It was Friday and Piccolo was looking forward to spending the weekend back home in Welby. Although time spent at The Lynn had been pleasurable enough, and the investigations most stimulating, she had her own tasks to be getting on with. It was so easy for a writer to simply put off writing – and she knew that if she didn’t stick to a schedule and a work rate nothing would get done. Piccolo was proud that she had managed to create a novel for each of the past seven years, and had honed her production line to efficiency. There was a rhythm to it, for just as she needed to proof the galleys of the last title, so she needed to be researching the next. Maintaining the pattern was critical. Piccolo enjoyed her profession, especially as it now provided her with a substantial income – more than she had ever imagined when she started out. That had begun when she and Simmonds were living in West London. Place was a great inspiration to her writing and her first novel, ‘A Scandal at Osterley’, had drawn heavily on those surroundings — (Piccolo had spent many contemplative hours walking around the neoclassical house and grounds). It had been a wrench to leave when they moved to the east coast for Simmonds to take up his present post, but now a few years had passed and they were as settled and as happy in Welby as they had been anywhere else. Now it was time for those flat lands, big skies, and windswept beaches to be her backdrop. The small seaside town had become the comfortable space in which she wrote. Indeed Piccolo could not wait to return home. But before she did something extraordinary occurred. Now it was her turn to receive an unexpected invitation to attend the Hall, that very day for luncheon, at the behest of Lady Bessingham herself.