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Winter at Death's Hotel

Cover of Winter at Death's Hotel

Winter at Death's Hotel

A Novel
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"A fast-paced and exciting read."—Telegraph & Argus (UK)

New York, January 1896. Arthur Conan Doyle, the renowned created of Sherlock Holmes, arrives with his wife Louisa at the Britannic Hotel in New York for his first American tour. While Arthur prepares his lectures, Louisa becomes entranced by the vibrant, dangerous metropolis brimming with debauchery and iniquity around every corner. When a woman's mutilated corpse turns up in a Bowery alley, Louisa recognizes the victim as someone she's seen in the hotel. Obsessed with the woman's gruesome death, Louisa starts piecing together clues to reveal a story of murder and depravity—a story that leads back to the hotel itself and a madman who is watching her every move.

From Fifth Avenue's glitzy opulence to the smoky boy's club of the New York Express and the Tombs of Lower Manhattan, Winter at Death's Hotel is an electrifying tale of a society caught in the throes of a story transformation and one woman determined to redeem it at whatever cost.

Praise for Winter at Death's Hotel

"Louisa is a fascinating creation...Conan Doyle's wife is a clever choice as the novel's central character, embodying the fears and aspirations of women of the period, and the ingenious plot does not diminish the horrors she has to confront."—Sunday Times (UK)

"A well-realized mystery that shows promise for future books in the series."—Sunday Business Post (UK)

"A fast-paced and exciting read."—Telegraph & Argus (UK)

New York, January 1896. Arthur Conan Doyle, the renowned created of Sherlock Holmes, arrives with his wife Louisa at the Britannic Hotel in New York for his first American tour. While Arthur prepares his lectures, Louisa becomes entranced by the vibrant, dangerous metropolis brimming with debauchery and iniquity around every corner. When a woman's mutilated corpse turns up in a Bowery alley, Louisa recognizes the victim as someone she's seen in the hotel. Obsessed with the woman's gruesome death, Louisa starts piecing together clues to reveal a story of murder and depravity—a story that leads back to the hotel itself and a madman who is watching her every move.

From Fifth Avenue's glitzy opulence to the smoky boy's club of the New York Express and the Tombs of Lower Manhattan, Winter at Death's Hotel is an electrifying tale of a society caught in the throes of a story transformation and one woman determined to redeem it at whatever cost.

Praise for Winter at Death's Hotel

"Louisa is a fascinating creation...Conan Doyle's wife is a clever choice as the novel's central character, embodying the fears and aspirations of women of the period, and the ingenious plot does not diminish the horrors she has to confront."—Sunday Times (UK)

"A well-realized mystery that shows promise for future books in the series."—Sunday Business Post (UK)

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    Chapter 1

    New York City, January 1896

    The New Britannic was one of New York's smaller and finer hotels-the city's finest, in fact, it would have insisted, although people who judged by flash and size would have said otherwise. The very best service and tone, the hotel management asserted-service and tone and taste. Good taste, of course, the best taste, matched by hotels like the Criterion in London, as the service and tone were perhaps matched by Brown's.

    Most certainly, if you were English and of a certain sort, you stayed at the New Britannic when you were in New York. Of a certain sort: not new money, not great peerages, not political power; rather, achievement and reserve and even fame-but of course, no notoriety.

    The bronze front doors opened into a paneled space with narrow beams overhead, pillars that rose at intervals of fifteen feet to Egyptian capitals in dark oak. Bronze chandeliers reached down, all electric; real imitation Aubusson stretched away to the mahogany Reception. Around the periphery, straight chairs, heavily carved, not very sittable; toward the center, leather chairs meant to look and be more comfortable; an occasional dark table, a lamp-again electric, of course. Sitting in a leather chair toward the periphery but facing the doors was a man in a dark suit and dark necktie and a very high collar, his face square, a little heavy, displeased; on his upper lip a mustache and a faint sneer of skepticism.

    The group coming through the doors was small, only three people but with a lot of luggage, so that it took two "boys" to carry it. The man was noticeable, the two women not: he was tall, heavy, self-confident, dressed in London tailoring and London shoes and a London hat, with a London overcoat, a sprinkle of snow on the shoulders. He strode past the dark man in the leather chair-never noticed him, in fact-and went straight to Reception and said in an oddly high-pitched but loud voice, "I am Arthur Conan Doyle."

    "Of course, sir!" The eminence at Reception, still young but very grand, sounded both impressed and regal.

    "Cook's have reserved a suite of rooms."

    "Yes, sir." Said as if some question had been raised about what Cook's had done. He moved a register a fraction of an inch forward, followed it with an inkwell and a pen. "If you would just sign, Mr. Conan Doyle..."

    "Doyle. 'Conan' is not the patronymic."

    "Ah. Mr. Doyle."

    Doyle wore pince-nez, which he touched with a finger as he bent over the register as if he feared losing them. Pen in hand, he read up a column of the names of those who had registered before him. His lips moved, slightly shaking the walrus mustache on the upper one. He occasionally made a joke, in fact, about his looking like a walrus because of his girth and that mustache, although inwardly he cringed at the idea that anybody would make the comparison but he.

    "Our other guests at the moment," the young man said, "include Mr. Henry Irving. Mr. Irving is doing a season at the Lyceum Theatre. And two of the principals of his company are with us, as well. And Mr. William Cody!"

    Doyle looked up at him. "I know Mr. Irving." Indeed, he had written a play for Irving. "I don't know a Cody."

    "Of the Wild West. They're completing an engagement at Madison Square Garden." He waved a hand, pointing vaguely at Madison Square Garden a block away.

    Doyle sniffed. "You seem to have a superabundance of show people."

    "Oh-oh, and we have General Sammartino of Argentina. And Mr. Cyrus Bickle of American Steel....

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Winter at Death's Hotel
Winter at Death's Hotel
A Novel
Kenneth Cameron
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