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Carolyn Korsmeyer | Exclusive Excerpt: LITTLE FOLLIES


Little Follies
Carolyn Korsmeyer

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January 2023
On Sale: January 19, 2023
ISBN: 1685131050
EAN: 9781685131050
Kindle: B0BHJDK961
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Also by Carolyn Korsmeyer:
Little Follies, January 2023

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A Special Excerpt from LITTLE FOLLIES by Carolyn Korsmeyer

 

The two men were back again on Thursday. Klementyna Kamynska took notice because it was not common for tourists to visit the Radincki Museum more than once. Her curiosity mildly piqued, she diverted her slow trajectory in their direction. Their attention was focused with unlikely intensity at a case full of eighteenth-century tableware.

Did they move rather too hastily away to look at the suits of armor lined up along the wall? Klementyna was aware that her approach sometimes prompted visitors to draw back from their scrutiny of some jewelry or hanging vestment or other piece of over-decorated fandango. It amused her to see the effect she wielded without saying a word. She glanced at the case the men had been looking in but saw nothing of special interest.

Klementyna was bored, so with her measured pace she followed them. As she neared, did their voices drop? Possibly, but many people dislike having their every word magnified by the echoes of large rooms. As she passed by the two men, her eyes directed only at her toes, she caught a few words and thought they might have been speaking English. She could understand a bit of that language. English was the common language of the world now, and Klementyna was glad enough to learn it. These days, it was more useful than her school Russian. She thought she’d make another circuit and see if she could understand any of the two men’s conversation. It wasn’t nosiness exactly, though her presence might have appeared inquisitive to someone who did not comprehend the tedium of her job.

If she had known just a little more English she might have recalled what curiosity did to the cat.

Keith, sweating inside his new jacket, was getting nervous. “Damn it. Here she comes again. That same woman who spotted us the first time.”

Bodie shrugged. “Don’t worry so much. She won’t recognize us. Ignore her.”

Klementyna moved past, and the two men peered together at a set of ivory chessmen. As they heard her footfalls recede they moved towards a hallway at the end of the main gallery.

“Don’t trot like that, dammit,” hissed Bodie. “Just walk. What did I tell you? You’ve got to be cool. Casual. Don’t call attention to yourself.” Bodie deliberately strolled, forcing Keith to slow to a jittery amble. They paused before a darkened suit of armor and a rack of long weapons.

“Look how many different kinds of swords there are!” wondered Keith. “What do you suppose they needed them all for?”

“No idea,” Bodie said indifferently. He tamped down irritation at Keith’s skipping attention span. The man was capable of being distracted by just about anything. Keith continued to study the array, puzzling like an inexperienced diner before a table laid with unfamiliar forks. Bodie moved on and had to pause before his partner noticed he had fallen behind. He was annoyed to see Keith canter up again.

“Just walk!” he hissed. “It’s this room here. No one is there now, so we can start the job. But you have to keep an eye out! If you see anyone approaching let me know.”

With a quick glance around, they entered a corridor that branched off the main gallery and opened to three small rooms. There the ceiling was lower, and the echoes that magnified every cough, tap, and ping in the main gallery were left behind. Their target was the last small room. It was illuminated only by two stained glass windows set in shallow niches that were lit from behind. They broadcast the gazes of two austere saints who once had occupied a bygone chapel. Keith unzipped his jacket and took several deep breaths to calm his pulse. It was dimmer in here, kind of church-like. He felt uneasy with the saintly faces looking at him in that disapproving manner. They seemed to be assessing him and not much liking what they saw.

Three square display cases housed a miscellaneous assortment of relics retrieved from various palaces long demolished. One case was filled with the kinds of things that would have been discarded if they weren’t so old: antique nails that once studded a door, a set of decorative hinges, and a pile of what looked to Keith like petrified bird droppings. (They were in fact ancient wax seals.) The other vitrines contained two pairs of earrings, a flat trencher with a decorated rim, three chains of differing widths, one stirrup, a heavily embroidered shooting glove, and a silver goblet with a fused stem. None of it looked particularly worth stealing.

“I can’t believe we’re going to all this trouble about this case of crap,” he said. “There aren’t even any jewels. There is much better stuff in the other room.”

Bodie only grunted and knelt on the floor. He was inclined to agree with Keith that this part of their job made little sense. There had to be something else going on. The contents of this particular cabinet couldn’t be important enough for all this work. But he would figure out what was really at stake on his own. No need to involve the amateur.

He pulled on a pair of latex gloves. They were tight on his large hands.

“Ours not to reason why. Ours to deliver for a nice chunk of change,” he said.

The task had to be done quickly. Most of the ingredients were already prepared, but now at the last minute he opened two small jars, pouring one into the other and mixing carefully with a small swab until the material thickened. A sharp smell arose in the still air.

