About the Book
When a literary icon stays with the Dickinson family, Emily and her housemaid Willa find themselves embroiled in a shocking murder in this new mystery from USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award–winning author Amanda Flower.
August 1856. The Dickinson family is comfortably settled in their homestead on Main Street. Emily’s brother, Austin Dickinson, and his new wife are delighted when famous thinker and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson comes to Amherst to speak at a local literary society and decides he and his young secretary, Luther Howard, will stay with the newlyweds. Emily has been a longtime admirer of Emerson’s writing and is thrilled at the chance to meet her idol. She is determined to impress him with her quick wit, and if she can gather the courage, a poem. Willa Noble, the second maid in the Dickinson home and Emily's friend, encourages her to speak to the famous but stern man. But his secretary, Luther, intrigues Willa more because of his clear fondness for the Dickinson sisters.
Willa does not know if Luther truly cares for one of the Dickinson girls or if he just sees marrying one of them as a way to raise himself up in society. After a few days in his company, Willa starts to believe it’s the latter. Miss Lavinia, Emily’s sister, appears to be enchanted by Luther; a fact that bothers Emily greatly. However, Emily’s fears are squashed when Luther turns up dead in the Dickinson’s garden. It seems that he was poisoned. Emerson, aghast at the death of his secretary, demands answers. Emily and Willa set out to find them in order to save the Dickinson family reputation and stop a cold-blooded fiend from killing again.
Emily was running now. She was so eager to greet her brother
and new sister. It made me wonder why she insisted I come along at all. It was
clear she didn't need me. I had found Emily always had a purpose for everything
she did, even if she was the only one who understood it.
Austin Dickinson stood next to a carriage and offered a hand to his new bride as she stepped out. Miss Susan looked up at the house, and her lips curved with pleasure as if some sort of dream had been fulfilled. It must have been a great comfort for her to know she was now secure and would always have a home. From the snippets I had overhead from the family, I gathered Miss Susan hadn't had the same upbringing as the Dickinson children. Her parents were dead, and she'd been handed off from aunt to aunt. As luck or providence would have it, she and Emily struck up a friendship several years ago, and from that relationship, Miss Susan became acquainted with Austin. Now, she was a member of one of the most prominent families in Amherst. It was a great change of fortune.
"You're home!" Emily cried, and ran to her brother and Miss Susan. "I thought I should die before you returned. It was so long, and you did not write me nearly as much as you should have."
"Emily." Her brother laughed. "We are to dine at the homestead tonight and greet you properly then. There is no reason to make a scene."
From the light shining in Austin's eyes, he was pleased to see his sister.
Emily hugged her brother and Miss Susan in turn. "I don't need a proper greeting. I could not wait one more second without seeing you. You can greet Mother and Father under the stiff confines of the dining table. But me, I want to be greeted in the open air with only heaven looking down."
"Oh, Emily, Sister," Miss Susan said. "I have missed you so. I'm certain I longed to see you as much as you longed to see me."
Austin wrinkled his brow. "Yes, we have both missed you, Sister."
The porter removed the couple's trunks from the back of the carriage, and Austin seemed to accept this as a time to escape. "I will show you where to put those. The house is still being put in order, and not all the furniture is in place."
"Yes, sir," the man murmured. His thick Irish accent was noticeable when he spoke. Austin led the green-eyed porter into the house. It was then that Miss Susan noticed me for the first time. "And why did you bring the maid with you?" Miss Susan asked. Her intelligent eyes bored into me.
"She was in the garden and wanted to welcome you home too. I see no reason to turn a warm welcome away, do you, dear Sister?" She sighed happily. "What a thrill it is for me to call you that. I feel as if I have been waiting for this day for so many years. I have dreamed it, prayed for it, and now it is here. We will be together each and every day, as we were meant to be."
Miss Susan's gaze softened when she looked at Emily. "This is what I have wished and prayed for too. I'm grateful to be married to your brother, but I wish . . ." She trailed off and then looked at me again. "It is no matter. This is the best solution." Miss Susan's demeanor changed. "We have news."
"You are with child already?" Emily gasped.
Miss Susan clapped her hands as if Emily's thought were a fly that must be squashed. "Heavens no. We're going to have our first guests to the Evergreens here in just a week's time. There is a literary society meeting at the college just before the new term begins, and Mr. Emerson will be the honored guest. I learned of this while we were on our wedding trip, and wrote to extend an invitation. He accepted, and he and his secretary will be staying here with us."
Emily laid a hand to her chest. "Ralph Waldo Emerson, the writer?"
Susan chuckled and lovingly touched Emily's cheek. "My girl, yes, is there any other Emerson of literary importance in this world? He will be arriving from Concord by carriage a week from today. As you can imagine, this does not give me much time to prepare. My own maid is in a complete panic over it because, yes, I expect everything to be perfect. I will not have my first esteemed guest reporting back to the wider world that I neither knew how to keep a home, nor was a proper hostess." She lowered her hand from Emily's cheek.
Excerpted from I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died by Amanda Flower Copyright © 2023 by Amanda Flower. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About the Author
Amanda Flower is the USA Today bestselling and Agatha Award-winning mystery author of over forty novels, including the nationally bestselling Amish Candy Shop Mystery Series, Magical Bookshop Mysteries, and, written under the name Isabella Alan, the Amish Quilt Shop Mysteries. Flower is a former librarian, and she and her husband, a recording engineer, own a habitat farm and recording studio in Northeast Ohio. Learn more online at www.amandaflower.com.