BOOK BLAST: Vacant by Alex Hughes


Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, and coming next spring, Ultimate Game, A Trey Fontaine Mystery.

Book Details:

Genre: Science Fiction / Mystery-Thriller

Published by: Penguin (Roc)

Publication Date: December 2, 2014

Number of Pages: 352

ISBN: 0451466942

Series: Mindspace Investigation, #4

More: This Book Contains Excessive Strong Language

Purchase Links:

 

Synopsis:

Nothing ruins a romantic evening like a brawl with lowlifes—especially when one of them later turns up dead and my date, Detective Isabella Cherabino, is the #1 suspect. My history with the Atlanta PD on both sides of the law makes me an unreliable witness, so while Cherabino is suspended, I’m paying my bills by taking an FBI gig.

I’ve been hired to play telepathic bodyguard for Tommy, the ten-year-old son of a superior court judge in Savannah presiding over the murder trial of a mob-connected mogul. After an attempt on the kid’s life, the Feds believe he’s been targeted by the businessman’s “associates.”

Turns out, Tommy’s a nascent telepath, so I’m trying to help him get a handle on his Ability. But it doesn’t take a mind reader to see that there’s something going on with this kid’s parents that’s stressing him out more than a death threat…

 

Read an excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

A sea of thoughts crashed into me like a tsunami, chaos given form with impossible force. I focused only on the back of Isabella’s sweatshirt, as I followed her through the crowds, past the food on the outside rim of Phillips Arena.

She finally moved into one of the alcoves with the big sign–A something and a number. My eyes were in slits, focused only on her to block out all those damn minds. She stopped against the concrete wall, pulling me a bit out of the way. The crowd pushed against my shoulder periodically anyway, bursts of particular minds striking mine as their bodies ran into my shoulder.

She said something.

“What?”

“This was a terrible idea,” Isabella said, in the tone of someone repeating themselves. “You’re not…”

“It’s fine,” I said, through gritted teeth. “You paid all the money for the tickets, You begged me to come. We’re here. Let’s see the show.”

“But–” Isabella waffled. Isabella Cherabino was a senior homicide detective for the DeKalb County Police Department, and as such was normally decisive. She must have had strong emotions about this concert, which I’d know if I wasn’t spending every spare bit of my energy shielding against the crush of minds all around me. There were times when telepathy was more of a curse than a blessing.

“It’s okay,” I said. It wasn’t, of course, but I was here, damn it. Might as well get through this.

She pulled me further down the hall, and waved our tickets again at new people, who pointed her down a set of stairs. I followed, one step behind her, entire vision focused on the back of her shirt.

The ancient twice-remodeled stadium hosted hockey games, so it wasn’t exactly gorgeous, and the floating screens overhead looked like they’d fall down at any time. The whole place smelled like fried food and beer, old beer, but that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was the people. Maybe a hundred thousand people were jostling and yelling and talking and thinking around me, loudly. Their mental waves in Mindspace, groups upon groups of thin, normal mind-waves, added up to an ocean of force that overwhelmed all of my senses.

She found our seats and pushed me into mine. I gripped the ancient wooden armrests with shaking hands.

I had no idea how she’d talked me into this. Telepaths did not like crowds. I hadn’t had to deal with this level of overwhelming mental force since my final testing, more than twenty years ago now, and I strained under the pressure like a piano suspended over a cartoon character’s head. I swallowed, forcing myself against it.

My old teacher’s voice in my head reminded me that strength didn’t always get the job done, no matter how manly it felt at the time. Sometimes you had to be the duck, and swim with the current while the rain slipped off your back. I tried that, focusing on moving through the pressure cleanly rather than blocking it. A surfer on the edge of the sea, pushed along but not fighting. It helped, but only some.

Then Isabella reached over and took my hand, and warm feelings leavened with a little guilt rolled up my arm.

“Thank you for coming, Adam,” she said, quietly. With the physical connection I could feel her even through my shielding.

And I looked over, and remembered why I’d come. I was with her.

Isabella was a beautiful woman with strong Italian features, thick, slightly-curly hair she usually wore up, and a curvy body well worth a second look. She was a few years younger than me at just-forty, had a black belt in something Asian and deadly, and was one of the smartest people I knew. Her sense of justice in working with the police had been one of the things that had kept me on the wagon these last four years.

er strength of character and huge work ethic had been an inspiration for far longer.

