Trained as a medium by the elite Morpheus Society, Elinor Chalamet uses her skills to aid the police while she hunts for her father’s killer in the coastal city of Alenbonné.

A six part Gaslamp fantasy ghost mystery series featuring a strong female character in a slow burn romance. These novellas are friendly to 18+ readers.

BOOK TRAILER: Madame Chalamet Ghost Mystery series

BYRD’S BOOK READS (a playlist with selected readings from the series)

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AUTHOR Q&A for MADAME CHALAMET GHOST MYSTERIES

What is the genre for this fantasy series?

The Madame Chalamet Ghost Mystery series best fits the genre of Gaslamp fantasy. It combines the historical elements found in the late Victorian and Edwardian (or the Belle Epoque era) time period in a fantasy world, and includes elements of a slow burn romance. It leans more toward the Gothic, where ghosts and the supernatural are a major part of the world.

How it differs from Steampunk is that the plot doesn’t use science and so doesn’t feature elements commonly found in those stories such as advancements in weaponry, transportation, travel, or scientific inquiry.

So there is a romance in this Gaslamp fantasy series?

Yes there is! But it is a slow-burn one that goes through the six novellas. Each novella will advance the relationship between Elinor and Archambeau. While I think it’s very romantic, Elinor also has to deal with the real consequences of having a relationship with someone higher on the social ladder and in a society that doesn’t approve of relationships without marriage.

The romance itself should be okay for readers of 18+, maybe younger depending on maturity.

What inspired you to write this series?

I’ve long held an interest in ghosts, ghost hunting, and have been intrigued by the Victorian obsession about death as well as spiritualism. Many famous people, including Arthur Conan Doyle, at the time were interested in trying to measure the supernatural under the same criteria as sciences of the day. Their logic was if we could understand the human body and how it worked, why couldn’t we examine ghosts?

Where do the stories take place?

To have more freedom to create, and to use a female heroine unrestricted from the real 1890 world, the setting is in a fictional world that is more of a combination of 1890-1900 France/Italy/Holland. I felt that the London and England landscape is over-used and wanted something more unique to play with.

Alenbonné is a harbor city, using a system of canals to manage the low land from flooding. It is in the country of Sarnesse, one of three featured in the series (the other two being Perino and Zulskaya).

Being a series about ghosts, is this a spooky series?

While mediumship and ghosts are featured throughout the stories, I wouldn’t call this a spooky series. The stories examine death, grief, and the complicated manner in which people deal with loss. On the other hand, while I’ve written that, the stories aren’t sad or depressing.

Overall, I wanted the series to be entertaining, examine life and death among a wide range of characters, and highlight an interesting heroine.

Tell us about Elinor Chalamet.

She’s the MC throughout the series. As a woman in her late twenties she is using her career as a Ghost Talker to discover information about her father’s murder (an event that happened in her late teens).

She’s been a joy to write as she is forthright, but also compassionate. Elinor is very confident and her curiosity sometimes gets her into trouble. In society, she’s of the rising middle class, a self-made woman, daughter of a jeweler, who manages her own career and wealth. She has immense common sense and is willing to help anyone in need, regardless if they are a nice person.

When she and Archambeau get involved the differences in their status presents a real problem.

So Archambeau is the romantic interest? What type of character is he?

Tristan Fontaine, Mysir de Archambeau (title address) or Duke de Chambaux (province address), is a damaged man. A widower, his wife has died under mysterious circumstances. He works for King Trygve Guénard, the monarch of Sarnesse.

Of the two characters, his arc from beginning to end will be the most complicated. While Elinor may think she has the most to lose, it is Tristan who will give up everything to be with her. Including his pride.

How does this series fit in with what other books you’ve written in terms of style?

While it does deal with supernatural elements you may find in A Spell of Rowans, Rowans is a much darker story about betrayal, and a wounded past. Rowans is also my most adult-themed book to date.

Madame Chalamet is more romantic then the College Fae series but is not geared towards the YA coming-of-age. However, elements of my style in writing about the supernatural can be seen between those books and this series.

In some ways, the Fantasy of Manners fairytales are the closest fit as Madame Chalamet has to maneuver through society expectations of what she is as a woman and what others think she should do (or not do). However, there will be more physical intimacy between Elinor and Archambeau then is found in those fade-to-black romances.

I’m excited to share this novella series with you and I hope you enjoy this combination of Mysteries with Manners.

NETGALLEY READERS LOVE IT!

NetGalley book reviews:

