I teased a story with a Crispin and Malcolm team-up for the Strange Cases anthology before, but with a different plot. It's a fun little story, and I will use it someday. But as I continued to work on the book, I decided this would be an excellent opportunity to address some of the bigger story arcs of the Beaumont and Beasley series–specifically, the ones pertaining to Wonderland and a certain close relative of Nick and Crispin.
So here's the cover and synopsis for the fourth story of Strange Cases, The Hare and the Hatter.
Crispin Beasley is remembering things that never happened. Not unusual, for someone with a unique connection to the fabric of time and space. But given that the visions involve his estranged father, he finds them particularly disturbing.
So he consults the one person who has offered to help him control his powers instead of encouraging him to suppress them–the dragon Malcolm Blackfire. Together, he and Malcolm track down Perceval Beasley, who's currently working for an up-and-coming motion picture studio run by young entrepreneur Harry March.
Harry seems genuine. Perceval, though unscrupulous as ever, doesn't appear to be up to anything particularly horrible. And yet, Crispin senses something wrong at the studio. Reality is bleeding, and time itself is screaming in pain. With Malcolm's help, Crispin must find a way to stop a catastrophic chain of events.
But Crispin may not know Malcolm as well as he thinks. And perhaps the events in his visions really did happen after all…
There's a strong emphasis on humor in this installment (the Crispin/Malcolm banter is SO MUCH FUN to write), but some very suspenseful moments as well. This story serves as an important set-up for Books 5 and 6 of Beaumont and Beasley, introducing plot threads and characters that will recur in both. Like the rest of this volume, it will also tackle the fallout of The Stroke of Eleven. Really, this whole book was born out of my realization that Stroke‘s aftermath needed a lot more attention before moving on to the next chapter in the series. Ultimately, I'm very happy with how Book 3 turned out, but it could have been even more detailed than it was. Strange Cases takes the time to unpack all the consequences of the stuff that happened, particularly those pertaining to Nick and Cordelia's time-travel adventure. Let's just say that the alternate timeline they glimpsed wasn't obliterated quite as thoroughly as they'd like to think.
Side note–did you know that before his Mickey Mouse days, Walt Disney worked on a series of hybrid animation/live-action shorts based loosely on Alice in Wonderland? Starting in 1923? The same year in which Strange Cases is set? Just a completely random historical tidbit I thought might be of interest.
Tune in tomorrow for the cover and synopsis of Strange Cases #5!