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The Dead Betray None by J L Buck is a Mystery and Suspense Event pick #historicalmystery #giveaway

Title: The Dead Betray None (Viscount Ware Mystery #1)

Author: J L Buck

Genre: Historical/Regency mystery

Book Blurb:

1811 England seethes with discontent. A self-indulgent prince regent sits on the throne of a country at war with France, on the brink of war with America, and facing growing rebellion at home.

Lucien, Viscount Ware, recently home after four years on the Continent as a spy for England, finds life in the haute ton tedious. He secretly agrees to handle a few delicate matters for the Crown's private spy unit at Whitehall. A housebreaking at a country houseparty seems a strange assignment until he discovers that a French cipher, the key to Napoleon's war codes, was among the stolen items. As he follows its trail to London's notorious rookeries and into its glittering ballrooms, he faces a growing threat of treachery from more than one direction.

Lady Anne Ashburn missed her London season while caring for her invalid mother in the north country. A new nurse allows her to visit relatives, where she becomes embroiled in a blackmail plot. To avoid a terrible scandal, she goes to London to face down the scoundrel threatening her family.

The night of the elegant Christmastide Ball, Lucien finds Lady Anne standing over a corpse. What happens after that—the risks they take, the intrusion of a notorious crime lord, society gossip, and good intentions gone awry—sends them spiraling into danger and potential disaster for England’s war effort.

An ever-twisting plot sure to keep you turning the pages.


Excerpt setting: Lucien, Viscount Ware is in a lawless part of London where he has been asking questions about a gang of thieves. He is on foot and starting home as dark has fallen.

In the silence, he grew aware of footsteps behind him. The sound unmistakable and somehow furtive. He stole a glance over his shoulder. In the dim light of the solitary lantern at the last road crossing, he made out two figures ducking into a shadowed storefront. Lucien increased his pace. Perhaps they were on their own business that had nothing to do with him, but he wasn’t taking any chances. Many years had passed since he first learned the scent of peril.

Moments later, the rhythm changed, the footsteps drawing closer. Lucien wasn’t worried yet. He had an army knife in his right boot. What concerned him was the possibility more cutthroats had circled around to get ahead of him. He eyed the shadowed, foggy road crossing just ahead.

Changing direction without warning, Lucien cut across the street. As soon as he heard running steps behind him, he broke into a run. Rounding the first corner he came to, he slipped into a dark lane and yanked the knife from his boot. The putrid smell of rotten food, human refuse, and things he chose not to think about assailed his nostrils with rabid persistence. Rats rustled in the debris at his feet, but Lucien didn’t flinch. He had played this game before. He gripped the knife, waited…and listened.

Stealthy footsteps crept nearer. Two male voices, low and cautious, whispered in a language Lucien knew well. Frenchies.

“Where did he go?”

“In there. I am sure of it.”

Lucien stepped into their path, flashing the knife in their faces so they couldn’t miss it, and spoke in their native tongue. “Looking for me?”

Reacting clumsily, one man swung a wooden club, missing him, while his companion scuttled backward, shouting for help. Three men sprang from the fog on the far side of the street.

Bloody hell. Lucien didn’t care for the odds of one knife against five cutthroats. On the club’s second swing, he slashed open the arm wielding it and kicked him in the groin. Lucien took off running again. Shouts and pounding boots chased after him. He cut to the next street, hoping to find a better place to hide or even a night watchman—not that a Charlie was likely in this part of town.

After crossing two more street corners, he was breathing hard. He couldn’t keep up this pace much longer. Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted three pursuers. Someone must have stayed behind to help the wounded man. They were closing fast, but three made better odds if he was forced to stand and fight.

Spotting what he thought might serve as a hidey-hole, he darted into a narrow passage between buildings. His mistake was evident the moment figures loomed in the foggy shadows ahead of him, boxing Lucien in. He swore under his breath, sliding to a halt.

