The Clara Fitzgerald Mysteries by Evelyn James

Clara Fitzgerald is Brighton’s first female private detective, solving mysteries and crimes that have baffled the police, while confronting the prejudices and politics of 1920s England.

Memories of the Dead

Brighton 1920. Clara Fitzgerald is trying to earn a little respect as the first female private detective in Brighton, when Mrs Wilton turns up on her doorstep one snowy day. Struggling to get by since the war, Mrs Wilton has been convinced by an unscrupulous clairvoyant that her dead husband is trying to make contact via strange riddles that supposedly lead to hidden treasure. Clara is quickly on the case to prove the notorious clairvoyant, Mrs Greengage, is nothing more than a scam-artist, extorting money from Mrs Wilton.

But after an unpleasant seance, Mrs Greengage is found with a bullet in her chest and Clara is rapidly a suspect as one of the last people to see her alive.
There is no option but to unravel the mystery for herself, taking on the biggest case of her life, much to the consternation of the local police inspector.

Soon Clara is discovering Mrs Greengage’s dark past, her involvement in a previous murder case and her husband’s strange talents. Why won’t Mr Greengage leave his house? Why was Mrs Greengage’s sherry laced with strychnine when she was shot to death? And just who is the man stalking Clara?

Helped by her brother Tommy, a cripple since the Great War, and portrait photographer Oliver Bankes who takes crime scene pictures for the police in his spare time, Clara sets out to prove who the real killer is. But little does she realise how emotional challenging discovering the truth will be.

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Flight of Fancy

Clara Fitzgerald is irresistibly drawn to the reckless but charming Captain O’Harris and his daring attempt to cross the Atlantic in his biplane ‘White Buzzard’. O’Harris is drawn to Brighton’s first female detective because of a family mystery that has long haunted him. Can Clara discover the truth about the death of Goddard O’Harris and the reason his body mysteriously vanished?

Torn between her feelings for Captain O’Harris and exposing the truth, Clara must unravel a decade old puzzle that will change everyone’s perceptions of the O’Harris family.

What was the real nature of Goddard’s relationship with his wife? What secrets does the affable Colonel Brandt hold? Was Goddard murdered or was it a dreadful accident? And could the killer still be alive?

Delving into the underbelly of 1920s Brighton society Clara braves personal threats and her own fears to reveal the truth about the Goddard O’Harris mystery.

You can also purchase the audio book version from Audible

Murder in Mink

When Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, is invited to the wedding of her cousin Andrew Campbell she expects it to be a rather dull weekend. The Campbells, however, are far from dull with proto-feminist Peg fighting with her stepmother and Susan Campbell on the verge of suicide. Matters are not helped by the arrival of the black sheep of the family Uncle Eustace, who is determined to ruffle everyone’s feathers. 

But it is on the day of the wedding that events rapidly go wrong. A mysterious woman turns up at the ceremony claiming Andrew is already married to her. Things go from bad to worse when the woman winds up dead and Andrew is prime suspect. Clara finds herself trying to unravel Andrew’s past and the identity of the mystery woman, while contending with a family falling apart. But when more murders occur Clara must face the possibility she has more than one killer on the loose.

You can also purchase the audio book version from Audible

Carnival of Criminals

Who expects to find a corpse in a fairground? Certainly not Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, who is enjoying some time off when a new case falls straight into her lap. Just exactly who was the corpse sitting propped in the House of Curios and why would anyone leave a body on view for everyone to see? Clara has a whole carnival of suspects and very few clues, but the ones she does have suggest she needs to look towards Brighton’s seedy underworld for answers, and that may well mean putting her life in danger.

Meanwhile Tommy Fitzgerald has his own case to investigate when a distraught mother asks him to find her missing son – the only problem being that the family is German and the son was interned during the war. Where did he go when he was released and why did he never come home? Tommy has to overcome his own prejudices to unravel this mystery.

Can Clara and Tommy both find solutions to their mysteries before the fair rolls out of town, taking with it a potential murderer?

Mistletoe and Murder

Clara Fitzgerald was hoping for a quiet Christmas, but when the elderly Miss Sampford sends out a plea for help Brighton’s first female private detective can hardly refuse. Miss Sampford believes someone is trying to scare her out of her house. A ‘ghost’ has her servants handing in their notice and the neighbours talking. Miss Sampford doesn’t believe in ghosts anymore than Clara does, but something sinister is occurring in her home in Berkeley Square, London.

