Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child: The Blackout Society, Part 3

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This from Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. Hugh Paxton’s Blog loves their choice of illustrations! And I’m about to risk the Bangkok traffic to grab a copy of their latest book!

From: Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child [mailto:dougandlinc@prestonchild.com]
To: paxton.bkk@gmail.com
Subject: The Blackout Society, Part 3

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The Blackout Society III

It was almost ten thirty by the time Laura Hayward closed the book containing ‘The Monkey’s Paw,’ the ghost story she had chosen as her offering to the impromptu Blackout Society, and put the volume aside.

For a moment, nobody spoke. The only sound was the continued rumbling of thunder outside the securely locked windows of the library.

Finally, D’Agosta stirred. Mrs. Trask had just brought him the can of beer he’d wanted all along–still cold from the icebox, despite the fact the electricity was out all over Manhattan. He took a grateful sip. "God, what a yarn. You mean to say that his very last wish was to…?" He fell silent. The rest of the company exchanged glances.

The silence was interrupted by the ring of Pendergast’s cell phone, which played a few bars of C. P. E. Bach’s Solfeggietto in C minor. From the shadows on the far side of the fire, the FBI agent stirred in his wing chair, removed the phone from his suit jacket, and answered. He listened a moment. "Understood. Thank you."

"That was a friend of mine downtown," he said as he put the phone away. "It seems that the killer has just escaped a most artfully arranged ambush. I’m told this blackout, with the resulting confusion, is to blame."

"Where did this happen?" Corrie Swanson asked.

"Just north of Columbus Circle. By the monument to the USS Maine."

"But his last reported location was Bryant Park," Margo Green said, shifting restlessly in her chair. "That means he’s headed north. Coming our way."

For a moment, nobody spoke. In silence, Mrs. Trask entered the library and replaced a few of the guttering candles.

"Indeed," Pendergast said, eyeing the Les Baer .45 he had placed on a table beside him.

Constance smoothed down her dress, "It seems we would be wise to remain here and continue this little exercise of ours. I shall choose the next story."

All eyes turned towards her. This promised to be good.

"I’ve always been partial to the ghost stories of M. R. James," she continued. "His antiquarian tastes suit my own, and I approve of the way he lulls readers into his clutches with reserved, measured introductions… only to slip in the knife at the very last minute."

Pendergast took a sip of sherry and indicated his approval with a faint smile.

Constance rose, picked up a taper, and went to the nearest wall of bookshelves. Hunting along it a moment, she removed a slim volume bound in green cloth and returned to her seat on the couch. "Ghost Stories of an Antiquary," she told the group. "Published in 1904."

She turned to the title page. "So many excellent stories," she murmured. "It’s hard to choose. Here’s one of my favorites: ‘The Mezzotint.’"

"What’s a mezzotint?" asked D’Agosta.

"It’s a type of engraving, used to make prints in the 19th century," said Constance.

As the others waited in the hushed room, Constance curled up on the sofa, legs tucked beneath her, turned the pages of the book until she found the story, and began to read:

The Mezzotint

Some time ago I believe I had the pleasure of telling you the story of an adventure which happened to a friend of mine by the name of Dennistoun, during his pursuit of objects of art for the museum at Cambridge…

For the continuation of the story, please click here

A few BLUE LABYRINTH links we recommend

To preorder a double-signed copy of Blue Labyrinth at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore

The Nook Book free preview–the first 11 chapters of Blue Labyrinth

The iBook free preview–the first 11 chapters of Blue Labyrinth

The Kindle free preview–the first 11 chapters of Blue Labyrinth

And finally, this eerie and disturbing video

***

Blue Labyrinth, the latest novel in the Pendergast series, will be published

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

***

Painting by Caspar David Friedrich, The Tree of Crows, 1822, Musée du Louvre, Paris
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