Black Widow Valley

Young men have been disappearing in Black Valley, New York–which now has the misfortune of being known as “Black Widow Valley.” As it happens, Mary-Alice Arceneaux has a personal connection with the tiny community, and is called in to help. Mary-Alice is thrilled to be a part of the investigation–but by the time she arrives at the forbidding Kilmer House where she will spend the night, she realizes she may be in over her head.

This modern retelling of Lost Man’s Lane takes the action from the sultry bayous of Southwest Louisiana to upstate New York’s remote Black Valley. Mary-Alice is challenged to keep her wits about her when she gets herself invited to stay in the forbidding old mansion that appears to hold the key to a string of unspeakable crimes. Fortunately (or not), Sinful’s Sheriff Robert E. Lee is on the case too!


Logan and Lucetta excused themselves after dinner, leaving Mary-Alice alone in the dismal dining room. Just as she was considering whether to get up and snoop, or try to find someone who would show her to her room, Hannah entered the dining room.

“Oh, Hannah, darlin,” Mary-Alice said, “I wonder if you could show me where I’ll be staying tonight.”

“Room’s not ready yet, Ma’am.” Hannah made no attempt to clear the table quietly; the plates and saucers clattered as she stacked them. “Miss Kilmer sends her apologies, and says she understands if you’d like Logan to drive you down to the hotel in town. She’s already called ahead and gotten a room for you.”

“Well, that’s ever so kind, I’m sure,” Mary-Alice parried, “but I rather did have my heart set on staying the night here.”

“Means you have to wait a while,” Hannah replied. “There’s no room ready.”

“Why, I’d like nothing better than to wait,” Mary-Alice declared. She squared her dainty shoulders and followed the larger woman back to the gloomy sitting room. Althea’s children had known of her arrival, and there must be dozens of rooms in this old house.  What were they hiding?

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This story is a licensed work in Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune world.