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The Book Collector
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-330-1
ISBN-13: 
Genre: Mystery/Fiction/Adventure
eBook Length: 197 Pages
Published: March 2006



From inside the flap

Blowing the whistle on one of the biggest food manufacturers carries a risk. Charles Turcott may have understood that he was taking a chance but the intentional use of unhealthy and adulterated food was endangering thousands of people throughout the world. He couldn?t just stand by and wait for people to die.

He would pay a terrible price for that decision. It was important to silence him as the key witness. They failed to kill him but killed his wife and child as his home is destroyed in front of his eyes.

Under the witness protection program he was given a new identity and name, Stephen Wabashick .

In a hamlet away from modern civilization he tries to rebuild his life, but his hobby of collecting G.A. Henty books is the link that bring the killers to his door. In his new life under a new name he finds a soul mate and this woman with her young daughter has her own troubles and is hiding from an abusive husband.

Having a second chance at life and a finding a woman to love is worth fighting for. Can he succeed when professional killers have traced him to the small hamlet of Up Hill? Who says that life is fair?

The Book Collector (Excerpt)


THE BOOK COLLECTOR

Ray Bishop watched his neighbor arrive. Maybe Charley had decided to leave work early. He waved as Charles Turcott got out of his car and headed for his front door. He looked like he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.

That feeling, all the crap about working and doing overtime and meeting impossible deadlines, was a thing of the past for Ray. All Raymond Bishop had to do was get up when he wanted, feed his cats, get the early morning paper and spend the rest of the day looking after his garden. No more rat-race for him. He looked over at his neighbor. Turcott was young; just at the start of his career. He doubted that this shy young man was 30 years old. Thirty! God, that was just a youngster in his book.

He continued to water his garden and suddenly his whole world exploded around him. It was like a slow-motion video replay. He had seen Charles open his front door and then step back as his old dog rushed out and past him. That’s when the house disintegrated in front of them. One moment the house was like the other older homes in the residential area. They were not the fancy executive homes of the high fliers but solid homes built in the 50’s. The house experts called them starter homes. Hell, as far as Ray Bishop thought, they were finishers too. And the one next to him was now like a bombed-out shell. He had lived through the Blitz in London when he was bright eyed and ready to tackle the world and this was the same.

But now there was nothing except for towering flames and the sinister crackle of burning boards.

He saw that the front door had been blown out and then it struck him, maybe Charles was under it.

He started screaming to get his wife’s attention. "Heather! Call 911!"

He turned the garden hose on himself, soaked his clothing and dragged the hose behind him as he approached the inferno. He concentrated the water jet on the door. The heat was tremendous and he felt as if his skin was being burned off his hands and face. All around him parts of the house were burning. Even the street was littered with smoking shards.

The door did have something under it. He continued soaking it and himself and, when he got close, he found he was better off on his hands and knees. He reached under and pulled at the unconscious man. Jesus, it was like the war all over again. He dragged Charles from under the door. That door had taken the brunt of the explosion. Then, with every muscle in his old body, Ray Bishop dragged his neighbor to safety.

The fire engines screamed down the street. The other neighbors now too were out watching. What had happened to Charlie’s wife and their young daughter? The sound of the basement floor collapsing was an ominous sound and had a finality to it. God he hated fire. He has seen too many people being burned alive in the war to make him think that this was interesting. He had a terrible premonition that two lives and an old dog had been lost and, if not for chance and an old dog, Charles Turcott would have been number three.

They found the old dog dead -- blown across the street by the explosion. They also found the charred bodies of Ruth Turcott and Amy, their six-year-old daughter.

