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Start Reading The Convert’s Song by Sebastian Rotella

The Convert's Song by Sebastian RotellaWe were first introduced to Valentine Pescatore as a rookie Border Patrol agent in Sebastian Rotella’s Triple Crossing, which the New York Times named its favorite debut crime novel of 2011. His hazardous stint in U.S. law enforcement behind him, Pescatore has started over as a private investigator in Buenos Aires, where, like anywhere, justice is a malleable concept, and one learns there are several sides to a story. Read the opening of the first chapter of The Convert’s Song below.

Chapter One: Cafetín de Buenos Aires

The whole mess started ten years later on a sunny fall day when Valentine Pescatore was feeling at home in Buenos Aires.

He got up and put on a warm-up suit. He took a quick cab ride on Libertador Avenue to the sports club in Palermo Park. At eight a.m., he had the red rubber track to himself. His breath steamed in the morning chill; May was November in Argentina. He was not as fast or strong as he had been while serving as a U.S. Border Patrol agent. Yet he was healthier than during those crazy days at the Line. He had lost the weight he’d acquired eating home-cooked Cuban meals while living in San Diego with Isabel Puente. Arroz con pollo, ropa vieja, fried plantains. Washed down with drama and heartbreak.

Leaving the club, he caught a whiff of horse smell on the river wind. A nearby compound of the Argentine federal police housed the stables of the mounted division. Facundo had told him the compound was also the headquarters of the police antiterrorism unit.

Pescatore reclined in the cab, invigorated by the run. The driver was a grandfatherly gent with well-tended white hair encircling his bald spot. His shoulders in the blue sweater-vest moved to the tango classic on the radio, “Cafetín de Buenos Aires” (“Little Café of Buenos Aires”). The cab stopped in front of Pescatore’s building on a side street as the song ended in a flourish of bandoneon and violins. It was an homage to a neighborhood café—the best thing in the singer’s life except his mother.

“That was great,” Pescatore said. “What was that last line? ‘In the café I learned philosophy, dice and . . . ’?”

The cabbie studied him over his spectacles. He recited crisply: “ ‘The cruel poetry of thinking of myself no more.’ ” Continue reading “Start Reading The Convert’s Song by Sebastian Rotella”

Start Reading one of October’s Scariest Books: Brood by Chase Novak

Brood by Chase NovakPoor Adam and Alice Twisden. Those twins have been through a lot—the death of their parents, the decimation of their childhood home. Years have passed since the events of Breed, and the twins’ aunt, Cynthia, wants to make things right, starting with the cleanup of the Twisdens’ Manhattan townhouse. Only, as you’ll read in Brood’s opening pages below, cleaning up is a tall order.

PROLOGUE

They were not here to clean up a crime scene. That grisly work had been accomplished two years ago by RestorePro, when the town house on Sixty-Ninth Street was closer to hell’s ninth circle than it was to its former incarnation—a stylish, impeccable, historically correct Upper East Side town house, one of the few left in New York City that had remained in the same family since its construction. Its last owner had been Alex Twisden, who had lived there his entire life, first as a child, then as a playboy, then as a corporate lawyer obsessed with his work, then as a somewhat reclusive bachelor, then as the newly wed husband of a beautiful younger woman named Leslie Kramer, then as the father of twins, and, finally, stemming from the fertility treatments he and Leslie endured in order to procreate, as a kind of beast for which neither science nor folklore has a name.

RestorePro’s workers, decked out in muck boots, respirators, and HAZMAT suits, had swooped in. Of course, the worst
thing about the cleanup was the blood, the hair, the fur, the bones, and the teeth, the parts of bodies for which neither Alex nor Leslie had a taste—they both eschewed ears, and found feet as a rule inedible. But there was a lot more to do than simply remove the evidence showing that for a time the elegant old house had been an abattoir. There was disinfecting to be done. There were odors to be dispelled and others that could only be covered up. There were scratches in the plaster, claw marks deeply grooved into the wooden floors. There were piles of smashed furniture—it looked as if crazed vandals had gotten into the storeroom of Sotheby’s before an antiques auction. Once-precious Blackthorn wallpaper, brought into the house by William Morris himself, hung in long drooping curls. Sconces had been torn from the walls; sofas had become public housing for all manner of rodents. RestorePro’s motto was No One Will Know, but though the workers did their job diligently, and did not stint on labor or time, the house they left behind when they finally got to the end of their contract still bore the ineffable marks of a place where something hideous had happened. You did not have to believe in the spirit world to sense that an aura of misery and doom hung over the place, even after it had been scrubbed clean. Continue reading “Start Reading one of October’s Scariest Books: Brood by Chase Novak”

