Revised Second Edition.
A Ghost has died in England.
His possessions are to be sold at a private auction. However, the auction has been compromised. The sale is ‘denied to all but Ghosts’, Ghosts being members of the firm, a discrete and privileged secret society of arcane origins that shadows the orthodox world. The core activity of a Ghost is the procurement and flaunting of esoteric, priceless, and obscure objet d'art. The firm directs an employee to investigate the source of the exposure.
Marchel Cavendish is a 31-year-old firm inquisitor. Born and raised in Germany, he is quintessentially German to everyone except perhaps the Germans.
Cavendish’s role is to safeguard the firm from transgression and he is entirely suited to his role by being amoral, circumspect, ambitious and sadly friendless.
Cavendish is currently suspended and under investigation for gross negligence. It says a good deal about the firm that manslaughter might be considered ‘gross negligence’. In Cavendish’s defence, the offence involved the shooting of a fellow investigator who happened to be a thief and rapist. As an act of penance, he is assigned the unrewarding task of seeking out the person responsible for the attempted ruin of the auction.
Therefore, we are led to Dr Emily Spelman of Oxford University. Emily speciality is the Anglo-Saxon period. She has contacted the Goldstein brothers who are compiling the auction catalogue and demands to be shown the sword of King Harold, the last Anglo Saxon king of England. The brothers have a problem. Firstly, Emily is no Ghost, hence should know nothing about the sale. Secondly, the sword she demands to inspect does not exist.
Despite his English father, Cavendish is certainly no anglophile. The prospects of a make or break case in England fills his heart with dread. Based on his one and only previous case in England, he knows the irascible English are not the easiest people to deal with. He must overcome his antipathy towards the English and elicit their help, by fair means or foul, if he is to have any chance of success and re-establish his reputation.
To assist him with his investigation, Cavendish calls upon the person he met during his previous assignment in England, namely the irresolute Bristolian photographer, Thomas Beckett.
Beckett has reached the nadir in his professional and personal life. Against his better judgment, he decides to embrace the chance of working alongside the German and seize any opportunities that working with Cavendish may present. That Cavendish forms a close friendship with the unassuming Beckett is puzzling to everyone. The verbosely humorous and critical Beckett is the antithesis of Cavendish, yet somehow, their disparate personalities complement each other.
Failure is not an option for Cavendish, at stake is his very future within the firm. He sets out to utilise a risky and elaborate ruse involving a replica sword to ensnare the ambitious Emily.
In typical Cavendish fashion, by the entrapment of the Emily, Cavendish blurs the line between victim and perpetrator. He also has to factor into the case Beckett’s unlikely infatuation with the beautiful but duplicitous Emily.
The developing plot leads the protagonists the length and breadth of England, from Bristol and Bath, to Chesterfield, Wells-next-the Sea and Plymouth. The common denominator uniting the characters is Flash Seminary, the mighty Gothic Revival country house located on a high escarpment in Derbyshire on the edge of the Peak District National Park.
The question remains, will Cavendish’s elaborately planned subterfuge successfully ensnare Emily and lead to the true identity of the person intent on jeopardising the forthcoming auction?
What is this mysterious person’s aim?
Is it simply to bring damage to the firm or to bring about the fall of the capricious Marchel Cavendish? Will Cavendish’s redemption be complete?
About Pete Heathmoor
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Published November 1, 2012
Action & Adventure, Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Crime.