The Sinful Stones (The James Pibble Mysteries)
Ninety-two-year-old Sir Francis Francis summons James Pibble to an isolated island in the Hebrides to find out who pilfered the memoirs he was in the process of writing. The Nobel Prize–winning scientist was one of the builders of the first atom bomb. Is Francis senile? Paranoid? Was the manuscript really stolen? What’s the real reason he sent for Pibble?
As Pibble tries to untangle the mystery of the missing document, he starts to suspect that the devout millenarian religious sect inhabiting the island may be less virtuous than it seems; the community is strangely hell-bent on preventing Francis from ever leaving. It’s up to Pibble to seek out the truth and find his own salvation before the walls of Jericho come tumbling down forever.
in them saying things like ‘Penny a day. Saved.’ ‘Sixpence a week. Saved.’ He never seemed to have much money, but I remember a holiday when his wallet seemed full of clean pound notes. He could have got a much better job, better-paid, I mean. He was clever by ordinary standards, and very hard-working when he wasn’t ill.” “Ordinary clever people cause more bother than ordinary nincompoops. And you ought to know, with your education, that it was no use being clever and hard-working in the
brethren entered, the first carrying a platter of vegetable soup with two oatcakes at its rim, which he handed to Providence. The second placed on the floor a small log, an ordinary cold chisel and a fish-tailed bolster chisel. Both brethren made the ritual bow and left without a word. Providence began to spoon up his soup with careful slowness, speaking a few words between each spoonful. “Our technique is perfectly simple,” he said. “You must have read of it as it has been applied by other
the ideal of the English Gentleman which it was the mission of St Estephe’s to produce. Pibble crouched in the dark and started to work his way across the cell, waving his arms like feelers before him. Even in that position it was difficult to resist the instinctive ducking of his head, as though the cell were suddenly full of solid obstacles. It had been a Fraud Squad case, but because of the number and influence of the parents involved an officer of known tact had been seconded to help with
to ridge to valley: stride, crouch, crawl, wriggle, gallop. One valley contained a bog which he’d missed on his route along the cliff—black, acid, and stinking-sweet. He squelched heedlessly in before remembering tales of bogs that had swallowed wagon-trains, but the ooze never rose above his ankles. Even while he was wriggling over the next ridge the slime of it clung, strangely refreshing, to his feet. Two ridges beyond that he reached the long slope which rose through the vanished village to
Dorothy. “Bloody boats. I always hated them, but Frank made me learn. We won’t be anywhere near the lighthouse before they get back. Isn’t there a lifeboat in this stinking tub?” “It burst on a rock,” said Pibble. “What do you think about rigging nets?” “You’d never get the bloody things up in time. What’s that?” Pibble knelt among the nets and scrabbled at a bundle half-buried beneath them. “INFLATE” said the stencilled letters. He hauled out an awkward; rubbery parcel and found it was