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Start Reading Overwatch by Marc Guggenheim

Overwatch by Marc GuggenheimToday marks the publication date of Marc Guggenheim’s thriller, Overwatch. Equal parts legal suspense and espionage thriller, Overwatch follows CIA lawyer Alex Garnett as he unravels a worldwide conspiracy, a hazardous path that leads him directly to his own superiors within the intelligence community. Below, read the harrowing opening, which takes place in an Iranian hospital—across the world, but only one button away, from Washington, DC.

OVER YAZD, IRAN
2330 HRS. ZULU

The desert sand stirs for a moment before coiling up like smoke in the direction of the blowback created by the Sikorsky MH-53J’s titanium-and-steel rotor blades. The Sikorsky sails just a few feet above the sand dunes, flying low to avoid radar detection. In whisper mode, the helicopter makes a sound more evocative of a golf-course sprinkler than a 38,238-pound troop carrier. Inside, the men of the 21st Dust Devils Special Operations Squadron of the 352nd Special Operations Group wait without a word of chatter passing between them. This silence, however, is not tactically mandated. This silence is a function of the fucking heat. On a night like this, the stale, hot desert air can push the mercury well over one hundred degrees, which is uncomfortable, at best, when one is completely naked but almost intolerable when wearing thirty pounds of ordnance and Kevlar. Even with years of training, these soldiers have to concentrate simply to keep from passing out. That kind of effort takes focus that’s best not wasted on talking.

Not that the Dust Devils have much to talk about in any case. The pre-op briefing they received in Iskenderun has been repeated and reviewed so many times, the mission objectives are as familiar to them as their home phone numbers. These objectives were applied to the general insertion-and-extraction scenario the men have drilled on so often that muscle memory will do more than half the work for them. So long as the hostages are where the intel indicates they are, the Dust Devils think, this op will not be unlike going to the grocery store to extract a quart of milk, a confidence shared by every man in the unit, even the more historically fluent who recall Captain Edward A. Murphy’s famous remark “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

But then, Captain Murphy was air force, not Special Forces.

Continue reading “Start Reading Overwatch by Marc Guggenheim”

Start Reading We Are Here by Michael Marshall

We Are Here by Michael MarshallThis week, Mulholland Books published Michael Marshall’s supernatural suspense novel, We Are Here. If you’ve been keeping up with Michael’s interviews, you’ll note he talks a lot about how this novel is about friendship, even as we’ve talked about how We Are Here features shadowy figures who may or may not be watching your every move. Curious about how the two intersect? Then read the beguiling scene that opens the book:

He drove. There were times when he stopped for gas or to empty his bladder or buy cups of poor coffee out of machines, selecting isolated and windswept gas stations where no one was doing anything except filling up and staring vacantly at their cold hand on the pump as they waited,
wanting to be back in their warm car and on the road to wherever it was they had to be. Nobody was looking or watching or caring about anyone who might happen to be doing the same thing. Nobody saw anything except another guy in bulky clothing getting into a big car and pulling
back out onto the highway.

Sometimes it was raining. Sometimes there was sleet. Sometimes merely the wind coming across the great flatness. He did not listen to the radio. He did not consult a map. He didn’t know where he was going and so he did not care where he was.

He just drove.

Continue reading “Start Reading We Are Here by Michael Marshall”

Start Reading Dominion by C.J. Sansom

Dominion by C.J. SansomToday we welcome C.J. Sansom’s alternative history thriller, Dominion, to our shores. Already an international bestseller, Dominion asks us to follow in the footsteps of a few intrepid men and women as they navigate a dangerous “world that might have been, and almost was” (Kate Atkinson). Read on for the prologue, which takes us into the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street at a crucial hour.

“The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him all Europe may be free, and the life of the world will move forward into broad, sunlit uplands; but if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, and all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more prolonged, by the lights of a perverted science.”

—WINSTON CHURCHILL, 18 JUNE 1940

All events that take place after 5:00 p.m. on 9 May 1940 are imaginary.

Prologue

The Cabinet Room, 10 Downing Street, London
4.30 p.m., 9 May 1940

Churchill was last to arrive. He knocked once, sharply, and entered. Through the tall windows the warm spring day was fading, shadows lengthening on Horse Guards Parade. Margesson, the Conservative Chief Whip, sat with Prime Minister Chamberlain and Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax at the far end of the long, coffin-shaped table which dominated the Cabinet room. As Churchill approached them Margesson, formally dressed as ever in immaculate black morning coat, stood up.

“Winston.”

