In Fell¿s Point, Baltimore, two women and a man are investigating the sudden death of their friend Martha. They meet with many strange people in their search. Most remarkable - aside from the larger picture they get of Martha herself - perhaps is Captain Longman, Martha¿s widower, who is also quite suddenly starting up a social club for youngsters in Fell¿s Point. Countless are the experiences and the surprises that are revealed in this elusive pageturner.
Bill Clactoe is a writer of crime and fiction and has his base in Europe. This is the first novel by his hand that appears in the
Eric Cedric Goldkettel, an elderly Connecticut medical doctor born in Tidwell, Maine, was tormented by the most unhappy love. Once a day, in the morning hours, in half slumber, Eric's memories of the beautiful, voluptuous Martha appeared from the forgotten. It only glimpsed by in the after dreams visual realm, among dream figures that never existed and would never exist, among the memories of a half-forgotten unhappy love. This inconceivable loneliness followed him unconsciously like a shadow in the Connecticut countryside. The pine forests almost constantly refused to solace his mourning. The silence of the landscape brought "a month of Mondays.." to his soul.
The doctor had early on taken a fancy in western Connecticut's rural landscape. Reader's mansion was situated, embedded in the most enchanting greenery, on a slope by a lake. The house itself was a wooden castle, and it had a small guesthouse built of yellow brick nearby. The village, which was the closest village, Bloomside Grove, situated by the lake's outflow, by the old brick mill ruin, was but sparsely populated. The church of the parish, which was a Quaker one, was but a tiny reddish shed.
Reader's mansion was surrounded by pinewood. The landscape tried to market itself as a recreation ground for youngsters, fishing and riding as main attractions. Retired people populated several houses; many had moved back from Florida or Georgia not long ago. In Bloomside Grove itself, some IT-entrepreneurs had tried to build a small Silicon Valley. Still, the houses now - in this massive global depression - were deserted and torn. Even a theatre had been built, but it was used as an inline skating rink. The local Quakers were fervent though in their religious tremor. The parson of the small congregation, Jansen, summoned it to service every Sunday. Jansen held, especially for children, adorable predictions, which all contradicted science, of which he was incredibly proud.
Burg Lake was always black - and was said to have a monster in it and had an air of romance and autism. The lake had its name after a local tyrant. Long ago, Mr. Burg had built his house near the lake, on an aboriginal graveyard. He had been shot dead by an apache arrow. His name had been Burg the Porcelain Potter.
The hills around the lake, tiny as they were, stretched their heads. The mountains seemed as uninterested in the small pond as in the pastures and the waterways. Mountains are always stuck-up.
A couple of swans swam in the middle of the lake, chasing brown ducks along the surface of the shallow water. Signs around the lake were informing people of climate change and the necessity to keep nature clean and free from drugs.
The pine forest had a sad look, and some people had heard the trees whisper ominously in the night:" Everything is long gone. Long gone. Long gone. The ravens are gone. The ravens are gone. It is way too late."
Jansen Quakers were the dominant tribe in the small valley. Most people here did not even own a car but drove around on motorcycles. Goldkettel had a car, an old white Buick. No electric vehicle had ever been spotted in Bloomside Grove.
A Cessna airplane suddenly flew by, and the swans on the lake hurried ashore. One might frequently see the doctor walking the small paths around the lake, stick in hand. Goldkettel was old, and he was antique, bucktoothed, and outdated.
Today, an ordinary September Sunday, it looked like it was going to rain. Goldkettel's open eyes narrowed, and he took out a small foldable cap from his waist pocket and put on his grey hair. Soon the rain splattered down on the remote landscape by the Burg Lake. Close to Reading's, there was another property owned by the Delmonte's. The houses of Goldkettel and Delmonte lay in a suite by the lakeshore. Goldkettel's was the one westward, more toward the deep forest and the stuck-up mountains. Behind Delmonte's, there was more mixed vegetation and finally, to the east on bushy meadows lonely, utterly small cows of foreign breed were straying around looking for fresh grass and snails.
Paul Delmonte was a well-to-do author of colorful bird books. He lived alone together with a young, dark-haired philosophy student from NY. She served as a temporary housekeeper. Aged 23, this eager student, who looked upon this job as a pleasant variation, went by the name of Armamente Dulcinea.
