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Authors: Richard Newsome

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The Emerald Casket

PRAISE FOR
RICHARD NEWSOME
AND
The Billionaire's Curse

‘An irresistibly fun-tastic tale that's virtually guaranteed to keep youngsters reading, chuckling and desperately waiting for the next book in the series.'
Independent Weekly

‘Newsome has created a ripping whodunit-style yarn.'
Sunday Age

‘Filled with secret passageways and deadly booby traps…you'll be on the edge of your seat!'
K-Zone

‘Genuinely tension-filled moments and visceral action…fast-paced, humorous and fun.'
Magpies

‘A great whodunit which is almost as engrossing for adults as it is for children.'
Bookseller & Publisher

‘Newsome has a gift for injecting playful humour into almost every scene with laugh-out-loud moments on nearly every page.'
Fiction Focus

‘A rollicking good yarn.'
Weekend Herald

Richard Newsome was born in Wanganui, New Zealand, and moved to Australia as a child. He now lives in Brisbane with his wife and three children. Richard won the inaugural Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing for the first book in The Billionaire Trilogy,
The Billionaire's Curse
.
Visit Richard's website:
richardnewsome.com

THE
EMERALD
CASKET

BOOK II
of
THE BILLIONAIRE TRILOGY

Richard Newsome

The paper in this book is manufactured only from
wood grown in sustainable regrowth forests.

The Text Publishing Company
Swann House
22 William Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000
Australia
textpublishing.com.au
richardnewsome.com

Copyright © Richard Newsome 2010

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright above, no part of this publication shall be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior permission of both the copyright owner and the publisher of this book.

First published by The Text Publishing Company, 2010

Cover and page design by W. H. Chong
Typeset by J & M Typesetting
Printed and bound in Australia by Griffin Press

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication data:

Newsome, Richard. 1964-
The emerald casket / Richard Newsome.

ISBN: 9781921656453 (pbk.)

Series: Billionaire trilogy; 2.

Newsome, Richard. 1964- Billionaire trilogy ; 2.

Theft from museums--Juvenile fiction.
Detective and mystery stories--Juvenile fiction.

A823.4

For Mark and Sarah

Contents

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Prologue

A
meaty hand slapped down on top of the alarm clock. Of all the sounds that Constable Lethbridge of the London Metropolitan Police might want to hear on a Sunday, a buzzer at six o'clock in the morning was not high on the list.

He rolled onto his back. One hand patted his belly. The other set off in search of the itch on his left buttock.

Still, he wasn't too grumpy at the early start. After the last few weeks, any day out of uniform was bound to be a good one.

Lethbridge dressed and shambled down the stairs, whistling tunelessly, and yanked out the copy of the
Mail on Sunday
from the slot in the front door. He padded into the kitchen and a half dozen cockroaches scuttled under the fridge. The sink was stacked high with dishes.

He switched on the kettle, grabbed a packet of cornflakes from the cupboard and poured himself a bowl. The light inside the fridge cast a pitiful glow over its contents: a bottle of pickled onions, a packet of cheese slices and an open tin of baked beans unfinished from dinner the night before. He lifted out a bottle of milk and nudged the door shut with his bottom.

Lethbridge settled in a chair and unfolded the paper. The front page headline read:
Boy billionaire solves gem heist
. He grunted and poured milk over his cereal. As he lifted a spoonful to his mouth there was a knock at the front door. The spoon splashed back into the bowl. Lethbridge tramped to the front room and opened the door.

There was nobody there. He looked left and right along the street of terraced houses. No one.

‘Bleedin' school holidays,' he grumbled.

He shut the door and trudged back to his breakfast.

He sat down, turned the page of his newspaper and shovelled a spoonful of cereal into his mouth. Just as he was about to scoop up another he gagged and spat out the cornflakes with a retch.

‘Ewww!' He inspected the use-by date on the milk and screwed up his face. The bowl was added to the pile in the sink and he poured the rancid milk down the drain. He dangled an Archer-brand teabag into a mug, filled it from the kettle (not forgetting to add a generous spoonful of honey), then wandered out the back door into the garden.

Striking up his tuneless whistle he ambled down the path and opened the door to the back shed. He poked his head around the doorframe and trilled, ‘Is there anybody ho-ome?'

A chorus of coos answered back.

A smile broke out on Lethbridge's face. He closed the door behind him and placed his mug on a table in the middle of the room. He kicked an old milk crate across the floor, climbed up to a small loft and retrieved two pigeons—one black and one grey.

‘Who's a beautiful boy then?' Lethbridge clucked as he climbed down. ‘Has 'oo had a good trip?'

