Archive for Wolfe & Crowe

Bob Freeman signs with Seventh Star Press

Posted in Cairnwood Manor, Occult Detective Genre, Spotlight & Reviews, Wolfe & Crowe, Writing in Theory & Practice with tags , , , on September 10, 2013 by cairnwood

For Immediate Release
September 10, 2013

BobFreeman

Seventh Star Press is proud to welcome Bob Freeman to its author family, with the addition of two exciting series!  Both cross-genre in nature, the two series contain a diverse array including dark fantasy, horror, and supernatural thriller elements!

The Cairnwood Manor Trilogy, which includes the titles Shadows Over SomersetKeepers of the Dead, and In Time’s Shadow, tells the story of a clash and curse with roots in 14th century Scotland.  In a world of werewolves, witches, and vampires, a descendant of the Cairnwood clan named Michael Somers must come to terms with his family’s legacy while preparing to confront an ancient evil that awakens in the town of Somerset. Readers can expect the Seventh Star Press release of Shadows Over Somerset in early 2014.

The Landon Connors Trilogy consists of the titles First BornDescendant, and Born Again. Introducing federal agents Selina Wolfe and her undead partner Martin Crowe, the series invites readers along for the ride on their occult-savvy investigations delving into the mythical, supernatural, and horrific. Faced with adversaries of the demonic and monstrous kind, Wolfe and Crowe spearhead occult detective thrillers like no other!  Readers everywhere can look forward to the Seventh Star Press release of First Born in the first part of 2014.

Regarding joining the Seventh Star Press family with these projects, Bob commented, “I couldn’t be more excited to be working with Seventh Star Press. It’s an honour and privilege to be published alongside writers such as Michael West, Steven Shrewsbury, and Peter Welmerink, and I have been clamoring to work with Stephen Zimmer for years. I’m proud to be counted among their number and look forward to a bright and prosperous partnership.”

Bob lives in rural Indiana with his wife Kim and son Connor.  In addition to his pursuits as an author, he is a card carrying paranormal adventurer who founded Nightstalkers of Indiana in 1983.  A lifelong student of witchcraft, magic, and religion, Bob’s studies are reflected in his art, both as an author and illustrator.

He can be found online at occultdetective.com

Seventh Star Press is a publisher of speculative fiction based in Lexington Kentucky.  For further information on the press or the forthcoming Bob Freeman titles, please visit http://www.seventhstarpress.com

The Next Big Thing: BORN AGAIN

Posted in Occult Detective Genre, Teen Detective Stories, Wolfe & Crowe, Writing in Theory & Practice with tags , , , , on November 23, 2012 by cairnwood

The Next Big Thing meme has come round to me, via three outrageously awesome talents — Stephen Mark Rainey, William Meikle, and Greg Mitchell. I am obliged to answer the following 10 questions and shall endeavor to do so while absentmindedly twisting my mustache and softly cackling in a sinister manner.

 

So, let’s light this candle —

 

♦WHAT IS THE WORKING TITLE OF YOUR NEXT BOOK?

 

BORN AGAIN

 

♦WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE BOOK COME FROM?

 

As an answer to my novel DESCENDANT, and via Black Sabbath’s song and album of the same name.

 

♦WHAT GENRE DOES YOUR BOOK FALL UNDER?

 

Horror / Occult Detective Fiction

 

♦WHAT ACTORS WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO PLAY THE PART OF YOUR CHARACTERS IN A MOVIE RENDITION?

 

Okay, off the top of my head:

 

Odette Annable as Selina Wolfe / Brian Austin Green as Martin Crowe / Cloe Moretz as Tracy Larson / Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Landon Connors / Olivia Wilde as Michelle Hawkes / Olivia Munn as Alethea Kiriakis / Josh Holloway as Brooks Autry / Viggo Mortensson as Ashton Connors / Josh Hutcherson as Dale Parker / Hunter Parrish as Allen Parker / Mollie C. Quinn as Sara Jones / Shelley Hennig as Cassidy Martin

 

♦WHAT IS THE ONE SENTENCE SYNOPSIS OF YOUR BOOK?

 

Black Magicians, hellbent on awakening an ancient deity, need teenaged Tracy Larson’s unborn child to seal the deal.

 

♦WILL YOUR BOOK BE SELF-PUBLISHED, OR REPRESENTED BY AN AGENCY?

 

Come back to occultdetective.com on 12-12-12 for the answer.

 

♦HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO WRITE THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MANUSCRIPT?

 

Three and a half months.

 

♦WHAT OTHER BOOKS WOULD YOU COMPARE THIS STORY TO WITHIN YOUR GENRE?

