Where my research takes me: 1880s Washington, DC, and a new release!


I hope everyone in the northern hemisphere is enjoying the summer season! For your leisure reading enjoyment–whether it’s the beach, pool, back porch, or a comfy chair in an air-conditioned room…the next Penelope Hamilton adventure is ready for you! Yes, our lady Pinkerton is at it again, facing her toughest assignment yet, in The Case of the Runaway Girl:


Lady detective Penelope Hamilton must navigate a labyrinth of 1880s politics, high society, and murder.

On a January night in 1887, trouble comes knocking at Pinkerton detective Penelope Hamilton’s door in the form of a sulky young runaway. The girl turns out to be the grandniece of an influential senator, who hires Pen to escort her and her friend from Chicago to his Washington, DC home.

What seems a simple assignment takes an alarming turn when a hired thug shadows them on the train, and Pen stays on the case in Washington for the girls’ safety. But in the days that follow, the senator’s home is broken into, his driver goes missing, and she is pursued along dark city streets and nearly captured. Obviously, Miss Hamilton is thwarting someone’s plans, and such an encumbrance must be removed.

In a search for answers to keep herself and her young charges safe, Pen must tread carefully within the confines of 1880s back-room politics and business tycoons with a lot to lose, while resisting the attentions of an attractive but not-quite-reformed jewel thief who knows far too much about her.

She’ll need more than her lockpicks and derringer this time, if she is to save them all. 

THE CASE OF THE RUNAWAY GIRL is the third adventure in the CHRONICLES OF A LADY DETECTIVE series featuring 1880s Pinkerton detective Penelope Hamilton.

Available now as a $2.99 ebook! KindleiTunesNook, and Kobo.

The Research

As with all of my books, the writing of this story required extensive research (but it’s fun!), specifically into 1880s Washington DC, the workings of the Senate, and the details surrounding the passage of a key piece of legislation at the time. I found all sorts of intriguing details, such as the ladies’ viewing gallery over the Senate Chamber, the color and pattern of the Chamber carpeting (a purple floral pattern), and where Senator Cullom’s desk was located on the chamber floor (the senator was a real person, used fictitiously in my story), among other details. Here’s a sketch from the Senate.gov’s 1887 archives (Cullom’s desk was #8):

Source: https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/art/special/Desks/maps/old_chamber/SC49_2_February51887_2nded.pdf

Note the “Ladies’ Reception Room” on the eastern side, which leads up to the Ladies’ Gallery. Reporters had their own gallery as well. Finding this sort of detail (newspaper articles of the time helped fill in more of the architecture) is gold to a historical fiction writer. It allows me to weave in fun little items of interest to help foster a more immersive experience for the reader.

In addition to Washington DC life (both inside and outside of the Capitol), I decided to set some of the action at the former site of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (now the Renwick Gallery), with a high-society art auction. The fascinating background of that particular building I’m saving for a later post. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy Pen’s newest case!

Until next time,



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2 thoughts on “Where my research takes me: 1880s Washington, DC, and a new release!”

  1. Katey UtterbackKatey Utterback

    Hi Kathy,
    Did you go on sabbatical? Have been wondering about the baby – you know- the Baby! Boy or girl! Or is “Unseemly” finished..maybe a novella like an epilogue?
    Hope you are well and rested.
    Looking forward to your next book whatever it is.
    God bless,


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