The Mysterious Bookshop


La Vengeance de la Veuve Noire

‘Boss’ Mayhew had learned over the years never to show emotion in business dealings, no matter how sticky the situation became. He maintained a modest office, which, although it was in the penthouse of the Swanky Arms, wasn’t nearly as posh as one might expect.  Today he was seated at his desk, reading a report from his torpedo, pardon me, his assistant, whose name was Breck.  His agitation at the contents of the report was belied by his collected appearance.

Breck had written that while the elimination of ‘Amigo’ Amora had gone more or less as planned, his widow had made an unplanned appearance, saw the termination and was said to be on a quest for revenge. Somehow she had already whacked four of Mayhew’s operatives as well as three men who had nothing to do with anything as far as could be ascertained.

How could a demure housewife have gotten to these presumably alert career criminals and offed them in such creative ways? For one of the few times in his life, Mayhew was at a loss. Should he alert the authorities to Ms. Amora’s spree, since they didn’t seem to have her on their radar?  But they knew perfectly well that the dead man had a detective agency as well as a spouse, so wouldn’t his wife have been among the first persons questioned?  Of course having any contact with officially constituted law enforcement really went against Mayhew’s grain. He sat at his desk, chewing on a cigar, looking out the window, and thinking as hard as he could.

Ellen Amora sat on her sofa in the home she had until recently shared with her husband, Martin ‘Amigo’ Amora, until the private investigator got too close to the clandestine doings of one ‘Boss’ Mayhew and paid the supreme price.  She would take over the detective agency that ‘Amigo’ had started two years previously and use it as a cover to investigate and hopefully see that ‘Boss’ Mayhew got what was coming to him.  She had already gotten rid of seven of his henchmen, but how to bring down the big man?

She sat, stroking Raffles the cat, gazing out the window, and thinking as hard as she could.  

It was high summer, and the heat in the city was ferocious. Breck had his sport coat off, his tie loosened, and his sleeves rolled up.  His mission was to find the woman who had put such a crimp in their operations and who the grapevine held was plotting against the ‘Boss.’  It shouldn’t be all that difficult--Breck already had her house and the agency office staked out, so there should be a line on her whereabouts soon.

Wearing a black hat with a veil, a sober mourning dress, and red-eyed from crying, Ellen Amora stood forlornly in reception at the Swanky Arms. The yegg at the door was sympathetic to the grieving widow, having created more than a few in his day. And gee whiz, all she wanted to do was leave a thank-you note for the flowers that Mr. Mayhew had sent to Mr. Amora’s service.  No harm in that, is there?  

So it was that Ellen Amora found herself in the outer office of the ‘Boss.’  She quickly left her calling card and exited by the stairs, taking care to leave from a side exit out of sight of the people that she’d passed on the way in.  Then she sat on the bus stop bench across the street, and waited.

Soon she saw two uniforms go into the building and thought, gazing upward to where her late husband may or may not have been spending his hereafter, it won’t be long now, darling.  Sure enough, the two came back out with ‘Boss’ Mayhew in tow and in cuffs. At last he would pay for his crimes!  She flung off her hat and veil and stood revealed before the ‘Boss’ as the widow, the newly minted private eye, the whistle-blower on his nefarious actions. Mayhew saw her standing across the street, gloating, and made a move towards her.  One of the cops said, ‘Just take it easy, there, champ. That cat’s fur in the office linked you to poor Bachelor Bill Smith’s murder and you are going away for a very long time! Now get in the car.’

And somewhere Raffles the cat continued to shed. After all, it was high summer.

Check out some of Raffles’ fellow felines:


The narrator of this tale and his bride are made uneasy by the constant practical jokes played upon them by the town's mayor, whose half-brother is an unrepentant lecher. Add in violence to a cat, and a murder at a Flower show, and you've got a corker of a mystery!



In this fourth book in the series, Theodosia sets off to Egypt to return the Emerald Tablet—embedded with the knowledge of some of the ancient world’s most guarded secrets. Accompanied by her cat, Isis (smuggled along in a basket), Theo plans to return the artifact, then explore the mysteries surrounding her own birth and oh, yes— help her mother dig up treasures on her archeological expedition.



Written by Ian Kern — July 18, 2016

Specializing in Mystery Fiction and all its subgenres, including Detective, Crime, Hardboiled, Thrillers, Espionage, and Suspense.

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