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Treacherous: Grifters, Ruffians, and Killers by Gary Phillips
This new edition brings together various tales of chicanery and odd goings-on which the veteran mystery writer has produced over the years. For instance in “The Thrill is Gone,” a hit man rescued from the agonies of Hell is a reluctant envoy sent back to Earth to dispatch evil for Heaven; in “Roger Crumbler Considers His Shave,” a mild-mannered middle-aged accountant on his birthday contemplates much more than having a second slice of cake; and in “Branded,” a philandering husband wakes after a night of debauchery with a tattoo in a… rather uncomfortable location that will be hard to explain to his out-of-town wife. The digital version of the collection in this sweepstakes has further been expanded with 3 new stories: “Masai's Back in Town,” “Black Caesar's Gold,” and a bonus short-short “The Calling.”
Beware Beware by Steph Cha
Working as an apprentice at a P.I. firm, Juniper Song finds herself nose deep in a Hollywood murder scandal where the lies may be more glamorous than most, but the truths they cover are just as ugly. When a young woman named Daphne Freamon calls looking for an eye on her boyfriend, her boss punts the client to Song. Daphne is an independently wealthy painter living in New York, and her boyfriend Jamie Landon is a freelance screenwriter in Los Angeles, ghostwriting a vanity project for aging movie star Joe Tilley. Song quickly learns that there’s more to this case than a simple tail, and her suspicions are confirmed when Tilley winds up dead in a hotel room. Nonetheless, when Jamie becomes the prime suspect in the movie star’s murder, she agrees to help the charismatic couple discover the truth, even as the police build their case against Jamie. As she chases leads and questions grieving Hollywood insiders, she uncovers a sordid layer of blackmail and hidden identities, of a history of violence that leaves no one—not even Song—safe from judgment.
The Butcher by Jennifer Hillier
A rash of grisly serial murders plagued Seattle until the infamous “Beacon Hill Butcher” was finally hunted down and killed by police chief Edward Shank in 1985. Now, some thirty years later, Shank, retired and widowed, is giving up his large rambling Victorian house to his grandson Matt, whom he helped raise.
Settling back into his childhood home and doing some renovations in the backyard to make the house feel like his own, Matt, a young up-and-coming chef and restaurateur, stumbles upon a locked crate he’s never seen before. Curious, he picks the padlock and makes a discovery so gruesome it will forever haunt him… Faced with this deep dark family secret, Matt must decide whether to keep what he knows buried in the past, go to the police, or take matters into his own hands.
Meanwhile Matt’s girlfriend, Sam, has always suspected that her mother was murdered by the Beacon Hill Butcher—two years after the supposed Butcher was gunned down. As she pursues leads that will prove her right, Sam heads right into the path of Matt’s terrible secret.
Forty Acres by Dwayne Alexander Smith
Martin Grey, a smart, talented black lawyer working out of a storefront in Queens, becomes friendly with a group of some of the most powerful, wealthy, and esteemed black men in America. He’s dazzled by what they’ve accomplished, and they seem to think he has the potential to be as successful as they are. They invite him for a weekend away from it all—no wives, no cell phones, no talk of business. But far from home and cut off from everyone he loves, he discovers a disturbing secret that challenges some of his deepest convictions…
Martin finds out that his glittering new friends are part of a secret society dedicated to the preservation of the institution of slavery—but this time around, the black men are called “Master.” Joining them seems to guarantee a future without limits; rebuking them almost certainly guarantees his death. Trapped inside a picture-perfect, make-believe world that is home to a frightening reality, Martin must find a way out that will allow him to stay alive without becoming the very thing he hates.
A Colder War by Charles Cumming
A top-ranking Iranian military official is blown up while trying to defect to the West. An investigative journalist is arrested and imprisoned for writing an article critical of the Turkish government. An Iranian nuclear scientist is assassinated on the streets of Tehran. These three incidents, seemingly unrelated, have one crucial link. Each of the three had been recently recruited by Western intelligence, before being removed or killed.
Then Paul Wallinger, MI6’s most senior agent in Turkey, dies in a puzzling plane crash. Fearing the worst, MI6 bypasses the usual protocol and brings disgraced agent Tom Kell in from the cold to investigate. Kell soon discovers what Wallinger had already begun to suspect—that there’s a mole somewhere in the Western intelligence, a traitor who has been systematically sabotaging scores of joint intelligence operations in the Middle East.
Half in Love with Arftul Death by Bill Crider
The local community college and an antique dealer team up to have a workshop for artists. One local man, Burt Collins, isn't fond of the art, and he isn't fond of having the artists in town. Sheriff Dan Rhodes is called to the antique store because Collins has been accused of vandalizing some paintings. When Rhodes arrives, two men are restraining Collins. But before Rhodes can take Collins into custody, a near riot breaks out. Rhodes gets the situation under control with the help of college math instructor and wannabe cop Seepy Benton.
Later that day Rhodes has to help the county animal control officer round up some runaway donkeys, and that evening there's a robbery at a local convenience store. After looking into the robbery, Rhodes goes by to see Collins and talk to him about the vandalism. Collins isn't talking because he's been killed, his head bashed in with a bust of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Rhodes is faced with other problems, too: a naked woman in a roadside park and a gang of meth-cookers. It seems as if a Sheriff's work is never done.
The Tower by Simon Toyne
Opening at the NASA Control Center in Maryland, the center’s director has gone missing and all that can be found is a bizarre message on his computer screen. FBI Agent J. J. Shepherd believes some of this might be related to an explosion at the Citadel, a secretive monastery in Ruin, Turkey; the viral outbreak that followed there; and the chilling disappearance of a woman named Liv Adamsen.
As strange events and natural disasters occur around the world, Liv searches for the final secrets of the prophecy, while inside the walls of the Ruin, her lover, Gabriel Mann, infected by the virus, battles to survive. Is this the end of days?