With a nudge of his elbow he knocked away a prop holding open the roof to the pigeon coop and it banged shut. He let the black bird fly up to perch on a rafter. The other he cradled on his lap as he flopped down onto the milk crate.

‘Has 'oo brought me a little present?'

A tube was attached to the bird's leg, and from it Lethbridge removed a tiny roll of paper. The pigeon fluttered to the ceiling to join his mate. Lethbridge unrolled the message and snorted with derision. He lifted a cloth from the table to reveal a chess set, moved the white queen four spaces and studied the outcome.

‘What are you up to?'

Engrossed in his game of correspondence chess, he failed to notice the grey pigeon deliver its second message of the day when a large dollop dropped from the rafters and slopped into his tea.

Running a hand over his chin Lethbridge stretched out to pick up the mug. He stared at the swirling mixture for a second, shrugged and took a sip. Then he smacked his lips, took a large gulp and let out a satisfied
aaah
.

He pulled a chewed pencil stub from his pocket and was about to write his next move on the back of the piece of paper when the two pigeons flew down from the rafters. The black one settled on the edge of the table and the grey landed on Lethbridge's shoulder, tugging at the hair sprouting from his left ear.

‘All right, all right,' Lethbridge chortled. ‘Hungry are we?'

He wedged the pencil stub behind his ear and stuffed the paper into his shirt pocket. Then he bent down and levered off the lid of a cocoa tin by his feet. Lethbridge looked inside and sat up with a groan.

‘Sorry lads. Out of food. There's more in the house.'

He scooped up the birds and shuffled back up the path, his tuneless whistle now accompanied by cooing.

With the pigeons deposited on the kitchen table, he scrabbled around in the cupboard under the sink and emerged with a packet of seed.

‘Here we go, my lovelies. Oi! What are you up to?'

The two homing pigeons were attacking the open honey jar, pecking at the congealed breadcrumb scum around the rim. Lethbridge struggled to his feet, waving the packet at the birds.

‘Go on. Get out of it.' Seeds flew everywhere. Lethbridge let out a string of profanities before checking himself.

‘Sorry my beauties,' he apologised to the pigeons, which had abandoned the honey for the smorgasbord of birdseed now on offer across the linoleum.

Lethbridge grabbed a dustpan and was scooping up the mess under the kitchen table when there was a bang on the front door. This time there was the sound of breaking glass.

Lethbridge stood up. His head and back smacked hard into the under side of the table, sending it bucking in the air. The honey pot catapulted over the edge and landed with a sticky splat on the small of his back, sending a lava flow of goo down his underpants. Lethbridge launched himself out the other side of the table and squelched down the corridor. He reached the front room to find the door ajar. Shards of glass lay across the entryway. Lethbridge halted—and heard the creak of floorboards above.

Someone was in the house.

He took a breath and steeled himself. Then he opened the hall closet, leaned in and pulled out his police baton, a sixty-centimetre-long tube of sleek black menace. Gripping it in two hands, he crept towards the stairs.

‘The element of surprise is mine,' he whispered.

Sadly for Lethbridge, the surprise factor lasted all of two seconds. He made it to the third step when a flash of black hurdled over the banister and landed on top of him. Lethbridge tumbled backwards, his feet over his head. A lithe figure rolled over the top in a blur, leaping clear as the constable smacked onto his back with a crunching
oof
. The assailant landed cat-like by the front door, tensed for action. The figure was clothed entirely in black, a scarf wrapped ninja-style around the head, leaving only a narrow slit to reveal a pair of dark eyes.

This was no pranking school kid on holidays.

Lethbridge struggled to regain his senses. He glared across at his attacker. ‘Right,' he muttered. ‘You're for it.'

The constable dragged himself to his feet. But before he could take a step, the intruder flashed a hand into a pouch at the back of his black costume. Within seconds a rock on a short rope was being swung in the air. It whipped across the room, splaying out to become three flat stones tied at a central point. Lethbridge was caught across the throat and stood in dumb shock as the sling wound around his neck. Two of the rocks smacked hard against his temples; the third finished the job with a sharp rap across the forehead. Lethbridge went down like a felled oak.

When he woke he was flat on his back on the kitchen floor. He blinked to clear the fog in his brain. A noise came from behind. He tipped his head and saw that the figure was ransacking the hall closet. His police helmet lay on the floor alongside his equipment belt. Lethbridge tried to stand but couldn't move. His ankles and wrists were tied, his arms bound across his chest. He was trussed up like a Christmas turkey. Lethbridge cast his eyes around the kitchen. The two homing pigeons were still pecking at the mess of birdseed on the floor.

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