Wednesday, December 12, 2018

War Demons

The Devil went down to Georgia. He was looking for a soul to steal.

And this time, he isn't coming with a violin.

Welcome to War Demons, by Russell Newquist.**
When he came home, so did they...

Driven by vengeance, Michael Alexander enlisted in the Army the day after 9/11. Five years later, disillusioned and broken by the horrors he witnessed in Afghanistan, Michael returns home to Georgia seeking to begin a new life. But he didn't come alone. Something evil followed him, and it's leaving a path of destruction in its wake.

The police are powerless. The Army has written Michael off. Left to face down a malevolent creature first encountered in the mountains of Afghanistan, he'll rely on his training, a homeless prophet, and estranged family members from a love lost...

But none of them expected the dragon.

Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden collides with Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International in this supernatural thriller that goes straight to Hell!
That tag at the end isn't bluster. It's fairly accurate. Personally, I think War Demons leans more on the MHI than the Harry Dresden. So much so that I'm willing to say up front that I would not be surprised if Russell ends up authoring an MHI spinoff novel. No, I'm not exaggerating. This is a story that could have been mistaken for a Monster Hunter International novel if Larry Correia used prayer as a weapon more often. But I will admit, there is a TON of Dresden-level action.

Let's back up a step.

Chapter one opens up with a swordfight with a demon, and ends with dropping a daisy cutter on it.

That irritated the sucker a little.

Fast forward a few years to our hero, Michael Alexander, who Jack Ryaned out of the military when his helicopter crashed. He and his buddy hid in a cave .... only do discover something in the cave that was colder than the dark and hungry.

When Michael returns to Georgia, the thing that haunted him in the sandbox follows...

Ahem, "The Devil went down to Georgia...."

But when Michael starts to see his dead friend stalking him in the shadows, well, it's just some PTSD demons. Nothing to worry about, right?

Yeesh. When this guy is haunted by his past, he takes it literally.

The fun continues as the circle of crazy threatens to suck in the entire state. Black Ops commandos, Vatican operatives, a billionaire prepper (seriously, don't mess with the billionaire prepper), a moment of "I wanna bring the flamethrower" that I really believe (Down to "We got it from the Bureau of Land Management"). He gathers the magnificent seven, mounts up, and "We're gonna save the damsel from the dragon"....

Aaaaannnnnddddd it's only the halfway mark. Which made me wonder how the bloody blue Hell the rest of the book was going to go.

That was pretty much the point where things got worse, complete with a villain you really just want to run through with a stake, cut its head off and burn the body ... maybe in that order. It was such a deliciously evil sucker.

And then he had a couple of blackhawks and Apache attack helicopters fight a dragon.

And, it being Georgia, it ends at a football stadium.

Because of course it does. It's Georgia.

Honestly, War Demons was solidly authored and put together. 11% into the book, he's established most of the characters we're going to see throughout the novel, including the villains. Yes, all of them. What? You thought just a demon was going to be enough? Nah. We're going to have golems and vampires and zombies and warlocks and Jihadis, oh my. (Or, as I thought of it as I read it, "terrorists and demons? Challenge accepted.")  Newquist also does a great job of sprinkling the back story throughout the novel.

It's got a nice sense of humor. Up to and including a spook who picks his aliases out of a liquor cabinet.

But as I said at the start, the tag line for this novel is no boast. The action is MHI at its most gonzo (otherwise known as Harry Dresden on a day that ends in Y). The atomospherics top even F. Paul Wilson's The Keep (book, not movie).

Here's the short version: get War Demons. If you like Urban Fantasy, or books with a Soutern atmosphere, or military UF, Larry Correia or Jim Butcher novels, you're going to enjoy War Demons.

And, while you're at it, you might want to pick up Hell Spawn and Death Cult from Amazon, which are all in the same vein.



**For those people who are wondering, yes, Russell is my publisher at Silver Empire. Don't think that influenced my review. Mainly because if I thought it sucked, I wouldn't mention it here, or ever again. I'm actually worried that since it took so damn long for me to review this one, someone is going to think I didn't like it. In this case, no, I got a free copy of this book for review on e-ARC, and then my Kindle died.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Playlist: Death Cult

Death Cult, the sequel to the Dragon Award Horror winner for 2019, Hell Spawn, is out and it's live.

.... Yes, I am that confident.

When I'm writing, I use music.

Lately, I've discovered Spotify, and it's opened up my music tastes.

For example, much of the book had a running theme.....

From Sabaton




Though I have to admit, I picked that deliberately. I had already tripped over Sabaton.  Trust me, had I known of The Last Stand while writing The Pius Trilogy, I would have had endless references to it throughout the novels.

And then, during the final shootout, I had Spotify on random.

And during this epic fight with the forces of Hell, I got .... this.


You can just imagine what the finale looks like.

Death Cult is out, it's live, and you can buy it here.

Death Cult, Chapter 3: Adventures in Investigation


Death Cult is officially released... if not this minute, then in about 3 hours, because Amazon is on Pacific time, the losers....

Anyway....

After Hell Spawn was finished, I knew that I needed to wrap up some loose ends.

But I didn't want to end the book with a lot of explaining. It would basically be a process interview.

But hey, wouldn't it make great recap in book 2?

I think it does.



