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Authors: William Deverell

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The Laughing Falcon

BOOK: The Laughing Falcon
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A Life on Trial: The Case of Robert Frisbee
“This is as good as it gets, the real goods from an ultimate insider.”

– Jack Batten,
Books in Canada

Needles
“Deverell has a narrative style so lean that scenes and characters seem to explode on the page. He makes the evil of his plot breathtaking and his surprises like shattering glass.”


Philadelphia Bulletin

High Crimes
“Deverell’s lean mean style gives off sparks. A thriller of the first rank.”


Publishers Weekly

Mecca
“Here is another world-class thriller, fresh, bright and topical.”


Globe and Mail

The Dance of Shiva
“The most gripping courtroom drama since
Anatomy of a Murder.”


Globe and Mail

Platinum Blues
“A fast, credible and very funny novel.”


The Sunday Times
,London UK

Mindfield
“Deverell has a fine eye for evil, and a remarkable sense of place.”


Globe and Mail

Kill All the Lawyers
“An indiscreet and entertaining mystery that will add to the author’s reputation as one of Canada’s finest mystery writers”


The Gazette

Street Legal: The Betrayal
“Deverell injects more electricity into his novels than anyone currently writing in Canada – perhaps anywhere… The dialogue crackles, the characters live and breathe, and the pacing positively propels.”


London Free Press

Trial of Passion
“A ripsnortingly good thriller.”


Regina Leader-Post

Slander
“Slander
is simply excellent: a story that just yanks you along.”


Globe and Mail

BOOKS BY WILLIAM DEVERELL

FICTION

Needles
High Crimes
Mecca
The Dance of Shiva
Platinum Blues
Mindfield Kill All the Lawyers
Street Legal: The Betrayal
Trial of Passion
Slander
The Laughing Falcon
Mind Games

NON-FICTION

A Life on Trial
(previously published as
Fatal Cruise)

Cover

Other Books by This Author

Title Page

Dedication

Chapter 1 - The Torrid Zone

Chapter 2 - Hymns to a Dying Planet

Chapter 3 - The Treasure of Savage River

Chapter 4 - Dead Mice in the Beer

Chapter 5 - No Time For Sorrow

Chapter 6 - Do Not Trust Archbishop Mora

Chapter 7 - The Darkside of the Moon

Chapter 8 - Various Views From the Edge of the Precipice

Chapter 9 - Prisoner of Love

Chapter 10 - The Lost Mission of Harry Wilder

Chapter 11 - The Full Guaco

Chapter 12 - Gamma Ray Burster

Chapter 13 - No Time For Sorrow

Chapter 14 - Our Man in Panama

Chapter 15 - Return to the House of Heartbreak

Author’s Note

Copyright

For the Sierra Legal Defence Fund

 

 

 

Dear Jacques,

Midtown Manhattan looks like a painted whore in December, the weather would freeze a polar bear’s nuts, and the Rangers just lost their fourth straight. What depresses me more is the thought of you lolling around in the tropical sunshine while I break my ass up here.

But I’m doing too well to kill myself. It turns out getting disbarred was the best thing that could have happened, career-wise. I just signed up this big horse for the Bruins, the agency flourishes, and life is fat – and now suddenly your whining letter lands on my desk. No, Jacques, I do not intend to advance you a “small tiding of faith” until your latest poems get published. Your mooching has inspired me with a more breathtaking idea, which doesn’t require you to suffer the mortifying shame of indebtedness to your oldest, dearest friend. When you sent me that last batch of verses, asking me to try to flog them, I started thinking – why not a literary sideline? So I have decided that instead of you having to grovel, I will personally advance you a couple of grand against royalties for the smash best-seller you are about to write.

I’m
not
talking poetry, which doesn’t sell even if you’re Shakespeare and you’ve been dead for five hundred years. This may hurt, Jacques, but I never thought you were much of a poet anyway. In fact I found the shit you mailed me too depressing
to read.
Hymns to a Dying Planet?
But you can turn out a phrase, and my idea is to have you rip off an old-fashioned thriller that I’ll flog to publishers as the work of a triple agent hiding in the tropics. Put the right ingredients in and the big houses will be flocking to the doorstep of the R. B. Rubinstein Agency, waving fistfuls of dead presidents.

One of those ingredients is blood. I want a body count. I want a two-fisted hero, not some whining patsy crippled with sorrow and woe like the schnockered poet who’s right now reading this letter. I’m thinking more James Bondish – maybe he’s hiding out in the tropics, only he can foil Dr. Zork’s plan to take over the world, and Zork is trying to blip him off.

I looked up the rules. You throw in a big red herring near the start. You invent a twist that comes at you like a slapshot. You create a kick-ass hero and a ravishing heroine with whom you ultimately engage in explicit sex. And you pay me my standard commission, no reduction for failed poets.

