A Dodge, a Twist, and a Tobacconist is a Steampunk Literary Tribute The Amazon ebook is now live here:
Sophronia Belle Lyon grew up in the Catskill Mountains of upstate New York and has always loved Sci Fi, Fantasy, and the great literary classics. Please like her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SophroniaBelleLyon
The book comes out October 30, and should make a great Halloween alternative.
This series melds some better and lesser-known characters of classic literary fiction: A literary dream team of crime fighters including nods to Dickens, Stevenson, Alcott, Austen, Kipling, Doyle, and other writers across the pond, with plenty of homages to great books sprinkled throughout. Prowl the foggy London streets on the track of a ruthless enslaver of souls. Travel the Thames in a Giant Catfish. Soar over London in a stealth glider, and witness true redemptions and restorations no one ever imagined.
Here’s a “deleted scene” that describes some of the characters the story brings together.
A “deleted scene” where Mac Campbell and Rose discuss the biographical studies Phoebe gave them, a copy of which Florizel also received.” ‘Doctor Oliver Twist’? Isn’t that the young man we met with Prince Florizel?”
“Yes,” Mac replied, “the one who might frighten people away.”
“I can’t imagine him frightening anybody. He seemed so sweet and harmless.”
“Perhaps he’s a mad scientist, since he does carry the title of ‘Doctor.’ Orphaned at birth, thrown into the British workhouse system, apprenticed out to a coffin-maker, escaped to London, unwittingly received training as a pickpocket from a fence named Fagin — ”
“How does someone not know he’s being taught to rob people?”
“I don’t get that, either. At any rate, this says Twist was actually the victim of a plot by a half-brother he never met. This lovely sibling knew of Twist’s real family but worked hard to keep him from finding them. The half-brother knew Twist could lay claim to a sizeable inheritance conditional upon Twist keeping an unspotted character. His loving brother Monks paid off the workhouse matron, the parish beadle, the coffin-maker, and a London fence, to try to destroy proofs of the boy’s identity, his reputation and any hope of being re-united with his true family.”
“The poor boy! Did Monks succeed in this terrible plan?”
“Looks as if he would have if it hadn’t been for a prostitute named Nancy. She at first helped kidnap the boy back after he was briefly rescued from the fence. She later repented and went to the man, Brownlow, who had taken Twist in, with evidence that proved not only who Twist really was, but that he hadn’t become a thief as Monks planned. Twist was still eligible to receive his inheritance, and he has put it into scientific research, having built a facility he calls Nancy House.”
“Oh, how terribly sad. Nancy was murdered by the housebreaker Bill Sykes when he discovered how she had exposed the whole operation run by this man Fagin.”
“What an odd history. Still doesn’t explain how he frightens people. We may have to fall back on the mad scientist position. Now, here’s the one I want to read about. Mowgli, native of somewhere in India, Raised by wolves, also called Nathoo, possibly the son of a woman called Messua. Father not identified by name. Forest ranger under a British officer named Gisborne, accompanied by Bagheera, a black leopard of Oodeypore.”
“That is the man who gave you back your stick and watch and sang birdcalls with Phoebe.”
“Did you see how broad his shoulders are? He is all muscle and spring, that fellow. He’s also the one who saved us tonight.”
“I thought so. Then that noise we heard from the other bedroom and the children’s talk of the ‘great black kitty’ — ”
“Bagheera. Well, on with the papers. I believe we may skip over Mrs. Phoebe Moore-Campbell, though it is useful to note that she does not list her ‘talent’ as singing.”
“Yes! It says here she is able to mix freely among all levels of society, both as a celebrity and as a housemaid. Why would Phoebe go back to housemaiding?”
“As Archie said to me, I expect she’ll explain if she has a mind to. Zambo is the next name on the list. Italian nobility, perhaps?”
“Mac, for all the time you spend with your nose in a book, you ought to know better. Zambo is a trade name for a black or mixed-race slave in the Caribbean or South America. This gentleman was freed by a hunter named Lord John Roxton, known as “The flail of the Lord” for his battles against the slave trade. Zambo traveled with the party of this hunter, which included a newspaper reporter and two scientists seeking a place where dinosaurs had been found living in South America.”
