Shallow Grave: A Polis Books Twist

Acclaimed crime writers Alex Segura and Dave White pair up their series' characters—Pete Fernandez and Jackson Donne—in a thrilling crossover crime short story, Shallow Grave.

What’s better than one great PI story? Well, how about two great PIs in the same story?

Polis Books thinks so. Today marks the release of Shallow Grave, a short story co-written by two acclaimed crime writers—Dave White and Alex Segura­—and featuring their respective series characters, Jackson Donne and Pete Fernandez, in an unexpected and compelling crossover.

Similar to last year’s Bad Beat—which saw Fernandez pair up with Ash McKenna, the protagonist of writer Rob Hart’s series of PI novels—Shallow Grave throws Fernandez and Donne onto the same case, with one major twist: Donne, as readers of the series know, is serving time in prison when Fernandez meets him.

Set before Blind to Sin and Dangerous Ends, the most recent installments of White’s and Segura’s respective series, Shallow Grave finds Segura’s Pete Fernandez character picking up the pieces of a cold missing person’s case at the behest of an old New Jersey cop friend. As the case begins to unravel, Fernandez decides to go back to the PI who first tried to find the five-years-missing Gilbert “GG” Garcia—a local hero in the New Brunswick, New Jersey, music scene with some ties to the local mob and illegal gambling.

Forced to spar with the imprisoned Donne if he wants to get any useful leads on the case, Shallow Grave is a dark, unflinching, and gritty short story that gives readers a taste of two of the most acclaimed PI series being published today in a unique and interesting way.

“When Rob and I first envisioned Bad Beat, it was because we both loved comics and the idea of crossovers and team-ups. That experience was so seamless, I think I was hesitant to try and replicate it with anyone else,” Segura said. “But Dave and I got to talking, and the idea of Pete and Donne sparring and then eventually teaming up to try and solve this case was too hard to pass up. Dave, like Rob, was a perfect collaborator. Great with ideas, willing to brainstorm and—most importantly—able to hunker down and do the work. The end result is a fun story that serves as a nice introduction to both series and as a compelling addition to their respective canons. Plus, it provides readers with further proof that all the Polis PI books exist in the same world, or as I like to call it, Polis-verse.

“Alex and I had been talking about an idea for the Polis-verse off and on since Bad Beat came out. We'd talked about sending my other PI protagonist Matt Herrick down to Miami for some reason. That didn't click. We talked about setting a story after Dangerous Ends and Blind to Sin, but couldn't get things to work due to the endings,” White said. “Alex wanted Pete to work with Jackson Donne, and one of us pitched the idea that Pete meets Donne when he's in prison. Donne as Hannibal Lecter helping out Pete as if he's Clarice Starling. That's when the ideas really started to spin. I loved the visual of Pete and Jackson dressing each other down—sort of 'What have you done with your lives?' I think Alex would agree the ideas and story came fast and furious after that. Working with Alex was a collaborative blast—he has so many ideas and does his research when it comes to new locales. I think readers of both series are going to love where Shallow Grave takes these characters.”

Shallow Grave is available for FREE wherever ebooks are sold.
 

Excerpt

Pete picked up the grimy phone receiver on his side of the muddy glass. Jackson Donne did the same. They both seemed tired and wary of each other. This wasn’t Pete’s first time in a prison. He’d been sober for a few months and he’d spent a few of those nights taking meetings in places like this. Trying to bring the program to inmates looking to escape their addictions to alcohol.

 At least you can leave when you’re done. That’s what Pete’s AA sponsor Jack had told him after the first such meeting, when Pete had complained about the noisy, rude inmates. The smell. The claustrophobia he felt hearing the door lock into place after the guard ushered him into a meeting room.

Donne couldn’t leave after he talked to Pete. He was locked up on a murder charge. Pete wasn’t sure what left a guy like Donne—who, from what Pete could suss out, had lived a pretty “side of the angels” type of life—in the clink for killing someone. He didn’t really want to know. He still wasn’t sure what he was doing here, in this prison, in New Jersey and working this case.

Pete also needed to get to a meeting. He felt the familiar buzzing around his head. The warning signs that were going up. It’d been a few weeks without one, and he didn’t have enough sober time under his belt to coast. That’s what had cost him last time. It’s what took him dragging down into his bottom, drinking himself to death while Emily lay tied up and beaten in a killer’s trunk.

 “Hey, you there?”

Donne’s voice cut through the haze of Pete’s memory. Pete shook his head.

 “Yeah, yeah, sorry,” Pete said. “Name’s Pete Fernandez.”

 “Yeah, I got a heads-up you were coming,” Donne said. He looked exhausted, but there was a flicker of curiosity in the back of his eyes. Pete was something different, at least. A break in the monotony of this place. Because of that, he’d get a chance to hold onto Donne’s attention.

 “You know Rivela?”

 “Yeah, I know him,” Donne said.

“We’re old pals,” Pete said. “I used to live up here. Was a sports reporter.”

“Yeah, for the Bergen Light,” Donne said. “I remember your byline. Some good scoops. Where’d you run off to?”

“Miami,” Pete said. “Where I’m from. My dad died.”

“Miami,” Donne said, more to himself than Pete. “You’re a long way from home. I wouldn’t mind being in Miami right now.”

“Rivela called me back—asked me to help with this Garcia case,” Pete said, ignoring Donne’s comment. “I talked to his sister.”

“Liliana.”

“Yep,” Pete said. “She said you helped with the search for GG a bit, years ago.”

A bit is right,” Donne said. “Look, I’m not sure how much help I can be to you. That was a long time ago. A lot has changed for me.”

 

Copyright © 2017 Alex Segura & Dave White.

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Alex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. He is the author of the Miami crime novels Silent City and Down The Darkest Street, featuring newsman-turned-P.I. Pete Fernandez. He has also written a number of comic books, including the bestselling and critically acclaimed Archie Meets Kiss storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story, and the upcoming Archie Meets Ramones. He lives in New York with his wife. He is a Miami native. Follow him at @alex_segura.

Dave White is the Derringer Award–winning author of six novels: When One Man Dies, The Evil That Men Do, Not Even Past, An Empty Hell and Blind to Sin in his Jackson Donne series, and the acclaimed thriller Witness to Death. His short story “Closure,” won the Derringer Award for Best Short Mystery Story. Publishers Weekly gave the first two novels in his Jackson Donne series starred reviews, calling When One Man Dies an “engrossing, evocative debut novel” and writing that The Evil That Men Do “fulfills the promise of his debut.”

He received praise from crime fiction luminaries such as bestselling, Edgar Award–winning Laura Lippman and the legendary James Crumley. His standalone thriller, Witness to Death, was an ebook bestseller upon release and named one of the Best Books of the Year by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. He lives in Nutley, NJ. Follow him at @dave_white. He lives in Nutley, NJ.

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