Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie books are all classics. Such wonderful mysteries with the human psychology taking precedence over forensic science in solving the crime.



Death on the Nile is an all time favourite around the world. It’s being made into a motion picture very soon which was the point I decided to read this Hercule Poirot book.

A rich heiress, beautiful and intelligent follows her heart and makes an unexpected match. She’s not of age yet so her trustees have to put her papers in order. As she embarks on her honeymoon journey to Egypt, on a steamer on Nile, she has a large number of co passengers with their own intricate story lines, secrets and motivation to murder.

The mood is sinister with a jilted lover stalking the couple, boulders rolling off mountaintops mysteriously and an attempt at financial papers being signed without much scrutiny.

The murder happens soon enough and Hercule Poirot, who’s a co passenger steps in to solve it. He’s been a witness to the scene leading to the murder partly. As things thicken, another death happens. And then yet another in a reckless display of violence.

Bankers, young women nursing jealousy, old women nursing grudges, men with socialist leanings, men pursuing medicine – everyone’s a suspect.

Then there are the alibis and the elaborate reconstruction of the crime scene by Poirot and his partner to arrive at the truth.

Death on the Nile has lots of characters, all intricately drawn and very very interesting. As always, Agatha Christie hints at the character motivations in subtle ways.

The plot is intricate, there are a large number of suspects so that the reader stays entertained and engrossed enough till the end.

The tying up of the threads is very satisfying. I wasn’t so surprised at the murderer but at how the murders were committed. And that’s the piece de art of every Agatha Christie book.

I am writing book reviews this month for #BlogchatterA2Z.

Along Came a Spyder by Apeksha Rao: Book Review


Title: Along Came a Spyder
Author: Apeksha Rao
Genre: Young Adult

‘Along Came a Spyder’ has plenty of teenage spies and enough mysteries to solve vicariously as you turn the pages of this satisfying book that’s entertaining, funny and sassy.

The Story

17 year old Samira is aiming to be a spy because her role models are her parents who are elite RAW agents. She has been trained in the craft even since she was a toddler and by the time she hits her teens she has seen a fair share of missions, conspiracies and danger.

The twist comes when her parents stop supporting her and want her to take to a traditional and safe career choice. More than anyone else, she has to convince them of her capabilities. Would joining a sisterhood of spies and proving herself be enough?

Review

I read this book after my teenaged daughter raved about how much fun and cool it was. She was totally taken in by the protagonist Samira, her wiliness, her courage and unconventional life.

Along Came A Spyder turned out to be a thrilling and quite an entertaining read, taking the reader on an interesting journey which includes lots of spy missions, and also guns, hidden communication and tracking devices as well as witnessing the dark side of the world.

Spyders HQ is just the place for all the Spyder sisters where they practice, stay and yo! enjoy each other’s company.

What Works Well

There are many pluses about the book.  The characters are fantastic. Samira is drawn very well, confident but with her own set of insecurities and fears. Her language as a teen is very relatable. Others of the spyders, Tina, Millie, Debbie, Dr. ‘Mila’ Sen, the secretary Evelyne, the list of memorable characters is long.

Samira’s chatter about her parents and her back and forth with them is really enjoyable. She is a part of a lot of adventures, both with her parents and with her gang of spies. The HQ seems like the place every teenage would dream of, independence with discipline, adventure with danger.

The book has good pacing throughout and has many missions, twists and turns so that the reader never loses interest.

The best part is Samira’s coming to terms with her fears and deep rooted trauma that eventually helps her prove her mettle as a spy.

I also liked reading about the various spy secrets like surveillance, the hi fi gadgets that are used, training techniques and more. Drugs, pimps, undercover missions, rouge nuclear states, underworld dons, vendetta within the gangs, dark web, abductions, terror attacks – there’s all this and more.

While discussing this book, my daughter mentioned that story gives a glimpse into the lives of spies who do all they can for their motherland . Not only has the book been written completely from a teenager’s point of view but even the language used is just what a teenager says ( like getting used to adding all the yos you can to your language 😜)

Verdict

Along Came a Spyder is a well paced novel with an uber cool teenage spy who has a load of interesting adventures. As per my teen, it’s totally ‘engrossing’.

If the book has a sequel, I would definitely read it. In fact, I am planning to read the prequel, ‘The Itsy Bitsy Spyder’ soon.

You can buy the book here.

This Book Review is written as part of BookChatter, Blogchatter’s Book Review Program.

