Murder Under a Western Moon by Abigail Keam – 1930s Slab Sponge Cake

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Murder Under A Western Moon: A 1930s Mona Moon Historical Cozy Mystery
by Abigail Keam

About Murder Under A Western Moon

Murder Under A Western Moon: A 1930s Mona Moon Historical Cozy Mystery
Historical Cozy Mystery
11th in Series
Setting – Montana
Worker Bee Press (July 24, 2023)
Digital Number of Pages: 280

Mona is the American Phyrne Fisher!

Mona Moon and her new husband, Robert Farley, Duke of Brynelleth are about to board an ocean liner to Merry Old England for their honeymoon when Mona receives an urgent telegram from Rupert Hunt, her eyes and ears in the Moon copper mines.


Since the copper mines are the financial backbone of Moon Enterprises, Mona has no choice but to drop her plans and travel to Montana on the next train. She and Robert descend into a world of seething resentments, bitter accusations against Moon Enterprises, and bad decisions that pose a threat to Mona’s world. She travels incognito to search out the truth of Rupert’s allegations against the mining management. She must decide if Rupert is trying to prevent an innocent man from being hung for murder or if he is part of a grandiose plot against her. After all, Mona had been kidnapped by Rupert while searching for the Swift silver mine a year ago. Rupert is a scoundrel, but Mona hired him to be her scoundrel. Is this another of Rupert’s games? Regardless of the threat, Mona must get to the bottom of it. Thank goodness Robert is by her side . . . or could Robert have his own agenda?

1930s Slab Sponge Cake

Slab Sponge Cake Ingredients:
3 Eggs
1 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Cup Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
1/4 Cold Water
(US Units)

Powdered Sugar Glaze Icing
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3-5 tablespoons heavy cream*
1/2 teaspoon flavored extract

Instructions For Glaze
Place the powdered sugar in a medium-size bowl.
Add the heavy cream a tablespoon at a time until you reach the consistency you’d like your icing or drizzle to be.
Add the flavor extract of your choice.
Mix well and immediately drizzle or spread over cake as needed.

Instructions for Slab Sponge Cake
Preheat oven to 140 degrees. Butter your baking tray.
Beat the eggs and sugar together until well mixed.
Mix the dry ingredients into the mixture.
Pour the mixture into your baking tray and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until cooked through.

Except from Murder Under A Western Moon: A 1930s Mona Moon Mystery

At two o’clock, a few women trickled into the community center to discover tables covered in fine linen tablecloths with matching napkins set with fresh floral centerpieces and gold rimmed white china place settings. Several tables near the stage were set with matching dessert plates with slices of vanilla cake covered in thick vanilla butter icing, lemon bars, sour cream raisin bars, apple-walnut cake with a cinnamon glaze, apple cornbread crisp, sweet potato cakes, molasses cookies, lavender cookies, slab sponge cake, and chocolate-covered sourdough donuts. Dainty bread and butter, cucumber and cream cheese, and roast beef finger sandwiches on soft white bread with the crusts cut off accompanied the desserts. Fruit juice punch, hot tea, coffee, and water were ready to be poured by four waitresses dressed in pink uniforms with starched white aprons standing at attention.

Upon seeing the food, several ladies ran out of the center and down the hill, pounding on the doors of neighbors. “Put on your best frock and come. You’ve got to see this,” the ladies told their friends.
By two-fifteen, thirty-five women were mingling and eagerly chatting up a storm. Since many had never been to a tea before, the waitresses seated them. Women, worn down by the depression and harsh conditions in Mooncrest Village, became quiet when the powdered and rouged waitresses smelling of rose water poured water and punch for them. It had been a long time since anyone had waited upon them or paid any attention to their comfort.

You can purchase Murder Under A Western Moon: A 1930s Mona Moon Mystery at these fine stores:

About Abigail Keam

Award-winning author Abigail Keam writes the Mona Moon Mystery Series—a rags-to-riches 1930s mystery series which includes real people and events into the story. “I am a student of history and love to insert historical information into my mysteries. My goal is to entertain my readers, but if they learn a little something along the way—well, then we are both happy.” She has won many awards for her mysteries, and Murder Under A Western Moon is her 40th novel. Miss Abigail lives on the cliffs above the Kentucky River with her husband and various critters. In her spare time, Miss Abigail is a beekeeper.