Clara sets off to investigate, but soon finds she has been beaten to it by Mr Andrews, a self-professed ghost hunter who has been employed by Miss Sampford’s nephew, Elijah. To top it all off, Miss Sampford’s family descend on her for Christmas, including William Henry Sampford who has every reason to wish his aunt dead. Is the ghost a means for murder?

Clara is soon convinced that Miss Sampford’s life is very much in danger and when one of the Christmas guests dies under mysterious circumstances she is even more certain the Berkeley Square ghost has murderous intentions. But can she unmask the killer before real harm comes to Miss Sampford? And what secrets are there in the old woman’s past that make her a target for a killer? Clara is faced with unravelling the past to save her client, while stopping the ghost from killing again

The Poison Pen

As the winter of 1921 slowly turns to spring, certain residents of Brighton find themselves at the mercy of a poison pen writer, who is spreading rumours and innuendo about the town. Disturbed by the scandal this could cause, Mrs Wilton, one of Clara’s first clients, returns to Brighton’s first female private detective seeking help. But how can Clara find a person who chooses to remain anonymous? Could the elusive Mrs Prinner be the key?

In the meantime she has other matters to contend with, as Inspector Park-Coombs of the Brighton Constabulary is convinced there is a traitor among his men. A mysterious accident and missing evidence suggests someone on the inside is giving the criminals of Brighton a helping hand. They might even be responsible for Clara’s near fatal encounter with Billy ‘Razor’ Brown the year before. Park-Coombs needs an unbiased outsider to investigate on his behalf, but is Clara in over her head? And could the traitor be someone she already knows?

Torn between her two cases, Clara must dash across Brighton in a frantic quest to find the truth. In the process she will discover more about the town’s hidden underworld than she ever wanted to know and put the life of a policeman in danger. Can Clara reveal Park-Coombs’ traitor before it is too late?

Grave Suspicions of Murder

When Issac Graves, Brighton solicitor and tireless philanthropist, dies at his desk, everyone assumes overwork was to blame. But then rumours begin to circulate – was Graves’ death all it seemed to be? Was his demise really brought on by ill-health and exhaustion? Clara finds herself having to discover whether a crime has actually been committed before she can even begin to solve it.

To make matters worse, Clara is hurt in an accident and finds herself unable to leave the house. Her friend and maid Annie must turn detective to solve the mystery on her behalf, much to her horror. But the real problem is unravelling the twisted and tawdry Graves family’s past; can a secret be kept forever? Or will one chance accident change the fate of an entire family?

The Woman Died Thrice

After her last case Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, embarks on a holiday to relax and recuperate. She takes a trip around the Lake District aboard one of the Brighton Charabanc Touring Company’s coaches, but swiftly discovers that her fellow passengers are not all they might seem. Many of them seem to have arrived on the charabanc against their will and are not here for a holiday at all.

But the mystery deepens when Mrs Hunt, a rather unpleasant woman who no one much wants to talk to, seeks Clara out and desperately asks for her help. She believes she is being targeted by a killer, but who aboard the charabanc knows and dislikes Mrs Hunt enough to want her dead? 

Clara soon discovers her fellow holiday-makers have plenty of secrets and more than one has a motive for wishing Mrs Hunt out of the picture, but precisely who is the real would-be murderer and how does this connect with a seeming suicide that took place at the Lakes a decade ago?

Clara must unravel the full details of Mrs Hunt’s past to unearth a killer, along the way digging up dark secrets and stirring up memories best left forgotten.

Murder and Mascara

Albion Industries, Britain’s leading manufacturer of cosmetics, have hired the Brighton Pavilion to host a trade fair. Everything is set to bring people into the town and to showcase Albion’s latest creation – the Pearl Pink lipstick. What could go wrong at an event designed to showcase the latest beauty products for the sophisticated 1920s girl?

As it turns out, quite a lot. When someone begins sabotaging the trade fair and scrawling messages about betrayal in lipstick across the Pavilion, worries start to surface and Clara Fitzgerald is approached by an old friend, Abigail Sommers, to resolve the mystery. But just as Clara starts to investigate, things take a dark twist as an Albion girl is found dead. Sabotage has changed to murder and no one is above suspicion, especially not Abigail.

Can Clara save the trade fair from disaster and Abigail from the noose? Find out in the latest Clara Fitzgerald mystery!

The Green Jade Dragon

The unfortunate Mr Jacobs has had his home burgled and a treasured item from his Japanese netsuke collection is missing. Clara is called in to see if she can solve what seems an impossible mystery – who stole the green jade dragon and where is it now? The journey to find the lost dragon soon turns out to be fraught with dangerous obstacles and threatens to cast a shadow over Mr Jacobs family.

