An exclusive extract from an amazing story!

It’s a dangerous time to be a dissident…

1938. Northern Italy. Since saving Angelo Grimani’s life 18 years earlier, Katharina is grappling with how their lives have since been entwined. Construction on the Reschen Lake reservoir begins and the Reschen Valley community is torn apart into two fronts – those who want to stay no matter what comes, and those who hold out hope that Hitler will bring Tyrol back into the fold.

Back in Bolzano, Angelo finds one fascist politician who may have the power to help Katharina and her community, but there is a group of corrupt players eager to have a piece of him. When they realise that Angelo and Katharina are joining forces, they turn to a strategy of conquering and dividing to weaken both the community and Angelo’s efforts.

Meanwhile, the daughter Angelo shares with Katharina – Annamarie – has fled to Austria to pursue her acting career but the past she is running away from lands her directly into the arms of a new adversary: the Nazis. She goes as far as Berlin, and as far as Goebbels, to pursue her dreams, only to realise that Germany is darker than any place she’s been before.

Angelo puts aside his prejudices and seeks alliances with old enemies; Katharina finds ingenious ways to preserve what is left of her community, and Annamarie wrests herself from the black forces of Nazism with plans to return home. But when Hitler and Mussolini present the Tyroleans with “The Option”, the residents are forced to choose between Italian and German nationhood with no guarantee that they will be able to stay in Tyrol at all!

Out of the ruins of war, will they be able to find their way back to one another and pick up the pieces?

This blockbuster finale will keep readers glued to the pages. Early readers are calling it, “…engrossing”, “…enlightening” and “…both a heartbreaking and uplifting end to this incredible series!”

Here is an extract from this absorbing book.

Chapter 9

Bolzano, November 1938

The maître d’ showed them to a corner lounge in the bar, and Angelo ordered two coffees with Strega and instructed the waiter to put them on his tab.

Mastromattei crossed his legs and seemed to finally relax. “Tell me how this Reschen Valley project is coming along, Angelo.”

Unsure whether the question was just polite chitchat or whether this was the magistrate’s agenda, Angelo started with the simple facts. “The electrical society has given MFE permission to dam up the Reschen and Graun Lakes—”

“Is the Colonel still running things with that group?”

Angelo confirmed he was, sensing that Mastromattei was smirking inwardly.

“There will be a smaller inflow into Haider Lake,” Angelo added, his way of sharing how he had prevented the third lake from being integrated into the general reservoir.

“How much power is this project going to bring?”

Of course Mastromattei would be interested. It was the electricity they needed for the industrial zone. “Over thirty-three thousand kilowatts to the first plant in Sluderno.”

“We’re going to need that power,” Mastromattei said.

Their coffee arrived, and the magistrate beckoned the waiter to him and whispered something into his ear. The waiter nodded and hurried away towards the main lobby.

Angelo picked up where they’d left off. “Plans are to finish expropriating all the necessary land by next spring.”

Mastromattei leaned forward to stir the whipped cream on his coffee. It curdled beneath the alcohol.

“Germany is gearing up for war,” he said. “They’re shitting on the Versailles Treaty. Ciano says that Britain has proven too weak with the infighting taking place in parliament. They and France could have put a stop to Germany’s sufferings years ago. Instead, together with the United States, they are now trying to outbid each other on who can sell the most aeroplane engines and parts to the one country determined to win back its former glory.” Mastromattei gazed at Angelo, his spoon tapping on the rim of the glass. “Hitler’s army will require bodies. Soldiers. And they will pull Italy into this.”

Angelo nodded.

Mastromattei made a regretful noise before taking another drink. “The Nazis will try to recruit the Tyroleans northwards first. We must crush those organizing against us if we’re to net our most valuable commodity.”

“White gold,” Angelo muttered. It was the new term. Italy, poor in natural resources such as oil and metal, had gained, with the annexation of South Tyrol, the one thing that other countries needed, namely energy. Energy that came from the province’s alpine rivers and lakes.

Mastromattei looked appreciatively at Angelo. “Yes, white gold and our citizens.”

Angelo leaned forward, his coffee still untouched. “What are you suggesting?”

Mastromattei suddenly looked up. “Ah! There you are.”

