Blood Foam: Exclusive Excerpt

Blood Foam by Brendan DuBois is the 9th Lewis Cole mystery where the retired Deptartment of Defense analyst must help an old flame hunt down her missing fiancé (available June 15, 2015).

A wounded and healing Lewis Cole—retired Department of Defense analyst and magazine columnist—returns to his fire-damaged home on Tyler Beach with two things on his mind: to recover from a bullet wound and to repair his nearly two hundred-year-old home before a hurricane scours his house into the unforgiving ocean.

But just when his work has begun, former lover and journalist Paula Quinn comes to him with an urgent request. Her fiancé, attorney Mark Spencer, has gone missing. Phone calls, e-mails, and text messages have gone unanswered. His car is gone, and his home is empty.

Lewis is Paula’s last hope to find her missing fiancé, and despite his fear for what might happen to his home, Lewis agrees to search for the missing attorney.

But one puzzling aspect of Mark’s life leads to Lewis asking more questions… until gunfire suddenly erupts in placid downtown Tyler. And Lewis and Paula find themselves on the run from a deadly gang, who are also searching for Mark Spencer—to find him and kill him for a past betrayal. So Lewis begins a difficult quest while his own world is threatened by ruthless men and gathering storm clouds.

Chapter 7

In about sixty more seconds of driving, I got to the intersection of High Street and Lafayette Road, right in the center of the town of Tyler proper. Traffic was heavy for this time of the morning, and I was stuck at a red light, with the evil Volvo behind me, the young female driver waving at me with one finger extended. A quick left onto Lafayette Road and then a quick right past the Common, and I’d be at the Chronicle.

But she wasn’t there. That’s what Melanie had said.

You just missed her.

Right behind the small building containing the Chronicle was a set of railroad tracks, which paralleled a grove of pine trees. Would he take her there? Or would that be too risky? What kind of tale could he spin to get Paula out of the Chronicle and to walk across the railroad tracks?

No, he’d be cautious. He’d want her away in peace and quiet.

But it didn’t mean Id have to be cautious.

I swore, spun the steering wheel left, flashed my headlights and horn, and blasted my way through the oncoming traffic. There were three lanes—two heading to Lafayette Road, one of which was a turning lane to the right—and the other which was the incoming lane from Lafayette Road, full of cars heading in my direction. There was the squeal of brakes, hornsblaring in my direction, a few more one-fingered salutes, and I got onto Lafayette Road. Before me were the white buildings and black shutters that, among other things, contained the law offices of Adams & Lessard, and on the right was the Common, the Common Grill & Grill, the Tyler Professional Office Building, and—

A black Chevrolet Suburban, heading out into traffic, with a bulky man driving, cloth cap on his head, a Vandyke beard on his face, with a blond-haired woman as his passenger.

I slammed the accelerator down again, the Pilot roared in response, and I cut off the Suburban just as he was edging out into traffic. He braked suddenly, his female passenger flailing forward, and I hammered my brakes as well, sliding to a stop about a foot in front of him. Other cars and trucks halted at seeing what was unfolding before them.

I threw the door open, managing to remove my Beretta from the leather holster, and I ran right up to the driver.

“Hands!”I yelled. “Show me your hands, right now!”

He hesitated just for a moment, and maybe it was my eyes or the Beretta or the way I yelled again, louder, “Hands!”but both hands came off the steering wheel.

And just like Dave Chaplain had said, there was a tattoo of a bird on his right wrist.

“Paula! Get out! Now!”

She emerged from the passenger’s side door, face red, blond hair cascadingin the wind, purse in hand, and boy, was she glad to see me.

“Lewis, you idiot! What the hell are you doing?”

I didn’t dare remove my stare from the driver. His eyes had narrowed into two dark spots, but at least his hands were still visible. “Get into my Pilot! Now!”

“Lewis! He’s a federal agent; he knows where Mark is!”

“He’s an impostor! Yesterday he was a deputy sheriff! Paula, if you’ve ever trusted me . . . move!”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw her hesitate, for the briefest of moments, and despair seized me, thinking: what do I do? What do I do? Try to manhandle her into my Pilot, while taking my eye and attention away from her kidnapper? From his look and appearance, I knew if thisman had a brief second of opportunity, he would take it, and I’d quicklybe on the cold asphalt of Lafayette Road, bleeding out.

Paula moved. She went around the front of the Suburban, cursing, and got into my Pilot. I started slowly backing away, and the man in the Suburban—Reeve Longwood, if that was his real name—managed to use an elbow to toggle a switch, and the window lowered.

His voice was slow, gravelly, like a country music star just wrapping up a four-hour gig. “Pretty bold move, bro, and I’ll give you this one. But what, you think I’m just gonna sit here and watch you drive away?”

“Thanks for pointing that out,”I said, and I pulled the trigger twice on my Beretta, shooting out a front and rear tire of his Suburban.

***

With Paula secure in the passenger’s seat, I drove south on Lafayette Road. In about a mile or so, we’d get to Route 101, the state’s main east-west highway, which also intersected I-95. There were options, but not too many. If I took the intersection to the Interstate, I’d hit the main Tyler tolls, which could quickly have a State Police roadblock. So instead I stayed on Lafayette Road and made a quick right onto one of the side country roads, and in a few minutes we were away from the crowded chaos of downtown Tyler and on a road that drifted through farmland, housing developments, and lots of trees.

With that bit of driving over, I spared a glance at Paula and said, “Look,are you—”

She punched me in the arm. I stammered something out, and then she burst into tears and asked “What the hell was that? What the hell was that? Stop the car . . . stop it now!”

“Nope,”I said.

“Stop the car!”

“Paula, you can punch me, you can scratch me, you can pull my hair, but I’m not stopping. That man back there . . . he was about two or three minutes away from asking you some very serious questions about Mark.”

“What, so you had to rescue me? Is that it? Why didn’t you call the cops if you thought I was in danger?”

“Didn’t have time.”

“Lewis. . . .”

I turned, snapped at her. “You know Dave Chaplain? Mark’s neighbor? Yesterday that big guy told him he was a deputy sheriff, investigating Mark’s disappearance. Even showed him a sheriff ’s badge. How long have you been a newspaper reporter, Paula? Hunh? You know how the sheriff ’s department operates. Do they conduct any missing-persons investigations?”

Her arms were clasped tight against her light red coat, her face pale. “He . . . he told me he was with the federal government. He said Mark had uncovered some corruption involving the town and a defense-related industry that was preparing to move in over at the Tyler Industrial Park. He . . . he said Mark was in hiding, and that if I cooperated and kept it confidential, I could see him.”

I came to a three-way intersection, with no street signs. There were woods and low stone walls. Just for the hell of it, I turned left. A light blue Ford pickup truck passed by and the driver waved, and I waved back. No one-finger salutes this time. I took a breath. Besides the usual smells of my home on wheels, there was also the sharp bitter tang of a pistol being recently fired.

Paula lowered her head, started crying again.

We kept on driving.

Excerpted from Blood Foam by Brendan DuBois. Reprinted by arrangement with Pegasus Books. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2015 Brendan DuBois.

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Brendan DuBois is the award-winning author of sixteen novels and more than 120 short stories. His short stories have twice won him the Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America, and have also earned him three Edgar Award nominations. Blood Foam is the ninth novel in the Lewis Cole mystery series. Brendan lives in New Hampshire. Visit his website at www.BrendanDuBois.com.

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