The Bodies in the Library

The Bodies in the Library

by Marty Wingate

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Overview

Hayley Burke's fresh start as the curator of the First Edition Society's library in Bath, England, is about to take a rotten turn in this charming new mystery series from USA Today bestselling author Marty Wingate.

Hayley Burke has landed a dream job: she is the new curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling's First Edition library. The library is kept at Middlebank House, a lovely Georgian home in Bath, England. Hayley lives on the premises and works with the finicky Glynis Woolgar, Lady Fowling's former secretary.

Mrs. Woolgar does not like Hayley's ideas to modernize the First Edition Society and bring in fresh blood. And she is not even aware of the fact that Hayley does not know the first thing about the Golden Age of Mysteries. Hayley is faking it till she makes it, and one of her plans to breathe new life into the Society is actually taking flight—an Agatha Christie fan fiction writers group is paying dues to meet up at Middlebank House.

But when one of the group is found dead in the venerable stacks of the library, Hayley has to catch the killer to save the Society and her new job.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

08/05/2019

Hayley Burke, the narrator of this appealing, if flawed, series launch set in Bath, England, from Wingate (the Potting Shed mysteries), accepts a major responsibility when she becomes the curator of the late Lady Georgina Fowling’s collection of first editions of women authors from the golden age of mystery. Desperate to prove her worth and revitalize the public image of the library that houses the collection, Hayley invites a group of mystery writers to hold their weekly meetings there. When the arrogant group leader is found with his head bashed in on the library floor, the police have no murder weapon and no clues. Inspired by Miss Marple in Agatha Christie’s The Body in the Library, Hayley turns amateur sleuth. Wingate focuses more on setting up the characters and a romance for Hayley than on developing the mystery, making for a somewhat muddled plot. Hopefully, the sequel will better balance the various elements. Fans of British sleuths will appreciate the references to the classics of the genre. Agent: Christina Hogrebe, Jane Rotrosen Agency. (Oct.)

From the Publisher

Praise for The Bodies in the Library

“This series debut will delight lovers of literary-themed romance and mystery; the perfect companion, of course, is the nearly eponymous Christie work, but fans of Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry (2014) should also be steered toward Wingate’s latest”—Booklist
 
“Cozy Mystery fans, rejoice! The Bodies in the Library is the first in a fresh and lovely new mystery series by Marty Wingate that checks off some of my favorite boxes: a library of rare mystery novels; a setting steeped in history; lots of intriguing characters; and a valiant cat named Bunter. The plot gently unfolds as our spunky protagonist gathers clues—with a little help from Dame Agatha and a benevolent ghost—in order to solve a rather coldblooded murder that kept me turning pages and guessing to the very end."—Kate Carlisle, New York Times bestselling author of The Book Supremacy
 
“Hayley Burke thought her new job at the First Edition Society would be a walk around the Royal Crescent, that is until bodies start piling up in the library. Marty Wingate’s smart new mystery, The Bodies In The Library, is better than a buttered scone and a pure delight.”—Lorraine Bartlett, New York Times bestselling author of Yule Be Dead
 
“A book lover’s delight! Marty Wingate has crafted a perfect cozy mystery! Set in Bath, England, everything is at stake for the intrepid amateur sleuth, Hayley Burke, as she must solve the mystery of who murdered a member of an Agatha Christie fan fiction writing club before the book is closed on her new career as curator to the exquisite library of the First Edition Society. Engaging, suspenseful, and smart! I thoroughly enjoyed The Bodies in the Library.”—Jenn McKinlay, New York Times Bestselling author of Word to the Wise
 
The Bodies in the Library has all the best elements of a classic cozy; a charming British setting, a beautiful Georgian house, a collection of aspiring writers with a love of Agatha Christie’s novels, a dead body in the library and a reluctant—but resourceful—amateur sleuth in Haley Burke.  Engaging characters, a clever plot and yes, there’s even a cat! What more could a mystery-lover ask for? Marty Wingate’s new series is off to an entertaining start. I’ll be watching for the next book!”—Sofie Kelly, New York Times Bestselling author of A Night’s Tale
 
"Marty Wingate clearly knows her mysteries well and seamlessly weaves all the traditions of the genre into this clever new series. Hayley Burke's love affair with Golden Age mysteries will bring back happy memories for cozy readers."—Sheila Connolly, New York Times Bestselling Author

