Dark Music (A Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery)
Quinn is the first heroine I intentionally based on myself, although a younger version. Like her, when I was I my 30s I lived in apartments in Elizabeth, N.J., and later I bought and rehabbed an old house in the suburbs, though mine dates only from 1922. She moves to “Crane’s Crossing,” loosely based on the town where I grew up, Cranford, N.J. In my career I’ve worked for two daily newspapers and freelanced for magazines, and for much of that time my subject matter has been architecture, interior design and home improvement. The people in Quinn’s social circle, though, are highly fictionalized and bear little resemblance to my friends or co-workers. Also, I have only the mildest, most common type of intuition—luckily, I have had none of Quinn’s frightening paranormal experiences!
Dark Music is another story I shaped and re-shaped over the decades. Growing up in suburban Cranford, I was fascinated by its many Victorian houses (we lived in a bland 1950s Cape Cod). In college, I grew interested in paranormal themes, and had a recurring fantasy in which I’d look out an upper window of my own Queen Anne Victorian and see the street as it appeared at the turn of the century. From there, I developed this ghost story spanning more than 100 years, and a heroine whose affinity for the 19th century makes her the perfect conduit for the spirits of those who died in her house during that era.
At the end of Dark Music, poor, exhausted Quinn resolves to avoid any more dealings with the Other Side. Unfortunately for her—but fortunately for the Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery Series—I’ll be sending even more challenging “entities” her way in the future!
(A Quinn Matthews Haunting Mystery)
by E. F. Watkins
What Reviewers Are Saying
“I could not put it down! Good suspense, writing and characterizations.”
—Roberta Rogow, The Book Breeze
“...A story of haunting suspense in the tradition of Phyllis Whitney and Mary Roberts Rinehart. E. F. Watkins puts a modern spin on classic gothic mystery. Ghosts, music, romance and a hundred-year-old unsolved murder add up to a great read!”
—Elena Santangelo, author of the Agatha-nominated Pat Montella Mystery Series
“Extreme Makeover meets The Haunting -- and the result is a highly absorbing read. Intent on restoring her newly acquired Queen Anne to its former glory, Quinn Matthews juggles paint samples, wallpaper borders and Victorian bric-a-brac while contending with a mysterious presence - -or is there more than one? -- determined to make itself known. She is certainly braver than I would be! Watkins skillfully interweaves the past and the present to lead us, spines a-tingle, to a breathtaking finale.”
—Peggy Ehrhart, author of the Maxx Maxwell Mystery Series
“This wonderful blend of mystery and romance was a delight to read, and I will definitely be looking for other books by E. F. Watkins!”
—Mary, Bitten by Books (5 Gravestones), October 2013.
I dug out the earth on all sides of the bush, then rocked it with my gloved hands until I pried it loose.
Just before dropping it into the trash can, I shook off the excess dirt. Something bright fell with a ping against the shovel blade.
I picked up and brushed the dirt off a round, tarnished object that trailed a short piece of chain.
A man’s pocket watch.
Pain blazed through me, right under my breastbone, like I’d been run through with a hot poker. I dropped to my knees and gasped for breath.
I tried to call for help, but couldn’t get enough air. I wrapped one arm around my midsection, used the other to brace against the ground. The yard whirled around me, and I started to pass out.
But I couldn’t fall, I wouldn’t! Something told me if I did, I might never get up again.
Strong hands grabbed me. Over the roaring in my ears, I heard my neighbor Dr. Zimmer ask, “Quinn, what’s wrong? Are you sick?”
I tried to find the wind to answer him. He held out his sinewy hand. To grab it, I dropped the pocket watch.
Instantly, my vision started to clear. The searing pain eased. After a second, I dared to draw a deep breath again. Much better!
I relaxed the arm I had clamped around my body, almost expecting to find a wound.
But there was nothing. Of course...