The Shanghai Tunnel, by Sharan Newman, English, Hardcover, 2008
Author Sharan Newman
Publication Date Feb 2008
Page material gelatine plate paper
Portland, 1868. It is a rough hewn place, an exploding trading post that has dreams of becoming a metropolis.
Horace Stratton, one of Portland's wealthiest heirs, has decided to come home for good after amassing yet another fortune in Shanghai. With him comes his wife Emily, a shy daughter of missionaries, and their teenaged son. On the brink of that happy return, Horace suddenly falls ill and dies in San Francisco.
Emily and her son bring her husband home to Portland and they try to settle into this new culture.While they look as if they should belong, Portland is a strange and unsettling place for them.
Emily is guilt-ridden, but sorrow is one of the few emotions she didn’t feel when told of her husband's passing. For Emily had learned more about her husband’s past than anyone would believe. And she discovers that all of his schemes did not die with him.
His partners very much want Emily and her son to go away... by whatever means necessary. Emily will have to delve into her husband's seedy and painful past and set things right so that she can make a life for herself and her son in this strange land.
Sharan Newman is a historian, lecturer, and writer who has won many awards, including the Macavity for Best First Mystery, and the Herodotus for Best Historical Mystery.
The stench of embalming fluid rose from the open coffin and struck Emily with the force of a tidal wave. She put a scented handkerchief to her nose and pushed her tongue against the roof of her mouth to keep from gagging.
“Really, Mrs. Stratton, ” Mr. Phipps was at her side in a moment. “It wasn’t at all necessary for you to do this. It’s better if you could remember your husband as he was.”
“I had to see him, ” Emily said through the handkerchief. “I had to be sure.”
Phipps averted his eyes from the corpse. The embalmers hadn’t got to it soon enough.
“There was no need, ” he repeated. “Can we please shut that now?”
Emily nodded. The poor man seemed on the edge of hysteria. One would think he’d never looked on death before. Emily did feel ill, but for a different reason. The man in the coffin was certainly Horace, her husband for the past eighteen years.
The lid slammed down. Phipps exhaled gratefully.
“There was never any doubt that it was Captain Stratton, ” he told Emily with reproach. “I identified him myself and there were many at the hotel who knew him. You should have spared yourself this ordeal.”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Phipps, ” Emily said. “If I hadn’t seen him, there would always have been a doubt in my mind. Some part of me would have refused to believe he was gone and continued to expect him to return.”
Phipps nodded in sympathy. “I understand. At least he wasn’t lost at sea. Then you might have continued to hope forever.”
Hope? Emily almost laughed. Dread was the word she would have used. The thud of the coffin lid over Horace’s body was like a bell of freedom. She hadn’t realized until that moment how much she feared the possibility that his death had been a ruse.
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