  • This book was near perfect!
  • This is just a flat-out guilty pleasure read for me.
  • How do I describe this novel? Delicious was the only word that came to mind.
  • fast becoming one of my favorite series.
  • Elinor’s empathetic and kind handling of the spirits in transition along with those left behind on the earthly plane is charming and endearing. The dialogue is terrific, humorous and engaging. The world building is imaginative and cinematic in scope. The budding romance is chaste and a slow burn. All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.
  • I loved the plot and mystery, the ghost talking elements are intriguing, and the characters are loads of fun.
  • The twists and turns, poltergeists and possessions kept me enthralled from beginning to end.
  • This series has hooked me with its characters, intrigue, ghosts, and world building.
  • I loved the world building and the atmosphere Byrd Nash created.
  • I love when authors discuss women positions in society and rules applied to them when they set their stories in the past.
  • I couldn’t put this book down!
  • -the book has a late Victorian feel it is set in a fictional land, blending historical fiction, cozy mystery and fantasy both cleverly and successfully. — I quickly found myself enamored by the whirlwind that is Elinor Chalamet.
  • Brilliant series.
  • I love these stories with ghosts, mysteries, sweet romance, daring women of their times, and great characters!
  • All this adds up to make a fascinating heroine who has to contend with a very grumpy and reluctant sidekick in the Duke de Archambeau.
  • I’m giddy with excitement that *finally* Elinor and Tristan are beginning to explore their feelings for each other. I loved their flirty banter and swoony moments. I look forward to more of their slow burn romance.
  • I picked up the first of this series on a whim and fell in love immediately.
  • a fascinating fictionalized angle on how ghosts and humans respond to each other during the Victorian Era.
  • This book is a fun adventure mixing historical vibes, paranormal and mystery with a one of a kind tough heroine and her male counterpart, who needs to have his head bashed from time to time.
  • One of the things I loved most about this book was the humor involved in nearly every scene, whether it was the antics of ghosts, the banter between Elinor and Charlotte or the dialogue between Elinor and Tristan I found myself laughing a lot.
  • For a novella, the book really managed to pack a lot in, including a wide cast of characters and some excellent world-building
  • Gripping and compelling, good character development and storytelling.
  • Even though the overall tone of the book is light-hearted, there is much to unpack about the way we treat others and who deserves our respect.
  • I’m loving Byrd Nash novels as they’re always solid, funny, and well written.
  • The story is tightly written, which shows how well the author rules this area; I can definitely say that every character was well portrayed, regardless of how minor a role they played, and the paranormal/fantastical side of this was really well done!
  • This is my first Byrd Nash read but it certainly will not be my last. If nothing else, I will have to continue this particular series because I have absolutely fallen in love with Elinor and Tristan … and Anne-Marie … and Jacques … and Marcus … and Dr. LaRue … and I could probably (easily) name even more because the characters are just that compelling and delightful. Well, except for the ones that aren’t meant to be, of course.

GOODREAD READERS WANT MORE!

Goodread book reviews:

  • Period-style prose, witty heroine, clever world-building and excellent writing.
  • The characters, the conversations, the descriptions and the ghost tale itself were well developed and extremely well written. 
  • This book was funny, adventurous, and engaging. I am always up for a lady who is strong and gutsy!!!
  • A vivid landscape with lavish characters and delicious details.
  • [Elinor] is a fun character to follow, letting no one demean her. With quips and a quick mind she disarms her adversaries, yet her heart is sweet to those in need.
  • As usual, Nash has created a complex and relatable character in Elinor Chalamet.
  • I love these characters. It is as if the author mixed Eve Dallas and Roarke (of JD Robb fame) with Virginia Dean (Amanda Quick’s ‘Quicksilver’) and Wulfric Bedwyn (Mary Balogh’s Slightly series) and transplanted them to a Victorian milieu, dropped them in the middle of a royal murder and left them to spin.
  • I can honestly say I was hooked within the first few sentences.
  • I enjoyed watching Madame Chalamet dance circles around all the men in her life, as she tries to solve the mystery of her father’s death, while making her way as a ghost talker.
  • Brilliantly written with a seductive book cover.
  • This book was by far a must read for me. I could not put this down.
  • Ghosts, unanswered secrets, and a path that proved more to be found than what it seemed. I devoured this book!
  • The puzzle is intellectually challenging, the characters are engaging and the interaction between the characters is intriguing (as well as funny and exasperating). 
  • I loved her character which was to me reminiscent of the Enola Holmes character in the movies.
  • This book was a treat to read!
  • It seems that Nash has created her own genre with Ghost Talker. Part alternate history, supernatural, gaslight fantasy, and mystery, there are so many unique aspects to Madame Chalamet’s story that make it hard to relegate it to just one category. That makes it trailblazing fiction.
  • A wonderful book that I couldn’t put down.
  • Overall, the story is Sherlock Holmes-esque in both time period and investigation techniques and due to the fact that she is aiding police, is friends with a mortician, and has an able and trusted assistant in Anne-Marie.
  • It has an unexpected outcome that throws readers off guard and has, without a doubt, a fantastic conclusion.
  • Reading works by Byrd Nash is like being immersed in a world you don’t want to leave.
  • With an engaging combination of genres, Ghost Talker features compelling personalities and a fascinating mystery that readers will love. They will enjoy the romance, the unforgettable characters, and the intriguing dialogue.
  • Isn’t it just so great when you find one of those books that completely drags you in, makes you fall in love with the characters and demands that you sit on the edge of your seat for every moment of it? This is one of those books for me.
  • [Ghost Talker] is one of the best mystery stories I’ve ever read.
  • A bedazzling read involving murder, mystery, and special skills.
  • I felt as though I was there, and I could see myself standing in the room looking around at the beautiful furnishings that surrounded me.
  • In my opinion, this book has all the formal aspects of a Sherlock Holmes novel: curiosity, formality in the protagonist, and high wisdom.
  • It is safe to say [Byrd Nash] has quickly found her place on my favourites list. 
  • Dr. Charlotte LaRue, the medical examiner, is also an excellent character. I love professional women in historical settings.
  • This novella is written in such a way that one cannot help but fall in love with Nash’s flare for the descriptive told through the main character’s snarky narrative.
  • I think what stood out to me, as a 1st time reader of Byrd Nash, was the main character: a strong female lead that isn’t catty or overly sexual or manipulative is hard to find!
  • Ghost Talker is a perfect spooky mystery to curl up with, but beware, you won’t be able to put it down!
  • I love these stories with ghosts, mysteries, sweet romance, daring women of their times, and great characters!
  • I’m officially sucked into this series and can’t wait to read the next book!
  • If you want spooky and ghostly then this is the book for you.
  • Excellent storytelling with divine characters.
  • This is a fantasy that is so well written it reminds me of a collection of old paranormal mystery that my grandfather owned and this book like those just take hold and will not let the reader go.
  • A gripping and impressive book!
  • This is just a flat-out guilty pleasure read for me.
  • I will tell you once you start reading this book, you will not put it down until you have finished it.
  • I loved to see a gay relationship represented after it was consummated! I don’t remember to have ever seen a book discussing queer couples after the breakup, and this short novella did it! ^^)
  • Spirits and food combine with delicious, yet dangerous consequences.
  • One of the things I loved most about this book was the humour involved in nearly every scene.
  • Nash’s smooth prose style kept the story barrelling along at a nice clip.
  • Original and fresh.
  • Byrd Nash has done it yet again.
  • A witty masterpiece that anyone would fall in love with.
  • The author’s writing style is beautiful, and gives us a wonderful look into Elinor’s thoughts and ideas.
  • Thank you Byrd Nash for writing Madame a little vulnerable, but still a strong woman.
  • Delicious Death by Byrd Nash puts you at the edge of your seat.
  • The ending had my jaw on the floor, very refreshingly unexpected!
  • I whole-heartedly recommend this series to those who enjoy historical investigative stories, ghosts and romance!
  • I inhaled this book and can’t wait to read the next on in the series.
  • I absolutely adore these novels.
  • A lively and endearing mystery.
  • I love the layers of humour and the slow burn romance.
  • If you like mysteriously intricate tales, this amazingly fun and yet dark novel is for you.
  • I’m loving Byrd Nash novels as they’re always solid, funny, and well written.
  • I ended up reading late into the night as I couldn’t put it down. Always the sign of a good story.
  • All of Nash’ characters are well rounded and you feel like you know them, and yet each text reveals a little more until you are well and truly addicted.
  • The pacing is perfect, and as always leaves you ready for more.
  • Delightful twists and turns with a burgeoning romance thrown in.

