PERIL IN PAPERBACK, Book 7 of the New York Times bestselling series Bibliophile Mysteries (August 7), returns us to the not-so-rarefied world of professional bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright. Brooklyn is surrounded by a quirky cast of characters, including today’s featured guest, Vinnie, one-half of the chainsaw-wielding lesbian couple who live next door to Brooklyn in her San Francisco condo. On this particular day, Vinnie is sketching when…
“Oh, hell,” Suzie grumbles.
I do not look up from my sketch. I love my partner, but she is always grumbling about something. I choose not to put negative energy into the universe. Like attracts like, and I do not want to draw the darkness toward us.
Already, there are dark forces at work nearby. Our neighbor, Brooklyn Wainwright, attracts death. I pray for her daily, and call for purity to enter our building.
I am sketching another baby. The sweet face brings me happiness… and a tinge of longing. Suzie will not discuss it. She fears change. She does not understand yet that change comes no matter what, and those who bend with the wind weather it better.
“Aunt Grace is having a birthday party,” Suzie says.
Say nothing, I counsel myself, and continue to shade a subtle dimple in the rounded cheek. Almost, I can feel her soft skin, so delicate.
“For a week.”
My pencil scars the paper and I give up the pretense of not paying attention. I have tried to accept Suzie’s aunt’s idiosyncrasies, but meditation has not yet led to patience.
“A weeklong birthday party?” I say. “Typical.”
Most Americans are somewhat self-indulgent, a luxury few can afford in my native India, but Grace has poured millions of dollars – millions! – into the hidden traps and dangers in that fortress of hers, for no other purpose than her own amusement. Suzie finds it charming. I do not.
“She invited Brooklyn,” Suzie adds.
“She did not!”
Brooklyn had restored some of the rare books from Grace’s extensive library, that was all. They were not friends. Brooklyn need not feel obliged to humor the woman. This… this is asking too much.
“You do not have to attend this party,” I tell her when she answers the door.
“It sounds like fun.”
“No, not fun—“ I begin.
“It will be.” Suzie’s voice is louder than mine, stronger. “Grace goes all out for her birthday. About a dozen people are coming, and she has lots of fun surprises planned for us.”
“Dangerous surprises,” I say. Suzie thinks what happened to me once at Grace’s home was amusing. I never fully expressed to her how frightened I was… and still am.
“She asked me to bring my tools!” Brooklyn said.
That is it, then. She will attend. Brooklyn is as passionate about books as Suzie and I are about our wood sculptures. Books call to her. She is a wizard who breathes life into dying texts, and she cannot resist the lure of a book that needs her. As usual, Grace knew exactly what button to push.
Unable to stop myself, I mutter, “I have a very bad feeling about this.”
Read this scene from Suzie’s point of view today at http://notesfromme.wordpress.com!