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The arrest of a family member for the previous year's murder of the two youngest divides the family as the defendent's attorney tries to prove his innocence.Share Tweet LinkedIn Embed pszr.co/KMPoW 250 views
|5 publishers interested|
It’s 1903 and the Johansson family in rural Des Moines, Iowa attempt to regain their lives after the first trial ends in an acquittal. But they receive yet another blow. Jacob, one of their own, is charged with the previous year’s brutal murders of the two youngest children.
The arrest tears the family apart; pitting them against each other as some support Jacob while others believe in his guilt. Meanwhile, Claire Johansson struggles with her own part in her son’s arrest.
Not wanting the embarrassment of another failed trial, District Attorney Jones takes the lead; painting a picture of a deranged man fueled by anger and greed. The defendant’s attorney fights for his client’s life, but can he prove Jacob’s innocence?
Secrets Divide follows the Johansson Family after the arrest of a family member for the murders of the two youngest members. The story begins with Jacob's arrest and ends with his trial.
Readers of the first book, Secrets By The Knoll are clamoring for the sequel to be released. This book appeals to all age groups from teens to senior citizens with an interest in historic mystery.
The book would be appropriate for reading groups as reader's emotions are transformed from one extreme to another throughout the book.
"Finished reading Julie's new book Secrets Divide and I am again impressed by this author! While this one can easily stand on its own merit it picked up seamlessly from its predecessor Secrets by the Knoll. Julie again brought the characters to life and expanded upon their personalities and thoughts. I thought she did a great job of giving the reader enough background info from Secrets by the Knoll without retelling the entire book, which is why this one can stand on its own, without rehashing the entire book" Rita B.
"I couldn't put it down once I started - I wanted to get to the end - which I wasn't sure I saw that coming by the way!" Mary Jo W.
"This ended with a jolt for me , left me wanting more . Will say I will read both books back to back again , GOOD JOB !!!" Steve M.
The funds will be used to self-publish both in print form and for e-readers.
Self promotion including but not limited to:
Midnight Assassin - A Murder In America's Heartland by Patricia L. Bryan In 1900, Margaret Hossack, the wife of a prominent Iowa farmer, was arrested for bludgeoning her husband to death with an ax while their children slept upstairs. The community was outraged: How could a woman commit such an act of violence? Firsthand accounts describe the victim, John Hossack, as a cruel and unstable man. Perhaps Margaret Hossack was acting out of fear. Or perhaps the story she told was true—that an intruder broke into the house, killed her husband while she slept soundly beside him, and was still on the loose. Newspapers across the country carried the story, and community sentiment was divided over her guilt. At trial, Margaret was convicted of murder, but later was released on appeal. Ultimately, neither her innocence nor her guilt was ever proved.
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April 13, 1903
Deep in her thoughts, Claire sat alone at the kitchen table with her hands cupped around her tea cup. She lifted the cup to her mouth and took a sip, “Ugh!” she said aloud. Her tea now lukewarm.
Just a year ago, I had a houseful of children, she thought. She knew what day it was. April 13, 1902. A day that changed their lives forever. For that Sunday night, a brutal murder took her two youngest children away from her. For the first time in her life, Claire felt unneeded and lonely. As far as she recalled, she always took care of someone or something. As a young girl, she helped her mother care for her grandparents and with the household chores. Her older brothers died from influenza leaving just twelve-year-old Claire to help her father with the farm chores. Claire continued to milk the cows, feed the chickens, and help with repairs around the farm until her father finally hired a farm hand to help.
Lukas began working at the farm shortly after emigrating from Sweden. Unable to speak a word of English, Claire tutored the blonde blue-eyed Swede in the evenings. A mutual admiration developed, and Lukas knew what he needed to do. He learned the words to request permission from her father to court his only daughter. Claire continued to tutor Lukas and a year later when they married, he was quite fluent at speaking English. Most of it. Lukas still struggled with the W sound and the letter “v” replaced it. When excited or angry, his rants became an unusual blending of English and Swedish. After they married, she relinquished her milking duties and took over the household chores. Her days spent tending to the vegetable garden, churning butter, preparing meals and endless sewing. When a bout with tuberculosis left her father too weak to work on the farm, she found herself back in the dairy barn milking the cows side by side with her husband. Eventually, their children were born, and Lukas was forced to hire a farm hand.
Now, with all the children out of house, Claire found her days idle. With just the two of them at home, the time spent gardening, laundering, and mending lessened. After years of preparing meals for nine people, Claire found it difficult to cut back on her recipes and still made too much food. Despite his feeble attempt to say no, Jacob graciously accepted her baskets filled with a warm dinner or rolls for breakfast. That’s the least she could do. Jacob owned his farm adjacent to theirs but continued to milk their cows twice a day. Claire even convinced him to drop off his dirty clothes for her to wash. She hoped and prayed he would marry soon. Boys never learned domestic skills, she thought.
Like a good wife, Claire continued to care for her husband, but he no longer appreciated it. He hardly spoke to her, unless necessary; and even then, it was only one or two words. He would disappear for hours each day and retire soon after his evening meal.
Claire tried to keep herself busy. She knitted or crocheted booties and blankets for their ever-growing family. Her sewing basket overflowed with clothing embroidered and sewed for her unborn grandchildren. The fruits and vegetables she canned shared with her children and neighbors. News of an ailing neighbor or mother in labor sent Claire immediately to their home to help out. Once a week, she joined neighboring women for afternoon tea. She met with the women’s guild at their church. Her church. No one went with her. She quietly sat in the back pew immersed in prayer. Prayers for her broken family.