It was the waiter. He held out a newspaper to Mastromattei, who then gave the waiter a few coins. “Good man.”

He placed the copy of the day’s Archivio per l’Alto Adige on the table. “Angelo, what do you think about the Libyan resettlement project?”

Angelo’s pulse quickened. “The one that Tolomei says we should all celebrate?” He pictured the distinguished and arrogant senator, the self-proclaimed designer of the Italianisation programme. “His plan is to transplant twenty thousand settlers to our colony in North Africa.”

“We’ve taken many Italians from the south into Bolzano, as many as we can accommodate,” Mastromattei said. “The new settlement will take another year before we can move anyone in, and we’ll be planning another one right afterward. But what Tolomei and his other hardliners have failed to see is the opportunity to have integration work the other way around.” Mastromattei rubbed his chin. “You are still mediating the expropriated lands and the restitutions for the Reschen Valley population, right?”

Angelo picked up his coffee, pushed the whipped cream aside with the spoon, and took a long sip. The Strega warmed him. He nodded. “Problem is the veterans’ administration is stalling with their offers.”

“As is MFE.”

To avoid scoffing, Angelo took another long drink before answering. “There’s not enough land to relocate the hundreds of families. They can’t very well make their living off the side of a mountain slope.”

“I have a solution,” Mastromattei said. “You know the twelve hamlets I allotted between Bolzano and Merano—”

“The Italian settlements. Are they proving prosperous?”

“They’re doing well, yes,” the magistrate said. “Yet our esteemed senator claims the borderlands are still—after almost twenty years—tenuous at best.”

Because, Angelo thought, the people living there are not self-evidently Italian.

“What is the goal of Italianisation?” Mastromattei propped his elbow on the arm of his chair and leaned his temple against his index finger. His square chin rested on his thumb.

Angelo played along. “Italianisation means integrating the two cultures so that we can’t tell who is who. Especially those living in the community. It might take a couple of generations, but soon enough they’ll all feel Italian.”

“Exactly. This reservoir is massive. If we push the citizens—Italian citizens!—off their land and north into Hitler’s arms, we’ll be losing a lot to the efforts I have taken great pains to establish here. Our economic base. Our productivity.” He pointed to the wall behind him—the direction of the industrial zone beyond. “We’ll lose the consumers for those goods we’re producing over there.”

Angelo’s skin prickled. By God, for a price the Tyroleans and he could finally move forward. “You’re suggesting moving the locals out of their valley and into the new hamlets south. If the restitution is fair—”

“They’ll find any expropriation unfair.” Mastromattei looked amused. “I want them all out. All of them. As far south of the border as possible.”

Angelo winced inside. “And if they don’t want to go? What other choices can we offer them?”

Mastromattei’s look darted to the newspaper between them. He released his index finger from his temple and pointed at it, the amusement gone. “They’re Italian citizens. We could resettle them to Libya.”

He couldn’t be serious. “That’s an…extreme move. Can we not explore all our alternatives before we do that?”

Mastromattei leaned back in the plush chair, the leather creaking beneath him. “Then call a meeting with everyone involved.”

Now they were onto something. Open discussions. “Good. It will take some time to get the representatives from the Reschen Valley—”

“No. Call a meeting with your father’s company, the electrical society, and the veterans’ administration. The people in the Reschen Valley will get offers for their land and get instructions for resettlement after the stakeholders agree on a procedure. There is no need to involve the population in this yet. It’s only one idea of how we could proceed, correct?”

“Surely the residents could stay in the valley if they choose to. All they want is a fair offer. What is the worst they can do? Tie us up in legal battles?” Angelo laughed drily. “There isn’t a lawyer around who would take up that fight.”

Mastromattei leaned forward, eyes narrowed. “There is no court in the nation that would accept the case.” He slapped his thigh and straightened. “They can do what they want. But perhaps you should inform them of the consequences. These days Rome is coming down hard on those who revolt.” He drained his glass and stood. “I’d prefer to save those bullets for the war we’ll be dragged into and not defending ourselves against a bunch of farmers who still haven’t accepted the fact that they are Italians first.”

