The Private Journal of Dr. CaLamari
- EXTRACT ONE -
In which the Intelligent Reader is offered an unprecedented glimpse into the workings of a criminal mind.
I approached the case - and stopped. And looked. And saw -
The Firestone of Toj.
And from the moment I set eyes on it, I knew, without any shadow of doubt, that it must be mine.
How shall I describe it? Big. Big as a seagull's egg. And red. Redder than the reddest red in a world of really, really red things.
I pride myself that I didn't display a flicker of emotion. I even made out that I was unimpressed. That I'd seen bigger, better, redder rubies, and I didn't know what all the fuss was about. Then I left, pretending that I had other, more important things to do.
My subsequent, undercover visits to the museum have been most useful. Muffled in a large cape and wearing a blond mustache, I have mingled with the crowds and studied the whole thing from every aspect. I know it can be done. It is a bold scheme, but clever - very clever, though I say so myself. Oh, yes. Nothing has been overlooked. All I now need is:
1. Nerves of steel
2. Icy determination
3. A clear, cool head
4. A bent* dwarf
*By "bent," I am referring to villainy. Not physically hunched. Although, of course, he must be flexible.
I already possess excellent nerves and am certainly determined. I am working on the clear, cool head, but sometimes, I confess, I find it hard to contain my excitement when so much is at stake.
Oh, how I want the Firestone of Toj! Its rightful place is here, in my Cabinet, among my other trophies, shining for my eyes only! And why not? I am the world's expert, am I not? I've got the degrees and everything. Only I can appreciate its matchless beauty! I want it, I want it, I -
Must pause here. Am drooling and have gone all dizzy.
Opened the window. Better now. To continue.
Obtaining the dwarf is proving tricky. For the past week, Gross has been out trolling the countryside, but no luck so far. I have told him to haunt low dives, rough taverns, jailhouses, circuses. The sorts of places where bent dwarfs might gather. You would think the world would be awash with the little fellows, but apparently not.
It would be quicker to do it myself. But I can't. I must step back in this affair. I have my reputation to consider. I can't afford a whiff of scandal. I shall be the mastermind in the shadows. Then, if things go wrong, I can deny everything and let Gross take the blame. Besides, traveling around the countryside on a dwarf hunt in this weather holds little appeal.
Anyway, Gross had better come up with the goods soon. In a matter of days, the exhibition will close, the Firestone will return to Egypt, and we will have missed our chance. . . .
No. I must not think that way. That way lies madness. I will stay positive. I am confident that Gross will come shuffling in at any minute, armed with a dwarf short list.
Meanwhile, all I do now is wait.
Excerpted from Solomon Snow and the Stolen Jewel by Kaye Umansky. Copyright © 2007 by Kaye Umansky;. Excerpted by permission of Candlewick, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.