"Barton understood the illusion of glamour a gangster lifestyle offered. Watching the movies, it was all girls and guns and high jinks, but the reality wasn't like that in the UK. It was knives and drugs. The people involved lived chaotic, violent, boring existences, interspersed with occasional bouts of terror. Careers were short."
"The Conductor stared out at the calm, dark water of the Black Sea in contemplation. This world of international trafficking was not unlike a symphony. The politicians were the percussion, banging fists and pounding desks—law enforcement, the woodwinds: subtle and pervasive. The smugglers were the brass: bold and obvious, and the logistics were the strings, winding through every movement, every measure with beautiful complexity. And there, at the front of the stage, leading them all from sonata to rondo, was The Conductor."
“Steep and rugged, the rough ground was treacherous under foot. The spiky grasses stood angled and hard, ready to strike. The mountain skeleton lay exposed as rock, dictating shape, demonstrating obstinance. Frozen winds howled, buffeted, bit extremities, searched for routes through layers of clothing, sought to drag intruders to the edge and beyond.”
"I will write my family's story, here in this book that bided its time so well. I will tell it as fully as I can, even the parts that grieve me."
"How were the bodies of three boys, the Justice of Peace, Catholic plotters, the suicide of Henry Oldenburg, an old soldier, the Red Cipher, two ladies dressed in sea green, Sir Jonas Moore, and the King all conjoined? What were the links in the chain, and from where did it hang?"
"'There’s more.' Jemima was triumphant. She scraped away more mud as the others gathered round. Slowly, under her fingers, a smooth, rounded bone appeared. Libby recognised it. 'Wait,' she called. 'I don’t think we should disturb it. You can see – it’s –' Max put his arm around her shoulders. 'It's a human skull.'"
“Why did she have to die? And what happened when she did? Uncle Saviour had said that she would simply stop being. Stop learning. Stop eating. Stop thinking. Stop … being alive. The thought was so frightening that she’d started to cry, but he’d wiped away her tears and said he knew a way to stop her from dying, to stop all of them from dying, and in his eyes, she’d seen the truth. Uncle Saviour was special. He knew how to save her. He knew how to save them all. She didn’t want to die. No one did. She would do anything to live forever.”
[definition] Strange /streɪn(d)ʒ Adjective: strange 1. Unusual or surprising; difficult to understand or explain
Checking herself into rehab, Jen hopes to get her life back on track; but when she receives an urgent message from her brother calling her back to Cornwall, she awakens to find herself drugged and hanging in the darkness from a lighthouse, battered by a thunderstorm and with no memory of how she got there. Barely escaping with her life, Jen is forced to question whether she has relapsed and returned to her reckless ways, or whether someone is using her weaknesses against her…
"I smiled. There was another side to pond life. It wasn’t all ruled by ‘eat or be eaten’ and ‘survival of the fittest’. Compassion and camaraderie got a look in too. How pleasing was that?"