Death by Misadventure by E. E. Smith
People who don't know me very well will invariably ask what the word "caboose" is doing in my strange email address. That's when I have to explain that I used to own one, and so it came to mind when a young computer wizard was trying to concoct an email address for me and finding that anything with "Smith" in it was already taken. He asked for something absolutely unique, and "caboose" was the only word I could think of that no one else would be using. And it worked. My email address became email@example.com.
Why in the world would anyone want to own a caboose, you may ask. You might have to read my secondnovel, Times Like These, to understand such madness. In the book I explain that I grew up on the railroad, back when there were steam trains. As the daughter of a station agent, I was often allowed to ride in the caboose, along with the conductor and the brakeman, just for the fun of it. To me, it was like a playhouse, and I dreamed of having one of my own someday. A half century later, that dream became a reality. I hired an architect to find one and restore it for me. The one he found was an old wooden cupola caboose, built in 1912. It had long ago outlived its usefulness as the last car attached to freight trains and was sitting empty, vandalized and rotting on the fairgrounds in Calistoga, in the Napa Valley. I had it hauled up to Nevada City, a quaint little town in the Sierra Nevada foothills, where it began life anew as a completely restored and refurbished writing studio. I bought a three bedroom house to have enough acreage to accommodate it as an "outbuilding" on the property. When it was finished, six months later, it had a bathroom, complete with shower, a kitchen, a pellet stove/fireplace, and its own cable TV. It was very picturesque there, nestled among the pine trees.
I was a playwright at that time, and used my cozy little studio to write three plays in the years that I owned it. Eventually, I needed to move on. The summers were beautiful, but the winters in the foothills can be brutal, and the power outages frequent. During those times, the water lines to the caboose would freeze and break, flooding the bathroom and kitchen before becoming frozen ponds. The pellet stove needed electricity to operate, so there was no heat when the power went off. The walls of a caboose are not insulated, so the temperature inside was the same as the outside, often below freezing.
I sold it along with the house, and have never been back to Nevada City to see what it looks like now. I want to remember it the way it was in the photo, the realization of a lifelong dream!
The sign on her office door reads "ALEXIS J. SMITH - Discreet Inquiries, but a new client of her fledgling detective agency seems to think it means Murder Incorporated. The client, one Kate Faraday, is a former schoolmate (Sacramento High, class of '41) who wants to hire Lexie to find her husband, Frank. During their initial interview it becomes clear that she doesn't want him back "dead or alive," she wants him dead!
If it were anyone else, the intrepid young private investigator would never have taken the job, but there is a problem. Lexie herself has been in love with Frank ever since they were all together in high school. She makes a desperate decision to find him and warn him of his wife's mad intentions.
She travels to England and finds Frank staying at a country inn called The Old Vicarage, next to a little Norman church still haunted by a 12th Century ghost. What she discovers reveals a woman bent on vengeance, not only on her husband, but on Lexie, as well. Are they both marked for murder? How all this plays out, and culminates in a shoot-out at The Old Vicarage, is the climax of the story -- but not the end.
E.E. (Evelyn Eileen) Smith first attended the University of Iowa, and later received a B.A. in Fine Arts from California State University Long Beach.
Her plays have been performed in Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and both northern and southern California. One play has been published.
Writing credits include a Drama Award from FS Theatrebooks, New York,
(for BOARDINGHOUSE STEW); awards from Writers Digest (for PRIVATE LIES and PLAYTIME IN LONDON); and the Gem Award from Jewel Box Theatre, Oklahoma City (for WARTIME RECIPES).
E. E. Smith lives close to her native San Francisco where she now writes books and short stories instead of plays. One story was published in Writers' Forum: Britain's Best Magazine for Writers, in 2006. The play, WARTIME RECIPES, first performed in Oklahoma City in 1998, was reprised there in 2010. Her first novel, BOARDINGHOUSE STEW, was published in 2009, and the New Edition published in 2011. The second novel, TIMES LIKE THESE, was also published in 2011, and IN LOVE AND WAR, a memoir, was published in 2012.
She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today. To see her blog, go to
Her website is www.eesmithwriter.com.
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