April 23, 1861 — an excerpt from The First Assassin:
It was not unusual for the bookbinder to lose track of time, and so he was hardly surprised that he missed the sun’s disappearance a few minutes before 7:00 pm. The incident reminded him, once more, of how much he enjoyed his trade. He may be old and he may have slowed down, but he would not give up what he did until he could do it no more.
Calthrop looked over what he had to do in the morning. He arranged a few items on his desk and rose to leave. He closed the door to his shop, locked it, and descended the staircase. He stepped onto the sidewalk and bolted another door. Light still glowed from the establishment on his immediate left, the one that sat directly below his own little shop. Calthrop knew it would shine for several more hours. The business of Madame Costello, a professional astrologist, began late in the afternoon and ran into the evening. “Reader of the Stars,” said the words painted on her window. “Consultations of Past, Present, and Future Events.”
Calthrop looked to the sky. There were no stars to read. Clouds obscured his view of the heavens.