Author Links

Official Site






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As Mona and Robert compared notes while riding back to the hotel, both of them heard a loud cracking noise that traveled through the car.

“What was that?” Mona asked. “It sounded like the snap of a bullwhip.”

Robert ordered the driver, “Slow down, please.” He rolled down his window and listened.

“There it is again,” Mona said. “Driver, stop.” She got out of the car and looked about, but it was dark with a moonless sky. Mona couldn’t see anything.

Another crack sounded.

The Pinkertons in the car following them also got out and looked about.

A fourth crack pierced the air.

“It’s gunfire! Take cover,” one of the Pinkertons shouted.

Mona ducked down by the side of the car as Robert joined her. “Turn the car lights off!” she yelled.

Robert threw Mona on the ground and shielded her with his body, but they both lifted their heads upon hearing a rumble. “AVALANCHE! AVALANCHE!” Robert yelled, as he dragged Mona to the side of the mountain and frantically covered both their heads with his arms. Their driver huddled with them. Since darkness prevented them from seeing which direction the snow was headed, there was no use in running. Some of the Pinkertons realized they were in the path of the descending wall of snow and ran. Their shrieks could be heard above the roar of the torrent as they got caught in the avalanche and were hurled down the mountainside.

“Oh, God!” Mona murmured upon hearing the men scream.

Robert whispered into her ear, “Don’t listen. Don’t listen.” He put his hands over her ears.

The rumbling abruptly stopped and was replaced by a haunting silence. Robert and Mona waited a few minutes before climbing out of the snowbank which had fallen about them. Luckily, they had not been hit with any of the displaced rocks and boulders propelled by the tumbling snow. Robert cleared snow from their driver who also was unharmed.

Shouts came from the Pinkertons who had been in a car ahead of them. They had not been involved in the avalanche. “Anyone hurt?” one guard shouted.

Robert yelled, “Second car is fine except we are bound by snow, but the third car got the brunt of the slide. We think there are casualties, but we can’t see and no one is answering our calls.”

“We are digging you out now. Can you get into your car?”

Robert replied, “Negative. The doors are blocked by snow.”

“Stay where you are. We are coming.”

Mona, Robert, and the driver helped each other get the snow from around their collars, inside their gloves, and tops of their boots. Each gave a vigorous shake to remove snow from their coats. Both the driver and Robert dug snow away with their hands from the trunk of the car to access a shovel, emergency blankets, and a first-aid kit. Mona moved to the back passenger door and pulled snow away from the car with her hands. The work kept them all warm.

As the Pinkertons in the first car were making headway with the fallen snow, Mona and Robert saw car lights in the distance behind them, curving the bend in the road. They heard the roar of the car engine and saw beams of flashlights.


Robert shouted, “WE’RE HERE!”

Mona grabbed Robert’s arm. “Robert, be careful. These could be the men who caused the avalanche.”


Robert yelled back, “YES, DO THAT! WE’LL FREE OUR CAR AND THEN START DIGGING TOWARD YOU.” Turning, Robert asked, “Do you have your gun on you, Mona?”

“It’s in my purse which is in the car. What about your six-shooter?”

“Under the snow somewhere.”

“I’ve got one in my shoulder holster, and there’s another gun in the glove compartment if we can get to it,” the Pinkerton driver announced.

“Good man,” Robert said. “Put your gun where you can use it in a hurry.”

Mona, Robert, and the driver dug around their car finally clearing the snow away from the trunk. The driver took the shovel and shoveled the road while Robert put several blankets around Mona, whose hands had frozen so badly that she lost the feeling in them.

After an hour, the Pinkertons from the first car cleared away the snow and reached Mona and Robert. They put Mona in their vehicle which was still warm. She was grateful for the warmth and rubbed her numb hands in front of the car’s heater.

