On the 31st October 2019) we'll be publishing new books from Ian Ayris, Jo Perry & Derek Farrell, and now we've added the much anticipated new book from Seth Lynch into what is going to be the biggest publishing day in Fahrenheit history.
The 3rd Republic series from Seth Lynch is developing into a really series body of work. All the novels are set in France around the late 1920s & 30s. Each book in the series is a standalone mystery but at the same time the're all loosely connected through a run of interconnected characters and events.
The three volumes already published are;
- Vol. 1 : A Citizen Of Nowhere
- Vol. 2 : A Dead American In Paris
- Vol.3 : The Paris Ripper
To celebrate the publication of VERONIQUE, the 4th book in the series we've re-packaged all four volumes into this stunning collectors set.
Readers genuinely rave over these books, as you can see here;
“Salazar is richly cinematic and completely enthralling with a great sense of time and place, as well as a great deal of wry humour.”
“Knowing well the parts of France where the story unfolds, I realize that this book has been meticulously researched, and the pictures painted and the setting of the characters are perfectly described and richly amplified. Lynch has created a lead character in Salazar that is up there with the Colombos and the Wallanders of this genre, and I look forward impatiently to the second book, in what I'm sure will be a long-lived series.”
“Fans of Highsmith's Ripley or Chandler's Marlow will love these books as will just about anybody simply looking for an absorbing holiday read."
"Slick and evocative, The Paris Ripper is a period thriller of the highest calibre."
To whet your appetite, in advance of its publication on 31st October we're publishing the first 2 chapters from VERONIQUE, the 4th book in the series in this exclusive extract.
Chapter One : Lieutenant Aucouturier
They burst into the gendarmerie shouting. One of them grabbed Lieutenant Aucouturier's arm. It was approximately eight-thirty in the evening on Monday, August 8th, 1932. Aucouturier was preparing to close the station for the night. There were three of them, all boys whose ages ranged from twelve to fifteen. Aucouturier calmed them down, 'what's going on?' he said.
'Justine Bataille, she's not come home. People are looking for her.'
Seconds passed with Aucouturier rooted to the spot, his brain processing pertinent information along with a mass of irrelevancies. He couldn't distinguish between these conflicting streams of thought until they finally coalesced to one word: 'Véronique!' He had to find Véronique.
By thirty-five minutes past eight, Aucouturier was outside where people were marauding in packs through the streets. Someone shouted Aucouturier's name, but when he turned to look he couldn't work out who had called him. Four men barged past carrying a bottle of wine which they passed between them, it was clear they had no idea why they were parading through the streets. They all acted as an obstacle to Aucouturier who had to find Véronique. Another alcohol-fuelled group jostled Aucouturier and one of them shouted, 'what are you doing about this?'
What was he doing? Aucouturier had had enough of staring in bemusement at people as they went this way and that, like a tortoise he retreated into his shell, the gendarmerie. Alone in the quiet and dark, the empty building providing a respite from the confusion playing out on the streets, he knew he must take control of the situation, somehow. Before he could get his thoughts in order, one of the three young lads stuck his head around the door to ask if Aucouturier was coming. 'There are too many people,' Aucouturier said. 'I need reinforcements.' He picked up the telephone and put a call through to Second-Lieutenant Deschamps who policed a much smaller neighbouring town. Luckily, Deschamps hadn't left the office so Aucouturier instructed him to round up five or six men and to meet him in thirty minutes.
At eight-forty-five Aucouturier departed the gendarmerie for the second time and instructed one of the youngsters to wait for the reinforcements. If Aucouturier wasn't back when they arrived, the lad should come and find him. The boy saluted, said 'yes, sir,' then began petting the mongrel dog who more or less lived on the gendarmerie's doorstep.
Aucouturier set off to find Véronique. He marched the sixty metres towards La Vache where a large congregation had gathered among the terrace tables. They swarmed all over Aucouturier the minute they spotted him. The lieutenant climbed onto the small wall which surrounded the disused well and began shouting for calm. He felt like some heretical preacher addressing a crowd of medieval peasants. Véronique was not among them. Aucouturier managed to persuade the crowd to remain in the square and await further orders. There were murmurs of discontent which soon became orders for drinks. Aucouturier jumped down and made his way to the Bataille residence. The church bells rang for nine o'clock.
