I took some time to think.
"All right," I said. "Look. Perhaps this isn't such a bad thing."
"It isn't?" Sissi was sizzling like pork in deep fat.
Of course I was lying. I was as upset as any of them but I had to put some temporary repair work into my family.
"No. Look, we all know this house needs a lot of work," I said with a knowing look on my uncertain face. "The roof leaks even when it isn't raining and we've got a world of termites. We could use the money from the sale of this place to find somewhere better..." Out of the corner of my eye I could see Arny shaking his head. I thought if I ignored him the gesture would go away. "Perhaps a little out of town, a short commute. We could even have a little yard with - "
Sissi let forth with that haughty laugh she'd learned from her TV soap.
"Oh ho. But you haven't yet heard the best part," she said. "There's more to it. The move is already taken care of, little sister."
"I don't get it," I admitted.
"The money I got from selling this old place I've invested in a lovely resort hotel in the south." Mair beamed with pride. "We'll all have such a lovely time. It really is a dream come true."
It was the type of dream you have after eating spicy hor mook and sticky rice directly before you go to bed. I could feel the knot. The south? They were blowing each other up in the south. Everyone was fleeing north and we were supposed to go south?
"How far south?" I asked.
"Quite far," she said.
Excerpted from Killed at the Whim of a Hat by Colin Cotterill. Copyright © 2011 by Colin Cotterill. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Minotaur. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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