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Book Synopsis

Addison Blake is an intelligent and bright fourteen year old boy who has a passion and skill for solving mysteries. His passion was shaped by a tale told to him by his grandfather when he was just six years old. It was a tale of murder, of fear and of paranoia. It was a tale of the Demon of Dageldorf.

On the sliding scale of ‘school-cool’ Addison sits below the popular kids, nestled safely within the geeks and the ignored. But that’s exactly where he likes it; where he gets the freedom to train his brain in the art of abductive reasoning as he strives to be like his hero, Sherlock Holmes, and solve the one case that still eludes him, the Demon of Dageldorf.

But after months of having no case to solve, he is suddenly getting inundated. Just as he has uncovered a new and exciting lead that he believes shows irrefutable proof that the demon his grandfather told him about truly exists, news comes over his hacked police radio receiver that a dangerous criminal has escaped from the nearby Raventree High Security Asylum. Not only that, but he walks into school to find out that the most popular student at Cheatham High, Kyle Robbins, has been found dead in the deserted village of Blair, close to Dageldorf manor where Addison’s grandfather claimed to see the demon.

Addison is immediately convinced that there has to be a connection.

But, head of Cheatham police, Detective Inspector Peter Shelvey claims the death is a simple case of accidental electrocution. However, it is not just Addison who doubts this explanation. Natalie Shelvey, the Inspector’s daughter, and the one girl known to melt Addison’s heart, is another. An ex-girlfriend of Kyle, she is convinced that there is more to his death than her father is letting on and tells Addison she has evidence to prove it.

Eager to get going, his best friend and investigative partner, Ben Marks, has reservations about them taking the case. Ben has never trusted Natalie, but Addison is unwilling to compromise. Eventually, the three form an uneasy alliance and set out together to uncover the truth.

It isn’t long before things start going wrong.

There are people who do not want Addison meddling: A mysterious red-headed woman who appears like a shadow around every corner, Detective Inspector Noble whom Addison has had run-ins with in the past and the Landor twins, Mikhail and Shauna, grandchildren of Dmitry Landor, owner of the deserted Dageldorf manor. They all warn Addison of grave consequences should he continue. When a run-in with Mikhail and Shauna lands him in hospital, a shaken Addison begins to doubt whether solving this case is worth the trouble. But when he is handed a letter, penned by his grandfather, he realises that this is one mystery he cannot ignore.

Deciphering riddles concealed within the letter, Addison unearths a secret underground room, untouched for years, containing all the evidence his grandfather gathered about the demon sighting twenty years before. Analysing the findings, Addison realises that the case is more far-reaching than he could have imagined.

He learns that twenty years ago an eighteen year old girl named Amy Fulsome went missing from Cheatham. Foul play was suspected, but despite a long search and no dead body ever being found, a young Russian immigrant, named Seraphim Talanski was arrested for Amy’s murder. After a short trial, she was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of her life in Raventree High Security Asylum. However, amongst his grandfather’s evidence, Addison uncovers proof that Seraphim Talanski was set up by Dmitry Landor and that Amy Fulsome could still be alive. Addison discovers her true disappearance was covered up by Dmitry after a prank — orchestrated by his son, Pavel Landor and Peter Noble — went horribly wrong causing an unauthorised, top secret military transport train to derail killing all but one of those, on-board.

To protect his family name and prevent his son and his son’s friends from being sent to prison, Addison can only deduce that Dmitry Landor used his influence to frame Seraphim Talanski. And in another shock revelation he realises that the red – headed woman and the Raventree escapee, are one and the same, none other than, Seraphim Talanski.

Addison theorises that she is out for revenge. Kyle’s father had been there the night the train de-railed. His son was the first to pay the price for his father’s misdeeds. Terrifyingly for Addison, it means Natalie, could be next.

Desperate to protect her, Addison’s world is thrown into further turmoil when he learns she and Ben have been lured to Blair by a fake text message.

Racing to locate her, but unsure where to start, Addison finds himself with an unexpected ally after he is suddenly comes face to face with Seraphim Talanski.

Once again, Addison must confront his own deductive failings as he learns that rather than being the loner with a history of mental illness, as Dmitry Landor had portrayed her to be, Seraphim had actually been a genetic scientist leading a secret military department. On the night of the derailment, she explains that she had been aboard the train transporting her most secretive experiment, the Snakehand — a genetically modified soldier whose entire arm could change into a deadly snake and that Amy Fulsome had not been killed in the wreck, but bitten by the Snakehand, becoming a Snakehand herself.

Together with Amy, Seraphim had been taken from the wreckage and held captive by Dmitry whilst plans were made to seal her fate.

Addison and Seraphim rush headlong to Dageldorf in a bid to save Natalie and Ben, but are captured. Confronted by Dmitry and Amy, Addison puts every piece of evidence together and reveals Dmitry’s secret: that the Snakehand’s venom is capable of re-generating human cells and Dmitry had been collecting the venom and injecting it into himself revitalising his ageing body. Like a drug, Dmitry had become addicted to the venom’s power.

A fight for survival ensues, but not before Addison surprises Dmitry with one final reveal. His granddaughter, Shauna — who can no longer condone her grandfather’s actions — is also infected with the Snakehand genes and, thanks to Seraphim, Addison knows the secret of how to control her transformation. But Shauna is terrified of the change and it takes all of Addison’s charm to persuade her to reveal her power. An epic battle commences between the two Snakehands with Shauna eventually defeating Amy.

The story concludes with Addison, Natalie and Ben’s dramatic escape from Dageldorf as it burns to the ground around them. Seraphim escapes alongside them, but disappears in the commotion, fearful that she will be taken back to Raventree. Dmitry perishes in the blaze, and the injured Shauna is taken to hospital. The fate of Amy is less clear and leads Addison to wonder whether she was burnt to death in the fire or if she is still out there.

From the early part of the book where Addison very much prefers to live life under the radar, he begins to develop into a natural leader, as characters look to place their trust in him in the most difficult of circumstances. In contrast, the extrovert Ben, undergoes a dramatic change when he allows his true feelings to come spilling out after he and Natalie are thrown together in a vulnerable situation.

Copyright 2012 Paul Fredrics