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‘Take off your coat,’ said the doctor. I took it off. ‘And your dress,’ he said. ‘It’s too dangerous – the folds may catch in the debris and bring the whole thing down.’ I took off the dress. ‘Fine,’ he said shortly. ‘It’ll have to be head first. We’ll hold your thighs. Go down and see if it’s possible to give an injection. Can you grip the torch with your teeth?’

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‘You don’t want to mind about any of this,’ said the driver, waving a hand at the grey ruins and the greyer dust. ‘In a few days you’ll be so used to it that you’ll like them. Berlin’s a grand place! I’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world, and that’s a fact.’

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‘Heartrending but irresistible.’ Rosaleen Whateley, LIVERPOOL DAILY POST

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‘You are a virgin?’

‘Yes.’

‘How dull! What’s the use of being a woman if you’re a virgin?’

‘One has to begin sometime,’ I agreed.

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‘I can’t go back. I’d rather die—I’d rather be dead.’

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The peacock displayed himself and paraded the lawn, sometimes pausing to look up at the sky.

Waiting? Listening? Guiding. No. Signalling.

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This book was written for those who don’t despise children’s parties, Edwardian actresses, dancing classes and the scent of lilac over sun-warmed fences.

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In the schoolroom in Lowndes Square, a child, in her ugly, unsuitable frock of plum-coloured satin, cut down when discarded from one of her mother’s, bent over the cutting out of a doll and its cardboard wardrobe, and shivered as she worked.

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‘It’s a storm in a tea-cup, of course, but then we happen to live in a tea-cup!’

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‘Listen! I see I’d better take you into my confidence.’

‘I’d rather you didn’t,’ I said.

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He caught the back of a chair, staggered and groaned. There was a heavy crash and fall, and the parson lay motionless and livid, while lilies from a vase fell, like a wreath, across his chest.

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There was something about those hands, with their strangely crisped fingers, as though they had been arrested in the very act of closing, that somehow gave the lie to the woman’s attitude of sleep.

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News travels quickly and mysteriously on board ship. By the time lunch was over, the rumour began to spread that Mr. Smith’s death had not been due to natural causes.

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“The blood’s coming from a cut at the back of his neck,” she said slowly. “He couldn’t have done that in falling. Some one must have—”

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“There’ll be blue murder here before Christmas!”

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Constantine reflected on the various means dentists have at their disposal should they wish to silence their patients …

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“He had his enemies, I suppose?”

“Disputes, you mean? Over the merits of Puccini and Wagner, Strauss and Verdi! But people do not entice an old man from his home many years afterwards to avenge Wagner or Puccini!”

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“Forty years ago he was Slightly in Peter Pan, and you might say that he has been wholly in Peter Pan ever since.” Kenneth Tynan

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‘A highly readable work … Niven emerges as gallant and gracious.’ Chicago Tribune

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‘Incredibly good-looking, in a dark way … that curious quality of a man with an eternal secret. … That was what was so arresting. … That and the voice.’ Geraldine Fitzgerald

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Robert Shaw

'Chillingly well told' Sheridan Morley

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Getting High

‘Paolo is the only person to speak about what it was like on the road with us because he’s been there. He’s been there, he’s seen it, he’s done it.’ Noel Gallagher

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Late in the afternoon a man, unidentified, had been seen to throw a glove into the Midwych, Wychshire and Southern Canal…

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“Ode to a chocolate,” murmured Bobby.

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“I wouldn’t come any nearer if I were you. It’s not a thing to see unless you have to.”

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“I’ve got to hurry,” Bobby said. “Mr Weston has been found dead from a knife-wound in his study.”

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Deep in bucolic Wychshire something dreadful is stirring …

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With a slow gesture of one lifted hand, Bobby pointed. There, in a space between the prostrate stag and posturing goddess, was a human leg, a twisted, motionless leg in a strained, unnatural position.

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“Give me gossip or Sherlock Holmes, and I take gossip every time. The detective’s first aid and ever present help in time of doubt.”

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“I don’t like it, Olive. No good, plain evidence, not so much as the smell of a fingerprint. Nothing but psychology and an atmosphere of doubt, menace, and suspicion.”

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“Gets on your nerves, doesn’t it? I mean, that playing of hers. I’ve never heard anything like it.”

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Bobby Owen stood for a time in silence, looking down thoughtfully at the dead man’s face. A small, insignificant face, lacking even that touch of repose and dignity which death, even violent death, so often gives, and one that Bobby had never seen before. Of that at least he was sure.

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