It was impossible for me to believe that she was willing to date me; I’d been in love with her for years, and even though I couldn’t say it out loud yet, and even though we hadn’t had sex–she hadn’t been willing to make the nearly-permanent commitment sex with a telepath implied–we were dating. Four months and change now. And she’d been falling asleep in my arms nearly as long. She’d even filled out the official relationship form with the department, calling me boyfriend in plain text where anyone could read it. It was a miracle, as far as I was concerned.

So if I had to stand in the middle of the worst press of minds in my life, I would. I’d do nearly anything for her.

After ten minutes or so, the lights dimmed and the crowd roared. The minds roared too, pressing against my consciousness like a hand squeezing a tube of toothpaste with the lid still on–like that lid, I felt under pressure, impossibly strained. I wondered whether I’d really be able to survive this.

The screens came on, and the image of the aging rock musician Cherabino liked came on in a still photograph. Then the image fractured to be replaced by the concert logo. The crowd roared, and Mindspace trembled with pressure and interacting minds. Only two hours until it was over. She’d spent a fortune on the tickets, I told myself.

A manufactured smell–of volcanic gas, engine oil, and ozone–flooded the stadium, and the roaring of the crowd grew louder. Then the lights dimmed, green spotlights flooded the empty stage floor in front of us. The smell of deep woods added to the mix in the air, growing things and moss and sunlight cutting through the darker smells of civilization. The smell came back to me from the minds around me, lessening the pressure with pure sensation.

A trapdoor opened in the middle of the stage, and a figure was slowly raised into the green light. The rocker’s peaked hair caught the light with glitter and phantom holograms, and the clothes were not much better, tight-fitting to a fault, glittering. She slung her spiky guitar in front of her body, and strummed.

The noise filled the stadium and every mind in it, shaking our seats with pure sound. Isabella next to me was transfixed, her focus coming through between our psychic link.

The minds around me echoed back the sound of the opening bars of the song, echoed back the lights now turning red as the rocker screamed about dropping bombs, about bursting minds in the sixty-year-ago Tech Wars. And as she quieted, and sungintense notes about a child growing up in a shattered city, every mind in the place cried with her.

I dropped my shields, dropped them entirely, and pulled my hand away from Isabella.

“What?” she said.

“Shh,” I said. The band was rising up at the back of the stage on more platforms from the floor, the lights ramping up, but I didn’t care. I closed my eyes.

The music swelled in screams again, drums coming in, and the beat fell into the minds of the crowd, rising too. The vision of what was happening on stage came through a thousand minds, an overlapping kaleidoscope vision of one idea, one experience, one moment. And it continued. It continued.

No one was here who didn’t love this band. No one paid who didn’t live for this moment. And here, in the middle of all of it, I felt like a feather flying in the wind, a glider sailing on the sea of emotional high. The music swelled again, and my heart with it. Sound and vision and fury and a thousand happy minds crashed into me, and I breathed them in. I breathed them in.

Some time later, the world dissipated into a sea of clapping, and I came back to myself. I built shields, slowly, to block out the Mindspace now fracturing into chaos. The pressure, the unpleasantness returned, and I returned to laboring against it, but left in my mind was that one, pure note, the note that had started it all.

Isabella poked me.

“What?” I said, reluctantly opening my eyes.

“I said, did you like it?”

“That was… that was great,” I said. It was the understatement of the century.

“Are you okay?” she asked. Then she got that facial expression where she wondered if she needed to call Swartz, my Narcotics Anonymous sponsor. “You look… high.”

“Just the concert,” I said. I stood then; someone pushed by on their way to the aisle. “Can we hang around until most of the people are gone?” I asked. I’d rather not deal with all those minds wanting so desperately to get out of here; I was already feeling the edge of that flight response and didn’t want it intensified.

“Sure,” she said, but she looked at me suspiciously.

As another couple moved out of the row, squeezing in front of us, I realized I had to make an effort at conversation now. I really wanted to sit down and process what I’d just experienced–something I’d never, in my forty years, even dreamed of–but this was Isabella.

“What did you think of the ballad about the miniature giraffe?” I asked her.

“That was hilarious,” she said, still looking suspicious. But she sat down, and I sat down, and as people moved out of the old stadium like ants and strange smells moved through the system, we talked.

After awhile she was even smiling.

I’d done well tonight, I thought to myself. But at the back of my brain, I wondered. Did I really need something else in my life that was that… addictive?