Deal of Death by Sonia Chatterjee: Book Review

Title: Deal of Death

Author: Sonia Chatterjee

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime, Detective

Deal of Death is an exciting mystery with a an intricate plot and an unconventional detective solving this whodunit.

Review

Raya Ray resigns from her hi flying marketing job when she encounters a personal tragedy. Moving cities and changing occupations, she starts her own detective agency. Battling the ennui of mundane cases of cheating spouses and missing pets, she decides to step out of Kolkata to help her housemaid’s sister who lives in faraway Munshiganj.

For Raya, it starts as a case to trace a missing newborn from a hospital but leads to being a labyrinth of lies and deceit that goes back generations. Evil thrives in this seemingly simple town and by the time Raya is close to solving the case, she discovers that things are not as they seem and people are not who they pretend to be.

What works well

This is exciting detective fiction, fast paced and well plotted with a refreshingly different setting and a well etched out protagonist.

Raya Ray, the corporate hi flier turned detective, battling her grief, concerned with body issues, helpful, trusting, deducing, relying on observation and instinct, is the well sketched protagonist that gets the reader attention and loyalty.

The setting is the quaint Munshiganj on the banks of the river Annapurna and a twin ghat of Diwanganj. It looks like a peaceful, sleepy town but there is plenty of royal intrigue woven into the town’s history. There is also the curious temple and the mosque flanking the sides of the Nawab’s tomb. The photos included in the book bring alive the place for the reader.

The plot is intricate. Like any mystery, there is a crime and there are unexpected perpetrators, yet the backstory and how events came to pass is novel.

This is an impressive debut book and the author, Sonia Chatterjee finished writing it in a record six days.

On the other hand

The protagonist is well etched out but sometimes she is plain lucky. She gets a lot of information too easily and too fast. Also, Raya seems to know too many things without a real knowledge of the events themselves.

The plot is well built but the execution seems rushed. Towards the end there is a lot of information, which also keeps shifting because of the different povs.

There are too many characters towards the end of the book. It would help if these characters are introduced early on.

Some things need to be figured out clearly in the plot. The events and incidents are sometimes not believable.

A few characters are sketchy. Adding physical characteristics would help a little bit of context and relatability.

Chapter length does not seen uniform, which is a little jarring. Some chapters are very short, just a few paragraphs and they seem hurriedly done just to give information to the reader. The formatting needs to be looked into. Some chapters don’t even start from a different page. The chapter names too seem a little random. There are days 1-4 and then we move on to day 8.

Some scenes would flow better if there is more of description and ‘showing’ the reader rather than ‘telling’.

Also, giving meanings of words, like jhalmuri, tonga in brackets affects the flow of the story. It would help if they are put as footnotes.

About the Author

An ex-banker and a self- confessed bibliophile, Sonia inherited her love of the written word from her Professor father. As a tribute to her late mother and a gift to her son on his second birthday, Sonia started blogging from September 2017. Married to a Doctor, Sonia is crazy about four things in life – books, food, travel and her uber-cute toddler. She currently works hard to realize her dream of becoming a best-selling author while secretly wishing harder for twelve hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Her work can be found at soniasmusings.com. She blogs about food, travel, movies, parenting, personal journeys and social issues.

Verdict

A fast paced detective story with an endearing MC and an intriguing setting. This debut book hits the right notes in the crime fiction.

Download the book here.

Eighty Hours To Save Karen by Sitharaam Jayakumar: Book Review

Title: Eighty Hours to Save Karen

Author: Sitharaam Jayakumar

Genre: Crime fiction, Thriller

Eighty Hours to Save Karen is a racy, engaging thriller that keeps the reader hooked and spooked till the last page.

Review

Retired Air Commodore, Matthew Williams lives in a remote hill village with his only surviving family member, his little granddaughter, Karen. When Karen is struck by a mysterious ailment under very suspicious circumstances, Matthew takes it upon himself to get to the root of her problem. It seems that there are forces beyond the natural that have a hand in unfortunate incidents; not only Karen’s illness but also a doctor’s death.

What works well

The title of the story sets the tone of urgency for the reader. The cover art is very apt for the book.

The characters are very well etched and are brought to life by an extensive backstory and an impressive attention to detail. The protagonist, the mature war veteran-turned-detective to save his granddaughter is very convincing.

The plotline is very credible and the setting of the little village is created well.

