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BLOODLINE

Title: Bloodline

Series: Adventures of Constance Fairchild, 1

Author: Justin R. Smith

ISBN: 978-1-60975-241-5

Product Code: BK0160

Format: eBook

Release Date: 2018

 

 

Additional Formats Available:

This title is available in Hardcover as The Mills of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Jacket

 

I was twelve when I realized I was a ghost.”

 

So says Constance Fairchild, an eccentric poetess who is heiress to a fortune—and a girl who, from an early age, has believed that she had been reincarnated.

 

Orphaned at the age of 14, when her parents die under suspicious circumstances, she is sent to a boarding school in Switzerland, a country that had haunted her dreams. Here, she makes her first real friends and stumbles on clues to her past life.

 

When several of her friends die under suspicious circumstances, Constance has reason to believe that her legal guardian may be responsible. What possible motive could her guardian have? Searching desperately for the answer, Constance only uncovers further questions that convince her that she may be part of some grand conspiracy. Who keeps planting listening devices in her dorm room? Why were people following both her and her friends? Why did her dead grandfather require emails from him to contain an electronic signature that was lost when he died?

 

Spanning two lifetimes, this conspiracy—involving pieces of the puzzle that Constance must strive to unravel through her instinctive knowledge of virtual reality, cryptography, and the Internet—threatens to destroy everyone she knows and loves.

 

Pursued across Europe and New York, Constance searches for answers and tries to survive. With the help of her friends, she manages to expose the conspirators, turn their tools against them, and by the novel's end, she solves the greatest mystery of all: Her reason for being.

 


 

Book Excerpt

 

Prologue

 

 

 

“Damn!” he muttered, colliding with the front door. “They could have at least left a light on.” Is Raffles here? he thought. The place looks deserted.

The door opened, though, and a wizened Raffles led him into the darkened house.

“Pardon the mess,” Raffles said when they reached the study. “We’re painting and remodeling.”

Painters’ tarps covered the floor and a burly man in baggy white work clothes stood quietly in a corner.

How can they paint a house at night? he wondered. The only light is a desk lamp!

Casting a sidelong glance at the painter, he handed Raffles the bulging manila envelope.

“Excellent!” Raffles said. “It does everything you say it will?”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course! It wasn’t that difficult, actually. I’m a bit … embarrassed to accept $300,000 for such a tiny job. That’s more than two years salary

“Pocket change for me,” Raffles cut in. “As I explained before, the $300,000 is contingent upon confidentiality. You have maintained strict confidentiality, haven’t you?”

“Absolutely!” he said, relieved Raffles hadn’t asked whether copies of the report existed: He’d stupidly lost the original and had had to reprint it.

“I haven’t told anyone,” he added, “not even my wife. She doesn’t know I’m here.”

“I believe you,” Raffles murmured, switching off his hearing aid and nodding to the painter.

The painter produced a revolver.

“Is this some sort of joke…?”

His sentence ended with a gunshot.


 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

Lenin wrote that Zürich had the finest public library he’d ever seen. That odd piece of trivia kept running through my mind as I tried not to cry. It was as though focusing on it would bring order to my world would undo yesterday.

But, no I shut my eyes and relived it again.

 

*   *   *

 

It had happened two days after my birthday; I’d turned fourteen. I’d just come home from school and spotted two strange men in the living room, talking to Nanny.

One wore a policeman’s uniform and the other a gray suit. The man in the suit made notations in a tiny notebook and sniffled, as if he had a cold.

“That’s the daughter?” he said, glancing at me.

“Yes, that’s Constance Fairchild,” Nanny replied, nodding. “I’ll tell her.”

“Tell me what?”

Nanny shook her head and sobbed. Finally, she clutched me to herself so hard it hurt. When she released me, she said, “They’re both dead, my dear!”

“Who’s dead?” I asked, with a sickening feeling I knew whom she meant. “What are you talking about?”

“Why, your parents. There was a terrible accident on the van Wyck expressway.”

“En route to Kennedy Airport,” the man in the gray suit added without looking up from his notebook. “You sure she wouldn’t know why her parents were leaving the country?”

“They never told her anything, Mr. Richards,” Nanny replied. “Last year, Mr. and Mrs. Fairchild spent Christmas in Paris without telling anyone except me.

“They didn’t take her with them?” Detective Richards said.

“No,” Nanny replied. “On Christmas day she had to ask me where they were.”

“And this time they didn’t even tell you?”

“Right.”

