The leaders of the world's superpowers have agreed to meet in Quebec City to put an end to chemical weapons - but powerful forces will stop at nothing to prevent the agreement from being signed. From the first chilling page, Cold Midnight in Vieux Quebec is filled with gripping suspense as Tom Austen and Dietmar Oban explore the ancient, mysterious streets of Vieux Quebec in quest of world peace.
"Young readers have been panting for this latest story . . . Eric Wilson's fast-paced, simple vocabulary style and cliff-hanger chapter endings are an undeniable success."
Tom Austen leaned into a cold wind.
He was in Baie St-Paul, a small town in rural Quebec. It was night-time, and snow gusted down a street that seemed hundreds of years old. Wooden houses with big porches stood along the winding road, their yards full of trees with bare branches.
But one thing didn’t fit. A small, white car had just passed Tom, its wheels crunching along the icy street. The car windows were smokey-black, hiding the occupants, and there was an aerial for a cellular phone.
The car slowed as it passed Tom. He could sense eyes staring at him, then the car moved away. At the same time, Tom saw a woman in a red ski jacket and jeans coming out of the night, walking towards a telephone booth. Again, the car slowed down while passing her, then crossed a small bridge and stopped at a gas station that was closed for the night. The headlights went off and the car became something that was watching.
The woman didn’t seem to notice. She dropped her cigarette in the snow, took out a slip of paper, then punched at the phone buttons. As Tom passed the booth, heading into the confectionary beside it, he could hear her speaking.
“Listen . . .” Her voice was determined. “I gave you twelve hours to agree to an interview. You haven’t come through. No interview, so now I break the story. Your name is about to be mud.”
Tom glanced at the woman as he entered the store. She was about forty-five, with a narrow face and small eyes behind thick horn-rimmed glasses. A lighter flared in her hand as she lit another cigarette, then she squinted against the smoke, listening intently to the person she’d called.
The air inside the store was warm. A man with a grey moustache and a friendly smile was behind the counter, watching television. The store was exactly like the one near Tom’s house in Winnipeg, but most things were in French. His first evening in Baie St-Paul he’d wandered up and down the aisles, homesick, staring at the English side of the labels on toothpaste packages. Then he’d enjoyed a few games on the store’s video machine and felt better.
The man smiled at him. “He bien, Pee Wee. C’etait vraiment un bon match, hier soir!”
Tom mumbled a reply, unable to follow the man’s quick French. He was crazy about hockey, and had been in the stands for both exhibition games between Winnipeg and the local Pee Wee team, whose coach was a friend of Tom’s coach. Winnipeg was playing exhibition games here before competing in Quebec City’s famous Pee Wee tournament. Teams from all over North America and as far away as Japan and Russia would be playing.
Headlights glared against the store windows. Tom looked up the street and saw the white car moving away from the gas station. It crossed the bridge over a small, frozen stream. The street was empty.
The woman in the phone booth was still talking, her breath clouding in the cold air. She didn’t seem to notice the approaching car.
This time the driver’s window was down. He looked about twenty-five, with sallow skin and black hair pulled back into a ponytail. Under his left eye was the tattoo of a dagger. The skin around the tattoo was red and looked sore.
In the passenger seat was a woman, but she was difficult to see in the car’s dark interior. Tom had an impression of blond hair and unusually large eyes. Then he saw the driver lifting a fisted hand to his mouth. Tom thought the man was about to cough, but he saw that the fist was curled around a small tube. It was aimed at the woman talking in the phone booth.
Tom saw her wince. As the car sped away down the street she lifted a hand to her neck. “Sir,” Tom said to the man. “Monsieur . . . uh . . . help! Something’s wrong out there! Please, call the police.”
“Oui! Yes - hurry!”
Tom rushed outside. The cold wind cut through him, and even the toque and gloves he wore didn’t help warm him. In the phone booth the woman was staring at a small silver dart.
“Strange,” she said, as Tom approached. “This thing hit me in the neck.” She flicked the dart away into the snow. “Some kid must have been fooling around with an air rifle.”
“No,” Tom exclaimed. “It was a man. He was watching you from his car, then he shot you with that dart.”
“The woman looked up and down the street, then at Tom. “Are you certain that’s what happened?”
“What did the guy look like?”
“Well, kind of a dark complexion. He had a ponytail, and a dagger tattooed under his eye. There was a woman with him. The car’s licence plate was hidden behind some snow, but I saw an aerial for a cellular phone. I thought maybe they were talking to you.”
“No, I was speaking to . . .” She touched her forehead. “All of a sudden I’ve got an awful headache.” She looked at the phone. “My call. I . . .” Reaching for the receiver, she swayed to one side and had to steady herself with a hand. Shaking her head, she looked at Tom. Her eyes seemed cloudy.
“Where . . .?” Again she shook her head. “Once I was in a city, somewhere . . . I remember the sky, how . . .” She put a hand to her forehead, and then her knees gave out and she fell.
Tom gasped in shock. She was dead.
Why Did The Mysterious Man And Woman Kill The Lady In The Phone Booth? Tom Austen Wants To Know! Do You? To Find Out You'll Have To Read Cold Midnight in Vieux Quebec.
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Back to the list of Eric's books Back to Eric's Home Page COLD MIDNIGHT IN VIEUX QUEBEC. Copyright 2012 by Eric Hamilton WilsonAll rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced inany manner whatsoever without prior written permission except in thecase of brief quotations embodied in reviews.