The steamer, Sestri Levante, stood high above the dockside and the watery sleet, carried on the wind blustering down from the Black Sea, had drenched even the small shelter deck.” Eric Ambler, Journey into Fear.

“Ed Greenfield collected people the way other men collect comic books or old stamps or vintage cards.” Jill Lepore, If Then: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future.

“Whatever Mum’s saying’s drowned out by the grimy roar of the bus pulling away, revealing a pub called The Fox and Hounds.” David Mitchell, Slade House.

“We know so little of the worlds beneath our feet.” Robert Macfarlane, Underworld: A Deep Time Journey.

“Emma sat on the shingle bank and watched the kids on the beach below build a bonfire.” Ann Cleves, Wild Fire.

“On the morning of October 1, 1907, the hotel bellmen and front desk staff were scurrying about the marble lobby, smoothing their uniforms and making final preparations.” Julie Satow, The Plaza: The Secret Life of America’s Most Famous Hotel.

“In the spring of 1926 I resigned from my job.” Thornton Wilder, Theophilus North.

“His upper jawbone was massive—a long, curved bone with nine tiny holes meant to hold his teeth.” Kate Winkler Dawson, American Sherlock: Murder, Forensics, and the Birth of American CSI.

“Castle, ever since he had joined the firm as a young recruit more than thirty years ago, had taken his lunch in a public house behind St. James’s Street, not far from the office.” Graham Greene, The Human Factor.

“By the time Charity had heard about the young woman, it was too late to help.” Michael Lewis, The Premonition: A Pandemic Story.

“He lay, flat on the brown, pine-needled floor of the forest, his chin on his folded arms, and high overhead the wind blew in the tops of the pine trees.” Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls. (The last line of the novel: “He could feel his heart beating against the pine needle floor of the forest.”)

“John F. Kennedy was a man with a keenly developed sense of humor.” Bill Adler (ed.), The Kennedy Wit.

“The night Effia Otcher was born into the musky heat of Fanteland, a fire raged through the woods just outside her father’s compound.” Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing.

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