The Bones of Paris

( 21 )

Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SACRAMENTO BEE

New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King, beloved for her acclaimed Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, consistently writes richly detailed and thoroughly suspenseful novels that bring a distant time and place to brilliant life. Now, in this thrilling new book, King leads readers into the vibrant and sensual Paris of the Jazz Age—and ...

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Overview

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SACRAMENTO BEE

New York Times bestselling author Laurie R. King, beloved for her acclaimed Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series, consistently writes richly detailed and thoroughly suspenseful novels that bring a distant time and place to brilliant life. Now, in this thrilling new book, King leads readers into the vibrant and sensual Paris of the Jazz Age—and reveals the darkest secrets of its denizens.
 
Paris, France: September 1929. For Harris Stuyvesant, the assignment is a private investigator’s dream—he’s getting paid to prowl the cafés and bars of Montparnasse, looking for a pretty young woman. The American agent has a healthy appreciation for la vie de bohème, despite having worked for years at the U.S. Bureau of Investigation. The missing person in question is Philippa Crosby, a twenty-two year old from Boston who has been living in Paris, modeling and acting. Her family became alarmed when she stopped all communications, and Stuyvesant agreed to track her down. He wholly expects to find her in the arms of some up-and-coming artist, perhaps experimenting with the decadent lifestyle that is suddenly available on every rue and boulevard.
 
As Stuyvesant follows Philippa’s trail through the expatriate community of artists and writers, he finds that she is known to many of its famous—and infamous—inhabitants, from Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach to Ernest Hemingway to the Surrealist photographer Man Ray. But when the evidence leads Stuyvesant to the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol in Montmartre, his investigation takes a sharp, disturbing turn. At the Grand-Guignol, murder, insanity, and sexual perversion are all staged to shocking, brutal effect: depravity as art, savage human nature on stage.
 
Soon it becomes clear that one missing girl is a drop in the bucket. Here, amid the glittering lights of the cabarets, hides a monster whose artistic coup de grâce is to be rendered in blood. And Stuyvesant will have to descend into the darkest depths of perversion to find a killer . . . sifting through The Bones of Paris.

Praise for The Bones of Paris
 
“Haunting . . .  a portrait of the City of Light that glows with the fires of Hell.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“A compelling thriller . . . complex, more than a little kinky, and absolutely fascinating.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Highly entertaining . . . Laurie R. King perfectly captures [the Jazz Age] as she explores the City of Light’s avenues and alleys.”—The Denver Post
 
“Engrossing . . . Readers who enjoy Laurie R. King’s noteworthy Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery series are in for a surprise.”BookPage
 
“A chilling mystery and a haunting love letter to the Paris of Hemingway’s Lost Generation.”—Library Journal

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Edgar-winner King delivers a sequel to 2008’s Touchstone with this impressive mystery set in 1929 Paris. In the arresting preface, set in Cornwall, Bennett Grey receives a letter from Harris Stuyvesant, his friend but “a man whose motives Grey had reason to distrust,” containing four photographs whose contents are so disturbing that the suicidal Grey burns them immediately. The action then shifts to Paris 10 days earlier, where Stuyvesant, a former FBI man who left on bad terms with Hoover, is trying to trace a missing 22-year-old American woman, Pip Crosby. To the investigator, Crosby is just “one in a string of mostly blonde, mostly young women” who shared his bed, adding a patina of guilt to his inquiries. The trail leads him to a tantalizing mystery involving the Théâtre du Grand-Guignol and artists who use human bones to create their work.Readers will hope to see more of Grey, who is absent for most of this story, and Stuyvesant in future books. Agent: Linda Allen, Linda Allen Literary Agency. (Sept.)
Library Journal
King’s latest book is both a chilling mystery and a haunting love letter to the Paris of Hemingway’s Lost Generation, including Hemingway himself. In September 1929, Harris Stuyvesant, the American private investigator first introduced in Touchstone, explores the city’s streets and alleys, cafés and bars, searching for a missing young woman from Boston who may be dead. He socializes with everyone who was anyone in Paris in that last glorious autumn before the stock market crash. Harris’s only hope of catching a serial killer is the dutiful police detective who stole his ex-lover’s heart—if the cop doesn’t arrest him first.

