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"An important and inspiring novel."
VOICE LITERARY SUPPLEMENT
It is 18th-century London and John Lempriere, a young scholar, is writing a dictionary of classical mythology in an attempt to exorcise the demons raised by his father's violent and bizarre death. While tending to his father's business affairs, Lempriere discovers a 150-year old conspiracy that has kept his family from its share of the fabulously wealthy East India Company. But as John begins to untangle the years of mystery and deceit, people begin to die, in ways that mirror the very myths he is researching....
From the Trade Paperback edition.
chased up the loose end from that night. Lemprière, the one the searchers had tracked before they came upon the body. The sweet smell was stronger, decay coming for him, for them all. Rudge’s footsteps slithered on the slabs. He must find the murderer. The mob demanded sacrifice. He must feed their need. Farina was out there, in the rookeries and courts, the alleys visible and invisible, waiting for Sir John’s mistake. He would know about the girl already, and if that were linked to this
or the dulled rush of the river below, still Lemprière recognised the old woman pestering passersby with her apples and broke free from his companion. Snatching one from the woman, he held it aloft. ‘Food of the Gods!’ he shouted, turning this way and that, trying to give it to startled matrons and market-workers until Septimus paid the vendor and dragged him away, still shouting, cursing foully. As they approached Southampton Street, Lemprière grew calmer. At the door, his ranting ceased. ‘So
decayed remains accounted for the matt black of the Heart of Light’s hull. The pirates had often given silent thanks for these molluscs and the legacy of night camouflage which their mass self-sacrifice had left behind. Below the waterline, the story was not so happy. Weed, the curse of any helmsman, infested the hull making the Heart of Light sluggish and unresponsive to the wheel. When undertows caught the thick forest of undersea tendrils the whole vessel would list to one side. Fish
been scrawled on the stonework of the Opera House, at which memory Eben stopped in his tracks. ‘What day is it?’ he asked Roy as they walked back together to the safety of the Crow’s Nest and, hearing that it was the thirteenth, he cursed mildly for two distinct reasons. Roy looked up at him in surprise. ‘The tortoises,’ said Eben. ‘Ah,’ said Roy. They had gone to the opera. In return for Captain Roy’s excursion to the Stone Eater (still suffering, according to recent reports, from a
destined capsule, south with the Channel currents towards Rochelle. Eben, Roy, Wilberforce and Peter Rathkael-Herbert stood together on the quarterdeck and watched the crew at work. Neagle strode up and down the vessel’s decks, passing by them without acknowledgement. The sea was black and silver. Moonlight caught the wavelets and the lights of the western ports were distant beacons, ignored and passed by as they sped south. Water rushed against the hull and Captain Guardian thought of nights in