Library Journal

10/11/2019

A degree in 19th-century literature doesn't really qualify Hayley Burke to be the curator of Lady Georgiana Fowling's First Edition Library in Bath, England. Lady Fowling's prized first editions are actually locked up, but there are numerous examples of Golden Age mysteries in the library at Middlebank House—books by Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh. Hayley hasn't read any of them. However, when a member of a small writing group is found dead in the library, she brushes up on her Christie. What would Miss Marple do to investigate the death? Hayley's suspects include the writers, Lady Fowling's lout of a nephew who wants to challenge the will, even the cleaning lady. She's lucky the police would rather listen to her fumbling suggestions than deal with the author group. VERDICT The heroine of this new series from Wingate ("Potting Shed" series) is a pushover for anyone with more confidence, including her daughter, her boyfriend, the secretary at the library, and the writers. Owing to her lack of knowledge and insecurity, the book feels too long. Fans of Golden Age mysteries would do better to read the authors themselves.—Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh P.L., IN

Kirkus Reviews

2019-07-15
A curator of a collection of rare mysteries solves a puzzle of her own.

A degree in 19th-century literature doesn't open many doors, Hayley Burke discovers, and those that do open seldom lead to treasure troves. So when her stint as assistant to the assistant curator of the Jane Austen Centre in Bath doesn't quite cover expenses, Hayley thinks herself lucky to be offered the position of curator of The First Edition Society. Founded by the late Lady Georgiana Fowling as a repository for her vast collection of mystery novels, the society hasn't quite decided whether it's a library, a social club, or an educational institution. What it clearly is is Hayley's home, since the job offers both Hayley and the society's secretary, Glynis Woolgar, apartments in Middlebank House, the spacious mansion that houses the late Lady Fowling's collection. In an effort to expand the society's profile, Hayley also opens Middlebank House to the weekly meetings of a local writers' group that specializes in mystery fan fiction. But the morning after a particularly contentious session pitting writers of Agatha Christie vampire mashups against creators of Agatha Christie zombie pastiches, the corpse of Tristram Cummins is discovered in the library. Now Hayley's job is on the line, as the tabloids move in and the board of directors suddenly finds the society's profile a little too high. Even worse, Charles Henry Dill, Lady Fowling's rapacious nephew, discovers that Hayley hasn't read most of the authors featured in his aunt's collection. Alarmed, Hayley gets down to work, and only a few novels later, Wingate (Midsummer Mayhem, 2019, etc.) shows her channeling Miss Marple accurately enough to give the police a run for their money in unmasking a killer.

Not as tightly clued as a Christie original, this initial First Edition entry still gives readers what they came for.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781984804112
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 08/25/2020
Series: A First Edition Library Mystery , #1
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 73,910
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

THE BODIES IN THE LIBRARY

1

"I’ll be leaving now, Ms. Burke.”

I leapt up from the desk at this announcement—knocking my phone on the floor in the process—and hurried out of my office.

“Yes, Mrs. Woolgar,” I said, tugging on my jacket. “Have a lovely evening.”

The secretary stood in the flagstone entry and reached for her coat off the hall stand. The open front door framed a twilight sky behind her, as a cool October breeze swirled round our ankles. Bunter, a tortoiseshell cat, sauntered down the staircase, his tail straight as a soldier apart from the question-­mark curl at its tip. He settled on the bottom step.

“You will have a word with them, won’t you?”

“I certainly will,” I replied. “But”—I added with as much authority as I could muster under her steely gaze—“as I’ve explained, I don’t feel we can ask them to move along just yet. And, I believe this connection to the local writing community will be a boon—helping us to build a base of support that will ensure the Society’s future.”

Mrs. Woolgar took a lace-­edged hankie from her sleeve and polished the brass plate mounted at the door that read The First Edition Society.

“And the furniture?”

“I haven’t forgotten the furniture,” I assured her. “I’m terribly sorry they left the chairs in such disarray last week.” And the week before. “It’s only that Trist had shifted things round to act out a scene he’d written with the zombies.”

Mrs. Woolgar’s eyes were veiled as she snapped her handbag closed and brushed an imaginary speck off the lapel of her dress. “Yes, well, it’s only that we have a great responsibility to maintain a certain caliber and excellent quality here at Middlebank House. Not only because this was Lady Fowling’s own residence and she was held in high esteem here in Bath and greatly mourned three years ago when she died, but also because it sets the standard for her grand endeavor, the Society, which she began herself with . . .”

