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Academy of the Dead [A Matt Rider Detective Thriller] [MultiFormat]
eBook by Christopher Wright

eBook Category: Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller
eBook Description: Matt Rider is made an offer that seems too good to miss. Go to Prague, find some priceless music manuscripts--and share in a fortune. Unfortunately, even for a confident backstreet PI, the clues are rather thin on the ground. All Matt knows is that a young Jewish girl called Hana Eisler had the manuscripts in Prague in 1942. Using old records from the Helios Music Academy in England, Matt tracks Hana's movements to a Nazi concentration camp in the Czech Republic. And there the trail seems to end. The American violin teacher at the Helios Academy claims to know something about Hana's family. And so does the Academy dean. Matt decides to contact Hana in a seance. Taking place in England and the Czech Republic, Academy of the Dead is an exciting hunt for lost treasure and a missing child. There are big stakes to play for--and maybe not everyone can be trusted. Academy of the Dead is the third Matt Rider detective thriller.

eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory, Published: 2006, 2006
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2006

3 Reader Ratings:
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Chapter One

The present

"MY PARTNER IS having an affair. With one of the teaching staff at the Academy." The well-spoken man leaned forward and smashed the flat of his hand onto Ken Habgood's desk. "You're a private detective. Catch them at it."

Ken forced a smile that seemed to lack confidence as he moved back in his seat. "I'm sure we can help. My company…specializes in this sort of thing." He swung round to Matt, clearly in need of support.

Matt Rider decided to stay silent and let his boss dig his own holes. Habgood Securities didn't specialize in anything. At least, not in the two years he'd been working for the back-street investigation agency. If a customer waved money, Ken Habgood took the job on.

"I don't want sneaky surveillance," the visitor continued, a man in his fifties wearing a dark gray suit. He had introduced himself as Edward Blake, the dean at the English branch of the Helios Music Academy.

"Surveillance has to be sneaky," Ken Habgood told him. "Otherwise you get noticed."

"Oh, I want this to be noticed," Blake insisted, in an annoyingly booming voice. "I want all the bells and whistles." As he spoke, the air hissed loudly through his nose, spoiling his impression of sophistication.

Ken frowned but kept quiet.

"It's like this, Mr. Habgood. I want them to know they've been well and truly caught. And I want it on film." Blake smiled and his frosty attitude seemed to melt a little as he moved away from Ken's tidy desk. "They meet at the Academy swimming-pool—when they think no one's around."

Matt noticed Ken give a vague smile as he nodded.

"Unfortunately the pool has a high wall round it." The thaw was short-lived. Blake hit the desk for the second time. "I want them caught."

"Right." Ken seemed to be discovering his voice again.

"I'm sorry," Blake said. "I'm finding this a bit of an ordeal. What I'm trying to convey is you'll have your work cut out getting photographs."

"I presume you have some sort of plan to share with us." Matt didn't take to this oily man who'd arrived late for his appointment.

Blake seemed to notice Matt for the first time. "The pool will be closing soon, so we have to hurry. This Indian summer isn't going to last. I'm accompanying the students to London for a concert tomorrow, and the staff are coming with me, which means the Helios Academy will be empty. You know what they say: 'when the cat's away the mice will play.' "

"What do we do, climb a ladder with a camera and a piece of cheese?" Ken asked, grinning at Matt. "Matt could blow a trumpet. That would get their attention."

Edward Blake stood at the window, his back to the room. Maybe he didn't understand Ken's idea of humor. "I wondered about using a long telephoto from the top of the Mount, but the damn hilltop is the best part of two miles away. Anyway, I need them to know they've been photographed."

"So how do we get close enough?" Matt asked.

"You could try climbing the wall around the pool, but unfortunately my partner has a dog. The thing goes berserk as soon as anyone strange comes within a hundred yards. I don't know how she puts up with it."

"And the dog will be there?" Matt thought back with some anxiety to previous canine encounters.

"Too right it will. You'll have to get over the wall to the pool quickly, before it makes a noise. You'd better have a look at these." Blake pulled a black wallet from the inside pocket of his jacket and removed two creased photographs.

Ken took them and passed them on to Matt.

"You can't see the pool," Blake explained. His voice and his body language now seemed more helpful. Matt guessed it must be hard to come to strangers and admit to your partner's betrayal.

The two color prints showed the outside of a high wall built of concrete blocks, taken from ground level. But in the background Matt could see the top of the hill known as the Mount. He had to take Blake's word that there was a swimming pool behind the wall. If it wasn't for the dog, Ken's suggestion of a ladder seemed almost sensible. He handed the photos back to Ken.

Ken returned them to the dean and looked anxious. "Do you have any suggestions on how we proceed, Mr. Blake? A helicopter perhaps?"

"Far too expensive," Blake snapped. "And noisy. They'd hear it coming"

"It was a joke," said Ken, grinning foolishly again.

Blake sighed heavily. "You're the experts. Why don't you think of something?"

Copyright © 2006 Christopher Wright.

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