But that is not the only problem Clara is facing; a new female private detective has set herself up in Brighton. Is she trying to snatch away Clara’s trade by offering cheaper rates and quick results? Clara finds herself caught up in a battle against an unlikely rival. What will Brighton’s first female private detective do now she is not alone? And can she find the green jade dragon without putting her own life in danger?

The Monster at the Window

In the middle of a stormy night, photographer Oliver Bankes runs into a man who has been dead three weeks. 

Terrified, he seeks out Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, and draws her into a supernatural mystery revolving around the Howton family and their belief that one of their relatives has risen from the grave.

Ever practical, Clara is determined to prove that the dead remain dead, and that the late Harvey Howton is not absconding from his tomb at night to torment his family. In the process, she discovers a family in deep turmoil and a web of lies and deceit that is tearing them apart. But when a real murder occurs, Clara realises that every member of the family is implicated and now she has to shift through centuries of family legends and traditions to prove that at the heart of this mystery is no ghost, but a living, breathing man with murder on his mind.

Murder on the Mary Jane

As the final hours of 1921 tick down, Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, and Captain O’Harris prepare to celebrate New Year’s Eve aboard the liner Mary Jane. Little do they know that the evening is going to be disrupted by the discovery of a mine in the water. In the ensuing panic, a guest disappears and is found dead, murdered by someone aboard the ship. The victim’s identity is a mystery, as much as why he was killed.

Now Clara must offer her help to the unfortunate Captain Pevsner and attempt to solve the crime before the night is over and all her suspects abandon ship. But who is the murdered man and why would anyone want to kill him? Accompanied by Captain O’Harris, Clara sets off in a race against time to bring a murderer to justice and to prove her worth as a private detective.

The Missing Wife

Captain Dylan Chase’s wife is missing and rumours are flying about town that he is responsible. Chase approaches Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, to ask her to find his wife and clear his name. But Elaine Chase seems to have vanished into thin air and no one can explain why. The police believe she has run off or is dead, and are more interested in a spate of farm thefts happening locally. Clara is left to continue the hunt for Elaine alone. Captain Chase is convinced his wife is alive and in danger, which means that every hour lost could cost Elaine her life.

Meanwhile, Annie is priming herself for the local baking contest and hoping to put her culinary rival, Jane Jenkins to shame, but even the best-laid plans can go awry and Annie is not prepared for the drama that overtakes her. 

Join Clara, Annie, Tommy and Captain O’Harris as they aim to solve a troubling mystery, and continue the adventure in the thirteenth book in the Clara Fitzgerald series.

The Traitor’s Bones

Father Christian Lound has been missing since 1917, no one knows what became of him, only that before he vanished he was accused of treachery. 

Emily Priggins can’t leave the mystery of her brother’s disappearance alone, despite her father’s violent warnings not to push for answers. After years of wondering, she finally seeks out Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, and asks her to discover the truth. Clara is faced with a baffling set of circumstances as she tries to learn what really happened to Father Lound and whether he did betray his King and country.

To solve the riddle, Clara must go to Belgium where Father Lound was working and where he vanished during the Great War. Her brother Tommy insists on accompanying her, hoping to fight the demons that have plagued him since the conflict, but being back on the Continent stirs up unwelcome memories and nearly pushes him over the brink.

And then there are the mysterious bones – do they belong to Father Lound or did someone else die that fateful day in 1917? Could they really be the bones of a traitor?

The Fossil Murder

The town of Brighton is divided by controversy as an exhibition of fossils arrives at the town hall. The star attraction is an Archaeopteryx skeleton, the supposed missing link, but not everyone likes the idea of the fossil being on display, not least the supporters of Reverend Parker and his anti-Darwin campaign.

For Clara Fitzgerald, Brighton’s first female private detective, the fossil is a curiosity – until a man is murdered in the act of destroying it and his murderer vanishes into thin air. Clara becomes involved when the mysterious murder threatens the future of the exhibition. Can she discover who the murder victim was and why someone would want to kill him? Or will an innocent man hang for the crime?

Meanwhile, Tommy Fitzgerald is working as Clara’s assistant, to help with the problem of Miss Nellie Holbein – a young lady with too much money and a lot of disreputable suitors. Her latest boyfriend is causing Mrs Wilton a lot of worries and she desperately needs Clara to get rid of the man. But when Tommy tries to intervene in the affair, he finds himself biting off more than he can chew.