Verdict It takes the reader a significant investment of time to reach the conclusion that there has been an actual murder and even longer to figure out who the suspects are. Murder is beside the point here, with the novel offering instead a paean to Jazz Age Paris, which King clearly evokes. The reader walks those streets with Harris, rubbing elbows with Man Ray and Hemingway. Recommended for readers interested in historical fiction set in the era and literary mysteries. [Library marketing.]—Marlene Harris, Seattle P.L.
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
2013-08-15
The dark side of Jazz Age Paris. Harris Stuyvesant didn't think any more of Philippa Crosby than of most of the young women he bedded. Their five-day fling certainly wasn't long enough to count as an affair. So when Pip goes missing and her uncle Ernest, knowing of Stuyvesant's past experience with the FBI, asks him to find her, the man's in an awkward position. Already nagged with guilt over his failure to protect his former lover Sarah Grey from criminal horrors three years ago (Touchstone, 2008), he takes the case and proceeds to make inquiries, beginning with Pip's tearful Southern California roommate, Nancy Berger. In no time at all, Stuyvesant is up to his spats in period detail, celebrity walk-ons (Sylvia Beach, Bricktop, Cole Porter) and distinctly kinky intimations. Pip's acquaintance with artist/provocateur Man Ray, who photographed her in a highly suggestive pose, is only the tip of the iceberg. Sarah's boss, Comte Dominic de Charmentier, is intimately connected with the "death pornography" of the scandalous theatrical productions that made the Grand-Guignol a trademark for grotesquerie. King presents Stuyvesant's tour of the lower depths of the Parisian avant-garde in terms both decorous and creepy. By the time Sarah and her brother Bennett, a human lie detector who retired from working with Stuyvesant to a Dorset farm, return to his life, his suspicion that Pip's was only one of a long line of disappearances has made him a changed man who has to admit that "the odors of life are not always pleasant"--even in 1929 Paris. Evocative period detail and challenging aesthetic adventures compensate for a mystery more suggestive than believable and a climactic sequence that seems to have been lifted from King's last tale of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes (Garment of Shadows, 2012).
From the Publisher
“Haunting . . .  a portrait of the City of Light that glows with the fires of Hell.”—Richmond Times-Dispatch
 
“A compelling thriller . . . complex, more than a little kinky, and absolutely fascinating.”Booklist (starred review)
 
“Highly entertaining . . . Laurie R. King perfectly captures [the Jazz Age] as she explores the City of Light’s avenues and alleys.”—The Denver Post
 
“Engrossing . . . Readers who enjoy Laurie R. King’s noteworthy Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes mystery series are in for a surprise.”BookPage
 
“A chilling mystery and a haunting love letter to the Paris of Hemingway’s Lost Generation.”—Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345531766
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 129,548
  • Product dimensions: 6.66 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 1.44 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie R. King is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen Mary Russell mysteries, five contemporary novels featuring Kate Martinelli, and the acclaimed novels A Darker Place, Folly, Keeping Watch, and Touchstone. She lives in Northern California.

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Read an Excerpt

One

The morning exploded.

The room’s east windows flared with a hot torment that seared across Harris Stuyve­sant’s brain, stabbing through his eyes, splintering his thoughts, turning his mouth to old shoe leather: cracked, greasy, foul.

A long way off, miles and miles away, his hand crept across the sticky sheets to the bed-side table, directed by one squinting eye towards the leather straps that stuck in the air like the legs of some dead thing. The hand fumbled, lifted, fumbled again to reverse the watch-face.

Jesus: not yet ten, and already a furnace.

Stuyve­sant managed to get his feet to the carpet, waiting out the secondary explosion inside his skull before he rose to stumble a path through discarded clothing to the corner basin. The water was disgustingly warm, but he drank a glass anyway, then bent to let the tap splash over his face and hair. He wrestled with the aspirin bottle for an hour or so, palmed three pills and washed them down with a second glass, then reached out to part the curtains a fraction.

A dizzying panorama of rooftops: tiles and tin, brick and timber, steeples and drying laundry; centuries of chimneypots, with a narrow slice of stone magnificence in the distance. Children’s voices and taxi horns competed with a tram rattle from the rue de Rennes and a neighbor’s accordion, mournfully wading through a lively tune. His nose filled with the pervasive stink of an unemptied septic tank.

Summer in Paris.

He went back to his seat on the side of the bed, picking up his cigarette case and lighter.

The tap of the Ronson touching wood set off a convulsion in the bed. A hand emerged from the sheets, then a tangled head of brassy blonde hair, followed by blue eyes blinking in outrage.

“Ferme les rideaux putain!”

He wasn’t sure if she was calling him a whore, or the curtains, and he didn’t think he would be able to shape the question without coffee. Even the French swill that was mostly chicory.