I stopped listening but kept the polite smile plastered on my face as Mrs. Woolgar continued to tell me my job. I was new to my position as curator at The First Edition Society, an organization founded and funded by the late Lady Georgiana Fowling. She had turned Middlebank House, her home, into the repository for her lifetime passion—acquiring first editions of the women authors from the Golden Age of Mystery. Her library comprised a vast collection not only from Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and the others—many of the books personally autographed—but also works from suspense author Daphne du Maurier, added to the list for the sole reason that she was one of Lady Fowling’s favorites.

It may have appeared that I’d made quite an extraordinary leap from my former post—assistant to the assistant curator at the Jane Austen Centre—to my current position of sole curator at the Society, especially as my university degree was in nineteenth-­century literature. Never having read a detective story in my life, I knew I needed to prove my worth—if not to the board, then to myself and Glynis Woolgar, a dear friend and personal assistant to Lady Fowling for donkey’s years, and who now held the post of Society secretary in perpetuum.

Mrs. Woolgar was on one side or the other of sixty—closer than that I could not guess. It was because of her clothes. She dressed as if it were 1935—that great age of mystery writing. The narrow frocks with wide lapels and cinched waists suited her pencil-­like physique. Perhaps some women might’ve added a whimsical flare at the hemline, but not Mrs. Woolgar. Lady Fowling—ninety-­four when she died—had dressed in the same era, if the portrait on the stairs was anything to go by.

“This is a chance for growth,” I said when the secretary had finally run out of steam. “And if we do not grow, we stagnate.”

“The Society is not in need of funds,” Mrs. Woolgar stated, and not for the first time.

Lady Fowling’s vast fortune notwithstanding, I knew that money was finite. It could be used up or taken away, and then where would we be? I wasn’t thinking only of my own financial history—what about her ladyship’s lout of a nephew? I’d heard the whole story. He’d received a bequest—a shocking amount of money that I could’ve lived on for the rest of my life—yet he continued to look for ways to challenge his aunt’s will. Apparently, he wanted the house, too—The First Edition Society be damned.

“That may be true,” I replied, “but we mustn’t forget Lady Fowling’s admonition that we are ‘dedicated to the enjoyment, education, and furtherance of both readers and writers of mysteries, by connecting the public to our collection.’ ”

“I doubt she meant your lot,” Mrs. Woolgar muttered as she left.

My lot. It had been my idea to invite the fan-­fiction writers group to hold its sessions at Middlebank. I had offered it free of charge, believing this was a first step in making the Society not a diminishing, albeit elite, group of elderly book lovers who were scattered across the globe, but a viable and growing concern.

Each writer in the group had chosen to create his or her own homage to Agatha Christie—the doyenne of the detective novel. Their ages were mixed, ensuring the word got out that the Society appealed not only to university researchers and rare-­book collectors, but also to a lively assortment of arty types from twenty­somethings to pensioners. Apart from the fact I knew nothing about Christie’s writings, how could this be a bad idea?

I checked the time, went to the small kitchenette behind the stairs, and made myself a sandwich. Middlebank, as was the case with terraced houses, stretched upward instead of outward, with four floors and a basement. The ground floor—street level—held our separate offices, Mrs. Woolgar’s and mine, plus the kitchenette and a loo. Up one flight of stairs lay the library, with floor-­to-­ceiling shelves, a large table, fireplace, and cozy nooks, as well as a powder room. My flat was up one more flight—accommodations had been included in the job, and I was ever so grateful—and at the top, an attic.

The basement was never referred to as such—instead, it was called the lower ground floor, and that’s where Mrs. Woolgar lived. Middlebank sat midway along a well-­kept Georgian terrace made of golden Bath stone. The terrace had been built on a slope and the land fell away at the back, which meant her flat had plenty of light and access to the back garden. It was lovely—the brief glimpse I’d had.

My flat had windows that took in a sweeping expanse of the town and into the Somerset countryside, as well as having a bird’s-­eye view of both the back garden and the street in front. I had moved here from a dreary, cramped flat out on the Wells Road, and I counted myself more than lucky, although I needed a reminder of this each morning when Mrs. Woolgar and I held our briefing.

