Malpractice [A Baltimore Historical Mystery]
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by Louise Titchener
Category: Mystery/Crime/Historical Fiction
Description: Ex-Pinkerton and ex-Union sharpshooter Oliver Redcastle is hired to find a kidnapped boy. His search takes him to the mean streets of Baltimore in 1884 and the dangerous harbor where many unwary immigrants are sacrificed in the "Oyster Wars." To save a child Oliver must confront grave-robbers, mediums, unscrupulous physicians, a mad scientist and the "ghost of an old love." Before his mission is complete he even has to outshoot Annie Oakley. [Cover art by Dirk A. Wolf]
eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory, 2006
eBookwise Release Date: June 2006
18 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [223 KB]
Reading time: 139-194 min.
"Malpractice: A Baltimore Historical Mystery is an onion of detail. The reader starts out with the very interesting character of Bertram and then gets into the actual mystery. It seems that with every interview and with every new piece of information that the detective gleams that the story becomes deeper and multileveled."--Tami Brady, TCM Reviews
"Titchener is a practiced writer with some 40 novels to her credit and she doesn't bog the narrative down with unnecessary detail. But, there is enough to satisfy the discriminating reader and provide the ambiance of a city she obviously loves. I soon identified the real villain, though that didn't prevent me from wanting to read on. My only regret is that the novel was not longer. This was not the first of the Redcastle novels and I, for one, hope it will not be the last. 5 beacons."--John, Lighthouse Literary Reviews
SMILING, OLIVER REDCASTLE watched his seven-year-old daughter feed his housekeeper's nine-year-old nephew the last sugar cookie.
"Jimmy don't deserve your Chloe's kindness," Mrs. Milawney declared. "The boy's nothing but trouble!"
As the children burst into giggles, the doorbell jingled. Mrs. Milawney rolled her eyes. "Wouldn't you know it! Someone's wanting to come in, and me up to me elbows in flour and sassy young'uns!"
Oliver uncoiled his long frame from the kitchen stool where he'd been perched. "Don't disturb yourself. I'll see to it."
Upstairs, he hurried down the hall to the front door. When he threw it open, he beheld an elderly gentleman with thick gray side-whiskers and a serious expression. He wore an embroidered vest and brown frockcoat under a matching greatcoat. "I'm looking for Mr. Oliver Redcastle."
"I'm he. How may I help you?"
"Name is Oldhampton, Lester Oldhampton. Perhaps you recognize it?"
"I do indeed. You're the owner of Oldhampton's Brewery. I've enjoyed many a glass of your dark ale. I'm honored to meet you."
"If I might come in and have a word with you? It's a private matter."
"Of course." Oliver stood aside and watched his visitor walk through the doorway.
Once they were inside the small parlor on the left, he closed the pocket doors. Mr. Oldhampton had taken off his gloves and was removing his top hat. He refused the offer of a seat or any refreshment. Instead, he walked stiffly to the window, placed his hands behind his back and looked out on the street in silence, as if preparing himself for a long and painful speech. When he turned around, his expression was grim.
"Perhaps you remember my son, Simon Oldhampton. He served with you in the war."
"Of course I remember him. He was a fine officer."
"Simon told me you were a champion sharpshooter. Indeed, it's because he often spoke so well of you and because I'd heard you'd left the Pinkertons to open a detecting agency here in Baltimore that you find me on your doorstep."
"How is Simon? I still think of him from time to time."
"My son has been dead for over ten years. He broke his neck taking a fence in a damned silly cross country horse race."
"I'm sorry to hear that." Simon Oldhampton was a gallant figure in Oliver's memory—a handsome, laughing young man who had charged fearlessly into battle, riding his horse through a hale of minie balls and always emerging unscathed. Ironic that he would survive the war only to die in such a manner.
"It was a sorry business, very sorry," his father said heavily. "Fortunately, he left a son, my grandson Bertram. I'm here because of Bertram. He's missing and I'd like to hire you to find him for me."
Oliver gestured at a brocade chair. As the old man sank into it, a finger of light picked its way through the lace curtain. It fell on Oldhampton's face long enough to reveal eyes red from anxiety. Beneath his thick whiskers, his skin looked gray.
Oliver took a seat opposite. "How has this happened? Do you think your grandson was kidnapped?"
"No. Bertram ran away quite on his own."
"How long has he been missing?"
"Only a few hours. He ran away this morning."
"Then perhaps you're premature in coming to see me. Runaway boys usually come back home after a day or so."
"That's what the police told me. They said they'd keep an eye out for him, but they haven't the manpower to launch a real search until he's been missing longer. That may do for other boys. Not Bertram. He is a special case, and I'm deeply worried."
Oldhampton went on to explain that the twelve-year-old boy was a recent orphan. Three months earlier his mother had died from hospital fever after being operated on for a burst appendix. "I took him into my own home, of course, but I fear he wasn't happy. He's a moody child with incapacity. He became deaf after a severe case of scarlet fever. Because of that, his mother educated him at home and never allowed him to play with other boys his own age. For lack of anything better to do, he spent all his time reading and picking up silly, romantic notions."
Copyright © 2006 Louise Titchener.