The troubling message from Serena Charters's late grandmother appears in a package containing four pages of a centuries-old illuminated manuscript -- a strange inheritance that hides many secrets...and has already cost many lives. Seeking an
Romantic suspense/historical romance luminary Lowell (Midnight in Ruby Bayou, etc.) returns with a love story-cum-mystery that skips from the British Isles to the California desert, and from the cruel rituals of the ancient Druids to the even crueler practices of modern art collectors. In a familiar plot refreshed by historical and artistic detail, Lowell's modern lovers hear echoes of past lives. When her grandmother falls victim to arson, weaver and free spirit Serena Charters inherits a charred cabin, a piece of cloth, a warning to trust no one and eight pages from a brilliantly illuminated Celtic manuscript. Serena sends copies of the pages to two appraisers who recognize it as the Book of the Learned, passed down for centuries through the first-born women of Serena's family. One appraiser, Norman Warrick, a curmudgeon billionaire surrounded by the greedy relatives and toadies of the House of Warrick, claims the pages are fraudulent, but stops at nothing to acquire them. The second appraiser, Erik North, is a dashing art investigator as adept at cliff climbing as at deciphering archaic texts. Erik hides from Serena his longtime obsession with the book as well as his own family connections to it. Working with the ingenious researchers, negotiators and security specialists of Rarities Unlimited, a company devoted to the preservation of art, artifacts and the fortunes to be made from them, Erik offers to help Serena solve the murder of her grandmother and prevent her own while uncovering layers of history in the priceless palimpsest. But can Serena trust Erik or his employer Lowell poses questions the reader can easily answer. Yet her evocation of the modern business of ancient artifacts is so sharp one can only hope she will bring back Rarities Unlimited for the inevitable sequel. (July) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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April 30, 2002
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Excerpt from Moving Target by Elizabeth Lowell
One Year Later
Like much of the town, the law offices of Morton Hingham were left over from a more leisurely, luxuriant time. Second-story arched windows framed a view of low-roofed buildings, tall palm trees, and stony mountains that dwarfed everything human. Inside the reception area, creamy walls and rich green plants soothed the eye. Solid wood furniture gleamed with polish. The carpet was worn, but tastefully so, like a dowager princess.
The secretary-receptionist was the same. Her voice was crepe, irregular without being rough. "Ms. Charters Mr. Hingham will see you now."
For a moment Serena stared blankly at the receptionist. In this cool, gracious room with its stately aura of law and civilization, it was hard for her to remember that her grandmother had died from a random act of violence of the kind more often associated with inner cities than with the desert's ageless wilderness.
Very few animals killed simply because they could. Homo sapiens was first among them.
"Thank you," Serena said in a husky voice.
The older woman nodded, ushered the client into Morton Hingham's office, and shut the door behind her.
A quick glance told Serena that the lawyer's office had shuttered windows and no visible wallpaper. Every vertical surface was concealed by books whose covers were as dull and dry as their titles. Various legal documents lay stacked haphazardly on Hingham's heavy desk. An array of computers along the far wall looked out of place amid all the leatherbound monuments to past decisions, writs, and opinions.
Hingham's swivel chair creaked and jerked when he stood to greet his client. Long past the age when other men retired, the lawyer kept his shrewd mind engaged with the trials and tangles of people generations younger than he was.
"Sorry to keep you waiting, Ms. Charters," Hingham said, clearing his throat. "There is a particularly difficult custody case that . . . " He cleared his throat again.
"I understand," Serena said, a polite lie. "It doesn't matter." The truth. She had been quite willing to look out the windows at the mountains that had ringed her childhood and formed her adult dreams. "I take it that the State of California is ready to close the books on my grandmother's murder "