Ghost Talker #1

Elinor Chalamet’s talent to speak with the dead may have landed her in the soup.

Witty and clever, Elinor uses her mediumship skills to hunt for her father’s killer. So when a body in the canal brings her to the morgue, she’s happy to help until Tristan Fontaine, the Duke de Archambeau, takes over the case and places her under house arrest.

Between possessions and poltergeists, she’ll solve the case even if it means putting the duke in his place. Actually, that part of the investigation may be a pleasure!

Welcome to Alenbonné, a coastal city with picturesque promenades along the canals and where the ghosts never sleep. A country where spirits and murder are just a breath away.

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Down the hall were angry voices, and entering the surgery, I gave Inspector Barbier standing at the doorway a nod of acknowledgment.

“Thanks for coming, Elinor. Welcome to the circus.”
Unlike his sergeant, he wore every-day clothes for the working man: a brown tweed coat, with matching trousers and a waistcoat with black buttons. Barbier’s long dour face was that of a mournful hound disappointed with his life: large brown eyes, flat hollow cheeks, and a long black mustache that brushed the corners of his mouth. With his chin tucked to his chest, he was slowly stroking the ends, a sign of deep concentration.

It was the surgeon, Doctor LaRue, who was arguing. She was at least twenty years older than my almost-thirty, rail thin, like a vine bean, with an oval face and a nose that would shame the beak of a water bird.
She wore dark blue trousers and a black vest, a daring choice for a woman. Her rolled-up shirtsleeves exposed strong sinewy forearms that were still red, evidence she had scrubbed them with the harsh bar soap used in the morgue, but her apron was still white, proving she hadn’t started the autopsy yet.

The doctor was a very skilled butcher of men, but not so excellent as a bedside healer; she was a blunt speaker and without a grain of sentimentality. I found her a good friend.

The only other occupant of the room was a woman I knew little about but recognized: Madame Nyght. She was a flashy bird among us plain crows, dressed in a bold black-and-white striped satin, with the smallest waist the best corset could make, and a stylish hat that dripped with jet fringe.

You might mistake Nyght for a rich man’s mistress. In truth, she was a huckster, a fraud who amused the rich. I wish I had her clientèle.

“I don’t care who told you to be here. This is my surgery and I am in charge here,” snapped Dr. LaRue.
“Do you think I wish to be here looking at your dead meat? Taken from my home and escorted here by a gendarme?” Seeing her wild gestures puncturing the air made me believe the rumor that she had once worked on the stage before becoming a Ghost Talker.

Madame Nyght pointed at me. “First you ask for my help, then you insult me by bringing this donkey here?”

“As I’ve been saying, I don’t want you here,” replied Dr. LaRue tersely.

“Is she calling me a donkey?” I asked, turning to Inspector Barbier.

“Don’t feel insulted. She called me a mule, and Dr. LaRue, a goat.”

“A fixation on barnyard animals, perhaps?”

“You’d have to take that up with a mind-doctor. I only catch them, not explain them.”

Madame Nyght made a dismissive hiss and waved her hand at us all. “Do I crawl into the gutters and look for dead bodies? No. I am Madame Nyght. I am genteel and talk with spirits in the drawing rooms of the best society.”

Behind me, a voice with the harshness of a northern accent said, “And tonight we will be grateful for whatever your talents can reveal to us about this mystery.”

The Duke de Archambeau had arrived.

Delicious Death #2

Thwarting an assassination wasn’t on the menu.

Elinor’s holiday is ruined when a poisoner targets a royal guest. What’s even more irritating? The duke thinks he can solve the case before she can.

In the southern town of Vouvant, Elinor’s goal was to eat rich food at the Winter Revels, but an attempt on the king’s life implicates her favorite chef. Between saving a young society lady and solving the problem of a widower who grieves too much, she has her hands full.

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Surprised at seeing him, I forgot how to apply the brakes. There was a flash of a white face and startled eyes before Lady Valentina opted for the safety of the grass. Meanwhile, the duke took the collision of my bicycle with his back. Since boulders do not bounce, I sadly lost the day.