Start Reading Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Broken Monsters by Lauren BeukesEven before Broken Monsters was published in the US, it garnered rhapsodic praise both here and abroad. “Captivating…A thoroughly modern, supernatural thriller,” raved the Los Angeles Times. Entertainment Weekly went on to say, “Remarkable is Lauren Beukes’s ability to blend genres, seamlessly incorporating horror, fantasy and traditional crime in ways that highlight the best parts of each. It feels new—unprecedented, in a way.” Now you have a chance to add your voice to the chorus! Broken Monsters is in bookstores today, and you can read the arresting opening scene below.

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 9: BAMBI

The body. The-body-the-body-the-body, she thinks. Words lose their meaning when you repeat them. So do bodies, even in all their variations. Dead is dead. It’s only the hows and whys that vary. Tick them off: Exposure. Gunshot. Stabbing. Bludgeoning with a blunt instrument, sharp instrument, no instrument at all when bare knuckles will do. Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. It’s Murder Bingo! But even violence has its creative limits.

Gabriella wishes someone had told that to the sick fuck who did this. Because this one is Yoo-neeq. Which happens to be the name of a sex worker she let off with a warning last weekend. It’s most of what the DPD does these days. Hands out empty warnings in The. Most. Violent. City. In. America. Duh-duh-duh. She can just hear her daughter’s voice—the dramatic horror-movie chords Layla would use to punctuate the words. All the appellations Detroit carries. Dragging its hefty symbolism behind it like tin cans behind a car marked “Just Married.” Does anyone even do that anymore, she wonders, tin cans and shaving cream? Did anyone ever? Or was it something they made up, like diamonds are forever, and Santa Claus in Coca-Cola red, and mothers and daughters bonding over fat-free frozen yogurts? She’s found that the best conversations she has with Layla are the ones in her head.

“Detective?” the uniform says. Because she’s just standing there staring down at the kid in the deep shadow of the tunnel, her hands jammed in the pockets of her jacket. She left her damn gloves in the car and her fingers are numb from the chill wind sneaking in off the river. Winter baring its teeth even though it’s only November. “Are you—”

“Yeah, okay,” she cuts him off, reading the name on his badge. “I’m thinking about the adhesive, Officer Jones.” Because mere superglue wouldn’t do it. Holding the pieces together while the body was moved. This isn’t where the kid died. There’s not enough blood on the scene. And there’s no sign of his missing half.

Black. No surprise in this city. Ten years old, she’d guess. Maybe older if you factored in malnourishment and development issues. Say somewhere between ten and sixteen. Naked. As much of him as there is to be naked. It’s entirely possible the rest of him is wearing pants, with his wallet in the back pocket and a cell phone that won’t have any minutes, but which will make calling his momma a hell of a lot easier.

Wherever the rest of him is. Continue reading “Start Reading Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes”

Start Reading Confessions by Kanae Minato

Minato_Confessions

Between household chores, Kanae Minato wrote a multi-million-copy international bestseller that’s now being hailed as “the Gone Girl of Japan” (Steph Cha, Los Angeles Times) and praised as an “implacable, relentless” and “stunning” read (Tom Nolan, Wall Street Journal). CONFESSIONS is now available in bookstores and from e-tailers everywhere.

Once you finish your milk, please put the carton back in the box. Make sure you return it to the space with your number on it and then get back to your desk. It looks like everyone is just about done. Since today is the last day of the school year, we will also be marking the end of “Milk Time.” Thanks to all of you for participating. I also heard some of you wondering whether the program would be continuing next year, but I can tell you now that it won’t. This year, we were designated as a model middle school for the Health Ministry’s campaign to promote dairy products. We were asked to have each of you drink a carton of milk every day, and now we’re looking forward to the annual school physicals in April to see whether your height and bone mass come in above the national averages.

