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Authors: Sheila Connolly

Fire Engine Dead

BOOK: Fire Engine Dead
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Praise for

FUNDRAISING THE DEAD

“Skillfully executed…It’s a pleasure to accompany Nell on her quest.
Fundraising the Dead
is a promising debut with a winning protagonist.”


Mystery Scene

“Old families, old papers, and the old demons of sex and money shape Connolly’s cozy series launch, which will appeal to fans of her Orchard and (as Sarah Atwell) Glassblowing Mysteries…[The] archival milieu and the foibles of the characters are intriguing, and it’s refreshing to encounter an FBI man who is human, competent, and essential to the plot.”


Publishers Weekly

“She’s smart, she’s savvy, and she’s sharp enough to spot what really goes on behind the scenes in museum politics. The practical and confident Nell Pratt is exactly the kind of sleuth you want in your corner when the going gets tough. Sheila Connolly serves up a snappy and sophisticated mystery that leaves you lusting for the next witty installment.”

—Mary Jane Maffini, author of the Charlotte Adams Mysteries


National Treasure
meets
The Philadelphia Story
in this clever, charming, and sophisticated caper…Secrets, lies, and a delightful revenge conspiracy make this a real page-turner!”

—Hank Phillippi Ryan, Agatha Award–winning author of
Drive Time

“Sheila Connolly’s wonderful new series is a witty, engaging blend of history and mystery with a smart sleuth who already feels like a good friend. Like all of Ms. Connolly’s books,
Fundraising the Dead
is hard to put down. Her stories always keep me turning pages—often well past my bedtime.”

—Julie Hyzy, author of the White House Chef Mysteries

Praise for the Orchard Mysteries

“Sheila Connolly’s Orchard Mysteries are some of the most satisfying cozy mysteries I’ve read…Warm and entertaining from the first paragraph to the last. Fans will look forward to the next Orchard Mystery.”


Lesa’s Book Critiques

“An enjoyable and well-written book with some excellent apple recipes at the end.”


Cozy Library

“The mystery is intelligent and has an interesting twist…
Rotten to the Core
is a fun, quick read with an enjoyable heroine.”


The Mystery Reader
(four stars)

“Delightful…[A] fascinating whodunit filled with surprises.”


The Mystery Gazette

“[A] delightful new series.”


Gumshoe Review

“The premise and plot are solid, and Meg seems a perfect fit for her role.”


Publishers Weekly

“A fresh and appealing sleuth with a bushel full of entertaining problems.
One Bad Apple
is one crisp, delicious read.”

—Claudia Bishop, author of the Hemlock Falls Mysteries

“A delightful look at small-town New England, with an intriguing puzzle thrown in. And anybody who’s ever tended a septic system is going to empathize with amateur detective Meg Corey.”

—JoAnna Carl, author of the Chocoholic Mysteries

“A promising new mystery series. Thoroughly enjoyable…I can’t wait for the next book and a chance to spend more time with Meg and the good people of Granford.”

—Sammi Carter, author of the Candy Shop Mysteries

Berkley Prime Crime titles by Sheila Connolly

Orchard Mysteries

ONE BAD APPLE

ROTTEN TO THE CORE

RED DELICIOUS DEATH

A KILLER CROP

BITTER HARVEST

Museum Mysteries

FUNDRAISING THE DEAD

LET’S PLAY DEAD

FIRE ENGINE DEAD

F
IRE
E
NGINE
D
EAD

Sheila Connolly

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada

(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand

(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

FIRE ENGINE DEAD

A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Prime Crime mass-market edition / March 2012

Copyright © 2012 by Sheila Connolly.

Cover illustration by Ross Jones.

Cover design by Rita Frangie.

Interior text design by Laura K. Corless.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-56068-6

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME

Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY
®
PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

10    9    8    7    6    5    4    3    2    1

If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Writing about firefighters can be challenging, because since 9/11 they have become national heroes, and rightly so. I hope that my depiction of the activities within the Philadelphia Fire Department in this book is generally accurate, and that no reader thinks that they are anything but outstanding citizens. Likewise, small-town volunteer fire departments deserve recognition, and I’ve known some members of those who were proud to give their services without compensation.

Among Philadelphia’s wonderful array of museums is one devoted to firefighting equipment and paraphernalia, as befits the city where Benjamin Franklin organized the first fire company. While I have borrowed much of the history and organizational structure, I can assure you that Philadelphia’s Fireman’s Hall Museum collection is intact, and there are no arsonists on the payroll, to the best of my knowledge.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Dian Williams, Ph.D., author of the book
Understanding the Arsonist: From Assessment to Confession
. She is a specialist in firesetting psychology, and she teaches near Philadelphia, which made her an ideal resource for the information I needed. In her book she makes it clear that there are many reasons why people set fires. I hope she’ll find that the motives I created in this book are credible.

Thanks as always to my perceptive editor, Shannon Jamieson
Vazquez, who continues to ask gentle questions like “why would he do that?” and to my agent, Jessica Faust of BookEnds, who keeps this series moving forward. Carol Kersbergen is still my eyes and ears in the greater Philadelphia region. As always, Sisters in Crime and the Guppies chapter provide ongoing support and cheerleading—which every writer needs.

Soon after it [a fire] is seen and cry’d out, the Place is crowded by active Men of different Ages, Professions and Titles who, as of one Mind and Rank, apply themselves with all Vigilance and Resolution, according to their Abilities, to the hard Work of conquering the increasing fire.

—Benjamin Franklin on firefighting in Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania Gazette
, 1733

Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

CHAPTER 1

I looked in both directions along the third-floor hallway.
Good, nobody in sight. I pulled open the door to the library stacks only wide enough to slip through it, and closed it quietly behind me.

I was playing hooky. It had been only a few months since I had taken over as president of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society, shoved unceremoniously into the corner office from my nice, safe, lower-profile job as director of development. Don’t get me wrong—I loved my new job. Or at least, parts of the job. But while the Society was a venerable and respected Philadelphia institution, it was now my responsibility to keep it solvent, intact, and open to the public. Not easy, especially since the current fundraising climate sucked; the hundred-plus-year-old building cried out for repairs and upgrades that we simply couldn’t afford; and the salaries we offered were so uncompetitive that we had
trouble hanging on to enough staff to cover the desks and retrieve and shelve items requested.

Hiding wasn’t going to improve any one of those problems, but it was going to make me feel better. I’d first come to work at the Society more than five years ago because I loved Philadelphia and I loved local history. One of the unacknowledged perks of the job was the chance to prowl in the stacks. In the past I could claim that I was getting to know the collections so I could write grant proposals about them, but the truth was, I loved to handle original documents and memorabilia from everyone from William Penn to the most recent mayor of Philadelphia. I got a real rush from the heady smell of old leather and crumbling paper. I needed to revisit the stacks periodically to remind myself why I had accepted the job of president, especially when board members called every other hour to ask why I hadn’t done A, B, or C. The answer usually was
because we can’t afford it
, but they were getting tired of hearing that. Heck,
I
was getting tired of saying it. I needed some new lines—or preferably, more money.

I trod quietly along the dimly lit aisles, making as little noise as possible. Was I looking for anything in particular? Not really. I was certainly trying to avoid noticing the blue tarps spread over shelves here and there to divert the drips from the leaking roof, and the teetering piles of boxes that I knew were
not
acid-free archival quality, and which were slowly sinking under their own weight, doing who knows what damage to their precious contents. No shelves to put them on; no staff to shelve them.
Come on, Nell—you’re supposed to be cheering yourself up!

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