#

We waited over an hour, until the majority of the minds had left. When we walked out of the arena building, it was dark, and the street was nearly deserted, just a few clusters of people here and there. Our breath fogged in the late-February air, the winter on its last greedy weeks of cold. Bioengineered trees with luminescent glowing orbs illuminated the sidewalk in dim blue light that stretched farther than you thought it should, beautiful and simple, feeling artificial and natural all at once. They held up well to the cold, I noticed, as I huddled in my jacket a little deeper.

A small group of guys stood about a hundred feet away, their body language tense and confrontational. Cherabino’s hand moved towards the gun on her waist she wasn’t carrying.

Then one guy yelled, and the group turned inward. The dull slap of repeated fist-blows hit the air.

Cherabino considered whether to get involved.

I turned—but it was too late. A man stood there, at least fifty-five and thin. He was short for a man, balding, with dark skin that caught up blue highlights from the bioluminescent streetlight. In Mindspace, his presence had wiry strength and desperation mixed. He held a pole as tall as himself, maybe fifty t-shirts hooked into loops on the pole, shirts with a cheaply-copied logo of the band we’d just seen.

“Buy a shirt. Just ten ROCs,” he said, but his tone was angry.

“No thanks,” I said.

“Keep moving, sir,” Cherabino said, a little of her cop voice leaking into her speech, moving towards a defensive stance.

Another guy came up, behind us, one of the ones from the group who’d been fighting. The others held back, working out their aggression, close to leaving. I moved around to look at him.

“Buy a shirt or my buddy and I have something to say.”

“No way those are official shirts,” I said. “You’re stealing from the artist.”

I felt the first guy’s decision, but Cherabino was already moving.

Pain from behind me. Cherabino in judo mode.

The buddy charged me. I went to get a grip on his mind—and failed.

He punched me in the jaw. I saw stars, and my legs went out from underneath me.

I blinked up, trying to get my bearings, but he kicked me. I whimpered. Not the most manly moment, but it hurt, damn it. I pushed back up.

Cherabino was over me, then, badge out in the guy’s face. “Police,” she said.

She went flying and somebody kicked me back down again. I put my hands over my head to protect it and tried to get a grip on the guy’s mind one more time. Slippery fellow—we had bad valence, terrible valence, and I couldn’t get a grip.

I went for the first one—and him I could grip. I hit the center of his mind, knocking him out. He slumped down, landing on top of the abandoned t-shirt rack.

I got up to my knees just in time to watch Cherabino punch the buddy in the face. “Police,” she said, standing over him. “Don’t ever let me see you around here again.”

“Shouldn’t you arrest them?” I asked.

She considered it, then gave me a hand up.

The buddy took off running, and she let him go. “Not worth interrupting my date over,” she said.

She glanced back at the guy I’d knocked out. Then sighed. “Is there a way to wake him up? Leaving him unconscious probably isn’t the best of ideas.”

I took a look at my handiwork in Mindspace. “If I wake him right now he’ll have the world’s worst headache.”

“Serve him right. Do it. Then let’s get out of here.”

#

We walked back to the parking garage across the street, her feet moving faster than I preferred. Her anger was still in play. Mine too. We shouldn’t have gotten involved in a stupid fight outside of Philips.

She found her car, an old beat up sedan, where she’d left it on the fourth floor. Her parking job was crooked, which was typical for her. She unlocked the car and let us in.

“You sure we shouldn’t have arrested them?” I asked, as I swung myself down into the seat.

“We’re in Fulton County and off-duty. More trouble than it’s worth,” she said, but wasn’t exactly happy about it. She turned on the fusion engine, it slowly warming up with a whine.

I closed the door. My body was calm by now, my heartbeat more settled, but I still felt jumpy, still felt too sensitive. I was open to Mindspace, monitoring what was going on, which is why I felt it.

All at once, I felt a shift in the world, a collapsing in, a hole disappearing into the fabric of Mindspace. A cold wind across my sense of the future, itching and then gone. A mile away, perhaps, just at the edge of my senses for even the strongest signal. A mile away behind us.

My stomach sank. “Someone just died.”

“What?” she said.

“Someone just died behind us. Violently, to be that strong.”

“Murder?” she asked.

“Or they fell off a building and impacted the ground. Strong, violent stuff.”

She sighed. I felt her considering.

“Go ahead and turn around,” I said. She was a workaholic, and obligated to the department. Getting in the way of her job wasn’t going to get me anywhere. And the feeling of that death bothered me. I wanted to know what was going on.

“But—”

“It’s fine,” I said. “Let’s find out who died.”

“Okay.” So she turned the car around.

