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A secluded house among trees on the outskirts of a small town caught fire one morning and exploded.

Totally destroyed, the property resisted attempts by the fire service and other authorities to find a cause. Nor did they find evidence of bodies or much sign of anyone recently living in the house.

The owner, a woman of indeterminate age, had not been seen for several months before the explosion. Being an author of travel books, this did not seem unusual as she left the house empty for varying periods from a few weeks to six months or more. Although she took part in the general life of the town, not one of the townspeople appeared to know her well, or, indeed know anything about her background and origins.

A search of the premises by the authorities discovered a fireproof strong box containing only a number of bound documents that turned out to be a series of Diaries.

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