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Meet Camaro from The Night Charter by Sam Hawken

The Night Charter by Sam HawkenCamaro Espinoza is unlike any other action heroine you’ve ever read. First off, she’s not interested in saving the world. She’d prefer a simple, solitary life—like the one she has chartering catch-and-release fishing trips off the Miami coast. But trouble has a way of finding Camaro. In The Night Charter by Sam Hawken, which Mulholland is publishing today, we have the great pleasure of introducing our readers to “the deadliest female protagonist since Jon Land’s Caitlin Strong and Stieg Larsson’s Lisbeth Salander” (Booklist). Some advice? Read the first chapter below and stay on Camaro’s good side—this won’t be the last you see of her.

CHAPTER ONE

Camaro Espinoza awoke before dawn. She had fled New York City after the killing of five men exactly 364 days before.

The bright fluorescent bulb in the bathroom hurt her eyes, so she switched it off, choosing instead to shower in the dark. She left the bedroom unlit afterward, putting on her clothes without a shred of
sunlight passing through the slightly parted curtains. Her small backyard, only just visible, was a square of blackness because there was only the sliver of a moon.

She packed a small ice chest with a couple of beers and a lunch she’d made the night before, then let herself out onto the carport where a Harley-Davidson snuggled up against the shadowy bulk of her pickup. A pair of bungee cords secured the chest to the back of the pillion seat, and she walked the bike down the driveway and out onto the street. When it started up, the rumble of the engine was remarkably loud on the quiet street. She gave the throttle a twist and pulled away. The morning air stirred her dark, honey-brown hair.

Her home was in the Allapattah neighborhood of Miami, and she lived fifteen minutes from the water. A pair of lights illuminated the sign at the marina, and beyond the open gates were the steady rows of silent boats waiting patiently for their time on the waves. Camaro parked up against the side of the marina’s office. She took the ice chest with her out onto the pier.

The fifty-nine-foot Custom Carolina waited about halfway down, bobbing slightly as the water shifted beneath her hull. The boat was named the Annabel. It had taken nearly all of the money she had for Camaro to get it. The flying bridge stood tall and white against the slowly lightening sky. Camaro boarded onto the aft deck and lightly touched the fighting chair mounted there.

She stowed the ice chest in the cabin and cast off before she climbed the ladder to the bridge. The boat had an even throatier noise than the Harley did, but there were no sleepers to disturb. The marina was utterly still.

Camaro navigated out of the forest of boats and onto open water. She drove toward the rising sun and found a spot in the blue just as the last of the bright orange disk cleared the horizon.

There were poles on board and bait in a cooler she had stocked a day ago. Camaro let the Annabel drift in the Gulf Stream and cast a line. The bait sank a thousand feet. She sat in the fighting chair and relaxed with the pole in the holder between her legs, listening to nothing and feeling only the feathering morning breeze that carried across the waves.

She carried on until noon, pausing only to slather sunscreen on brown arms and drink a beer. She hid beneath a cap and a pair of wraparound sunglasses. Nothing bit, but she didn’t much care one way or the other. Today was an empty day with nothing scheduled, no clients to meet, and no responsibilities. If she went ashore without a single catch, she would at least have spent the hours with the splendor of the sea around her and the luxury of absolute quietude.

By two she’d had a couple of nibbles but no solid hits. These were swordfish waters, but swordfish hunted by night. It wasn’t unheard of to catch them in the full glare of the sun and see them rear out of the water at the end of the line, battling the hook and the tension of the rod. She could have set the bait lower, all the way down to two thousand feet, and maybe find a little action, but she preferred to let the fish come to her today. If there was going to be a fight, then there would be one, but she wasn’t looking for it.

She reeled in at three and took her lunch inside on the vinyl-surfaced galley counter. The second beer went down cold and good, and even her sandwich tasted better for the wait. There was a bed in the bow, good for naps, and she considered it, but in the end she went back to the water and rod and line and the glare of the cloudless sky.