Are the girls still going topless at the far end of the beach? Someone better put a stop to that, some poor schlemiel could get a heart attack.

Give me an outline, a chapter.

    Rocky.

T
HE
T
ORRID
Z
ONE
– 1 –

M
aggie Schneider stirred from a dream of balmy breezes on a tropical shore. She fought for the dream and lost it as she squinted out her window at the brittle crust on roofs and frozen front lawns. The sky was a murky mat, spewing snow that the wind whirled into white cyclones, setting them dancing on the street below.

Beyond, across the river, smoke was pumping from the chunky buildings of downtown Saskatoon: a pleasant-enough city were it not twenty degrees below zero and fifty-two degrees above the equator (much closer to the Arctic Circle).

As full wakefulness came, Maggie remembered with a jolt she would be serving just one more day and night under the tyrannical reign of this Saskatchewan winter, and then …

Costa Rica! Two weeks she would spend in a lush land where tires do not freeze square, where the tears brought on by the biting winds don’t freeze on your face.

An agent at Hub City Travel (“Escape from those winter blahs with our ticket to paradise”) had shown her a brochure: a mist-thick waterfall, a hummingbird in a poinciana, a breast-shaped boat-filled bay and its sweeping crescent of sandy beach. Seduced by these promises, she had signed on for four days and three nights in an exotic jungle retreat: the Eco-Rico Lodge. “A wilderness experience you’ll never forget,”
though you are not likely to forget the thousand-dollar price tag, either.

She had found the tiny country in her atlas – squeezed between Panama and Nicaragua along a mountainous isthmus connecting the two American continents, with the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea lapping lovingly at its shores. Central America! Tropical jungle! Non-stop hot days and warm nights: two glorious weeks to inspire a novelof romance.

There, in the sticky heat of the tangled rain forest, Fiona (sassy, bright, and self-reliant) will find romance with Jacques (suave, cosmopolitan) in a seething epic to be called
The Torrid Zone
.

She powered herself to her feet, trotted to the shower, stood under it for several luxurious minutes. Maybe she would find a grass shack in Costa Rica; maybe she would never come back. She had paid her penance, surviving twenty-nine Saskatchewan winters. Her needs were simple: a pen and a pad and a pina colada. Maybe throw in Jacques.

In the meantime, Maggie must gird herself for the office Christmas party at CSKN-TV (“Voice of the Wheatlands, Your Channel Ten Eye to the Universe”). Her job as copywriter was the career equivalent of a temporary filling; she had not spent six years in university and authored an applauded thesis on the satirical constructs of Jane Austen to rhapsodize about sports equipment and bargains at the Bay.

Maggie had faith she could make a full-time living from her writing – if she broke out of the mould, those assembly-line paperbacks from which Primrose Books makes its millions. Maggie Schneider (alias Nancy Ward, her WASPish pen name) would give Primrose Books a full-lipped goodbye kiss when
The Torrid Zone
was published in hardcover by the highest bidder. She had a track record: her first three Primrose romances under its Ecstasy imprint had sold well enough, and she had actually found her way onto supermarket shelves on her fourth
try, mastering all the euphemisms for body parts conjoining in the act of love.

With her latest, best-selling author Nancy Ward breaks new ground …
Yes, it must be a different book: a sweeping adventure, sinuous in style, resonating with danger and desire, plumbing the elusive essence of love (though, never having been gripped by that apparently indispensable life experience, Maggie was not sure if she would recognize it if it landed on her head).

Creative Writing 403: The serious writer is intrigued by the unknown, and is driven to explore it
. But where? Down what misty byway? Does it take one gently by the hand, or do its pitiless arrows wound the heart? Do stars glow fiercely and violins soar as they do for Fiona?

Towelling off before the mirror, Maggie sought to reassure herself she would not be the object of pitying stares on the beach with her broomstick figure. At almost six feet, with her hair clipped short, she looked vaguely androgynous. As a girl, Maggie had endured much schoolyard humour: the Giraffe, Maggie Flamingo – or often Maggie Klutz, because she was awkward at times.

Her mother kept insisting she had a poor self-image, that she had no idea how “ravaging” she looked, just like one of those swan-necked supermodels. She meant ravishing: Mrs. Malaprop.

From the stairs to her office, Maggie could survey the main studio, where Connie Veregin was fussing with a clove-spiked ham: spiffy food ideas for the holidays on
The Happy Homemaker Show
. She made her way past the cages where they kept the artists to a large glassed-in cubicle where sat her desk, her computer, and Brod Kipling, a friendly gasbag who bought twenty minutes a week. “Auto World on Eighth Street East: we have the wheels, you make the deals.”

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