Table of Contents
Richard Jury Novels
The Man with a Load of Mischief
The Old Fox Deceived
The Anodyne Necklace
The Dirty Duck
Help the Poor Struggler
The Deer Leap
I Am the Only Running Footman
The Five Bells and Bladebone
The Old Silent
The Old Contemptibles
The Horse You Came in On
The Case Has Altered
The Lamorna Wink
The Blue Last
The Grave Maurice
Other Works by Martha Grimes
The End of the Pier
Biting the Moon
A Train Now Departing
Cold Flat Junction
Published by the Penguin Group
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First published in 2003 by Viking Penguin,
a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © Martha Grimes, 2003 All rights reserved
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Foul matter / Martha Grimes.
eISBN : 978-1-101-10014-1
1. Publishers and publishing—Fiction. 2. New York (N.Y.)—Fiction. 3. Literary agents—Fiction. 4. Organized crime—Fiction. 5. Novelists—Fiction. I. Title.
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who’s been there, but didn’t do that. (Bless him.)
No dark and evil story of the dead
Would leave you less pernicious or less fair—
Not even Lilith, with her famous hair;
And Lilith was the devil, I have read.
I cannot hate you, for I loved you then.
The woods were golden then. There was a road
Through beeches; and I said their smooth feet showed
Like yours. Truth must have heard me from afar,
For I shall never have to learn again
That yours are cloven as no beech’s are.
—Edwin Arlington Robinson, “Another Dark Lady”
When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the line of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy’s been swinging them.
—Robert Frost, “Birches”
“Have no attachments. Allow nothing to be in your life
that you cannot walk out on in thirty seconds flat
if you spot the heat around the corner.”
—Robert De Niro,
A FRIEND OF LONG STANDING
aul Giverney aimed a paper airplane at the window of his small office (“off. bdrm 3” in the rental ad) and watched it nose-dive to the floor. The Giverneys’ apartment was in the East Village, not quite as trendy as the Village itself. The rent was unbelievable, the agent a scam artist, but they loved the apartment, especially (for him) the “off. bdrm 3,” which was the perfect size for bookshelves, desk, and computer, a couple of chairs, and with a window that looked out on leafy branches. Hannah was seven and loved the park. Molly was thirty-six and loved the Dean & DeLuca on the other side of it. Paul loved the hungover, brassy scene of the East Village foot soldiers who always appeared to be walking off a morning after, bits of metallic conversations stabbing backward as they passed in the cold air. People couldn’t understand it about the Giverneys; they were extremely rich and yet chose to live in a rental in the East Village. Why didn’t Central Park West beckon to them? Why didn’t they succumb to the siren song of Sutton Place or the Dakota? Why? Because they didn’t. Paul gave a lot of his money to charity, a good third of it. Another third to Dean & DeLuca, but they still managed on the million or two left.
The paper airplane was one of his lists of publishers, one he had stricken several names from. Publishers on the left side of the page, writers on the right side. The airplane he had fashioned was the long list. Now the lists before him were the short ones—five writers, four publishers. He struck one of the publishers off, two of the writers. Three publishers, three writers. What he was doing was matching them up.
“Are you still fooling with that list?” asked Molly, standing in the door and wearing an apron. She might be the only wife in Manhattan who wore aprons to cook. “Dinner’s ready. Anyway, what’s the problem? You know you don’t like any of them, the publishers, except FSG, and you keep saying they wouldn’t publish you. So you might as well keep on with your old one.” She stood there with a wooden spoon in her hand, looking very much the cook. He always liked the props—and preps—apron and spoon—when she was only microwaving Dean and DeLuca.
He said, “Process of elimination.”
“Of what? I mean elimination down to what?”
Well, she didn’t know what he was doing, did she? All Molly thought was that Paul was trying to decide on his next publisher. If Molly knew, she’d give him one of those and-I-thought-I-knew-you looks. Paul shrugged, not knowing exactly how to answer.
She said, “You always say there’s no difference, that there’s not room enough to swing a cat in.”
“Swing a cat in? I never used that metaphor. It doesn’t even make sense, not in this instance. Maybe ‘shake a stick at,’ but not ‘swing a cat in.’ Surely.”
“Just tack that list”—she pointed with the spoon—“up on the wall and throw darts. Come on. Hannah’s famished.”
Hannah was always ‘famished.’ It was her current favorite word.
“Just ten more minutes,” he said.
“The food will be a ruin.”
“Then I’ll go to Dean and DeLuca and get us another ruin. Please.”
“Okay. But I’ll have to feed Hannah.”
But Hannah was right behind her. Hannah said, “Just another minute, pul-
” in such a copy of her father’s tone, Paul wanted to laugh.
Molly sighed. “You, too?” She left.
Hannah produced another chapter of her book. She would ask him to read it before officially including it in the book. “Would you please read this?” she asked, solemnly. It was a grave request.
“Of course,” said Paul, with a frown to match hers as he took the single page. This was chapter 99. Hannah had been writing this book for a year, ever since, at the age of six, she had gotten wind of her father’s astonishing success. Now she was seven and even more determined to be nominated for an award. (“Either that National Book contest one or one of those others, I don’t care which.”)
Her book was titled
The Hunted Gardens.
Originally, Paul thought it must have been the “haunted” gardens and Hannah had simply made a spelling error. But she did refer to the gardens as “hunted” and he didn’t know what she meant. Also, he pointed out to her that the gardens were oddly bereft of flowers. Why were there no flowers? That had given her pause for a moment. But only a moment. “It’s winter,” she’d smoothly said.
And there seemed to be a lot of dragons lately in this book, hunted by a curious person, the Dragonnier. (Perhaps the gardens were, then, really “hunted” rather than “haunted,” but he still thought it was a Hannah error.) Now, all of this potential slaying was causing her anxiety. But more anxiety came from being afraid “somebody” might steal the idea. More than once she had probed her father about this, whether he ever thought of writing a book about dragons.
Solemnly, Hannah waited while Paul read the chapter. All the chapters were short. Even though this was chapter 99, the book itself was still only eighty-some pages long. Paul read that the Dragonnier “gave the dragon a good thrashing.” Paul told her it was very good, but suggested that she supply a few more details about the “thrashing.” You know, how the Dragonnier does it, for didn’t she want her reader to actually see it in his mind?