“Madame Chalamet, may I assist you?” The duke’s voice was politely detached, as if he was asking a poor relation to partner him at a dance held at an inferior establishment.

As I gripped the duke’s hand to stand up, I heard a ripping sound. The chain held my skirt! So much for the safety guard; the manufacturer would get a strongly worded letter and a bill for damages tomorrow.

“Stop moving. You’re making it worse,” commanded the duke. He bent down to untangle the hem of my skirt. “You’re free now, but I fear your machine isn’t in good shape.”

Sadly, I looked down to find the front wheel crooked and bent. How would I get it back to the Crown?

“Tristan!” said Lady Valentina, who was being helped to her feet by a passing stranger.

He ignored her, asking me, “Are you hurt? That was quite a tumble.”

“No, I’m fine.”

This meeting threw me into confusion and I felt myself blushing. The last time we had seen each other was two months ago after solving the mystery of the king’s tiara, and this wasn’t the meeting I had fabricated in my mind. It was supposed to take place with me wearing an elegant evening dress and greeting him with a smooth laugh. Instead I looked an absolute fright, with grass and grease stains on my skirt and my hair trailing down my back.

As usual, he was impeccable in his turnout. Walking coat, frock coat, trousers, and vest, all tailored to perfection. His snow-white cravat was tied in the square knot style known as The Intellectual.
Lady Valentina came to his side and possessively put her arm within his own. “Since Madame Chalamet says she is fine, can we continue our way through the park? Or does she want to knock us down again?”
Archambeau absentmindedly patted her arm before dropping it.

“I think I must help a lady in distress, Valentina. I doubt she can get this thing home in the condition it is now.” Stepping to the curb, he hailed a passing quick-cab. As it pulled up, the duke asked me, “Are you still at the Crown Hotel, Madame Chalamet?”

“Yes. Yes, I am.”

One royal coin, joined with a few others, exchanged hands. “Would you take Madame Chalamet’s damaged vehicle to the Crown Hotel?”

“Eh?” said the man. Archambeau pointed to the Lady’s Safety Edition bicycle, now sadly crumpled, and, at the emergence of more coins, he speedily complied. In a moment, the two men had the bicycle on the back of the quick-cab.

I moved to leave with it, but the duke stopped me.
“Even a brave Ghost Talker must feel rattled after taking such a tumble. Come and sit with us before you return home. You can entertain us with tales about your latest haunts.”

Perhaps I would have said no, but the anger on Lady Valentina’s face at her brother’s words made me agree. Taking my arm with one of his own, and using the other for his sister, we left the park, crossing the road to the other side, where cafés bordered the canal.

He stopped at one and found us a table. Within seconds of us being seated, a waiter promptly appeared. Perhaps he recognized the duke, or maybe it was the expensive tailoring which gained us such exceptional service. Regardless of the reason, our table soon boasted hot tea and coffee.

“Put some sugar in that, Chalamet,” the duke ordered, and before I could comply, he dropped a cube into my cup and gave it a swirl with one of his own spoons. Normally I would have protested Archambeau’s high-handedness, but with a hot drink in front of me, I realized that sitting down felt good. The accident had shaken me more than I’d realized.

Some thin lemon biscuits appeared, as well as toasted bread points and a soft creamy cheese flavored with fresh herbs. It all was delicious, but this spread of hospitality did not appease Lady Valentina. She refused to sit down, even as more plates, knives, cups, and food continued to appear.

“I shall make my way home alone, then,” she said loftily.

Scraping a generous portion of cheese across a piece of toasted bread, the duke replied calmly, “That would probably be best. I shall see to Madame Chalamet.”

“I will let Mother know what delayed you.”

“Do whatever you think best, Valentina.”

The woman left, her back as flat as a brick, and I couldn’t stop myself from saying when she was out of earshot, “I hope I didn’t make your quarrel worse with my appearance.”

“I see your powers of observation remain as keen as ever, Chalamet, though perhaps not powerful enough to avoid hitting people walking a public footpath.”

I bit my lip, unsure whether he was teasing or chastising me. He had not reached out to me since the Giles Monet affair, and naturally, I had not inquired about him. An unattached lady did not correspond with a man unless it was her brother, so I had found news of him only in the papers. That was only the mention of parties he had attended. Nothing substantial or interesting.

Spirit Guide #3

Missing girls and a killer back from the grave.

When a nobleman’s daughter goes missing, Elinor Chalamet and Archambeau rush to discover who has kidnapped her and why.

Saddled with a bumbling apprentice, a drunken soldier, and a prickly nobleman who won’t explain why he hasn’t paid a proper call, Elinor must discover what the Morpheus Society is hiding something from her.

Will Elinor’s dance with ghosts become a permanent arrangement?

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From the recesses of the carriage, Mysir de Archambeau said, “I see Anne-Marie was correct about where we might find you.”

I gave a start of surprise, for I had not seen the duke de Archambeau since the Winter Revels. That surprise was followed by irritation; the man had a habit of disappearing and popping up like a rabbit in a conjuring act. It seemed we had entered the duke’s own coach, but the one without his coat of arms, and thus anonymous. Next to him sat a man I did not know.

“Your Grace, whatever are you doing here?” I asked, settling in the seat next to Twyla, opposite the two men.

He rapped the hilt of his cane on the roof, and the carriage started off. “Baron Losendahl, meet Madame Elinor Chalamet, Ghost Talker. The girl with the mouth hanging open is her apprentice, Mys Twyla Andricksson.”

“Pleased to make your acquaintance,” said the blond giant gruffly.

With his eyes gleaming, the duke said, “Why don’t you tell us why we are here? Why we have sought you out, Madame Chalamet?”

