The Brittle Sea: Historical Fiction – Chapter 1

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Last Updated on November 1, 2022 by ADMIN-TOM

The Brittle Sea
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A Death on the Street – March 15, 1931

The sidewalk on 42nd wasn’t especially crowded for an early spring Sunday in New York. The well-dressed old man walked freely between passing pedestrians, jauntily swinging his cane, the cane he told everyone he needed for the war wound he had never received. He whistled a soft tune to himself, something from a bygone part of his life, a period he hated to look back on but wouldn’t leave his memories. His life was good, and he eschewed old memories. He was more than happy at what he had achieved over the years since he had become a widower, freed from his servitude.

She made my life intolerable!

He was suddenly surprised at how much vehemence the thought of her brought to his now ordered life. Anger, he told himself, was not for him. That was all in the past.

It was then, at the very instant the old man was beginning to forgive her for making him angry, that a young woman stepped out in front of him. She was wearing a nondescript dirty and threadbare blue farmer’s bib-overall, a dirty old cap and her left arm was in a sling. He noticed, looking her up and down, familiar scuffed red shoes… those familiar scuffed red shoes. He was surprised and stopped walking, amazed at the sudden familiarity of her small, sweet face. He opened his mouth to speak, maybe even daring to be impolite and ask if she was related to… but he never had the chance to speak.

The girl pulled a small pistol from the sling with her free arm and levelled it at him. Too late, he realised who she was.

“Maggie.” The words formed on her lips and she smiled, clumsily cocking, and firing the pistol, twice… three times.

The old man groaned, stumbled forward but stopped his fall with his cane, gripping it tightly with both hands. He suddenly thought of her once more, leaned forward on his cane and looked up at his assailant.

“You have her eyes,” he said to her, coughing blood that spattered the young woman’s dirty clothing. He smiled at her, lost his grip on his cane, and fell forward, hitting the sidewalk heavily.

The young woman screamed, and tears welled in her frightened eyes. Before she knew it, she was pulling back on the hammer to cock the gun again, levelling it this time to her right-temple. The gun belched loudly once more. A knot of female pedestrians, caught in the tableau of hate and death unfolding before them, screamed their hysteria as one. They watched in horror as the girl staggered left, then right and then keeled forward, dropping to the floor, but managing with a gasp to stop her face hitting the hard concrete. Her arms took the full force of the fall, but soon failed and she crumpled forward, a small sob leaving her mouth.

New York rain suddenly splattered the sidewalk, hissing across the concrete and spreading onto the pools of blood forming around both victim and assailant, the blood mixing in death where in life the family blood had become tainted and poisoned, fuelled with jealousy, hate and revenge. The old man’s eyes met the young woman’s as they lay a few feet apart. There was no hate now. No fear. A family was reunited as death took the once living into its bosom. In a final act of contrition, New York’s rain washed the blood away and the sins of a family flowed into the gutter where they belonged.

Copyright © Tom Kane 2020
To see other extracts from this book, click on the hashtag #TheBrittleSea

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Historical fiction

cover for my book The Brittle Sea

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Synopsis

A young Magda Asparov travels alone from her home in Ukraine to America, to marry Matthew Turner, an unscrupulous American businessman. It’s an arranged marriage and part of the dowry is land in America the Asparovs own. But this parcel of land holds a secret only Turner is aware of. It has a huge reservoir of oil beneath it.
Magda’s journey is cut-short when her ship, the Titanic, hits an iceberg & sinks.
Magda is rescued by another ship, captained by Richard Blackmore.

In the ship’s sickbay, it’s discovered the survivor has lost her memory. The crew of the rescue ship give the survivor a name, Maggie, to use until her memory returns. But as the ship sails to New York a new personality in Maggie takes hold, stifling Magda in the process.
On reaching New York, Maggie accepts Captain Blackmore’s offer of help and occupies Blackmore’s guest room in his apartment. But over time, the couple fall in love.

Meanwhile, Matthew Turner feels Magda is still alive and has unleashed his henchman, William Harker, a crook, con artist, money shark and murderer. Turner hates to feel his investment has slipped through his fingers and is keen to track Magda down and keep alive his hopes of cashing in on her oil field. Harker is told to find any trace of Magda among the survivors arriving in New York.

Harker discovers Magda is alive but is unaware of who she is. Harker makes his plans to snatch Magda away from Blackmore. Leaving Blackmore as collateral damage and his life in ruins.

Reviews

“This one has it all – mystery, corruption, murder, kidnapping, love, revenge. Don’t plan to read it as a stand alone. You’ll definitely want the next books in the trilogy because the ending of book one is a cliff hanger. I couldn’t put this book down although I became so worried about the fate of Blackmore I had to regroup myself. Tom Kane did one helluva job writing this set.”

“This book has everything Romance, Murder, Mystery which automatically hooks you to the story.”

“Set against the backdrop of early 20th century America, an incredible story of love, loss, injustice, perseverance, mental illness & heartbreak.”

“A fictional romp through history, full of well-written twists & turns.
An arranged marriage, tragic love story & a bad guy you’ll love to hate.”

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