Read-a-thon: Hour 23 mini-challenge

Alicia Blade is hosting this Cliffhanger mini-challenge:  “The challenge is to post in your blog the best cliffhanger you’ve come across in your reading marathon so far. You know, the kind of cliffhanger that ups the stakes, ratchets the action, asks a life-changing question, hints at a mystery just about to be solved… The kind of cliffhanger that, even if it were the very end of Hour 24, you’d keep reading just to find out what happens next.”

So here is my cliffhanger from The Dumas Club by Arturo Perez-Reverte

“Do you know the book’s history?”

“Vaguely,” said La Ponte.
Corso dipped a finger in his beer and began to to draw pictures on the marble counter.

“Period: mid seventeenth century. Scene: Venice. Central character: a printer by the name of Aristide Torchia, who has the idea of publishing the so-called Book of the Nine Doors of the Kingdom of Shadows, a kind of manual for summoning the Devil. It wasn’t a good time for that sort of thing: The Holy Office managed, without much trouble, to have Torchia handed over to them. He was charged with practicing satanic arts and all that goes with them, aggravated by the fact, they said, that he’s reproduced nine prints from the famous Delomelanicon, the occult classic which, tradition has it, was written by Lucifer himself…”

“What happened to the book?”

“You can image: it all went onto a big bonfire. They also say that that as it burned you could hear the Devil screaming.”

“It must have been the printer they heard screaming.”

Corso went on: Tortured with the thoroughness the Inquisition reserved for dealing with the Evil Arts, the printer finally confesses, between screams, that there still remained one book, hidden somewhere. Then he shut his mouth and didn’t open it again until they burnt him alive. And even then it was only to say Aagh.”
“You say that only one of the books was saved,” he objected. “But before, you said there were three known copies.”

And that’s the problem,” he said. “The books have appeared and then disappeared through wars, thefts and fires. It’s not known which is the authentic one.”

“Maybe they all forgeries,” Makarova suggested sensibly.

“Maybe. So I’ve got to find out whether Varo Borja has been taken for a ride. That’s why I’m going to Sintra and Paris.”

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