Along the way, as Aucouturier encountered clusters of people, he instructed them to go and wait in the Old Town square. He banged on the door of the Bataille house to no reply. No reply from the neighbours either, although all these houses had their lights on. A woman opposite shouted from her bedroom window, 'they're out looking for the girl.' Aucouturier watched as this woman then kissed the forehead of the baby she was holding.
Aucouturier returned to the gendarmerie. The time was nine-twenty. Second-Lieutenant Deschamps and two low-ranking gendarmes were waiting for him.
By nine-thirty another three gendarmes had arrived and were in the Old Town square watching Aucouturier address the crowd. The shambolic mass of citizenry transformed into distinct search parties, each to be led by one of the gendarmes. Some were dispatched to the empty kilometres of scrubland and hill which border the western edges of town. Another two groups were sent to scour the northern and southern beaches. The rest were to take the town in sections, going house to house knocking on doors and checking the outbuildings. One officer would remain at the gendarmerie to act as a coordinator. Aucouturier decided to remain in the town, he felt sure that Justine would be discovered, crushed with embarrassment, in the spermy bed of some randy youth.
Although Aucouturier had corralled most people into structured units, there were still some who hadn't been in the square and were pressing independently through the labyrinthine streets of the medieval Old Town. He tried, and mostly succeeded, to send them to the gendarmerie to be allocated to one of the search teams. The ones who ignored him were too drunk to be of any practical use anyway.
He found himself at a congested cross-roads where groups from the official and unstructured search parties had met and were exchanging gossip. Through this swell of people, Aucouturier spotted Véronique Bataille. She was frantic, her contorted face twitching in different directions while calling out her daughter's name. Then she slumped against the wall of a house and slid slowly to the pavement. Aucouturier made haste to reach her, but that wastrel, Hippolyte, emerged from the crowd and hobbled over to her side. Aucouturier watched as Hippolyte crouched down beside Véronique and threw his arms around her. She held on to him, buried her face in his chest while he stroked the back of her head. Her sobs intermingling with Hippolyte's strained words of comfort.
A half-choked yelp escaped Aucouturier. The tragic sight of Véronique, prone on the pavement, enveloped in Hippolyte's arms, provoked a wild burning jealousy. Memories of kisses they'd once shared, memories he'd believed lost in the thick smoke of time, reappeared in a series of sharp, fleeting images as if projected publicly onto the house behind Véronique's crumpled form. Stitch by stitch the thick brocade of Aucouturier's repressed emotions unravelled to expose the raw sentiment beneath the stained fabric.
Hippolyte huddling over Véronique, a pathetic creature with its arms cast around Aucouturier's woman. The scene playing out as he'd imagined it all those years ago: she in tears with Hippolyte's cajoling words of comfort dripping in her ear. Soft whispers becoming gentle kisses until Véronique decided she needed a lover who was present: and not one away at a distant war. A long suppressed desire burnt its way to the surface of Aucouturier's consciousness. A desire to smash Hippolyte Bataille's face in.
Aucouturier, after this moment of shock, began to take stock of the scene. Véronique had always been a resolute woman, not given to panic or hyperbole. If she was crying in the middle of the street then her concern for Justine was genuine and the girl may be in very real danger.
Hippolyte helped Véronique to her feet as Aucouturier pushed through the crowd to reach her. Seeing him, Véronique immediately jumped forward and threw her arms around his neck. She said nothing but cried into his shoulder. The last time this had happened was in early 1916 on the final day she and Aucouturier had spent together before his deployment to The Front. He hadn't realised it at the time, but that embrace was to be the last physical encounter of their relationship. From then on their love took the form of letters. Until the last letter, and then it was over. Distracted by memories, it took Aucouturier a while to notice that Véronique was mumbling something between sobs, 'find our girl, Ferdinand, find our girl.' The phrase shocked him, was she telling him the child was his? He looked up to meet Hippolyte's doleful eyes staring straight back at him. Confusion left him unable to move. He didn't want to move, he wanted to stay as he was, with Véronique in his arms as he whispered the same words he had uttered all those years ago, 'it's all right, Vee, everything will be all right.' But things hadn't been all right then and they weren't all right now.
'She didn't come when I called,' Véronique said. She released her embrace of the lieutenant and, as she did so, Hippolyte stepped forward to put his arm around her shoulders. 'She's never late in for dinner, not by more than ten minutes.'
