After penning seven mysteries starring stylish 1930s sleuth Amory Ames, author Ashley Weaver kicks off a new historical mystery series with A Peculiar Combination, which will introduce readers to World War II-era thief-turned-British spy Electra McDonell. The official synopsis is below:
Electra McDonnell has always known that the way she and her family earn their living is outside of the law. Breaking into the homes of the rich and picking the locks on their safes may not be condoned by British law enforcement, but World War II is in full swing.
Therefore Ellie and her uncle can't resist a tip about a safe full of jewels in an empty house. All goes as planned—until the pair are caught red-handed. But rather than being arrested, government official Major Ramsey is waiting with an offer: Ellie must help him break into a safe and retrieve blueprints before they are delivered to a Nazi spy.
A Peculiar Combination is the first in the new Electra McDonnell series from Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver—a delightful novel filled with spies, murder, romance and the author's signature wit.
A Peculiar Combination will be published on May 11, 2021, but in the meantime, feast your eyes on its gorgeous cover and read an exclusive excerpt!
“May I have the paper and pencil please?”
Major Ramsey reached into his pocket and handed it to me. They were the only tools I had told him I needed, but I had no place to carry them. The dress was decidedly not made for concealing things.
“How long will it take you?” he asked behind my shoulder.
“Longer than necessary if you hover behind me.”
He let out a breath and stepped back. I listened as his steps moved toward the desk. The drawer rattled.
“Locked?” I asked, looking over my shoulder.
“I didn’t expect it to be open.”
“Here, let me.” I moved toward him as I reached up and took a pin from my hair. It was the sort of thing that was always being done in books and at the cinema, but it really did work. One just had to have the right angle and know the right sort of pressure to apply.
It was the work of only a few seconds for the lock to give. Really, if more people knew how easily ordinary locks were picked, they would invest in better security for their important things.
The major began sifting through the papers, and I moved back toward the safe.
I tuned him out after that, focusing the way Uncle Mick had taught me to do. For a long time there was nothing but me and the dial, the almost imperceptible changes in give as I found the contact points.
I supposed the major wished the lock was as pliant as the one on the desk drawer had been, but I was enjoying every moment of it. I felt calm, almost relaxed, as I worked, testing the dial and graphing the points in the notebook.
My brain felt sharper and clearer than it ever had. Was it the knowledge that I was using my talent for the good of my country? Whatever the case, I graphed out the combination in what felt like record time.
Turning the dial, I felt it give, and I pulled the safe open. “There,” I said softly.
Major Ramsey was at my side in an instant. “Well done, Miss McDonnell.”
He pulled a torch from his pocket and shone it inside the safe. Reaching in, he sifted through the contents.
I held my breath.
Cover art by Minotaur Books.
Excerpt from A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver. Copyright © 2021 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.