The End of the Beginning represents a new avenue for author Carl Douglass to pursue. The protagonist of this novella is Sybil Norcroft, M.D., PhD., F.A.C.S who will be instantly recognizable to his fans as the striking main character in Carl’s popular novel, All in Jest.
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Sybil makes a serious mistake, at least in retrospect. Everyone who knows her or of her is aware that she and Attorney Paul Bel Geddes have locked horns for a decade, and each regard the other as the nemesis. Sybil’s error is to get angry, then loud and demeaning, of Paul in a very public black tie New Year’s Eve gathering after having received yet one more “intent to sue 90 day letter” from the man. Her billionaire husband tries to shush her, but she all but shouted, “Don’t patronize me, Charles. That bottom feeder has gone too far. Somebody needs to do something about him.”
Her outburst would have passed without notice were it not for the fact that Paul Bel Geddes is murdered in his palatial home in Bel Aire. His safe is emptied of millions in cash and jewels. Detectives Anson Burger and Griselda (Grizzly) Müller, a star reporter for the L.A. Times, and an overzealous deputy D.A., pursue Sybil with unprecedented determination once Paul’s wife—the other likely suspect—is cleared. Sybil, her husband, and her attorneys do not trust the detectives who seem willing to do anything to get her arrested and convicted. So, they hire their own private detectives, Drew Knox and Amber Littlefeather, who prove to be highly effective and professional.
The private and police detectives learn how to get along with each other and begin turning up leads rapidly. That is important because the trial under Judge Drammon--known as the “hanging judge”--is not going Sybil’s way—not at all. The trial and the investigation traveled in parallel but like ships passing in the dark. The defense rests, and the jury goes soberly into their room to deliberate.
When the jury informs Judge Drammon that they have reached a unanimous verdict, Sybil’s heart sinks. She is looking at the end of life as she knows it. It is two-twenty-one in the afternoon, and the tension in the courtroom could not be higher. The jury foreman stands to face the judge and is about to read the verdict. Before the bailiff can retrieve the folded verdict sheet, the front door bursts open; and a disheveled man in a grey suit rushes in. To everyone in the courtroom’s consternation, the man turned out to be Lt. Anson Burger, and he dropped an evidentiary bomb shell.
In a real sense, Sybil’s story begins after that dramatic entrance. Sybil has enemies--real ones—in the dog-eat-dog world of academic and private practice surgery, and they threaten her reputation irretrievably. She is known as the Snow Queen for a reason and prevails once again, but the new world she enters is one of uncharted country and an uncertain future.