©2020 by Staci Mercado

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Winner of the 2013 Midwest Book Award winner for historical fiction.

 

One hundred years ago, Minnie Seamer’s death shocked her rural Iowa community. A young farmhand found her body hanging in the barn on a rainy summer morning in 1913. The coroner ruled it a suicide, but distraught family members were not convinced. Was it suicide—or was it murder? 

 

Seeking Signs, based on actual events, is the story of a young girl’s search for answers in the wake of a family tragedy. To solve the mystery of her older sister’s puzzling death, 13-year-old Elsie follows tips from a booklet titled "The Baum Detective Agency Course." As she begins observing and gathering evidence, Elsie encounters clues that call into question the coroner’s report and lead her into a shadowy world of deceit and betrayal. Elsie’s notebook and entries from Minnie’s diary reveal an unexpected truth: a truth that interprets a young wife’s troubled past in a community not as safe as it seems. 

 

Seeking Signs takes the reader into a world steeped in history and superstition. As Elsie hunts for signs, her voice brings the time period and its people to life. The answers she finds take her investigation to a conclusion that changes the path of her life forever and ultimately catapults her from innocence to a compelling coming of age.

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Elsie Edens, the teen detective who found her sister’s killer in Seeking Signs, is back. In her early 20s now and solving cases on her own, Elsie has developed into a full-fledged investigator working for a prominent Clinton, Iowa, agency.

 

It’s Sunday, November 5, 1922, and in the local paper, rural Iowa residents are shocked to read the headline “Coldest-Blooded Double Murder in the History of Clinton County.” A well-known, respected husband and wife were brutally slain the previous night in their country store in Low Moor, Iowa.

 

The local authorities, already under scrutiny for a rash of cold cases, call for help from an aging private investigator who sends Elsie, his young and ambitious protégée, to examine the crime scene.

 

Prohibition complicates her inquiries and leads her to an old friend who helps her uncover a motive for the murders. It seems the Chicago Outfit has turned its attention to a small town in Iowa’s Driftless Area, a rocky section of limestone bluffs, river bottoms, and immigrant families determined to survive.

 

During her investigation, Elsie is forced to relive a gruesome incident from her past — one that proves locals like her are perfectly capable of taking care of themselves.

 

Honey Whiskey Murders is based on actual events. 

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