 

If this were a stew the meat would come from The Adept series, the vegetables from American Gods, and it would be spiced with a pinch of Hellblazer, a smidgen of The Dresden Files, and a dash of The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

 

♦WHO, OR WHAT, INSPIRED YOU TO WRITE THIS BOOK?

 

My Holy Guardian Angel? Or was it the Devil who made me do it?

 

♦WHAT ELSE ABOUT THE BOOK MIGHT PIQUE A READER’S INTEREST?

 

Well, there’s black magick. That’s always a good time. There’s a mystery. Hard-boiled action. A sort-of-loopy, almost time travel bit. A little romance. Detectives running about detecting things. Lots of gunplay and explosions. And did I mention black magick?

Author Gary Val Tenuta Reviews Descendant

Posted in Occult Detective Genre, Spotlight & Reviews, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , , on January 24, 2012 by cairnwood

DESCENDANT – By Bob Freeman
Review by Gary Val Tenuta
Author of Ash: Return Of The Beast

A captivating occult detective thriller by a master of the genre

Rated: 5 out of 5 stars

The first half of Descendant sucked me in from the get-go even though, after the first few chapters, I was not quite sure where the story was going. Still, I was captivated. This was due in large part to two things: (1) Freeman’s writing style and (2) the characters: The enigmatic Dr. Landon Connors and the FBI agents, Martin Crowe and Selina Wolfe. I recognized, immediately, that my imagination and my thirst for an adventure was now in the hands of a writer fully confident in his craft and completely in control of where ever he was about to take me. And, damn, can this guy turn a phrase. Bob Freeman is a hell of a wordsmith. One note of warning to readers, however: if you’re not at least moderately versed in esoteric lore and occult literature or even just words that were more or less common language back in the middle ages, you may find yourself puzzling over certain words and phrases peppered throughout the story. This is quite clearly Freeman’s realm, his comfort zone. He knows this stuff up one side and down the other and he doesn’t think twice about dropping terms like “eldrich power”, “widdershins”, “preternatural”, “magickal working’, “homunculus”, and so on, into the dialog or the descriptive passages. Not that it really matters. Trust me. Freeman’s writing is so good you’ll “get it” even if you don’t exactly know the meaning of a word here and there.

The primary characters, agents Wolfe and Crowe, are colorful, smart, emotionally driven, wise-cracking, resourceful, tough and just plain fun to watch. Er, I mean to read. Well, that’s just the thing. I always had the impression that I was actually seeing them, like watching a movie. Man, I love these two characters! They each have very distinct personalities that play off each other extremely well. If this was a movie, I’d have to say the casting was perfect. Wolfe and Crowe have a terrific chemistry going on.

And monsters? Your want monsters? Demons? Creepy, dangerous, hideous, shape-shifting creatures from Hell that will delight in ripping your beating heart out of your chest and then devour it like sucking down a slimy delicacy and then go looking for seconds? Then watch out. You’ve come to the right place. They’re everywhere, in the woods, in the shadows of back alleys. Hell, they could be your neighbors. Like I said, they’re everywhere. And that’s the problem. That’s what Wolfe and Crowe are all about. They’re demon hunters and they carry big guns, not to mention an assortment of magickal weaponry, bewitching spells and some pretty nifty psychic wizardry that comes in handy when the final showdown explodes across the pages of this exciting, masterfully written and highly intelligent thriller.

A Murder of Crows (Part 9 of 9)

Posted in Free Fiction, Occult Detective Genre, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , , on October 26, 2011 by cairnwood

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

NINE

The elevator descended slowly into the bowels of the Baltimore headquarters of the FBI’s Paranormal Operations Division. Affectionately known as the Tombs, the lowest levels beneath the Monster Squad’s base of operations housed a virtual treasure trove of esoteric evidence collected since the Division was founded two centuries before. Meticulously numbered and catalogued, and many placed behind arcane wards to protect the unsuspecting world from their malevolence, the Tombs was off to limits to all but those with the highest security clearance.

When the elevator car came to a stop, a man in a dark suit exited and strode confidently through aged catacombs carrying a black satchel in his right hand. He’d been here many times before, but always there was a sense of wonder to that which lay hidden from the world far above. The man stopped before an electronic keypad and held out his left palm, touching his ring finger to his thumb.

Vincere tenebras salva veritate.

