Excerpt from Murder Stalks A Mansion

As Caroline circulated through the library with the tray of appetizers, she found herself studying each of the Hargreaves in turn. She had been a drama major at Yale, and it was second nature to her to look for physical mannerisms and voice inflections in everyone. How a glass was held, a comment replied to, a look given when its owner thought no one was watching. Observing such details was basic for an aspiring actor, and noticing these characteristics was an old habit Caroline had not broken.

Now as she answered questions about tourist attractions in Newport and gave suggestions on the best shops and restaurants, she began to form impressions of the Hargreave family. They reminded her of the solar system, many planets revolving around one sun.

Caroline was almost certain that Lionel was the older of the two [older Hargreave] brothers. He was tall, graying, distinguished-looking, yet he held himself in the background, preferring the perimeter of the family gathering to the center stage his sibling [Maurice] occupied.

“Excuse me, Mrs. Kent.” Caroline heard a female voice behind her and turned around to see Donna [Hargreave]’s hand reaching for one of the cheese straws on her tray. Next to her, Kae Hargreave’s look of disgust followed Donna’s fingers as the food was plucked up.

“My, these are good,” Donna said, her mouth closing over the flaky pastry. A few buttery crumbs stayed on her pink lipstick.

“Would you care for anything, Mrs. Hargreave?” Caroline asked Kae, who pulled back and shook her head as if the mere closeness of the tray was as offending as its calorie-laden contents.

“Have one of these cheese things,”Donna counseled her. “I could eat them all.”

“I’m sure,” Kae said.

“We should ask Mrs. Kent for the name of a nice place to have lunch tomorrow, Kae,”Donna said. “Let’s get an early start, do lots of shopping, have lunch, and then–”

“I don’t think I’ll go shopping tomorrow.”

“But, you said before that you would. You promised,” Donna pleaded.

“I said I don’t want to go.”

Caroline watched as Kae walked away. She joined Maurice, who was momentarily alone in front of the fireplace. They began a conversation, which appeared to disquiet Nelson’s wife. Caroline decided to clear some of the drinks’ glasses which had begun to accumulate around the room. Eventually she drew near enough to the fireplace to hear some of what the two Hargreaves were saying.

“I can’t wait for an answer.” Kae’s tone was rigid.

“You won’t have to,” Caroline heard Maurice say lightly. “I can give it to you in one word. No.”

“You don’t want trouble at a time like this, Maurice.”

Caroline pretended to inspect an imaginary water ring left by one of the glasses on a table.

“A time like what? I don’t know what you think you know, Kae, but–”

“Stop it,” Kae hissed. “Don’t play games with me. I’m not one of your feeble blood relations. I want out. You have to let me out.”

“You know what you signed when you and Nelson married. You know what you get in the event of a divorce.”

“That’s not good enough, Maurice. I know what you’re doing. I can ruin you.”

Caroline could not help looking at Kae Hargreave. An unflattering line had hardened around her mouth.

“I wouldn’t if I were you,” Maurice said. “No good comes of being greedy, Kae. Take my advice and avoid the temptation.”

“You’re not in a position to give advice, Maurice.”

Kae turned and looked around the room. When she found her husband’s tall figure she strode in his direction. Maurice Hargreave watched her with an impassive stare and drained the last of his drink.




PHOTO CAPTIONS for this page:




Bellevue Avenue is the graceful and grand home to many of the mansions built during the Gilded Age. The Inn at Kenwood Court, where Murder Stalks A Mansion is set, is located nearby.




Ocean Drive and the rocky Atlantic Ocean coastline. The Kent’s’estate overlooks just such a dramatic view of sea and sky.



Bustling Spring Street, located one block above the Newport harbor. On the day of the murder, two of the book’s characters had been planning a shopping trip here.