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Garden of Lies
Cover of Garden of Lies
Garden of Lies
The New York Times bestselling author of Otherwise Engaged and The Mystery Woman presents an all-new novel of intrigue and murder set against the backdrop of Victorian London...

The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern's employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.

Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes...

If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well...
The New York Times bestselling author of Otherwise Engaged and The Mystery Woman presents an all-new novel of intrigue and murder set against the backdrop of Victorian London...

The Kern Secretarial Agency provides reliable professional services to its wealthy clientele, and Anne Clifton was one of the finest women in Ursula Kern's employ. But Miss Clifton has met an untimely end—and Ursula is convinced it was not due to natural causes.

Archaeologist and adventurer Slater Roxton thinks Mrs. Kern is off her head to meddle in such dangerous business. Nevertheless, he seems sensible enough to Ursula, though she does find herself unnerved by his self-possession and unreadable green-gold eyes...

If this mysterious widowed beauty insists on stirring the pot, Slater intends to remain close by as they venture into the dark side of polite society. Together they must reveal the identity of a killer—and to achieve their goal they may need to reveal their deepest secrets to each other as well...
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    PROLOGUE

    Slater Roxton was examining the strangely luminous paintings on the wall of the ornate burial chamber when the tomb trap was triggered.

    Impending destruction was telegraphed in an ominous rumble and the aching groan of ancient machinery locked deep in the stone. His first thought was that the volcano that loomed over Fever Island was erupting. But one by one, massive sections of the ceiling of the passageway that led to the entrance of the temple complex slid open. Boulders rained down.

    Brice Torrence's voice echoed from the far end of the corridor near the entrance.

    "Slater, get out of there. Hurry. Something terrible is happening."

    Slater was already moving. He did not waste time collecting the lanterns, his sketches or the camera. He ran to the doorway of the chamber but when he looked into the long, twisting stone corridor that led to the entrance he saw at once that it was too late to escape.

    More sections of the corridor ceiling slid open as he watched. Countless tons of the terrible hail crashed into the passage. The stones piled up rapidly, filling the tunnel. He knew that if he tried to make a dash to safety he would be crushed beneath the falling rocks. He had no choice but to turn back and retreat deeper into the unexplored maze of the tomb caverns.

    He rushed across the chamber, grabbed the lanterns and headed into the nearest adjoining passage. The corridor twisted away into dense, unexplored night but no boulders rained down from above.

    He ran a short distance into the passage and stopped, aware that if he went deeper he would soon get lost. He and Brice had not even begun to chart the complex of burial caves carved into the base of the volcano.

    He hunkered down against one wall, bracing himself. The glary light of the lantern illuminated an eerie painting, a scene depicting an ancient, catastrophic eruption of a volcano. Destruction rained down on an elegant city built of white marble. It was, Slater thought, far too close to what was happening at that moment.

    Clouds of dust wafted down the tunnel. He covered his mouth and nose with his shirt.

    There was nothing for it but to wait for the thundering to stop. Dread swirled like acid through his veins. At any moment the ceiling of the cavern in which he was sheltering might give way, burying him in the rubble. At least it would all be over in seconds, he thought. He was not sure he wanted to contemplate his immediate future if he did survive. For whatever time he had left he would be trapped in a brilliantly engineered maze.

    The storm of rock and stone seemed to go on forever. But eventually the temple caves fell silent. It was another eternity before the dust finally settled.

    Warily, he got to his feet. He stood still for a moment, listening to the shattering silence, waiting for his pulse to calm. After a while he went to look out into the vaulted chamber in which he had been standing when the rock trap released its deadly cargo. Small stones littered the floor of the room but it appeared that they had bounced and rolled into the chamber from the massive heap that now sealed the passage that led back to the entrance.

    He had survived, which meant that he was now entombed alive.

    He began to calculate his odds in a surprisingly academic fashion. He concluded that he was still too shaken to absorb the enormity of his predicament.

    There was no reason for Brice and the rest of the expedition team to believe that he had survived; nothing they could do to save him, even if they had some hope. Fever Island was an uninhabited chunk of volcanic rock covered in unexplored jungle. It was situated a few...

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  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2015
    A lady with a secret to hide and a gentleman reputed to be mad make a dandy investigative team. Ursula Kern changed her name after a scandal in her past and now runs a successful secretarial service in Victorian London. When her best worker, Anne Clifton, is found dead, she refuses to believe the vivacious Anne would kill herself, as the police surmise, and decides to investigate. Ursula had been doing secretarial work for the notorious Slater Roxton, who isn't happy to be shunted aside with little explanation. Roxton is an archaeologist who gained fame when he was accidentally buried in a tomb and left for dead on an island. He escaped, spent a year with a small community seeking enlightenment, and returned to London to manage the affairs of his father's second wife and children. Refusing, for his own reasons, to be ignored, he insists on helping Ursula determine the truth about Anne's death. Their quest leads to a wealthy nobleman with an unhappy wife who has a knack for cultivating difficult plants-plants that are being used to create a hallucinogenic drug being offered to those who can afford it at a private club that also provides high-class prostitutes. Ursula's own secret may be exposed by a muckraking journalist until Roxton comes to her rescue, and he continues to anticipate the troubles she encounters as she puts herself in in harm's way trying to find a dangerous killer. Her partnership with Roxton puts her in more personal danger as they pursue a passionate affair that could break her heart. Quick's fans will not be disappointed in her latest combination of detective story and sexy romance (Otherwise Engaged, 2014, etc.), a pleasing page-turner.

  • Library Journal

    November 1, 2014
    The author of more than 50 "New York Times" best sellers written under different names, Quick steps away from her various series to present some luscious wickedness in Victorian London. When an employee of the Kern Secretarial Agency dies unexpectedly on the job as stenographer to reclusive poetess Valerie, Lady Fulbrook, Ursula Kern sets out to discover what happened. Archaeologist and adventurer Simon Roxby, perhaps a bit intense after a year spent trapped on Fever Island but graced with remarkable self-possession and beautiful green-gold eyes, decides that Ursula should not go it alone.

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Garden of Lies
Amanda Quick
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