But with all that, she found herself alone for hours each day. Alone with her memories of happier days from long ago and the recent sad days. Claire prayed whenever her thoughts turned to sadness.
Now that spring had arrived, Claire hoped her days would be busier. The last winter frost would be soon, and she could begin working in the garden. The long frigid snowy winter kept her imprisoned in her own home. That morning she rose to a bright sunrise. She quickly flung open curtains and windows to brighten up the rooms and chase away the winter blues. With the windows open, she listened to the refreshing sounds of spring, birds chirping, cows mooing in the pastures, pigs squealing in the mud, or the galloping sounds of a passing wagon on Poor Farm Road.
Claire felt the warmth from the spring breeze; bringing with it the pungent scent from the manure spread over the fields. Even after spending her entire life on a farm, the odor still caused her to wrinkle her nose. She thought about closing the windows facing the fields, but it had been a long winter filled with sadness and loneliness; she welcomed the fresh air, regardless of the foul odor.
Bang-bang! The sound of nearby gunfire startled her.
“Oh! That sounded close!”
Someone must have found a fox in their chicken coop, she thought to herself.
Gunfire never bothered her before, but her home eerily quiet now. Every sound echoed throughout the house and rattled the walls.
Just a year ago, she repeated her earlier thought. Her house full of laughter and sibling squabbles. One by one, her children left the nest to begin their own lives. Above her, the upstairs’ bedrooms remained empty. Jacob now the only one she saw every day. Sitting by the window, she waited for him to wash up at their water pump. She quickly ran to the back door to wave him over to give him his laundered clothing or a warm meal. Sometimes, he would sit down for quick meal; but most of the time, he graciously thanked her with a kiss on the cheek. She tried to engage him into conversation, but he hurried home to wash up. He recently began courting Isabelle, a young woman from church and he didn’t want to show up late.
At afternoon tea last week, Eliza Davis suggested she take in boarders. Claire loved that idea and made a mental note to talk to Lukas later. It was foolish to let the two rooms stay vacant. Not to mention, it would give her something to do.
Lukas. How can I talk to him when he won’t answer me? Her husband blamed her for his son’s death. She didn’t think he would ever forgive her.
Suddenly, Claire felt a pain in her chest. She placed her hand over her heart. A premonition. Someone was hurting. But who? Lukas? One of her children? Her grandchild? Jacob? She wasn’t sure.
She worried about Lukas every day for the past year. Timmy’s death hit him hard. He retreated into his own world; going through the motions but not really understanding anything. She seriously doubted he remember the girls' weddings, that more grandchildren were coming or that Gracie also died that night. The caretaker from the cemetery stopped by a few months ago following Lukas’ recent visit during a blizzard. He expressed his concerns and worries that Lukas would freeze to death. He told Claire that Lukas visited the gravesite three or four times a week. Regardless of the weather; he knelt on the grass, mud or snow and cried for hours.
Even married and expecting, Anna Belle and Chloe would always be her little girls; she prayed they both delivered healthy babies with no complications. Anna Belle’s baby due first and Chloe’s, just a few months later. The stress of the trial and acquittal of Tom Landers could cause a premature delivery but her worries in vain. Her daughters’ healthy and happy as their babies grew inside.
“I think I will visit Anna Belle and Chloe tomorrow. I do need to pick up a few things from the dry goods store,” she said aloud. With both daughters living close to the shops, it gave her a perfect opportunity for Claire to visit.
John and Emma’s growing family reminded of her own difficulties with childbirth. Just barely six months old, Baby Timmy would soon be a big brother. Emma’s first pregnancy proved difficult; the baby took over her tiny frame forcing her to spend the last few weeks in bed. Chloe stayed with them but now that she was married, there was no one to help. Timmy could be a handful, but she raised John to be a caring husband and father, he would help Emma whenever he could.
“I could visit John, Emma and baby Timmy too.” Tomorrow, I will ask Jacob to hitch the wagon.
Lillian’s health and well-being caused her sleepless nights. On her rare visits home, Claire could see that the daily nursing classes and overnight shifts at the hospital exhausted her. She looked tired but happy. Nursing was her calling. Lillian would say, “Mama, don’t fret!” But that wouldn’t stop Claire from worrying she would become ill or catch a deadly disease.
Shortly after she started nursing school, Lillian met Ben, a medical student in his final year. Their friendship eventually grew to a courtship. A secret courtship. The school forbade nursing students to date or marry, and violators expelled from school. Their close friend kept their secret. Lillian believed the head nurse knew but turned a blind eye. But they stayed diligent in hiding their romance; even visits to the Johansson farm were carefully planned out. Both leaving the hospital at separate times and in different directions, then meeting up just a few blocks away.
And then there was Jacob. The rift between Jacob and Lukas, often, her primary reason for her extra church visits. Many an afternoon, she knelt alone in the church and asked God to heal their hearts. But it only got worse. The animosity for each other grew more with every passing day. She had prayed that living separately would help but it still wasn’t better. Jacob avoided Lukas.
Clip-clop. Clip-clop. The rhythmic sound of hooves hitting the gravel road outside interrupted Claire’s thoughts.
An overwhelming uneasiness engulfed Claire. Lukas or one of her children needed her and she didn’t know which one.
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