Chapter 3: Adventures in Investigation
Both Alex and I were dressed to impress at the station. Okay, one of us was. I wore a solid black suit, with a police-blue clip-on tie (clip on because we don’t want to be throttled with our own neck wear) and overcoat. Alex’s suit was gray and wrinkled, with a skinny brown tie that may have been black in a former life. That life had long since faded.
Alex seemed to have finally calmed down. Along the way, I had helped a woman with her spilled groceries, then helped her walk a block out of the way. I didn’t think it was that far out of the way, but Alex seemed to be annoyed about it. (Seriously, it was one block, and the groceries were under twenty pounds.)
We walked into the police station together and had to walk around a stack of glass. I waved to the glazier. “Hey, Eric. This your last day?”
Eric Mahoney, a middle-aged, beefy fellow in a hard hat, scowled. “If I’m lucky. Seriously, what was it that made you people trash all of the glass in the building?”
The perp got out of control,” Alex explained.
Yeah, yeah, so you guys keep telling me.” Eric rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Seriously, one little guy on PCP, and he strings himself up? Did he have to work really hard to smash everything? And the vending machine, really? That, too?”
It was another moment I couldn’t exactly explain to him. The “junkie” had been a man named Hayes, who had been the first host of the demons within Christopher Curran. It was how the demon had targeted me before jumping into the serial killer.
Pardon us, Eric.” I stepped around the glass, worried about the placement.
At which point, we ran into Internal Affairs.
* * *
The worst part about being me – a living Saint (for lack of a better term)-- was hiding it.
Obviously, I don’t mean that one has to lie about one’s good deeds. That would be idiotic. Just look at Mother Theresa. She didn’t hide what she did from day to day. And someone who is truly a saint is humble enough to acknowledge all the flaws of which we are aware, and hence usually do not advertise how good we are—because we know better. We know better, because we know what happens in our heads.
The problematic part of being a “living Saint” (which is oxymoronic, as all Saints are dead by definition) is being a Wonder Worker. Basically, a Wonder Worker has miracles performed through them. You wouldn’t think this was a problem … but when you’re a law enforcement officer, saying “I healed my wife of the knife wound to the throat” or “I bilocated a copy of myself onto the other side of the barricade” doesn’t exactly fit neatly into the average daily DD5 report NYPD officers have to fill out.
And if you have earned enough brownie points to actually be a Wonder Worker, lying isn’t a valid option. While being honest is good and virtuous, it is the sort of thing that gives you a first-class ticket to the funny farm.
So when Internal Affairs asks a question where the real answer involves you being in two places at once, it becomes imperative to become creative.
The two IA investigators who had been assigned to my were McNally and Horowitz, usually referred to as Statler and Waldorf. Don’t ask me which one was supposed to be which.
No, before you get confused, this wasn’t even about the event in my home. This wasn’t about my family shooting their way out for our own survival. No, this was about the “Rykers’ Riot” of two months before.
How did you get past the police blockade to an island with only one path?”
I was really fast,” was my answer. And I had been. I had to move really fast once my bilocated self materialized on the other side of the bridge, and the blockade. I didn’t want to be caught in the sights of the machineguns on the armored cars.
Uh huh,” McNally huffed. “You going to tell me you just beamed on the other side of the fence?”
I shrugged. “I didn’t say that, you did.” It was also a fairly good description, too.
And your wife?” Horowitz asked. “We took a closer look at your body camera video. Christopher Curran slashed her throat open. And yet she didn’t die? Care to explain that?”
I shrugged. “I always got the impression that any wound above the collar bone bled profusely. Artery in the arm, the throat, anything in the head. You’ll have to ask the paramedics. I’m not a doctor.” Notice, I didn’t lie. I just stated random facts and hoped they didn’t notice I didn’t even pretend to offer an explanation.
How about the blood left at the scene around Curran’s body?” McNally asked. “There were at least two massive blood patches on the walls and floor around the body. How did that happen?”
My eyebrow went up. The question was phrased awkwardly, and strangely. Even better: no one had ever requisitioned my DNA for a crime scene. At most, they might have typed it. Unless someone routed through my trash for samples, they didn’t have proof that it was my blood.
Normally, I wouldn’t be too concerned with my blood at the scene. They saw me leaving Rikers Island. Everyone knew I was there. Everyone presumed that I personally put down the riot … somehow.
The official story involved me going in, breaking up some fights, and disrupting the pace and inertia of the riot. With the major players of the riot put out of commission, the riot dispersed. This was more or less what happened. If you replace “major players of the riot” with “the possessed.”
Part of the problem was that I had bilocated … in the end, I had actually done a four-way split, all but one of me dying in the line of duty. The bodies had faded away, but the blood remained. The two big pools of blood were mine, where I had been impaled with prison bars that had been made into spears. I didn’t know if my DNA would be the same coming from a duplicate, but I didn’t want to bet one way or another. Hopefully, no one outside of my wife would ever see me without my shirt on – every wound that killed me had stayed on my body as a scar.