'Never late,' Hippolyte said.
'Don't worry,' Aucouturier said, 'I've called in reinforcements and we have people searching every sector of the town.'
'Thank-you,' Hippolyte said.
Véronique said nothing, she just screamed her daughter's name so loud that Aucouturier found himself covering his ears. He didn't know what to do, he didn't want to wait with Véronique nor did he wish to leave her.
'Perhaps, Hippolyte, you could take Vee home. We'll let you know as soon as -'
'No!' Véronique said, 'come on.' She pulled Hippolyte by the arm and they disappeared into the crowd of jostling town's folk.
Aucouturier watched them go, replaying Véronique's words, 'find our girl, Ferdinand.' He'd suspected, of course, especially as he never saw any likeness to Hippolyte in the girl. As a consequence, Aucouturier had found himself keeping a special eye-out for her and spoiling her on her birthdays. And now, and now he felt like throwing up in the gutter.
Justine could be spirited and impetuous, echoing her mother at that age, but she had always been a happy child. (Her happiness, in fact, had held Aucouturier at bay. If not for her spontaneous laughter and the way she'd run to throw her arms around Hippolyte, her unadulterated joy as she shouted, 'papa's home!' when the wretch had merely been at work for the day, if it had not been for all that, then, as he'd told himself on so many lonely nights, he would have tried to win Véronique back.) Happy children, he thought, don't run away from home or stay out all night to spite their parents.
He'd intended to shout the name, to add the weight of his voice to the desperate chorus sounding all around him. Instead he'd called as if this might be an elaborate game of hide and seek. She was too old for such games now. Too old for so much. Her last birthday present had been a flop. 'She's too old for that, Ferdinand,' Véronique had said. Next year he planned to buy her a gramophone, what girl ever outgrows music and dancing? She twirled before his eyes, the skirt of her dress circling with a pirouette and catching the last of the crepuscular sunlight. Justine: a little girl with dimpled cheeks fast becoming a rag-tag collection of poorly recalled memories.
If we find her, he thought, no, when we find her, I'm going to have it out with them. Get them round the Bataille dining table, Hippolyte, Véronique and Justine. Make Véronique admit once and for all that he is the child's father.
Tears polluted his eyes. He'd been right, it wasn't a question of 'if' it was a matter of 'when,' but when they found her she'd be dead. He felt convinced of this as the world dropped away leaving him falling with nowhere to land and overwhelmed by a vertiginous sickness. There could be no point in him walking the streets in this condition. He decided to take refuge in the gendarmerie from where he could coordinate the search while hiding from the attentions of the searchers.
Aucouturier sent the remaining gendarme away and prowled the reception like a lonely, caged beast. With Justine missing for this long he felt certain that it must be against her will. Someone had taken her. Until this moment his sole consideration had been the finding of Justine, now he realised he must also find the person responsible for taking her.
With his pacing halted, Aucouturier noticed the peeling paint, the nicotine stains and damp patches on the empty walls assume faint cameo forms. Indistinct at first, not necessarily human, more like dogs or strange birds with the impression of vague humanoid bodies as if torn from the mythologies of an ancient tribe. The longer he stared at these impressions the more they lost their animistic appearance and assumed human form. These humans became men he recognised, men wearing leering faces full of scorn and contempt. These men were his friends, men of the town, men who'd grown alongside him from boyhood. They'd shared drinking sessions, laughter and years of their lives. They'd shared the Great War. But one of them, he feared, had done something to Justine. Who? A town-full of friends became a town-full of suspects. He hated to think this way, yet by tomorrow morning everybody would be filled with the same suspicions. A neighbour's greeting would be tinged with the lingering question, is he the one? In the bistros, in the cafés, the clink of a glass and a friendly 'salut!' will reverberate with the thought, am I drinking with the one?
Perhaps Hippolyte had smothered her. Véronique screaming out during an argument: 'she's not yours, you pathetic wretch, she was fathered by a real man.' Hippolyte, coward that he is, waits to take his revenge. He kills Justine then hides her poor body in the scrubland. No, it couldn't be Hippolyte, he raised Justine and he just wasn't a cruel or violent enough man to harm her. And yet, was the idea impossible?
