Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Master's Book Excerpt and $20 Amazon GC Giveaway
Sean moves to Brussels to a house that is a crime scene...
In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 25. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels.
The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen almost at once.
Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?
Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.
Book can be found at:
“Aren’t you going to tell them?” asked Mam. “It’s the least you can do after dragging us all here.”
Five days after arriving in Belgium and my folks were still fighting. I could see Mam’s point, though. Dad kept saying that this would be a great experience for all of us and that we’d learn lots, but he just wanted the new job. Mam had to give up the job she already had, while I’d left all my friends in school behind. Maeve didn’t seem as bothered; I wondered if all little sisters were as odd as mine.
Still, what was the use in going on about it? Especially when we were sitting outside a restaurant in the Grand Place in Brussels. I put down my fork and tried to catch my sister’s gaze, but she was just staring at the huge buildings on every side of the square, with their pointed windows and spires, decorated like big cakes. The evening sun shone on the gold of the pillars and made me squint.
“…I had to hear it from the police,” Mam went on.
To hell with this. Would one of them at least tell us what this is all about?
Dad turned to me. “The man that used to own our house is dead. The house was broken into, and they found him a day later on the living room floor with a fractured skull. The place had been ransacked.”
“Cool,” I said. That only made Mam glare at me.
“It’s not funny, Seán,” said Mam. “Your father drags us over here to Brussels and sets us up in a house where someone’s been murdered—and only recently, too. How am I supposed to feel safe living in a crime scene?”
“Oh, don’t be stupid,” said Dad.
“Oh, so now I’m stupid,” Mam snarled. The people at the next table stopped eating and stared. I tried not to catch their eyes.
“Shh,” whispered Dad. “It’s not such a big deal as all that. If you’ll let me—”
Mam interrupted him with an exasperated breath, but at least this time she kept her voice low. “If it wasn’t such a big deal, why didn’t you tell me before now?”
“I was going to tell you.”
I wondered the same thing, although for different reasons than Mam. I thought about how much street cred I’d missed out on by not being able to tell my mates I was moving to a crime scene.
“When we’d settled,” said Dad. “Look, you said yourself it’s a great house when I showed you the photos. It’s near the European School, too. And the rent is cheap. I wanted you to come over to see it yourself before I signed on, but you said you didn’t need to.”
“You didn’t tell me about the murder, though,” Mam’s voice grew louder again. I could see Dad’s patience beginning to crack.
“Look, I hadn’t seen any other house that was nearly as good. I even checked with the police. What does it matter what happened to the owner, whether he was murdered or went off to live in Outer Mongolia? Why would it have anything to do with us?”
“I don’t like living in a house where something like that has happened,” whined Mam.
Dad shrugged. “You can talk to the police yourself.”
“I already have,” Mam reminded him. “They called today.”
“Well, there’s a doctor just across the road you can talk to. She’ll know the whole story.”
Mam took this the wrong way, though. “A doctor? Are you saying there’s something wrong with me? Next you’ll be saying I need a shrink.”
Dad shrugged again. “You said it, not me.”
As Mam jumped up and knocked over her wine glass, I nearly dropped my fork. She stomped off in the direction of the restaurant building.
“What are you staring at, Seán?” Dad mopped up the spilt wine.
Maeve sucked on a chip dipped in ketchup. “Why did people break into the house?”
Trust my kid sister to ask the obvious question. Why does anyone break into a house?
Dad shrugged again in that way of his. “They must have been looking for something, I suppose.”
Well, hello. “Obviously,” I said, trying to sound patient. “But what exactly?”
“I don’t know for sure.”
“Do you think they found whatever it was?” asked Maeve.
He didn’t answer. He was looking over my shoulder. I turned around and saw that Mam had come back.
She sat down. “The police wanted to know if we’dfound anything. That’s what they called to ask me about.” Her eyes were a bit red, but she seemed calmer.
“But I told you I spoke to them before I signed the lease,” said Dad. “I would have told you if you’d given me a chance. I don’t know why they came bothering you.”
Mam poured herself another glass of wine. “They wanted to know if I’d found anything valuable since we moved in, which, of course, I hadn’t.”
Well of course not. The place was bare when we moved in.
“Did he say what sort of thing they expected you to find?” I asked.
Mam shook her head. “He wouldn’t say, for ‘operational reasons’, apparently.”
“What does that mean?” asked Maeve.
“The police probably think they can trip up a suspect if they don’t let on about what they’re looking for,” said Dad. “I wouldn’t mind, but I went through all of this with them myself. I even went over the house with a fine-tooth comb. There is really nothing to connect us to the guy who lived there before. There isn’t anything in the house now that belonged to him, so why would these people want to come after us?”
That seemed to make sense. I couldn’t help feeling that Mam was being a bit panicky about the whole thing. Not that I really cared anyway. It didn’t matter to me where we lived in Brussels—I never wanted to leave Dublin in the first place.
Philip Coleman has worked as a biologist for most of his life—in Ireland, Belgium and now in Switzerland. Having been an avid reader all his life, he took up writing only in 2006. This is his first published novel. He drew his inspiration for the story from the period he spent working for the EU in Brussels. He has a grown-up son and daughter (who were roughly the same ages as Sean and Maeve during the time in Brussels but otherwise aren’t a bit like them at all!). He now lives in France.
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Posted by Joana Arteaga