It was a prison riot. I presume there will be blood.” Especially since I had to slide through at least one hallway full of it, and none of it was mine.
How did he die?”
He fell on some bars, like a tiger trap. All I had to do was step out of his way when he came at me.”
And you got no blood on you? At all?”
I shrugged, not answering. Again, that would require explaining that the body that walked out of Rikers wasn’t the body that walked in. Nor had I gotten into any direct fights the last time I bilocated.
Don’t worry if you’re confused. So was I, and I had been there and done that.
There were more questions, but I managed to stave them off with relative ease. I suspect that I had Help from Above with my little deceptions. While Christopher Curran and his personal demons had made no attempt to be subtle about their rampage, God was more low key.
I’m surprised you didn’t want to ask me about the incident in my home.”
McNally smiled. “Just you wait.”
We’ll get there,” Horowitz said.
* * *
I sat at my desk in the back corner of the bullpen, planting my back against solid wall. I had no interest in getting taken by surprise. Alex was in on my clean little secret but I didn’t want to share if I could avoid it. I’d prefer to keep it between me and my confessor, but witnessing some of my abilities had dragged Alex and my wife into it. Jeremy just thought I was a superhero, but he’d thought that before I performed miracles. Unfortunately, Enemies from the Other Side also seemed to know about me. Apparently, sending demons back to Hell just allowed them to communicate better via infernal interoffice memos.
How do you want to play this?” Alex asked. “As much as you’d like a piece of the case, I’m not sure you can. Or should.”
He had a point. There was a good reason officer-involved crimes weren’t investigated by said officer. I was the target of some obviously bad people and putting me out there was waving a red flag with crosshairs on it.
I mean, what do we want to say?” Alex continued. “That Curran was really just part of some sort of cult and now they’re out to get you?”
I frowned. “Thing is … you might not be too far from the truth.”
Alex blinked as though I had struck him. “What? You saying there really is one?”
I leaned forward. While I was certain of my fellow officers’ apathy towards what I had to say, I didn’t want to take the chance of being overheard. “When Curran was gloating, he—it—told me that it had been summoned. Which means somebody, an actual person, deliberately brought the demon to Earth.”
Alex frowned, then leaned back in his chair. “You have nothing else?”
I shook my head. He leaned back further, lifting the front legs off of the ground. “Well, I see why you didn’t follow up with it. I’m not sure there were any leads to follow up with.”
I nodded. It was the exact reason why I didn’t want to bother. “Until now. With the symbols on the guys who broke in, there should at least be some sort of trail behind them.”
Alex held up a hand to slow me down. “Curran was a politically protected monster. Are you sure we want to play these games again?”
I frowned. Considering the lobby behind Christopher Curran and his day job as an abortionist, it wasn’t out of the realm of possibility that whoever was behind him had similar protection.
Alex continued. “I mean, if I’m not mistaken, when you get at least four people with demonic symbols everywhere, this counts as a cult. We could call the FBI and give it to them. After all, he was a serial killer, and this cult seems to connect to him. They do serial killers. These guys are at the very least serial killer adjacent. Why not give it to them?”
I nodded to concede his point. “That is all true. Except, who in the FBI do you think could stop them? What if they have another Curran up their sleeves? Unless you know if the FBI has their own squad to handle the occult for real.”
Alex said nothing but continued to frown, chewing that one over. We had all hoped that the nightmare was behind us. Unfortunately, I couldn’t imagine a situation where anyone else could have handled it without at least the exact same knowledge, resources and abilities that we’d had back then. And we were lucky. Maybe the Feds could have brought more manpower to bear. Or perhaps they would have shot Curran, had the demon jump bodies, and we would still be trying to figure out who and what the next perpetrator was.
Alex finally said, “How would you pitch it?”
I sighed. “The tats on our John Does tell us that it’s connected to the Curran case, and we were the leads. The fact that Curran’s buddies have targeted me just means that the case wasn’t actually closed yet, we just didn’t know it. They don’t take investigators off of an open case just because someone shoots at us.”
Alex shook his head. “That could be used against us. You didn’t make any friends by the time we were done with the Curran case. There’s rocking the boat, and then there’s hitting the boat with an iceberg. You, my friend, are an iceberg. And there’s a difference between being the target of a lone psycho and being the target of a cult bent on your death. I mean, heck, they could screw up and get me by mistake.”
* * *
Our Lieutenant eventually agreed with me. I think he was less swayed by the “open case” aspect of my argument and more swayed by the political angle that I was already involved. I had already pissed off everyone there was to piss off and having bigwig politicos be angry at one officer was better than being pissed off at the entire precinct.
Alex scoffed and said, “What am I? Chopped liver?”
When our Lieutenant added, “I know they’re the wrong tattoos but have you considered MS-13? I’m sure they’re still upset at you.”