It was close to seven o’clock when she brought the bait in for the last time and set course for the marina. She’d drifted some forty miles, and the trip back was slow, the Annabel cresting the waves and carving them, the engine keeping her high. Eventually, the shoreline came into view, and the glitter of Miami was visible in the distance. Camaro felt a delicate sadness at returning to people and roads and cars and all of that. It was better out here beyond the skyline, absent all demands. She could stay here forever if the opportunity came. She’d buy a sailing vessel and take to the high seas and be free of it all.

The sun was failing, and already the lights were on as Camaro entered the marina, closed on her berth, and spotted the man coming down the pier.

Read Chapter Two on Sam Hawken’s website

Buy The Night Charter: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Indiebound

An Excerpt from Crooked by Austin Grossman

Crooked by Austin GrossmanWith the publication of his new novel, Crooked, Austin Grossman gives Richard Nixon the chance to finally set the record straight about his presidency, the Cold War, Watergate, and even our starry-eyed notions about the Founding Fathers. This dazzling confession has been called “captivating” by Entertainment Weekly and “a cantering hodgepodge of American history, black magic and political satire” by the Washington Post. Below is a snippet from Crooked in which Grossman sets us straight about our country’s origin story.

Everyone thinks of the Enlightenment as the end of superstition, the breakdown of religion and magic and the beginning of a new and rational order. The United States is the standard-bearer of that order, a nation founded not on superstitions about bloodlines and myths of swords in stones but on sound civic principles and contracts rationally entered into.

Everyone is wrong. The dawn of modernity wasn’t the end of enchantment, only the beginning of a new and more terrible one. The Plymouth elders made a bargain and brought forth nothing less than a new American sorcery, the casting of a vast invisible spell great enough to bind the darkness of the New World. The settlers lived, and prospered, and over time their work was given the name by which we now know it—the Constitution, the thing that opened the way for the master enchanters of the nineteenth century, Lincoln and Whitman, and for the obscene magical forces that would one day push us all the way to the Pacific.

The Pilgrims’ bargain bought them a continent, and we were the inheritors of a contract bound into our land and our nation and infused again and again into the flesh of its principal executive, the president of the United States.

An Excerpt from White Crocodile by K. T. Medina

White Crocodile by K.T. MedinaTess Hardy thought she had put Luke, her violent ex-husband, firmly in her past. Then he calls from Cambodia, where he is working as a mine-clearer, and there’s something in his voice she hasn’t heard before: Fear. Two weeks later, he’s dead. Against her better judgment, Tess is drawn to Battambang to solve the mystery of Luke’s sudden death, but what she discovers there is an entire network of secrecy, terror, and lies. Below is the scene in which Tess learns about the White Crocodile.

The sign was a square of painted wood nailed to a post at the edge of the minefield, hanging crooked, as if it had been hurriedly tacked up. The stick figure of a reptile daubed on a black background. Needle-sharp teeth, a splash for an eye.

Tess realised that her hands were tattooing a rhythm against her thighs. Curling them into fists, she jammed them into her pockets. There was something written in Khmer beneath the drawing. She couldn’t read it. But she knew what the thing meant.

‘White Crocodile minefield.’ A Khmer in mine-clearance fatigues was standing watching her, his flat brown face expressionless. ‘You heard about the White Crocodile?’

Tess shook her head, and thought back six months to an English spring morning: trailing a hand along the sleek lines of a young man’s coffin.

‘No.’ She was surprised at how steady her voice was. ‘What’s the White Crocodile?’

The Khmer slotted some betel nut into his mouth, his saliva reddening as he chewed. ‘It come to Cambodia at time of important change. Present at birth of Cambodia. When Khmer Rouge took country, White Crocodile seen. This minefield.’ He gestured towards the red-and-white warning tape. ‘When this minefield found, White Crocodile here.’ He stared past her, out across the spoiled fields. ‘Seen here.’

‘So it represents fate, does it? Is that what people in Cambodia think?’

The mine clearer levelled his gaze at hers; he hadn’t understood.

‘Fate,’ she repeated. ‘Something that is meant to be. Something that you can’t change whatever you do.’

‘Bhat.’ Sudden understanding lent a gleam to his dark eyes. ‘Fate. The White Crocodile is fate.’