What about Etienne Conzac, the blacksmith? There was a man burdened by secrets. Always skulking around, hangdog and sorrowful. Everybody feels sympathetically towards him because his wife treats him with such little respect. But had he brought her contempt upon himself? Is there some aspect of their private life, some lewd secret from their early days, which causes her to treat him that way? Why else would any man remain with a woman who treats him so shoddily?
Then there's the drifter from Alsace, Guillaume Dreyer. At this thought Aucouturier felt traces of his despair slip away. An outsider! Obvious when you consider it. Nobody knows who he is or what he's doing here. Everybody takes him at face value, an itinerant worker passing through. Nobody thinking to ask what had set him on the nomadic path of the vagrant. Could it have been some other poor girl, left for dead in a Strasbourg back alley? Aucouturier's mind whirled and spat out sparks of thought too fast for him to follow. He had the good sense to take a scrap of paper and write: contact Strasbourg. Then he sat on the desk which haunted the far corner of the reception area.
With Dreyer the parade of names and faces came to an abrupt halt. A lonely boy strays into town, his lust barely sated through the using and murder of an innocent girl from the northern lands, he spots Justine and once more his blood is up. Before Aucouturier could grow too comfortable with that idea he suddenly thought of Véronique's brother.
Jules Bosc is a brutish thug with a temper which controls him, which defines him. Aucouturier had never been fond of Jules, in fact he'd always disliked him. Perhaps that oaf had been too rough, shoved Justine and she'd fallen. Not intentionally, Jules is fiercely loyal and protective towards his family. When Jules had discovered Aucouturier was walking out with Véronique, he'd taken to threatening Aucouturier. But Aucouturier was not intimidated by Jules and the trouble ended after one or two scraps. That truce, if it ever was a truce, came to an end when Aucouturier was stationed back in town. Jules' taste for drink, and having no living wife to keep the drinking under control, had seen him kicking up a stink in plenty of the town's café bars. If not fighting then he'd have smashed a window or be found urinating against the wall of the church or simply lying in the gutter and bellowing at the moon. At such times, Aucouturier would be called and Jules dragged back to the gendarmerie to sleep it off in the cells. Often enough, by the morning, Jules would have no memory of what he'd done the night before. He may not even realise that he is the one who's harmed his poor niece.
What about Jules' son, Georges? A good lad who takes after his mother. Her death had seen Georges raised by his drunkard father. The boy often used Véronique's house as a second home and Georges had never been in trouble. Still, is there any such thing as a good lad where girls are concerned?
Jules and Georges faded as Aucouturier began to consider the other side of the family. What about Émile, eldest of the Bataille brothers? How many times had Aucouturier witnessed Émile bouncing Justine on his knee? Could it be that this innocent fun had developed a more salacious intent?
What was true of Émile could easily be true of Bernard. Except … Except, in youth, Bernard Bataille and Aucouturier had been as thick as thieves. Born within days of each other, they'd grown up side-by-side. Bernard had given Aucouturier his first cigarette. They'd spent lengthy summer holidays swimming together, hunting together and scrambling over the hills together. An inseparable pair until war destroyed their union by deploying the two friends to separate regiments. Afterwards, because of Hippolyte and Véronique's matrimonial union, Aucouturier had kept away from town. By the time he'd returned, the habit of keeping Bernard's company had been broken. There was nothing, however, about Bernard that would lead Aucouturier to suspect him in anyway. Yet, there was the war, it changed people. Aucouturier had known the pre-war Bernard, if not for those years of conflict there'd be no room for doubt. But war saw many brave men broken, many devout men renounce their gods and many good men turn bad. Although it choked him to think of his friend that way, Aucouturier could not simply shrug off the suspicion that Bernard may have played a part in Justine's disappearance.
In a melancholic mood, Aucouturier continued to stare at the reception wall. The gallery of faces reverted back to an anonymous collection of dark stains and peeling paint. Thinking of Bernard Bataille harming Justine brought Aucouturier to a new low and he found it hard to shake off the sadness. He didn't even know for certain that any harm had come to the girl yet he was already, mentally, placing his oldest friend in an identity parade. To distract himself from this notion, he considered the de Gruissan family.
