The woman stood in the doorway of the police department, looking over the room, her face tight. She was slender, tall, and might have been attractive if her hair under the drab hat had not been pulled back into a tight knot, making her forehead too high. She was dressed in a severe black suit, a traveling costume without a bustle or any of the absurd embellishments that women were affecting in 1885. At first glance, she might have looked a little like one of those dreadful mission solicitors, the sour women who held out their tambourines, demanding donations for the poor. But she was too poised, too neatly groomed, and she did not have the self-righteous look of a salvation peddler.
Most decent women who found themselves alone in the precinct with its tobacco-stained floors, its cigar-fouled air, amid Denver’s snouts and boosters and other lowlife, were timid, uneasy. They stood nervously, red-faced, eyes downcast, sometimes shaking, until one of the detectives looked up and asked what they wanted. But Beret held herself erect, businesslike, as she scanned the room, daring anyone to question her presence. The truth was, she was a little unnerved at being in a place that was so distasteful to her, knowing as she did how squalid police stations were, how corrupt the inmates on both sides of the law might be. But it couldn’t be helped, Beret told herself.
“Help you, miss?” A policeman spoke up at last.
Beret was startled by the question and almost blanched at the way the man looked her over, but she had had long experience in holding herself together and didn’t flinch. “I am looking for Detective Sergeant Michael McCauley.” Her voice was low and rather pleasant and had not one hint of her unease.
A man at a desk glanced up as the policeman waved Beret in his direction. Ignoring the stares from the other lawmen in the room as well as the reprobates, Beret walked quickly to the desk and said, “Detective Sergeant McCauley.” It was a statement, not a question. She had learned that was the best way to approach a policeman—or almost anybody, for that matter.
She did not appear to be a miscreant or the wife of some poor scapegrace come to beg for leniency for her husband. Perhaps that was why Mick stood up and nodded. “I am. What can I do for you, miss?”
“I’ve come about the death of Lillie Osmundsen.”
“You’re her mother?”
“Oh, sorry, ma’am. The light’s poor in here.”
Beret did not respond. Ten years older than her sister, Beret was used to being taken for Lillie’s mother.
“I wouldn’t have guessed you were sisters,” Mick said, after an awkward silence.
“You mean I am not a beauty like my sister.”
“I wouldn’t say that at all.” His reply was too hearty.
“Then I hope you are more observant when it comes to searching for my sister’s killer. It is obvious by far to anyone with a brain that she is beautiful, and I am unremarkable even on my best day.” She should not have been so touchy. Then she added, “Was
Beret’s voice was strident, and Mick frowned. “Yes, ma’am. I’m real sorry she passed over.”
“Yes. Thank you. I believe the term is ‘murder.’” Beret had repeated the word over and over in her mind, but she found it difficult to say it out loud, and she bit her lip to keep it
"A born storyteller, Dallas excels not only at plot but also at peopling her novels with memorable individuals." —Richmond Times Dispatch on True Sisters
"Dallas tells the story of strong women and the beautiful relationships they can create even in impossible circumstances.” —Publishers Weekly on True Sisters
“This fact-based historical fiction, celebrating sisterhood and heroism, makes for a surefire winner.” —Kirkus Reviews on True Sisters
"Whiter than Snow is a fast and engrossing novel that will capture readers' hearts from the first few pages." —Deseret News
"Her sense of time and place is pitch-perfect and her affection for her characters infectious." —Kirkus Reviews on Whiter than Snow
"Prayers for Sale is a finely crafted tale that celebrates women and their resiliency." —Deseret News
"This satisfying novel will immediately draw readers in and the unexpected twists will keep them hooked through to the bittersweet denouement." —Publishers Weekly on Prayers for Sale