Analytically, I examined Baron Losendahl. From his appearance, I discerned several things. He was a newcomer to the city and was native to Zulskaya, that mountainous, snowy country to the northeast of my own Sarnesse. The baron was as broad as a barn, his shoulders a thick beam, his head and neck making one solid bullet shape. His nose had been broken once in the past, and he wore thick mutton chops.

“Did you leave your mountains to come to consult me? No. That alone would not entice a man of your station and wealth. You would have sent for me to come to you. That’s what the rich do. It is another who brings you here to our fair city. A wife? No, daughter— yes, a daughter who is in trouble in Alenbonné, and you requested your old friend, the Duke de Archambeau, to recommend someone to help you in this sensitive matter.”

“Madame! How do you know this?” said the baron in astonishment.

The duke leaned back, smiling, as I explained.
“Your accent tells me you are from Zulskaya, though your cravat pin has the emblem of a well-known Alenbonné sporting club for aristos who enjoy boxing and fencing. I have seen such an insignia at the duke’s private residence, a cup engraved with a win of over twelve years ago. Hence the long friendship. Also indicative that you are not the type of man who would entrust your secrets to just any casual acquaintance.

“It is a sport you continue to enjoy, for the skin of your knuckles is reddened from bare-knuckle fighting, probably as recent as last night. But your face remains unbruised, so it was a match and not a street fight. Probably an exercise to work out some great frustration.”

The baron looked at Archambeau, who only remained silent in his corner. He turned back to me and confided, “You are correct, madame. But what about my recent arrival? How did you come by that?”

“You took off your hat during our introductions. That showed not only manners but also the inside of the band, which has the name of the maker— a decent shop for men’s general attire located in Needle Street, but not the best. It specializes in the ready-made, so this was bought when you arrived here. It is too small for your head, as I can tell by the mark across your forehead. A head your size would need a custom-made chapeau.”

Archambeau’s smile had become a smirk as I continued.

“Meanwhile, your tailored and expensive coat is made of kalukoo wool, which is native to the mountains of Zulskaya. It is not often seen in Sarnesse because of the high import tax, yet the garment fits your shoulders like a glove. The wear marks at the cuff and lapels show you have owned it for at least two seasons.”

“No! I do not believe this. Someone has told you about my daughter and her plight. How else would you know?”

“If it were a matter of government, the duke would not need me. If it was a public matter, you would consult Inspector Marcellus Barbier, who is a very fine gendarme detective known to the duke. No, His Grace brings you here instead of waiting for me to return to the Crown, as it is an urgent matter or one that requires discretion. Hence a family matter.”

“That’s cracking!” cried my protégé, clasping her hands together in excitement. “Why don’t you teach me how to do that?”

“Because it requires you to use logic and deductive reasoning, Twyla. Something you seem to lack!”
The baron tried to find a flaw in my logic. “My quest could have been for a son, not a daughter.”

“It could have been. But a son you would wait to return, tail between his legs, begging for forgiveness after a debauchery. A daughter? She requires immediate rescue.”

“I told you she was good,” murmured the duke from his corner, giving me a little clap of appreciation with hands in dove-gray gloves. “Now, will you take the case?”

“Of course.”

“Even if it is against your own kind?” growled the baron.

“I help all. Without prejudice,” I replied calmly to his outburst.

Glancing sideways at my apprentice, the duke expounded upon the baron’s remark. “It involves the Morpheus Society.”

“Well, of course I’m still a member in good standing, but I have served my years as a journeyman and my time is now my own.”

“But what of your loyalty?” demanded the baron.

“My loyalty is to my client, as long as you are not asking me to do anything illegal or unethical. Now, Mys Andricksson is an apprentice, and she is still bound closely to the Society’s rules. Let us not speak of this further until we return her to her accommodations.”

“Elinor!” cried Twyla. “But I want to know.”

“And children want to know what they will get for their birthday present, my girl. That doesn’t mean their parents relent.” I had already been embarrassed by Twyla in front of a washerwoman; I didn’t wish to repeat another gaffe in front of nobility, and certainly not in front of Archambeau who would probably never let me live it down.

“Where do we take the girl?”

After I’d told the duke her address, he called up to his driver, and as we changed direction, my apprentice crossed her arms, fuming.

Ignoring her, I asked Archambeau, “How is your mother, and Lady Fontaine? Doing well, I hope.”

The duke gave his small smile. “Valentina and Mother are off to the south beaches. It’s watercolor season.”
“By chance, did Lady Baudelaire go with them?”

At the mention of the woman who had commanded a Ghost Hunt in his house at the first dinner party I had attended there, the duke’s eyes grew sardonic.

“She did. She and her husband like to play the casinos, which open on the first day of spring. So my house is my own for a few weeks. We saw Jacques Moreau hail you a cab, but told the driver we would give you a ride instead.”

“Yes, I invited him to the séance. Did Anne-Marie not tell you?”

“No, she did not. Only the address and that you were working.”

The carriage stopped and, without further ado, I bade Twyla goodnight. “When I see you tomorrow, I want you to be able to do the dismiss sequence for a spirit backward and forward. And no reading up on demons, young lady.”

With the dark glance that all mothers of teenagers know so well, the girl left the carriage, the hard corner of her valise hitting my knee. It was probably on purpose, but with Twyla’s awkwardness it could have been simply an accident. Hard to tell.

As the coach rolled away, putting distance between us and my pouting protégé, I bent forward and, rubbing my hands with excitement, asked, “Now what trouble has your daughter got herself into, Baron Losendahl?”

Gray Lady #4

When the ghostly Gray Lady walks, someone dies. Can Elinor stop destiny?

The young Coralie Floquet desires to marry but the spectral appearance of a Gray Lady portends that her end might be soon. Called in to help by Tristan Fontain, the Duke de Archambeau, Elinor plans to chase spirits and rumors at a country estate in a seaside town.

