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The Talleyrand Maxim

J. S. Fletcher

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The “Talleyrand Maxim” holds that “With time and patience, the mulberry leaf is turned into satin.” The adage has the character of guidance for life for an ambitious legal clerk, Linford Pratt. The moment comes when a “mulberry leaf” falls into Pratt’s hands in the form of the will of a wealthy local industrial magnate, undiscovered at the time of his death. Realizing that possession of it gives him leverage over the natural beneficiaries—the late man’s nephew and niece, and their mother—Pratt sets to work to transform it into his “satin.” As wily as he proves to be, his aspirations face complications, for it seems his possession of the will is not so secret as he supposed.

J. S. Fletcher is best known for his detective fiction, but The Talleyrand Maxim is not a typical whodunit. Pratt’s culpability is never hidden from the reader, nor is there a traditional “sleuth.” The suspense lies, rather, in whether he will pull it off, as the suspicions of other interested parties deepen.

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