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Book by George Elizabeth
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CAPPUCCINO. THAT NEW AGE ANSWER to driving one's blues momentarily away. A few tablespoons of espresso, a froth of steamed milk, an accompanying and generally tasteless dash of powdered chocolate and suddenly life was supposed to be all in order again. What drivel.
Deborah St. James sighed. She picked up the bill that a passing waitress had slid surreptitiously onto the table.
"Good Lord," she said and she stared, both dismayed and disgusted, at the amount she was going to have to pay. A block away, she could have ducked into a pub and acknowledged that importunate inner voice saying, "What's this chi-chi rot, Deb, let's just have a Guinness somewhere." But instead, she'd made her way to Upstairs, the stylish marble-glass-and-chrome coffee shop of the Savoy Hotel where those who imbibed in anything beyond water paid heavily for the privilege. As she was discovering.
She'd come to the Savoy to show her portfolio to Richie Rica, an up-and-coming producer employed by a newly formed entertainment conglomerate called L.A.SoundMachine. He had travelled to London for a brief seven days to select the photographer who would capture for posterity the likenesses of Dead Meat, a five-member band from Leeds whose most recent album Rica was shepherding all the way from creation to completion. She was, he told her, the "ninth frigging photog" whose work he'd seen. His patience, apparently, was wearing thin.
Unfortunately, it gained no girth from their interview. Straddling a delicate gilded chair, Rica went through her portfolio with all the interest and the approximate speed of a man dealing cards in a gambling casino. One after another, Deborah's pictures sailed to the floor. She watched them fall: her husband, her father, her sister-in-law, her friends, the myriad relations she'd gained through her marriage. There was no Sting or Bowie or George Michael among them. She'd only got the interview in the first place through the recommendation of a fellow photographer whose work had also failed to please the American. And from the expression on Rica's face, she could tell she was getting no further than anyone else.
This didn't actually disturb her as much as seeing the black-and-white tarpaulin of her pictures grow on the floor beneath Rica's chair. Among them was her husband's sombre face, and his eyes–so grey-blue light, so much at odds with his jet-coloured hair–seemed to be gazing directly into hers. This isn't the way to escape, he was saying.
She never wanted to believe Simon's words at any moment when he was most right. That was the primary difficulty in their marriage: her refusal to see reason in the face of emotion, warring with his cool evaluation of the facts at hand. She would say, God damn it, Simon, don't tell me how to feel, you don't know how I feel . . . And she would weep the hardest with the greatest bitterness when she knew he was right.
As he was now, when he was fifty-four miles away in Cambridge, studying a corpse and a set of X-rays, trying to decide with his usual dispassionate, clinical acuity what had been used to beat in a girl's face.
So when, in evaluation of her work, Richie Rica said with a martyred sigh at the monumental waste of his time, "Okay, you got some talent. But you want the truth? These pictures wouldn't sell shit if it was dipped in gold," she wasn't as offended as she might have been. It was only when he jockeyed his chair around prior to rising that her mild ember of irritation feathered into flame. For he slid his chair into the blanket of pictures he'd just created, and one of its legs perforated the lined face of Deborah's father, sinking through his cheek and creating a fissure from jaw to nose.
It wasn't even the damage to the photograph that brought the heat to her face. If the truth be told, it was Rica's saying, "Oh hell, I'm sorry. You can print another of the old guy, can't you?" before he heaved himself to his feet.
Which is largely why she knelt, keeping her hands steady by pressing them to the floor as she gathered her pictures together, placing them back into the portfolio, tying its strings neatly, and then looking up to say, "You don't look like a worm. Why is it you act like one?"
Which–the relative merit of her pictures aside–is even more largely why she hadn't got the job.
"Wasn't meant to be, Deb," her father would have said. Of course, that was true. Lots of things in life are never meant to be.
She gathered up her shoulder bag, her portfolio, her umbrella, and made her way out to the hotel's grand entry. A short walk past a line of waiting taxis and she was out on the pavement. The morning's rain had abated for the moment, but the wind was fierce, one of those angry London winds that blow from the southeast, pick up speed on the slick surface of open water, and shoot down streets, tearing at both umbrellas and clothes. In combination with the traffic rumbling by, it created a whip-howl of noise in the Strand. Deborah squinted at the sky. Grey clouds roiled. It was a matter of minutes before the rain began again.
She'd thought about taking a walk before heading home. She wasn't far from the river, and a stroll down the embankment sounded lovelier than did the prospect of entering a house made tenebrous by the weather and rebarbative by the memory of her last discussion with Simon. But with the wind dashing her hair into her eyes and the air smelling each moment heavier with rain, she thought better of the idea. The fortuitous approach of a number eleven bus seemed indication enough of what she ought to do.
