Excerpt from Jane the Grabber
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Hester Jane Haskins, better known in the Tenderloin as “Jane the Grabber,” stood over Irene, who was splayed out on a plush red divan in the center of the suite where Jane auditioned her girls for the entertainment. Irene was wearing a blue nightgown and red slippers given to her by Jane.
Jane wore a Chinese silk robe with a black and white panda on the back, and she was counting money seated behind a business secretary table. Up from the floorboards there was the slightest odor of machinery coming from down below.
After a week under her special care and treatment, the older woman knew the girl was now conditioned by the drugs and the booze, so she was drifting in and out of a hazy reality that made her as pliable to manipulate as a gingerbread doll.
“Get up! Go see John. He wants you to be ready for tonight’s action. I want you to serve drinks and look beautiful. You won’t see any food or drugs until you learn your place around here. Are you clear about that, little lady?”
Irene nodded her head drowsily. She stood up on baby bird legs and began to walk out the door. John’s room was right next to Jane’s. Irene had watched all the new girls as they went to John’s room. Their heads were cast down, and they seemed to be fearful, but when they came out of that room the next morning, they would often be singing and looking quite changed. Irene knew this was no real theater, even though the girls did do some acting and dancing in this converted playhouse from the 1840s. But Irene knew that wasn’t all that was required of them.
The door was unlocked, and she knocked on it before entering.
“Come in!” said John Allen. Irene now knew his real name. He was no director, Doctor Rubio. He was John the bartender. And his wife, Little Susie, was a woman who could roll drunks quicker than Irene’s father had once milked a cow in a contest at the fair outside Boston.
As she opened the door, the room inside became a wonderland of gas lights shining through multi-colored panes of stained window glass, and John Allen was sitting on top of an Arabic cushion smoking an opium pipe.
On the wall, directly above his head was a strange glowing image of a circle. Within the circle were two shapes of the same size that looked like tears. One was black and the other was white. Inside the black tear was a white ball. Inside the white tear was a black ball. Her young mind, addled by the laudanum, became increasingly wary. Why did they want her to meet John? What was happening to her?
“What’s wrong, my pet?” John asked, and that’s when she turned and ran.
She stumbled down the winding stairs to the street level, pushing against other girls who watched her run past them with a vague disinterest. Irene flew outside into the cacophony of sounds and excruciatingly pungent odors of Satan’s Circus.
As she ran, her addled senses took in the gambling men sitting at the dark tables, the smoke from their cigars circling around their heads like clouds of doom. She stumbled into her next-door neighbor’s tavern, and the man inside took her by the arm and pulled her into a back room.
She was frightened for her life until she saw that in his hand he held a Bible. He looked sincerely into her face and smiled. “Don’t fear, young lady. I am here to save you from that den of iniquity. The name’s Jerry McAuley, and I was once held in the devil’s grasp. Demon rum was my lord and savior, by God, until I saw the light! I can now save you! Just let me give you some fresh coffee, and we can talk over what you’ve experienced.”
Before Irene had a chance to respond, John Allen came bursting into the back room. He had with him an officer of the law, a skinny youth with a night stick in his hand and fuzz on his pale face. “McAuley, you scoundrel! Unhand that young lady!”
Jerry McAuley reluctantly stepped back. “John Allen, you are the wickedest man in New York! You will rue this day. Mark my words. The Lord has ways of dealing with your kind, and crooked police won’t be there to protect you, either!”
John pulled Irene by her arm. She squirmed at first, but then, when Allen gave her another dose of laudanum, pouring the elixir into her open mouth, she retreated back into her make-believe world of addiction.
All she could remember was when the tall bartender pulled off his black coat and undid his white shirt; she saw his body was tattooed with dozens of snakes! They seemed to wriggle upon his naked torso like the Garden Demons they represented, and John Allen picked her up into his arms and carried her to his bed.
“Now, young lady, I am going to put you into joyous ecstasy. For, you see, I am no longer just a man of Jesus. I am a convert to an ancient religion of Nature. I am a soothsayer, the Shaman of our tribe, and you are one of my mistresses! I shall now show you the worldly pleasures of the flesh such as you have never in your life experienced. It is the pleasure that Adam and Eve beheld in that ancient Garden of Eden, so long before. It has now come to the Palace Theater, and you can partake of it until you’ve become a woman of the Godly flesh at last!”
Irene felt his hands all over her body as she lay there, and her mind reeled with a mixture of shame and loss of innocence. She whispered one word only as he entered her. “Jeffrey!”
In the adjoining room, Jane the Grabber heard the girl cry out, as the walls of the old theater building were quite thin. She chuckled to herself as she counted the money from last evening’s proceeds.