 

Author Bio:

Alex Hughes, the author of the award-winning Mindspace Investigations series from Roc, has lived in the Atlanta area since the age of eight. She is a graduate of the prestigious Odyssey Writing Workshop, and a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America and the International Thriller Writers. Her short fiction has been published in several markets including EveryDay Fiction, Thunder on the Battlefield and White Cat Magazine. She is an avid cook and foodie, a trivia buff, and a science geek, and loves to talk about neuroscience, the Food Network, and writing craft—but not necessarily all at the same time! You can visit her at

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2. Beans Book Reviews
3. Ryder Islingtons Blog
4. FictionZeal
5. Mommabears Book Blog
6. Marys Cup of Tea
7. Literary R&R
8. Bless Their Hearts Mom
9. Hott Books
10. Bunnys Review
11. Sapphyrias Book Reviews

 

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SHOWCASE: Misdirection The Rusty Diamond Trilogy by Austin Williams


Posted by Ryder Islington, author of ULTIMATE JUSTICE, A Trey Fontaine Mystery and coming soon: ULTIMATE GAME, A Trey Fontaine Mystery

Misdirection

The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

by Austin Williams

on Tour at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours October 17 – November 21, 2014

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Published by: Diversion Books

Publication Date: June 24, 2014

Number of Pages: 266

Series: 1st in The Rusty Diamond Trilogy

ISBN: 9781626813557

Purchase Links:

Synopsis:

A street magician needs more than sleight-of- hand to survive getting embroiled in a murder case in this blistering novel of suspense, perfect for fans of Harlan Coben and George Pelecanos.

After years of chasing fame and hedonistic excess in the bright lights of Las Vegas, Rusty “The Raven” Diamond has returned home to Ocean City to piece his life back together. When he finds himself an innocent suspect in his landlord’s brutal murder, Rusty abandons all hope of maintaining a tranquil existence. Acting on impulse, he digs into the investigation just enough to anger both the police and a local drug cartel.

As the unsolved case grows more complex, claiming new victims and inciting widespread panic, Rusty feels galvanized by the adrenaline he’s been missing for too long. But his newfound excitement threatens to become an addiction, leading him headfirst into an underworld he’s been desperately trying to escape.

Austin Williams creates an unforgettable protagonist in Rusty, a flawed but relatable master of illusion in very real danger. As the suspense builds to an explosively orchestrated climax, Williams paints a riveting portrait of both a city—and a man—on the edge.

Read an excerpt:

The bloodstain was shaped like Florida. Rusty didn’t know much about geography, probably couldn’t point out more than a handful of states on a map. But he knew what Florida looked like, even though he’d never been there. And the mass of drying blood stretching across the hardwood floor, coming to a rounded tip a few inches from his leather boots (this tip just slightly darker than the wide stream comprising most of the stain) was a dead ringer for the Sunshine State.

He knew it was a strange thing to consider, given the circumstances. Hardly an appropriate mental response to such an intensely disturbing situation. He wasn’t in shock, exactly, but he had no idea what to do with himself. There was nothing he could do until the police arrived. Which should be any minute now. In fact, he was starting to wonder what the hell was taking so long.

Rusty wasn’t sure of how much confidence to place in the Ocean City Police Department. When it came to traffic stops and busts for disorderly conduct, open containers, public nudity and the like, the OCPD was surely qualified.

But murder? That had to fall well outside the parameters of what the local law was accustomed to handling on a regular basis. Or so Rusty mused, mainly to occupy his mind and not keep checking his wristwatch every ten seconds.

Rusty stared at the bloodstain’s surface congealing in the reflection of an overhead lamp. About two feet in width at the center, it grew wider near its source. That source was the throat of a frail silver-haired woman who lay crumpled on the floor. The upper half of her body reached into the living room while her legs protruded onto the dull yellow linoleum of the kitchen. One orthopedic shoe lay on its side next to the stove, the other still on her left foot.

Two more minutes and I’m calling 911 again, he told himself.

This house in which he was currently the sole occupant—not counting its recently deceased owner—wasn’t technically located in OC proper but in a remote enclave called Ocean Pines, separated from the main town by eight miles of salty bay water. A quiet upscale community, Rusty had a fairly complete knowledge of its character, having spent the first eighteen years of his life here and moving back ten months ago.

Next Thursday would be his thirty-sixth birthday. He had little awareness of that fact, and less interest in it.