There is a good balance between the backstory and the action in the present so that the pacing stays fast. The tight narration ensures that the reader can finish the book in a single sitting.

The spook factor is high; there are plenty of thrilling moments sprinkled in the book. There are blood covered mysterious objects, cats tapping on windows in the middle of the night, unexplained accidents and many more. Yet, there is no morbid blood and gore.

On the other hand…

I kept waiting to understand the relevance of the no. of hours mentioned in the title to the book. It was only when the book was over that I realised that it probably refered to the entire timeline of the book.

I also could not get a clear picture of Karen from the book. It would have been good if her age and appearance had been mentioned so that she could be brought ‘alive’ in the reader’s mind.

I really enjoyed the traveling of the MC from the village to the state capital Shimla and then to Mumbai. But it rankled that a remote village in Himachal had shopkeepers selling ice, where it is probably cold the year round. Also, a retired Inspector living in a villa in Mumbai sounded far fetched.

The story moved very well but somehow I felt that Matthew held the cards too close to his chest. The case was cracked through his research on the internet. I wished the part about scientific research and cult leaders was expanded further for the story to have more nuances.

About the Author

Sitharaam Jayakumar is an Information Technology professional. He is a passionate reader of books on both fiction and non-fiction. He takes a keen interest in sports, especially cricket and tennis. In addition, he is also interested in politics and music. He loves to write about anything that catches his fancy in everyday life. His repertoire includes articles on social issues, crime, women’s empowerment, fiction and several other topics. He is a
published poet.

Verdict

Pick this fast paced crime thriller that turns spooky and psychological in turns. Very entertaining.

Download the book here.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier: The Place and the Dead Woman

Daphne du Maurier

The du Maurier classic, Rebecca (read the book review), was publicised as a Gothic Romance even though the author disagreed. She wrote it as a study on jealousy and power shifts between relationships. For Daphne, it was a difficult novel to write and it drew heavily on her own life and experiences.

Rebecca reads like a thriller as well; there is an air of mystery, there is a murder and vile characters abound. The book has its fair share of machinations. The plot has a murder, sunken ships, suicidal tendencies, uncontrolled feminine sexuality. But most of all, Rebecca is a study of memories and impressions.

The place is Manderly. “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderly again.” This famous opening sets the tone of the novel. It is a dream sequence in which the narrator describes the iconic mansion. It stays dreamy; much of the book’s narration is set in the mind of the narrator, the unnamed young woman, gauche, confused, painfully shy who even after becoming the second Mrs de Winter, struggles to act in a socially acceptable manner.

Apart from the dreaminess, the book is characterised by glorious detail that does complete justice to the beautiful house and the gardens of supposedly one of the best properties in England. It is not just the house or the gardens or even the sea, it is also the details of the people and their thoughts and motivations that make up much of the story.

Rebecca, the book, curiously has a narrator whose first name is never disclosed; we only know that it is an unusual name that most people cannot spell right (though Maxim de Winter gets it right the first time around). But the woman after whom the book is named is dead and yet she looms larger than life, casting her shadow on the places she has been and the people she has been with, long after she has gone.

Manderley, the house and Rebecca, the first wife, come together to exert the strongest influence on the narrator and the rest of the cast.

Manderley is revered- it is so beautiful and mysterious and it has had its rituals set into place from the time Rebecca reigned. And yet, Manderley is destroyed by the time we close the book, we see the flames licking the walls from the ‘ashes (that) blew towards us, with the salt wind from the sea’.

Rebecca, the woman is the epitome of benevolence, charm and beauty, when she is alive and yet she has a hard fall from grace, mostly through her husband, Max, when the circumstances of her death are reopened and an inquiry conducted.

At a deeper level, Rebecca is a psychological drama. The dead woman is portrayed to be manipulative. Mrs Danvers, the housekeeper cum companion for Rebecca is malevolent, manipulating the second wife to immense social embarassment. Maxim is not above suspicion, for all the reader knows, he could be manufacturing the truth about his dead wife, painting her in sinister tones just because he could not rein in her individuality.

It has been 80 years since Rebecca was first published. On March 1, a new Virago edition of the book is being published and it has been speculated that the book not only mirrors the places (Menabilly in Cornwall) she has loved and the people she has felt jealous of (her husband’s fiancee) but also her own sexuality. In Rebecca, Daphne gives a free reign to the first Mrs de Winter who makes unconventional sexual choices. The author is aware that this does not go well with the society and even though not explicitly stated in the book, Maxim is possibly the husband who felt unable to ‘control’ his wife, leading to resentment and violence. This failure leads him to marry the second time to a young, impressionable girl who is likely to obey and revere him.