Find out more about the author here-

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an American author living in Austria. Her focus is on historical fiction. She has been a managing editor for a magazine publishing house, has worked as an editor, and has won several awards for her travel narrative, flash fiction and short stories. She lives with her husband in a “Grizzly Adams” hut in the Alps, just as she’d always dreamt she would when she was a child.

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Angus & Robertson:

Some much-needed good cheer!

Regency romance, DISTRACTING THE DUKE, is now out as “Her Forbidden Duke” on Radish via @radish_fiction
You can read the first 10 chapters for free right now!

I’m proud to be hosting the Pied Piper today!

Here’s a bit about the story-

In September 1939 the British Government launched Operation Pied Piper. To protect them from the perils of German bombing raids, in three days millions of city children were evacuated – separated from their parents.

This story tells of two families: one whose children leave London and the other which takes them in. We share the ups and downs of their lives, their dramas and tragedies, their stoicism and their optimism. But. unlike many other stories and images about this time, this one unfolds mainly through the eyes of Tom, the father whose children set off, to who knew where, with just a small case and gas mask to see them on their way

This novel is free to read with #KindleUnlimited subscription.

You can get the book here-

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

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And lastly, here’s a bit about the author of this amazing book.

Keith Stuart (Wadsworth) taught English for 36 years in Hertfordshire schools, the county in which he was born and has lived most of his life. Married with two sons, sport, music and, especially when he retired after sixteen years as a headteacher, travel, have been his passions. Apart from his own reading, reading and guiding students in their writing; composing assemblies; writing reports, discussion and analysis papers, left him with a declared intention to write a book. Pied Piper is ‘it’.  Starting life as a warm-up exercise at the Creative Writing Class he joined in Letchworth, it grew into this debut novel.

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Help me introduce readers to the Tumultuous (but also romantic) Tudors!

I have spent the past year- and some!- writing a series of Tudor era romances for Dragonblade Publishing. All that hard work may be about to pay off, as Book 2 in the collection, LORD OF LOYALTY, has been nominated for a RONE Award!

I would so love your vote to help my book progress further in the contest. You’ll need a FREE subscription to the fabulous InD’Tale magazine before you can vote- find out more here
Time’s up for this category, Historical Ancient-1800, tomorrow, April 18th, so please act NOW! Thank you ❤️

Great reviews for a new release!

LORD OF THE MANOR, my intriguing historical romance set in Tudor England, is released TODAY. There are some terrific reviews coming through. I really like the one by Morgan & Many Books, of which the following is an extract-

“…I will definitely read more from Keysian as I like her character development, prose, and evident research tack and I feel like I can trust her to write some good pre-19th century HR.”

Candy Briggs liked the book too- “I highly recommend this wonderful novel.”

You can still get LORD OF THE MANOR at the discount price of just $0.99. You can grab your copy here-

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lord-of-the-manor-graphic.jpg

Here’s a bit more about the story-

To her, he represents authority and power. To him, she spells sedition and danger.

Orphaned at birth, Cecily Neville owes more than her name to the former hospitallers of Temple Roding. She was still a child when the reformation wrenched her home and adopted family from her and now, like the few surviving monks, she lives in fear that her past could take a deadly toll. Her closest friend is her precious peregrine falcon, Charlemagne. Her greatest enemy is Allan Smythe, the new owner of Temple Roding.

Grieving over the loss of both wife and child, Smythe throws his heart and soul into reviving the old hospitaller commandery that he’s bought in partnership with his brother-in-law, Kennett Clark. He can’t risk being distracted by the mysterious but tempting Cecily and her murdering bird. However, when Smythe is forced to save her from his brother-in-law’s lecherous clutches, the unscrupulous Kennett vows to destroy them both.

On a knife-edge, Smythe can’t afford to relax the rents owed by Cecily and her fellow villagers. If he doesn’t demolish her former home for profit, he risks losing everything to Kennett. But when necessity forces him to employ Cecily, there’s more at stake than his future and his battered heart. Something lies hidden in the depths of the hospitaller commandery that could solve all of Smythe’s problems… or threaten his life.

It all depends on whether he, or the very determined Cecily, finds it first.

A Knights Templar site in Essex

Back in 1990, my partner got as job a site archaeologist at Cressing Temple, in Essex. No- it wasn’t a temple. It was a site gifted to the Knights Templar by Queen Matilda, wife of King Stephen, where lay brothers and employees of the military order could raise crops to finance the Crusades.