I knew exactly where we were going to go that day.


Continue reading here.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Death Cult, Chapter 2: Clean up



The official release of Death Cult is in 24 hours.

Hopefully, you're looking forward to it as much as I am, especially after reading chapter one yesterday.

I did say that it started a little faster than book 1 did. Heh heh heh.

Now, one of the things that caused me to place Tommy Nolan in Glen Oaks is that it fit. It was a relatively enclosed community, with it's own small security force. It wasn't anything big, but it was enough to call the cops in case of emergencies.

.... Fat lot of good that did in Hell Spawn.

But sadly, after everything I put him through in Hell Spawn... yeah, there was no way in Hell that any community, no matter how open, no matter how relaxed they are, no way in Hell would Nolan be allowed to stay.

Then there's this.

Yesterday's post was chapter 1, so if you're behind, just click and you're right there.


Chapter 2: Clean Up
I waited outside my house as the street once more became a parking lot for police cars. The Glen Oaks Village Office, which ran this little community, had objected to the previous three times that this had happened. It scared the neighbors. It’s why this was the last day we would live there. At the very least, we would not have to be threatened with eviction. We were leaving in the morning.
A new car pulled up, parking at a fire hydrant just outside the crime-scene tape. Out strode an older man built like a bean pole. His cheap suit flapped on his thin frame like a scarecrow in a strong wind. He was bald right up the center, with a tonsure of gray hair around the back and sides. His jowls were covered in gray whiskers, as though some grew faster than others. There was a handlebar mustache that was barely on this side of neat. He was too old to be a millennial, but they sure loved his hair. Sorta the way he loved his mustache.
And I worked with him.
“So, Tom, if your place has been shot up twice, do they charge you double safety deposit?” my partner Alex Packard called out as he strolled up my walkway.
I gave him a casual shrug … as casual as one could be wearing a bathrobe outside in the coldest January on record.
“You forget,” I told him, “this is number three. There was MS-13, then the car through the front window, and maybe the Molotov to the front door. So, number four, really. Remember, there’s a reason we were ‘invited’ to leave.”
Alex nodded. “Yup. You’re hard on the upholstery.”
I rolled my eyes. Also the people of Glen Oaks Village weren’t all that friendly. Never mind that I had solved the murder of one of their own residents. Perhaps they just wanted to purge everyone involved in the incident. “Don’t ask me, I’m just the target. Take it up with the forces of Hell.”
Alex held up his hands. “No thanks. Last time was enough. More than.”
I couldn’t blame him. Christopher Curran and the legion of nightmares inside of him had come close to wrecking my family, my job, and my city. No one wanted to relive that spot of trouble. That included me, my partner, my wife, my son, the entire NYPD Emergency Services Unit, and the total population of Rikers Island.
I walked back into the house, and Alex came in with me. Uniforms were talking to Mariel and Jeremy. We were still out of earshot when Alex asked, “How’d they get in? Any sign of entry?”
I nodded to the uniforms. “They haven’t found anything during the search. Neither have I. Three guys came in, no signs of how.” I shrugged. “If these guys succeeded in killing us off, you wouldn’t know where to begin.” I frowned, thinking it over. “If they could get out as spotlessly as they came in, they could have made me look like a family annihilator.”
Alex gave a wrinkled smile and shook his head. “Nah. No one who knew you would buy that for a second. We’d start the investigation immediately by assembling a list of everyone you pissed off. Starting last week, and working backwards. I’d be done compiling the list sometime before I die of natural causes.”
I shrugged again as I considered all of the various and sundry people I had rubbed the wrong way during the Curran case. I had made enemies out of at least two movements and the employees of the “Women’s Health Corps,” and probably the ACLU. When the newspapers made me front page news, I had become fodder for every nutjob with an agenda and too much time on their hands, as well as every anti-cop. It was responsible for one of the three attacks on my home the previous year.
“Probably right.”
Alex chuckled. “I guess you’ll have plenty of time to move. No way anyone will let you work on this case.”
I gave him a small smile. I had thought of that. “We’ll see.”
Alex nodded to himself, probably working out his own angle on getting me on the case. “Have you checked them out for any identifying marks?”
I had to shake my head. “Didn’t get the chance. By the time I had the scene secured and got Mariel and Jeremy out, the unis were pulling up. They took over, and I haven’t been allowed near one of them—the bodies or the prisoner.”
“Understood.”
Alex wandered over into the dining room. Mariel was seated against the wall, since the table had already been packed up and away to the new house. Jeremy sprawled out partially on her lap, partially hanging off. He had fallen asleep. I guess after last time, when a demon-possessed serial killer held him at knife point, this was relatively boring.
Alex gave a little wave. “Hey Mariel. How’re you doing?”
Mariel gave him a wan smile. “I’ve been better.” She readjusted Jeremy and looked back to the uni, who finished making her notes, gave a quick nod, and wandered off.
Alex grabbed a chair and turned it around so he could straddle it. “So, walk me through it, from the top.”
It was over in fifteen minutes, after we retold the entire incident about six times. For an incident that took about thirty to sixty seconds, you’d be surprised how long it can take in the retelling. We went over our plans, the rehearsals, the guns. Explaining Jeremy’s gun was a problem. It was in my name, and Jeremy had used it. It was less a police issue and more a “New York City hates guns” issue. It wasn’t mandatory that every gun had to be locked away unless it was being used, though it often felt like it. I had to make certain to avoid all mention that the three of us considered it “Jeremy’s gun” in the reports. Don’t ask me to explain the city’s hatred of guns. The only good argument against guns in the city came from a visiting Texan who took one look at the crowded city streets and deemed them too unsafe for anyone to fire in self defense, because if the bullet went through the target, somebody else was going to get hit.
By the time Alex, Mariel, and I were done with that conversation, the meat wagon had arrived. Medical Examiner Holland strolled in. Two bruisers carried a stretcher behind her. If I didn’t know any better, I would have said that they were her personal security while she was on the job. But carrying dead weight around all day was probably better than a gym membership for building muscle.
Alex laughed at the stretcher. “You’re going to need another one for upstairs.”
The uniform looked up from the note pad, confused. “Another two.”
I looked over, startled. There had been two shots coming into the bedroom, and I would have sworn that the one in Jeremy’s room wasn’t that bad. “You have three dead up there?”
The uni arched a brow. “Why? Should there be more?”
“No. But one guy should be alive.”
“Really?” She shrugged. “I guess that’s why that one guy was handcuffed to the radiator.”
I frowned. That last perpetrator hadn’t been bleeding excessively, so it made no sense why he died. I looked to Holland. “Sorry, Sinead. More work for you.”
She laughed. “They made the mistake of breaking into your place. Their fault, not yours.”
They tramped upstairs and came down with the first body within ten minutes. I waved them to a stop. Now that the body was moved from where it fell, I figured it was time to follow through on something Alex mentioned.
Alex and I approached, and Holland nodded. “I thought you’d want a closer look.”
“If only to see if I knew the guy.”
Holland gave one of her sly smiled. “Oh, there’s something here you know.”
Holland pulled down the sheet. It was the corpse with the bullet graze on the forehead and one in the ear. He was shirtless, a feature I hadn’t seen in the dark. His upper chest was covered with a full artistic rendering of a man getting his heart ripped out and held up to the sun. It was the image of an Aztec ritual of human sacrifice.
It was also one of the many symbols left in blood at two of the crimes scenes of Christopher Curran, while he was possessed by a legion of demons.
I didn’t even look away when I asked my partner, “Think I can be on the case now, Alex?”
Alex winced. “Maybe. You can replace me. I don’t think I want any part of it.”
I nodded. I didn’t, either. But I didn’t think I would have a choice. The demon had promised, that the people who summoned it wouldn’t be happy with me. I had no reason to doubt it.
He frowned as the body was covered up and carried away. “You know what? I have a problem.”
“I thought you quit drinking.” I joked.
“Ha. Ha,” he stated flatly. He shook his head. “No. I mean that Curran …” He looked around and made certain that no one was close enough to hear him. His voice dropped to a whisper as he said, “You could smell him coming? Right? But you didn’t mention a thing about catching a whiff of these guys. Did they just walk in without you noticing until they were almost on you?”
I nodded with a frown. I had noticed what Alex meant. As part of being a Saint … Argh. Wonder Worker. I’m not a saint, I’m not dead yet. Why can’t we get better names for these things? … One of my abilities was to literally smell evil. I had caught the scent of the demons within Christopher Curran, even before I knew what they were, and even back when they were in a different human being. Like a blood hound, I could even smell the lingering stench of evil left behind at a crime scene, and follow it like a bloodhound. I’d even smelled it coming off a human once, as well as an entire building. But these killers had only given off a faint scent. Being connected to the demon should have caused a smell like a stink bomb.

What fresh Hell is this?

Death Cult can be purchased at Amazon right here.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Death Cult Chapter 1: Blowback from Hell



This is it.

Death Cult's official release is this Tuesday, December 11th.

But you don't have to wait that long.

Because here it is, Chapter 1.

