Wagons rolling, flags furling, horns blaring, the circus comes to town! Children chase the wagons, daring for a glimpse of exotic wild creatures. The big cats roar, sending shivers through the crowd, but they edge closer, demanding to be scared, knowing they are safe. And then a skeleton is found in a bygone relic. Is anyone safe?
Grace Marsden fights the lure of a decades old mystery surrounding a circus wagon, a phantom lion, and human bones uncovered at a local zoo. But when a dead woman sends her a letter and a dead man ends up in her neighbors yard, she can't ignore the lion tamer and his tale. Legend, fact, or fantasy? Grace needs to find out fast before she becomes his current prey.
Read an Excerpt:
The message on my answering machine played simply enough. Nine single syllables that conveyed a volume of possibilities. I replayed the entreaty three times, "Grace, I need your help. Call me at home." Normally a call from Karen Kramer, my best friend, didn't send me into a state of confused hopefulness. Karen and I had met at Regina College more years ago than either of us admits to easily. Our friendship started for all the right reasons and remained steadfast through every crisis.
So with that said, why were my fingers fumbling with the replay button? Karen and I hadn't spoken to each other in three months. My mind raced from one plausible possibility to the next, in the few seconds it took Ameritech to spin their fiber optics and connect my call. It rang, once, twice. Maybe she wasn't home. As fast as my mind ran down the possibilities, my fingers flew over a length of yellow yarn tied to the telephone cord. I am obsessive-compulsive about some things. When I'm nervous I calm my jitters by braiding. Phone calls can bring unsettling news, ergo the braid on the cord. I twisted two previous cords into grotesque uselessness before I added the yarn. Three rings. My underarms tingled with the sudden release of sweat. "You have reached 555…" Thank God, I thought. Her machine picked up. I took a deep breath to calm my voice as the message continued and waited for the beep. "Karen, this is…"
"Grace, don't hang up. I'm here."
"Hello," was my tentative approach. I wasn't feeling brilliant.
"Thanks for calling back. I mean, I wasn't sure if you would."
"Sure I would. I'm surprised to hear from you…but happy."
A soft chuckle greeted my response.
"How are you?" I wondered if Karen heard the caution in my voice.
"It's still hard, without them, you know. I'm getting better. I've wanted to call you for awhile now, but I wasn't sure what to say." Her pause was so long; I felt I should say something soothing or conciliatory. Karen's voice filled the line before I could speak.
"Anyway, Hannah is in town for a few weeks. Of course, you know that. What I mean is, she said I should call."
This time I didn't wait for the pause. "I'm glad you did. I've missed you."
"Will you meet me at Braxton's?" Karen asked. "I want to see you."
"You bet. Name the time." I beamed at the receiver in my hand. We agreed on a time and I reminded Karen to exit south on Route 83 to get to the Oak Brook restaurant. She was lousy with directions.
"Thanks, Grace. We can catch up and I can tell you why I need your help."
"My help?" I had forgotten the message.
"Oh yeah," she answered. "This is right up your alley. A skeleton surfaced at Iroquois Lake at the zoo. See you at three o'clock."