Baby Farmers were usually women (or a couple) who, for a monthly fee, would care for your baby. (In the late Victorian Era, London was full of women needing work at various factories. Many baby farmers failed to feed or would simply drowned the babies. There were several notorious baby farmers who killed babies: Amelia Dyer is believed to have killed over 400 babies. The exact numbers of babies who died by these women was rarely certain.
In my story, when Vic is trying to train Scotland Yard officers to be more intuitive, she realizes one of the officers has been flirting with a baby farmer. When Captain Meyers and the officer check out the young lady’s home they discover five babies dead in the crib.
Sixteen other babies are returned to their mothers. Oddly, the one baby that someone paid to have killed remained alive, more than likely to blackmail the gentleman who brought the child to her.
Vic decides instead of sending the baby boy to an orphanage where it would likely die in a month, she would give it to her brother in law. Claire never lets David hold their baby girl. David needs a little boy to teach him wisdom and share his love.
Determining who to trust is getting very hard, indeed. This may be the most trying cases imaginable. Director Stone has gone missing and it appears Ministers of Parliament are involved. Xavier is arrested and placed in a jail meant to kill him, while Vic, disguised as a woman, attempts to locate the Minister of External Affairs and ask for his help.
Everyone is called in to assist: Jacko, his wife Alice, their son Pete, Samson the Crime Lord, David and Claire, Tubs and his wife Sara, the boys: Cannon and Ham, plus the bloodhound Arroo.
The Wasp who escaped punishment for her attempts to murder her bigamist husband’s first wife last year is back. Vic discovers love letters between Ben, their terrible secretary and the Wasp. Worse yet, he shared Xavier’s financial advice with the Wasp, making her and her husband very wealthy.
With Stone missing, and Barns and Meyers stretched to their limits, Vic decides it’s time to train more of the Scotland Yard officers in intuitive and deductive reasoning. While only half the class makes it through her two-day course, everyone is pleased with her results.
Be warned, Vic’s sister, Claire, is becoming more difficult than ever. Gregory thinks she is going mad.
His sad demeanor warned her the news would break her heart. “She was murdering the babies,” Vic stated as tears ran down her cheeks.
“Yes. There were five dead in the cribs. Dr. Connors said they either died of starvation or poison—they showed signs of both—so he’s claiming both to be the cause of death. I brought in more men to dig up the backyard and they found seven more bodies before I left. I expect there’ll be more.”
“How old was this woman?” Vic asked.
“She is only twenty with a demeanor of kindness and charm.”
“It’s how she convinces the poor women to hand over their babies to her care,” Vic replied. “But she couldn’t have been baby farming for long. Does Cotter know how long she’s lived there?”
“She moved in five months ago.”
“Are the bodies in the back yard just bones?”
“Some are, some aren’t,” Meyers replied softly.
“So, she bought the business from someone else.”
“She swears she didn’t know about the bones in the backyard. She sounded completely sincere, but two of the graves were freshly dug, probably in the last week, so she’s just good at lying.”
Vic nodded with his conclusion. “It’s a skill a baby farmer must have. Most women do not want to kill their babies. But they either cannot afford to feed them or they must work long days and cannot care for their own child. A baby farmer must be able to convince a woman, for a small amount of money each week to pay for the child’s keep, she will love the baby like her own.”
“That no doubt explains why she had so many babies.”
“Were any still alive?”
“Seventeen of them.”
“Does she have paperwork as to whom they belong to?”
“She does on sixteen of them. The mothers had to work, so they left their babies with her for eight pounds a month. The little boy was to be killed, but she hadn’t gotten around to it.”
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Liza O’Connor was raised badly by feral cats, left the South/Midwest and wandered off to find nicer people on the east coast. There she worked for the meanest man on Wall Street, while her psychotic husband tried to kill her three times. (So much for finding nicer people.) Then one day she declared enough, got a better job, divorced her husband, and fell in love with her new life where people behaved nicely. But all those bad behaviors has given her lots of fodder for her humorous books. Please buy these books, because otherwise, she’ll become grumpy and write troubled novels instead. They will likely traumatize you.
You have been warned.
The Adventures of Xavier & Vic Sleuth series: (Late Victorian/Mystery/Romance)
The Troublesome Apprentice — The greatest sleuth in Victorian England hires a young man who turns out to be a young woman.
The Missing Partner — Opps! The greatest sleuth in Victorian England goes missing, leaving Vic to rescue him, a suffragette, and about 100 servants. Not to mention an eviscerating cat. Yes, let’s not mention the cat.
A Right to Love — A romantic detour for Jacko. Want to see how amply rewarded Jacko was when he & Vic save an old woman from Bedlam?
The Mesmerist — The Mesmerist can control people from afar and make them murder for her. Worse yet, Xavier Thorn has fallen under her spell.
Well Kept Secrets — The problems with secrets is that they always come to light, no matter how you wish to silence them.
Pack of Trouble — Changes are a part of life, but these changes almost kill Vic.
The Darkest Days — Muddled cases make Vic very grumpy.
The CrimeLords’ War — Vic is almost killed twice as she tries to prevent a CrimeLords’ War, stop a female Russian spy, and locate Xavier.
Toxic Diamonds — The Queen’s Diamonds have been stolen, Director Stone of Scotland Yard is missing, and there is a toxic gas that may kill hundreds of Londoners.
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