Be warned, this one starts a little faster than book 1.



Chapter 1: Blowback from Hell

I was awoken from sleep to the sounds of my son screaming.
I pulled my service weapon from under my pillow. It wasn't procedure, but I'd had a strange year. My wife Mariel had also drawn her handgun. Large, human shapes appeared in our bedroom doorway. No one had shouted police, nor had they given any indication of who they were.
In short, we shot first, and aimed high. The first one went down easily. Mariel's bullet grazed his head, twisting it around. It made his ear the 10 ring, which I hit. The second one took three bullets in the chest and barely lost a step. The fourth bullet made him drop forward.
By this time, we were both on our feet and heading for Jeremy’s room. We hadn't practiced this often, but it had been a rough few months, and we were already hardwired.
I wheeled into the doorway of Jeremy’s room at a crouch. Mariel was at my back, watching for any other incoming from the stairs.
The man held my ten year old son off the ground with one arm, a gun to his head. The man was tall and narrow, swathed in brown leather. His hair was slicked back and slightly mussed from holding my struggling son.
Jeremy held his plushy Ninja Turtle, and seemed to be clutching it with both hands, though I couldn’t see his right hand. When we thought he was too old for stuffed animals, he argued that one is never too old for Donatello.
The man cocked his Beretta, and I knew there would be no discussion.
All I said was, “Please don’t hurt my family.”
The turtle exploded. So did the man’s knee. He lurched to one side. Most importantly, his gun went one way, and Jeremy dropped to the floor and rolled out from between me and the perp.
I fired. I didn’t shoot to kill, since I wanted him alive. (IA liked living perps). I was prepared for this, so I stitched a line of bullets into his gun shoulder. His arm dropped, and the gun tumbled from his fingers. I charged off the floor and caught him with a flying knee. He didn’t scream once, even when we crashed into the radiator and his other knee buckled.
I ended up on top of him, but he wasn’t discouraged. He threw an uppercut, driving his fist deep into my gut. The impact lifted me off the floor. I’d been lucky, he caught me on the exhale, otherwise the fight would have been over. (Trust me. You don’t want the wind knocked out of you. Ever) The terrible strength was familiar from the first, and only, supernatural creature I’d battled. It was why I shot for his shoulder joint. I knew firsthand that immobilizing the joint would disable even someone on PCP…Or one possessed by a demon.
With the first hit, I knew I didn’t want a second. I jammed the muzzle of my pistol into the crook of his elbow as he cocked his fist back for another blow. Then I blew his elbow out with a nine-mm jacketed round.
Without a sound, he stopped struggling.
I pushed myself to my feet and backed up, gun ready.
I didn’t take my eyes off the invader. “Mariel. Is Jeremy okay?”
“He is. I have him.”
I nodded and backed up. I kicked the exploded turtle to one side. I’d worked out plans with my wife and son, since the previous monster had tried to kill them both. We just executed scenario 1, variation B. One meant attack in the home. “B” was always a variation with Jeremy held, with his turtle. On my signal, Jeremy was to distract the felon holding him hostage.
The signal was Please don’t hurt my family.
At that point, Jeremy was to fire the .22-caliber pistol hidden inside Donatello.
Yes, a pistol for a ten-year-old. It wasn’t uncommon for seven-year-olds in some areas to have a .22 rifle, and wait a spell before a pistol. But it was mostly a matter of maturity. After Jeremy had directly encountered a demonic infestation, and a possessed serial killer and never throwing the first punch in all the schoolyard fights that followed, despite more than sufficient provocation. He didn’t even have nightmares. Think he’s mature enough?
We secured the threat, called it in, and got backup (even though village security was probably on it already).
As we went through the motions, one thing kept bugging me. The invader we captured had had his knee, shoulder, and elbow utterly destroyed. I’d slammed into him, adding my weight to his on his knee, and driving the wounded knee into the radiator.
He had never even screamed. Not once.




Buy Death Cult now.

Friday, December 7, 2018

#Avengers4 trailer: #AvengersEndgame

10 years, over 20 movies (IIRC), and it all comes down to this.


This is gonna hurt.



Death Cult is coming. The official release is next week, so you might want to pre-order it now.


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Writing MS-13 as villain

When I first started writing Hell Spawn, I figured that I wasn't using any controversial bad guys when I threw in MS-13 as a throwaway character. I had heard of them back when I was taking a course on Organized Crime in 2003, and I then tripped over them in Vince Flynn's Consent to Kill.

I mean, these were bad guys that were one step away from being on a terrorist watch list, and they were a street gang that owned rocket propelled grenades. They had freaking military training. Their motto was "rape, control, kill." These are wonderful, made to order minions for an action-adventure film -- you know, one of the faceless thugs that Ahhhnuld mowed down in droves.

And MS-13 .... was basically going to be a random encounter. There would be no follow up from them. At all. They were one random encounter in the outline.

During my writing, I felt I needed another random encounter. The one in the outline was several chapters away, and there's been a ton of exposition in this book. Hey, let's have a small little encounter on the street...

Hey, maybe that little encounter leads to the big encounter in a few chapters! That would be solid.

And, suddenly, MS-13 became a running subthreat and mini-boss in Hell Spawn. Dang. That spiraled.

Anyway, a month after I finished the book, MS-13 had murdered several people not rock-throwing distance away from me, I though, "Hey, I'm ahead of the curve by a little." More often than not, someone does something that mirrors my books far too close for my comfort. If MS-13 were an emerging threat in real life, maybe they would be in the media by the time Hell Spawn released in September. That would be really, really lucky.

I finished writing Hell Spawn in November of 2017.

The state of the union in January 2018 featured MS-13, and Trump even had the parents of some of their victims at the State of the Union.....

So maybe they would make national headlines a little sooner than I thought.

But hey, they were already there. And they're MS-13. They've been bad guys for 15 years. Even CSI: Miami had their own, thinly veiled knockoff of MS-13.

Apparently, they're slightly more controversial than that now.

But they've become surprisingly large in the story thread. They're no where near main bad guy status, but boy, do they provide good shootouts.

