Many people consider lawyers two-faced, but in
Brianna "Bree" Winston-Beaufort's case, her law practice
really is divided in two. Her "day" gig pays the bills and
funds her "other" job as the celestial advocate pleading
for the souls of her clients otherwise condemned to Hell.
Bree receives a visit from elderly actress Justine Coville,
who says that she'd like to update her will. But before she
leaves, she shares with Bree that she thinks that someone
is trying to injure her on the set of Bitter Tide, a
movie being made about the murder of Savannah's infamous
1950s B-actress Haydee Quinn.
Justine is playing the role of Consuelo Bulloch, and is
using one of Consuelo's brooches to help her feel a
connection to the character. But when Bree touches the
brooch, she senses that Consuelo wants her help. Not sure
what she can do to help either of them, Bree takes both
cases, and soon discovers that both her earthly
and "spiritual" clients have even more in common than she'd
During the investigation Bree is introduced to an outcast
angel, Dent, who is really one of two detectives from the
original case. He needs to seek forgiveness for arresting
the man wrongfully convicted and executed for the murder.
Between the two of them, the sleuthing duo manages to
determine the real killer's identity, but will it be too
late to save Justine as well as help Consuelo and Dent
achieve their heavenly reward?
ANGEL'S VERDICT, author Mary Stanton's fourth novel in
her Beaufort and Company Mystery series, is a lively,
fast-paced story that will thrill and chill readers as they
race through the pages to find out "who dun it." Stanton's
creative storytelling is flawless and her inclusion of a
spiritual aspect to her mysteries gives the series the
novelty edge that pushes them to the forefront of favorite
Celestial advocate Brianna Winston-Beaufort is eager to set
aside handling appeals for condemned souls and get back to
practicing law in the land of the living. Three months after
taking over the family practice Bree jumps at the
opportunity to work for an earthly client. But when elderly
actress Justine Coville walks into Beaufort & Company's
office to make changes to her will, she drags Bree right
back into a whole other-world of troubles.
Front Street, Savannah, Georgia
July 4, 1952
Fireworks on the Savannah River: a star-burst of vermillion,
gold and blue cascaded through the inky night, the colors
drifting to oblivion on the breeze that came off the
midnight water. The crowd gathered on the cobblestone walk
along the banks sighed, and sighed again as three more
rockets went off in quick succession, showering glitter with
careless exuberance. Here and there along the cobblestone
street, a scatter of bonfires thrust a fierce orange glow
against the shadows.
One of the fires was moving.
Lt. Edgar O’Malley, shoulders resting against the warehouse
wall, hands shoved into his trouser pockets, pushed his hat
a little further back on his head and narrowed his eyes. He
was off duty, after a sleepless twenty-four stretch on the
Haydee Quinn murder. So what he was seeing wasn’t real. It
was a fragment of nightmare, borne of fatigue. An
hallucination. There was a pint of rye in the inside pocket
of his suit coat; as he reached for it, the screams started:
Just one, at first, the startled shriek of a horrified
woman; then a shout; then the confused clamor of a terrified
horde of people.
The blazing fire moved on. The flames billowed up from the
handcart; some part of O’Malley’s mind registered it as a
baler wagon, maybe from the Cotton Exchange up on Bay
Street. And he knew the man who pushed it. The cart bumped
awkwardly along the cobbled street, the wheels groaning over
the uneven bricks. The youngster behind it cried out a long
continuous mourning keen, a wail of grief, his head thrown
back, and his mouth wide open to the dark sky above.
Alexander Bulloch. Haydee’s lover. A briefly-considered
suspect in Haydee’s death, until Bagger Norris confessed and
the case was done.
The stench from the cart was overwhelming: A roasted stink
of flesh corrupted by flame. The iron wheels groaned,
skidded, and the cart tipped over, throwing flaming logs
across the stones. A blackened human form hung halfway from
the cart. The flames hadn’t yet consumed the hair, which
stirred in the wind as if lifted by a loving hand. Black as
a crow’s wing, black as a starless night, no longer scented
with gardenias, but the scent of burning. Haydee’s hair.
Haydee herself hung from the cart, the violet eyes now
sockets in her grinning skull, the creamy skin now flaked
O’Malley turned and ran up the iron steps, as if pursued by
the corpse itself.