Prologue

Blood on the Barbary Coast

July 8, 1896. San Francisco, California.

He had been thirty, tall and achingly handsome, with corn-silk hair and cornflower eyes, the sort of man women fell in love with even when they knew they shouldn’t. Chill fog haunted the waterfront at midnight, ghostly whorls of it eddying over restless waves so black they could have been India ink. The sounds of revelry one always heard on the Barbary Coast–men’s drunken babble, sporting ladies’ blowsy shrieks, the tinkle of an off-tune piano–drifted from Three Fingered Jack’s, along Battery Street, and down to the Embarcadero.

I found Billy Highsmythe in the richly appointed cabin of his yacht. No one should have endured the horrors he had. No one should have witnessed the sight I saw.

He had sighed and mumbled through the gag. How I remember his tortured sigh!

I had not succumbed to Billy Highsmythe’s charms, but I’d met the man and knew what he was–a United States immigration inspector charged with enforcing the Exclusion Act of 1888 and the Geary Act of 1890. These were stringent laws, I came to learn, in a series of federal measures aimed at the Chinese, law-abiding and otherwise. Laws enacted during times when rabble-rousers won feverish applause and approbating shouts whenever they decried the Yellow Peril. Laws that caused havoc in Chinatowns across America and debased the way men and women lived. Laws that promoted all manner of graft and corruption. Laws that led, one could say, to murder.

Billy Highsmythe had been a scoundrel and a roustabout. He’d seduced virgins, smoked opium, swilled whiskey till dawn. He was the sort of man a genteel lady should avoid at all costs. I confess I boarded his yacht that night fully cognizant of my own peril. It was an impetuous thing to do after I’d fled across the continent to extricate myself from another murder. Then again, it was an impetuous thing in these last years before the turn of our century for a lady to go sleuthing.

It had been a moment when one feels the hand of destiny and cannot turn back, against all better judgment. Yet I cannot say my fateful trek across that gangplank to Billy Highsmythe’s yacht was the beginning of the mystery. The mystery of the Celestial Girl began the day I first saw her.

Copyright © 2013 by Lisa Mason.

Read the whole miniseries at–

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.

Or try the miniseries in three installments–

Celestial Girl, Book 1: The Heartland (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Lily flees Toledo on the Overland train. She must share a seat with Jackson Tremaine and befriends the Celestial Girl, the daughter of a Chinese dignitary. But appearances are not what they seem.

Celestial Girl, Book 2: Jewel of the Golden West (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony. Lily and Jackson arrive in San Francisco and discover the murder of an immigration official connected with the Celestial Girl. She and Jackson are compelled into a dangerous murder investigation. As they begin a passionate affair, a contract for murder is taken out on Lily’s life.

Celestial Girl, Book 3: The Celestial Kingdom (A Lily Modjeska Mystery). Lily and Tremaine journey to Imperial China, confronting soldiers of the Boxer Revolution and brutal slavers. Lily discovers secrets vital to the identity of the Celestial Girl. In Celestial Girl, Book 4: Terminus (A Lily Modjeska Mystery). Lily and Jackson return to San Francisco and solve the tragic mystery of the Celestial Girl. Both books are on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.

Of The Gilded Age, the New York Times Book Review said, “A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.”

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From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony;

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords;

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords;

Celestial Girl (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony;

SHAKEN on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords;

Tomorrow’s Child on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, and Smashwords,  and

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.

For urban fantasy, science fiction, fantasy, romantic suspense, humor, and a screenplay, visit the Virtual Bookstore! All Lisa Mason Titles, All Links, All Readers, Worldwide. NYT Notable Book Author https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2013/08/31/virtual-bookstore-fantasy-science-fiction-urban-fantasy-romantic-suspense-literary-screenplay-sfwapro/

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