And just wait until you see what they do in Death CultHeh heh heh.

Death Cult's official release is next week, so you might want to pre-order it now.


Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Captain Marvel Trailer, take 2






I am shocked. Shocked I tell you,

You mean, she has a FACIAL EXPRESSION?

She can have INFLECTION in her voice?

Gasp.

Color me shocked.

Surprised.

Overawed.

No, I'm still cynical about this. Most of the dialogue in the trailer is exposition. And I'm not entirely certain that I want to spend the entire film with her doing Jason Bourne memory loss when the trailers have pretty much explained a good chunk of it.

.... I also like how they opened the trailer with explaining "punching little old lady in the face."

It's okay. I've seen worse. And it's obvious they churned this one out after polishing some of the effects.

However, if you want some solid heroics, life or death threats, and kicking ass and taking names, there's Hell Spawn. And remember, Death Cult is coming. Pre-order you copy now.  

I may be strange

I'm a little odd.

You may have noticed.

Now, while I'm smart enough and well read enough that it's taken me decades to find a sizeable number of people who I can have a conversation with without dropping my vocabulary to that of a six year old, I'm also wired a little differently.

For example?  Well, I'll give you two.

First of all, we had some jackass talking about how The Lord of the Rings was racist against Orcs. You read that right. It wasn't some twisted way of saying that Orcs were "persons of color." It was that it was racist against Orcs.

You know, those charming, peace-loving, cannibalistic genetic abominations who will eat each other and any sapient creature they decide looks tasty.

As they say on the internet: Obvious troll is obvious.

This isn't even the stupid Tor argument from a few months ago where they tried to say that Orcs meant that Tolkien was "racist against humans" ... I wonder if these dumbasses realize that Tolkien was at the Somme. Where the people trying to kill him were German. And if Tolkien actually did hate anybody, it was probably going to be blond and blue eyed Kraut bastards. But I don't even think Tolkien was the type.

I was going to dedicate an entire blog to that. But no. Sorry. The stupid is just so obvious. We needed people to refute this?

The other thing that everyone reacted to last week?

That black and white morality is more interesting than shades of gray.

.... True. And?

Again, I was going to make a blog argument out of it, but ... no.

Now, obviously, this sounds strange coming from me, since I have characters who seem to dwell in shades of gray so dark, you'd think they were black. I have heroes who don't mind a bit of arm twisting, and the occasional outright torture, of people who have it coming... That's because they have it coming. Duh.

Hell, even Marco, from Love at First Bite, might be considered a sociopath, is certainly a little sadistic, and enjoys his job. But even he has hard limits, and constrains himself to inflicting his darkness on people who deserve it. Honestly, he's a few steps short of Dexter Morgan and he has definite lines he won't cross.

Frankly ... you can't have conflict if you dwell in endless shades of gray. It's why I wonder why anyone bothers with Game of Thrones, since, as Rawle points out in the above link, the readers spent endless amounts of time trying to see the good in a collection of incestuous, murderous psychopaths, and anyone with a moral code gets the shaft.

Again, I considered making a whole blog post about this.  But it just felt like such common sense, I felt stupid writing about it.

Then again, I suppose that if it were obvious, Watchmen and Game of Thrones wouldn't be that popular.

Oh well. I may be strange.

If you're interested in reading a book where the character believes in only black and white, with no shades of gray, then you're going to want to check out Hell Spawn. Because the great accomplishment here is that I've written a good man who stops short of being a Hallmark movie character.


Monday, December 3, 2018

Writing Death Cult

Death Cult is coming out in about a week.

I should probably mention it a little bit.

Obviously, as a sequel to Hell Spawn, my publisher wanted me to speed things up a little. We didn't need five pages of introduction. After all, on the one hand, Hell Spawn only came out a month ago, no one is going to forget my characters.  And on the other hand, anyone who's a little late to the party will buy book one, read it, and buy book 2.

Trust me, they're gonna buy book 2. Because Hell Spawn was awesome.

But I had to up the ante, and I had to rewrite part of the end to Hell Spawn so I could best segue into it. This is a rewrite I don't even think that Russell and Jagi know about, because I had Death Cult coming to me as I wrapped up the bit with the demon.

Because there's two ways demons go trolling around the world.

One: someone is open to it by being open to it. When your brain becomes an open house, you never know what will wander in. The original case upon which the Exorcist was based had someone playing with oujia boards and such. Leading to my line in Demons are Forever: you don't play with demonic crap, demonic crap does not play with you.

Two: summon demon. Hilarity ensues.

While the killer in Hell Spawn is certainly the type for #1, it had been suggested by my wife that book #2 should have a cult involved.

Well now, wouldn't it just be easy to tie the two together?

Which led to book 3 being tied in with all of them, based off of a suggestion by another friend.  I didn't quite mean to make it a series where everything was tied together, but it happened.

And, frankly, it's awesome.

Yes, I will grant you, Death Cult, like Hell Spawn, were not much in the way of a mystery. They were horror novels with a police procedural thrown in. And I made certain to have a lot of dead ends, but even the dead ends fit together at the end of the day. If not in Hell Spawn  or Death Cult, then in Infernal Affairs.

Shadows of London (TBD... or renamed) is book four, and that's a completely different story.

But still, this wasn't much in a way of a mystery, but I have been reliably informed by my editor (and later, early readers from the kickstarter) that not only are these things awesome and bad ass, but also "creepy as f**k."

So, yeah, I was happy with this one.

One of the major problems was developing a villain after the demon of Hell Spawn. How do you top a demon-driven serial killer? Any villain we get is going to be fairly limp in comparison...

That's an easy step one: make it more than one villain. Make it a group.

.... No, that's not a spoiler, just look at the title.

Ooooh, how about we make it people who raised the demon? Wouldn't that be fun? (No, that's not a spoiler, it has no impact on Hell Spawn, and if you've read it already, you know it happened)

Of course, there are plenty of suspects already before the book even begins. Hell Spawn saw our hero piss off many many people. He wasn't even trying. He was just doing his job. And when Tommy Nolan says he does his job without fear or favor, he means that he doesn't fear anybody, and if he knows you're guilty, he's not doing you a favor.