Two years after the book was published and notched up impressive sales, it was adapted for a mystery film by Alfred Hitchcock. The murder in the book had to be erased in the film for the murderer could not go scot free as per the cinematic conventions of the time. This has an oblique parallel in the book, where the person who murders is forgiven by his wife, inspite of it being a morally dubious choice.

Over the years, the popularity for the book has only grown and the dark, brooding thriller continues to enthrall millions.

Scaredy Cat : A Book Review 

Title : Scaredy Cat 

Author : Mark Billingham 

Genre : Mystery, Crime Thriller 

Series : Second book in the Tom Thorne series. 

Summary 

Two women are murdered within hours of one another near the station, but in quite different ways. When a connection is made with two other murders which occurred months before, DI Thorne realizes two serial killers may be at work in a macabre partnership.

Review 

Scaredy Cat is the most unputdownable, brilliant and engaging crime thriller featuring a series of murders that turn out to be done by a pair of serial killers. My assessment for the book may sound clichéd but the novel is far from it. Everything, from the cast of characters who are doing the chase (Team 3) to the murderer (s) to the use of folie a deux (more on that later) are original, confident and credible. 

Even though Scaredy Cat is second in the Tom Thorne series, it can very well be read as a stand alone book. It being a series is a bonus for the reader, for by the time you reach the climax, you would have resolved to read more of this excellent author. 

The Detective Inspector Tom Thorne, a very capable and rather melancholic officer with a reputation (also of disregarding the Powers That Be) is Part of Team 3. He is partenered by a seeming sidekick, Dave Holland, who, in reality can carry a lot of plot on his shoulders as well as the gay pathologist Hendricks, who is really a very good friend. The quartet is completed by Sarah McEvans, hard faced and competent and acting as a pivot for the climax. The other characters, Norman, the media guy and Brigstocke are quirky and well rounded and unpredictable. 

The team has another ally in carrying the story forward and that is London itself. In the books that I have come to love, the location and the setting is mostly elaborate and it plays a large role in moulding the psyche of the characters. So, it is here, the under belly of the city mirroring the mind of the industry affected by the killings, the perpetrators, the victims and the ones chasing the killers. 

Thames, the lifeline of London is dwelt upon lovingly even though all the protagonists could see was the squalid disrepair. I read of the serene beauty of the river banks in Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat and reading of the Thames through the eyes of Thorne and another police officer was a jolt, just like the one you get when you match reality with memories. 

The killer or the killers, as Thorne surmises very soon in the current investigation, are untraditional. The department has been sitting on other cases, of women being murdered some months back. As the investigation deepens, there arises a picture of not one but two serial killers, who strike simultaneously and kill similarly even though both are different. Their psychological profiling shows that one is hesitant and the other ruthless. It is the Modus Operandi that is different and intriguing. There are similarities and then there are deviations. 

In explaining the killers’ mindset, the author has excellently used Folie a deux, a condition of a shared psychosis, a psychiatric syndrome, in which symptoms of a delusional nature are transmitted from one person to another. Needless to say, the relationship between the pair of killers is troubled to say the least delving into the meaning of power and fear harnessed to disastrous conclusions. 

The book cover shows a pair of eyes, with a different expression in each eye. The title conveys something of fear, of teasing, of bullying that is the backdrop of the killings. 

The backstory is well developed and the frequent flashbacks keep the story running back and forth, not that the reader loses interest. These flashbacks introduce newer interest and understanding as the story unfolds; as a pair of murders turn into a series, more happening in different locations and more being rediscovered as part of a pattern. 

As for the gore factor of the killings, it is not very high. It is not the actual act that is disgusting but the way it is carried out. There is an emotional angle to the killings in case the reader is not horrified enough that runs through the mind of Tom Thorne. He milks the brutality over and over again, agonising over the inevitability of the crime and the poignance of the last moments of the victims as captured by the CCTV footage. 

What’s to Like 

In case of crime thrillers, I am more interested in the crime and the criminal and not in the characters solving the case. But here the Team 3 is exceptionally interesting, their dynamics riveting and the office politics intriguing. 