But as soon as she arrives, ill-will seems to swirl around her, along with tittle-tattle about her relationship with Tristan that has gossips talking. Though Elinor doesn’t care much about stolen government documents, her heart might be lost when the duke finally reveals the truth about his past.

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The footman, Ruben greeted me with a grin, quickly suppressed.

“I believe His Grace is expecting me?”

“He certainly is,” he said. Stepping back he ushered me inside and while I stripped off my gloves, I asked in a low tone. “He’s not with his lady mother is he?”

“No, Madame Chalamet. Only Lady Valentina is in town at this time.”

I got the sense we were both relieved.

Ruben took me to the room where I had once been lectured by the duchesse and, opening the door, announced me to its occupants.

I deliberately avoided looking first at Tristan, so noticed Lady Valentina was dressed in a manner that outshone my simpler walking dress. She wore something I’m sure Anne-Marie would have declared the latest fashion. The material of her dress was a pattern of alternating stripes of two shades of blue with white edgings of lace at her throat and cuff. The skirt had bows made from dark blue satin ribbons, and the same was at her short sleeves and at her neckline. She might look at bit overdressed for an afternoon tea but it was an expensive outfit and, I reluctantly had to admit, one that she wore well.

Sitting across from her was an older woman and a young girl, both unknown to me. With the similarity of facial features, I took them to be relatives. The older had brown hair starting to fade, dark brown eyes, and a mouth that had lost its youth to sourness. Her burgundy outfit was of good material but rather a dark color for a summer outfit. The matronly style seemed to say she disdained youth’s frivolities.

The young girl seemed to be barely out of the schoolroom. She wore a dress in off-white, appropriate for her years, although the color washed out her naturally pale complexion and her white-blond hair. Her round face, small lips, a mouth with a slight overbite, and a weak chin gave her a child-like impression that in her mother’s face looked overipe.

The duke stood and did the introductions.

“Madame Rochelle Floquet and her daughter, Coralie, this is Madame Elinor Chalamet.”

Madame Floquet’s handshake was polite enough, but it was a bare touching of fingertips, quickly dropped while her daughter’s was a bit more intense.

Tristan indicated a seat for me to take that was the most comfortable in the room. Through my lashes, I saw he was wearing city dress, with an impeccably tailored morning suit of a blue with a black pinstripe line. His cravat was blindingly white and styled with its usual knot, the Intellectual. His shoes were highly polished and his hands were devoid of rings. I wondered if he still smelled of basil and orange? But now was not the time to lean over and take a deep sniff.

“Tea, Madame Chalamet?” asked his sister. I agreed and told her lemon only.

The mood in the room was strange, almost as if I had walked into a conversation stopped upon my entrance, so I waited patiently for enlightenment. Surely there was to be a new case, for I did not see Tristan inviting me to his house filled with strangers for just a social call. Besides, the girl was in a high state of excitement and the older woman was holding down some intense emotion that I guessed to be anger.

You could always trust Tristan to get quickly to the point. It was one of the things we had in common. “Madame Floquet’s daughter is engaged to be married.”

Surely the girl was too young! I squelched my surprise.
“Best wishes,” I said, taking the delicate cup that Lady Valentina passed to me.

The girl glanced towards her mother as if anticipating the woman would say something at my words, but the woman only pursed her lips tighter. Stirring her own tea gently, Lady Valentina said archly, “It’s a love match to Sir Corbin Montaine.”

This caused Madame Floquet to finally speak. “Love match, indeed! A love for her money!”

“Maman!” protested her daughter. Her voice was high, and it reaffirmed to me her youthfulness. Was the girl even sixteen!?

“There is no need to ‘oh, maman’ me. Sir Corbin may whisper sweet words in your ear, but I know why his parents have accepted the match and it is not because of your pretty face.”

Lady Valentina responded in a voice that was decidedly lofty, as if she had taken Madame Floquet’s words as a personal insult. “The Montaine family is one of the original three-hundred, whose founding lines trace directly to His Majesty’s family. It would be quite a coup for your merchant family to be linked to one of such noble blood.”

I murmured into my teacup, “If only we had Count Westergaard to give us the full genealogical background.”

“Unfortunately, he’s still at the madhouse,” replied Tristan before biting into a piece of buttered bread.

“Perhaps you met him there recently? I hear you are quite familiar with the place,” said Lady Valentina waspishly.

Pausing reflectively to examine the muffin I held, I replied, “Don’t we all have a passing knowledge of madness?”

Haunted Grave #5

A fiendish criminal is using the dying to destroy a kingdom.

Her beloved city is forced into lockdown due to civil unrest that threatens to topple a king.

Yet, Elinor has her own problems when she realizes her father may have been involved in a criminal blackmail scheme prior to his murder.

She might be able to concentrate if Tristan would stop proposing.

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The lights flickered, and it was time to put away the glasses and our curiosity. While the lobby had electric lighting, the stage used the older gaslamps at the front of the stage to illuminate the actors. The orchestra changed their tune to something brighter and as the stage curtains were being pulled up with golden ropes.


It was an enjoyable play with good acting and funny lines, but my mind kept replaying the scene at dinner. I couldn’t quite see Tristan spending his day at the Crown while I talked with ghosts. Meanwhile, the idea of hosting a society party at Hartwood House made my soul shrink.


There must be a way to work things out! After all, we were two intelligent people. Somehow Tristan and I were going to make this work and all would be well, I assured myself.


Tristan needed me. When he’d thought I was scheming with the king, he had been genuinely disturbed. He was more vulnerable to hurt than I expected, and although he hid it well, the blows could hurt. There was more to him than the label of the Duke de Archambeau.


Catching my thoughtful glance, he asked, “What are you staring at?”