Churchill nodded at the Chief Whip, looking him sternly in the eye. Margesson, who was Chamberlain’s creature, had made life difficult for him when he had stood out against party policy over India and Germany in the years before the war. He turned to Chamberlain and Halifax, the Prime Minister’s right-hand man in the government’s appeasement of Germany. “Neville. Edward.” Both men looked bad; no sign today of the habitual half-sneer, nor of the snappy arrogance which had alienated Chamberlain’s House of Commons during yesterday’s debate over the military defeat in Norway. Ninety Conservatives had voted with the Opposition or abstained; Chamberlain had left the chamber followed by shouts of “Go!” The Prime Minister’s eyes were red from lack of sleep or perhaps even tears — though it was hard to imagine Neville Chamberlain weeping. Last night the word around a feverish House of Commons was that his leadership could not survive. Continue reading “Start Reading Dominion by C.J. Sansom”

Listen to Ship of Theseus

Ship of Theseus by V.M. StrakaExperience V.M. Straka’s Ship of Theseus in a way the author could never have imagined: as a downloadable audiobook. Award-winning actor Grame Malcolm reads the forgotten classic from 1949, in which a mysterious figure, known only as S., struggles to discover, remember, or invent his identity.

Sample the audiobook below—and who knows? Perhaps by listening, you’ll be able to contribute to the conversation about Straka that unfolds in the margins of S., created by J.J. Abrams and written by Doug Dorst.

Download it now: Audible | Barnes & Noble | Downpour | eMusic | iTunes

Start Reading SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Falcon

SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Falcon by Don Mann with Ralph PezzulloToday the newest adventure in Don Mann and Ralph Pezzullo’s SEAL Team Six series featuring Captain Thomas Crocker lands in bookstores, and reviewers are saying it “delivers exactly what fans want” (Publishers Weekly) and “puts the reader in the center of the action—the smells, sounds, savagery of war” (Kirkus Reviews). Below is an excerpt from Hunt the Falcon—enjoy, and don’t blame us if your heart starts racing!

Chapter One

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. —Rabindranath Tagore

John and Lenora Rinehart had just watched their thirteen-year-old son Alex dress himself for the first time. It was a special morning. Usually days at the Rinehart house started with a delicate dance, determined by their son’s moods.

Just because his son Alex was autistic didn’t mean he wasn’t smart, John Rinehart reminded himself as his shoes met the uneven surface of the slate walk and he punched the electronic button that opened the door to his dark blue Saab 900. His son was exceptional in the IQ department. But his brain’s ability to control the warp-speed flow of information, and his emotional impulses, was out of whack. When it didn’t work the way Alex wanted it to, the boy got frustrated. And when he got frustrated, he got mad as hell. Screaming, beat-the-shit-out-of-whatever-he-could-get-his-hands-on angry sometimes.

Ask him to find the positive difference of the fourth power of two consecutive positive integers that must be divisible by one more than twice the larger integer? No problem. But little things like buttoning a shirt or fastening a zipper often tripped him up.

“Little things…little victories,” forty-two-year-old John Rinehart said as he reached across the console between the front seats and squeezed his wife Lena’s hand.

She smiled past the straight black bangs that almost brushed her eyes and said, “I credit Alex’s new school. It’s been a major positive.”

“Yes,” John whispered back. His heart felt like it might leap out of his chest with delight.

John felt things strongly. Like his son. Sometimes so strongly that it scared him and he, too, had to fight hard to control himself.

His half-Asian wife was the more emotionally balanced of the two. She understood that tomorrow morning might be completely different; that life with a child like Alex was unpredictable at best.

John found it much harder to let go of the hope that his son would one day lead a normal life. He kept looking for a path, or an unopened doorway in his son’s psyche, that would lead to that result. Which made sense, because part of what he did for a living as the economic counselor at the U.S. embassy was to look for patterns of activity and use them to try to predict future events—Chinese-Thai trade, baht volatility, Thai-U.S. trading algorithms.

He was a brilliant man who studied the world and saw tendencies, vectors, roads traveled, like the one he steered the highly polished car onto now, into the knot of cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycles on what the Thais called Thanon Phetchaburi.

He’d learned to expect the eight-mile ride to the embassy to take forty minutes because of the traffic, but he didn’t mind. It gave him and his wife a chance to listen to music and spend some quiet time together.

This morning he didn’t want to think about the embassy where she also worked, as an administrative assistant in the CIA station. Nor did he want to consider the problems he’d deal with when he got there.

