Excerpt from Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

Three Weeks in December

by Audrey Schulman

Three Weeks in December
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • Paperback:
    Jan 2012, 353 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

"Why, they're Arabs," said the purser surprised. "They'll be fine, sir. Like camels, they are. Be able to deal without water much longer than you or I could."

Pausing, the purser leaned forward to add confidentially, "You know, those people still buy and sell slaves in this day and age. That boat could be heading into port to pick up part of a caravan and auction them off in Persia." He shook his head. "Inhuman what they do."

Jeremy threw one last look astern at the dhow getting smaller in the distance, bouncing in the steamer's wake. Three of the men had struggled up into a sitting position, turned to watch the boat steam away. The distance made it impossible to see their expressions.

DECEMBER 7, 2000


The moment the two of them stepped into her office, she didn't like their smell. The younger one reeked of cigarette smoke, as well as an over-reliance on hair gel. He said his name was Stevens, head of R&D, and he didn't wait to find out if she would hold out her hand for a handshake, but instead he picked her hand up from her side in order to shake it. Eye contact was something he could manage all day.

The older one was called Roswell. Wafting along with him came the essential oils of lavender and lemongrass - aromatherapy = unexpected from the CEO of a pharmaceutical. Since Stevens was still busily pumping her hand up and down, he just nodded to her.

Max stepped back as soon as she could. Took away her hand, rubbed it on her hip. "Yes?" she asked, sitting down behind the safety of her desk.

"As we said over the phone, we have a job proposal we think you might be interested in." Stevens's voice was rich and emotive, the kind a morning-talk-show host might have. She cocked her head, listening, but kept her eyes directed down toward her papers. She could listen better without the distraction of faces, especially those of strangers.

She strongly doubted this job proposal would be realistic. Just three years ago, Genzyme had four separate expeditions out in the field; Sanofi had two. Now there was nothing. Still she had to listen. Her postdoc ended in a month. The only offers she'd gotten had come from the fragrance industry.

These men, however, seemed serious. From the edge of her eyes she could see them lean toward her in their chairs: big men, ruddy skin, the sheen of expensive clothing, their hands clasped in front of them in a position reminiscent of prayer. On the phone, making the appointment, Stevens had said they were flying in from Denver just to talk to her.

This pause was too long. It must be her turn to talk. She still sometimes had difficulty with the rhythm of conversation, understanding what was required.

"Yes," she said, "Go ahead."

Stevens ran his hand over his tie, smoothing it down. Maybe he'd thought she was about to refuse even to hear the proposal. The combination of her height and averted gaze could make her seem haughty. He skipped over the pleasantries.

"Three weeks ago a rather battered envelope arrived in the mail, addressed to a chemist in our labs. Inside was a vine. Not much of a sample, three, maybe four ounces. Badly preserved and wilted. Still the chemist gave it to her lab tech to run a crude extract." He angled his head a bit, trying to get his face closer to the path of her vision, preferring to look into a person's eyes. She was surprised he didn't work in sales.

Roswell's voice was flatter, more factual. He was the CEO, didn't have to charm anyone. He cut to the point. "The extract contained five times the beta-blockers of anything known to science." At this, her eyes jumped, involuntary. The two of them. Heavy faces, manicured hair. Human eyes. Like touching an electric fence. The glittering shock.

She turned away, to the window, to the oak outside. On the wall behind her, the clock whined and thunked.

Excerpted from Three Weeks in December by Audrey Schulman. Copyright © 2012 by Audrey Schulman. Excerpted by permission of Europa Editions. 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!

Beyond the Book:
  Mountain Gorillas of Africa

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • 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 Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
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

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

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

    Read Member Reviews

  • 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

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.