The man’s hand grew warm as sparks ignited within the console and the metal gate that barred his advance opened. He stepped inside the cool confines of the chamber, walking past floor to ceiling shelves that housed various crates and boxes of all shapes and sizes. He stopped before a small cask, wooden with iron bands around it. A glance to the tag beneath it assured him that he had come to the right place. It read:

CROW FETISH
LOGAN, OHIO

SEC RISK: MODERATE

The man smiled. Moderate? The fools, he thought. They had no idea. He placed the cask in the satchel and exited the room, returning the same way he came. He felt a cool confidence settle over him. His plans were coming to fruition at last. Stepping out of the elevator, he made his way through the maze of offices and cubicles and was about to pass through security and into the beckoning Baltimore twilight when a voice called out from behind.

“Excuse me, Assistant Director Hart?” The man turned to see Agent Juan Caballo jogging toward him.

“What can I do for you, Agent?”

“Sir, I’ve come across something in the database that doesn’t quite make sense to me, and I was hoping to get clarification, but I don’t have clearance to access the necessary files.”

“Is that so? I’m sure there must be a reason. What’s caught your attention, son?”

“I was given one of the discovery items from the case in Logan, Ohio, a type of magical diary that I was attempting to classify for inclusion in the Tombs. Inside I came upon an obscure reference to a fraternal lodge called the Order of the Black Spire. The Monster Manual says I don’t have clearance to access information about the Order.”

“Interesting. Tell me, Agent Caballo, do you like liver and onions?”

“Sir?”

“It’s a simple enough question.”

“Well, to be honest, I didn’t think anyone liked liver and onions.”

“I can assure you, I do. And I think you will too.” Hart clapped the man on the back. “Grab your coat and this diary of yours and we’ll have supper and see if we can wrap our heads around this little problem.”

“I wouldn’t want to impose. I’m sure that if I could just get…”

“Nonsense,” Hart said, adding a warm grin, “it’s no imposition at all. In fact, I insist.”

“Yes, sir,” the agent replied, disappearing into his cubicle to retrieve the item in question.

“Yes, Agent Caballo, I do indeed insist.”

Thank you for joining me during this serialization of
A Murder of Crows

I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it.

There’s more, of course.
To continue the story you
need look no further than
DESCENDANT,
available from Belfire Press —
wherever books are sold online.

Happy Hallowe’en

A Murder of Crows (Part Eight of Nine)

Posted in Free Fiction, Occult Detective Genre, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , on October 19, 2011 by cairnwood

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

EIGHT

“I got another call.”

“What’s that?” Martin Crowe was piloting the Jeep Grand Cherokee down I-71. They’d just passed Cincinnati and entered the State of Kentucky, barreling along at more than eighty miles per hour, hell-bent for Louisiana and their next assignment. Of course, this one was off the books, a special request from their Director, Michelle Hawkes.

“From the phantom number, the one supposedly out of service according to the wireless company,” Selina said — she was sprawled out in the front passenger seat, bare feet on the dash and a computer keyboard in her lap — “I’ve been doing my best to track it, even had the guys in Forensics look into it. Well, I found something… on the Internet of all places. I came across an old messageboard, long since abandoned, but thanks to the wayback machine I was able to look through some of the old postings. There were more than a dozen people getting calls from this same number. Crazy, I know, but these people were really freaking out over it and they all started to sound pretty paranoid.”

“Like you?”

“No, not like me. More like out on the fringe, conspiracy nut, kind of paranoid.” Selina folded the computer monitor into its closed position and slid around in the seat to face her partner.

“Like I said…”

“Fuck you, asshole,” Selina laughed. “I’m being serious here. Anyway, one of the girls on this messageboard followed a lead and found out where the number originated from.”

“Go on, the suspense is killing me.” Crowe maneuvered the SUV through growing traffic, sliding between an eighteen wheeler and a red Volvo, as they neared Louisville.

“You’re not going to believe me when I tell you,” Selina said, dead serious.

“You do know what I do for a living, right?”

“Alright, smart ass, here’s the rub.” Selina paused for dramatic effect. “According to ‘misstreegirl13’ the number belonged to a phone in the Hotel Ambassadeur.”

“You lost me…”

“The Hotel Ambassadeur is located on the outskirts of Arcadia, Louisiana.”

“Which is where we’re headed.” Crowe fished a cigarette out of his pocket and lit it, flashing his partner a wink and a smile. “Well, at least now we know where we’ll be staying when we get to town.”

“I’ve already made reservations.”

