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It touches all our lives-our triumphs and tragedies, our proudest achievements, our most traumatic disasters. Alloyed of love and fear, death and fire, and the inscrutable acts of the gods, insurance is indeed the force that binds the universe together. Hardly surprising, therefore, that Frank Carpenter, one of the foremost magical practitioners of our age, felt himself irresistibly drawn to it. Until, that is, he met Jane, a high-flying corporate heroine with an annoying habit of falling out of trees and getting killed. Repeatedly. It's not long before Frank and Jane find themselves face to face with the greatest enigma of our times: When is a door not a door? When it's a mousetrap.
From the moment Homo Sapiens descended from the trees, possibly onto their heads, humanity has striven towards civilization. Fire. The Wheel. Running Away from furry things with more teeth than one might reasonably expect-all are testament to man's ultimate supremacy. It is a noble story and so, of course, complete and utter fiction. For one man has discovered the hideous truth: that humanity's ascent to civilization has been ruthlessly guided by a small gang of devious frogs. The man's name is David Perkins, and his theory is not, on the whole, widely admired, particularly not by the frogs themselves, who had invested a great deal of time and effort in keeping the whole thing quiet.
J.W. Wells seemed to be a respectable establishment, but the company now paying Paul Carpenter's salary is, in fact, a deeply sinister organization with a mighty peculiar management team. Paul thought he was getting the hang of it-particularly when he fell head over heels for his strangely alluring colleague, Sophie-but death is never far away when you work at J.W. Wells. Our love-struck hero is about to discover that custard is definitely in the eye of the beholder. And that it really stings.
Ever been offered a promotion that seems too good to be true? The kind where you snap their arm off to accept, then wonder why all your long-serving colleagues look secretly relieved, as if they're off some strange and unpleasant hook? It's the kind of trick that deeply sinister companies like J.W. Wells & Co. pull all the time. Especially with employees who are too busy mooning over the office intern to think about what they're getting into. And it's why, right about now, Paul Carpenter is wishing he'd paid much less attention to the gorgeous Melze, and rather more to a little bit of job description small-print referring to "pest" control.
Once upon a time, everything was fine. Humpty Dumpty sat on his wall, Jack and Jill went about their lawful business, the Big Bad Wolf did what big bad wolves do, and the wicked queen plotted murder most foul. But the humans hacked, cried havoc, shut down the wicked queen's system, and corrupted her database-and suddenly everything was not fine at all. But at least we know that they'll all live happily ever after. Don't we?
The management buy-out of Hell wasn't going quite as well as had been hoped. For a start, there had been that nasty business with the perjurors, and then came the news that the Most Wanted Man in History had escaped, and all just as the plans for the new theme park, EuroBosch, were underway.
Sculptress Bianca Wilson is a living legend. St. George is also a legend, but not living. However, when Bianca's sculpture of the patron saint and his scaly chum gets a bit too lifelike, it opens up a new can of wyrms. The dragon knows that in the battle between Good and Evil, Evil got a raw deal and is looking to set the record straight. And George (who cheated) thinks the record's just fine as it is.