Roger de Gruissan pretty much owns the town. Throughout Aucouturier's life de Gruissan has been a figure of folkloric proportions. There are tales of sorcery, of depravity and of sacrilegious rituals. However, this was a man in his seventies who rarely left his home. It was doubtful that he'd have the strength to overcome Justine. If he'd had anything to do with taking her then he'd have had to have used his servants to abduct the girl. It felt a little too far-fetched, like the stories of white slavers which had done the rounds when Aucouturier was a young man.
If not Roger, what about his youngest son, Eugene? It made your skin crawl to think of him. Whatever depravities existed beneath the surface of the father appeared to have taken physical form in the son. You could imagine Eugene doing anything. That was in part because he never did anything and so presented a blank canvas for the imagination. Yet the stories of Roger de Gruissan were based in truth, people had direct experience of his perversity. In Eugene's case it was all fantasy. People might spread rumours over a glass of wine, but when pushed they'd always say, 'well, I didn't actually see him do it …'
Then there is the eldest son, Lucien de Gruissan. He lives in Paris but always returns for August. There is a foppish distraction about Lucien which says, 'the world is here for my pleasure.' Has he taken Justine for his pleasure?
In the midst of Aucouturier's speculations, a lad from one of the search parties arrived with news of a body on the beach. They ran down the hill towards the sea and along a trail through the pines. Already Aucouturier could hear the murmur of a crowd above the incessant chirps of a cicada. They emerged from the woods at the line of rocks which isolates a small segment of beach from the southern and northern beaches. The sound of a woman's cries cut through the general chatter of the search party. Aucouturier hoped it wasn't Véronique, he wanted a chance to examine the scene before she arrived.
The crowd parted as Aucouturier passed through to his subordinate officer, Second-Lieutenant Deschamps. Aucouturier's eyes took in the large gendarme's coat covering the body. They darted to the rocks and rested upon a pile of female clothing, recognising a dress Émile Bataille had presented to Justine for her birthday. As he looked at the dress he thought, is that a dress you'd buy for a niece or for a lover? The hem was high, the back revealing. He recalled those gifts he'd given and Véronique's response, 'she's too old for that now.' Perhaps Émile had been met with a similar response and the girl had then chosen a dress for herself. Or had those words caused Émile to look again at this young girl and to bring her to this remote spot on the beach?
Aucouturier steeled himself, 'try and get them back to the path by the wood,' he said and Deschamps moved forward to shepherd everyone off the beach. Aucouturier's whole body was overtaken by a paroxysm of trembling as he neared the prone figure on the ground. Then, when he pulled back the heavy coat to reveal the lifeless body beneath, he choked and didn't know where to look. He shouted at Deschamps, 'I said get them all off the beach,' although there was no one left on the beach other than himself and Justine. He closed his eyes and thought, you've seen bodies before and this is just one more body. When he opened his eyes, Aucouturier felt an old, once familiar, sensation sweep through his being. Time froze in the air, the pause between systole and diastole grew into a bloodless eternal void. In the old days this sensation came before a charge. There'd be a sickness of nerves and adrenaline until the officer lifted a whistle to his lips and encased all time within a petrified quarter of a second. Aucouturier, in that moment, stopped being a frightened schoolboy on the verge of wetting his pants and became a soldier of France. A soldier no more, as he looked at the body on the beach, Aucouturier became an officer of the gendarmes.
The waxing gibbous moon provided some light from the cloudless sky. Then there were the torches of the search party which sent a criss-cross of shadows over the beach. What he could see he knew well enough, twenty metres of sand with boundaries marked by two lines of rock. Even in daylight you could not see beyond the rocks to the other two beaches. These rocks, piled to a height of two or three metres, stretch from the sea to the path. Beyond the path grow the pines which block the view from the road. This spot isn't too popular being a bit out of the way from the direct routes from town and cut off from the other beaches. People like to take long walks by the sea, they enjoy the idea of an unending sand stretching before them. This section is enclosed and doesn't provide long stretches of anything. People only come down here when they want privacy.
Chapter Two : Marcel Bataille
Only Marcel Bataille found sleep. A large part of his evening had been spent in the streets, lost amongst the legs of the grown-up world, until his grandma decided she should take him home. It wasn't healthy, she'd said, for a boy of his age. Marcel hadn't understood exactly what had been unhealthy but assumed it to be the late hour. Still, he'd been reluctant to leave and tugged at her arm as she dragged him against the tide of the crowd.