When Eric Goldkettel arrived at his house again, he glanced in the direction of his closest neighbor's house, at the Palace, Delmonte's mansion. So he caught a glimpse of young Armamente, how she, dressed in a simple black gown, stretched for a small glass. A red rosette in her raven hair threw out some small decorative mats from a balcony. The girl had dark hair, greyish eyes, and pale skin. She waved at Goldkettel and whistled. She did not now notice the rain, and she fed the cat, which, striped and small, gently stroked her leg. Armamente seemed just a kid, a schoolgirl. But she had an air of intelligence and awareness about her.
"What a beautiful day!" she shouted.
The slender, athletic girl suddenly rushed down the stairs and came out on the porch while the rain took a pause. She swiftly ran down the small lane, past a dead crow, towards the old doctor, who stood by the gate of Delmonte's wooden fence. She finally reached the gate and said, pulling aside some locks of her raven hair, which had fallen in her one eye:
"Hello, Doctor! I heard you are going to have a visit today?"
"Oh, yeah, Armamente, I sure will."
"But who is she?"
The girl with the small stick panted a breathed heavily. She had an exciting pair of shades below her green eyes, greyish and purple.
The doctor's heart leaped, and then he said:
"It is a friend of Martha's, my former love, Inga. My friend's name is Inga North."
All of a sudden, Paul Delmonte appeared like from behind. He had come from the forest and was walking his dog, a bloodhound named Oscar. Delmonte - a man in his sixties - had lived on his farm for eternity. The prominent author was tall and energetic and had an all-consuming interest in animals, especially birds. He was freckled and red-haired. From his shoulder dangled a small old-fashioned rifle. Eric thought Delmonte was pretentious. To make things worse, Delmonte was in the process of building a guesthouse close to Eric's property.
Goldkettel seemed an old, kind goat, while Delmonte flourished and was with excellent health, a happy pig with a big red nose. Some natural scientists are thriving with their work. Probably he also in every way wanted to impress Armamente, who was new as his servant because he smacked his upper leg and said:
Delmonte was busy writing a book on trained birds but also had an interest in sheep and dogs. Goldkettel was not impressed by the actual books fabricated by Delmonte, but Delmonte's book sold. Goldkettel himself planned to take up painting or something.
Paul Delmonte's latest wife had died just half a year ago. Her name was Swanee. She had drowned herself in the Burg lake.
The beautiful and active Armamente, who, in her paleness, seemed to suffer from a lack of vitamins but still seemed full of youthful energy, had been hired just a month ago. The agency who had brought her had told Delmonte that she was a real treat. She was a philosophy student but had taken courses in cooking, they had said.
"Oh," said Armamente, and she reached for her foot." My poor foot, I think I have wrenched it."
"Here." her master with the rifle said, and he handled to her a red scarf. She took it and put it around her neck, instead of around her ankle, and laughed and smiled at the same time. She then hit him playfully with the back of her hand.
The doctor looked on, enjoying the sight of the odd couple. They then all started to laugh.
"You look a little pale," Delmonte rightfully said and took Armamente's hand and tried to kiss it. Still, the girl suddenly ran away, and as if her foot was okay, she soon disappeared to the backside of the mansion, where they kept the hens.
The doctor and the author of books on birds stood left alone at the gravel by the gate.
"It looks like it is drying up." Eric finally said.
Oscar Bloodhound sniffed for something in the doctor's pocket. The doctor always brought medicines of all kinds in his pockets, in case of emergency. He glanced at Delmonte. Although Eric did not like Delmonte nor his books, he was fascinated by the man and his knowledge of nature. Eric, who was well educated, and a double-doctor, had great respect for facts and knowledge.
"Certainly, I will send her for a health examination. After all, you have to have a sound housekeeper," Delmonte said.
"She is a real beauty." the doctor said laconically.
"I think she is a police undercover. They do not send out girls like that for keeps," Delmonte said. Delmonte was referring to the housemaid agencies. The bloodhound seemed to agree because it let out a moderate growl and wagged its tail. Armamente, all the same, happily shouted from a window:
"Mister Delmonte! Breakfast is ready!"
The pair of swans, lying quietly on the lakeshore, suddenly came flowing up to the grass plane in front of Delmonte's mansion.
"Does she feed the swans?" Goldkettel asked, all red in his face. He often went all red. Goldkettel was greatly respected for his kindness and generous attitude, and for his respect for other people and their sufferings.
"No way." said the author of bird books, who did not have much to say on matters he did not think were profitable for his career.
The doctor also felt a little smell of whisky from the big...