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by Sheila Simonson
Description: In London for a booksellers' conference, Lark shares a small flat with Ann Veryan, an English teacher from Georgia. While Lark pursues collectible books, Ann explores London for the first time. They've struck up a friendship with Milos Vlacek, a Czech refugee waiter from the conference hotel. On their way home from a matinee of Macbeth at the Barbicon, Milos is stabbed on the Underground. Minutes earlier he had given Ann a manuscript to carry for him in her huge needlepoint purse. What do you do if you're a foreigner trapped in a British police investigation? Lark sends for husband Jay, who was coming over for a police conference. She also mails a copy of the Czech-language manuscript to her father, who has a colleague capable of translating it. Milos is not dead, but his injuries are grave. When Lark's landlady is murdered, police suspicion of Lark and Ann intensifies. Jay may arrive to find his wife in the Old Bailey. Clearly Lark has to Do Something. Questions abound. Who is Milos? Why was he stabbed? What's in the manuscript? Who would kill an inoffensive elderly Englishwoman in her own hallway? When Milos, still very ill, goes missing, Lark and Ann venture out into the English countryside to find him--with explosive consequences.
eBook Publisher: Uncial Press, 2012
eBookwise Release Date: January 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [382 KB]
Reading time: 236-330 min.
"Lark, who made such an engaging debut in Larkspur, remains a charming character with a firm grasp of emotional realities." E. Baltimore Guide "Always literate, intriguing . . . add a plus for readers planning a trip to London and its environs." Kirkus "Lark Dodge hits the mark again in this mix of international intrigue and suspense . . . Self-aware and intelligent, the clearly drawn Lark is a promising new presence on the mystery scene." PW
Then I did what I probably should have done as soon as I sighted the house. I ran to the new wing, found the entrance, raced up to the door, and began pounding on it.
I was yelling nonsense--help, fire, murder. Open up, come on, you limey bastards. I pounded on the stout door with both fists, bashed the iron knocker, leaned on the bell when I spotted it, all the while shouting at the top of my lungs.
I kept glancing back toward the ride. Surely Faisel could hear me, even at that distance. I didn't see him returning, though. I pounded and yelled.
Light illuminated the narrow windows on both sides of the door and the fan-shaped arch above. I kept pounding.
When the door opened I almost fell into the arms of a stout man with glasses.
"Here, what is it? What's the matter?"
"You have intruders," I panted.
He raised both eyebrows. "I certainly see one intruder."
I gulped for air. "You have a man here, a Czech named Milos Vlacek. Two men are on the grounds. They're going to try to kill him."
He stared at me for a blank minute in which I came close to despair. Maybe the people in the family wing didn't know about Milos. Maybe the man would think I was crazy. Then he wheeled without a word, trotted to a small alcove down the hallway, picked up a telephone, and punched a number.
"Yes. Williams here. Someone has broken into the grounds and is after your friend. Move him to the family wing now. Hurry."
He slammed down the phone and turned back to me. "Stay where you are." He punched out another number. After a pause that may have lasted three rings, he said, "Williams here. There are apparently intruders near the house. Where's McHale? He what? Well, find him."
I listened to him and stayed where I was, but I was dancing with impatience. I stared off into the dark, trying to see whether Faisel was returning, whether Smith had heard me yell.
The man who had identified himself as Williams turned back and advanced toward me. His teeth bared in a smile, and his eyeglasses glinted. "Now, madam, whoever you are, I should like an explanation..."
I squinted into the darkness. "Look out. There he goes." It was Smith, and he was running hell-for-leather toward the ride. I had tensed to move when a tremendous explosion knocked me off my feet. Glass shattered outward on both sides of me.
I scrambled up. I must have been yelling as I ran, something about not letting the bastards get away with it, but I didn't hear myself because the noise of the blast had deafened me. I ran desperately, flat out, in my ladylike nylon footies.
I ran up the long slope of lawn and onto the ride. Smith had probably been knocked down, too, and he ran like an amateur, arms flailing, feet flopping. I caught up with him about a third of the way along the ride. In the last couple of yards he may have sensed me coming, though I think we were both still deaf, for he started to turn and stumbled to one knee. His face was a white blur. He regained his feet and had turned to face me, knife in hand, when I slammed into him. I knocked him flat.