Excerpt from The Month of The Leopard by James Harland, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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The Month of The Leopard

by James Harland

The Month of The Leopard by James Harland
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    Jun 2002, 352 pages

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One day, that would have to be done, he decided. He would have to see the man, to find out who he was and what he looked like. Another day, another time, he reflected. After all, there would plenty of empty hours to fill. Almost by accident, his hand brushed against the CD player, switching the machine to play. Noise, he thought. Any kind of noise would be better than this endless, empty silence.

The opening bars of a Julie London song started to hum through the room; a mellow, torched jazz, both sentimental and bitter at the same time. "Take care of everything/I'm leaving my wedding ring/Don't look for me, I'll get ahead/Remember darling, don't smoke in bed."

Tom listened, enjoying the lushness of the strings that soared on each successive upbeat, before a thought began to burrow forwards in his mind. He started to scan the shelves, looking for the CD cover. Pulling the box from pile, he glanced down at the listing. He was right: 'Don't Smoke in Bed' was track seven of the 1960 album 'Around Midnight'. If the disc just happened to be lying in the player, the last thing played, it would start at track one. He looked down at the machine. It had been programmed; track seven selected to run in a continuous loop as soon as anyone pressed play. The song had been deliberately chosen, for his ears only, to fill the room after she had departed. Maybe she was worried I might start smoking again, thought Tom. Even though it is more than two years now since I gave up.

Copyright James Harland, all rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced without written permission from the author or publisher, Simon & Schuster.

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