Mystery at the Edge of Madness by Beth Byers

Mystery at the Edge of Madness

Mystery at the Edge of Madness by Beth Byers (The Mysteries of Severine DuNoir #1)
English | 2020 | Mystery/Thriller Cozy | ePUB | 3.2 MB

July 1925

Severine DuNoir was twelve when she discovered the bodies of her parents, and the day after the funeral, she was sent to a convent in another country. By the time she resolves to go home, her sole focus is to reveal what happened to her parents.

Coming home, however, unveils a far more sinister plot than she could have expected. It’s clear from her first night that something is afoot. The motives are many and the target is clear: Severine herself.

She felt naked and ridiculous. Women wore such things here? Clearly, however, they did. The shop girl looked lovely and vivacious. Her pretty dark-brown locks were cut quite close to her head and smoothed into curls that clung to her forehead and cheek. While Severine thought it was quite flattering on the girl, she was sure it would never do for herself, even if one didn’t take into account the difference in their hair texture. The shop girl seemed to be of mulatto descent and had the creole accent of so many in New Orleans. Severine’s mouth twisted. She had a goal, and that goal required she look the part of one of these bright young things. She had accepted she’d never be frivolous like her mother, so how was she to accomplish her goal?

“This is a normal dress.” The shop girl said gently. “Where you been, cher? The moon?”

Severine paused and admitted, “Almost.” She tried for cheery but failed.

“And people don’t bob their hair where you were? Or—” The girl gestured to the dress rather than explaining. Her horrified gaze was enough for Severine to laugh, but she was positive her humor didn’t really appear on her face.

“Oh.” Severine hesitated, her mouth twisting, “No. Not really.”

“Well, hello, darlin’,” the girl said cheerily, drawing out the hello. “Welcome to the new world.”

Severine tried and failed for another smile, but it seemed the attempt was sufficient. Or perhaps the warmth that appeared in the girl’s eyes was from what Severine said next.

“I need to change my look. You seem…” Severine struggled for the words and then hoped that ready money would make up for inarticulate words. “Quite modern and…” Another awkward pause until Severine added, “Quite fashionable. Lovely. So many of the others I’ve been watching look as though they’re parroting the fashion, while you look as though you’re setting it.”

It was the right thing to say. The girl held out her hand and said, “Meline Boucher. Fashion is my passion. I hope to have my own shop with my own line someday.”

They considered dress after dress and then Meline’s head tilted as she said, “I think we need to embrace you as you are, cher. Putting you in a rose dress and bobbing your hair will make you look like a penguin wearing peacock feathers.”

Severine waited for Meline to explain, but instead the woman disappeared into the back. She returned with sketch papers and pencil box. In moments, Meline was sketching in black pencil and Severine was watching with interest as her face and her form appeared on the paper.

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