“Hm About 10:30,” Detective Richards murmured, flipping through his notebook. “Mrs. Fairchild shows up at the office something she never did before. Mr. Fairchild leaves a meeting, telling them he’ll just be a minute. And the two head for the airport. Any idea why they’d do that?”

“I wouldn’t know,” Nanny replied. “They never confided in me or Constance.”

 

*   *   *

 

“You haven’t touched your dinner,” a flight attendant said. “Was there anything wrong with it?”

“No,” I replied, handing him the tray.

I used the restroom and returned to my seat, grateful I had the row to myself.

The cabin-lights dimmed.

 

*   *   *

 

After they told me of my parents’ deaths, I ran to my room. Nanny followed, asking whether I wanted a sedative. Although I'd always refused them before, I accepted one. I slipped into a dreamless sleep, not even changing out of my school uniform.

I slept until eight, when Nanny roused me.

“Wake up honey. It's time for dinner. And there are some very important people for you to meet.”

“Important people?”

“Yes, my dear. Everything will be explained to you.”

In a daze, I staggered into the bathroom and washed my face. Defiantly refusing to dress for dinner, I plodded into the dining room.

A single place was set, at the head of the table. For me, alone. I'd usually dined with my Nanny or Mother, at least. I ate without a word, without tasting the food.

When I finished, I quietly pushed my chair back, stood, and walked into the living room.

Two strangers occupied the couch, talking a man and a woman. The man discussed severance pay with Nanny, who looked up at me, awkwardly. The woman stood and introduced herself.

“I’m Joyce Mantell, personal legal adviser to your father,” she said, flashing me the kind of pained smile from which torn and bleeding animals are removed each night.

I nodded.

“We must all be strong at times like these,” she continued.

“Did they suffer?”

“Suffer? What are you talking about?”

“My parents. Did they suffer?”

“No! No!” Ms. Mantell said. “Death was instantaneous.”

“I’m glad they didn’t suffer.”

“The important thing now is that you don’t suffer. Other children’s lives might be destroyed by a tragedy like this, but you’re a Fairchild. And your grandfather will not allow you to go wanting.”

I said nothing.

“We’ve been discussing your future,” Ms. Mantell continued. “We, I mean, myself, your grandfather, and your Aunt Augusta, feel you should go away to a boarding school. A place where you can meet other girls your age. And your grandfather has spared no expense. Nothing but the best for a Fairchild!”

I just stared at the woman, and she became more nervous.

Coming to her rescue, Nanny hugged me and said, “Constance, dear. They felt it would be best if you had a change of scenery.”

“It’s one of the most exclusive schools in the world,” Ms. Mantell added. “We all want what’s best for you.”

“Call me Connie,” I said to Nanny.

“Okay, Connie. You may call me Sylvia.”

“What a bizarre child!” Ms. Mantell whispered to the man. “Like a creature from another planet!”

“She’s perfect!”

 

*   *   *

 

I thought of the life I’d lost and the people I’d never see again.

Marge was a tall, thin woman with a wonderful laugh. Her delightful way of talking always lifted my spirits.

“Girl, she looked like a smacked ass!” she said once I’d overheard her talking on the phone. No doubt I looked the same. I felt it.

Nanny Sylvia was a sweet, middle-aged Irish woman with wire-framed glasses and chestnut hair. She was the last in a long succession of nannies.

Years ago, I made the mistake of calling nannies I liked ‘Mom’ thinking or hoping they were. And Mother fired them.

I learned to keep loved ones by keeping my distance.

As a teenager, I no longer needed much supervision. Sylvia was my companion at dinner, though, and during my book-hunts in the city. She called me “her little professor.”

Father was an imposing man of few words who wore a suit except at formal events, when he wore a tuxedo. One felt he wore a suit to bed. I’d been in awe of him.

Mother was beautiful and voluptuous. She'd given up an acting and modeling career to marry Father. I could almost smell her perfume and hear her telling Marge what to cook for dinner.

My parents spent a great deal of time planning and attending parties and receptions.

Mother had always complained that her pregnancy with me ruined her social season in 2000. “The sort of season,” she’d add, “that comes but once in a lifetime.”

Were they ashamed of me?

She and Father spent a great deal of time planning and attending parties and receptions. When they held soirees in our home, they usually asked me to stay in my room.

In their lives, I was as out of place as the picture on my bedroom wall: Hieronymous Bosch's Hay Wain. It critiqued the peasant saying, “Life is a wagon of hay, and we run after it grabbing as much as we can get.”