Instead he listened as Stan Getz played a smooth, moving “Body and Soul” over the stereo, and he hummed along, feeling unusually optimistic and calm. He even entertained the possibility that when his tour in Thailand ended in a year, he would return to teaching. Maybe even accept the position on the faculty of University of California, Berkeley that had been offered him a little while back. Lena would like that.

The sky above was a murky, almost iridescent yellow. Bangkok was a surreal blend of staggeringly beautiful and disgusting, rich and poor, spiritual and depraved, all living pressed together. He found the yin-yang dynamic of the city fascinating.

Adjusting the air-conditioning, he turned to his wife. “I’m proud of you, darling,” he said.

“I’m proud of you. And Alex, too.”

“Our Alex,” he added.

Through the windshield John noticed a battered blue truck squeezing into the little space between his front bumper and the Nissan taxi four feet to the right. He applied the brake, hit the horn, then turned to his wife.

He noticed the way the light accentuated her cheekbones, then out of the corner of his right eye glimpsed a motorcycle near the back bumper. Two helmets, both black with mirrored visors. The driver and rider looked like aliens.

Past the soaring saxophone solo and through the soundproof door panels, he heard a metal click. Seconds later the motorcycle roared past, narrowly avoiding a bus.

He was thinking about the first time he had seen Lena, standing near the entrance to the Georgetown University library. She was a sophomore; he was pursuing a master’s degree in economics.

He remembered how he had stopped to ask her for directions to White-Gravenor Hall even though he knew where it was. And how when she turned, he was struck by her beauty, and the strength and intelligence in her eyes.

John Rinehart opened his mouth to tell Lena how he had felt at that moment, how certain he had been that something important was happening. But before he could get the words out, the small but powerful explosive device that had been magnetically attached to the car’s rear fender exploded, tearing through the chassis, igniting the high-octane fuel in the gas tank and causing the car to burst into flames.

John and Lenora Rinehart were dead within seconds. Another eight poor souls riding bicycles and motorbikes in the vicinity also died. Twenty-three were seriously injured.

Continue reading “Start Reading SEAL Team Six: Hunt the Falcon”

Start Reading The Lost Girls of Rome

This week, Donato Carrisi’s THE LOST GIRLS OF ROME, a “powerful psychological drama” (Kirkus, starred review), reaches bookstores across the country and is also available from your favorite e-tailer. Below is an excerpt from this amazing Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week. Enjoy! And don’t blame us if you end up running out to grab a copy of your own after reading this!

8:56 p.m.

The third lesson that Sandra Vega had learned is that houses and apartments have a smell. It belongs to those who live in them, and it’s always different and unique. When the occupants leave, the smell vanishes. That was why every time Sandra got back to her apartment on the Navigli, she immediately looked for David’s smell.

Aftershave and aniseed-flavored cigarettes.

She knew that one day she would come home, sniff the air and not smell it. Once the smell had gone, David really wouldn’t be there anymore.

That thought made her despair. And she tried to be out as much as possible. In order not to contaminate the apartment with her presence, not to fill it with her own smell.

At first, she had hated the cheap supermarket aftershave David insisted on buying. It seemed to her aggressive and all-pervading. In the three years they had lived together, she had tried many times to find him a replacement. Every birthday, Christmas or anniversary, in addition to the official gift there was a new scent. He would use it for a week, then put it away together with the others on a shelf in the bathroom. Each time he would attempt to justify himself with the words: “Sorry, Ginger, but it’s just not me.” The way he would wink as he said this was intensely irritating.

Sandra could never have imagined that a time would come when she would buy twenty bottles of that aftershave and sprinkle it around the apartment. She had bought so many out of the senseless fear that one day they would take it off the market. And she had even purchased those terrible aniseed-flavored cigarettes. She would leave them, alight, in ashtrays around the rooms. But the alchemy hadn’t worked. It was David’s physical presence that had linked those smells indissolubly. It was his skin, his breath, his mood that made that union special.

After a long day’s work, Sandra closed the apartment door behind her and waited a few seconds, motionless in the darkness. Then, at last, her husband’s smell came to greet her.

She put the bags down on the armchair in the hall: she would have to clean the equipment, but for now she was putting everything off. She would see to it after dinner. In the meantime she ran herself a hot bath and lay in the water until her fingers became wrinkled. She put on a blue T-shirt and opened a bottle of wine. It was her way of escaping. She couldn’t bear to switch on the television anymore, and she didn’t have the concentration necessary to read a book. So she spent her evenings on the sofa, with a bottle of Negroamaro in her hands and her vision gradually blurring.

