It makes for a perfect cover.
That is why I set the tale in those years, rather than in 1969-1971, when I lived there. Not much happened in those years; the pivot had turned. The Incomparable Marge, however, did live there (and for a time in an apartment building that would much much later house Jeffrey Dahmer, the Milwaukee Cannibal). She marched across the bridge with Fr. Groppi, awoke one day to find a tank at the end of her block, and had a close call breaking the curfew.
Meanwhile at the (fictitious) Institute for Historical Research, Wilma Masterson is preparing concordances of the Matter of Britain and the Matter of France, and has been startled to find one character -- Ogier the Dane -- appearing with both Arthur and Charlemagne, and later with Hugh Capet. Francis Xavier Delacorte, her colleague, has been assigned Professor Henkle's favorite topic: the lost manuscripts of the Middle Ages. One of them in particular, the Peruzzi Manuscript, is said to be cursed. Everyone who has ever found it has died.
Carole asked him about the European trip, and what cities he would be visiting. “I always wanted to travel,” she said, “and not just from Texas to Wisconsin.” She told him that according to Nelson Crowe the research could be dangerous and begged him to take care.
Frank laughed. “The danger lies in being bored to death. I’ll be talking to curators and researchers, not capos.”
“Isn’t there one book, that everyone who reads it dies?”
He laughed. “Did Nelson tell you that? That’s just one of those legends that crop up about lost books and lost gold mines and lost cities. Nelson is taking it too seriously. No, wait. That can’t be right. Nelson never takes anything too seriously. He’s just running with the gag.”
“Wasn’t there a Vittorio Gibretti who was looking for your Peruzzi Manuscript, and he died young.”
“He was run over by a car in Brussels.”
“And Coos van deVries…”
“That was back in the 1860s! He fell from a Rhine steamer and drowned. Look, Carole, if you cast a wide enough net you will always pull in a number of suspicious deaths. Remember the ‘curse’ of King Tut’s tomb? We don’t like coincidences, so we make up stories to ‘explain’ them.”
Carole leaned into him closer. “Just promise me you’ll be careful.”
“I’ll button up my overcoat/When the wind is free.”
She didn’t understand the line, but then for the next hour or so she did not have to.