The characters are so well fleshed out that inspite of the angst ridden monologues / thoughts of Thorne, he never becomes tiresome. Even though there is no love interest, nothing to contrast the character with but slowly the interaction with his Alzheimer ridden father brings the compassion out in full. 

The book gives the reader every emotion. The thrill of a chase. Mystery, of course. The horror of murder. Angst in the heart of the most hardened police investigator. Emotional trauma and a few tugs at the heart strings. 

The pace never slackens (almost) and the narrative is tight, entertaining, intriguing. When the investigation is slow, there is tension in other ways. It shows up in the form of an illicit or a falling apart relationship or the paranoia of a drug addict. 

Also the book builds up to an excellent climax, which is every bit as exciting as the building up to it. 

Some of the scenes stand out very well. There is the place where the dreaded, cold blooded killer finally loses control, slapping his wife. There is the unforgettable scene of a coke snorting police woman. There are Thorne’s counseling sessions to his gay friends that stand out. And sometimes it is chilling going back into the past, in the childhood of the killers. 

Scaredy Cat isn’t just about a few horrible crimes nor is it a straight cat and mouse chase. There is plenty of cheese to nibble at ( stretching the metaphor). The plot is nearly flawless. 

What’s Not to Like 

By the time I turned the last page I had all but forgotten the minor irritants in the book. 

There is a frequent change in the Point of View and in the beginning it took me a few paragraphs to understand that something was amiss. I had to backtrack to understand why the story was not running linearly any more. Once I caught on to the POV trick, I wisened up and rather started enjoying the switch in the voices as the scenes changed. 

Thorne is very angst ridden and very melancholic. His thoughts run in circles. He thinks endlessly of the nature of his profession and the hardening of hearts and emotions as time goes by, encountering the crime and the criminals. After a while, his thoughts become predictable and look like fillers covering up a lull in the plot. 

There are a few minor credibity issues with the book. Thorne is in touch with one of the killers on phone. He is supposed to have escaped from custody and yet, Thorne just picks the phone and talks to him. That simple, even when the prisoner broke his nose while trying to get away. There was too much of bonhomie between them. 

The discovery of Karen McMahon’s grave with remarkable ease was another place where things seemed to be coming together all too easy. 

TV Series 

This 2002 bestseller was also made into a successful TV series in 2010. 

About the Author 

Mark Billingham is an English novelist, actor, television screenwriter and comedian whose series of Tom Thorne – crime novels are best-sellers in that particular genre. This is initiative enough to pick this particular book. 

Tom Thorne, the DI, around whom the story revolves, has been imbued with a lot of Billingham’s personal characteristics. The two share a birthday, a locale (London) and musical interests. 

The inspiration for Scaredy Cat came from Billingham’s own brush with crime. He and his writing partner were kidnapped and held hostage in a hotel room. Billingham used that fear as the basis for Scaredy Cat and the motivation of the killers. The hotel killings also appeared as a sub plot in the book. 

Should you read it? 

Most definitely! 

It is a Must-read for crime thriller lovers and for all the other genre readers who like a well fleshed out story and plenty of intrigue. 

Musings on My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk

Painting is the silence of thought and the music of sight.

image

In reading this book, I was struck by the cornucopia of images, colours, illustrations.

Orhan Pamuk, the recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature has written this amazing historical novel and set in the time of the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. It was written in 1998 in Turkish and translated to English in 2001.

The book has miniature painters as the main characters and it talks in detail about the techniques used in painting, the philosophy behind the paintings and the psyche and the lifestyle of the painters themselves. There are innumerable subjects and illustrations that are discussed in vivid detail.

One of the most exciting feature of the book is that each chapter has a different narrator. To change skins and perspectives often, the reader is kept on his toes. The narrators range from the main characters to corpses, horses, Satan and even inanimate objects like coins and trees.

The book starts with the murder of one of the miniaturists. The unraveling of the mystery behind the murder takes up an important part of the book. Interwoven with the intrigue is a delightful romance. It veers towards passion with a thread of practicality running through it. The female characters are fleshed out most wonderfully-all too human. There is love, there is an awareness of worldly responsibilities and finally Shekure, the main female protagonist realises that her love for her children is different and more fulfilling than her love for her husband Black, who has waited to wed her for twelve long years.

The Jewish clothier, Esther is a wonder to understand. Compassionate yet shrewd, she brings colour to the drab, snowy winter days.

Through miniature paintings, Orhan Pamuk brings forth the east west conflict in the nature of panting styles.