The painting's central section depicts a mob chasing a hay wagon. Women prostitute themselves for the hay and men kill. At that section’s right edge, people mutate into the animals they’d behaved like. And at the right section, they enter the gates of Hell.

On the rare occasions she entered my room, Mother called it “That disgusting thing!” Did she see herself in the Hell-bound mob?

Mother said it was unnatural for a young girl to spend all her time writing poetry and reading books on philosophy, history, and the sciences. She said there was something terribly wrong with a girl whose favorite books were The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

I was twelve when I realized I was a ghost.

In my quieter moments, vivid impressions or conversations had run through the back of my mind, too fast to capture, like half-forgotten dreams. Or, I’d been haunted by intense but undefined moods or images, and recurring nightmares I barely remembered.

When, at the age of twelve, I read Stevenson's monograph Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation I knew.

When I confided this to my nanny at the time, Mother sent me to a psychiatrist. I told him what he wanted to hear, once I figured out what that was. Afterwards, I kept my secrets to myself.

Would my parents have learned to love me? Would they ever have been proud of me?

“It’s too late,” I sobbed. “I’ll never know.”

They were my biological link to the rest of humanity, tenuous though that link had been. They loved me once. They must have, although no written records from that era survived. And I must have loved them. I was crying for the family we could have been and, now, would never be. And, perhaps, I was crying for myself.

My former life had ended, and I faced a dark and uncanny future.

I rested my head against the pitch-black window.

 

*   *   *

 

At some point I must have fallen asleep, because I was startled by bright sunlight shining in my eyes. The captain announced we were crossing the Irish coast.

I looked outside.

A low-lying fog clung to the ocean like a translucent white film, and a gray, rocky crag stood in the midst of the water, guarding a mist-shrouded coastline.

I’d never been to Europe. It looked like a ghost-continent. Perhaps it was fitting that I, a ghost, was traveling there.

The captain announced it would be another forty-five minutes to Zürich.

“I gave you some extra muffins,” the flight attendant said, setting up my breakfast tray. I thanked him and devoured the food.

I examined the travel plans Mantell had scribbled on a yellow legal pad. Below them, she’d added, “The Lucerne Academy for Girls is one of the most exclusive schools in the world. So, behave in a manner befitting a Fairchild. And, last but not least, remember to have fun!”

I fingered the passport in my purse. Shipping me off to Switzerland might have been my parents’ idea, and the others were following through with it. Mother had taken me to a photographer a month ago.

Six months ago, she’d asked me where I’d go, if I could go anywhere I wanted in Europe. She’d popped this question out of the blue one evening, at dinner. And, I’d all but shouted “Switzerland!” surprising even myself. The subject of travel was dropped and forgotten.

Father had made periodic business trips to Zürich I’d overheard my parents discussing them. And, for years, I’d been haunted by recurring dreams and nightmares about Switzerland.

Was that why I blurted out ‘Switzerland’?

I found a blank sheet of the legal pad and wrote a poem:

 

My palette is times and places,
Familiar and unfamiliar faces.
Searching unseen futures’ cast,
For a fruitful life’s rich repast.
For moments strung like diamond beads,
On a necklace of pregnant deeds.
Within each bead lies a future curled:
Unseen seed of a seedling world.

 

The plane began its final approach, and I caught a glimpse of snowcapped mountains and a large body of water. Then we were on the ground.


Book Reviews (From print - The Mills of God)

 

Review by: Mary Simmons, Book Pleasures

Combining corporate espionage, intrigue and murder with poetry, art and the enduring strength of the human soul, 'The Mills of God' is a pleasure to read.

Justin Smith's suspenseful tale is woven around the theme of reincarnation and the nature of corruption. Clever, witty and at times shocking, the novel is set in the not-too-distant future and enters the world of the rich and powerful through the eyes of a teenaged girl who remembers her former life as a middle-aged male.

The novel offers a unique perspective into the world of the protagonist, Constance Fairchild, who is the reincarnation of Richard Steele. Smith engages the reader in the life of a girl who has never really lived her life until her parents die and she is transported from her secluded life in New York to a boarding school in Switzerland, where she meets Monika, who becomes her roommate and best friend. Through Monika, she begins to experience life and meet new people who play pivotal roles in the ensuing chapters. For the first time, Constance can free herself and discover both who she is and who she was in her past life as Richard Steele.