Yes, I suppose you could say that we’ve been using you as guinea pigs, and I’m sure this year wasn’t very pleasant for those of you who are lactose intolerant or who simply don’t like milk. But the school was randomly selected for the program, and each classroom was supplied with the daily milk cartons and the box to hold them, with cubbyholes for your carton to identify each of you by seat number; and it’s true that we’ve kept track of who drank the milk and who didn’t. But why should you be making faces now when you were drinking the milk happily enough a few minutes ago? What’s wrong with being asked to drink a little milk every day? You’re about to enter puberty. Your bodies will be growing and changing, and you know drinking milk helps build strong bones. But how many of you actually drink it at home? And the calcium is good for more than just your bones; you need it for the proper development of your nervous system. Low levels of calcium can make you nervous and jumpy.

It’s not just your bodies that are growing and changing. I know what you’ve been up to. I hear the stories. You, Mr. Watanabe, you grew up in a family that owns an electronics shop, and I know you’ve figured out how to remove most of the pixilation on adult videos. You’ve been passing them along to the other boys. You’re growing up. Your minds are changing as quickly as your bodies. I know that wasn’t the best example, but what I mean is, you’re entering what we sometimes call the “rebellious period.” It’s a time when boys and girls tend to be touchy, to be hurt or offended by the least little thing, and when they’re easily influenced by their environment. You’ll begin to imitate everyone and everything around you as you try to figure out who you are. If you’re honest, I suspect many of you will recognize these changes in yourselves already. You’ve just seen a good example: Up until a few moments ago most of you thought of your free milk as a benefit. But now that I’ve told you it was an experiment, your feelings about the milk have suddenly changed. Am I right?

Still, there’s nothing too odd about that—it’s human nature to change your mind, and not just in puberty. In fact, the teachers have been saying that your class is actually a good bit calmer and better behaved than the usual group. Maybe we have the milk to thank for that.

But I have something more important I wanted to tell you today. I wanted you to know that I’ll be retiring at the end of the month. No, I’m not moving to a new school, I’m retiring as a teacher. Which means that you’re the last students I’ll ever teach, and I’ll remember you for as long as I live.

Settle down now. I appreciate your response—especially those of you who actually sound as though you’re sorry to hear I’m leaving—what? Am I resigning because of what happened? Yes, I suppose so, and I’d like to take some time today to talk to you about that. Continue reading “Start Reading Confessions by Kanae Minato”

Start Reading Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David ShaferDavid Shafer’s debut novel follows three young adults as they attempt to navigate their way through international intrigues, corporate cabals, and, well, life itself. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot opens with Leila Majnoun, who is working—or at least trying to work—for a nonprofit in Myanmar. Read on for an excerpt, and pick up a copy of WTF to determine how deep the deception goes.

MANDALAY, MYANMAR

The little room was so hot that Leila tried not to move inside her clothing. She’d chosen the plain tan shirt with the piping on the pocket because bureaucrats are swayed by even the smallest impression of martial authority. Ditto the shiny black shoes. But the lady who took in Leila’s laundry had really gone to town on the shirt, and the result was like a suit of armor made from paper bags. Leila could feel a line of sweat trickle south down her back. A large beetle somehow injured buzzed and rattled in a corner of the stifling room.

It had been nearly two hours since one of Colonel Zeya’s underlings had instructed her to Wait here, someone will come for you! You please must not leave this room!

Fine, she’d thought then. Leila Majnoun could wait. She wasn’t going to fall for that make-the-Westerner-sit-until-she-is-undone-by-her-ownimpatience trick. She pulled out her notebook. She favored Gregg-ruled steno pads; went through them at a rapid clip. She wrote in a swift and flattened cursive that was nearly illegible to anyone but herself and maybe her big sister, Roxana. She wrote mostly in English, but she also used Pashto, and some stenoglyphs that she’d invented along the way. Leila was no Luddite, but she trusted her paper notebook over any of her electronics. They usually let you keep a notebook even when they took your passport and pocket computer. Though in a secure airport interview room once, they’d taken Leila’s notebook from her hands. That’s as dicey as it had ever gotten for her. Soon after that, she’d done a job that put her in proximity to commando-type soldiers, and one of those guys had his instructions in a sort of sheet protector Velcroed to his inner wrist. The commando wrist slate—that’s the kind of personal organizer she could use.

