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Wilderspool Vaults

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390 pages6 hours

Summary

In 2012, with his private eye on retirement, private investigator Andy James returns to the only case he never solved - an enquiry into the beliefs and opinions of a transient group of social misfits called 'the grapevine' and the disappearance of their enigmatic leader Thonatos Goose, and his closest confidant Spyglass.

With the benefit of hindsight Andy James reviews the evidence he collected 18 years earlier. The cold war had ended and the age of social media had yet to begin. Amongst the contents of his evidence cupboard are the transcribed teachings of Thonatos Goose and his own case notes detailing interviews he conducted with the nihilistic raven-haired beauty Linda Only, the ultra-intelligent blue eyed blonde in the wheelchair Ernestina Goodway, and the ethereal Australian Adel (nee Leda). Along the way Andy fell in lust with all of them – while in the present time he tries hard to avoid the attentions of Gale next door.

Each interview reveals a little more about who the grapevine were, what they did, and why it went wrong. Thonatos emerges as some kind of prophet, preacher, teacher, misfit... Spyglass as his friend, conspirator, nemesis... and possibly murderer?

As Andy embraces the facts of the matter once more he is seduced again by the grapevine’s ideology, but as he reviews the answers that were provided to questions he never asked, and questions he asked that went unanswered, he begins to rethink his whole approach - not just to this investigation but to his entire life. Can he re-establish order? Is there any such thing as order?

The grapevine talked about re-incarnation, spiritual evolution, the rejection of present day institutions, comedy as a means to an end, and believed their leader was responsible for the fall of the Berlin Wall. They also taught lions to ride motorcycles, dressed up as clowns, and played Egyptian Ratscrew for days on end in a derelict brewery.

Tower Blocks fall to the ground. The Miraculous Pawnshop appears and re-appears. There is drinking and back-packing, sermonising and manipulation. Andy is impressed by their rejection of established thinking, but ultimately wonders if there is any benefit, wisdom, insight in their alternative 'disorganised religion'.

In their time the grapevine were active in India, South East Asia, the Middle East, South America. Andy's investigation took him to West London, the Essex marshes and New York City; but primarily his approach focuses on the internal landscape, the personal journeys of those he questions – not least himself.

Previously, Andy came to the conclusion that Spyglass murdered Thonatos, but he was forced to reconsider when Spyglass turned up and subjected him to an impassioned testament on the roof of Wilderspool Vaults - before pulling off a disappearing act of his own.

Can Andy achieve closure this time around, or is there actually no such thing?

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