Sneak Peek Story Extracts:
“I’m scared,” the dying cop said.
“You’re gonna be okay. Help’ll be here soon.”
I shook my head. “No, you’re not. You’re gonna be okay.”
My partner of fifteen years coughed and blood bubbled from between his lips. I lifted his head higher, my fingers slick with sweat. My other hand remained pressed against the bullet wound in his chest, a warm scarlet glove.
From The Bad Guys
“What’s going on, man?”
Jimmy looked over his left shoulder at the house, and then over his right at the front yard. Seemingly content that no one was eavesdropping, he scooted his chair closer to Brian. Lowered his voice. “You remember what we were talking about yesterday…about Mr. Pruitt?”
“About him being sad?”
Jimmy shook his head. “About him being different, acting weird.”
Jimmy looked over his shoulder again in the direction of his next-door neighbor’s house, then back at Brian. “I was thinking about it last night…remembering things.” He took a deep breath. “I think something bad might be going on over there.”
“What exactly does something bad mean?” Brian slid his chair a little closer.
Jimmy thought about it for a moment before answering.
“You promised you wouldn’t laugh.”
“Just tell me what you—”
“I think Mr. Pruitt might be a serial killer.”
From The Meek Shall Inherit
The man holds the video camera in his left hand and grips the steering wheel with his right. The road, and calling it a road is charitable at best, is unpaved dirt and gravel, and the camera POV is unsteady. Mostly we see bouncing images of the interior dashboard and snippets of blue sky through a dirty windshield. The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” plays at low volume on the radio.
After another thirty seconds of this, we hear the squeal of brakes in need of repair and the car swings in a wide circle—giving us a shaky glimpse of a stone lighthouse standing atop a grassy point of land—and comes to a stop facing rocky cliffs that drop perilously to the Atlantic Ocean below. The ocean here is dark and rough and foreboding, even on this clear day.
From Widow’s Point (with Billy Chizmar)
“I hate Halloween.”
“You hate everything,” I said.
“That’s not true.”
“Name three things you don’t—”
Frank Logan, bald head, double chin, and wrinkled suit, stared out the passenger window of our unmarked patrol car.
“Well, I was gonna say you’re the third thing I don’t hate but that was before you started with this shit.”
I laughed and swung a right onto Pulaski Highway.
“So what do you have against Halloween anyway?”
From The Witch
My father and I started digging the day after school ended.
From A Nightmare On Elm Lane
“You got any money?” Heather Neely asked.
“Not much,” I said. “Why? You runnin’ short again?”
“Yeah, kinda.” She looked over at me. “Maybe it’s time for the gorilla mask.”
I nodded. I needed some extra credits myself.
Now before you get all uppity about this very delicate subject we’re about to discuss, just remember one thing. You take that forty-seven percent inflation rate we’ve got, and you couple that with the new budget cut-backs imposed on coppers, and you consider that most of us are married with families, and maybe you can understand why we don the gorilla mask so damn often.
I said, “It’s my turn to be the robber.”
“The hell it is. We flipped for it last time, remember? This time it’s my turn.”
From Dirty Coppers (with Ed Gorman)
Lester Everett Billings. White male. Devoted husband. Father of two lovely daughters. College educated. Local business owner. Avid fly fisherman. Volunteer volleyball coach. By all accounts, a good family man, neighbor, co-worker, and friend. And one of the most prolific serial killers in modern history.
six ninety-three…six ninety-four…six ninety-five.
I live three blocks from the corner of Hanson and Cherry I stop in front of the Redbox machine and tap the toe of my right shoe against the bottom of the unit. Three times. Not two times and not four times. Always three.
From Odd Numbers
Another child was killed yesterday…
And probably right around the time that it happened, I was sitting alone on my screened-in back porch, eating dinner and watching the storm break.
From Roses And Raindrops (with Brian Keene)
Someone was standing in the middle of the street, staring up at the house.
Between the darkness and a tangle of overhanging tree branches, Harold couldn’t make out whether it was a man or woman. All he could see was the still figure of someone standing there, watching. He was about to go downstairs and investigate further when the shadowy figure turned and started slowly walking away.
Harold watched the person disappear down the street and then climbed back into bed. He clicked the remote to turn off the television and lay there in the darkness, thinking about what he’d just seen. He wondered how long the person had been out there watching the house before he’d walked by the window and noticed him. Harold felt unnerved and was certain that sleep would be a long time coming, but within minutes of turning off the television, he was snoring even louder than his wife.
From The Association
The sound came again, louder this time, a harsh scraping sound, as if something heavy were being moved in increments over the floor. Something much heavier than Sophie. It came from the direction of his studio down the hall.
From The Sculptor (with Ray Garton)
I was watering the tomato plants on my balcony and trying to decide whether I should take a shower or go for a run when the phone rang. No one called me these days—except for misguided solicitors a few times a week—so I let the answering machine pick up. It beeped and I heard my mother’s voice, sounding much older than the last time I’d heard it: “You need to come home, Charlie. Your father died.”
And that was it.
I sat on the armrest of my rented sofa and played the message. When it was finished, I played it again and listened with my eyes closed. My mother sounded like a stranger. I pictured her standing in the kitchen of the small house I’d grown up in, staring out the window above the sink at the ancient weeping willow tree that bordered our side yard, absently twirling her hair in her fingers, the phone pressed tight against her ear.
From The Long Way Home