Authors: Jasper Fforde
The Woman Who Died
Also by Jasper Fforde
The Thursday Next Series
FIRST AMONG SEQUELS
LOST IN A GOOD BOOK
THE WELL OF LOST PLOTS
THE EYRE AFFAIR
THE GREAT SAMUEL PEPYS FIASCO
ONE OF OUR THURSDAYS IS MISSING
The Nursery Crimes Series
THE BIG OVER EASY
THE FOURTH BEAR
The Last Dragonslayer Series
THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER
THE SONG OF THE QUARKBEAST
SHADES OF GREY
About the author
Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring out of the window and chewing the end of a pencil. He lives and works in Wales and has a passion for aviation. Find out more at www.jasperfforde.com
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THE WOMAN WHO DIED A LOT
First published in Great Britain in 2012 by Hodder & Stoughton
An Hachette UK company
Copyright © Jasper Fforde 2012
The right of Jasper Fforde to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
A CIP catalogue record for this title is available from the British Library
Ebook ISBN 978 1 444 70933 9
Hardback ISBN 978 0 340 96311 1
Hodder & Stoughton Ltd
338 Euston Road
London NW1 3BH
To all the librarians
that have ever been
ever will be
this book is respectfully dedicated
The Special Operations Network was formed in 1928 to handle policing duties considered too specialized to be tackled by the regular force. Despite considerable success in the many varied areas of expertise in which SpecOps operated, all but three of the thirty-six divisions were disbanded in the winter of 1991–92, allegedly due to budgetary cutbacks. By 2004 it was realized that this had been a bad move, and plans were drawn up to re-form the service.
Millon de Floss,
A Short History of SpecOps
verything comes to an end. A good bottle of wine, a summer’s day, a long-running sitcom, one’s life, and eventually our species. The question for many of us is not that everything
come to an end but
. And can we do anything vaguely useful until it does?
In the case of a good bottle of wine, probably not much— although the very act of consumption might make one believe otherwise. A well-lazed summer’s day should not expect too much of itself either, and sitcoms never die. They simply move to a zombielike existence in rerun heaven. Of the remaining two—the end of one’s life and that of our species—regular subscribers to my exploits will recall that I had seen myself die a few years back, and, given my past record, it would be probable that much useful work would be done between then and now. As to the end of our species, the possibility of annihilation was quite real, well documented, and went by the unimaginative title of Asteroid HR-6984. Whether the human race managed to figure out a worthwhile function for itself in the thirty-seven years until possible collision was dependent upon one’s level of optimism.
But it wasn’t all bad news. In fact, due to a foible of human nature that denies us the ability to focus on more than one threat at a time, the asteroid was barely news at all. HR-6984’s convenient lack of urgency and its current likelihood of hitting the earth at only around 34 percent had relegated it well past such front-page news as the stupidity surplus and the current round of fiery cleansings by an angry deity. Instead the hurtling lump of space debris was consigned to pop-culture damnation on page twelve: Sandwiched somewhere between guinea-pig accessorizing and the apparently relevant eating habits of noncelebrities.