Wednesday, July 23, 2014

An Excerpt from The Sense of Death, an Ann Kinnear Novel of Suspense by Matty Dalrymple

Omnimystery News: An Excerpt courtesy of Matty Dalrymple
The Sense of Death
by Matty Dalrymple

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Matty Dalrymple to Omnimystery News today.

Matty's debut novel of suspense — the first in a new series — is The Sense of Death (William Kingsfield; November 2013 trade paperback and ebook formats) and we are pleased to introduce you to it with an excerpt. (Matty will be back with us next month, when we'll have a chance to talk more about the book!)

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The Sense of Death by Matty Dalrymple

AFTER DINNER, WHICH WAS QUITE good — although as far as Ann could see, Masser ate only rolls — the group moved into one of the inn's sitting rooms for coffee and after dinner drinks. Ann left to use the ladies room and when she came out Masser was standing in the hallway.
  "Did you sense anything?" he asked.
  "No. You?"
  "Come with me." And he turned and strode down the hall toward a door to a patio, not bothering to check to see if Ann would follow.
  Ann briefly considered ignoring him and returning to the party but curiosity got the better of her and she followed him outside.
  He was standing on the stone patio gazing out into the dark back yard. Ann looked at him for a moment expecting him to say something but when he didn't she also turned her gaze to the yard.
  The moonlit night revealed an expanse of carefully manicured grass bordered by a low stone wall on the other side of which was a grove of short, gnarled, evenly spaced trees — a fruit orchard of some type. Between the trees Ann could see a flickering light. She crossed her arms against the chill of an evening breeze.
  "Someone's having a bonfire," she said, nodding toward the light.
  "I don't think so," said Masser.
  Ann looked curiously at him and then back toward the light. He was right, it wasn't a bonfire — she could see now that it was actually a number of separate, faint lights moving among the trees, only taking on a bonfire brightness when they came together and then fading as they moved apart. "What is it?"
  "Let's find out," he said, and descended a few stone steps to the grass, then turned to look at her. She hesitated a moment and then followed him.
  They crossed the lawn and stepped over the stone wall into the orchard. Masser strode purposefully forward but she found she had to pick her way along, the heels of her shoes sinking into the soft ground and twigs scratching at her legs. She had gone about fifty yards, glancing up occasionally to make sure she was still headed toward the light, when she came into a clearing next to Masser and could see the source of the light up close.
  "What do you see?" he asked.
  "What do you see?" she replied.
  "Asked you first," he said with the ghost of a smile.
  She scanned the clearing. "Faint lights, maybe twenty of them, about five or six feet off the ground, moving slowly back and forth, sort of like a wave. Sometimes coming together in the middle of the clearing and sometimes moving apart." They continued watching in silence for a few minutes. Finally Ann said, "What do you see?"
  "Soldiers. Soldiers in a battle."
  "Soldiers? How can you tell?"
  "Because they don't look like lights to me. They look like men. Men in uniform."
  Ann looked at Masser and then back at the lights. She had thought of them originally as beautiful, even calming, but the way they moved, coming together and breaking apart, swaying first one way then the other — they were the movements of men locked in combat. And now she sensed a faint crimson tint to the lights, like a few drops of red paint added to white, like killing anger dimmed by many, many years.
  "How did you know they were here?" she said, her voice dropping to a whisper.
  "In the parlor, before dinner, on that interminable tour, one of them came in and said, ‘Hurry, they're here!' and ran out."
  Ann smiled despite herself. "You told the owner you didn't sense anything."
  "I certainly was not going to give that officious little twit the satisfaction of knowing that his inn is haunted."
  Ann looked back to the clearing where the lights were beginning to fade, sinking into the ground like fireflies in reverse. "Why did you tell me?"
  "I was curious if you would see it." Ann watched the last light flicker out as Masser turned back to the inn. "Plus, they weren't lights to me. I could follow their sound but it was faint. I thought since you are sensitive to the light essence you would be able to locate them more quickly and we didn't have much time. Let's get back before your tedious brother notices we're missing." And he strode off through the orchard, leaving Ann to struggle back in his wake.
