Excerpt from The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Big Steal

by Emyl Jenkins

The Big Steal
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Jul 2009, 352 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

I shivered, partly from the biting cold, and partly from my unexplainable, but very real, queasy feelings about the whole situation. I tried telling myself that damp, creepy old houses, especially those set back in dark country woods, can give off eerie vibes. I thought of Hansel and Gretel. Remembering my childish fright I chuckled. Why, it was nothing more than Wynderly itself that was giving me the sense that something was amiss.

Feeling better, I stared hard at the photograph of Mazie and Hoyt as if hoping it would speak to me.

We can never go back again, that much is certain, Mother had told me the day we closed up her home, some months after my father died.

Trying to make light of the heartbreaking moment, I had said, "I think Daphne du Maurier said it first, Mother. In Rebecca."

I tried to imagine Hoyt and Mazie's lives during that time when ladies wore picture hats to tea parties and gentlemen dressed for dinner. What dreams they must have dreamed as they watched their house rise from its stone foundation to its magnificent completion. And all the stuff in it? Chances were the Wyndfields, like scores of my clients, had simply met up with a few fast-talking antiques wheeler-dealers and fallen for their spiels.

I kept thinking about those Tang horses. Add in Michelle Hendrix's puzzling demeanor and the eerie aura surrounding the house . . . In no time, uneasy feelings had crept back into my head. What I needed was a delete button in my brain like the one on my computer.

Get a grip, Sterling, I told myself. This isn't one of those novels about art theft or jewelry heists; this is life. Real life.

I'd been bent over so long, I needed to get my circulation going again—to clear my mind, if nothing else. I stood, only to stumble over a raised beam that blended into the pine floor's shadowy grain. I lurched forward and instinctively reached out to grab something before I hit the wall in front of me. A tower of boxes moved under my momentum, and together we landed in a heap on the floor.

The plank beneath my feet had moved, or at least that's the way it felt. Instead of falling forward, my body twisted and first my hip, then my shoulder, took the impact of the fall.

The faint lightbulb dangling from the attic ceiling had flickered, then gone out when I fell. A small casement window was nearby, but afternoon clouds had settled in. Crawling forward, I mentally kicked myself for not bringing in the flashlight I kept in my car for just such situations.

No question about it. One of the wide floorboards had sunk at least half, maybe even three-quarters of an inch below the boards on each side of it. I patted the floor around me. My hand hit an obstruction. The beam I had stumbled over was definitely jutting up through the floor. It was probably part of a high-vaulted ceiling I'd seen on my tour of the house.

I pushed on the sunken board in hopes it might pop back in place. When I did, the wall I had barely avoided hitting head-on creaked ever so slightly. My hands went wet and my throat dry. I swallowed hard and pressed the board again, harder this time. There was no mistaking the connection between the movement of the displaced piece of flooring and the low creaking coming from what looked like just another wall—except it was paneled, not unfinished the way other parts of the attic were. Maybe the plan had been to build a closet or a maid's room, but they never got around to doing it. As my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I set about restacking the fallen boxes, one of which had broken open. Strewn across the floor were sheets of dry onionskin paper held together by rusty paper clips and straight pins. Official-looking ledger pages were mixed in with handwritten receipts, as were several small books.

Enough late afternoon light was trickling through the windows so I could make out the larger lettering on some of the receipts. I gathered a handful and began sifting through them. "Société anonyme au capital de 250.000 Francs. Invoice. Nürnberg. American Consulate. Hong Kong. Customs Broker. Saaz."

Excerpted from The Big Steal by Emyl Jenkins. Copyright © 2009 by Emyl Jenkins. Excerpted by permission of Algonquin Books, a division of Workman Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.