“Doesn’t help any to shut them, honey. They’re like tissue paper.”

“Eh?”

“Nothing,” he told her. “I have to go to work.”

She understood that, and yanked the covers back over her matted hair. Stuyve­sant swiveled around on the bed to rip them off her. “Really,” he said. “It’s time to rise and shine.”

But instead of complaining, or assaulting him with curses, she gave a sinuous writhe to curl against his leg, looking up at him as coquettishly as a person could when her mascara was smeared like something from a German horror film.

“You take me for breakfast, ’Arris?” One soft breast pressed into his knee, two firm fingers walked a path up the inside of his bent thigh.

He smashed the cigarette out against the ash-tray, then bent over the smeared horror-eyes. “I try never to disappoint a lady,” he told her.

Be nice if he could remember this one’s name.

Two

A conversation:

“You knew that Crosby girl, didn’t you?”

“Crosby? I don’t believe I . . .”

“Peggy? Patricia? There was something about photographs and a scar—this was some time ago.”

“Ah, yes: Philippa. What about her?”

“Is she still around?”

“I haven’t seen her in months. Why?”

“There was an American asking about her, last night. He claims he was hired by her parents, though he looked a real brute to me. I thought if you were still in touch, you might let her know.”

“As I say, it’s been months. Did you talk to the fellow?”

“No, but he’s around the Quarter if you want him. That girl, Lulu? The one with the light fingers? He’s spending time with her.”

“Sounds a suitable match.”

“Better than the Crosby girl—too naïve for her own good.”

“A description fitting half the women in Montparnasse.”

“Certainly the Americans. Why on earth do their fathers let them leave the house?”

“Madness.”

“I know—they’re just asking for trouble. They come to town, sleep with as many boys as they can find, and are shocked as lambs when they get hurt. I suppose that’s why so many of them drift away. I can’t think how many times someone has said, ‘Has anyone seen Daisy?’ or Iris or whoever. The girls here seem to make a habit of flitting in and out, and . . .”

The other man nodded.

And in the background, a machine began to tick.

Three

This seemed to be Stuyve­sant’s day for drunken women. Well, it was Paris; it was 1929. What else could he expect?

Two hours after he’d taken Lulu for breakfast (there: he’d even remembered her name), Harris Stuyve­sant rapped on a polished wooden door. The Rive Droite apartment was half as old and ten times as clean as his hotel room across the Seine, and even three flights up from street level, its hallways smelled like money. No septic tanks around here.

He knocked again.

The girl had to be back from the Riviera (or Monte Carlo or wherever she’d spent the summer)—and the building’s gorgon of a concierge had spoken on the telephone with someone in apartment 406 before reluctantly permitting him to pass, two minutes ago.

So unless the resident had made a break over the roof tiles . . .

He changed from knuckles to fist and pounded, hard. In response, a long extended grumble welled gradually from within. Locks rattled. The door swung open.

The girl was tall, and brown: dark eyes, chestnut hair, sun-tanned skin, dressed in a man’s chocolate-colored dressing-gown. The most colorful things about her were two heavily bloodshot eyes, explained by the stale-wine smell oozing from her pores.

Colorful eyes, and vocabulary. Three years ago when he’d come to France, Stuyve­sant wouldn’t have understood a thing the girl was saying—and even now he missed a few phrases. Those he did get made him blink.

“Yeah, sorry,” he interrupted loudly, in English. “I woke you up and you’re not happy with me. I need to ask you about Pip Crosby.”

“Who?” The accent sounded American, suggesting this was the roommate, but he’d need more than a monosyllable to be sure.

“Pip—Philippa. Crosby.”

“Phil?” The red eyes squinted against the brightness, and the wide, dry lips emitted another expletive. Thought appeared to be a challenge, but he caught no flare of guilty panic across her angular features.

“Are you Nancy Berger?”

“Uh.”

He took that for an affirmative, and planted one broad hand against the door, pushing gently. “How ’bout I come in and fix you some coffee?” She swayed. He caught her elbow, then hooked his Panama over the coat-rack and walked her inside to a seat, finding a roomy, light-filled apartment, comfortably furnished and clean beneath what appeared to be an exploded suitcase.

He located the kitchen and a coffee percolator, along with a package of grounds that, although stale-smelling, at least wasn’t chicory. While the pot gurgled, he snooped through drawers and flipped through a crate of unopened mail. It dated back to June.