This will lead to pissing off plenty of people if you get too close to the entitled elite. And this is New York City, anyone who makes more than seven figures probably feels entitled. Probably comes from paying so much in taxes (or paying the accountants to hide the cash).  Either way, there are plenty of people who want Nolan's guts for garters.

It's strange making a character who's hated because he's good, and not because he's a weapon of mass destruction....Though frankly I think my biggest accomplishment was getting Nolan to be a good man without being obnoxious. Or worse, too "Hallmark special."

I think I pulled it off. So far, the reviews on Hell Spawn agree with me.

Anyway, Death Cult is coming. Pre-order you copy now.  And if you haven't read Hell Spawn yet, I think this is one hype train you'll want to join early, because this series isn't going to slow down anytime soon.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Classics of SFF

So, I mouthed off on Facebook....

Quelle surprise....

When DragonCon announced that they'd have a panel on looking back at classic SFF with regards to today's ideologies, I laughed at them. They would have to get reasonable panelists, a sane moderator, and an audience who wouldn't need to be handled with a whip and a chair.

But then again, I forgot who DragonCon could put on such a panel.

So, DragonCon did the only reasonable thing ... and put me on the panel.

This led to me to share a table with the Queen of SFF short stories, the editor of about half of the bestselling SFF in the business, and a living legend of the genre.

Which led me to overthinking things. Again.

Classics become classics because they survive the generation that spawned them. Edgar Rice Burroughs is a classic of SF. As are all of the pulps that have survived to this generation. Just ask Jeffro Johnson. He's got a book and a blog dedicated to that.

When I got this panel, one of my first reactions was "Funny. Most of the Classics of SF have outlived most of the "isms" around them. And let's face it, most isms are just ideologies -- and ideologies twist the facts to fit the framework. As opposed to a philosophy, that SHOULD adapt the framework to fit the available facts.

Classics are classics because they have a timeless quality to them. While John Carter of Mars was originally written as a response to Commies (I hear that ERB originally wanted to right a story about the Reds .... since he couldn't get away with that, he was allowed to write about red and green Martians), The Martian Chronicles will survive long after Communism is seen by ALL as the pile of crap it is. Because while it is rooted in events of the day, it will not die if removed from the circumstance. Because it's a good story, with timeless elements to it that make it accessible to everyone.

Let's face it, The Odyssey is a classic, and if published today, would end up in Fantasy. And it's not one of those books that are still around because of academics. I read it when I was ten years old. It's an adventure novel. And it was also a product of its day. Think of it as a fantasy version of Mission: Impossible, as Odysseus spends half his time outwitting creatures 1000 times more powerful than he is.

Today, Dante would be considered a classic of Fantasy. And while it is firmly rooted in the historical context, it's still timeless, if only because of sin. Right now, you can update Dante and have a level of Hell where two groups of politicians pushing against a Sysiphian rock (each side pushing against each other) because, while they voted with their party, they voted against their conscience. It's still a timeless concept, because traitors to conscience are forever, as are politicians.

... And I use that highly specific example because Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle wrote that exact book in 1976, when they did their own version of the Inferno.

So, yeah, when I looked at the panel, all I could think was "this is going to be an odd series of questions, ain't it?"

Then again, the panel was fun. And we probably barely scratched the surface.

Read the next Dragon Award nominated book for best Horror, Hell Spawn.

Monday, November 26, 2018

#CyberMonday, give the gift of books.

Welcome to Cyber Monday, when everyone takes the smart route and shops online, because no one in their right minds wants to be on the roads around Thanksgiving.

The following are my recommendations for the easiest, and best gift of all -- books.

.... Can you tell I'm the sort of person who enjoyed getting Barnes and Noble gifts cards growing up?


A solid alternate history with enough conspiracy theories to make Umberto Eco happy. You can read my review of the latest book here. It's the perfect gift for anyone who likes science, or politics, or alternate history.

Good for juveniles, SF fans, and possibly fans of fantasy. And if you're a political junkie, you should certainly consider giving these as a gift. Or buying them for yourself.

You can buy SIGNED COPIES HERE.

The Hidden Truth (3 Book Series) by  Hans G. Schantz



If you're hungry for the next Jim Butcher novel, look no further than Daniel Humphreys. My review is here.

Great for anyone who consumes any urban fantasy. Unless they read Anita Blake novels for the porn, in which case, they might be disappointed.  Personally, I think they may make for solid YA-safe reading ... but then again, I was the kid who saw Die Hard at ten years old, so please read these before giving them to the pre-teen crowd. Let's call them PG-13, tops.

Fade (Paxton Locke Book 1) by [Humphreys, Daniel]


The best fantasy I've read in years. Hands down. Possibly the best epic fantasy currently out there.

My review is here, but I recommend just buying it if and when you can. And handing it out as gifts to anyone who reads Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind (seriously, what is it with the first name Terry and writing fantasy?)

I'm almost certain this this YA-safe, though the Die Hard warning is above.




A cop with saintly powers has been found out by a serial killer possessed by a demon. What does the demon want? How can it be stopped? And how do you do prosecute?

This one is straight horror. If you're a fan of horror, or dark urban fantasy, knock yourself out.

(pre-order only)

Sequel to Hell Spawn. There will be zombies.




Murder in the Vatican!

As the head of Vatican security, Giovanni Figlia must protect a new, African Pope who courts controversy every other day. The Pope’s latest project is to make Pius XII, “Hitler’s Pope,” a saint. Things haven’t gotten better since the Pope employed American mercenary Sean Ryan.

Then a body fell onto the Vatican doorstep.

Mercenaries, spies, beautiful women, international intrigue and ancient secrets – The Pius Trilogy has it all!


How to make a thriller.

Step one, kidnap the Pope.

Step two, put him on trial for war crimes.

Step three, the only man who can save him has been kidnapped as well.



