Another classic mystery from the “master of the clever twist.”
On a summer’s day in 1981, a two-year-old girl, Tamsin Hall, was abducted during a picnic at the famous prehistoric site of Avebury in Wiltshire. Her seven-year-old sister Miranda was knocked down and killed by the abductor’s van. The girls were in the care of their nanny, Sally Wilkinson.
One of the witnesses to this tragic event was David Umber, a Ph.D student who was waiting at the village pub to keep an appointment with a man called Griffith who claimed he could help Umber with his researches into the letters of “Junius,” the pseudonymous eighteenth century polemicist who was his Ph.D subject. But Griffin failed to show up, and Umber never heard from him again. The two-year-old, Tamsin Hall, was never seen again either. The Hall family fell apart under the strain. Sally Wilkinson, the nanny, wound up living with Umber, whom she had met at the inquiry. But she never recovered from the incident, suffered increasingly from depression, and eventually committed suicide.
In the spring of 2004, retired Chief Inspector George Sharp receives a letter signed “Junius” reproaching him for botching the 1981 investigation. Sharp confronts Umber, whose explanation for being at the scene of the tragedy has always seemed dubious. Obliged to accept Umber’s denial of authorship of the letter, he nonetheless forces him to join in a search for the real culprit — and hence the long-concealed truth about what happened 23 years previously. It is a quest that both will later regret having embarked upon. Too late they come to understand that some mysteries are better left unsolved.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Suspense & Thrillers eBook: Sight Unseen|
|Release Date: 12-26-2006|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Random House Publishing Group|
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It had been a fickle winter in Prague. Yet another mild spell had been cut short by a plunge back into snow and ice. When David Umber had agreed to stand in as a Jolly Brolly tour guide for the following Friday, he had not reckoned on wind chill of well below zero, slippery pavements and slush-filled gutters. But those were the conditions. And Jolly Brolly never cancelled.
Umber's exit from the apartment block on Sokolovska that morning was accordingly far from eager. A lean, melancholy man in his late forties, his dark hair shot with grey, his eyes downcast, his brow furrowed with unconsoling thoughts, he turned up the collar of his coat and headed for the tram stop, glancing along the street to see if he needed to hurry.
He did not. There was no tram in sight, giving him a chance to examine the letter he had found in his mailbox on the way out. Deducing from the typeface visible through the envelope window that it was in fact a bank statement, he thrust it back into his pocket unopened and pressed on to the tram stop.
God, it was cold. Not for the first time when such weather prevailed, he silently asked himself, "What am I doing here?"
The answer, he knew, was best not dwelt upon. He had stayed on after the end of his teaching contract last summer because of Milena. But Milena had gone. And so had the temporary post he had found for the autumn term. He had a small circle of friends and acquaintances in Prague, happily including Ivana, Jolly Brolly coordinator and entrepreneuse manquee. But he also had plenty of evidence to strengthen his sense of drift and purposelessness.
He stood at the stop, shifting from