On Wednesday evenings, I remained on the ground floor and in my office while the writers group met upstairs in the library. Furniture moving wasn’t the only black mark they’d received during their short tenure. Mrs. Woolgar had posted herself in a far corner of the library on the first evening the group met—she wanted to make sure no one touched any of the books. The group’s discussion had become so heated it had spilled out onto the first-­floor landing, where they’d knocked a Chippendale walnut chair against the frame of Lady Fowling’s portrait. I heard shouts of “Poirot always had superpowers. I’m just bringing them to the forefront!” and “Vice in St. Mary Mead? I don’t think so!” After that scene, Mrs. Woolgar began taking herself off the premises.

My second thoughts on inviting the group to meet at Middlebank had turned into third and fourth thoughts, and after only a few weeks, I was considering how I might turf them out and save face. I had yet to come up with a solution.

Bunter, who had accompanied me to the kitchen to receive his own repast, finished his meal before I’d finished mine, and so spent the remainder of the time watching me with golden eyes. Every minute or so, he would shift slightly and rewrap his tail round his toes just to let me know he was still there. I saved out a tiny bit of cheese and offered it to him on a fingertip. He sniffed politely before taking it in one lick and spending the next ten minutes washing up. When the front-­door buzzer sounded, he scampered off.

A young woman stood clutching a laptop to her chest and wriggling with excitement. “Hiya, Hayley,” she greeted me. Her pale blond hair—frizzy and chin length—fought with enthusiasm against the hair band that held it.

“Hello, Harry, ready for your session?” I asked.

She nodded frantically. “I’ve had a breakthrough in my plot—Miss Marple gave up a baby for adoption, and the baby’s grown into a woman and has come to St. Mary Mead to track down the mother who deserted her.”

“Goodness.”

“You must be joking, Harry,” said a voice behind the door as I started to close it.

“Sorry, Peter.” I pulled the door open, and Peter—gray hair slicked back—slouched in, a worn canvas satchel thrown over his rounded shoulders. He was followed by Mariella, in her late thirties with pixie-­cut black hair, creamy complexion, and dark circles under her eyes. They both wrote books with Hercule Poirot as protagonist, with the outstanding difference that Mariella imbued her character with superpowers.

“Who’s going to believe an old thing like Miss Marple ever had a baby?” Mariella asked. She dropped her bag on the flagstone, and it landed like a sack of rocks. A sippy cup and a packet of rusks spilled out. Mariella, who looked perpetually exhausted, had a ten-­month-­old she left at home with her husband on Wednesdays.

“That’s the point,” Harry said. “It’s the juxtaposition of the past and the present that leads to the murder.”

“It’ll be a hard sell,” Peter commented as he breezed past me.

The three continued to bicker as they headed up the stairs while I stepped out onto the pavement. The streetlights had flared, and I spotted the last two writers hurrying along—Trist, leader of the group, and Amanda, who was dedicated but indecisive and continued to rewrite the first ten pages of her story, which starred Tommy and Tuppence, Christie’s married sleuths.

“They aren’t lightweights,” Amanda complained, flipping a long, thick, blond braid over her shoulder and unbuttoning a coat that looked three sizes too big for her.

“She was having a lark when she penned those stories,” Trist replied. “They aren’t truly serious works of detective fiction.”

Trist, who wrote like the wind, was not one to talk about serious fiction. But he turned a deaf ear when anyone told him that the ­Agatha Christie people would never let his book—Miss Marple and Zombies—see the light of day. Not that the others could ever hope for official sanction of their books either.

“You think you’re better than the rest of us,” Amanda said, “just because you’re fast, but you’ll see—it’s one of us who’ll be published long before you. No one cares about zombies anymore, Miss Marple or no. Oh, thanks, Hayley,” she added as I held the door for her. She hitched her worn canvas satchel higher on her shoulder and walked in.

“Trist—” I stopped him before he stepped inside. I needed to have a word, and I liked having the extra inch or two that the doorstep provided. It wasn’t that I was short, but, although thin, he was well over six feet. He sported sparse hair in need of a trim and a scar that cut through his right eyebrow, giving him a perpetual look of scorn. “You will remember to put the furniture back, won’t you? Mrs. Woolgar said that—”

“We put the place to rights before we left last week,” Trist argued, taking a handkerchief from the outside pocket of his leather case and wiping his brow. “And anyway, I don’t know what she’s complaining about, she doesn’t own the place.”

