Long-distance followers of Madame Arcati will know of the unclassifiable (yet detachable) bond between myself and writer Duncan Fallowell. I know he had mixed feelings about my publishing the nude photo of him - passed to me by a mischief-maker-by-the-Med. Now we must test our alliance once again: he may not be entirely happy to learn that information has reached me of his mysterious 'ghost novel' - and naturally I feel compelled to repeat it.
One of the episodes in his new travel book How To Disappear (Madame Arcati review) was to be about the so-called Curse of the Cravens: holders of the Craven title are prone to dying young. However, I learn that this turned into a book in its own right, his ghost novel which is titled Cruel - and remains unpublished. This is because it contains a vivid deathbed scene for the actual Dowager Countess of Craven whom he assumed to have died long ago. Oops. It turned out she was still alive (a Gemini, natch) - in her 90s - and very much the matriarch! - so of course he couldn't put the novel forward.
My informant tells me that Duncan had had his eyes peeeeeled for her obituary ever since, desperate to sell his novel - but nothing. Then last week a death notice for her appeared in the Telegraph - she died peacefully in her sleep in June. A cloud with a literary silver lining: Cruel is now unleashed, ready to spook and tell the tale of the horizontal Countess whose two sons tragically predeceased her.
Incidentally, this isn't the first time Fallowell has determined someone's death prematurely. In How To Disappear, he pursues the social climber Bapsy Pavry (aka Lady Winchester). At one stage he is quite convinced she must be dead until disabused. Then he has his 'supernatural Pavry obituary' experience - for more about which you must read the book. (click here to buy)