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A letter written by a seriously ill middle aged man facing the end of his life is found in a safety deposit box after he passes away. The document, immediately thought to be Jack Quinn’s last will and testament, sends his oldest friend on a quest to find his birth parents, his adoption only revealed to him shortly before he died. The search for the identity of the decedent’s birth parents takes Mark Purchell, a man who has been Quinn’s friend for over forty years, from his hometown of Ottawa to a small town on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia. Along the way, Purchell encounters and is assisted by a number of intriguing characters, including a seedy but well-meaning neighbour, a stern librarian, a retired police officer, members of the clergy, a newspaper editor, a haughty hotel maitre d’ and a spirited waitress named Elaine. His investigation of The Hidden History of Jack Quinn eventually leads to a newspaper archive and a surprising answer to a departed friend’s last request.

 

In 1949, an architect and amateur magician named George Fenwick was to leap from an apartment building that he had designed and first occupied when it opened in 1936. Twenty six years later, John and Patricia Delaney rented the same apartment that George Fenwick had occupied. For reasons that neither of them were ever able to determine, the mystery of Mr. Fenwick’s suicide appeared to have something to do with certain photographs found in their apartment, photographs an obsession shared by George Fenwick and his father, Richard. Their pursuit of this puzzle would led John and Patricia Delaney through all manner of investigation, from peculiar neighbours, newspaper reporters, policemen, a private detective, magicians, libraries, bookstore owners, and even each other.