Monday has finally left us and we're now barreling into the week full force. Fear not my fellow readers. I have come with great books to read. A series in fact. An urban series for An Urban Tuesday.
I've been reading the Bloodhound Files series little by little over the past couple of months. The author has made me laugh out loud and sit on the edge of my seat a number of times so I'm here to share and bring the wonders of this author to you if you haven't already enjoyed the series. If you have, I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Like or dislike? Favorite quotes or books in the series?
For today's reading we have an extended snippet from book two of the series titled, Death Blows.
Back of the Book:
Her job description is the “tracking and apprehension of mentally-fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world—one in which only one percent of the population is human—is that a woman’s work is never done. And real is getting stranger every day…
Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she’s the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David’s world—one that also includes lycanthropes and golems—is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…
EXTENDING SNIPPET READING
All I can see through the night-vision goggles are the eyes of the vampire I’m pressed against; the rest of his face is kind of obscured by the large-caliber handgun I have jammed up his nose. It makes his voice sound extremely nasal.
“I dode know why I shouldund just rip your priddy liddle throde oud,” he says. “I really dode.”
“Well, then, let me explain it to you. My name is Special Agent Jace Valchek and I work for the National Security Agency of the Unnatural States of America. I am a bona fide, one hundred percent real human woman, I’m not from around here, and the shiny piece of metal currently deviating your undead septum is a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan .454 chambered with silver-tipped, teakwood bullets. I know that last piece of information doesn’t mean a whole lot to you since guns never really caught on in this particular reality, but you saw what it did to your two friends from twenty feet away.
I’m a whole lot closer. So unless you’re ready to pay the Grim Reaper the time-debt you owe his bony ass, I’d suggest you think of my weapon as a glorified crossbow that shoots very tiny arrows very, very fast.”
He thinks about it. He stinks of fermented blood and Cloven, the pire equivalent of meth—actually methamphetamine cut with just enough garlic to let it affect his metabolism. His breath, which technically he shouldn’t have, is terrible. I’m going to have to disinfect the gun later just to get the smell off it.
“Whad do you wad?”
“Aristotle Stoker,” I hiss.
“Nebber heard ub hib.”
“Sure you have. AKA the Impaler? Leader of the Free Human Resistance? Same guy that released that video on the net that turned a few million hemovores and lycanthropes into living mummies for a while? That Aristotle Stoker.”
I’m getting real tired of Gus’s bloodsucker-with-a-head-cold routine—plus, my trigger finger’s a bit too close to his fangs—so I ease up, just a little. He takes this as a sign that I was kidding about blowing his head off, and grins. He’s short, pudgy, and balding, and no casting director in my world would ever have hired him to play a vampire. Here, he’s just one more neckbiter on a planet full of the living-challenged.
“Hey, take it easy. I got no reason to stand up for that guy—why would I want to get in the middle of some human thing? I mean, I don’t know much, but you don’t have to go all Lugosi on me.”
“Stoker. Where is he?”
“If I knew, I’d tell you. But I only saw him for like ten minutes, okay? And that was over a week ago.
He picked up a few things he had on order, then took off. No idea where he went.” Gus is a blackmarket dealer in various esoteric items—charms, weapons, the occasional shipment of Cloven or Bane. Right now, we’re in a shipping container buried in the middle of a bunch of other shipping containers in a storage lot just outside Seattle. A real rat-in-a-woodpile kind of office, but pires didn’t need things like light, air, or heat. The only way to get in or out is a tunnel that connects to a sewer outflow pipe, and he keeps guards posted on that. Luckily, I haven’t come alone.
“What did he pick up?”
“Couple of books and an amulet. Amulet was kind of pricey considering that it doesn’t even work, but he paid the bill without haggling.”
“Yeah? What’s it supposed to do?”
“Detect rockheads. Uh, no offense.”
I can hear my partner clear his throat behind me, a noise a bit like gravel in a coffee grinder. “None taken,” he grunts. Charlie Aleph’s a golem, three hundred or so pounds of black volcanic sand poured into a human-shaped, thick-skinned plastic bag and animated by the spiritual essence of a prehistoric tyrannosaur. Not offending him is a good thing. I know people who’ve made whole careers out of it.
“And the books?”
“The Ahasuerus Codex and the Aenigma Veneficium. Don’t ask me why he wanted ’em, ’cause I don’t know.”
Neither do I, but my background in arcane textbooks is limited to what I pick up through osmosis; I’ll have to ask Eisfanger what significance those two titles have when I get back to the office—
Gus tries to bite my hand. Yeah, his mouth is right there, and most pires make a hungry cheetah look slow, but it’s still a loser move—I mean, all I have to do is twitch.
Unluckily for Gus, I’m in a twitchy mood.
His skull slows the bullet down just enough that the slug only ricochets four or five times off the walls—after all, we’re in a big metal box. By the time Gus’s body hits the ground it’s mostly bones; looks like his time-debt was a few decades at least.
“Damn it,” I say. No matter how tough I act, I don’t take ending a life lightly. I never used to, anyway.
“I am sick of people not taking me seriously.”
“Tell that to the two other guys you shot,” Charlie says. “The ones lying outside and moaning. Pretty sure they’re reevaluating their estimation of you right now.”
“Sure, after I shoot someone they show me some respect. As long as they don’t collapse in a pile of decomposing calcium, that is.”
“Maybe you should switch to a different weapon.”
“Maybe I should get a more supportive partner.”
“Yeah, I hear there’s a long waiting list for that.”
I give him the finger, which seems to be universal no matter which universe you’re from. He ignores it, which is also standard.
We go back outside—it’s the middle of the night—and call an ambulance for the two muscleheads I shot. One’s a pire, the other’s a thrope; he’s still in half-were form, a large wolf-headed guy dressed in cargo shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Thropes can’t talk when they’re in were form—their mouths aren’t shaped right for it—but he’s giving off this continual high-pitched whine that’s really getting on my nerves.
“I believe this is yours,” Charlie says. He holds up what’s left of a deformed silver slug between thumb and forefinger.
“Where’d you find that?”
“About two inches into the hole it made in my chest. And my shirt. And my lapel.” Charlie dresses like a private eye from a Raymond Chandler novel, right down to the fedora, but his suits are always immaculately tailored. He appreciates getting holes in them about as much as staining his alligator-skin shoes with raw sewage—which is how we’d started the evening.
“Yeah, ricochets can be a bitch. Sorry. Want some gum to patch it up?”
“And smell like Juicy Fruit for the rest of the night? No thanks. I think I prefer the raw sewage.”
“That’s not sewage. That’s the smell this case is starting to give off.”
“We’ll find him, Jace.”
“Yeah. Sure.” Catching Aristotle Stoker is the only way my employers will give me a ticket back to my own universe, a nice comforting place of global warming, war in the Middle East, nuclear weapons—
and no vampires, werewolves, or golems. The only magic I ever want to see again involves a top hat, a rabbit, and maybe a two-drink minimum.