That was three years ago. From that moment on Charles Turcott was no longer in control of his life. He was cloistered like a novitiate in a seminary. Every minute of each day he had someone watching him. Guarding him. But not for one moment did the visions of his house exploding fade from his mind. If it weren?t for Bay, his old dog and companion, he also would have been in the house when it exploded. The fire department and investigators had shown him the remains of the bomb. He was supposed to be inside with his family when the bomb went off. But his old bloodhound Bay had stopped that. He had come out of the house on the run but it wasn?t that that had made Charles stop. It was Bay’s bloody head and panic-filled eyes that had made Charles stop. He remembered thinking, what had happened to Bay?

There was something else discovered by the investigation team. Ruth had been murdered and was dead when the house exploded. He was no forensic expert but he knew that a bullet in the brain was not usual. Poor beautiful Ruth! She was happy being a stay-at-home wife and mother. Amy was their focus in life. Now everything was gone. Even old Bay had lost his life. Charles had shed all his tears and there was nothing left inside him. He felt like the empty hulk of his home, nothing was left inside him except blackened memories and a deep need for revenge.

He had never thought that once the arson teams had turned it into a murder investigation his life would no longer be his own. It was what he knew that those who had arranged the murder of his wife and child had come to silence. The fire marshal had indicated this was no accidental gas leak. It had been a professional job and should have worked if the intent was to kill the entire family. But for an injured dog that had rushed out to get help for his mistress, Charles too would have been killed.

Stephen Wabashick felt numb. He walked or jogged at least 10 miles a day. He walked hoping that he could find himself and learn about his new community. Strange, he was both a stranger to this place and to his new identify. He was a man with no past, no record that was available for anyone who thought to look up Stephen Wabashick -- except for those that the government had carefully invented. It’s not often that you can choose your own name. That’s a right of parents, but no longer did Charles Turcott appear in any public document. Oh, there was the report of an unfortunate car accident where a distraught man who lost his wife and child three years before had died in an explosion as his car had smashed into a concrete support column. That effectively wiped out his history, or rather, ended it.

Ray Bishop and his wife Heather had attended the funeral. Somehow it seemed the best thing for his neighbor. After his family had been wiped out they had not seen him except at the memorial service for his wife and daughter Amy. They had exchanged a few heartfelt words but, at that time, words were inadequate. It was only later, when Ray saw the headline news that Global Groceries Enterprises had been charged with marketing unsafe and tainted foods and saw that Charles Turcott was the chief witness for the government, did he have any inkling on the heavy weight carried on his old neighbor’s shoulders. You never win a battle when the odds are stacked against you. Even with the federal government promising to look after your welfare, things always slipped through the cracks. People made mistakes or gave out information to someone that could send it to those who wanted that sort of information. Poor Charley Turcott’s life was over the moment that bomb went off. Just because it had taken a further few years and the government had put several of the chief executives and managers of that company in jail and fines of several million dollars were levied against them, didn?t mean it was over. That hardly mattered for a multi-billion dollar company that controlled more assets than some countries? GNPs. No, Ray Bishop knew that Charles? life would always be in danger. But now, finally, that haunted individual had a chance at peace.

Now Charles had a new name, a new place to live and a hope that those who still wanted revenge would let him live in peace. Whether they believed he was dead was open to speculation. His gravestone had his name and his life carved with a beginning and an end. "Charles Edward Turcott. Age 32. In peace with his wife and daughter."

He had never found peace but maybe eventually it would come. That would come as a different person. But it was hard to set aside one’s whole life. Yet the government had done everything it could to protect him. This new life was part of the agreement -- and his efforts had put 23 men in prison. These men were not petty criminals. They were those who could afford the best lawyers, yet it was his evidence that placed them in jail. Some of their sentences were for life for the murder of Ruth and Amy Turcott. Others received less lengthy sentences. But none were going to get out of their steel cages for 15 years. The police had warrants out for another 15 men. Some had just disappeared. Some had their own new identities prepared in case the heat got too bad. It was these people who needed Charles Turcott dead. If he were dead then the evidence still in his soul would no longer get to trial. Yes, Charles Turcott knew that his life as his old self had ended. It hadn?t ended in a fictitious car accident but at the moment he had opened his front door.