“Both Mrs. Woolgar and I are responsible for what goes on inside Middlebank House,” I reminded him. I was on the verge of slamming the door in the face of his insolence, but how would I get the rest of them out? “And when you were invited to hold the group here, you took on part of that responsibility. If that is more than you’re willing to assume, we’ll have to discuss—”

“Maybe it’s her ladyship feeling restless,” he cut in with a sly grin. “She’s starting to rearrange the furniture.”

I put a finger in his face. “Don’t you start that again about a ghost. Lady Fowling has not returned to haunt Middlebank.”

Trist grunted.

“Are you coming up this evening, Hayley?” Amanda asked.

I had monitored the group the second week they met at Middlebank—just to assuage Mrs. Woolgar’s worry—but I had no wish to hear those first ten pages again. “No, thanks. I’ve a project proposal to catch up on. I’m sure you all work better without an extra pair of ears.”

Had I given Trist enough of a warning? Perhaps not—I would catch him on his way out. Momentarily defeated, I retreated to my office and a proposal I was writing to the board. The Society would offer a series of literary salons—intimate evening lectures on the local culture, entertainment, and writing of the 1930s. We’d serve wine and have a fire blazing. We would charge, of course—and members would receive a deep discount when they bought a ticket to the full series.

Mrs. Woolgar had raised an eyebrow at my idea, as I expected. But she would think differently when I roused the interest of the board of trustees. All five of them, not just my friend Adele Babbage. I was not required to get the board’s permission, but as the salons would be the first big project I’d taken on, I wanted to show them just how forward-­thinking and thorough I could be. I knew Adele would love the idea—she had my back as far as the Society was concerned. It was the remaining four I needed to win over—three of Lady Fowling’s dear friends, now in their eighties, plus the daughter of another. I had the impression Mrs. Woolgar had the ear of at least one of them.

It had taken the board—working with Lady Fowling’s solicitor—the entire three years after her death to get the Society up and running and hire the first curator. During that time, Middlebank—busy during her ladyship’s life with researchers, rare-­book enthusiasts, and lovers of mysteries who came to admire the first editions—fell off the radar, so to speak, leaving the first curator wondering just what she was supposed to be doing. That sense of ennui, coupled with Lady Fowling’s nephew mounting an assault on the estate and the Society in an attempt to break the will, was too much for her, and after four months of constant hounding, she’d had enough and retired to Torquay.

The event threw the board into crisis. This was not what they’d signed on for—they had expected an easy time of it, holding quarterly meetings in the library with the sherry decanter close to hand. The other board members, that is—not Adele. She didn’t care for sherry, and besides, she believed Lady Fowling would want the Society to do and be more.

Their fear that the nephew might take advantage of the Society’s instability coincided with a particularly low point in my year, when no matter how I did my sums, I could not seem to cover my expenses. Adele had looked at my nadir as the stars aligning and had talked me into applying for the post of curator, skating over my lack of knowledge about the mystery genre. “You’ve a university degree in literature,” she reminded me. “Books are books.” The other board members did not see a problem either, and at their next quarterly meeting, they welcomed me with raised glasses.

Not yet halfway through the evening, and all was quiet from the library upstairs. I’d been twirling the end of my ponytail and staring at the blank document on my computer screen for nearly an hour before I gave up and reached for my phone. My call went unanswered just as I expected, and so I left my usual message.

“Dinah, sweetie—it’s Mum,” I said, chipper in the face of dead silence. “Just ringing to see how you are—I transferred the money on Monday, so it should’ve landed in your account. Ring me when you can, sweetie. Cheers, bye!”

Where would a twenty-­two-­year-­old woman be on a Wednesday evening? My darling daughter—in her second year at Sheffield studying the history of everyday life—was probably at the library. No, wait—maybe she’d found herself a part-­time job. A pub, perhaps, or a café? There’s something to hope for.

I noticed Mariella come down the stairs and pass by my office. I got to work, and had written a heading and a one-­sentence précis of my proposal by the time she returned, mug in one hand, plate of biscuits in the other.

“Cuppa?”

“Thanks, I’d love one.”

“I brought my own tea along this evening,” she said. “I didn’t touch the other.”

Good thing. Two weeks before, when Mariella had made tea in the kitchenette, she’d used Mrs. Woolgar’s Fortnum & Mason Assam Superb. Another black mark.

“It was good of you to remember.”

Mariella hovered just inside my office, tugging on the stretched-­out sleeves of her sweater and glancing round the room at my mahogany desk, Palladian-­style mantel, and the Queen Anne wingback chair near the door where Bunter now slept amid the warm glow thrown by the lamps.

