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I’m working on a new book, a historical mystery set in the days surrounding the 1848 revolution (which features at the end of A Merry Requiem).  Here’s a special sneak preview!

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An imperious voice, magnified by a megaphone, springs to life on the other side of the barricade.  The men stand still for a moment, then scramble up the back of the barricade like ants galvanized by some communal signal, muskets at the ready.  Galois helps hoist Baptiste into a place halfway up, where he can fire out of a gap between a wagon wheel and a shop door, leaning against the barricade so he can rest his leg.

   Image        “Men of Saint-Antoine!  The National Guard is on its way!  We implore you, take down this barricade and surrender yourselves peacefully!  You will be treated with mercy if you surrender!”

            “Fuck off!” Felix shouts from the top of the barricade and hurls an empty bottle towards the speaker.  It hits his shoulder and bounces off with no effect, shattering on the ground beside him.

            The officer standing next to the man with the megaphone fires a warning shot into the air, and the rebels all raise their muskets, ready to fire, a row of wooden barrels resting atop the barricade, pointing straight at the officers.

            “Hold fire!” Felix shouts suddenly, raising his left hand.  “Stand down your guns!  I said, stand down your guns!”

            The men obey, confused.

            “It is Jacquot,” Felix says, more quietly.  “He is coming up behind the officers.”

            “One of the urchins,” Sebastian explains to Gilbert.  “I pay him to run errands on occasion.”

            Almost before Sebastian has finished speaking, two of the officers have grabbed Jacquot’s arms and are tying his wrists together.

            “Felix!” he is shouting.  “Felix!”

            “Raise guns!” Felix shouts and with a clatter, the bristling row of muskets is up again.  Felix’s expression is half that of a grim soldier, half that of a frightened child.  There is a smudge of soot on his cheek and his hair is rumpled.

            “Safe passage for the child!” he shouts, “and we will not shoot.”

            There is a moment when nobody moves.  In the silence, Felix cocks the trigger of his musket and the sound is loud.

            Then the leader of the guard nods, miserably, and gestures to his men to release Jacquot.

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