Tom Austen and his sister Liz shiver with excitement when they arrive at Casa Loma, a castle right in the heart of downtown Toronto - one with a mystery to solve and a lost treasure to find. Sir Nigel Brampton, the millionaire owner of Casa Loma, has disappeared, and the police believe he has been kidnapped by thieves who are after the priceless diamonds that lie hidden somewhere in the castle.
Who is behind Sir Nigel's strange disappearance? Is it Smythe, the butler? Or Irene, the pretty maid Tom catches snooping in Sir Nigel's room? And what about the sinister blacksmith in the stables?
There are plenty of suspects to keep readers guessing right to the end of this fast-paced detective thriller.
'We fear it was murder.'
The butler's gloomy face was lit by a flash of lightning from the storm outside. 'But please come in. Mr Winter will tell you all the details about Sir Nigel's disappearance.'
Tom shivered with excitement as he stepped into Casa Loma, a castle in the heart of Toronto. He put down his suitcase and followed his sister Liz and their Uncle Henry to the castle's Great Hall.
A log fire roared, throwing an orange light on suits of armour and crossed lances on the walls.
'Welcome to Toronto, Mr Austen.' A handsome dark-haired man came forward. 'I'm Vince Winter, a close friend of Sir Nigel's.'
After the introductions were over, Uncle Henry went to the enormous fireplace to warm his hands. 'This is a sad occasion. I was very fond of Sir Nigel.'
Vince looked thoughtfully into the flames. 'We don't know that he's actually dead.'
'I'll tell you in just a minute. First, if I may, let me introduce Sir Nigel's private secretary.'
A young woman in a wheelchair came across the Great Hall toward them. 'I'm Tia Nightingale, Mr Austen.'
'Please, Tia, first names only.'
She smiled. 'That's a nice idea. But you may get objections from the new butler, Smythe. He's only been at Casa Loma a few days, and seems a bit stuffy.'
Tom glanced toward a distant corner of the Great Hall, where the butler stood under a carving of an evil-eyed jester. Had he heard what Tia had said?
Vince motioned to Smythe. 'Sherry, please, and Cokes for Tom and Liz.'
'Very good, sir.'
Vince led Uncle Henry through a doorway. 'This is the library. Let's have our sherry in here, while I tell you as much as I know about what happened to Sir Nigel.'
Smythe appeared with a silver tray, and passed around the drinks. Tia sipped hers cautiously, then nodded. 'I'm pleased this is actually sherry. Yesterday Smythe served us brandy by mistake.'
Tom thanked the butler for his Coke, and accepted a tiny sandwich served by a pretty maid. Then he waited impatiently for details of Sir Nigel's mysterious disappearance, which had brought Uncle Henry to Casa Loma. He and Liz had been staying with their uncle when the news had arrived, and had been excited by the prospect of accompanying him to Toronto.
But, before anyone could speak, a thin man of about sixty came into the library and approached Uncle Henry. 'May we have a word in private, Mr Austen?'
'We don't have any secrets out West, where I come from. Please speak your piece.'
The thin man swallowed nervously, and glanced toward Smythe. 'My name is Hatfield, and I am Sir Nigel's valet. I have been in his service for many years now. Is it correct you are taking over Casa Loma?'
Uncle Henry nodded, and his glasses caught the light. 'Sir Nigel is my cousin. If he can't be found, I shall inherit the castle.'
'Then, sir, I must warn you something is terribly wrong here! Some of the new servants, including Smythe, don't even know their jobs. But it's the stables I must tell you about. I . . .’
At that moment the lights went out. Startled cries sounded in the room, then Smythe's reassuring voice was heard.
'The storm must have blown down the power lines,' he said. 'I'll fetch some candles.'
Suffocating darkness filled the library, and Tom's nerves prickled with tension as the minutes passed. Why was Smythe taking so long?
At last a match flared into life and the yellow light of several candles cut the darkness, revealing the shadowed faces of the assembled company.
'Well, Hatfield?' Uncle Henry said, looking around for the valet. 'What were you saying?'
'He's not here, Unc,' Liz said.
'But where has he gone?'
'Let's not worry about Hatfield now,' Vince said. 'I was just about to tell you what happened to Sir Nigel. Come along, and I'll show you the room where he disappeared.’ Picking up a candlestick, he led the way to a long dark hallway. 'This is called Peacock Alley. Over here is the door to Sir Nigel's study. Nothing in it has been moved since he disappeared.'
Opening the door, Vince stepped into the study. Then he gasped. 'Oh no! It can't be!’
The horror in his voice made Tom's hair stand on end. Stepping closer, he looked into the study. Sprawled on the floor, the twisted features of his face yellow in the candlelight, was Hatfield.
Who Seems to Have Murdered Hatfield and Did They Kidnap Sir Nige
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Back to the list of Eric's books Back to Eric's Home Page THE LOST TREASURE OF CASA LOMA. 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.