“Hey now, wot’s this?”

With relief, he realized it was God’s English, somewhat mangled. Cutpurses and thugs undoubtedly but not his French pursuers. A thought occurred that might turn this to his advantage.

“French spies!” he shouted. “Frogs! Right behind me and looking for a fight.” Even ruffians and scoundrels could be loyal Englishmen.

“‘S’at so? Where? We’ll give it to ‘em,” a gruff voice snarled.

“There, Blackie. Aye sees ‘em.” One of the English thugs shouted as Lucien’s pursuers appeared in the dim light at the end of the alley. “Let’s get ‘em, me lads!”

A half dozen ruffians pushed past. Grinning at his good fortune, Lucien accepted this as the perfect time to make himself scarce. He ran in the opposite direction and kept running until his boots hit cobblestones. When he saw increasing numbers of street lanterns ahead, he slowed to a brisk walk. Once he was out of St. Giles, he hailed the first hackney he found.

Resting his head against the hard back of the coach seat, Lucien blew out a breath. That had been close and no chance meeting. Had they followed him all day? Not likely. Anyone hanging around Hays Mews would have been noticed, and after years of covert missions, he wouldn’t miss a tracker for that long. They’d picked up his trail recently, but where?

Pratt’s? The Black Hat? Yes, one of those or any of the other places he’d stopped to ask questions in the last half hour or so. Someone had sent word to the Frenchmen, someone looking for him, or for someone asking similar questions. How had they known about him? The obvious answer was a person he’d talked to in the last few days or hours was in league with the French. He absorbed this sobering thought, and his lips curled in a grim smile. The attack proved one intriguing fact…the French didn’t have the code key either. So who the devil did?

* * *

Lucien reached home to find his townhouse lit up more than usual, including the public rooms. Did he have a visitor at this time of evening? No coach stood outside. Hughes met him at the door, his expression set, his pose stiff, a sure sign something had roused his disapproval.

“Ah, my lord. A timely arrival. A Constable Tench is waiting in the parlor.”

“What does he want?” Hughes sniffed. “He will not say, except that he wishes to speak with you.”

Hence the butler’s annoyance. His curiosity piqued, Lucien took the stairs two at a time, changed clothes to something more fitting his station, and entered the parlor. “I hope I have not kept you waiting long, Constable Tench. May I offer you tea or something stronger?”

The man turned from the fire where he’d been warming himself. “No, m’lord. Thank you. We must not tarry but leave with haste.”

“Must we? To where?”

“To view a body.”

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

What makes your featured book a must-read?

The Dead Betrays None is primarily a mystery, not a romance (although there is a slow-burn romance in the series), set in Regency-era England with events and language as historically accurate as possible while still being readable for a modern audience. It is unique in that it has both male and female sleuths.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally.

Runs August 8 – August 21, 2023.

Winner will be drawn on August 22, 2023.

Author Biography:

After retiring from a legal career with the Juvenile Court System, J L Buck published sixteen urban fantasy/paranormal novels under the pen name of Ally Shields. In 2019 she changed course to write in the mystery genre she had always loved and began work on the Viscount Ware Mystery series.

She lives in the Midwest with Latte, a Siamese cat, and Pippin, a mischievous Min Pin puppy. When not writing or running two blogs, Ms Buck enjoys her eight grandchildren (and a great-grandson), reading (preferably on a sunny deck), travel (USA and abroad), and binge-watching any sub-genre of mystery shows.

Ms Buck loves to hear from readers and can be contacted through her website or social media (twitter: @janetlbuck or her fantasy account: @ShieldsAlly)

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2 commenti

Rita Wray
Rita Wray
10 ago 2023

I enjoyed the excerpt.

Mi piace

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
10 ago 2023

Thank you, J.L., for sharing your book in our Mystery and Suspense Bookish Event! I simply adore historical mysteries. I'll check out your series for sure.

Mi piace
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