But there is more to this story than the theme of reincarnation. Smith draws us into a mysterious plot of deception, money, corruption and murder, which keeps us turning those pages until we come to the awaited climax. Constance is a poet and through her poetry we get a rare glimpse into her inner world. Lyrical and moving, the poetry elaborates on the themes of the novel.

The novel questions the nature of the soul, and in doing so, makes us question our own beliefs. In examining the soul, Smith also explores the meaning of life, coming to the conclusion that every life is part of a "living tapestry, an artwork of indescribable beauty."

Delving into such big questions can be a daunting task and not every writer is up to that task. It can easily become a sermon or a moral commentary on the world, and although there are aspects of this in 'The Mills of God,' Smith never allows it to be overpowering. It is all beautifully interwoven into the story of this young woman who is fighting to survive while still aware that her physical death will not kill her spirit. While urging us to question our own spiritual beliefs, 'The Mills of God' remains an entertaining read full of lyrical language.


 

Review by: Eva M. Thury,  coauthor of Introduction to Mythology: Contemporary Approaches to Classical and World Myths (Oxford University Press), Assoc. Professor of English, Drexel University

Like the stories of mythology, Justin R. Smith's The Mills of God immerses the reader in the timeless issues of human striving in the face of the implacable forces of the universe. The heroine, Constance Fairchild is an innocent child and a poet, but she is also the reincarnation of Richard Steele, a cutting-edge mathematician who may have died under mysterious circumstances. Her terrifying journey sends her traveling across Europe and takes her into the world of modern art as well as into the realm of computers serving as tools for the most malicious kind of identity theft. You are swept along with Constance as she struggles to escape annihilation through navigating the mysterious labyrinth built by the wiles of big business at its most malevolent. I could not put this book down until I finished it. I can hardly wait for the sequel.


 

Review by: Araminta Matthews, Front Street Reviews

The Mills of God uses Juxtapose

with the same deft skill as

(Dan) Brown or (Stephen) King

 

Some of the best mystery novels juxtapose tricky concepts seamlessly with both real life scenarios and great characterization.  Dan Brown's famous book, The Da Vinci Code juxtaposes cryptic messages and fine art with thievery and vanity as readers dissect codes and begin to look at Da Vinci's paintings in a new way.  While primarily a horror novelist, Stephen King has juxtaposed everything from complex viral strains to real estate management in his novels.  The Mills of God does just exactly that with the same deft skill as Brown or King.  Smith's story weaves together new age concepts of dream analysis and reincarnation with the luxuriously described settings of Germany, Switzerland, England, and the United States, as well as with computer programming and mathematical coding.  On top of all of this, the story is flooded with rhythmic, rhyming poetry in the voice of its main character that is both engaging and illuminating all at once.

The story follows a young girl and genius, Constance Fairchild, on the cusp of womanhood.  After being orphaned by her parents, her billionaire grandfather charges a cold and plotting woman to arrange her care.  Constance, called Stanzi and Connie by friends, is shipped off to a school in Switzerland to live out her teen years; but after she settles in, strange things begin to happen.  Her room is tossed and bugged by mysterious villains, she and her roommate find themselves followed almost everywhere they go, and people around her keep dying.

While the story moves at a smooth tempo – for the most part – and most of the characters are believable and engaging, there was much about Constance Fairchild that didn't ring true for a youthful girl – even a genius youthful girl. Her dialogue, her actions, her interpretations, and her relations are definitely not those of a girl her age.  At the same time, her age was rarely a difficulty.  The novel was engaging enough that this blatant discrepancy was rarely given any thought.  In other words, the book was good.   

I would say that I read this book in one sitting, but in fairness, it took me two.  Neglecting my vocational tasks, I opted to settle into my reading chair to plough through The Mills of God, and I was glad that I did.  Smith is a writer skilled at his craft.


 

Review by: Barbara McDuffie, Breeni Books

An Original Thriller that Moves Between

Two Time Periods Blending Reincarnation and Modern High Tech

 

Constance Fairchild is the daughter of often absent and always emotionally remote parents. She has spoken with her grandfather, E. Rupert Fairchild III, but has never met him in person. She is also the sole heir to an unbelievably vast fortune he has amassed through sometimes unscrupulous means. Rupert Fairchild has a reputation as a ruthless businessman with a “take no prisoners” attitude.