Leila let the tedium flow around her like lava while she filled her pad with notes that would help her get through the next week of this frustrating job. Her title was director, in-country, Myanmar/Burma. But back in New York there was a country director, Myanmar/Burma. The silliness of the titles should have been her first clue that Helping Hand was a bush-league NGO. Though deep-pocketed, apparently—HQ was two floors of a skyscraper in midtown Manhattan. They’d hired her to do the advance work on what they said would be a twenty-year commitment to public health in northern Burma. She was supposed to be establishing a country program!—and her New York bosses said it like that, like she was a general in a tent or something, when what they really meant was rent an office, buy some desk chairs, and find out who else was working there and what wasn’t getting done. But beyond that, her two or maybe three New York bosses couldn’t even agree on what the Burma mission was. One of them thought Helping Hand should be identifying strong female candidates for full-ride scholarships to the school of nursing at Boston College. Another one thought the organization should be setting up village-based primary-care health clinics. Mainly her bosses sent her conflicting e-mails and sabotaged one another’s goals. Continue reading “Start Reading Whiskey Tango Foxtrot by David Shafer”

Start Reading Death Will Have Your Eyes by James Sallis

Death Will Have Your Eyes by James SallisThe Mulholland Classic series is our initiative to bring our favorite classic mysteries back to print. Our fervent hope is that a new generation of readers will pick up one of our Classic paperbacks and discover the great authors who made us fall in love with this genre. First we published A Single Shot by Matthew F. Jones, followed by Brian D’Amato’s Beauty. Today we welcome the return of James Sallis’s acclaimed espionage novel, Death Will Have Your Eyes. Sample Sallis’s inimitable writing style below.

The man kept opening his mouth, wanting something from me, but it was a language I didn’t know. Not Mandarin. Not Thai or Vietnamese. Only sounds. His voice rose and fell in pitch. Shouting, demanding. I shook my head, the sour, foul smell of my own body washing up over me in waves, tongue so swollen I could not talk, could not respond. Soon the pain would start again. And I would rise, hover near the ceiling looking down. Watching. Apart.

I woke suddenly, rushing to exchange the currency of dreams for coin I could spend. Morning light fell dazzlingly through the skylight onto the futon. Those wide shadows were not bars or slats in a cage—only the leaves of plants in hanging baskets up there. That sound was only the phone.

Nothing else in the room. No windows. The futon, a painted bamboo screen against one wall, an expanse of blond wood floor—tongue and groove I’d put in myself. About as close as the real world gets to the ordered simplicity of oriental drawings.

No one else, either. Only Gabrielle and myself.

She slept crosswise on the futon, my head cradled in her lap. Trying to get away from the light, I turned over. “Oh yes, please,” she said. But obviously the phone was not going to quit ringing, so I snaked along the bed to answer it. Gabrielle grabbed me as I went by and held on.

I listened for a moment and hung up. “Wrong number,” I told her. “I’ve got your number,” she said, head moving to replace her hand, but I stopped her, wrapping black hair around both my hands and pulling her up into a slow, easy kiss.

“I’m going for a run,” I said. “Get the sludge out. Want to come along?”

“At six in the bleedin’ mornin’?

With Gabby you never knew what accent you might get. Her features came mostly from an Irish mother and patrician Mexican father, but her extended family was pure goulash. Dad left when she was three, and she and her mother spent years shuttling from household to household, family to family, country to country. This early morning, the accent was British, a better choice than most, I suppose, for gradations of polite outrage.

“Okay, but don’t say I didn’t ask. So go back to sleep now, my little peasant.”

“Pheasant?”

“Peasant. Half an hour, tops, even with a head wind. I’ll bring breakfast.”

“And here I thought you were breakfast.”

“Miss, have you considered taking up a hobby?”

“No time for it.”

“That was my point.”

She shrugged. “One stays with what one’s good at. Run along now,” she said, and was asleep again before I got shorts and shoes on.