When the glass button showed dark, he poured two cups and stirred sugar into both, carrying them out to the next room. The brown girl sat, unblinking, on a bright orange settee, the gap in her robe creating a provocative degree of cleavage (though personally, he preferred freckles to sun-tan). He pushed a cup into her hand, removed a pair of silk undergarments from the chair, and sat down in front of her.

“Drink,” he ordered. “It’ll help.”

Her eyes focused on the cup. She tried to speak, cleared her throat, tried again. “Milk?”

“There isn’t any.” Her robe kept sagging; in a minute, one side or the other would be unfettered.

She blew across the top, sipped, and croaked, “I don’t take sugar.” American, yes. She took another swallow.

Soon, she looked more alive and less queasy—and more crucial, her straighter posture restored a degree of closure to her garments. He handed her the note that he’d left with the concierge on Saturday afternoon, which he’d found on the counter under a dusty boot.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

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(8)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 10, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    It has been three years since the events of Touchstone, and Harr

    It has been three years since the events of Touchstone, and Harris Stuyvesant is a little harder, a little more cynical and more than a little bit lost. He's survived on odd jobs and meaningless affairs since he gave up investigating and was given up by Sarah Grey. Now, however, he has a case that will challenge his somewhat aimless existence and bring him face to face with the ghosts of his past.

    As he searches for a missing girl, Stuyvesant finds himself plumbing the most Stygian depths of Paris. Even his jaded eyes are surprised by the deeply disturbing and peculiarly sensual world he discovers. I was surprised and disturbed as well, yet could not look away. The rich and eerie descriptions were as revolting as they were compelling, sending shivers down my spine. It is a no-holds-barred exploration of some of the strangest artistic minds of the time. This is not a book for the faint of heart.

    Despite the relentlessly macabre displays that take up so much of this novel, I did enjoy it a great deal. The writing was flawless, the mystery was fascinating and original, and I liked seeing Stuyvesant, Bennett and Sarah again. Of the three, Sarah has changed the most. She is, understandably, not so exuberant as before and a good deal stronger. However, she is still drawn to dangerous friendships and continues to have excellent taste in her romantic attachments.

    There were some interesting new characters introduced, which almost made up for the fact that Bennett was hardly in most of the book. I especially liked Doucet and Nancy; a determined French cop and the very straightforward room-mate of Philippa Crosby, the girl Stuyvesant is attempting to find. Then there is the shudder-inducing Didi Moreau and the sophisticated, multi-layered Dominic Charmentier. Each new character is utterly unique in their own ways and completely unforgettable.

    If you enjoyed Touchstone, you will enjoy The Bones of Paris. It has all the things that made the previous novel great as well as several memorable new additions. I would recommend it to those who enjoy the darkest of mysteries and gothic horror.

    I received an advance e-copy of this book through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2013

    Fi Disappointed

    Huge fan but sorely disappointed this time

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 1, 2013

    In the world of art there is a fine line between genius and luna

    In the world of art there is a fine line between genius and lunacy


    The main character Harry has got the laid back attitude of a Sam Spade like detective. Never more than a step away from a willing romp or glass of booze.
    The setting is late 1920s in Paris, where the rich, famous and allegedly talented hang out together. A time and era that is filled to the brim of names yet to become globally infamous.
    Paris of that time period was filled with an air of decadence and conceptual freedom.
    That gaudy sense of the macabre and pleasure in the forbidden fruit takes center stage in this book. The boundaries of taste are lost within the pseudo intellectual meanderings of artists and their benefactors. Art is no longer distinguishable between sadistic tendencies and the ideas of a genius. One man's art is another man's rubbish or in this case hidden lunacy.
    The conclusion seemed a little rushed. The reader is confronted with lists of names of missing people that offer up no real connection to the crime, ergo useless to the reader. The main character couldn't find a link between the missing so it isn't any wonder the reader can't.
    Apparently you have to have faux Sherlock powers to able to figure it out. The why, who and when is presented on a five minute platter towards the end to a secondary character. That didn't make a lot of sense after the whole Harry build up.
    There was a lot of name dropping but I think the author wanted to clarify that this was the norm in that era. Artists, writers, the wealthy and the famous did all flock together like birds of a feather in certain cities/countries. It was en-vogue and très chic to be part of the scene. Where else could one expect to be decadent without fear of consequence or conscience if not in gay Paris.
    Overall it was a decent read, which could have done with a little more structure. The left field entrance of Mr Grey felt like an add-on due to the main character being far too distracted to solve the actual crime. Harry could do with a little less whiskey and women and far more deductive reasoning.
    I received a copy of this book via NetGalley.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 10, 2013