Two days after her fourteenth birthday, Constance is told that her parents were killed in an automobile accident. Later that same day she is introduced to Joyce Mantell, who was her father’s personal legal advisor. Ms. Mantell informs Connie that her grandfather has decided that she should be sent to an exclusive boarding school in Switzerland and she is hustled onto a plane directly following her parents funeral. Her roommate at the Academy is Monika von Sachsen-Coburg who becomes Connie’s first real friend.

Monika promptly “renames” her new friend Stanzi and introduces her to the world of teenage girls, including shopping malls and boys. But Constance is not an average fourteen year old. She enjoys classical music, studies the great Philosophers and writes poetry. She teaches herself advanced mathematics, cryptography, and computer technology simply by studying basic information on the subjects. Connie believes she is able to learn these skills so easily due to knowledge carried over from a former life. With Monika’s help, she sets out to prove she is a reincarnation of a man named Richard Steele.

Shortly after the death of Connie’s parents, her grandfather also dies and leaves her the family fortune. Joyce Mantell becomes her legal guardian until Constance turns eighteen.

Then several of her friends die under mysterious circumstances and Connie believes Mantell is responsible. She begins to investigate and realizes she will also become one of Mantell’s victims if she is not able to prove her suspicions.

Justin Smith has written a thriller that moves between two time periods and eventually weaves them together. It seemed to move a little slowly through the first half, but this was probably necessary to lay down the groundwork for the intricate storyline. But overall I enjoyed The Mills of God and I give Smith much credit for devising an original idea for a novel. It was interesting to see the ancient concept of reincarnation involved in a modern high-tech plot.


 

Review by: Daniel Eskridge, Galactium

An Intriguing Read that will keep

the Reader Engaged and Introspective

 

Constance Fairchild loses her parents when she is 14. With only a few distant relatives surviving, including her enormously wealthy and mysterious grandfather, she is sent to a boarding school in Lucerne. Soon after, she determines that the strange visions that she sees are memories of a previous life. In deed, she even finds hard proof that she was a computer security consultant that died shortly before she was born.

Constance's life at the school is far from normal. Someone is bugging her room, and she's being followed. Soon, to make matters worse, her acquaintances and friends start turning up dead. It's up to her and knowledge remembered from her former life to figure out just what is going on.

Smith writes well for a first time Novelist. The style is straight forward and easy to follow, while the first person point of view makes it easy to sympathize with the protagonist. The pace is a bit slow at first as Constance adjusts to her life at the school in Lucerne, but it picks up in the second half.

One issue I had was that the reincarnation theme really only impacts the plot at the beginning and end. It's kind of forgotten through the majority of the novel where it seems to do little more than to serve as a reason for Constance to philosophize.

I was also a little bit disappointed at the climax when the two main antagonists meet their resolution "off stage", so to speak. Rather than being seen or experienced by the protagonist, their plot outcomes are merely discussed in retrospect.

Mills has suspense to spare and the mystery is not one you're likely to guess to soon. There is also a good helping of poetry sprinkled in to spice things up. The Mills of God is an intriguing read whose suspense, philosophy and speculative aspects will keep the reader engaged and introspective.


Review by: Mistar Fish, Mistarfish.blogspot.com

Full of Mysterious Death and

Disappearances that will keep you turning!

 

The Mills of God is an interesting story because of the setting and the way people behave. The main character, Stanzi is lonely and kept to herself. She is not anti-social or shy, but simply misunderstood.

 

Stanzi is not the ordinary teenage girl that everyone hangs out with. Perhaps that's not what you would expect a teenager to be, mature and humble. Stanzi lost both of her parents but that really isn't the sad part. Her parents never really treasured her, in fact they neglected her and that made her feel like a ghost. It's heartbreaking to read but yet intriguing because of her mysterious family and life. Stanzi is hurtled into mysterious death surrounding her friends and family. She isolates herself so that she could keep her loved ones safe.

 

This book is full of mysterious deaths and disappearances and will keep you turning!


Review by: Sam Leonardi, Sammygadgetreviewblog.wordpress.com

Once I Started this Book,

I Felt Like I Could not Put it Down!

 

Great, easy read. I love a hard cover book. No e-readers for me! A very good read. I really enjoyed this author and depth of this book. I thought it was extremely well written and the font and font size were perfect. Once I started this book, I felt like I could not put it down! I needed to know what happened! I really enjoyed this author, Justin R. Smith, and can't wait to read more of Silver Leaf's Books! I recommend this book if you are interested in suspense, action, and technology. I thought that the overall plot of this book was very clear and I was never confused about what was going on.

 

 
 

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