For all Rusty knew, this was the first murder to darken the Pines’ suburban pastoral facade since the town was incorporated in 1958. And it definitely was murder, of that he had no doubt. No one could conceivably take their own life in such a manner, and certainly not a frail seventy-eight-year-old spinster.

The opening in Ms. Garrett’s throat was not long, maybe three inches at most. It looked like more of a gouge than a slash. There was no knife or sharp implement anywhere in the room, and Rusty didn’t dare step over the body to take a look in the kitchen.

The skin around the gash didn’t appear to have been torn with a blade, but hacked away by a cruder implement.

Fingernails? Teeth?

Rusty shuddered as he pondered the options, and forced himself to stop thinking about it.

The hum of a car’s engine and pebbles crunching underneath a set of tires claimed his attention. He walked to the front door, pulling aside a sash by the adjacent window to look outside into the hazy afternoon light.

Finally.

An Ocean City Police Department patrol unit sat in the driveway, engine idling. Rusty saw the door swing open, and a powerfully built officer stepped out. He grimaced. The cop didn’t appear to be much older than a high schooler. Probably fresh out of the Academy with plenty to prove behind the badge.

Why didn’t they send a detective, Rusty wondered, unlatching the door and opening it slowly so as not to make a surprise appearance on the front porch. Well, it was possible the OCPD’s homicide unit didn’t keep more than one ranking detective on any given shift. They probably didn’t need more than that.

The young patrol cop was taking purposeful strides toward the house, fleshy face set tight as he spoke into a shoulder mic, confirming with a dispatcher his arrival at the location. His eyes widened just slightly before narrowing as he made a quick appraisal of Rusty Diamond.

“You’re the one who made the call?”

Rusty nodded.

“She’s in there,” he said, stepping aside to let the patrol officer enter the house.

The cop had not taken two full steps into the living room when he stopped abruptly, one hand falling onto the service revolver holstered on his right hip.

“Jesus Christ.”

“Yeah,” Rusty said. “That was pretty much my reaction.”

For a moment they stood there, two tall male shapes looming over a plump female form in a spattered floral dress.

“Found her just like this?”

“That’s right. I didn’t touch anything.”

“How long?”

“Can’t be much more than fifteen minutes. I called right away.”

“You know her?”

“Her name’s Thelma Garrett. She’s my landlord.”

The sound of that didn’t sit right with Rusty; it was too removed and devoid of any kind of feeling. He almost added something like, ‘She was kind to me’, but figured that was bound to come out wrong.

The cop finally looked up from the old woman’s body, seeming to peel his eyes away by an act of will.

“You live here?”

“No. She owns … owned a second house not far from here, on Echo Run. I’ve been renting it.”

Those words brought on a sudden rush of memory. Rusty could see with total clarity in his mind’s eye the day he first met Ms. Garrett. Just over ten months ago, on a frigid January morning. The meeting didn’t happen here but at the rental house he’d occupied ever since.

At the time Rusty was so disoriented at finding himself back in Ocean Pines after such a prolonged absence that he had some difficulty maintaining a conversation with the chatty spinster. He agreed to her proposed rental fee, which seemed low for a three-bedroom furnished property overlooking Isle of Wight Bay. Location alone must have made the house a highly desirable piece of real estate, and he couldn’t figure why she was willing to rent it out for such a reasonable sum.

Speaking in the kindly, crinkly voice he’d come to associate with her in all moods, Ms. Garrett replied she had no use for the property or a large boost in income. Once shared with her husband and the scene of many festive gatherings, it was too big for her current needs. And too lonely. Living as a childless widow in a modest two-bedroom tract house on nearby Heron Lane was much more comfortable.

Thelma (she’d insisted Rusty use her first name) didn’t want to go through the hassle of trying to sell the larger house in a lackluster market, and was glad to simply know it would be occupied after many dormant years. It depressed her to think of the house where she and her family had shared so many good occasions sitting dark and forlorn all this time. Rusty signed the lease, feeling halfway guilty for paying so little.

“How’d you happen to find her?” the patrol officer said, yanking Rusty back from his reverie.

A slight whiff of something Rusty didn’t like crept into the cop’s voice. A taunt, almost, most likely the by-product of youth and rattled nerves. He scanned the badge pinned to the kid’s chest.

“Tell you what, Officer Neely. Why don’t we go through the whole thing when a detective gets here. Someone’s on the way, right?”

“I’m the one you need to talk to now.”