“This house is gorgeous. All the dark wood and such—like out of some old film.” She sighed. “We aren’t too noisy for you?”

I took that to mean there had been a fair few arguments already this evening, but at least they had been behind closed doors. “No, I haven’t heard a thing—that’s what you get from good, solid, Georgian construction, you know. Along with Lady Fowling’s refurbishments before she died. So, how’s it going? Everyone come with something fresh?”

“Oh yes, we’ve made great progress,” Mariella said, glancing behind her and up the stairs. “Apart from Amanda, of course.”

Of course.

“Have you read all those books in the library?”

I opened my bottom desk drawer and bent over it to hide my blush lest she cotton on to the fact that I had yet to crack a cover of those first editions and collectible volumes of the Golden Age of Mystery authors.

“The ones her ladyship wrote, I mean,” Mariella added, innocently giving me a way out.

“I haven’t as yet, but I intend to.”

Lady Fowling, as it happened, was a mystery writer, too, each of her many titles gloriously produced in tooled leather binding with gold lettering. She had known the publisher. Twelve books starred her own detective, but the rest had, as protagonist, one of the famous detectives from her favorite authors. Yes—fan fiction. It was as I had told Mrs. Woolgar when I booked the writers group in—if Lady Fowling had been alive today, she’d’ve joined them in the library on Wednesdays.

By ten o’clock, I had made considerable progress on my proposal, but when Bunter raised his head and yawned, so did I. Perhaps another cup of tea. I stood and stretched, and my phone rang. One glance told me it wasn’t Dinah returning her mum’s call.

“Hello, you,” I answered.

“Why aren’t you here in London with me? Why?”

“And why isn’t Bath the perfect place for your business, not London?” I responded, sitting again. We both sighed.

My boyfriend, Wyn Rundle, was a brilliant inventor and businessman whose fully funded start-­up—Eat Here, Eat Now—promised to deliver meals by robot to any address in Greater London, whether that was an office on the twenty-­seventh floor of the Shard or a semi­detatched in Ealing. Initially, of course, they would concentrate on lunchtime in the one-­mile City proper, but as Wyn and his best mate, Tommy, pointed out, the financial district alone would be a gold mine.

We’d met two years earlier here in Bath when Wyn had attended a business expo—one of those happy coincidences when we had both reached for the same flat white order at the Costa Coffee on Southgate. We’d laughed and got to chatting and . . . well, fueled by caffeine, things moved along fairly quickly after that, and by the time he’d returned to London two days later, we were smitten.

And yet we remained living separately. Was it our age—both of us midforties—that kept us from making that last leap and moving cities? We’d grown rather tired of the topic—apart from our requisite greeting on the phone—and had decided to enjoy our long-­distance relationship to its fullest, supplementing widely spaced weekends together with phone calls and texts.

“We need a new navigation system for Myrtle,” he said glumly. “She can’t tell left from right. I’d just as soon throw the bloody thing off Tower Bridge at the moment.”

Myrtle, the robot. Why did these things always have women’s names?

I heard voices on the stairs. The writers must’ve reconciled their differences for the evening, because as they trooped down quietly, Peter asked, “Pub?” and the others murmured assents.

“Hang on a tick,” I whispered to Wyn. “The group’s leaving—I should probably have a quick word and then we can talk.” I jumped up and hurried out to the entry.

“Sorry,” Wyn replied in a rush. “Here’s Tommy. We’ve got to get to work. Love you.” And he was gone.

“Trist?” I called as the group filed out the door.

Already on the pavement, he replied, “See ya, Hayley.”

“Library’s all in order,” Harry promised.

“Night, Hayley,” came from the others.

“But I—”

I withdrew my objection when Mrs. Woolgar appeared—I got the idea she carried out surveillance from across the road and returned only when she saw the writers leaving.

“Turned a bit chilly,” I commented to her as she marched past me.

“It’ll do that in October. And tonight’s damage?” she asked, shrugging off her coat and hanging it on a peg.

“I’m sure they took care—I’ll check on my way up.”

“Good night, then,” she replied, and made straight for the stairs that led down to her flat.

I locked the door and set the alarm. I heard Mrs. Woolgar’s door close, and I stood in the entry, listening to the silent house. The cat emerged from my office, stretched, and made his way into the next room to his bed behind Mrs. Woolgar’s desk.

“Well then—good night, Bunter.”

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