She was only twenty-nine, and found it hard to think of herself as a widow. Continue reading “Start Reading The Lost Girls of Rome”

Start Reading Darwin’s Blade

This week, Mulholland is proud to introduce our second reissue of a classic Dan Simmons suspense novel, DARWIN’S BLADE. Hailed upon publication by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as “a literary thriller like no other;” by the Denver Post as what might have happened “if Donald Westlake, John Irving, and Robert Parker had sat down to collaborate on a novel,” and by the Houston Chronicle as “an exciting novel full of shoot-outs, computer-aided investigations, duplicity and humor,” DARWIN’S BLADE is classic Dan Simmons in top form, now available in trade paperback for the first time ever. Start reading it right here! Then head out to your favorite bookseller or e-tailer for a copy of your own.

1

“A Is for Hole”

The phone rang a few minutes after four in the morning. “You like accidents, Dar. You owe it to yourself to come see this one.”

“I don’t like accidents,” said Dar. He did not ask who was calling. He recognized Paul Cameron’s voice even though he and Cameron had not been in touch for over a year. Cameron was a CHP officer working out of Palm Springs.

“All right, then,” said Cameron, “you like puzzles.”

Dar swiveled to read his clock. “Not at four-oh-eight a.m.,” he said.

“This one’s worth it.” The connection sounded hollow, as if it were a radio patch or a cell phone.

“Where?”

“Montezuma Valley Road,” said Cameron. “Just a mile inside the canyon, where S22 comes out of the hills into the desert.”

“Jesus Christ,” muttered Dar. “You’re talking Borrego Springs. It would take me more than ninety minutes to get there.”

“Not if you drive your black car,” said Cameron, his chuckle blending with the rasp and static of the poor connection.

“What kind of accident would bring me almost all the way to Borrego Springs before breakfast?” said Dar, sitting up now. “Multiple vehicle?”

“We don’t know,” said Officer Cameron. His voice still sounded amused.

“What do you mean you don’t know? Don’t you have anyone at the scene yet?”

“I’m calling from the scene,” said Cameron through the static.

“And you can’t tell how many vehicles were involved?” Dar found himself wishing that he had a cigarette in the drawer of his bedside table. He had given up smoking ten years earlier, just after the death of his wife, but he still got the craving at odd times.

“We can’t even ascertain beyond a reasonable doubt what kind of vehicle or vehicles was or were involved,” said Cameron, his voice taking on that official, strained-syntax, preliterate lilt that cops used when speaking in their official capacity.

“You mean what make?” said Dar. He rubbed his chin, heard the sandpaper scratch there, and shook his head. He had seen plenty of high-speed vehicular accidents where the make and model of the car were not immediately apparent. Especially at night.

“I mean we don’t know if this is a car, more than one car, a plane, or a fucking UFO crash,” said Cameron. “If you don’t see this one, Darwin, you’ll regret it for the rest of your days.”

“What do you…” Dar began, and stopped. Cameron had broken the connection. Dar swung his legs over the edge of the bed, looked out at the dark beyond the glass of his tall condo windows, muttered, “Shit,” and got up to take a fast shower. Continue reading “Start Reading Darwin’s Blade”

Start Reading The Thicket

Today we celebrate the publication of THE THICKET, the newest novel by Joe R. Lansdale, Edgar Award winner and eight-time Bram Stoker recipient. Ron Rash says THE THICKET “earns a place on the same shelf as Charles Portis’s True Grit and Cormac McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses;” Michael Koryta calls it “Nuanced, compelling, darkly humorous, and remarkably vivid;” the Houston Chronicle says THE THICKET “reads like a dark version of The Adventure of Tom Sawyer and feels like a Coen brothers movie” and is “the perfect mix of light and dark, with plenty of humor mixed in.”

Start reading Joe’s newest below, then pick up a copy at your local bookstore or by visiting your favorite e-tailer! THE THICKET is now available in bookstores everywhere.

(1)

I didn’t suspect the day Grandfather came out and got me and my sister, Lula, and hauled us off toward the ferry, that I’d soon end up with worse things happening than had already come upon us, or that I’d take up with a gun-shooting dwarf, the son of a slave and a big angry hog, let alone find true love and kill someone, but that’s exactly how it was.

