“A sparkling and witty crime debut with a female protagonist to challenge Miss Marple." Lin Anderson, Award winning Scottish crime author
A Death in the Asylum – Book Three of the Euphemia Martin Mysteries
Euphemia’s working unhappily as a housekeeper for Bertram Stapleford at his ill advised new property, when the dramatic collapse of the kitchen floor sends her back to where it all began, Stapleford House.
A visiting mystic disrupts the Staplefords unleasing old family rumours. Euphemia finds herself playing second fiddle to Bertram's new love, Beatrice Wilton, as she launches a project to investigate the new aslyums.
It is not long before Euphemia realizes that not only does Beatrice have her unscrupulous sights set on Bertram, but that her enterprises may be about to put them all in very great danger.
About the Author
Caroline Dunford has previously worked as a psychotherapist, a journalist and a non-fiction author. She has a deep love of story, which she believes is at the heart of human nature. She first declared, at five years old, that she wanted to be a writer but was told there was little options of it being a full time job. Undeterred, she started writing short stories, plays and mini novels. She became known for writing plays at primary school including casting and directing the performances. She then grew up and went to university, studied sensible subjects and decided she didn't like the 'real world' one bit. She started out as a freelance journalist and writer, sending off short stories to every magazine she could find and received rejection after rejection until she learnt to better her writing. As a journalist, she was somewhat of a failure as she didn't like upsetting people and therefore never made it to tabloid press. She then studied a part time degree in psychology, which she enjoyed more than her past studied subjects. Caroline then spent years working with other people helping them shape their personal life stories (she is a Freudian at heart) until she decided to take the plunge and write her own stories full time. She believes that writing fiction is now the only way she can stay sane.
Euphemia Martins was partly inspired by the family legend of her great, great grandmother, who ran away from a very rich family and ended up working in service. Unlike Euphemia, she found the life far too hard, but was rescued by a tobacconist, whom she married and with whom she had thirteen children.
Murder casts a sharp light over those around it, revealing characters and morality in unique sharpness. What forces one to take the life of another and how those around react reveals so much about human nature and the fragility of society. Caroline finds the period before WW1, when everyone was setting their playing pieces on the board for global conflict fascinating. She is also intrigued by the start of female emancipation and the class-system breakdown that was taking hold.
Caroline loves puzzles and finds human beings the most exciting puzzles of all. But above all, she believes life must be enjoyed with humour. We must all bring whatever light we can to the darkness.
Read an Excerpt
Madam Arcana raised her face to the ceiling. Her large purple turban slipped dangerously backwards as she enquired in a loud stage whisper of the plaster above her, ‘Is there anybody there?’
Despite the rather stern instructions I had been given to keep my eyes on the glass at the centre of the table I too looked up. But then very recently I had found ceilings to have become the most unreliable of objects.
White Orchards was not a large house. If Stapleford Hall is modest when compared to what my mother refers to as the “real great houses”, she would doubtless rate Mr Bertram’s new seat as adequate for an orangery and its flora incumbents, but never a dwelling for anyone who counted. This all despite the fact that since her marriage to my late father, the Very Reverend Joshia Martins, she had lived in a vicarage and since his death in a cottage that would have fitted neatly into the ballroom at Stapleford Hall and still left room to waltz around the perimeter. But then my mother still clings to memories of her youth in her father’s – the earl who shall not be named’s – great house. I have never seen my grandfather and now I am in service I doubt he will ever have the honour of meeting me.
Until last week, and the incident with the ceiling, I was a housekeeper at White Orchards. I had come to this position after many an unexpected turn in the previous 14 months. Having thrown myself into service in January 1910 to help provide for mother and my brother, Little Joe, when father left us destitute, fate had washed me up on the shores of Stapleford Hall the same day a murder was committed there. By the time the second murder had occurred – this time of the head of the house – I was entangled in the whole dreadful business and had made a dire enemy of the new Lord Stapleford and formed an almost inappropriate alliance with his younger brother, Bertram, who was quite the best of the family.1 Needless to say no one knew of my antecedents. Though I believe I was counted as somewhat of an oddity in a maid. I weathered these first two murders and their unfortunate consequences only for events eight months later to again take a turn towards the macabre.
The housekeeper, Mrs Wilson, had had an accident that I still cannot bear to fully recount. Suffice it to say that it involved the substance that comes from the more unfriendly end of a horse, very wet stairs and her sudden and ill-advised descent of the great staircase. This had led to a sudden promotion as I took on the role of housekeeper for a shooting party in the Highlands.2 I hesitate to say it, but again a sudden death greeted me almost upon arrival at the house. This time I clearly was in no way connected or suspected, but world events impinged on my tiny corner of England – or Scotland – and almost caused the arrest of our new, handsome butler, Rory McLeod. He was the son of a greengrocer, vastly ineligible, extremely intelligent and the main reason I accepted the post of housekeeper at White Orchards, when Mr Bertram declared his intention to buy his own house.
But I should have known things would not go smoothly. Mr Bertram is a passionate man and, like most hot-blooded men, he is quick to act. In the light of what was to transpire I believe that the purchase of White Orchards was itself a matter of impulse.
It is true I had challenged him on the morality of living in his brother’s house merely to remain in the running to inherit Stapleford Hall as per the dictates of his father’s bizarre will. I had also upbraided him on spending the blood money of the Staplefords (who are in banking and armaments) when he has a comfortable inheritance from his late godfather. However, when he stormed out in a rage at my impertinent words – and they were impertinent, even if my true social status had been acknowledged – I little suspected that I would set him on a course to buy almost the first house he saw and come running back to beg me to become his housekeeper.
At the time I knew in my heart of hearts it was wrong to accept. Mr Bertram and I – and this I only confess within these pages – are not indifferent to one another. There has never by word or action been anything improper between us, but I have often thought if I had not been a maid then Mr Bertram might have made his feelings plainer – in a respectable manner. Of course, if I were not in service, and my real name acknowledged, he would be beneath my station to notice. I am not unaware of the irony of this situation, although I find no amusement in it.