Living there for seven years as we did was an amazing experience and I really hope to find time to write more about some of the things that happened, such as the time the cat got walled up, the time the carppet almost caught fire, the moment the car rolled through the fence, and the occasion when the TV crew came and wrecked the archaeology, but I got to be on the telly!

Some other time, mayhap. For now, I would like to signal Cressing Temple, my temporary home, as the inspiration for LORD OF THE MANOR, my Tudor era story that is published TODAY! More about that anon. For now, here is a picture of the place, and a link where you can find out more about the history and archaeology of this fascinating site.

An invite and some competitions

If you live in the US, there is a contest you can enter if you attend my Facebook takeover in the Dragonblade Readers’ Group on Tuesday 13th April. I’ll be available to chat, tell you a little about my latest book, LORD OF THE MANOR, and entertain you (hopefully) with one of my quirky quizzes. Here’s the address for the Facebook takeover-

I’ll be live at 13.00 PDT, which is 21.00 BST. See you there!

You can also enter this Rafflecopter contest for a $25 Gift Card and paperbacks-

I am also giving away signed paperback copies of the first four books in the Tudor era TRYSTS AND TREACHERY collection to some lucky UK winners. To be entered into the draw, you will need to either retweet the following pinned post on Twitter or this share this Facebook post Or even do both! I’ll add your name to the draw and let you know at the end of the week if you’re a winner.

A medieval murder mystery? Why, yes please!

Get your teeth into this thrilling book right away with an exclusive excerpt… but here’s a bit about the story first, as well as some powerful accolades!

The Colour of Evil

Every Londoner has money worries, and talented artist and some-time sleuth, Seb Foxley, is no exception.

When fellow craftsmen with debts to pay are found dead in the most horrid circumstances, fears escalate. Only Seb can solve the puzzles that baffle the authorities.

Seb’s wayward elder brother, Jude, returns unannounced from Italy with a child-bride upon his arm. Shock turns to dismay when life becomes more complicated and troubles multiply.

From counterfeit coins to deadly darkness in London’s worst corners. From mysterious thefts to attacks of murderous intent, Seb finds himself embroiled at every turn. With a royal commission to fulfil and heartache to resolve, can our hero win through against the odds?

Share Seb Foxley’s latest adventures in the filthy streets of medieval London, join in the Midsummer festivities and meet his fellow citizens, both the respectable and the villainous.

Praise for Colour of Evil:

Samantha Willcoxson, author & historian:

Toni Mount is simply brilliant. If you love CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake – and I do – you will love Toni’s Sebastian Foxley. From learning how a 15th century scrivener created illuminated manuscripts to venturing within the dank tunnels beneath the Tower of London, Toni is an artist who completely immerses the reader in another time and place and always leaves one eager for the next book.”

Stephanie Churchill, author of historical fiction and epic fantasy:

“Leave it to Seb to unravel another international spiderweb of intrigue, betrayal, murder, and deceit. Our flawed, loveable hero has done it again. And at the end of it all, his future is looking brighter than ever. I cannot wait to find out what happens to him next!”

Sharon Bennet Connoly, author and medieval historian:

“A beautifully crafted mystery that brings the dark, dangerous streets of medieval London to life. Toni Mount is a magician with words, weaving a captivating story in wonderful prose. The Colour of Evil is, to put it simply, a pleasure to read.”

Kathryn Warner, medieval historian and author of numerous books about the fourteenth century, including biographies of Edward II and Isabella of France:

“The ninth instalment of Toni Mount’s popular Seb Foxley series is sure to delight Seb’s many fans. Mount puts her deep knowledge of late medieval England to good use once again, and takes us on another exciting adventure, this time with Seb’s older brother Jude, returned from Italy, in tow. Mount’s detailed world-building, as always, brings fifteenth-century London to life.”

Let’s get going with that excerpt I promised.

If ever there was a hell-on-earth, this was it, in the city’s very heart.

