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Table of Contents

Cover Page


Berkley Prime Crime titles by J.M.C. Blair

Title Page

Copyright Page

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten





A Merlin Investigation

J.M.C. Blair

Praise for

"This obviously is a different take on Camelot as it is a country filled with intrigue, double crossing, betrayals, and ambitious people who believe they are more deserving than their liege to rule . . . It is a more realistic place populated with individuals who seem genuine and not the archetype goodness fantasy of the myths . . . Using Camelot as a backdrop, J.M.C. Blair provides a great historical mystery."
—Genre Go Round Reviews
"If you are a fan of the Malloryesque mediaeval dream world approach to the Arthurian cycle and enjoy whodun­ its, then here is a new series that is aimed straight at you . . . Mr. Blair has obviously been reading Mark Twain and T. H. White with his semihumorous but pessimistic view of a boisterous but disillusioned King Arthur, wicked Morgan, scheming Guenevere, and brainless Lancelot. Having the court as pagans is an interesting twist, as are the murders themselves."
—Crime Thru Time
"Though Merlin has no magical powers, he is as brilliant as Sherlock . . . A fascinating vision. I frankly loved this book and want to read more of the author and the series."
—Huntress Reviews

"The setting is well developed, the characters are generally quite interesting, and the mystery is good enough to carry the story to its conclusion . . . I wish the series well."
—Don D'Ammassa

Berkley Prime Crime titles by J.M.C. Blair





A Merlin Investigation

J.M.C. Blair

Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
A Berkley Prime Crime Book / published by arrangement with the author
Copyright © 2009 by John Curlovich. Interior text design by Kristin del Rosario.
All rights reserved.
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For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
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ISBN: 1-101-04817-4
Berkley Prime Crime Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY® PRIME CRIME and the PRIME CRIME logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.


Evening at Camelot; late May

The sun sat precisely on the horizon, and its last brilliant reds, yellows, oranges colored the sky. In the east the sky had darkened and there were a thousand stars and an enor­ mous moon. Among the trees owls were calling softly to one another. The creeks, rills and rivulets that made the countryside fertile were flowing softly and gently. To all appearances England was at peace.
   Merlin was in his laboratory, one level below his living quarters in what everyone at Camelot, to his constant an­ noyance, called "Wizard's Tower." In front of him on the lab table was a glass blank; he poured a fine abrasive on it and ground it slowly, carefully, with a gentle circular mo­ tion. His raven, Roc, perched serenely on his shoulder and watched what he was doing, puzzled in a disinterested way. Merlin himself found the activity relaxing; he was lost in idle thought.
   When the lens seemed to be finished he took it to the window and held it at arm's length while with his other hand he held a second one close to his eye.
   The bird on his shoulder nuzzled his cheek.
   "Look, Roc. See the beauty of the world. See the peace." Yet something nagged at him. Everything was too calm, too lovely, and much too serene. "So why do I find that peace so ominous?" he whispered. "Why is calm always shat­ tered? Why is that so eerily predictable?"
   The bird squawked.
   "It is my race, Roc. It is humanity. We see a sweet thing and feel the urge to destroy it. What unnatural creatures we are."
   Then there came a knock at the door. Greffys, King Ar­ thur's squire, opened it and put his head in. "Excuse me, sir. The king wants you."
   "What is it this time?" The interruption wasn't welcome. He returned to his worktable and placed the lenses carefully on it. Roc squawked shrilly and flew out the window.
   "I don't know, sir. A courier just arrived with some mail, and Britomart brought it directly to the king. I heard her say something about an 'intelligence report.' "
   "Intelligence? Britomart runs the military."
   "I know that, sir. The king read the dispatch and his mood darkened. He fell silent for a long time. Britomart tried talk­ ing to him, but he just stared into space and wouldn't re­ spond. Then he came around and told me to fetch you."
   Merlin narrowed his eyes suspiciously. "It is midevening. Shouldn't you be doing your lessons?"
   "Not when the king requires my service, sir." He shifted his weight awkwardly. "Do you . . . do you think it might be another traitor? Or war, maybe?" The latter prospect seemed to excite Greffys.
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