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Authors: Richard Newsome

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The Mask of Destiny

BOOK: The Mask of Destiny
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PRAISE FOR
THE BILLIONAIRE TRILOGY

‘Filled with secret passageways and deadly booby
traps…you'll be on the edge of your seat!'
K-Zone

‘Weird dreams, kidnapping, attacks by bandits, hectic
chases and eerie explorations in archaeological sites…
slapstick humour, verbal wit and a pervasive spirit of
youthful exuberance.'
Magpies

‘A great whodunit which is almost as engrossing for
adults as it is for children.'
Bookseller & Publisher

‘An irresistibly fun-tastic tale that's virtually
guaranteed to keep youngsters reading, chuckling and
desperately waiting for the next book in the series.'
Independent Weekly

‘From Roman emperors to murderous cults, Indian
dynasties to secret fraternities, the adventures of
Gerald and his friends will keep young readers turning
the pages at lightning speed.'
Fiction Focus

‘A rollicking good yarn.'
Weekend Herald

THE BILLIONAIRE TRILOGY

BOOK I
The Billionaire's Curse

BOOK II
The Emerald Casket

BOOK III
The Mask of Destiny

Richard Newsome lives in Brisbane with his family. He won the inaugural Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing for
The Billionaire's Curse
, the first book in The Billionaire Trilogy.

richardnewsome.com

BOOK III
of
THE BILLIONAIRE TRILOGY

Richard Newsome

textpublishing.com.au
richardnewsome.com

The Text Publishing Company
Swann House
22 William Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Australia

Copyright © Richard Newsome 2011

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

First published by The Text Publishing Company, 2011

Cover and page design by WH Chong
Cover illustration by Madeleine Rosca
Typeset by J & M Typesetting
Printed in Australia by Griffin Press, an Accredited ISO AS/NZS 14001:2004
Environmental Management System printer

Primary print ISBN: 9781921758539
Ebook ISBN: 9781921921148

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication entry
Author:      Newsome, Richard. 1964-
Title:          The mask of destiny / Richard Newsome.
Edition:      1st ed.
ISBN:         9781921758539 (pbk.)
Series:        Newsome, Richard. 1964- Billionaire trilogy ; 3.
Subjects:    Detective and mystery stories--Juvenile fiction.
Dewey Number:      A823.4

For Robern and Mark, and Daphne—
professional child wranglers

Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Epilogue

Acknowledgments

Prologue

T
he man in the beige trousers checked his watch. It was still a few minutes before three o'clock. A bit early to go in—he didn't want to look too keen. One more turn around the conservatory ought to do it. Constable Lethbridge of the London Metropolitan Police set off for another circuit of the building.

Kew Gardens on a summer's day: just about the perfect place to be in London. The sun's warmth lay across the parkland like a comfort blanket. The trees strained under their foliage. The lawns were lush carpet. There were even butterflies. And was that a wren warbling in the hedge as the constable lumbered past? Or perhaps a nightingale? Lethbridge didn't much care for songbirds—he was a racing-pigeon man. He could prattle for hours about the standard method of calculating velocities, or the complexities of the ‘slow clock' rule. A man and his pigeons—was there anything more natural?

Lethbridge struck up a tuneless whistle as he trudged around the large glass building. It was an odd place to meet somebody for the first time. He would have preferred the pub. He'd met the last five women from the matchmaking agency at the Dog and Partridge. They were all very nice. He always made a point of buying the first drink. Then he'd tell a few good racing-pigeon yarns. At that point the women always said they needed the ladies' room. And that would be the last he'd see of them.

Lethbridge rounded the rear of the conservatory and emitted a satisfied
hrumph
. ‘Good,' he thought. ‘No back door.'

The call from the dating agency had come at the perfect time. Lethbridge had just come off the red-hot end of a roasting from his boss, Inspector Parrott. It had not been a good month—for either of them. The ongoing murder investigation involving the fugitive businessman Sir Mason Green was proving a nightmare. Lethbridge was looking forward to meeting someone who wasn't going to yell at him—at least not straightaway. Maybe even, dare he hope, she might be that someone special?

He reached the front of the Princess of Wales conservatory. The courtyard was crowded with young families, happy couples and a few pensioners holding hands. Lethbridge felt a sudden surge of confidence—this one was going to work out. He was sure of it.

And then he saw her.

They'd spoken briefly on the telephone to arrange the meeting. She had an intriguing voice—full-bodied, rounded vowels. She said she would wear a red coat with her hair down, so Lethbridge could recognise her.

‘Won't it be hot in a coat?' Lethbridge had asked.

‘Being hot doesn't trouble me,' she had said. ‘Does it trouble you?'

At that point, Lethbridge dropped the phone.

Even ignoring the coat, Lethbridge knew in an instant that the woman in the conservatory forecourt was the one. She stood out like a beacon.

Tall.

Slender.

Dressed as if she'd just stepped from a Milan cat-walk—a long red coat, black boots, chestnut brown hair brushing her shoulders.

Her skin was porcelain.

And perfect.

Lethbridge gulped.

‘You must be David!' The woman was standing in front of him, a smile illuminating her face. ‘I'm Charlotte. So wonderful to meet you.' She leant on the
wonderful
like she was leaning on a car horn.

Lethbridge's palms broke into a sweat. He stared down at the woman's outstretched hand—manicured nails, doll-like skin. He didn't dare touch it—it would be like taking a freshly hatched pigeon by the neck.

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