I stood watching her a moment—her compact brown body against light blue sheets, breasts just a little too heavy, rib cage set high—then went into the bathroom. Turned on the radio there. It was Mozart, a serenade performed on “original” instruments which the musicians wrestled valiantly to bring into tune. Thousands upon thousands of dollars, thousands upon thousands of hours, had been expended on this bogus authenticity, these elaborate counterfeits. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, then stood at the window looking out till the piece was over. One doesn’t hang up on Mozart.

There were few others in the park that early: a handful of runners and dog walkers; one young mother who looked remarkably like Shirley Temple pushing a pram; another trotting along with three children at her heels, all of them androgynous looking and none over five years old; street people starting off on their day’s boundless odyssey. Birds and squirrels worried at yesterday’s leavings, perhaps hoping their investigations would help them understand these huge, dangerous beings that lived in their midst.

I swung around the park’s perimeter in an easy jog, following an asphalt bike path, and stopped at a pay phone on the far side, the kind of old-fashioned booth you rarely see anymore. There I dialed a number I still knew all too well. It was picked up on the first ring.

“Age has slowed you, perhaps.”

“As you must realize, I was in no hurry to return this call. At first, I was not even sure that I wanted to respond at all. And after eight years—”

“Actually, it just slipped over the edge into nine.”

“—I believed it likely that whatever business you think you have with me could wait a few more minutes.”

“Perhaps. However, your plane departs at ten or thereabouts. American, Flight eight seventeen. You are Dr. John Collins, a dentist on vacation.”

“Sir.”

Silence.

“It has been, as you say, nine years. I have a career, a new life, commitments.”

Silence still.

“I am no longer in your employ.”

A still longer silence. Then finally: “It will be good to see you again, David.” Continue reading “Start Reading Death Will Have Your Eyes by James Sallis”

Start Reading Bravo by Greg Rucka

Bravo by Greg RuckaIn his explosive new novel, Greg Rucka reveals that the plot against America is far from over. Jad Bell saving the day in Alpha? A minor setback. Read the first chapter of Bravo below and watch the wheels set back in motion.

Chapter One

“You look tired,” she says, moving out of the doorway to let him inside. “Do you want to talk about it?”

The soldier enters, moves his cover to his hands, holding the hat in a way that makes him feel half her age, though he’s most of the way through fifty and she’s not seen the edges of thirty yet. He doesn’t speak, doesn’t move as she shuts and locks the door behind him, comes back to put a gentle touch on his elbow. She looks at him curiously, concerned, then shakes her head in such a way that her hair shifts and gently sways, exposes bare neck from collar to jawline. He sees her skin, feels an almost magnetic tug, an immediate urge to wrap his arms around her and inhale her scent. He’s too old to believe that doing so will make it all better, but it’s what he feels. He thinks about the fact that he should’ve waited before coming here, before talking to her. He thinks that he doesn’t have a choice.

“Jamieson’s dead,” the soldier says.

She nods slightly, a touch of sympathy in her expression, in the movement, and he thinks it’s for his sake, and not for the dead man she has never met, hardly even knew.

“I’ll make you a drink,” she says. “I’ve got some of that rye you like.”

He nods, moves into the large front room. Floor-to-ceiling windows that would show the gleam of the capital at night, but the curtains are drawn, the way they always are when he arrives. He’s never seen them open, never seen the view out of her condo here in the West End. This town, he knows, keeps a secret like a four-year-old at a birthday party. When he visits, he visits at night, drives straight into the underground lot, takes the spot that’s always open. Normally, he changes out of uniform before coming here.

Tonight is not normal.

The soldier takes a seat, sets his hat beside him, loosens his tie and his collar. When she comes back with the drink, he takes it from her hand, sets it aside. She raises an eyebrow.

“You don’t want a drink you should’ve said so.”

The soldier pulls her to him, meets her mouth with his own. She kisses him back with full hunger, uncaged; it’s what she’s been waiting for.

When they reach her bedroom, he keeps much of his uniform on, at least for a while. Continue reading “Start Reading Bravo by Greg Rucka”

Start Reading The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones

The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd JonesIn his debut novel, The String Diaries, Stephen Lloyd Jones weaves together three narratives that follow a shapeshifter as he stalks his prey through generations. It’s a terrifying, mythical tale, and it opens with a bang: a mother driving through the night, her daughter asleep in the back, and her husband bleeding out beside her. Start reading below, but be warned that you may not be able to close this diary.