She hurried to join the queue. A moment later, she was jostling among the crowd in the bus itself. However, within two blocks, an embankment stroll in a raging hurricane looked decidedly more appealing than what the bus ride had to offer. Claustrophobia, an umbrella being driven into her little toe by an Aquascutum-outfitted Sloane Ranger several miles out of territory, and the pervasive odour of garlic which seemed to be emanating from the very pores of a diminutive, grandmotherly woman at Deborah's elbow all joined forces to convince her that the day promised nothing more than an endless journey from bad to worse.
Traffic ground to a halt at Craven Street, and eight more people took the opportunity of jumping into the bus. It began to rain. As if in response to all three of these events, the grandmotherly woman gave a tremendous sigh and Aquascutum leaned heavily onto the umbrella's handle. Deborah tried not to breathe and began to feel faint.
Anything–wind, rain, thunder, or an encounter with all Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse–would be better than this. Another interview with Richie Rica would be better than this. As the bus inched forward towards Trafalgar Square, Deborah fought her way past five skinheads, two punk rockers, half a dozen housewives, and a happy group of chattering American tourists. She gained the door just as Nelson's Column came into view, and with a determined leap, she was back in the wind with the rain beating soundly against her face.
She knew better than to open her umbrella. The wind would take it like tissue and hurl it down the street. Instead, she looked for shelter. The square itself was empty, a broad expanse of concrete, fountains, and crouching lions. Devoid of its resident flock of pigeons and of the homeless and often friendless who lounged by the fountains and climbed on the lions and encouraged the tourists to feed the birds, the square looked, for once, like the monument to a hero that it was supposed to be. It did not, however, hold out much promise as a sanctuary in the middle of a storm. Beyond it stood the National Gallery where a number of people huddled into their coats, fought with umbrellas, and scurried like voles up the wide front steps. Here was shelter and more. Food, if she wanted it. Art, if she needed it. And the promise of distraction which she had been welcoming for the last eight months.
With the rainwater beginning to drizzle through her hair to her scalp, Deborah hurried down the steps of the subway and through the pedestrian tunnel, emerging moments later in the square itself. This she crossed quickly, her black portfolio clasped hard to her chest, while the wind tore at her coat and drove the rain in steady waves against her. By the time she reached the door of the gallery, she was sloshing in her shoes, her stockings were spattered, and her hair felt like a cap of wet wool on her head.
Where to go. She hadn't been inside the gallery in ages. How embarrassing, she thought, I'm supposed to be an artist myself.
But the reality was that she had always felt overwhelmed in museums, within a quarter of an hour a hopeless victim to aesthetic-overload. Other people could walk, gaze, and comment upon brushstrokes with their noses fixed a mere six inches from a canvas. But for Deborah, ten paintings into any visit and she'd forgotten the first.
She checked her belongings in the cloakroom, picked up a museum plan, and began to wander, happy enough to be out of the cold, content with the thought that the gallery contained amble scope for at least a temporary respite. A diverting photographic assignment may have been out of her reach at the moment, but the exhibitions here at least held out the promise of continued avoidance for another few hours. If she was truly lucky, Simon's work would keep him the night in Cambridge. Discussion between them couldn't resume. She would have purchased more time in that way.
She quickly scanned the museum plan, looking for something that might engage her. Early Italian, Italian 15th Century, Dutch 17th Century, English 18th Century. Only one artist was mentioned by name. Leonardo, it said, Cartoon. Room 7.
She found the room easily, tucked away by itself, no larger than Simon's study in Chelsea. Unlike the exhibition rooms she had passed through to reach it, Room 7 contained only one piece, Leonardo da Vinci's ...
Deborah and Simon St. James have taken a holiday in the winter landscape of Lancastershire, hoping to heal the growing rift in their marriage. But in the barren countryside awaits bleak news: The vicar of Wimslough, the man they had come to see, is dead—a victim of accidental poisoning. Unsatisfied with the inquest ruling and unsettled by the close association between the investigating constable and the woman who served the deadly meal, Simon calls in his old friend Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley. Together they uncover dark, complex relationships in this rural village, relationships that bring men and women together with a passion, with grief, or with the intention to kill. Peeling away layer after layer of personal history to reveal the torment of a fugitive spirit, Missing Joseph is award-winning author Elizabeth George's greatest achievement.
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Description du livre Bantam Books, 1994. Soft cover. Etat : New. 1st Edition. N° de réf. du vendeur 008060
Description du livre Bantam, 1994. Etat : New. book. N° de réf. du vendeur M0553566040
Description du livre Bantam, 1994. Mass Market Paperback. Etat : New. Brand New!. N° de réf. du vendeur VIB0553566040
Description du livre Bantam, 1994. Mass Market Paperback. Etat : New. N° de réf. du vendeur DADAX0553566040