This is probably the scariest opening chapter of any novel that we’re publishing this year. If your ideal novel lives in the intersection between horror and police procedural, then head to your local bookstore for Richard Montanari’s new Byrne and Balzano novel, Shutter Man.
Who are you?
I am Billy the Wolf.
Why did God make it so you can’t see people’s faces?
So I can see their souls.
At the moment the black SUV made its second pass in front of the Rousseau house, a tidy stone colonial in the Melrose Park section of the city, Laura Rousseau was putting the finishing touches to a leg of lamb.
It was her husband’s fortieth birthday.
Although Angelo Rousseau said every year that he did not want anyone to make a fuss, he had been talking about his mother’s roast lamb recipe for the past three weeks. Angelo Rousseau had many fine qualities. Subtlety was not among them.
Laura had just finished chopping the fresh rosemary when she heard the front door open and close, heard footsteps in the hall leading to the kitchen. It was her son, Mark.
A tall, muscular boy with an almost balletic grace, seventeen-year-old Mark Rousseau was the vice president of his class’s student council, and captain of his track team. He had his eye on the 1,000- and 5,000-meter events at the 2016 summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
As Mark entered the kitchen, Laura slipped the lamb into the oven and set the timer.
‘How was practice?’ she asked.
‘Good,’ Mark said. He took a carton of orange juice out of the refrigerator and was just about to drink from it when he fielded a withering glance from his mother. He smiled, pulled a glass from the cupboard and poured it full. ‘Shaved a quarter-second off my hundred.’
‘My speedy boy,’ Laura said. ‘How come it takes you a month to clean your room?’
‘See if you can find an egg in the fridge,’ she said. ‘I looked twice and didn’t see any. All I need is one for the apple turnovers. Please tell me we have an egg.’
Mark poked around in the refrigerator, moving plastic containers, cartons of milk, juice, yogurt. ‘Nope,’ he said. ‘Not a one.’
‘No egg wash, no turnovers,’ Laura said. ‘They’re your father’s favorite.’
Laura glanced at the clock. ‘It’s okay. I’ve been in the house all day. I need the exercise.’
‘No you don’t,’ Mark said.
‘What do you mean?’
‘All my friends say I’ve got the hottest mom.’
‘They do not.’
‘Carl Fiore thinks you look like Téa Leoni,’ Mark said.
‘Carl Fiore needs glasses.’
‘That’s true. But he’s not wrong about this.’
‘You sure you don’t mind going to the store?’ Laura asked.
Mark smiled, tapped the digital clock on the oven. ‘Time me.’
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