An Excerpt from Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones

Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd JonesYou may remember Leah Wilde, the daughter of Hannah and Nate, from Stephen Lloyd Jones’s debut novel, The String Diaries. If you don’t, no matter—all you need to know is that Leah’s tribe of supernaturally long-lived people is dying out, and she won’t stand for it. In a desperate bid against extinction, Leah brings together long-standing enemies, but her heroic actions have marked her as the most hunted young woman in the world. In the passage below from Written in the Blood, Leah learns more about the forces that threaten her.

Oxford, England

Leah Wilde arrived in Oxford, squeezing her hired Mercedes into a tight parking space outside a terraced row of town houses a few minutes’ walk from Balliol College.

It had been raining back in London, but the clouds had receded as she drove west, and now a red sun set fires blazing across the limestone façades of the buildings.

Professor Emeritus Patrick Beckett lived in a converted first-floor apartment in one of the Victorian houses along the terrace. Leah found his name beneath a bell and rang it. Moments later a device on the door clacked and its lock released. She let herself into a hallway that probably hadn’t seen a fresh coat of paint in thirty years.

An uneven floor of red and white tile was home to a collection of strangled umbrellas and a console table overflowing with curling telephone directories. To the left a staircase, covered by a frayed grey carpet, rose at a steep angle. Bolted to the wall beside it hung a newly installed stairlift, its red vinyl seat and smooth metal track a jarring counterpoint to the rest of the decor. Leah followed the stairs up and to the right, where she encountered a yellowing front door.

‘It’s open!’ The voice – high-pitched and wavering, hallmark of the very old – was the most cheerful Leah had heard in weeks. ‘I’m in the snug! Second door on the right! If you see a sheepish-looking cat out there you can throttle him for me. Wretched thing just peed on my foot.’

Leah pushed open the door into a hallway so piled with books that she had to shuffle through it sideways to avoid knocking over any of the stacks. It felt both incredibly claustrophobic and wonderfully homely all at once, although the smell, a cocktail of moth balls, cooked porridge oats, rancid cat litter and old books, made her nose wrinkle. A ginger cat stalked towards her, tail held high and eyes averted, as if offended by the accusation it had just endured.

She found the door to the snug, opened it, and from within heard a stack of papers collapse and fan out across the floor.

‘Don’t worry about that!’ cried the voice. ‘Come in, come in!’

Leah slid around the door, which had wedged itself rigid over the toppled pile, and entered the strangest little room she had ever seen. Continue reading “An Excerpt from Written in the Blood by Stephen Lloyd Jones”

An Excerpt from The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari

The Doll Maker by Richard MontanariDetectives Kevin Byrne and Jessica Balzano are back to take on Richard Montanari’s most frightening creations yet: the debonair Mr. Marseille and Anabelle. Mr. Marseille and Anabelle have a macabre mission, one that belies their refined appearance. Below is their first appearance in Montanari’s new novel, The Doll Maker, which is on sale today.

Chapter 1

At just after six a.m., as every other day, Mr Marseille and I opened our eyes, dark lashes counterweighted to the light.

It was mid-November, and although the frost had not yet touched the windows—this usually comes to our eaves in late December—there was a mist on the glass that gave the early morning light a delicate quality, as if we were looking at the world through a Lalique figurine.

Before we dressed for the day we drew our names in the condensation on the windowpane, the double l in Mr Marseille’s name and the double l in mine slanting toward one another like tiny Doric columns, as has been our monogram for as long as we both could remember.

Continue reading “An Excerpt from The Doll Maker by Richard Montanari”

An Excerpt from When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

When We Were Animals by Joshua GaylordWhen Lumen Fowler looks back on her childhood, she wouldn’t have guessed she would become a kind suburban wife, a devoted mother. In fact she never thought she would escape her small and peculiar hometown, where at puberty, every resident “breaches” during the full moon. On these nights, adolescents run wild, destroying everything in their path. When We Were Animals is Lumen’s confessional, and below is an excerpt from the haunting and beautiful novel, which goes on sale today.

Do you want to know who I am?

Do you want to know what I do?

I live next door to you with my husband and my child.

I have done such things as would shame the devil, yet I keep my front yard tidy, the trash bins lined up neatly on trash day.

