The Clearwater Mysteries: Opening Lines

Today, I thought I’d put up the first paragraph(s) of each of the Clearwater Mysteries, plus a link to the book’s Amazon page. If the series is new to you, you can find out some more info about each book from The Clearwater Mysteries page, and the link is in the menu.

First, here’s a reminder of a promo that’s running via Book Funnel. Historical mystery, action, adventure, and a few select titles and authors you may not have tried before. Click the pic to see the full list.

And now, the opening chapters of each of the 11 Clearwater books starting with the prequel (which isn’t really a mystery).


Late summer, 1881
Serbka, Ukraine

Andrej waited until the darkest hour before he untied his wrists with his teeth, and freed his feet from the knots. Leaving the children to their troubled dreams, he slipped silently from beneath the cart, and crawled towards the older men and widows sleeping beneath the trees. Alert, he fixed his eyes on Blumkin. The man had taken his knife, and Andrej was not leaving without it.

Silas Hawkins was searching for coins in an East End gutter when a man four miles distant and ten years older sealed his fate. Silas had no idea that the discussion taking place concerned him, or that it was even happening. He wouldn’t know the details for some time, but even if he had heard the conversation, he wouldn’t have believed it. It wouldn’t have concerned him if he had, because Silas wasn’t the kind of youth to shy from a challenge, not even one that might threaten his life.

James Joseph Wright was born on January 10th, 1863 at the precise moment the world’s first underground train delivered its passengers to Farringdon station. As the locomotive puffed and fumed from the tunnel, James’s mother, some four miles distant, puffed and fumed through her own first delivery.

The Times, Thursday, December 1st, 1888
Opera House Gala

Famed countertenor, Mr Cadwell Roxton is to make his debut appearance at the Opera House in “Aeneas and Dido”, an acclaimed if unusual work by Austro-German composer, Johann Bruch.
Mr Roxton was the sensation of the 1887 Paris season, following that triumph with another in Leipzig the subsequent spring. His debut at our opera house this month will herald the beginning of what this publication hopes will be an illustrious career on the opera stage for a countryman returning home from his studies after training in the conservatoires of Europe.

On the night of December 17th, 1888, a stinging north wind buffeted the city forcing all but the bravest to stay in their homes. Whether that home was a dosshouse in the East End or a villa abutting Saint Matthew’s Park, whatever protection could be found from shutters and curtains was employed to keep back the icy blasts. The day dawned with a silvery sky, but the weak winter sun stood no chance against the mass of heavy cloud that rolled in from the north to swamp the entire country before delivering, in parts, blankets of snow and ice. By the evening, livestock had frozen in their stables, the mainline railways became impassable, and in the darker, unwanted parts of the city, thirty-two deaths occurred before nightfall “From ill weather”.

Folkestone Harbour, April 1889

As he waited for his visitor to arrive, Benjamin Quill squinted at the society pages of the national newspaper with his one good eye. It was an edition from the previous week, but he didn’t require the news to be up to date, knowing that once such an announcement was made, it would remain unchanged, barring serious accident or death. Last year, he had suffered the former, and that had led him to plan the latter. Not his own death, of course, and not that of Clearwater, that delight would come in time.

London, July 1889

Henry Beddington had served as the concierge at the National Gallery since 1865 and took great pride in the fact that, despite the large number of visitors passing through its doors each day, there had never been any trouble in his foyer. Keeping watch over the entrance from his counter on a sunny morning in July, he had no reason to suspect that today would be any different.

27th July 1889. Kingsclere House, Hampshire

Jasper Blackwood’s life changed beyond recognition on the morning of 27th July 1889. The previous night, he had gone to bed unaware of correspondence exchanged between a viscount and a footman, a butler and a housekeeper. As he fell exhausted onto his straw mattress in his basement anteroom, he fully expected to wake at six, and set about the next day’s duties exactly as he had performed every day for the last seven years.
It was not to be.

Clearwater House, London
September 1889

Jasper’s eyes were on the clock while his hands frantically polished Lord Clearwater’s riding boots, but his mind was on Billy and an organ recital. Beyond the boot room, the clattering in the kitchen told him Mrs Roberts was rushing to stock the pantry and fill the cold shelves, the persistent clip of Harvey’s shoes passing back and forth told him the cases were coming down to the coach, and a proclamation from Mr Payne left no doubt there were only fifteen minutes left before the viscount was due to leave.
Throwing down the buffing cloth, he carried the now gleaming boots into the servants’ passage in time to meet Harvey returning from the yard.

The Pall Mall Gazette, Fourth Edition
December 4th, 1889

Two London Cases.

Thousands of sufferers in Berlin.

Something very like the influenza epidemic which is raging in St. Petersburg has now spread to Berlin, and thousands are down with it.
The epidemic is (a Helsingfors telegram says) still spreading. Everybody one meets has either had or is expecting to succumb to the malady. Editors apologise for the delay in issuing their newspapers, and the scanty news in them. Letters remain undelivered, the postmen being sick. Offices are closed for want of clerks. The illness is preceded by two or three days of lassitude. Then fever breaks out at half an hour’s notice, and increases rapidly for six or eight hours, and is accompanied by delirium, headache, a swelling sensation in the joints, irritation of the throat, pain in the limbs, and a teasing cough.

Rasnov Castle, Transylvania

January 1890

Snow whipped the ancient fortification, caught in the vicious gusts of an unforgiving north wind. Stolen from the pine forests and thrown across the plain, it swirled against the castle walls where it collected in fissures and made its home, there to wait for spring before releasing its glacial grip. Some gathered in the arrow slits and window recesses, clinging to the bars and caking the shutters. Flurries torn from the masonry were buffeted to the roof, coating the tiles in peaks as jagged as the surrounding Carpathians, and some found their way through the rotting wood and mortar cracks to dust the sills and embrasures.

You can find all the books from the Clearwater Series page on Amazon.