Papa was strolling towards the exit and as I turned to follow him, I saw her. In the cloud of smoke and steam left by the departing train, she appeared ghostly and indistinct, but as she moved towards us every detail sharpened. The grey dress, the modish hat, the beautiful face with deep brown eyes. My heart began to thump wildly. She was following me. It had been her all along, in the train, in Collins Street, in the Book Bazaar, perhaps even on the St Kilda Esplanade. Who was she? Why was she shadowing me? Did I have the courage to confront her?
But in a flash I relaised that I didn’t want to. Papa must not see her. This woman looked so much like Mama. It would only upset him.
Verity is happy with her Papa, and their ever-growing circle of friends. But a strange lady is following her – a woman who claims to be a relative, even though that seems impossible. When Verity and her friends go to the country for a holiday, it seems she can forget about the stranger for a while, and relax. But strange things are happening, and when Verity’s friend, Druscilla, and Helen, the wife of their host, are kidnapped, the holiday comes to an end.
A ransom note warns that police must not be involved, so the family’s friend, SP, investigates. Verity tries to help, but her visions, which seem to be offering clues, are confusing. Why was a red glove left at the scene of the kidnapping, and why do her visions also link to the colour red? And does the disappearance have something to do with the strange lady who was following Verity?
Verity Sparks and the Scarlet Hand is the third book featuring this fiesty heorine. Verity is part-detective, part mystic, with her visionary skills proving useful, though she struggles to understand or harness them. Set in 1880, in colonial Victoria, and featuring a wide range of characters from around the globe, the story will engage strong readers with a love of mystery and of historical fiction.
Verity Sparks and the Scarlet Hand, by Susan Green
Walker Books, 2015