I attend the meetings of the PTA. I offer to bake cookies.

At night, after everyone is asleep, I creep downstairs to the kitchen table and write down my memories. They are the stories I tell myself when I can’t sleep. Like fairy tales—or the mythos
of a lost culture.

I was an excellent student.

I am an excellent member of the community. I never spit, and I always put my waste in the proper receptacles.

Do you know what else I do? Continue reading “An Excerpt from When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord”

Start Reading Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell

Inspector of the Dead by David MorrellThomas De Quincey is a real person. He really was addicted to opium, and in 1821, he really did scandalize all of England with his first-person account of addiction, Confessions of an English Opium-Eater. He really was the first to advance the idea of a subconscious (70 years before Freud), and he really was an expert in murder, publishing a masterful report of the Ratcliff Highways killings of 1811 called “On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts.” But in David Morrell’s hands, Thomas De Quincey becomes the insightful, provocative hero of a bestselling historical thriller series. In 2013, Mulholland Books published Murder as a Fine Art. Today, we publish the sensational sequel, Inspector of the Dead. Read the shocking first chapter—in which we meet a vengeful killer—below.

CHAPTER ONE: THE KILLING ZONE

London, 1855

Except for excursions to a theater or a gentlemen’s club, most respectable inhabitants of the largest city on earth took care to be at home before the sun finished setting, which on this cold Saturday evening, the third of February, occurred at six minutes to five.

That time—synchronized with the clock at the Royal Greenwich Observatory—was displayed on a silver pocket watch that an expensively dressed, obviously distinguished gentleman examined beneath a hissing gas lamp. As harsh experiences had taught him, appearance meant everything. The vilest thoughts might lurk within someone, but the external semblance of respectability was all that mattered. For fifteen years now, he couldn’t recall a time when rage had not consumed him, but he had never allowed anyone to suspect, enjoying the surprise of those upon whom he unleashed his fury.

Tonight, he stood at Constitution Hill and stared across the street toward the murky walls of Buckingham Palace. Lights glowed faintly behind curtains there. Given that the British government had collapsed four days earlier because of its shocking mismanagement of the Crimean War, Queen Victoria was no doubt engaged in urgent meetings with her Privy Council. A shadow passing at one of the windows might belong to her or perhaps to her husband, Prince Albert. The gentleman wasn’t certain which of them he hated more.

Approaching footsteps made him turn. A constable appeared, his helmet silhouetted against the fog. As the patrolman focused his lantern on the quality of clothing before him, the gentleman made himself look calm. His top hat, overcoat, and trousers were the finest. His beard—a disguise—would have attracted notice years earlier but was now fashionable. Even his black walking stick with its polished silver knob was the height of fashion.

“Good evening, sir. If you don’t mind me saying, don’t linger,” the constable warned. “It doesn’t do to be out alone in the dark, even in this neighborhood.”

“Thank you, constable. I’ll hurry along.”

Continue reading “Start Reading Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell”

Start Reading Lamentation by C.J. Sansom

Lamentation by C.J. SansomLamentation is the first Shardlake novel to be published by Mulholland Books, but it’s not the first in C.J. Sansom’s internationally bestselling series. That said, I approached Lamentation without having read the first five books in the series and was swept away by Sansom’s depictions of Henry VIII’s court and life in Tudor England. Our hero, Matthew Shardlake, is a brilliant lawyer, a loyal friend, and a thoughtful man of his time. 1546 has never appeared more vivid than when seen through his eyes. Sample the first chapter of Lamentation below, which opens with the burning of radical Protestant Anne Askew.

Chapter One

I did not want to attend the burning. I have never liked even such things as the bearbaiting, and this was to be the burning alive at the stake of four living people, one a woman, for denying that the body and blood of Christ were present in the Host at Mass. Such was the pitch we had come to in England during the great heresy hunt of 1546.