Snowdonia: Now

It was only when Hannah Wilde reached the farmhouse shortly after midnight that she discovered how much blood her husband had lost.

They had spoken little during the drive to Llyn Gwyr. Hannah concentrated on the road ahead, her vision blurred through rain and tears. Beside her, Nate slumped in the Discovery’s passenger seat, a crooked shadow. She tried to glance over at him as the distance to what they’d left behind increased, but it was impossible to comprehend the full horror of his injuries while they were on the road. Each time she suggested they pull over Nate shook his head and urged her on.

Get to the farmhouse, Hannah. I’ll be OK. I promise.

Close to midnight, after four hours behind the wheel, she watched the English place names flashing past the Discovery’s headlights surrender to their Welsh cousins: Cyfronydd; Llangadfan; Tal-y-llyn.

No other vehicles shared this night with them. And although Hannah could see little more than what lay directly ahead, she could feel the country growing wilder, opening up around her. The road bucked and twisted, tried to throw them loose. For a time they chased a rushing mountain stream, the fractured diamonds of moonlight on its surface the only clue to its presence. When the road looped, climbing higher, the reflections winked out, lost to the night.

Half a mile from Llyn Gwyr, near the crest of a hill, Hannah slowed the 4×4 to a crawl and turned off its headlights. She inched the vehicle up the final few yards of the slope, to where a clump of ash trees grew. For a moment she watched the silhouette movement of their naked branches.

Hannah switched off the ignition. The sound of the engine had masked the voice of the wind until now. Here, at the summit of the hill, it sang around them, buffeting the car on its springs.

By God, what were you thinking? Did you really believe this place would be safe?

In the passenger seat, Nate roused himself, lifting his head. He squinted out of the window. “What do you see?”

Beyond the trees, the land dropped away below them, receding toward the shore of an almond-shaped lake. Although the moon had draped itself in rainclouds creeping in from the west, a phosphorescence lingered on the water’s surface. The black line of a river, snaking down from the mountains, fed the lake at its westernmost point.

Llyn Gwyr’s farmhouse stood on the lake’s far shore. A steep gravel track, crossing the river at a stone bridge, linked it to the main road.

“I can hardly see a thing from this far away,” she told him. “Not in the dark, anyway.”

“There should be some binoculars in the door well. Check the bridge first. See if it’s clear.”

Hannah found the glasses, raised them to her eyes. Trained them in the direction of the river. She needed a moment to orient herself, and then she found the bridge. Its crumbling stone arch looked barely robust enough to support the weight of their Land Rover.

No debris on the bridge itself, that she could see. Nothing lurking beneath it. No signs of a potential ambush.

“It’s clear.”

“OK, now check the house.” Continue reading “Start Reading The String Diaries by Stephen Lloyd Jones”

Start Reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

The Silkworm by Robert GalbraithPrivate investigator Cormoran Strike returns in a new mystery from Robert Galbraith, author of the #1 international bestseller The Cuckoo’s Calling. Read the first two chapters of The Silkworm below, and meet Strike’s new client. The Silkworm goes on sale June 19th, but you can preorder your copy today at your local independent bookstore or online from Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Hastings | iBooks | Target | Walmart

QUESTION
What dost thou feed on?
ANSWER
Broken sleep.
–Thomas Dekker, The Noble Spanish Solder

“Someone bloody famous,” said the hoarse voice on the end of the line, “better’ve died, Strike.”

The large unshaven man tramping through the darkness of pre-dawn, with his telephone clamped to his ear, grinned.

“It’s in that ballpark.”

“It’s six o’clock in the fucking morning!”

“It’s half past, but if you want what I’ve got, you’ll need to come and get it,” said Cormoran Strike. “I’m not far away from your place. There’s a—”

“How d’you know where I live?” demanded the voice.

“You told me,” said Strike, stifling a yawn. “You’re selling your flat.”

“Oh,” said the other, mollified. “Good memory.”

“There’s a twenty-four-hour caff—”

“Fuck that. Come into the office later—”

“Culpepper, I’ve got another client this morning, he pays better than you do and I’ve been up all night. You need this now if you’re going to use it.”