I mouthed back, “You.”


He reached over and covered my hand. “Forgiven?”


“Perhaps it is you who should forgive me?”


“I’m sure I was in the wrong, wanting you to spend the rest of your life with me,” he said, with only a hint of sarcasm in his words.


Before I could respond, I realized that the raucous shouting I had mistaken for part of the play was actually a group marching down the aisle holding signs above their head. Something stirred inside me. Without thinking, I stood up, my hands on the balcony as I looked down at the newcomers.


Jacques muttered under his breath, “Damn protesters! They’re everywhere!” Embarrassed by his language, he quickly added, “Pardon, Lady Fontaine.”


However, Lady Valentina wasn’t paying attention to him. She was staring over Jacques’s shoulder directly at me. “Elinor, do you know you’re glowing?”

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Ghastly Mistake #6

Elinor’s enemies make their move to secure a kingdom.

Accused of murder, Elinor goes into hiding. But even civil unrest and attempts to overthrow the monarchy won’t stop an intrepid lady from discovering who betrayed her.

The last book in the Madame Chalamet Ghost Mysteries series where we find out who murdered Elinor’s father and why. More importantly, will Tristan ever get a ring on our Ghost Talker’s finger?

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I awoke to the smell of death.

There was a hard surface under me – wood, and my head was splitting. Opening my eyes, I stared at a face. It took a moment for me to recognize Josephine Baudelaire, for her countenance was mutilated, her eyes gone, and her blood-coated mouth hanging agape without a tongue.

I tried scrambling to my feet, but the floor was slick and I slipped, my knee hitting the floor hard. The front of my dress was soaked with drying blood, and I panicked, wiping at it with my hands.

It took me a moment to realize that the blood wasn’t mine.

It wasn’t me. I wasn’t hurt.

I felt a moment of relief before reeling up to my feet. Unsteady from shock, I gazed frantically around the room, trying to comprehend where I was and how I got there. The room was small and narrow, tucked under the eaves of the roof that was just a foot above my head. I and the dead Josephine were the only occupants.

It smelled of rodent, and was grimy and dusty with a lone chair with a precarious lean, a broken water pitcher on the floor, and a brass headboard from a bed leaning against the wall.

The door was locked, but there was one window, and I staggered to it. Using the sleeve of my dress, I tried wiping it clean, but the grime was stubborn and I only achieved an eye-hole view of a narrow street below me. Seeing people passing by, I tried lifting the window frame to yell for help, but it didn’t budge. It was nailed shut.

All of this made no sense. How had I gotten here from Tristan’s home to this? Who had brought me here? And why?

I was about to take the chair and break the window glass when I heard a pounding of heavy feet up a staircase outside the door, and in a moment, I heard shouting outside of it.

“Get it open. Lean into it, man!” The door gave, bursting open to slam against the wall, to reveal the Crown Inspector Sven De Windt and Marcellus Barbier, the gendarme detective and my friend.

I cried out, “Marcellus!” and staggered forward with one hand reaching towards them in relief. But my respite was short-lived.

De Windt barked an order, “Arrest her!”

The gendarme behind him surged forward and a couple of them came to either side of me, grabbing at my arms to pin them behind me. Confused, I stuttered, “Wwwhat? Wwhat is happening?”

“Sit her down!”

They hauled me over to the one chair in the room and shoved me down into it. It gave an ominous creak and pitched even more. I was prevented from spilling onto the floor by the iron grip of the two guardia who kept me there.

“What is going on?” I asked again, my voice gaining strength.

Without replying, de Windt made his way to the body of Josephine Baudelaire, and squatted to examine her. “See?” he retorted to Barbier, who had followed him to gaze down upon the dead noblewoman. “It is as the informant said. Murdered. By her.”

Since there was only one here in the room that was alive, I was pretty sure who de Windt was referencing. Especially as Barbier cast me a worried, sideways look at de Windt’s accusation.

“It would be best to take her down to the station for questioning.” Barbier’s mild suggestion was cut off by de Windt. “Time is of the essence. With the murder of Lord Bridoux, a case like this must be handled swiftly.”

He stalked over to me, crossed his arms and demanded, “Tell us how you did it.”

“Did what?” I said faintly. In a dark little corner of my mind I recognized that I had been recently drugged and was in immediate danger. It screamed at me to mount some defense, but my limbs felt heavy and my mind was too fogged to take immediate action.

“The murder of Lady Baudelaire.”

“No, that wasn’t me.” My protest sounded weak even to my ears.

He gave a heavy sigh, shaking his head. “Confess and things will go better for you.”

My words were spoken loudly, trying to make them understand. “I awoke and found her here. That is all.”

He gestured back to the body on the floor and said with mockingly, “Eyes and tongue removed! How convenient for you, madame! Barbier, remind me again what Ghost Talkers need from the dead to communicate with them?”

Barbier muttered something under his breath, refusing to meet my pleading gaze.

“Louder, please!” demanded de Windt.

“Eyes and tongue,” Barbier repeated himself, not meeting my eyes.

De Windt said triumphantly, “Both conveniently removed from our victim! To stop us from using another Ghost Talker to incriminate her.”

“Why would I do anything like this to Lady Baudelaire? I barely knew the woman,” I protested.

“Really? Because I have several reports of heated discussions between you – at the Luminary, the night those creatures rioted, it was reported by several theater goers that you were having a violent argument with her.”

“Violent? It was not.” I could barely remember our exchange. Where was Tristan? I needed him, fresh air, water, and a lawyer.

Ignoring my outburst, De Windt ticked off on his fingers the list of his evidence. “Those who know Lady Baudelaire say she feared you. Feared your influence over the Duke de Archambeau and His Majesty. The last report we have of her before she went missing was that she was seen leaving her residence with you, madame!”

