Two weeks later, Ebeltoft has his album launch. The Cabal have all showed up, and so has Alan Brigham, the Technocracy defector who became their mysterious saviour a few weeks earlier. Ebeltoft crowns the event by announcing that he retires from music, to become a private investigator. This prompts a female fan to disrobe and attempt to plunge to her death.
Starfall later visits her in the hospital, but the fan claims to have no recollection of the event. Starfall is very disturbed.
Meanwhile, Blakeney has paid a rare visit to his publishers’ to present his new novel – literary mashup Hansel & Grendel. He is somewhat disturbed to learn that a former employee associated with Blakeney’s “rival” Stewart McQueen has attempted to set fire to himself and the McQueen-section in a prominent book store. A sincerity in Paxton’s voice on camera footage from before the incident leads Blakeney to believe he speaks the truth when he warns of a hidden evil in McQueen’s books. At least, Paxton certainly believes he speaks the truth. Blakeney and Grimm examine the five published books of McQueen’s planned series of six, and both experience traumatic mental sensations connected with the books. A closer inspection reveals a set of clues in the cover illustrations (by the author), which points to the town Theodosia in the Ozark country of Missouri. Intrigued and alarmed, the pair decide to investigate. They contact Ebeltoft Starfall, who agrees to help, as does Brigham. To find out more, Entropy-talent Grimm creates an elaborate Magickal effect with Blakeney’s guidance, and simply walks right into the precinct jail where Paxton is being held. He discovers that Paxton believes that the books are meant to open the way from some horror, but he is unwilling, or unable, to explain exactly what.
Ebeltoft performs his own investigations, and discovers that the books opens the readers’ minds to some nefarious purpose, enough proof that the cabal all agree that they should investigate, especially since Blakeney and Grimm are potentially affected. They book tickets, and travel to Missouri to get some answers.