Once back, his grandma had made chocolate while Marcel sat at the dining table pretending it was perfectly normal for him to be awake as the clock on the mantle chimed for ten. At times he'd thought he could hear his grandma laughing, as if someone had surprised her with a tickle on the ribs. But who could have surprised her? Nobody could have reached the kitchen without passing him in the dining room or by using the kitchen door which creaks terribly and would have ruined any surprise.
Between sips of the delightfully sweet and frothy chocolate (grandma made it much better than maman) Marcel had thought of Justine. At first he'd been secretly delighted by her disappearance because it meant disorder and he'd simply enjoyed being outside so late. In many ways the evening had felt like a carnival, everyone in the street shouting and bustling up against one another, nobody caring too much about bedtime. Except on carnival day maman would bubble with laughter and give him money for the stalls. Instead of laughing, at one point, he'd seen her crying and she hadn't looked like his maman at all but like some frightened girl who needed her own mother to take care of her. When he'd seen her like that he'd grown frightened and when he'd realised his maman's sadness was due to Justine, he'd begun muttering, 'I hate you, I hate you,' and thinking horrible thoughts about his sister. Then he'd noticed his own tears and realised he wanted to see his sister so much he was shaking. His grandma had taken his hand at this point and said about it not being healthy. He'd rubbed away the tears in the vain hope that the old woman might not have noticed them.
There came a suddenness, as if he'd tripped on a rock while running and needed to right himself, which jerked Marcel from his sleep. He felt unsure as to where he might be and had no recollection of going to bed. The darkness was near complete: despite this, he strained his eyes to peer across the room at his sister's bed. After some moments he could make out her blanket lying shapeless and flat over the mattress.
For a long time they'd been telling him that he was getting to old to share with his sister. They said Justine needed a space of her own. Without an extra room in the house, his papa had told Marcel that his new room would be on the landing, a cubbyhole with a curtain strung across it. Justine would keep the bedroom. 'It was mine before it was yours,' she'd said when he'd complained. Perhaps, because she'd caused so much fuss, they'd changed their minds and made her sleep out on the landing. He felt no satisfaction in the prospect of this victory. It made no difference to him who was sleeping where, his real objection was to being alone.
The silence was eternal, his whispered call making no more impression on the darkness of the room than the moonlight resting against the closed shutters.
Why didn't she answer? He longed for her usual reply, 'go back to sleep, squirt.' Or, much better, the strange words which would sometimes fall incoherently from her lips, 'dresses for the sun moths, tomorrow waves the blue sky.' Those snatches of poetry, stolen from her sleeping mind, had been riddles for him to solve until he'd realised they were nothing more than fragments of dream.
But why wasn't she answering at all?
Raised voices rumbled up through the floorboards. Uncle Jules was using language, saying (shouting) 'salaud' over and over as if it were an ordinary word. No other words stood out from the clamour of low-level murmurings, but the voices bounced up and down as some people seemed to whisper while others shouted. Marcel crept to the door and opened it a fraction. Someone downstairs was crying, was it maman? As he heard her sobs, he remembered her flopped over on the pavement. An invisible force hit him in the chest and he thought he may never be able to breathe again.
When the breathlessness passed, Marcel poked his head out the bedroom and looked down the stairs. He saw his cousin Georges sitting with his head resting between two balustrades. Marcel tip-toed towards his cousin who turned, disinterestedly, to observe his approach. Georges' eyes were red and it looked like he'd been crying too, but when Marcel asked if that was what had happened, Georges said it was a lie.
'How can a question be a lie?'
'You don't understand.'
Georges turned his back on Marcel who found himself remembering a scene from months earlier where Georges had said that exact same thing.
Justine was supposed to be looking after him and she'd told him to go outside and play football. None of the other boys were about so he'd kicked the ball against the wall on his own until boredom overtook him. Then he went back inside. Justine wasn't there so he wandered upstairs and saw her with Georges and they were kissing, on the lips.
Marcel said, 'nah, nah.'
Georges pushed him on the chest and said 'clear off, squirt.'
'You were kissing,' Marcel said
'You don't understand,' Georges replied.
The memory faded as Marcel looked down at Georges' hunched shoulders and the rear of his head. 'I do understand,' he said and put his small hand between his cousin's shoulder blades. 'You feel sad, like me, and it's hard not to cry when you get that sad.'
(Continued in VERONIQUE by Seth Lynch...)