Making the war on God a lot more literal.



This collection of short stories has
  • Over two dozen terrorists
  • Two exploding Christmas trees
  • And a Boston Pops concert.

.... Not that Die Hard influenced me a lot.

Pius Tales (The Pius Trilogy Book 4) by [Finn, Declan]


James Rollins has this tendency to put in nearly a dozen pages of footnotes on some of his thrillers.

I made an entire book.



The 2016 Dragon Award Nominee for Best Horror Novel!

One is a heartless, bloodthirsty killer. The other is a vampire.

College freshman, Amanda Colt knows few people and wants to know fewer still. She enjoys fencing and prefers facing a challenge every once in a while. She is beautiful, smart, and possibly the most interesting person on campus.

Then she finds tall, intense Marco Catalano in her fencing class. With a mind like a computer and manners of a medieval knight, he scares most people - but not Amanda. They both have secrets, for they are both monsters.

As they draw closer, they must find the line between how much they can trust each other, and how much they can care for each other. Each carries a secret that can destroy the other. But they must come to grips with their personal drama soon because a darkness rises around them. Bodies keep turning up all over New York, and an army of vampires closes in on all sides. 

They have only one hope - each other.

YA-safe, Christian-friendly, but written for people who like action scenes, suspense, and a romance subplot. Imagine if Jim Butcher wrote a Monster Hunter International novel. 


After saving Brooklyn from a nest of vampires, Amanda Colt and Marco Catalano are a little banged up. He's been given a job offer to deal with vampires in San Francisco, and it's a tempting offer - it would get him away from Amanda, his feelings for her, and get her away from the darkness inside him. When a death in the family compels Marco to move to the West Coast, they're both left to fend for themselves.

Then the creature known only as Mister Day leaves their world in tatters, and they must once more join forces against the darkness. Only Day is no vampire, but a creature beyond their experience. It will take the combined might of Marco, Amanda, and all of their allies just to slow it down. They have no weapons that can kill him. They have no way to imprison him. To even fight him is death.

But they have to try - or face the end of everything they love.



My idea on having a romance happen.

Take two people who have accidentally friend-zoned each other.

Get them both angry at each other.

Have a supernatural assassin try to kill them both.



Werewolves. Armies of the damned. Minions who are as strong as vampires. And one bloodthirsty murderer who's been bit by one of the werewolves.

What could possibly go wrong?




Suggested by Hans Schantz. Sequel to Innocents. 







Michael David Anderson

Teddy
Wake
Previously Mentioned Books

This isn't the first time I've done this post. And books are forever.

And no, I'm not going to only talk about my books.

Torchship series by Karl Gallagher

For anyone who really wanted Firefly to be good, this should be your cup of tea. Heck, for fans of: Firefly, David Weber, early David Weber, and people who would be really entertained by protagonists in an SF novel doing their calculations by slide rule.



Iron Chamber of Memory
John C Wright

 For adults only, really...or any mature 12 year old, like I was. I don't care in what format you buy it, but you owe it to yourself to buy at least one copy for yourself, though I recommend buying half a dozen, just so you can immediately hand out copies to your friends.  Review here




The Big SheepRobert Kroese

Perfect for anyone who likes SF mysteries, mild dystopias, and Terry Pratchett. As far as I'm concerned, if Rob Kroese wants to keep putting out books about Erasmus Keane for the rest of his life, I'll happily use him as a substitute for Sir Terry Pratchett. (Review Here)




Chasing Freedom, Marina Fontaine

For anyone who sees the USA falling to fascism, but also sees some small hope in our future. A Dystopia that doesn't make you want to slit your wrists. Yay. (Review here)





If you've been reading my blog for a long time, you know that I loved this one, and I can't possibly recommend it enough.... and then there's The Watson Chronicleswhich is even better.  The only books I will recommend over my own, and I'm told my books are pretty awesome, so, yeah...


The Book of Helen -- dang, this was a kickass little novel.  The West Wing meets the Trojan war, this novel goes beyond the "they all lived strangely ever after" of Helen of Troy, and follows the rest of her life after she came home from Troy.  Yes, Helen did have an "after Troy."  You know the mythology, and now, this is the rest of the story.

Black Tide Rising -- For those people who hate zombies ... you can like this, at the very least.
[Review here]

Ordinance 93:  I've reviewed this book (on Amazon), I've interviewed this author back when Examiner.com still existed. Ordinance 93 is a thriller that sort-of centers around abortion, but is mostly a fun chase novel. I'd actually like the next one to come up.

Infinite Space, Infinite God II .... a Catholic scifi-anthology, so, yeah...fun.

Greater Treasures -- Imagine the Maltese Falcon with dragons. Nuff said.

Stealing Jenny, by Ellen Gable: After 5 miscarriages, Jenny is about to have a pregnancy come to full term... until a psychotic woman kidnaps her and chains her in her basement with the intention of taking the child for her own. I liked this one.

Amy Lynn and Amy Lynn: Golden Angel.  Just buy them. Read them. The first one could be dark YA.  The second ... yeah, for adults only. One's a solid novel, the second one is a solid thriller. Just go with me on this one, okay?

Night Machines by Kia Heavey .... this one was interesting.  Almost Doctor Who-ish by way of Rod Serling.

And, of course, there is an endless list of books I can recommend, which happen to be a different tab at the top of the page -- includes Flynn, Ringo, Weber, Thor, etc, etc.

Tears of Paradox, by Daniella Bova, reviewed here

By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World.

Also, here's everything I suggested for the Dragon Awards in 2016

And here's everything nominated for a Dragon Award in 2016.

And everything I talked about for a Dragon Award in 2017.

And everything NOMINATED for a Dragon in 2017.

And the same for everything I talked about for the 2018 Dragon Awards .... no, I didn't put links in the Dragon Award FINALISTS this year, but if you want to look, click here for that list.

That should cover a fairly wide net.

If you have something you'd like to suggest for gifting opportunities, please feel free to mention it below.

You can also click one of the above tabs for suggested books.

Good luck with shopping, everyone.