Title: Dead Man Stalking
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release: 10 September
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Amazon – http://amzn.to/2ZkYwmw
Dreamspinner Link: http://bit.ly/2ZceYua
Blurb:Agent Luke Bennett proved that humans could rise just as high in the ranks as their vampire colleagues—until a kidnapper held him captive for a year and turned him without his consent.
Now he’s Took: a reluctant monster afraid to bite anyone, broke, and about to be discharged from his elite BITERs unit.
When an old colleague suggests he consult on a BITERs case, Took has little to lose. The case is open and shut… but nothing is ever that easy. As he digs deeper, he discovers a lot more than one cold case is at stake, and if he wants to solve this one, he’ll need the help of the BITERs team. Even if that brings his old commander, Madoc, back into his life.
First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my new urban fantasy Dead Man Stalking. This is the first book in the Blood and Bone series and I am thrilled to put it out there into the world. I was meant to be writing an entirely different book, but then Took and Madoc took up residence in my head and I had to give in and let them have their say.
I had a blast creating this world and these characters, and I hope you enjoy them too. I’ve included a chapter of a prequel short story that you can follow through the blog tour.
The local medical examiner was a few years past scaling statues to cut down corpses. He directed from the base, bloody white booties over his old sneakers, as one assistant hung off Tepes arm like a monkey and the other balanced on a ladder below.
“Did the local cops tell you anything useful, Bennett?” Madoc asked as he watched the show from behind his dark glasses.
“If they knew anything useful, they wouldn’t have called us,” Kit said irritably. He curled his lip at Luke to flash a fully extended incisor. “So I still don’t see what good our token breather is.”
Madoc tilted his head slightly. “I could have sworn I said ‘Luke’,” he said dryly. “Have I finally fallen into senescence, Kit?”
If Kit could have flushed at the repriment, he would have. Instead he put his fangs away and tilted his head in a mute apology to Madoc.
Luke wished he had something good to report, just to rub the piebald vampire’s nose in it. After six months most of the other Biters had learned to work with the new human at Madoc’s back, but Kit still saw him as deadweight waiting to be dead. Unfortunately…
“If they knew something, they didn’t know they knew it,” he said. “I had their files sent through when we were called in, before our latest victim, and I’ll go through them again while the body’s being autopsied.”
“Finally, something useful for you to do,” Kit said. “You do that, I’ll just go catch the bad guy. The amount of blood he shed here, I can follow him back to his doorstep. Madoc?”
There was a pause before Madoc nodded his go-ahead, but he still did it. Most vampires–Anakim–had a good sense of smell, but Kit followed a blood trail like a shark. Even in the daylight.
He bumped past Luke, shoulders jarred together, and loped off over the green. Luke watched him go, and managed not to flinch as Madoc put a hand on his shoulder. His hand was warm, almost mortal temperature, so he’d fed recently.
Not from the blood bank, although VINE maintained a contract with all of them. Madoc only drank from his personal supply. Luke tried to resist the temptation to imagine who it had been. He’d seen Madoc’s boyfriends when they met him outside the VINE building, pretty young men with paint-stained nails or poetry readings. It would be easy to paint a mental picture of what his latest conquest looked like, and he could see if he was right about them later.
Except why would he want to?
Luke ignored any of the answers his too facile mind wanted to come up with in answer to that.
“Don’t let Kit get in your head,” Madoc said easily. “He’d just rather you stayed out of the field.”
That made Luke snort. He’d dealt with more sophisticated attempts to undermine or manipulate him over breakfast as a teenager. If he could deal with that, from the people who’d installed his lever points, then Kit’s jibes weren’t going to give him a crisis of confidence.
“I didn’t join the Biters to do paperwork,” he said. “I’m an agent, not your secretary.”
Madoc raised a dark, heavy eyebrow and gave him a quick once-over, head to feet.
“Prove it,” he said. A tilt of his head indicated the body. “What’s your read on this, Agent Bennett? Gut check.”
Luke already had his answer. He turned on his heels to scan the scene anyhow, just to make sure he hadn’t missed anything and to debate whether he wanted to go out on this limb. The assistant hung off Tepes bronze arm cut through the rope as Luke glanced toward the statue. He gritted his jaw as he lowered the boy down to the men below in careful, steady increments.
“College thinks it’s a rogue attack,” he said. “But a rogue wouldn’t have had the self-control to not feed once the blood started to flow. Look at the puddle on the ground, it’s perfectly round. No signs that it was disturbed by anyone.”
“Fresh, even I’d want a mouthful,” Madoc agreed. “So it’s not a vampire kill? Hunters?”
The reminder of what Madoc was—which was also who Madoc was—would usually have given Luke pause. With most of his attention absorbed in the puzzle, he hardly registered it.
VINE would like it to be Hunters. It made things easier. The law-abiding citizens were already meant to be against them, and the agitators would assume whoever died had deserved it.
“No,” Luke said. “Not any of the factions we’ve had an eye on anyone. Hunters kill to make a point. They don’t like vampires, they don’t like vampire lovers, they hate informers. When they have to kill a human it’s either it’s either clean, or we don’t find the body. They survive because people support them. This sort of mess? Out where some home-schooled Pentecostals kid could see it on the way to school? Unlikely.”
Madoc nodded at the statue.
“They hate Tepes,” he said. “Maybe they just wanted to call him a butcher?”
Luke shook his head. “Unless it turns out that the dead kid was a spy, why bother? No one has ever said Tepes wasn’t a butcher.”
That drew a chuckle from Madoc.
The rope slipped a few inches and made the corpse jerk.
A cloud of black, shiny flies lifted from the spools of intestines and poured out of the gutted stomach. The noise of them in the evacuated quad was oppressive and then the dense, black mass of them settled on the blood soaked grass.
“Get samples of the flies,” Luke yelled the instruction to the ME. He pointed at the clots of insects that scabbed the ground to make sure they understood him. “They could tell us something.”
The ME glanced at the ground, grimaced, and passed the job on. Luke didn’t care, as long as the flies were collected and he didn’t have to do it.
“So if it’s not rogues or hunters,” Madoc said. “Who does that leave?”
Luke shook his head. “It’s not mission-oriented or hedonistic,” he corrected Madoc. “Whoever did this was in control enough to stage the scene and cover their tracks, but still thought it was a good idea to slaughter a teenager and string him up in the centre of a busy college.”
“A compulsion killer?” Madoc said sceptically. “Hoofbeats usually mean horses, Luke. Not zebras.”
Before Luke could press his theory Kit stalked back over to them. His face was set in a scowl that pulled the ragged scars on his face into a new pattern around his mouth.
“Asshole seeded the ground,” he said, and rubbed his sleeve over irritated eyes. “Saltpetre and garlic around the perimeter. He expected us.”
“Hunter tactics,” Madoc said. “Horses, not zebras. Just because they’ve not done it before, Luke, doesn’t mean they won’t start. Kit? Call Quick and see what the latest chatter is on cells in the area. Luke and I will go over the local cops report on the case. Make sure they didn’t ‘miss’ anything that might help.”
Tomorrow’s installment on Boy Meets Boy! All the blog tour posts will also be linked here: http://tamoorewrites.com/deadmanstalking/
TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.
Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.