of year when Thanksgiving is upon us (at least it is if you’re in the US). Last year, I reposted Thanksgiving in the Gilded Age. But this year, since I’ve been diving into the Progressive Era with my Adele Gossling Mysteries, I was curious to see whether the turn of the century in comparison to the last quarter of the 19th century really made that much of a difference in how Americans celebrated Thanksgiving.

It turns out it did. The Gilded Age was, remember, all about excesses, money, and showing off when it came to the holidays. Wealthy Americans especially thought of the holidays as a time to get into their best dress and parade themselves in hotel dining rooms or swank restaurants for a multi-course Thanksgiving meal that included non-traditional Thanksgiving fare such as oysters and lobster (if you don’t believe me, take a peek at the picture of the menu in last year’s Thanksgiving blog post.) 

Photo Credit: Cover of Puck magazine showing a mother making a pumpkin pie in the kitchen while her four children look onward, emphasizing the family nature of Thanksgiving, 1903, chromolithograph, created by L. M. Glackens: pingnews.com / Flickr/Public Domain Mark 1.0

But the Progressive Era was when Americans were starting to get a grip on all those excesses and realize their country needed to make some changes. Reform was the order of the day, including workers’ rights, women’s rights, and environmental concerns. There was also more emphasis on intimate social circles (family, friends), probably because the modern era brought up concerns of people being fragmented physically and mentally from their roots (something I daresay we struggle with today in the 21st century.)

To that end, Thanksgiving became more of a family affair. Magazines and books came out with Thanksgiving recipes to help encourage Americans to stay home for the holiday. The recipes were much more what we consider traditional Thanksgiving foods, such as turkey, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. The menu from 1902 on this site still has some oddities, such as oysters, but it looks much more like the kind of Thanksgiving meal we feast on these days than the menu in my previous blog post.

Progressives carried their reform into the holidays as well. One thing we see with turn-of-the-century Thanksgiving which was less prevalent in the Gilded Age was the idea of giving thanks and gratitude by helping others. Missionaries and other charitable organizations hosted large Thanksgiving feasts for the poor all over the country. In addition, holiday gift boxes became popular just as they are today (my local Sprouts Market prepares gift bags with food every year that customers can purchase and have the store give to a family in need).

Here’s wishing everyone a joyous, warm, and happy Thanksgiving this year!

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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Celebrating American Nurses During World War I

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I have a special place in my heart for nurses because my mom was a nurse back in the 1980s. She worked in the ER of our local hospital for a while and then became a home healthcare nurse. Though she retired from the profession when my parents moved back to Israel, she still to this day uses her medical expertise to advocate for family members and friends and help them maneuver through the Israeli healthcare system.

So today, on Veteran’s Day, it seemed fitting to honor war nurses. I wanted to take a look especially at World War I since this war is in the time frame of my Adele Gossling Mysteries (well, not yet, but it eventually will be.) Although called the Great War, it’s more like the Forgotten War these days (usurped by World War II).

Photo Credit: Nurses in Rouen, France during World War I preparing to go to the front lines, from Good Housekeeping, Oct 1918: Picryl/Copyright: No known restrictions

World War I saw a lot of bloodshed and tragedy (if you want to read more about this war, you can read this blog post) and even though Americans didn’t get into the battle until about a year and a half before its end, American soldiers still saw plenty of fighting and nurses did plenty of healing. Sadly, many of these nurses didn’t get the honor and credit they deserved.

Linnie Leckrone was one of these. She was a nurse in one of the toughest situations during wartime: She was part of a unit that helped soldiers who were under constant artillery attack. She helped many soldiers under gas and shock in the most frightening conditions. However, where many men who came home from the war received a hero’s welcome, Leckrone got nothing when she came back to her hometown of Portage, Wisconsin. However, all is not lost, as in 2007, Leckrone received a posthumous Silver Star medal for her bravery and courage, which her daughter accepted.

Unlike, Leckrone, Lenah Higbee did receive her due. Higbee actually joined the US Navy Nurses Corps in 1908 and endured a lot of caustic remarks for doing so. But Higbee, dedicated to her work, persevered, and eventually became the second woman superintendent of the corps. Her work during World War I helping wounded Navy soldiers earned her the Navy Cross and her name on a battleship!

Not all nurses during World War I worked on the front lines. Working behind the scenes was Anna Caroline Maxwell, who is often referred to as the American Florence Nightingale. Earlier in the 20th century, she helped establish proper training and education for nurses by establishing the US Army Nurse Corps, and during the war, she not only trained nurses in their duties but helped them prepare psychologically for the rigors of war. The French awarded her the Medal of Honor for Public Health for her work.

War isn’t just about the men. It’s also about the women who heal them, so let’s salute all veteran war nurses on this day!

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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Fun and Mischief: Halloween in the Early 20th Century

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It’s Halloween in the United States today, and if you live in America, you likely already have bags of candy stashed on the front table near your door, expecting little nippers to come knocking at your door calling “trick or treat!” 

Halloween these days is a relatively tame affair where fun is the name of the game. Dressing up in costumes, taking the kids door to door to get candy, and for some, attending a party or settling on the couch to watch spooky movies (I already have my collection of Val Lewton films geared up). But in the early 20th century, kids had a very different idea of what constituted “fun” for Halloween. Mischief and mayhem were the order of the day (or, I should say, the night).

What do I mean by mischief? Watch this clip from the 1944 classic film Meet Me in St. Louis. The film is set in 1904 and gives a pretty accurate glimpse of how kids celebrated Halloween in the early 20th century. In this scene, kids are building a bonfire, throwing into it anything flammable they can get their hands on (and one suspects some of the chairs they’re throwing in might have been ripped off neighborhood porches). Then, they’re huddling together, trying to figure out who they’re going to attack with their bags of flour (yes, knocking on someone’s door and throwing flour in their face was a thing back then). That was turn-of-the-century Halloween fun.

Photo Credit: A less grotesque and creepy Halloween costume of a witch, 1910: jamesjoel/Flickr/CC BY ND 2.0

Another thing about this scene is that it shows how kids dressed up for Halloween over one hundred years ago (and if you’re curious to see more costumes from this era, you can look here). Unlike today where we’re more likely to see specially-made cute costumes on smaller kids and spooky-fun costumes on older kids, kids used what they could find around the house. The results were creepier and much more grotesque.

Trick-or-treating is a largely organized affair in the 21st century (so organized that some towns have a “trunk-or-treat” where kids get their trick-or-treating done in a parking lot from the trunks of cars like this community). In the early 20th century, things were a lot more chaotic. Kids would go trick-or-treating in parades and they could become quite unruly. And did they get candy? Not always. Until the mid-20th century, kids got whatever was lying around. That could be a toy or a game the child of the house didn’t want anymore or some other inedible goodie or fruit or nuts.

But what really characterized early 20th-century Halloween was mischief. In addition to the bonfire and the flour-in-the-face mentioned above, it wasn’t unusual for kids to vandalize the homes of people in town they didn’t like or even steal things off their lawn or porch (in the film clip above, one of the adults warns her children to make sure and return a neighbor’s hammock after they steal it). I remember when I was a kid Halloween meant you were at risk of being “egged” (having kids throw rotten eggs at your house) if you didn’t open the door and give out candy. Thankfully, that practice has largely gone out of style. 

So here’s wishing everyone a safe, happy, and truly fun Halloween!

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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