Janis Bolster's first mystery featuring editor Sally Jean Chalmers, Murder in Two Tenses, was published in July 2010. In Murder in Two Tenses, Sally thinks her only job is to edit the story of a historic crime. But the project includes a very contemporary murder, and its solution threatens both Sally's own life and her comfortable acceptance of everything she's always believed.
The Lost Daughters, Bolster's second book in the Sally Jean Chalmers Editorial Mysteries, was published by Reck House Press in September 2011 and chosen as a crime fiction finalist in the 2012 Maine Literary Awards competition. In this book, Sally loves her freelance job editing a historic diary in Portland, Maine. But Fanny Justin’s diary isn’t just a vivid record of Portland life at the turn of the twentieth century; it’s also a clue to long-suppressed family secrets. And when the diary’s owner, Fanny’s great-granddaughter, gets murdered, the police turn their attention to their most logical suspect: Sally Jean Chalmers.
She is currently at work on her third Sally Jean Chalmers mystery, Emily Dickinson in the Attic.
An out-of-series mystery, Doubles, is due out in December 2013, and Artifacts: Stories from a Family is scheduled for publication in 2014.
Janis Bolster grew up in Maine and moved back, this time to the coast, more than a dozen years ago. She lives with incomplete renovations and several animals, most of whom don't blow across the floor when a window finally gets wrenched open.
Kitty's immigration card dropped to the floor, but I gave it only half a glance. What got all my attention was the notebook that fell out at my feet.
It was about four inches by six, bound in old brown leather. Someone had flattened it open for the camera and then left it that way. Except for a small space beside the stitching, the page was filled from edge to edge with handwriting in fine black ink: "My inspection of the body . . . like Jane as she lay there. I cannot express . . . first drops of blood at the corner of Burnett . . ."
"Looks as if you won't need a magnifying glass after all," I said, my voice thick and strange. I had the sense that I should leave, fast, but I picked up the notebook instead.
"Ms. Chalmers. Would you like to explain why we found your prints on the weapon used to murder Amy Cottrell?"
"As a matter of fact, I would." I locked my eyes on his, as if that would help him read my innocence. "Laura told me Amy was killed with the crowbar we used together up in one of the attics. Amy and I found an old trunk we couldn't get open, and we wanted a look inside it. She found this enormous crowbar out in her shed, and we used it to break the lock. Then when we went downstairs, she was carrying the manuscript we found, so I carried the crowbar. I remember I asked her what I should do with it, and she said just leave it; she'd put it away later. So I left it leaning against the wall beside the kitchen door."
"What manuscript was this? Something you found inside the trunk?"
I nodded. "Right. It was part of a project I'd been working on for her, an early volume of an old diary."
"And you broke into the trunk because you expected you'd find it there?"
I opened my mouth and then stopped. He'd laid a trap, intentionally or otherwise, and I'd walked into it. If I admitted we'd been looking for a pile of jewels, he and Casey would have a new reason for suspecting me.
“Claire, I didn’t see Kay in April. I didn’t talk to her in April. Or March, or February, or any other time since – I guess it was tax time the year before. Then I phoned her and we talked maybe three minutes. No argument. I don’t know what Kay told you, but –” He shrugged. “Hell, you know what she was like.”
“Claire heard the ice in her voice. “I know exactly what she was like, apparently a lot better than you ever did. Why would I believe you over her? She always –.”
“Oh, for Christ’s sake.” He slammed his hands against the counter. “I’m not having this discussion with you. She’s been out of my life for years. I’m sorry she’s dead, but I won’t let you drag me back into it. I spent long enough getting over her.”
The door opened, and a woman stepped into the kitchen with a bag of groceries. Claire had about a second to register a tall, athletic build and the premature gray streak that ran through dark hair. Then the grocery bag hit the floor. “You’re alive!” said the woman, her face white. Yogurt oozed across the tiles.
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