It was turning into quite a dull dark and soundless day at House of Usher plc. There had been complaints about a black cat who had swallowed a whole cask of Amontillado, tried to eat a raven at the local cemetery and then promptly thrown it all up over the pristine tomb of Ligeia. Luckily, the local paper had given this no publicity as it was obsessed with the current spate of murders in the Rue Morgue, but it was a near thing, and to make the day worse, Annabelle Lee, a rival executive at Pit and Pendulum, had successfully bid for the Lenore account.
The parent firm had sent someone over to remonstrate, of course, a Monsieur Valdimar from the Paris office, but there had been a mix-up with his luggage at Heathrow and he’d arrived clutching a strange case. So, all in all, it had been a pretty disastrous morning, and when asked if he was coming back, the departing Frenchman clutched his tell-tale heart theatrically and replied, “Nevermore!”