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296 pages, Hardcover
First published September 22, 2015
Mrs. Beaumont led us to a small alcove at the rear of the room. Within the recess were a pile of blankets, a little pink collar with a bell on the front, and a set of silver bowls perched on white doilies. In one bowl was a bit of what looked to be leftover tuna, and in the other were water, a great deal of cat hair, and a live fish. The fish circled uncomfortably, being nearly as wide as the bowl itself.
Jackaby squatted, resting his forearms on his knees and staring into the water. He watched the fish take a few cramped laps, studying its movements, and then he plucked a bit of damp cat hair from the rim, sniffed it, tasted it, and tucked it into a pocket somewhere in the depths of his coat.
“There’s somethin’ big come to Gad’s Valley.”
“Around his neck he had wound a ludicrously long scarf, the ends of which brushed the cobblestones as he walked.”
“There was something else in the atmosphere that I couldn’t quite identify. As I stepped along the walkway, a cold chill swept through my dress and I shivered. Something was wrong.”
“Miss Rook, on a scale of one to pomegranate, how dangerous would you say this situation has become?"
"Dangerous?" I faltered.
"Yes, Miss Rook," prompted Jackaby, in your expert opinion."
"On a scale of one to pomegranate?" I followed his lead, checking over the notes I had scribbled in my notepad and speaking in my most audible, serious whisper. "I should think ... acorn? Possibly badger. Time alone will tell.”
“The only paths you can't travel are the ones you block yourself--so don't let the fear of failure stop you from trying in the first place.”
"Failure is not the opposite of success—it’s a part of it."
What we need is a thorough, discreet report from somebody accustomed to working outside the usual parameters of the law.”
“What a coincidence,” Jackaby said. “I’ve been thinking of putting that very thing on my business cards. So you’re sending us on assignment?”
Jackaby shook his head. “Miss Rook,” he said, “the greatest figures in history are never the ones who avoid failure, but those who march chin-up through countless failures, one after the next, until they come upon the occasional victory.” He put a hand on my shoulder. “Failure is not the opposite of success—it’s a part of it. And as failures go,” he added with a lopsided grin, “this one was really spectacular, wasn’t it?” The firelight bobbed merrily in my employer’s eyes, and behind him the roof of the farmhouse collapsed into a smoldering heap. I sighed, and in spite of myself I managed a weak smile. “It really was, sir.”