From the Crypt! Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave by Deron K. Hicks
Julian made the final turn first and burst through the opening. As Colophon put her foot on the final step, she tripped and fell. The alarm on her watch started beeping. The ticking had stopped.
As soon as Julian made it through the door and into the mausoleum, he heard the thud behind him and Colophon's cry. He turned back to the door. It was slowly closing.
Colophon tried to get to her knees, but she felt as if she were moving in slow motion. Suddenly the light was gone. Colophon was scrambling on her knees in the direction of the door. Was it already closed?
Suddenly something grabbed her right hand.
Hiding quickly behind a large ornamental vase, twelve-year-old Colophon Letterford eavesdrops on conference of the assembled Letterford clan, only to learn that cousin Treemont Letterford plans a takeover of Letterford and Sons, the centuries-old prestigious publishing house. A series of unexplained and quite unfortunate events has threatened a financial collapse of the old firm, and under the rules established by founder Miles Letterford in 1616, the ownership of the firm and all properties are to devolve upon the next oldest male Letterford by midnight on Christmas eve if Letterford and Sons is not solvent on that date. Colophon's father, Mull Letterford has but a month, but he points out that he has meetings with three best-selling authors to publish their latest manuscripts, any one of which would restore the firm to profitability.
But the appearance of Colophon's oddball second cousin Julian at the family Thanksgiving suggests another way of saving her home and her father's firm. Julian is skinny, disheveled, and apparently obsessed with the elusive mystery of the family treasure secreted by Miles Letterford, and his impromptu visit to the family's estate in Georgia is focused on finding clues in the portrait of founder Miles in Mull's study.
Partially convincing the dubious Julian of her puzzle-solving abilities, Colophon insists upon joining him in his scrutiny of the portrait, and it is her ability to think outside the painting itself that points to the letters hidden in the ornate carving on the frame, letters that indeed promise to lead to the centuries-old treasure of the Letterfords:
Good friend among the stars be found
A treasure--heare the key thus bound.
Blessed be the man who lays the claime
To that enthroned within this frame.
And soon Julian and Colophon are off on a quest which takes them from secret clue to secret clue--at the tomb of Shakespeare in a church in Stratford-on-Avon, into the depths of a crypt with an ancient clockwork-driven door that almost closes on them, and to the posh offices of a private bank in London with a golden key which can open Miles Letterford's security box deposited there over three hundred years earlier, But to the cousins' disappointment, the box is not filled with gold or jewels, holding only an old inkwell and one very old leather portfolio.
Meanwhile, Mull Letterford, accompanied by Case, Colophon's older brother, finds another series of comic but unfortunate events that derail his meetings with the three authors with which he had hoped to revive his business. It looks like Christmas Eve will bring no joy to Colophon's family--unless... unless that venerable portfolio might just contain a secret from Shakespeare's grave that will save the family's fortune and preserve Letterford and Sons' prestige well into the future.
Deron R. Hicks' just-published Secrets of Shakespeare's Grave (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012) is a ripsnorting, stylish mystery with an appealing but unlikely pair of puzzle-solving detectives, one which concludes with an unforeseen denouement which surprisingly doesn't include the hoped-for gold, but a treasure that is even better, and ends with the promise of yet another mystery.
Colophon,This is a classy mystery novel, each chapter beginning with a quote from the Bard and intriguing little illustrations which suggest the clues to follow, with memorable characters and suitably mysterious settings ranging from Mont St. Michel in 1616 to Manchester, Georgia, with stops along the way in London, Stratford-on-Avon, and New York City. Fans of The Thirty-Nine Clues series and The Enola Holmes Mysteries who enjoy cryptic literary mysteries and harrowing clues in the crypt will find Colophon Letterford a most engaging girl sleuth and look forward the next sequel, promised for 2013.
There is no time for talk....
We were wrong.
The manuscripts were simply another clue. I will write further.