In the rats’ nest of alleyways south of Tower Street, Furnace Court was more noisome than most. Sunlight never dared trespass among the soot-encrusted walls, nor tip-toed into the confines where fire burned, smoke choked and the din of metal on metal rang out, assaulting the ears. Yet a man made his livelihood here. Bare-armed and brawny, smut-covered, the smith toiled at his anvil in the near darkness, working by the flickering light of the devil’s flames. Sweating, he hammered and quenched, re-heated and shaped, forcing his will upon the metals at his mercy. No iron could resist his power.

But such heavy labours were not his sole employment. Elsewhere, in the secret darkness beneath the streets, he had a second, smaller furnace. A more lucrative trade was to be had here, furtive and treasonous, undermining the prosperity of a kingdom. Hamo cared not a jot. In supposed-silver coins, struck with a die stolen from the nearby Tower Mint, there was money to be made – literally.  

As the instigator, the greedy genius behind this crime, spread more of the gleaming, underweight groats and pennies throughout the city, strangers began to notice. Such coins undermined their livelihood and must be traced back to the source.

Thus it was that two men, speaking English with a foreign sound, came to a shop, just as the owner was closing the shutters at day’s end, demanding to be told the origin of the coins at fault. When no answer was forthcoming, the pair resorted to torture: a thousand small cuts, none fatal, but each draining the victim’s strength a little more. Every time they paused, removing the rag from the victim’s mouth, they repeated the question:

‘Who makes these coins?’

The victim did not know the answer. He had but borrowed them to pay what he owed. Exchanging a debt to one for a debt to another.

The cuts continued until the strangers were certain the victim spoke true by which time only death awaited but they would not deliver the fatal cut. Time would do that. But it was necessary that a clear message be left. And it could not be spoken by the victim. For fear he might name them, they split his tongue in twain – to warn the devious serpent lurking behind the counterfeiting business that they would hunt him down. Then, to show how much they knew of it, they covered the victim’s right hand – the guilty hand that passed the fake coins – in shiny pigment, brought for the purpose. And to end the message: that there was no escaping their retribution, they nailed the dying victim’s hand to his workbench and left a bag of the false money behind.

The new-minted coins, used to pay debts to the strangers, shone even brighter than silver: the colour of evil.


Friday, the eleventh day of June in the year of Our Lord 1479

The Foxley House in Paternoster Row in the City of London

I returned home with my purchases of quills and ink, Gawain at my heel. I could have asked Kate or Nessie to buy them, although, in truth, such items were not needed in the workshop. The errand was simply a means of escape. I entered the kitchen but the sense of something – someone – missing assailed me, like an icy hand clutching my heart, as it always did these days.

Rose sat stitching a pair of gloves of lavender-dyed kid leather, her work so delicate, the stitches were nigh invisible. Little Dickon was at her feet, playing some unknown game with a bunch of straws and a few twigs. Nessie stood at the board chopping fresh sage from the garden, the kitchen filled with its earthy scent. ’Twas a scene of domestic tranquillity, yet utterly amiss.

My Emily was not there.

I could not get used to the lack – a black hole in my soul that I feared naught would ever fill entirely.

I lifted Dickon from the floor. He laughed, showing off his few perfect white teeth.

‘Does my little man fare well?’ I asked him. A string of dribble down my jerkin was the answer to my query.

‘He does very well,’ Rose said. ‘Dickon, show your Papa how you can play at peep-boo.’

The child put his fists over his eyes then took them away of a sudden, shrieking with delight. I took up a table napkin to assist his game, covering my face with it. He pulled it aside, shouting ‘Boo!’ It was a merry jest indeed and one he seemed unlikely to tire of in the near future. I had work to do but what of that? Merriment was hard to come by of late. Thus, I would play with my son a while. He would attain the first commemoration of his birth date in the week to come: the first significant day in his life thus far. I prayed daily that he would see many, many more, as so many infants do not. 

‘Mercy is coming to dinner,’ Rose said, ‘That you may see Julia.’

I nodded.

Julia was my daughter, born two months since upon that most sorrowful of days. The widow, Mercy Hutchinson, was the infant’s wet nurse but having three sons of her own, including Edmund who was a little older than Julia, she had taken the new babe to live with her in Distaff Lane, until she was weaned. Mercy’s other children were Simon, a scholar at St Paul’s School, and that scamp Nicholas – a toddling who was trouble upon two legs. I remained uncertain of the wisdom of having Nicholas visit too often, fearing Dickon might copy the elder child’s bad habits – biting people being his most recent undesirable trait. But Mercy and my kinsman Adam were betrothed, so I had to make the best of it: Nicholas would one day become a member of the family.