“I remember reading the news articles about that! Those idiot scientists had to admit the plateau was real and the dinosaurs were there. But they dismissed the possibility of man and dinosaur living at the same time because they would never acknowledge that God created them within a day of each other. Said some kind of catastrophe millions of years ago upthrust the plateau where the ‘Lost World’ was and kept it ‘primitive,’ complete with ‘missing link’ ape men!'”
“Mac, you’ll wake the children.” Both of them froze as they heard a deep, eerie rumble similar to the sound that had sent Mowgli darting out of the sitting room earlier.
“Or something bigger and less forgiving,” Mac said in a contrite whisper.
“Zambo was unable to go into the lost plateau world with the others because of the actions of some slavers his friend the hunter had thwarted. They had infiltrated the party and were seeking revenge. Zambo dealt with the saboteurs, who thought they had cut off the explorers’ only means of escape from the plateau. He waited faithfully for his companions to return. Roxton found diamonds on the plateau and freely gave a share to his faithful servant. Zambo was therefore was able to devote himself to the work his hunter benefactor started. He now travels in the cause of ending human trafficking all over the world.”
“Next comes a fellow American, someone called S — Er — does that say what I think it does?” Mac squinted and adjusted his thick, gold-rimmed glasses.
“Slue-Foot Sue? Um… perhaps she is a real cowgirl, Mac. I would like to meet one.”
“This says she is the wife of a western folk hero named Pecos Bill. She and her husband were prospectors, ranchers and Texas Rangers, as well as working for the Pinkerton Detective Agency.”
“Mrs.– err — Sue is known for her exemplary riding, tracking and mechanical skills.”
“I am certain Phoebe’s crimefighters need a good cowgirl-mechanic. I just keep telling myself, ‘Phoebe will explain.’ Hey, Rosie, here’s Fun See!”
“Oh. Mac, that’s not his real name, you know.”
“I know that’s not his real name. But he always let us call him that, and it got to be a habit. Never could get my tongue around the genuine article. Anyway, it says he’s an expert on all things trade and commerce, especially as it relates to Chinese and other Asian ships. That makes sense.”
“Dear old Fun See. I still cannot believe he and Annabel Bliss are married, and how happy they are.”
“Annabel has changed a lot. Of course, so has Fun. You remember how you liked him better than his uncle at first because he was still ‘all Chinese?’ It’s amazing how well he’s kept that image, in spite of being so savvy about everything. He’s mastered a dozen languages, and Miss Annabel now resembles a China doll instead of — what was it you said about that other stuck-up thing they sent to entertain you before we boys came to your rescue?”
“Oh, you mean Ariadne Blish! I said she looked so much like a wax doll I wanted to pinch her and see if she would squeak! Annabelle was never that unbearable.”
“The two of them dress and act the perfect dynasty couple but they don’t miss a thing that goes on about them. Fun’s done a load of customs work, and knows everything about every ship that sails in and out of China and the whole British Empire. Annabelle helps him every step of the way.”
“Here is an Edward Ferrars. English. Son of a gentleman’s family, disinherited by his mother for wanting to marry beneath himself, got a living – that’s like a pastorate, I guess — a small church in the English countryside.”
“Married a Miss Elinor Dashwood. Apparently she was not the aforementioned lady beneath himself, although, on the other hand, there does not seem to have been any great fortune involved. I’m so glad I picked a rich wife.”
Rose made a face and threw her little scented pillow, a gift from Uncle Alec, which she still kept and carried everywhere with her. “How does this quiet couple fit in with these people?”
“It says here that he is very involved in and knowledgeable about church, government, and the education system. I’m not sure how that fits in with Phoebe’s mission, but I have no doubt that will be made clear to us tomorrow. And now, Madam Campbell, since the foundation representatives must hear this proposal at such an early hour tomorrow – ” he glanced at the watch on the bedside table and grimaced ” — or should I say today, I suggest we retire.”
“Not just yet.” Rose put her arms around her husband’s neck and gave him a kiss.
“Oh, well, if you insist.”