“Ridiculous! I don’t even know where she lives!”

“A short woman dressed in mourning black with a heavy veil was seen leaving Lady Baudelaire’s residence with her in a closed carriage. You lured her away and murdered your rival in this dingy room of the Hells, hoping she wouldn’t be found.” My rival? What did he mean? Perhaps it was my blank face or just his love for oratory, but de Windt continued. “You couldn’t deal with the fact that a lady of quality was about to take away the man you were bewitching.”

“Are you referring to the Duke de Archambeau? He has no interest in Lady Baudelaire. Ask him.”


“But you think he does in you? Remember, I saw what you were doing when at the Montaines. Always trying to get him alone, separate himself from his peers in hopes he would succumb to your wiles.” De Windt’s sneered. “He might take you as a mistress, but it would be Lady Baudelaire he would marry. And your jealousy wouldn’t allow that to happen.”


“So I killed her? Are you a fool? Let me correct myself. You are a fool!”


Before he could respond, another guardia came into the room, breathing hard. “Sir, there’s a crowd forming outside.”


De Windt snapped peevishly. “Can’t you see I’m questioning someone?”

Barbier made his way to the window and, looking through the eye-hole I had made, said, “He’s right. There is a crowd forming. I think it best that we leave for the safety of the station before things get out of hand here. Those that reside in the Hells have no regard for the law even in the best of times and this is not the best of times.”

De Windt made his way over to where the inspector stood and pushed him rudely out of his way. He tried rubbing more dirt off with the sleeve of his coat, to no avail. “What are they shouting down there?”

It was the guardia who had entered the room who replied, “They think we are detaining one of their own, sir. Word on the street is we nabbed a resident for crimes against the nobility, and they aren’t happy.”

“This hostility is because of the government crackdown yesterday after Lord Bridoux’s murder,” Barbier told de Windt. “Alenbonné citizens have not liked the door-to-door searches and arrests which have been doing since his murder.”

Who was Lord Bridoux? The name meant nothing to me. If only I could think!

“Perhaps these rebel scum should stop murdering noblemen if they don’t like being made to toe the line!” angrily snapped de Windt. “What I want to know is how they found out we were here and what we were doing? Someone in your department leaks, Barbier.”

“Could it be the same person who left the anonymous tip which sent us here in the first place? Perhaps this is a trap for us?” the detective suggested.


“That makes no sense,” scoffed de Windt. “If some citizen wants to see justice done, why would they also attack those dispensing it?”


I interjected, “You are accusing me of murder because of some anonymous information?!” I was so angry that if I hadn’t been raised to be polite, I would have vulgarly spat at him.


“Be quiet, prisoner,” snapped de Windt. Turning to Barbier, he said, “Your police wagon should be here shortly and my mounted unit. We shall take her in without incident. Meanwhile, cover that body.”


They had nothing in the room to put over her body, so in the end, one man shed his coat to conceal Josephine’s ravaged face. I closed my eyes, trying to think. Obviously, this was a trap set for me, but surely it could not stand in the light of day? I had friends, such as Tristan and Charlotte, who would come to my defense. Yes, there was no evidence other than I had argued with Josephine, mistakenly been seen with her before she died, and that I was found with her corpse, covered with her blood. No evidence at all.


At least Josephine’s ghost wasn’t standing here mocking me. She must have transitioned after being murdered, or she was haunting some other location. Without a tongue or eyes though, I could not Ghost Talk and share her last memories with the living to absolve me.

De Windt and Barbier kept arguing. The police inspector was urging de Windt to leave now, while de Windt wanted to wait for backup.

During it all my head kept aching, occasionally giving me double vision. Far off there was music, but I couldn’t concentrate on listening to it. Whatever drug they had given me was making me nauseous. I barely suppressed the urge to vomit. Why couldn’t they both shut up and let me think?

“Besides, I don’t think Madame Chalamet did this. She isn’t that type of woman,” said Barbier. Thank you! “No, she would do something far more subtle, like scare someone to death with a ghost.”

De Windt gave an exasperated snort. “I brought you along because I needed men immediately to hand. What I don’t need is your opinion.”

Barbier’s back stiffened at the insult. “So we are useful when you need men to your cause, but I have no say in how I direct my men in the matter?”

The guardia had been silent during this exchange, but at these words there seemed to be a subtle change in them as the one who had come up the stairs last, now turned and went back downstairs. The two on either side of me dropped their hands off of me. De Windt sensed that their loyalty did not lay with him.

A rock shattered the glass window, and we all gave a nervous start.

“What!?” yelped de Windt, but before he could go to the window, Barbier held him back with a hand on his arm.

“I tried to warn you! Get five people together and a mob forms in a heartbeat. Alenbonné is a powder keg right now and anything can act as a match. Arresting a woman in the heart of the Hells? One they think is their own? We need to get out while we can.”

Barbier went to the top of the stairs and shouted down. “What’s happening out there?”

“The crowd’s gotten bigger. They want in.”

“Well, don’t let them!” Barbier returned to the room, his limp more evident than ever. He looked tired and gave me a passing glance, which caused him to frown with concern. “We need to get her out of here to someplace safe.”

With the window shattered the shouts outside could be heard better. “Let her go! You have no right to keep her!” Suddenly, there was the sound of horses and wagon wheels on cobblestones. A voice I knew well was shouting, “Move back! Make way.”

It was Jacques Moreau. I sagged in the chair.

“I told you my men would be here soon,” said de Windt triumphantly.

“So can we leave?”

“Of course. But it will be I who will conduct the interrogation and gain her confession to murder.”

Enjoy the Ghost Mystery Spotify Playlist (all instrumental selections) to enhance your reading enjoyment.