I had been called from my chambers at Lincoln’s Inn to see the Treasurer, Master Rowland. Despite my status as a serjeant, the most senior of barristers, Master Rowland disliked me. I think his pride had never recovered from the time three years before when I had been – justly – disrespectful to him. I crossed the Inn Square, the red brickwork mellow in the summer sunshine, exchanging greetings with other black-gowned lawyers going to and fro. I looked up at Stephen Bealknap’s rooms; he was my old foe both in and out of court. The shutters at his windows were closed. He had been ill since early in the year and had not been seen outside for many weeks. Some said he was near death.

I went to the Treasurer’s offices and knocked at his door. A sharp voice bade me enter. Rowland sat behind his desk in his spacious room, the walls lined with shelves of heavy legal books, a display of
his status. He was old, past sixty, rail-thin but hard as oak, with a narrow, seamed, frowning face. He sported a white beard, grown long and forked in the current fashion, carefully combed and reaching halfway down his silken doublet. As I came in he looked up from cutting a new nib for his goose-feather quill. His fingers, like mine, were stained black from years of working with ink.

‘God give you good morrow, Serjeant Shardlake,’ he said in his sharp voice. He put down the knife.

I bowed. ‘And you, Master Treasurer.’

He waved me to a stool and looked at me sternly.

‘Your business goes well?’ he asked. ‘Many cases listed for the Michaelmas term?’

‘A good enough number, sir.’

‘I hear you no longer get work from the Queen’s solicitor.’ He spoke casually. ‘Not for this year past.’

‘I have plenty of other cases, sir. And my work at Common Pleas keeps me busy.’

He inclined his head. ‘I hear some of Queen Catherine’s officials have been questioned by the Privy Council. For heretical opinions.’

‘So rumour says. But so many have been interrogated these last few months.’

‘I have seen you more frequently at Mass at the Inn church recently.’ Rowland smiled sardonically. ‘Showing good conformity? A wise policy in these whirling days. Attend church, avoid the babble of
controversy, follow the King’s wishes.’

‘Indeed, sir.’

He took his sharpened quill and spat to soften it, then rubbed it on a cloth. He looked up at me with a new keenness. ‘You have heard that Mistress Anne Askew is sentenced to burn with three others a
week on Friday? The sixteenth of July?’

‘It is the talk of London. Some say she was tortured in the Tower after her sentence. A strange thing.’

Rowland shrugged. ‘Street gossip. But the woman made a sensation at the wrong time. Abandoning her husband and coming to London to preach opinions clear contrary to the Act of Six Articles. Refusing to recant, arguing in public with her judges.’ He shook his head, then leaned forward. ‘The burning is to be a great spectacle. There has been nothing like it for years. The King wants it to be seen where heresy leads. Half the Privy Council will be there.’

‘Not the King?’ There had been rumours he might attend.

‘No.’

I remembered Henry had been seriously ill in the spring; he had hardly been seen since.

‘His majesty wants representatives from all the London guilds.’ Rowland paused. ‘And the Inns of Court. I have decided you should go to represent Lincoln’s Inn.’

I stared at him. ‘Me, sir?’

‘You take on fewer social and ceremonial duties than you should, given your rank, Serjeant Shardlake. No one seems willing to volunteer for this, so I have had to decide. I think it time you took your turn.’

I sighed. ‘I know I have been lax in such duties. I will do more, if you wish.’ I took a deep breath. ‘But not this, I would ask you. It will be a horrible thing. I have never seen a burning, and do not wish to.’

Rowland waved a hand dismissively. ‘You are too squeamish. Strange in a farmer’s son. You have seen executions, I know that. Lord Cromwell had you attend Anne Boleyn’s beheading when you worked
for him.’

‘That was bad. This will be worse.’

He tapped a paper on his desk. ‘This is the request for me to send someone to attend. Signed by the King’s secretary, Paget himself. I must despatch the name to him tonight. I am sorry, Serjeant, but I
have decided you will go.’ He rose, indicating the interview was over. I stood and bowed again. ‘Thank you for offering to become more involved with the Inn’s duties,’ Rowland said, his voice smooth once more. ‘I will see what other – ’ he hesitated – ‘activities may be coming up.’