It was the pox got it all started. It had run through the country like a runaway mule and had been especially unkind to the close-by town of Hinge Gate. It showed up there as a bumpy, oozing death, and killed so many it was called an epidemic. Two of the ones that died were our Ma and Pa, and neither of them had ever been sick a day in their lives. I on the other hand was sickly all my early life, up until the time I got my health, and Lula had been kind of scrawny her whole time, but neither of us took it. I was by this time a healthy sixteen year old, and she was fourteen, and right on the verge of her bloom. That ole pox passed us by as if it was blind in one eye. It crept up on Ma and Pa, fevered them up, covered them in blisters, and made it so when they tried to breathe, it sounded like a busted squeeze box. The worse thing was we had to sit and watch them die, and there wasn’t a damn thing we could do about it. We couldn’t even touch them for fear of coming down with it. Continue reading “Start Reading The Thicket”

Take a Sneak Peek at Lauren Beukes’s Fairest Volume 2

Lauren Beukes is a writer of many talents. You may know her from this site as the author of the brilliant, chilling novel, The Shining Girls. But did you know she also writes comics for Vertigo? Fairest Volume 2: The Hidden Kingdom collects issues 8-14, in which Lauren Beukes tells the tale of Rapunzel. Preview the beautiful spreads below, with the cover by Adam Hughes and art by Inaki Miranda. Fairest Vol. 2 will be available in comics stores on July 24th and in bookstores everywhere July 30th.

Fairest Volume 2

Fairest Issue 8 Page 1

Fairest Issue 8 Page 2

Fairest Issue 8 Page 3

Fairest Issue 8 Page 4

Fairest Issue 8 Page 5

Bonus image! From the issue featuring Rapunzel and Jack in Tokyo:
From Fairest Issue 8

Start Reading Marcia Clark’s Killer Ambition

Marcia Clark’s third Rachel Knight novel KILLER AMBITION is now on sale in bookstores everywhere! Read on for an excerpt in the novel which the Hartford Books Examiner calls “the best entry yet in a young but exceptionally strong series”  and which caused Booklist to declare, in a starred review:”Legal thrillers don’t get much better than this.”

2

Bailey got off the 405 freeway and headed east on Sunset Boulevard. I was about to ask where we were going when she turned onto Bellagio Road—which led to the heart of Bel Air. If I were a billionaire director I’d live there too.

Bel Air is in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains, and it’s the highest of the three legs known as the Platinum Triangle—the other two being Beverly Hills and Holmby Hills. The most expensive homes in the world occupy real estate in that wedge of land, and most of those homes are in Bel Air. The biggest and most lavish are usually closest to Sunset Boulevard, but you’d never know that, because massive trees and dense shrubbery hide all but the gated entries, and even those gates are tough to find, hidden as some are by deliberately overgrown leafy climbers.

Which explains why Bailey was frowning and muttering to herself as she scanned the road for house numbers. But when we reached Bel Air Country Club, she made a U-turn and pulled over. “Do me a favor and look for this number. The navigation says we’re there, but I don’t see a damn thing.” She handed me a scrap of paper with an address and headed back down the road. One minute later I told her to stop and peered closely at a set of massive black iron gates that were almost completely obscured by towering elm and cypress trees. The tops of the gates met in an arc, and there in the apex, woven into the iron scrollwork, was the number.

“This is it.” If I hadn’t been parked in front of it and looking hard, I’d never have seen it.

I pointed out a discreet black metal box mounted on an arm in the brick wall and Bailey pushed the button. A voice that sounded like a British butler’s said, “Yes?” Bailey identified us, and he told us to hold out our badges. I couldn’t see any cameras, but I didn’t imagine he’d have asked us to do that just for giggles, so I held them outside the window, not sure where to aim them. After a couple of seconds the gates swung open, and Bailey steered up the brick-lined road.

Los Angeles has some of the most outrageously opulent manses in the country and Bailey and I had seen our share over the years, but nothing compared to this. The road opened to a bricked-in area that was the size of half a football field, in the middle of which was a massive Italian Renaissance–style fountain, complete with cherubs’ and lions’ heads that spewed water. Towering over the grounds was a palatial two-story Tudor-style house all in that same matching brick. It was tastefully covered in ivy that obediently climbed where it best accented the archways and latticed windows and formed a large L around the perimeter of the front area. Judging just by what I could see from the outside, that “house” was at least thirty-five thousand square feet if it was an inch.

Bailey parked and we both stepped out of the car and took in the view.

“Damn,” said Bailey under her breath.

“A quaint little ‘starter.’”

By the time we’d made it up to the arched brick entry, the door was open and a slender man in his fifties, with thinning hair combed neatly back and dressed in a cardigan and dark slacks, beckoned us in.

“Right this way, please.” Continue reading “Start Reading Marcia Clark’s Killer Ambition”