“Man, that stuff stinks!” said Keith.

“Quiet. It’ll disperse soon enough. You just look out for anyone coming this way.” Bodie lay on his back and with a wide syringe began to insert gluey gel into the square keyhole on the underside of the old cabinet.

“Maybe I should light a cigarette or something to cover it up,” offered Keith. This prompted an exasperated snort from the floor.

“The fastest way to draw attention in a museum is to light a cigarette, asshole. Besides, this stuff’s flammable. You light a match here and you’ll turn this case into a barbecue. Shut up and keep watch. And listen. Listen for footsteps.”

Keith stepped back into the larger gallery and occupied himself with a collection of tables, stepping around them and peering closely as if intending to recommend one to a decorator. The smell was less noticeable out here in the high-ceilinged room, and fortunately the handful of visitors today was not interested in this wing. He jittered nervously and wondered where the toilets were in this huge place. Some of the deep bowls in the case on the far wall were in fact chamber pots, but Keith was not to know this.

Bodie suddenly appeared from behind and startled him.

“Some lookout you are.”

They had finished the job just in time, for now they could hear the slow, ominous clop of steps nearing. They scooted into the next exhibit hall. When Klementyna passed, she was bemused to see them deeply absorbed in nineteenth-century ladies’ fashion. Maybe their football jackets disguised more effeminate leanings; foreigners were strange birds. In a teasing mood, she made a circuit of the room, approaching them twice, and was amused to see the younger man’s eyes dart nervously in her direction.

The two men progressed rather too quickly through the rest of the museum. Keith was convinced their odd activities in the little gallery would be discovered, but Bodie—who was himself more nervous than he appeared—observed that they had caught a break. A cleaner with a large waxing buffer was making his way through the museum. The smell of the wax would cover any trail of chemical odor they might have left.

“See Keith?” he said. “Things are going our way. No need for nerves.”

“I’ll feel better when we get paid and I’m back on the train. You may be used to this, Bodie, but I’m not.”

“Well, be patient. We can’t leave for a while.”

Outside the wind blew away the last of the smell clinging to his jacket, and Bodie balled up his latex gloves and threw them into a trash can full of crumpled maps and used paper cups. “In the meantime,” he suggested, “why don’t we visit the castle? I hear they’ve got a dragon and everything.”

He was beginning to get an idea about the real job at hand, the one they weren’t being told about. There were lots of those display cases in the museum, and some of them held jewels. I’ll bet, he thought, that keys for one cabinet also fit some of the others, including the ones holding gold and jewelry. He vowed to do some more looking around. There might be more money to be had in this job than what they were offered. But no need to share. He was the pro after all.

Keith perked up. A dragon sounded fun.

 

Excerpt from LITTLE FOLLIES. Copyright © 2023 by Carolyn Korsmeyer. Reprinted with permission of the author. All rights reserved.

LITTLE FOLLIES by Carolyn Korsmeyer

Little Follies

A visit to Krakow intended to test a new relationship turns out to be fraught with danger when two Americans encounter a man pursuing a dark ambition in the waning months of the last millennium.

Adam Kasper is a historian delving into the archives of an old museum; traveling with him is Joan Templeton, a journalist. Although they have come to Poland together in hopes that their new romance might flourish, Adam's work is all-consuming, and Joan finds better company with Rudy Vander Lage, a lecturer at the university who is coping with widowhood. By chance, they cross paths with Pawel Radincki, a man of unstable mind who hopes to transform his life by means both criminal and occult.

Adam's obsession with his research leads him to commit a serious breach of academic protocol. Although their relationship is disintegrating, Joan decides to help him with a bold and risky plan, and she enlists the aid of Rudy. Neither realizes that the risks they take will stymie Pawel's plans and put Joan's life in danger. Theft, murder, and magic propel the plot, which reaches a climax at the turn of the millennium, when relationships are realigned and follies laid bare.

 

Mystery [Black Rose Writing, On Sale: January 19, 2023, Paperback / e-Book, ISBN: 9781685131050 / ]

Buy LITTLE FOLLIESAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Book Depository | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Carolyn Korsmeyer

Carolyn Korsmeyer

Carolyn Korsmeyer is both a novelist and a philosopher. She is especially interested in how the senses and emotions are engaged by works of art, themes prominent in three of her philosophy books: Things: In Touch with the PastSavoring Disgust: The Foul and the Fair in Aesthetics, and Making Sense of Taste: Food and Philosophy. She is keen to explore the ways that fiction can revive lives from long ago by engaging the reader in the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the past. Her first novel, Charlotte's Story, imagines the life that Charlotte Lucas (of Pride and Prejudice) might have had after her hasty marriage. Little Follies is her second novel.

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Comments

1 comment posted.

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