Continue reading “Start Reading Lamentation by C.J. Sansom”

Start Reading The Kings of London by William Shaw

The Kings of London by William ShawWe’ll admit it. Even more than the historical detail, even more than the celebrity cameos, even more than the mystery, what we love most about William Shaw’s series is the pair of sleuths at its heart: Detective Sergeant Breen and WPC Tozer. In the sequel to She’s Leaving Home, Breen and Tozer investigate the suspicious death of a man trapped when his house went up in flames. Join them as they walk through the ashes in this excerpt from chapter five.

‘You all right?’ Sergeant Breen asked Temporary Detective Constable Tozer, shouting above the noise of the siren.

‘Me? I’m fine,’ she shouted back. They were in Delta Mike Five, the old Wolesley radio car whose gearbox crunched every time Breen put it into second.

He hesitated before saying, ‘I meant to call you.’

‘Course you did,’ said Tozer.

‘No. Really.’

She looked out of the window. Awkwardly thin, early twenties, in clothes that never seemed to fit quite right. Lank hair cut to a bob. ‘I wasn’t by the phone, waiting for it to ring, if that’s what you were wondering.’

‘Of course not.’

She dipped into her handbag. ‘I suppose you told all the lads,’ she said.

‘What do you take me for?’

‘That’s something, anyway,’ she said. ‘Want a fag?’

He shook his head.

‘Were you avoiding me?’

‘No,’ he said. ‘Busy, that’s all.’

‘Fair enough,’ she said. ‘I been busy too. Getting ready to go home.’

Tozer had handed in her notice. She was leaving too. She had joined CID from the Women’s Section as a probationer, hoping to do more than just interview women and children, or direct traffic, which was all you were supposed to do as a WPC. But it wasn’t much different in CID either.

‘I mean,’ said Tozer. ‘It was just a bit of fun, wasn’t it, you and me?’ Then, ‘Christ. Must have rattled a few windows.’

Breen had pulled up outside the house on Marlborough Place. Or what was left of it. A grand, three-storey Victorian mansion, half of it completely blown away. Continue reading “Start Reading The Kings of London by William Shaw”

Start Reading Serpents in the Cold by Thomas O'Malley and Douglas Purdy

Serpents in the Cold by Thomas O'Malley and Douglas Purdy Just when you thought January couldn’t get any colder, we bring you this chilly novel of Boston noir. Set in the 1950s, Serpents in the Cold follows lifelong residents Cal O’Brien and Dante Cooper as they track a murderer…all the way to city hall. Awash with atmosphere and bursting with period detail, O’Malley and Purdy’s first novel as a writing team introduces us to an indelible pair of characters and kicks off a magnificent new series. Read the first two chapters below.

CHAPTER ONE: SCOLLAY SQUARE, DOWNTOWN

In winter, in daylight, Scollay Square was a cold and desolate place. The neon lights that brightened the avenues and alleyways at night remained unlit and encased in ice. Here and there along its concrete walkways, in the doorways of betting shops and poolrooms, stood men draped in oversized coats, hats hiding their eyes, hands buried deep in their pockets. On street corners, small groups of them huddled and lit one another’s cigarettes, spoke of things having little consequence. They were killing time, waiting for the night.

Kelly’s Rose was a basement dive with one long window and a steel slab for a door. Those walking by wouldn’t even register it as a bar. The neon sign hawking Pickwick ale hung crookedly in the lone window and was never turned on, and farther inside, the lights above the bar and booths were kept so low not even a moth would be drawn to them.

In the two-stall, two-urinal bathroom in the back of Kelly’s Rose, Dante Cooper had many thoughts going at once, but he didn’t have any place to put them. They spun and caught onto memories, dragging them and the rest of the junk into something vast and confusing. And there were voices, too, all conversing in his head, colliding into one cracked and unharmonious symphony. He sat in the stall closest to the wall, a tie tightly wound around his left bicep, his pants down at his ankles, a syringe resting flat on the hard muscle of his thigh. The radiator beside him tapped and echoed. He grasped a spoon in one hand and his lighter in the other, its flame bending bowl-shaped beneath the metal. The noise in his head softened by degrees, and from this quiet he could hear her call out to him, at first muted and distant, and then with clarity: a siren’s voice pulled through a fog. Continue reading “Start Reading Serpents in the Cold by Thomas O'Malley and Douglas Purdy”