A groan. Strike could hear the rustling of sheets.

“It had better be shit-hot.”

“Smithfield Café on Long Lane,” said Strike and rang off. Continue reading “Start Reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith”

Start Reading SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Jackal

SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Jackal by Don Mann with Ralph PezzulloToday Mulholland Books is proud to publish Book 4 in Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo’s SEAL Team Six series, which plunges us into Guadalajara, Mexico, where the lawless streets are ruled by drug cartels. Captain Thomas Crocker and the rest of SEAL Team Six have been sent there to rescue a senator’s wife and daughter from the clutches of The Jackal, a drug lord who may bring to mind El Chapo. But Pezzullo and former Navy SEAL Don Mann remind us that serving one’s country isn’t just about taking down the bad guys—it’s also about facing death and taking responsibility. In this short excerpt from Hunt the Jackal, we meet Crocker at a vulnerable moment.

Pushed by the same wild, relentless energy he’d had since he was a kid, Crocker rode his Harley south, winding through country roads, not really aware of where he was going or why, just enjoying the rural scenery, the sunshine, smells of nature, and fresh air. There was something liberating about being on the open road with no real destination. Edenton, Tarboro, Rocky Mount, Smithfield, Clinton, Whiteville, Marion, Lake City. Towns flew by, schools, churches, golf courses, junkyards filled with rusting cars and buses, lakes.

He was searching for an answer or direction. Was it time to retire, leave the teams, and start something new? Had his string of narrow escapes from tragedy run out?

As he rode, he thought about his mother and father, and the cycle of life and death.

His mother had died of emphysema several years ago, but his father was still alive and living in Fairfax, Virginia. Lately, he’d befriended a thirty-five-year-old Gulf War vet named Carla and her nine-year-old son. According to Crocker’s sister, their dad had been giving Carla money—possibly as
much as twenty thousand dollars so far.

Maybe the old man was lonely and she was taking advantage. Or maybe Carla was a good person and meant to pay him back.

When Crocker was eighteen and constantly in trouble with the police, his father had told him a Cherokee story about a man and his grandson.

The grandfather, seeing that his grandson was being self-destructive, said, “My son, there’s a battle between two wolves inside us. One is evil. It’s jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is good. It’s joy, hope, humility, kindness, and truth.”

The boy thought about it and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?”

The old man replied quietly, “The one you feed.”

For the past twenty-some years, since joining the navy, Crocker had fed the good wolf. But now he could sense the bad wolf’s hunger. It was a big hole at the bottom of his soul carved out by the people he’d killed in the line of duty, and his anger at life’s injustices, and the wrongs that had been visited on the people he loved.

Last night he had stopped in Santee, South Carolina, and eaten blackened catfish for dinner, washed down with several Skull Coast Ales. Later he’d parked near the state park, watched the stars, and reminded himself that even they weren’t immortal. Everything in nature came and went. Stars died and broke up into asteroids. Trees felled in lightning storms rotted into mulch. People died and were consumed by worms. Maybe there was such a thing as reincarnation. He didn’t know.

What he understood was that life went on, mysteriously, hurtling toward something new, like he was now.

Don Mann (CWO3, USN) is the author of the national bestseller Inside SEAL Team Six and the SEAL Team Six series of thrillers and has for the last thirty years been associated with the Navy SEALS as a platoon member, assault team member, boat crew leader, advanced training officer, and more recently, program director preparing civilians to go to BUD/s (SEAL Training). Up until 1998 he was on active duty with SEAL Team Six. Since his retirement, he has deployed to the Middle East on numerous occasions in support of the war on terror. Many of the active duty members of SEAL Team Six are the same guys he taught how to shoot and conduct ship and aircraft takedowns, and trained in urban, arctic, desert, river, and jungle warfare, as well as Close Quarters Battle and Military Operations in Urban Terrain. He has suffered two broken backs, two pulmonary embolisms, and multiple other broken bones in training or service. He has twice survived being captured during operations.

Co-writer Ralph Pezzullo is a New York Times bestselling author and award-winning playwright, screenwriter and journalist. His books include Jawbreaker (with CIA operative Gary Berntsen).