Title: The Long Black Night
Author: Darin Fortner
Genre: Historical Mystery
When Major Booth Sommerlott travels into the foothills of the Appalachians for a weekend house party, the last thing on his mind is murder. But then his host, an old college roommate, is killed –and the guests discover that the severe storm of the night before has washed out the roads and stranded them on the estate.
Now, with no outside help, it is up to the major, the only one in the house with any investigative experience, to unravel the curious circumstances of the crime. What part do a lady’s perfume, an unusual pistol shot, an empty morphine bottle, and a missing kitchen knife play in the explanation of the crime? And will he be able to find the solution before the killer strikes again?
An amateur gentleman detective, an isolated house full of suspects, a logical if unexpected conclusion… Major Sommerlott returns in another baffling 1930s mystery.
He did not go directly to his room, but stopped and pushed open the door to Randall Holt’s bedroom. The injured man was sitting halfway up in bed, staring at the ceiling. His niece was seated in a chair drawn up to the foot of the bed, her eyes on her uncle’s face with a mixture of tenderness and fear. She swung her hopeful face to the major when he entered; Holt, on the other hand, glanced sideways at him without moving his head and then resumed his contemplation of the ceiling.
“Would you excuse us, Miss Holt? I need to speak to your uncle privately.”
She glanced wonderingly at her uncle, but he did not lower his eyes to meet hers, and with a quick nod she left the room. Sommerlott sat down carefully in the chair she had vacated.
“Mr. Holt, I think it’s time you and I had a serious talk.”
The injured man lowered his head to meet the major’s gaze, but his expression was blankly innocent.
“You wanting me to tell you who it was walloped me? I was hit from behind, you know…”
Sommerlott shook his head. “I’m fairly confident that I know who the responsible party was. What I want to know is the reason why you were attacked– and I’m certain you can tell me that.”
A mulish look crept onto Holt’s face as he tried to convince himself that he could bluff his way out of their conversation. He said, “I don’t reckon I know what you mean. I’m jest as floored by what happened as anybody else.”
The major’s shadowy brown eyes were inscrutable. He reached into his pocket and drew out the bloody socks that had been retrieved earlier by Alexander, holding them up so that they were clearly within the other man’s field of vision, and tossed them onto the bed.
“Those are yours, aren’t they? You can guess just where they were found. I think a number of people would be interested in your explanation of how Donald Easterman’s blood came to be on your clothes.”
Holt sat bolt upright in bed– and winced sharply as he did. His eyes were wild.
“You think I killed Mr. Easterman, don’t you? I swear–”
“As a matter of fact, I don’t. But it would take a good deal of convincing for the sheriff and the jury not to think that. It’s no secret that you had a strong motive for killing him, and with this evidence…”
The color drained from the other man’s face, and when he spoke his voice was husky. “You know about me and Victoria?”
Sommerlott said only, “How long has the affair been going on?”
“ ’Bout four years now.”
“Did Easterman know about the two of you?”
“I- I was sure he didn’t. He never said anything to make me think he did. In… in a way it was a sort of a game, to carry on behind his back. I never thought it would come to this…”
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Darin and Sarah Fortner have been happily married for ten years and live in west-central Indiana, where they are the proud parents of an adorably affectionate red tabby. They enjoy watching a variety of TV shows and movies, especially mysteries (although Sarah tends to solve the mystery too quickly!). They also enjoy puzzles and games of all sorts and spending time with loved ones. In addition they serve as volunteer ministers in their community.
Darin has held a variety of jobs over the years, primarily in customer service. From an early age he has delighted in exploring the world of books and has written stories to amuse himself. In recent years he has self-published two historical mystery novels detailing the investigations of a WWI veteran in South Carolina in the 1930s. Sarah has an Associate of Applied Science degree in Office Administration, and has held positions in fields ranging from retail grocery to mental health. She is a master at learning and using different kinds of computer programs. She also shares a love of card games with various family members and friends.
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