Murder on Oak Street, Excerpt by I.M. Foster

New York, 1904. After two years as a coroner’s physician for the city of New York, Daniel O’Halleran is more frustrated than ever. What’s the point when the authorities consistently brush aside his findings for the sake of expediency? So when his fiancée leaves him standing at the altar on their wedding day, he takes it as a sign that it’s time to move on and eagerly accepts an offer to assist the local coroner in the small Long Island village of Patchogue.

Though the coroner advises him that life on Long Island is far more subdued than that of the city, Daniel hasn’t been there a month when the pretty librarian, Kathleen Brissedon, asks him to look into a two-year-old murder case that took place in the city. Oddly enough, the case she’s referring to was the first one he ever worked on, and the verdict never sat right with him.

Eager for the chance to investigate it anew, Daniel agrees to look into it in his spare time, but when a fresh murder occurs in his own backyard, he can’t shake his gut feeling that the two cases are connected. Can he discover the link before another life is taken, or will murder shake the peaceful South Shore village once again?


“I’ll not have it, I tell ye,” Thomas yelled as Colin stormed out of his study, nearly knocking Patrick down. “This will be the end o’ it!”

The end of what? Patrick closed the front door behind him and peeked toward his stepfather’s study. He’d barely had time to turn around, however, when Colin strode back across the entrance hall and grabbed him by the arm.

“I’ll deal with you later,” his stepbrother said before he swung the front door open and stormed out, leaving Patrick momentarily stunned.

Thomas’s harsh voice brought him back to his senses, and he looked up to see his stepfather standing in the doorway of his study, the vein in his neck bulging through his skin.

“I want to see you as well. In here! Now!”

Could word of his tryst with Lydia have reached him so soon? He would have to pay the piper dearly for this. Still, he would do it all again in the breath of an instant. The love he’d felt in those brief moments would last in his heart for an eternity. Nothing Thomas did to him could take that away.

Having resigned himself to the inevitable reprisal, he took a deep breath and answered his stepfather’s summons. Thomas had already returned to sit in the large leather chair behind his desk, and so, as usual, Patrick took up his position in front of it, trying desperately to stifle a sigh. In truth, he thought he may as well simply head out to the stables and brace himself for a beating. The thought of it sickened him, but he convinced himself that it would probably be no more than the strap this time and breathed a bit easier.

“And where have you been this afternoon?” Thomas asked, the sarcasm in his voice palpable.

Patrick suppressed a moan. Did they really have to play this game? They both knew where he’d been. Why bother with the formalities? Still, there was a chance, however faint, that his stepfather had not heard the entire story, and so Patrick went along with it.

“I went to Mrs. Langston’s, for my piano lesson. You instructed me to do so, if you recall, Father. She sent a message, I believe.”

“And ye had yer lesson, then, did ye?”

“Yes, of course.” Thomas’s hand flung through the air with such speed, Patrick never saw it coming, and he staggered with the force of the blow when it smacked into his face. Wrong answer, he thought to himself. The old reprobate did already know.

“Do ye think me a complete fool?” Thomas said, his watery gray eyes bulging with anger. “I came across the lady in town earlier today, and she knew nothing of yer appointment.”

Patrick was not sure what to say. If Thomas somehow didn’t know about Lydia yet, the chances were slim that he would remain in the dark about that little detail forever, but for the moment he decided to risk another blow and plead innocent.

“Nor did I, sir, not until I arrived. When I found she wasn’t at home, I simply assumed there’d been a misunderstanding and decided to ride my bicycle for a bit, being it was

such a lovely day and all.”

“Ye took a ride, did ye? For the entire afternoon? And where did this leisurely ride lead ye? To some gambling den, no doubt, so ye could spend more of me hard-earned money, or maybe past a neighbor’s stable to satisfy yer more visceral instincts?”

Patrick hung his head as if he were ashamed, hoping that his stepfather would take it as an affirmation of his whereabouts.

“O’ course!” Thomas grumbled. “What else could I expect? Well, which was it? Shall I feel it in me pocket, or should I expect a visit from an infuriated summer resident whose daughter has just become acquainted with your charms?”

“It was my own money, sir.” Might as well go with that for a change, though he rarely visited the gambling hells.

“Was it, now? And how much did ye lose?”

“No more than fifteen dollars or so, I think.”

“Fifteen dollars! Well, seeing as ye have such an abundance o’ money to throw away, I guess ye won’t be needing yer allowance for the next three weeks. It will be donated instead to a local charity.”

“But Father . . .” Patrick gritted his teeth. Calling this charlatan that still grated on his nerves.

“Ye’ve an objection to donating yer money to the orphanage? What would yer dear mother think?”

“No, sir!” Patrick said. Let it go. You’re getting off easy. Don’t give him any reason to rethink this. “Very well, then, ye’re dismissed, but the next time ye come across such a situation, ye’re to come directly home. Is that understood?” Patrick gave a polite nod and began to leave, but Thomas was not quite through with him. “Oh, and by the way, lad, since ye chose to feign this morning’s liaison with Mrs. Langston, perhaps ye should make it up to her by taking an extra piano lesson next week. ’Tis yer punishment for being so deceitful. Lord help me, ye’re as big a liar as Colin, but always remember one thing. Colin is me son, and that fact alone warrants a certain degree of leniency. One that ye do not require.”

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Meet I.M. Foster

I. M. Foster is the pen name author Inez Foster uses to write her South Shore Mystery series, set on Edwardian Long Island. Inez also writes historical romances under the pseudonym Andrea Matthews, and has so far published two series in that genre: the Thunder on the Moor series, a time-travel romance set on the 16th century Anglo-Scottish Borders, and the Cross of Ciaran series, which follows the adventures of a fifth century Celt who finds himself in love with a twentieth century archaeologist.

Inez is a historian and librarian, who love to read and write and search around for her roots, genealogically speaking. She has a BA in History and an MLS in Library Science and enjoys the research almost as much as she does writing the story. In fact, many of her ideas come to her while doing casual research or digging into her family history. Inez is a member of the Long Island Romance Writers, the Historical Novel Society, and Sisters in Crime.

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