Series: Mrs. Bradley Series
On a rainy, miserable night, down-on-his-luck author George Mandsell ducks into a public telephone box, intending to call his publisher and ask for an advance. As soon as he is inside, the phone begins to ring. Answering it, he discovers that the caller is a Miss Faintley, and in no uncertain terms she tells him to pick up a parcel from a neighboring station and to deliver it to a shady shopowner in the village. Before Mandsell can explain that she has mistaken him for another errand-runner, she rings off. Spotting the chance to make a little money while also perhaps finding inspiration for a story idea in the adventure, the penniless author sets out to retrieve the package. A short while later, 13-year old Mark Street is dismayed to find his least favorite school teacher staying at the same hotel where he and his family are passing their summer holiday. Worse luck, Miss Faintley (referred to by Mark as "old Semi-Conscious") has uncharacteristically asked him to accompany her to a nearby town. With a schoolboys resourcefulness, Mark slips away from his teacher at Torbury and returns to the hotel for an unsupervised swim. He begins to worry, however, when Miss Faintley doesnt return to the hotel by the following day, and confides as much to Laura Menzies, a fellow guest and newfound companion in athletic activities. Out for an early morning hike, Mark and Laura discover a deserted house surrounded by woods on one side and coastline on the other. Ignoring "no trespassing" signs, they investigate and eventually come upon a womans body lying among the gorse. Laura alerts her employer, Mrs. Beatrice Bradley, and the old detective soon picks up the scent. If the body is that of Miss Faintley, who killed her, and why? After a visit to the caves at Lascaux, the consultation of some botany books, a little seafaring surveillance, and the befriending of both Mr. Mandsell and a Latin-speaking parrot, Mrs. Bradley is ready to deliver a solution.
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