There had been a procurement of fourteen new girls from New England, the land of plenty, as she called it. Innocent young wenches were lured into the big city by well-dressed agents like John and Little Susie Allen, believing in dreams, and becoming indentured to Jane by the dreams of opium.
Soon she would be wealthy enough to move uptown into the territory of her despised rival, Miss Rebecca Charming. Hester Jane Haskins knew, however, that she needed to make one big push in order to earn enough for the high cost real estate buildings supplied by Tammany Hall.
She needed to discover a way to guarantee victory over Charming and that stupid boyfriend of hers, Pat O’Malley. O’Malley was just like the only honest cop in New York, another Irishman, John Kennedy. The draft rioters in ’63 almost beat Kennedy to death, but some do-gooders came along and convinced the gang that the police chief had died. They had left him, good as dead, but now he had risen, like so many of these pot-lickers did, to make it their sole purpose in life to put her out of business.
There were also the intellectual scammers like Doctor Edward Bliss Foote. He gave women birth control in the mail! Becky Charming used his book, Medical Common Sense, and she believed in his free speech group, a collection of free-thinkers and nincompoops. Charming even allowed her girls to wear Foote’s womb veil instead of aborting the problem at Madame Restell’s on Broadway the way Jane did. Restell gave Jane a percentage of each abortion, and it put the fear of God into each slut who experienced it.
This Charming would have to pay handsomely for her high and mighty attitude and her Vassar College education! Jane the Grabber was moving up into high society, and she was going to take down the likes of Becky Charming as she did so.
“Oh God! Yes!” The new girl was heard screaming from the other room.
“John! Shut that bitch up!” screamed Jane, and she slammed down the lid on her money box with a loud bang.
Here are all three suspenseful mysteries in one book!
Forevermore, the first mystery, was a #2 bestseller in Amazon’s Historical Mystery category. It has received outstanding reviews from readers, and it establishes Pat O’Malley as a detective sleuth par excellence. The second mystery, Disappearance at Mount Sinai, continues the development of the characters amidst an excellent caper. The third mystery, Jane the Grabber, plunges O’Malley into the middle of the Steampunk world, and it marks a turning point in the novels to come.
“Musgrave mixes accurate history with a spell-binding plot to create an amazing who-done-it! Watch for more Pat O’Malley Mysteries.”
In post Civil War New York City, Detective Pat O’Malley is living inside Poe’s Cottage in the Bronx. O’Malley is haunted by Poe one night, and the detective finds a strange note. As a result, O’Malley decides to prove that Edgar Allan Poe did not die in Baltimore from an alcoholic binge but was, instead, murdered. O’Malley quickly becomes embroiled in a “cold case” that thrusts him into the lair of one of the most sinister and ruthless killers in 1865 New York City.
Jim Musgrave’s “Forevermore” is a quick read in four acts that will keep your mind razor sharp trying to solve the mystery of Poe’s murder. Pat O’Malley must first find out how to become intimate with females before he can discover the final clue in this puzzle of wits, murder and romance.
Disappearance at Mount Sinai Synopsis:
What if the anti-Semites, racists, and terrorists wanted the final revenge following the Civil War? How do you stop them from committing the worst atrocity?
It’s 1866 in New York City. Civil War Vet and Detective Pat O’Malley’s biggest case returns him to the deep, dark South to search for the kidnapped wealthiest inventor and entrepreneur in America. But the widening gyre of anti-Semitism and racism pulls him down into the pit of hell itself. Disguised as an Oxford England Professor, O’Malley infiltrates the anti-Semites’ group and travels with his partners, Becky Charming and his father, Robert, down to a Collierville, Tennessee mansion.
At the crux of this case are a Jewish father and his five-year-old son, Seth. They have developed a unique bond that relies on Jewish folklore and a belief that they are Mazikeen, half-angel and half-human, born from the loins of Adam’s strange female cohorts during the 130 years he was banished from the Garden. Will O’Malley find Dr. Mergenthaler before it’s too late? What does this world-wide eugenics group have planned for the mongrel races? Read Jim Musgrave’s Disappearance at Mount Sinai, the second mystery in the series of Pat O’Malley Mini-Mysteries.
Jane the Grabber Synopsis:
What was it like before women were given rights to determine their own destinies? How was abortion and birth control used in the 1860s? What happens to a society when the last sexual taboo is permitted? Find out in the third mystery in the Pat O’Malley Historical Steampunk Mystery Series, Jane the Grabber.
Genre – Historical Steampunk Mystery
Rating – PG13
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