As Pamuk’s official website states,the book is about “death, art, love, marriage and happiness as well as a requiem for the forgotten beauties of pictorial art”.

An absolute delight, not to be rushed through, with each image and brush stroke savoured!

The Shadows on the Wall- Part 5

image

The following work of Flash Fiction is in collaboration with my fellow blogger friend, Jithin of Photrablogger. The picture above is his creative photography which inspired this series of flash fiction writing. Do check out his blog to read about his adventures while travelling and many lovely pictures.

Character List:

Margaret or Maggy- a 19 year old girl, out to search some truths

Steve- the caretaker of the mansion, a man in his fifties

Robert- the house cook

Grandpa- Maggy’s grandfather

Part 1 by Sweety

Part 2 by Traveling Hat

Part 3 by Saya

Part 4 by Moses

You are now reading Part 5 of the story. Please read the parts that came before so that you can enjoy the story and understand the flow.

Maggy sat up in her bed abruptly, shaken from the vivid dream she just had and saw Robert, sitting in a chair opposite, looking at her speculatively. Dawn was breaking outside. She saw the trees of the woods take form in the growing light. The cold light of the day did nothing to dispel her fears or to allay her apprehensions. She pressed her fingers to her temples. She felt overwhelmed by the turn of events.

She had arrived in her Grandpa’s mansion the previous night in the hope of uncovering his mysterious disappearance a year back. But, the bloodcurdling scream in the middle of the night and the encounter with a shadowy form had left her nerves frayed.

Maggy swung her legs out of the bed but moaned as she tried to stand. Robert jumped up to help her. Maggy felt a vague discomfort as he steered her with his hand at her elbow. The touch of his soft shirt sleeve evoked memories of a childhood when she and Rob played in the kitchen, in the house and in the woods near the enormous mansion. The look in his eyes as he appraised her were cool but she could not forget the warmth of his gaze just the night before.

Maggy freshened up in the bathroom hurriedly and changed her clothes. “I would like to go for a walk”, she announced weakly. Robert excused himself, saying he needed to be in the kitchen to plan the day’s meals. With trepidation, Maggy walked out of the side door of the living room to the large and now unkept garden. The fringes of the once magnificent garden were slowly being encroached by the surrounding woods. Her grandfather had regaled her with fascinating stories of the woods when she was little. With a start, she remembered her dream, where she was in the dungeon of the mansion. “Is there really a dungeon here? “, she wondered aloud. Her sound sounded hollow even to herself.

Maggy walked on. In her misery, she hardly looked at the tiny wild flowers growing in the bushes. The birds chirped, but her ears echoed with the sound of her Grandpa’s voice, calling for help. She felt as if she were walking in a dream. As the bushes grew denser and the trees blocked out light, Maggy realised she had walked farther than she had realized. She turned to go back. Trying to distangle her clothes from the thorns of a plant, she noticed strange marking on one of the tree trunks.

Surprised, she came to herself with an alertness she had not felt before. She reminded herself of the reason of her visit to the mansion. She had to find out what had happened to her beloved Grandpa. Brushing the leaves off her clothes, she looked around keenly. There was another tree trunk with a similar mark on it. And another… if it was a trail, it seemed to be leading deeper into the woods. She would lose her way, Maggy realised. “I must come back with someone, maybe Rob”.

Her heart quickened at the thought of Rob. With brisk steps, she walked back to the edge of the garden. Some of the beautiful wild flowers were trampled! Was she careless while entering the woods? Or had someone else been here, after her? Following her?

Maggy quickly entered the house through the small kitchen door. Robert was drying the dishes with a towel. Last night’s mess had all been cleared away. The door of the cabinet they had hidden in last night was ajar. Following Maggy’s gaze. Robert walked over to close the door. All of a sudden, Maggy heard a deep, rumbling sound coming from the cabinet? Or was it from beneath the wooden floor of the kitchen? No, she was not mistaken because the vibrations traveled through her body.

Shocked, Maggy looked at Rob but his expression was masked. “Rob”, she blurted out, “Is there a dungeon underneath the mansion”?

“Dungeon? No!”, he said almost harshly. Maggy felt lightheaded. As she swayed on her feet Rob shot out a hand to help her and she saw the crushed petals of the wild flowers on his shirt sleeve…

Can Maggy trust Robert? Where does the trail in the woods lead to? Is there really a dungeon under the house?

To be continued by Manvi