The Carlswick Deception
A priceless Shakespearean First Folio is stolen from an English manor house.
A man is dead.
Oxford student Stephanie Cooper is drawn into the dangerous criminal world of art theft when she meets attractive young detective Luke Spencer.
As her rock guitarist boyfriend tours Japan with his band, Stephanie and Luke's quest becomes personal as they follow an increasingly perilous trail that leads from Oxford to London, Paris and Venice.
But when Stephanie takes an unnecessary risk, the stakes turn deadly. Can she stay alive long enough to expose the identity of the thieves, help recover priceless literary works and resolve her conflicted feelings for Luke and boyfriend James?
"A suspense-filled thriller, packed full of twists and turns. Highly recommended." - The Wishing Shelf
"..fast paced, highly entertaining mystery. Most highly recommended." - Readers' Favorite
Read an Excerpt
The old man flew upright in bed as the tinkling sound of breaking glass drifted upstairs from somewhere in the house. He fumbled about on his bedside table for his glasses, knocking a book to the floor in his haste.
“For heaven’s sake, George, what are you doing?” the elderly woman with snowy white hair mumbled from beneath the covers beside him. “It’s the middle of the night.”
“Ssh, Alice, I heard something,” George replied in a whisper, as he unfolded the wings of his wire-rimmed spectacles and put them on. He was still for a moment as he strained to listen. “There, did you hear that?” he asked, as a soft thud broke the silence in the house. He reached out and switched on the lamp on the bedside table.
Alice sighed and sat up. Her once beautiful features creased into an indulgent smile. “Now just because Jeffrey is ill, you’re hearing things? You’ve been fretting ever since he called in sick. Don’t try to tell me otherwise.” She placed a hand on his arm. Her skin was papery thin with faint blue vein lines running along the back of her hand.
“No, it’s not that. I definitely heard some…” He broke off as a clinking sound, like chains being rattled, echoed from below.
Alice’s eyes widened and she nodded to indicate that she too had heard that noise.
“I’m going to investigate. It would appear that word is out about our little discovery,” George said, swinging his legs over the side of the bed and pushing his feet into his tartan slippers. With a grunt he heaved himself upright and reached for a dressing gown which lay over the arm of a nearby chair. He pulled the blue silk robe on over his stripy pyjamas, tying the cord in a secure knot around his waist, and picked up a metal torch from the floor beside the chair.
“Be careful, George,” Alice warned.
George strode to the closed door of their bedroom. He cracked the door open and peered into the darkness. Soft muffled voices rose from the floor below. George pulled himself back into the room and pushed the door across.
“Call the police, Alice,” he instructed in an urgent voice.
Alice reached for the telephone on a table beside the bed and pressed the numbers for the emergency services as George took a deep breath, straightened himself up to his full six feet in height and reopened the door.
“Yes, police quickly. We have intruders,” he heard Alice say in a loud whisper.
George pulled the door closed behind him and crept along the passageway, stopping just before the corridor opened for the staircase leading downstairs. The voices sounded louder from there — low and masculine. He craned his neck and peered around the edge of the wall. The halo of a flashlight beam flickered across the large entrance hall below. George gasped, his worst fears realised. Someone was in the library.
George felt his fear give way to anger. He stepped out from his hiding place and stood at the top of the stairs, with the large portrait of his grandfather in full military splendour behind him on the wall.
“Who goes there?” he bellowed.
The muted conversation in the library ceased and the lights vanished. Silence fell over the stately home.
“Show yourselves. The police are on their way,” he said, in the strong and steady voice of his youth. He switched his torch on and shone its bright beam down at the entrance to the library.
“Not soon enough, old man.” The voice came from behind.
George spun around in surprise. A black figure loomed from the darkness behind him.
“What the devil…” George spluttered as he lost his balance. The figure reached out and gave him a gentle push. With a sharp cry, George tumbled backwards down the wide carpeted staircase, his neck giving a loud crack as he somersaulted feet over head. Several seconds later his rolling body came to a stop on the marble tiles at the bottom of the staircase, limbs askew and eyes wide open, unseeing. His torch clattered to rest beside him, its light illuminating his face like a macabre mannequin.
His attacker descended the stairs calmly, stepped over the body and strolled to the doorway of the ancient library.
“Time to go,” he said.
His two accomplices zipped up the sports bags at their feet and, avoiding the broken glass from the shattered display cabinets, walked from the library towards the kitchen at the back of the house. The three men slipped out into the night, closing the side door behind them. They were silent as they crept through the walled kitchen garden and climbed over the ancient crumbling wall. They stayed in the shadows until they reached the edge of the lawn, where they broke into a gentle jog setting off across the fields surrounding the remote property. As they ran, a woman’s scream from the house ripped through the night.