Robert worked with the Pinkertons to reach the third car, but once they broke through a wall of snow, there was no third car. It had careened down the mountain. Its blinking tail lights were faintly visible beneath the snow.

They found four men hoisting bodies through a series of ropes tied to a truck. A man wearing a Stetson and standing near the road’s edge, watched them bring the bodies up. Upon seeing his milky eye, Robert recognized the man, who worked for Margaret Daly.

Robert walked up to the man. “Is everyone dead?”

“No. I have two men in the truck. They are banged up a bit, but otherwise fine. They told me that someone repeatedly fired a gun, which caused the avalanche.”

“How did you happen upon us?” Robert asked.

“Miss Margaret gave orders to follow. She felt you were in danger although we never expected anything like this. You’ve got to admit it was devilishly clever.”

Not sure the Stetson man was speaking the truth, Robert gave him a long stare before stating, “Thank you. Our other two cars are working, so we’ll take the injured men into town and send help back.”

“We’ll stay and clear the road. If the law doesn’t come soon enough, we’ll bring in the bodies and leave them at the funeral home.” The Stetson man tried to peek around Robert. “I trust Miss Moon is fine.”

“Fit as a fiddle,” Robert replied, coldly. “I’ll collect those injured men and be off.” He nodded to the Pinkertons to gather their associates. “Thank you again, and chin chin.

The Stetson man tipped the brim of his hat.

Robert walked back with the Pinkerton men, all the while wondering if he was going to be shot in the back. Once safely ensconced in the first car with Mona, he turned to her. “You’ll never guess who turned out to be our savior.”

Mona pulled her blanket over Robert. “Who?”

“Margaret Daly. She ordered the Stetson man to follow us.”

“She could have ordered him to start the avalanche.”

“I thought it odd myself that her man happened to arrive a short time after the avalanche. I’ll guess we’ll never know the real truth, but she did warn you of danger, Mona.” Robert lit a cigarette as his nerves were frayed. “What do you want to do now?”

Mona didn’t chide Robert about smoking as she knew he was upset. She was disturbed as well. “We’ve got three managers to deal with. We need to stay in Montana until this mess is cleared up.”

“We got out by the skin of our teeth tonight, Mona, and two of our men didn’t make it. We need to make changes fast, and then get the heck out of here.”

“I don’t like putting our men and ourselves in danger, but we’ve got to see this through, Robert.”

A Pinkerton knocked on the car window.

Mona rolled it down.

“Sorry, folks, but we need to put one of the injured men in this car. It’s pretty tight in the other vehicle.”

“Assuredly, bring him here,” Robert said, before turning to his wife. “I’ll drive and we’ll put two men in the back.”

Mona got out and stood aside as Pinkertons carried their injured comrade. They eased him into the back of the car. Mona took off her blanket, wrapping it around the injured man. She said to the non-injured Pinkerton, “You’ll stay with him?”

“Ma’am, he can use my lap as his pillow. We’ll get him to a hospital all right.”

Mona replied, “We shall fly to the nearest hospital like the fastest hawk.”

“Better make it a night owl.”

Mona gave a ghost of a smile at the Pinkerton’s jest. She slid into the front seat and turned to Robert. “We’re ready. Let’s get back to Butte.”

Robert took off the emergency brake and depressed on the clutch, putting the car in first gear. The car began to roll downward and Robert put the car in second gear. “Here we go, ready or not.”

But Mona didn’t hear Robert. She was deep in thought planning her next move.

Someone was going to pay for the death of those two men as well as Piotr Wojcik and Dr. Driscoll. Someone indeed!


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1 comment / Add your comment below

  1. Miss Brooke, Thank you for allowing me to join you on Brooke Blogs. I hope readers enjoy the recipe for slab cake which was considered a poor man’s cake during the Depression. I so enjoy writing about the 1930s – a very dramatic error. I hope your readers enjoy reading Murder Under A Western Moon. Thank you again. Abigail Keam

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