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Monday Puzzler > December 7th Puzzler: An Interrogation

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message 1: by Phoenix77 (new)

Phoenix77 | 346 comments Catching her breath, Heroine ripped her stare from the prisoner’s compelling regard and sought the familiar, aristocratically handsome features of her employer.

Sir Inspector, generally a self-possessed man, seemed to be at the end of a frayed rope, clutching for control of his temper with both hands. This wasn’t like Inspector to beat a man whose wrists were chained behind him.

“I see you’ve come prepared,” he clipped, his tone belying the glimmer of warmth and yearning in his eyes as he gave her a curt nod.

“Yes, sir.” Heroine nodded, giving herself a stern shake as she fixed her gaze on the desk at the back of the room, and willed her shaking legs to carry her all the way to it without dropping something, or worse. She hid her discomfiture behind a carefully arranged mask of serenity as the heels of her boots clipped a sharp echo against the stones of the strong room.

“As much as I approve of your change in tactics, Inspector, dangling this tasty piece in front of me still won’t have the desired effect.” Hero’s voice reached out to her like the first unwelcome tendrils of frost in winter. Deep, smooth, caustic, and bitter cold. Despite that, his accent was astonishingly cultured, though a deeply hidden brogue rounded out the r’s, enough to hint that the Blackheart of Ben More might not have been London born. His neck swiveled on powerful shoulders as he followed her progress toward the writer’s desk placed behind him at a diagonal. He didn’t take those disturbing eyes from her once, even as he addressed Inspector. “I warn you now that more brutal men than you have tried to beat a confession out of me, and more beautiful women than she have endeavored to bewitch my secrets from me. Both have failed.”

The desk chair came up to meet her much faster than she’d anticipated as she dropped into it, nearly upsetting the items clutched in her arms. Unutterably glad she was stationed behind Hero so he could not see her unease, she smoothed the pad of paper in front of her with an unsteady hand, and positioned her inkwell and pen just so.

“You’ll learn, Hero, that there are no more brutal men than I.” Inspector sneered.

“Said the fly to the spider.”

“If I am the fly, why are you the one caught in my web?” Inspector circled Hero, jerking on the manacles imprisoning his hands behind him.

“Are you certain that is what’s happening here, Inspector? Are you quite sure it is I who am playing right into your hands?” Hero’s demeanor remained unperturbed, but Heroine noted that his wide shoulders were tense beneath his fine tailored jacket, and little rivulets of sweat beaded at his temple and behind his jaw.

“I know it is,” Inspector said.

The hollow sound of amusement Hero produced yet again reminded Heroine of the dark jaguar. “Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”

The man quoted Confucius? How unfair that a man such as he could be so clever, dangerous, rich, powerful, and well read. Heroine stifled a sigh, then, alarmed by her reaction to him, straightened her spine and took up her quill, ready to swipe the efficient shorthand across her paper.

“Enough of this.” Inspector crossed to her. “Are you ready for the interrogation to begin, Mrs. Last Name?”

Her name seemed to zing about the room like an errant insect, hurling itself against the steel and stone and echoing back to the man chained in the middle.

Last Name.” Heroine couldn’t be certain, but she thought the word may have been absorbed by Hero and then uttered by him. But as she glanced through her lashes at a scowling Inspector, she noted that he hadn’t seemed to detect it.

“Of course,” she murmured, and made a show of dipping her pen.

Inspector turned back to Hero, his square face set with grim determination. “Tell me what you did with Justice Cranmer. And don’t bother denying it was you, Hero; I know he was the magistrate that sentenced you to Newgate fifteen years hence.”

“So he was.” Hero didn’t so much as twitch a muscle.

Fifteen years ago at Newgate? Heroine’s head snapped up, her pen creating a loud scratch against the table. It couldn’t be that he was there at the same time as—

“And those missing guards,” Inspector continued, his voice louder now, more desperate. “They were assigned to your ward during your stay there.”

“Were they?”

“You bloody well know they were!”

Hero lifted a shoulder in a helpless gesture that seemed to say, I would help you if I could, which enraged Inspector to no end. “All you bobbies look the same to me. Those ridiculous mustaches and unflattering hats. It’s almost impossible to tell you apart, even if I wanted to.”

“It’s too much coincidence for the courts to ignore this time!” Inspector said victoriously. “It’s only a matter of time before you’re dancing at the end of a rope from the gallows in front of Newgate, the very hole from which you slithered.”

“Confirm one shred of evidence in your possession.” Hero’s soft challenge was threaded with steel. “Better yet, produce one witness who would dare speak against me.”

Inspector maneuvered around that pitfall. “The whole of London knows your penchant for swift and fierce vengeance. I could pick any half-wit off the street and they’d raise their hand to God and swear you’d done in the judge who’d sentenced you to seven years in prison.”

“You and I both know that it will take more than heresy and reputation to convict one such as I, Inspector,” Hero scoffed. Craning his neck to look at Heroine with his good eye, he addressed her directly, which caused her stomach to clench and her hands to tremble with even more violence. “Add my solemn, official confession to the records, Mrs. Last Name, and note that I swear by its absolute truth.”

Heroine said nothing, as always demonstrating her professionalism to the prisoner by ignoring him. Of course, though, he had her absolute undivided attention. That face. That savage, masculine face. All angles and intrigue and darkness. Handsome, but for the scar and the startlingly blue eye, which she found both repellent and compelling.

message 2: by Dls (new)

Dls | 2093 comments Mod
I haven't read it.

message 3: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1917 comments Mod
I have a guess, but it's one I haven't read yet, so I guess I'll wait and see.

message 4: by Janga (new)

Janga | 1070 comments Mod
I haven't read this one either.

message 5: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1184 comments Oooh I definitely haven't read it!!!

message 6: by Chocolatesoup (new)

Chocolatesoup | 384 comments No idea

message 7: by Susan (new)

Susan (susaninaz) | 1018 comments YAY! I actually read this one!
Such a sneaky choice, Phoenix.

message 8: by Janice (new)

Janice | 30 comments I haven't read this either, but I'm definitely going to buy it as soon as the title is announced. ; D

message 9: by Irisheyes (new)

Irisheyes | 896 comments No idea.

message 10: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nikanne) | 222 comments Another one, I've no idea. Caught my interest again though!

message 11: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1184 comments I'm dying to find out!!

message 12: by Phoenix77 (last edited Dec 09, 2015 08:13AM) (new)

Phoenix77 | 346 comments The book was The Highwayman by Kerrigan Byrne. This was probably my favorite book of 2015!

message 13: by Leigh-Ayn (new)

Leigh-Ayn | 1184 comments Oooh!!!! Going to Amazon right now!

message 14: by Manda (new)

Manda Collins (manda_collins) | 1917 comments Mod
I was right! Kerrigan Byrne is a fellows St. Martin's Press author and her book has gotten lots of great buzz, which is why I was able to guess :)

message 15: by Nicole (new)

Nicole (nikanne) | 222 comments Bought it yesterday...just have to finish my current read. Can't wait!

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