  When Ann got back to the inn, Masser was nowhere to be seen — she assumed he had gone back to the sitting room. She returned to the ladies room to tend to the damage done by her walk through the orchard. She used some paper towels to clean the mud from her shoes and, finding that a branch had torn a hole in her panty hose, removed them, and, after stuffing them into a feminine hygiene disposal bag, threw them into the trashcan. She wasn't sure why, but she wanted to keep her visit to the orchard with Garrick Masser a secret.
  When she got back to the sitting room the party was breaking up and Masser was sulking on the front porch waiting for the bus to be brought around. When they boarded, Masser took a seat in the back while Mike chose one toward the front for himself and Ann.
  "Window?" he said, standing aside for her.
  "Thanks." She scooted in and tried looking out the window but it was opaque in the darkness, revealing only a hazy reflection of the interior.
  "What happened to your stockings?" he asked, dropping into the seat next to her.
  "Only a gay guy would notice something like that. I got a runner and threw them away. Why do you still have a drink?"
  Mike swirled what looked and smelled like the remains of a scotch on the rocks. "I figured he owed me one to go after mistaking me for the famous Ann Kinnear." He took a sip and said contemplatively, "I would have thought straight guys would be more likely to notice missing stockings."
  Ann was vaguely irritated that Mike was willing to take her explanation at face value — it took her adventure in the orchard and turned it into a sartorial inconvenience. She turned back to the window.
  Then she realized why she wanted to keep her experience with Masser a secret — it was the first time in her life that she had shared the experience of sensing spirits with another person, even if the way they had experienced it had been quite different. Masser had sought her out to share the experience — had, in fact, required her assistance. It had involved a kind of intimacy.
  Before now, outside of her consulting engagements, Ann had only spoken about her sensings with Mike. She was eternally grateful to Mike just for believing her — having him as a salve to the wounds inflicted by all those who thought she was unbalanced or an attention-monger or a liar had saved her sanity, she felt sure. When she did talk with him about her sensings, Mike responded just as she would have hoped — seriously interested but not agog. But speaking with him about her experiences was like an explorer of the North Pole trying to explain his experience to the armchair traveler — as attentive and appreciative an audience as the armchair traveler might be, he would never truly understand the arctic explorer's experience.
  But Masser did understand — in fact, he understood even more than she did. He had seen and heard the spirits as they had been in life — she had no doubt of that. And she had no doubt either he could communicate with them if he wanted to — the test Corey Duff had posed for Masser in the documentary had convinced her. In comparison to Masser's talents, her own were puny, like a parlor trick. But far from making her feel inadequate or jealous, it gave her a feeling of comfort — that she was not alone in her abilities, and that there was someone she might look to for guidance in how to navigate the "normal" world from her abnormal perspective.
  Then she heard a murmured query from the back of the bus and Masser's response — "Don't be an imbecile!" — and, smiling slightly, decided that perhaps Garrick Masser should not be her sole model for managing her relationships with her fellow mortals.

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Matty Dalrymple
Photo provided courtesy of
Matty Dalrymple

Matty Dalrymple lives with her husband, Wade Walton, and their dogs in Chester County, Pennsylvania, where much of the action of The Sense of Death takes place. Matty is currently working on the second book of the Ann Kinnear series, tentatively titled The Sense of Reckoning.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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The Sense of Death by Matty Dalrymple

The Sense of Death
Matty Dalrymple
An Ann Kinnear Novel of Suspense

"A frighteningly meticulous villain and a formidable protagonist will have readers breezing through the pages." — Kirkus Reviews

Ann Kinnear has created a peaceful existence at her cabin in the Adirondack woods. But the calm is shattered after Philadelphia socialite Elizabeth Firth is reported missing. With few clues and fewer options, detective Joe Booth calls upon Ann's spirit sensing abilities to help solve the mystery.

With Joe and her brother Mike, Ann attempts to uncover what Elizabeth's husband may be hiding beneath his cloak of wealth and privilege. As Ann is drawn deeper into a web of lies and betrayal, she realizes she may be racing against time to keep herself from disappearing too. Print/Kindle Format(s) Print/Nook Format(s)


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