“Officer, trust me. I’m going to give my full cooperation. Whoever did this needs to …”

He stopped. The cop was looking at him with a new kind of scrutiny. Now that the initial shock of seeing the dead woman was fading, he seemed to take a full view of Rusty for the first time. The expression on his face didn’t make much of an effort to hide a sense of disgust.

Rusty suddenly wished he’d kept his leather jacket on, but the living room had become stifling as he stood here waiting for the cavalry to arrive. The jacket lay draped on a sofa and he was wearing a black tank top, leaving his shoulders and arms open to easy view. Perusal would be more accurate, given the snaking tracks of words and symbols tattooed across much of his upper torso, coiling around the back of his neck and splitting into two vines that reached down both arms almost to the wrists.

“Latin, for the most part,” he said with a self-deprecating shrug. “Just for looks, really. I don’t know what half of it means myself.”

Officer Neely’s posture tensed visibly. His fingers once again found a place to rest on his gun.

“Turn around slowly, and show me your hands.”

Rusty tried to pretend he’d misheard.

“Sorry, what?”

“Come on, do it.”

“You’re going to cuff me? I’m the one who called this in, remember?”

“Just turn around. We’ll keep you nice and snug till backup gets here.”

“Look, I’m as freaked out as you are. But I didn’t do anything to this poor woman.”

“You’re resisting? I said let’s see those hands.”

He unsnapped the button on top of his holster. It seemed like a good moment to do something.

“For the last time, turn around!”

Rusty knew he could disarm this uniformed frat boy in just about 2.7 seconds. The task wouldn’t present much of a challenge. He could easily divert Neely’s eyeline with a lateral, non-aggressive movement of his left arm.
Momentarily distracted, the cop would never see the fingers of Rusty’s right hand extracting a one-inch smoke pellet from a customized hidden pocket in his jeans. Pinched at the proper angle, the pellet would explode in a blinding flash followed by a plume of gray smoke. Utterly harmless but highly effective for misdirection.

The span of time Officer Neely would need to recover from his surprise would offer Rusty ample opportunity to relieve him of the gun. Using his fingertips, he’d grab the wrist and isolate pressure points causing Neely’s hand to open involuntarily. From there, Rusty would simply reposition his body at a 45-degree angle and use his left hand to retrieve a sterling set of monogrammed handcuffs tucked in a different hidden pocket. One more second would be sufficient to cuff the young patrolman to a column of the bannister directly behind him.

They were only trick cuffs, but Officer Neely didn’t know that. And unless he could perform with great precision, the sequence of twisting wrist movements needed to unlatch them, the knowledge wouldn’t do him any good.
So, yes, the maneuver would surely come off. Just as successfully as it had in a thousand performances, even if those all occurred some time ago and Rusty’s reflexes were no longer quite what they used to be.

But what would any of that accomplish other than to greatly amplify a sense of suspicion for his role in a brutal murder he had absolutely nothing to do with? Plus bring on a raft of other charges for failing to comply with orders, impeding police business, assault, et cetera. Obviously it was a bad play all around, however tempting.

So Rusty slowly turned 180 degrees and lowered his hands. Audibly relieved, Officer Neely stepped forward and bound them with a pair of un-monogrammed OCPD handcuffs. They closed around his wrists more tightly then necessary, pinching hard on the skin.

Hearing the cuffs snap shut, Rusty glanced up and was startled by his reflection in a mirror above the sofa. He’d deliberately removed all mirrors from his own residence the day he moved in, and hadn’t gotten a good look at his face in many months.

Given his appearance today, he could hardly fault this overeager junior lawman for wanting to lock him in restraints. For a guy who’d once placed such a premium on maintaining a well-cultivated exterior, it was shocking to see just how unkempt he was. Had he really let himself go that much in the past year? Evidently, if the mirror was to be believed.

His long black hair, once treated daily by a personal stylist, was now a ratty mane. The two-pointed devil’s goatee, formerly a key visual hallmark of his stagecraft, looked no more than an uneven graying scrub. And all that ink: pentagrams, death’s head skulls and weird incantations etched up and down his sinewy arms.

Hell, anyone with a working pair of eyes would find Rusty Diamond a more than credible murder suspect.

 

Author Bio:

The new thriller by Austin Williams, Misdirection, is now available from Diversion Books. It is the first novel of The Rusty Diamond Trilogy.

Williams is the author of the acclaimed suspense novels Crimson Orgy and The Platinum Loop. He is the co-author (with Erik Quisling) of Straight Whisky: A Living History of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll on the Sunset Strip.

He lives in Los Angeles.

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