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The Bartered Brides
Cover of The Bartered Brides
The Bartered Brides
Elemental Masters Series, Book 13
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The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England.
The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes.
Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty's network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hires the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens.
The more bodies emerge, the more the gang suspects that there is dangerous magic at work, and that Moriarty's associates are somehow involved. But as they race against the clock to uncover the killer, it will take all their talents, Magic, and Psychic Powers—and perhaps some help from a dearly departed friend—to bring the murderer to justice.
The thirteenth novel in the magical alternate history Elemental Masters series continues the reimagined adventures of Sherlock Holmes in a richly-detailed alternate Victorian England.
The threat of Moriarty is gone—but so is Sherlock Holmes.
Even as they mourn the loss of their colleague, psychic Nan Killian, medium Sarah Lyon-White, and Elemental Masters John and Mary Watson must be vigilant, for members of Moriarty's network are still at large. And their troubles are far from over: in a matter of weeks, two headless bodies of young brides wash up in major waterways. A couple who fears for their own recently-wedded daughter hires the group to investigate, but with each new body, the mystery only deepens.
The more bodies emerge, the more the gang suspects that there is dangerous magic at work, and that Moriarty's associates are somehow involved. But as they race against the clock to uncover the killer, it will take all their talents, Magic, and Psychic Powers—and perhaps some help from a dearly departed friend—to bring the murderer to justice.
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    1

    The calendar read June 3rd. The weather agreed. There was a fine, light summer wind sweeping down the London street where Nan Killian, her friend Sarah Lyon-White, their raven, their parrot, and their ward Suki lived. It frisked in through the open windows of their flat, bringing with it the scent of the daffodils blooming in the flowerboxes outside their window, a scent that just managed to counter the less pleasant odors of London as summer began. At this time of the day there was minimal traffic outside, but you could have heard a pin drop in the sitting room. Not even the birds were feeling chatty.

    Sarah, Nan, and Suki sat on the sofa on one side of the cold hearth; their friends and fellow occultists John and Mary Watson sat on the matching sofa on the other. Between the sofas, the table was laden with tea-things, completely untouched so far. Mary was dressed in full mourning, and John had a mourning band around his upper arm.

    John was, in Nan's estimation, a very fine looking gentleman. He kept himself in shape, and the hard line of his jaw gave the lie to the kindness of his eyes. His wife Mary was not a beauty, the way Nan's friend Sarah was, but she was something between "pretty" and "handsome," and her own expression was generally as kind as her husband's.

    Nearly a month ago a mysterious telegram addressed to both of them had arrived from Germany. Unsigned, it had said merely this: Do not believe what you read.

    Then, before either of them had been able to find John or Mary Watson, both of whom were out of London, or consult with Lord Alderscroft-the what of the mysterious message became clear, as within hours headlines across London screamed SHERLOCK HOLMES DEAD!

    Alderscroft, when they finally contacted him, knew nothing. Mycroft Holmes was unreachable. And John and Mary, when at last they appeared in London again, were no help. They went into outward mourning. John Watson simply said in print that Holmes had had a "misadventure" in Germany, and had fallen to his death at the Reichenbach Falls-in private, he thinned his lips and gave the girls a look that suggested they needed to go along with that story.

    Mary Watson sent around a brief note a week ago suggesting they should gather for a wake for Holmes, but oddly specified the girls' flat, not 221B nor one of their own flats-neither the seldom-used one above John's surgery nor their real home at 221C. So here they were, regarding one another across a laden tea table covered with cups and edibles that no one had touched, silently staring at one another. Even the birds, sitting behind the girls on their perches, were uncharacteristically silent. No one had said a word aside from the initial greetings. To say that the atmosphere was "strained" was something of an understatement.

    Of course, Nan could probably have used her mental powers to read John's mind, or Mary's-but Sarah and Nan had discussed that, and without their permission, that was something Nan simply would not do, and nothing either of the Watsons had said or done had indicated to her that she had said permission.

    And as for Sarah, her mediumistic talents were not of much use here.

    So for the course of the last month, they had alternated between being certain that it had been Holmes who had sent that telegram, and that he was alive and well, and certain that it had been a mistake or a cruel hoax, and their dear friend Sherlock Holmes was dead.

    "Tea?" Sarah ventured, breaking the silence. But before either of the Watsons could answer, they were interrupted by the sound of the bell downstairs.

    All of them started, and strained their ears. Mrs. Horace, the girls' landlady,...

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Elemental Masters Series, Book 13
Mercedes Lackey
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