    The reading slump marches onward, as do I. I almost feel like th

    The reading slump marches onward, as do I. I almost feel like the poster child for one of those anger management classes where we discuss our feelings and the source of our discontent and why we have problems dealing with our emotional issues and why we can’t get along and actually be productive, contributing members to society. I don’t have a valid reason for my current behavior, other than to say I’ve been disappointed and repelled with the current crop of books that has made its way onto my Kindle. Most of it is of my own doing, but I couldn’t say no to free books, and I wanted to broaden my horizons a bit with some different reads. I’d like to apologize in advance as I attempt to control my out-of-synch behavior and reach that happy place—that book loving utopia—that I know is out there waiting for me, but alas, I will not find with THE BONES OF PARIS.

    That’s not to say this tale is a bad or horrid or evil or wicked or corrupt read. Oh, no, this novel held promise and writing talent and dangled both in front of me like the proverbial carrot, as my jaws snapped at the proffered present, and I clenched nothing but air between my teeth. I tried and tried and tried again to end up sucked into a world where Paris, France stood tall and proud and larger-than-life with characters who felt realistic and hopeful and truthful, and I ended up flat on my back with my legs sticking straight up in the air in a sort of bike pedaling motion.

    Harris Stuyvesant proved to have one-too-may sticks up his bunghole, and try as I might, I couldn’t pull them all out without removing most of his personality in the process. While he was certainly an admirable character, I never felt emotionally connected to him, almost as if he stood at a distance, while I stood at an easel and politely provided a portrait. Nancy Berger and Sarah Grey, however, proved much more to my liking and every bit as entertaining as I had hoped poor Harris would be. The rest of the cast of characters proved both interesting and a bit off-putting in a snooty sort of air that left my feathers more than a bit ruffled.

    The main plot proved engaging, but the sidebars and sidetracks and subplots and runaway tractor trailers kept me from ever being fully engaged in this tale. Instead, I stood on the side of the road with my thumb pointed upward, as this tale passed me by without even a second glance in my direction. And for a while the writing was good enough that it didn’t matter, but about a third of the way through I began to have my doubts that only snowballed downhill faster than a Model T.

    *BEGIN SPOILER* The climax and resolution left me more than a bit underwhelmed. To have the villain blame the machine for the rather fantastical killing spree seemed just a wee bit much to me. And what kind of a name is Le Comte Dominic de Charmentier? He sounds as pompous as a proud politician, but yet he’s this criminal mastermind that pretty much spouts at the mouth like a fountain telling Bennett Grey the reason for his actions, and then he’s going to off himself with his own gun. It all seemed a bit too Candy Land for me. *END SPOILER*

    I received this book for free through NetGalley.

    Robert Downs
    Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator

    1 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 12, 2014

    Attempt to try different genre combo fails

    Very common where there are too many books in a series sonetimes its such a reach that it doesnt work like mystery for sci fi or romance sometimes its a change in time or country a story is a story is a story and this just wasnt too good no matter where or when hard to finish it but was a borrow buska

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  • Posted June 27, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Not up to Ms King's usual standards.

    Ms King's attempt to explore the macabre strays too far from her forte, making us believe in and like unusual, even improbable, protagonists as they struggle in real life venues and circumstances. We like them, and can cheer them on wholeheartedly.In the Bones she presents a seriously flawed protagonist in settings more suited to fantasy than real life. This has been done elsewhere,but here we view the characters as if they were distant acquaintances who have developed leprosy since we last met them.

    She should either make her French unessential to the plot or abandon it, except where critically necessary. As s i is like watching a film with subtitles.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    Delightful!

    Masterful weaving of 20s details in rich descriptions - takes me back to Paris! I have been savouring like a nice Bordeaux, and will be trying another of Ms. King's creations. I think this offers several perspectives for book club enjoyment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2013

    This is my least favorite of Laurie King's books. Difficult to s

    This is my least favorite of Laurie King's books. Difficult to stay interested. Very dark. Repetitive.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 8, 2013

    Really drawn out.  I found myself wishing that the end would com

    Really drawn out.  I found myself wishing that the end would come sooner rather than later as it seemed that the author just wanted to show off her frenchrather than get on with the story

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 23, 2013

    Outstanding

    Beautifully written, with believable, interesting characters and a clever mystery. I am somewhat enamored of 1920s Paris, and really enjoyed the setting.

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