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The Serpent Papers
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Barcelona, Summer 2003. Three women are sacrificed to an unknown purpose, skin carved with a cryptic alphabet, tongues cut from their mouths. Sent beautiful, sinister letters - clues, or confessions? - Inspector Fabregat cannot decipher the warnings within. As Barcelona explodes in revelry on the Festival of St Joan, Natalia Hernandez, flower of the National Theatre and Catalan idol, lies broken on the steps of the Cathedral. The city bays for blood, Fabregat chases a shadow-like suspect and signs that whisper of secrets beyond his grasp. Barcelona, Winter 2014. Anna Verco - academic, book thief, savant - unearths letters hidden for centuries from a lightning-struck chapel in Mallorca. What they reveal compels her and Fabregat to reignite the Hernandez investigation. Every page she turns conceals a coded message; every street she treads leads her deeper into the labyrinth. As Fabregat baits her with suspects, and threats darken her steps, Anna hunts her own prey - the book that began it all, a medieval revelation written in the language of witches and alchemists: The Serpent Papers. Anna believes this book will unlock the mystery. She does not yet know she is the key.
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About the Author

Jessica Cornwell was born in 1986. She studied English at Stanford University and Drama at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, before training with the Catalan theatre company La Fura dels Baus. In 2010 she moved to London to work in film. She now divides her time between the city and her small home town in southern California.

Reviews

A supremely clever feminist murder mystery * Vagenda * A feminist gothic thriller set in Barcelona, it moves back and forth between the 1300s and the present day * Big Issue * Jessica Cornwell gives women a powerful voice . . . A nail-biting page-turner with a vital female protagonist who stands out in a thriller market flooded with the male-centric books . . . A complex, non-linearly-told narrative that haunts the mind long after the last page * Straits Times * A breathless, mystical thriller . . . Will certainly become a cultish craze among all kinds of readers from radical feminists to modern-day mystics and especially those who love sectish puzzles and mystery * Irish Independent * Remarkable . . . It will leave many readers impatient for the next * Literary Review * The slow circling towards the killer is thrilling, but Cornwell's real skill is in her piling up of legend and history to bring the quest for the manuscript alive. This is much more complex - and significantly more worth your time - than just another Da Vinci Code spin-off * Sunday Times * If you're in search of a thriller, look no further than this novel by London-based Californian Jessica Cornwell. Anna Verco, the heroine, has drawn comparisons to Dragon Tattoo's Lisbeth Salander, and the book is a new take on Dan Brown's turf * Grazia * A complex and ambitious literary thriller * Observer * Intelligent and richly realised * Oxford Times * Combines the intrigue of The Da Vinci Code with the mysticism of a Carlos Ruiz Zafon novel . . . This is a gripping tale in which every detail counts * Financial Times * Erudite alchemical thriller . . . Here we have an enigmatic heroine, a wonderful European city, plenty of cultural detail, a string of gruesome murders and a conspiracy that spans centuries . . . everything is relevant - so pay attention - and everything is enticing, for readers who enjoy this sort of game . . . she's an original, entertaining writer. I finished this episode wanting more * Guardian * The kind of rich, multi-layered story that demands and rewards commitment . . . A triumphant debut, by a young writer with an incredible imagination * The Times *

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