Neither was I able to determine for certain quite how I felt about Julia. Born too soon, she was the cause of my beloved Emily’s death. Yet she was an innocent.

Here is how to get the book and connect with the author, Toni Mount-

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Don’t miss out!

I have something nice to share. One of those smashing Rafflecopter giveaways… a $25 Gift Card and paperbacks for U.S. readers- take a look 😁
And don’t worry if you’re in the U.K. I’ll be doing my own paperback giveaway for U.K. readers to celebrate this release. Here’s the link

I love being able to share excerpts from other authors’ books!

It is an honour to be a host on the Blog Tour for THE TEST OF GOLD by Renee Yancy.

Here’s what the book is about-

Raised in the shadow of a mother who defied convention, but won’t allow her own daughter the right to make the same choices, heiress Evangeline Lindenmayer has been groomed since childhood to marry into the British aristocracy.

When Lindy challenges her mother’s long-laid plans by falling in love with a poor seminary student, the explosion is bigger than the Brooklyn Bridge fireworks on Independence Day.

You can get your copy of the book at the retailers listed below-

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Here’s an exclusive excerpt-

Jack leaned against the lamp post across the street from 660 Fifth Avenue, as carriage after carriage drove up and discharged gorgeously gowned and top-hatted inhabitants at the glittering entrance to the Lindenmayer mansion. Hoping for a glimpse of Miss Lindenmayer, he searched every window again and again, without success.

“Here, boyo, what are you about, loitering here?”

Jack turned. A policeman regarded him with a rather jaundiced eye. Jack nodded toward the mansion. “I stopped to listen.” Laughter and music drifted out the open windows, and he recognized the beginning of a waltz. “It’s such a lovely evening for a stroll.”

No need to mention he’d been standing here for the last two hours. The policeman gave him the once over, his narrowed eyes not missing a detail of Jack’s plain frockcoat. “You live in this neighborhood?”

“On the Upper East Side. With my uncle, Joseph Winthrop.”

“Do you now?” The policeman tucked beefy fingers into the belt girding his ample waist. “And would that be the pastor of St. Thomas Episcopal?”

Jack glanced at the brass name badge on the officer’s wool coat. “Yes, Officer McConnell.”

“And you might be?”

“Jack Winthrop.” He repressed an impatient sigh and glanced sideways toward the house. Wait! There—was it her?

A young woman in a sparkling white gown, her dark hair swept up on her head, in conversation with a man in white tie and tails. He clenched his fists and peered closer, not caring what the policeman might think.

“Ah.” McConnell’s gaze followed Jack’s. “Quite the party, isn’t it? But not for the likes of us, hey?”

Jack didn’t answer, straining to determine if the girl was Miss Lindenmayer.

“There’s fifty of us coppers here tonight, hired special for the ball. To keep the riffraff away, mind.”

Jack continued to scan the windows. Maybe if he ignored the officer, he’d go away. Then he gasped. There she was!

“Hmm.” McConnell followed Jack’s startled gaze. “Oh, boyo, I understand now. In love with the colleen, are you, laddie?”

Jack exhaled hard. “Is it that obvious, Officer?”

“It is, lad. That it is.” McConnell gazed toward the Lindenmayer mansion. “Love’s grand, isn’t it?” He tapped Jack gently on the chest with his baton. “Right, then. I’ll be off now on my rounds. I trust you’ll not be here when I come through again.”

“Yes, Officer. Thank you.”

Officer McConnell crossed the street and headed off down the sidewalk. Jack looked at his coat and plain boots. How he’d love to march into the mansion, announce himself as a friend of the debutante, and steal her away for a dance. What a commotion that would cause. He supposed he’d be unceremoniously thrown out. Perhaps arrested. How would he explain that to his uncle?

 He kicked a stone and sent it skittering into the street, and slowly walked away. At the corner, he turned and gazed at the Lindenmayer mansion. Every window blazed with light. Miss Lindenmayer lived and breathed only a few hundred feet from him, but she might as well be on the moon for all the good it did him.