 

Return here next week for the final installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Nine will be posted on October 26th

A Murder of Crows (Part Seven of Nine)

Posted in Free Fiction, Occult Detective Genre, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , , , on October 12, 2011 by cairnwood

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

SEVEN

Martin Crowe was smoking a cigarette and watching the National Guard set up their roadblocks around the Logan city limits. FEMA and CDC agents in their yellow environmental control suits were putting on a show for the news media that had descended on the small Ohio town. The lie was in full force. Crowe wasn’t sure of the particulars, something about a chemical spill or some such bullshit. Selina had a knack for this sort of thing, developing a story that served to cover up an event like this and keep everyone at bay. Martin’s expertise lay in other areas. He flipped the spent cigarette butt into the street and entered the Hocking County Sheriff’s Department.

The majority of the townsfolk were alive and well and they’d been evacuated and most hospitalized for observation. The possession was ended pretty much when he’d separated the scarecrow’s head from its shoulders and those under the influence of the damnable malediction seemingly had no memory of the events that took place while they were hapless vessels for the Nameless One’s resurrection. But there was one who remembered. One who was not an enfeebled victim. Walking down the long hallway toward the isolated cellblock within the Sheriff’s Department, Martin Crowe was prepared to reacquaint himself with the monster who had set all of this in motion.

“Release me, insolent swine.”

“Well, hello to you too, Mrs. Potter,” Crowe responded.

Elspeth Potter was frothing at the mouth, raging against her captivity. Her prison was not the bars of her tiny cell, but a magical circle, carefully drawn out on the cell room’s floor. It was made up of two concentric bands filled with arcane sigils that encircled a binding rune. The frail looking grandmother of Brian Potter threw herself against the eldritch entrapment with a strength and power that belied her appearance.

“These markings will not hold me forever, you pathetic cur,” she growled. Her eyes were wild and filled with a burning hatred.

“They’re not meant to,” Crowe said. He removed the Desert Eagle from the shoulder harness under his coat and chambered a round. “I’ve got to tell you, Elspeth, it came as a real shock to my partner and me when we found a couple of snowbirds huddled in their basement instead of soaking up some Florida sunshine… especially when that basement has been converted into a ritual chamber dedicated to ancient gods that are really best left undisturbed.”

“Go to hell,” she spat.

“Been there. Bought the t-shirt,” he responded. Crowe slid the cell door open and stepped inside. The image of seeing Elspeth Potter kneeling in the floor of her basement, her husband, Lyle Potter, laid out before her with his chest ripped open, his heart removed and replaced with the corpse of a black crow, was etched in his mind. Bringing her in had not been easy, but they’d done it. Now Selina was poring over the grimoire they’d found in the place and connecting the dots, while he was preparing to do what he did best.

“I’ll rip you to shreds, boy, and feed on your heart.”

“No,” Crowe said, calmly, “you won’t.” He raised the Desert Eagle and fired. The .50 Action Express punched a hole right through her face and left a splatter of blood, bone, and gray matter splayed across the rear wall of the cell. “Tell your dark god that I’m still here, alive and kicking, and that if he really wants a piece of me he needs to quit sending the junior varsity to do the job.”

Martin Crowe shouldered his weapon and left the carnage behind, stepping back out into the chilled October afternoon. Happy fucking Hallowe’en, he thought. Lighting a cigarette, he motioned for the waiting clean-up crew to get to work and sat down on the steps to wait for his partner to come pick him up so they could get the hell out of this godforsaken town.

 

Return here next week for another Wicked Wednesday installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Eight will be posted on October 19th

A Murder of Crows (Part Six of Nine)

Posted in Free Fiction, Occult Detective Genre, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , , , on October 5, 2011 by cairnwood

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

SIX

Selina Wolfe was not happy. Wiping away the blood from around the small nick right along her hairline, she mulled over what had happened to her as she searched the Paranormal Operations Division’s database from the comfort of the Grand Cherokee’s onboard terminal. As she’d expected, Brian Potter was a distraction. First, inanely rambling about his civil rights and a lawsuit he planned to levy against the FBI for illegal and unwarranted confinement until he finally fell silent. That’s when all hell broke loose.

She recalled her excitement as ‘the Monster Manual’ deciphered the Mommet inscription, doubly so once a connection was made between it and the occult rune below it. Mommet was a colloquial term used in England, particularly around Devonshire and Somerset, to refer to a scarecrow, while the rune itself was a stylized hanged man that had been in use in the same area in the seventeenth century. Chalk one up to modern technology, she’d mused.

That’s when Potter started rambling again, though this time it was not more of his misunderstanding of law enforcement procedure or his civil liberties. No, Brian Potter was muttering in an arcane tongue, and then she was surrounded by the sounds of flapping wings and the chaotic squawks and screeches of seemingly hundreds of rooks as they descended on the SUV. A quick glance into the rearview mirror and she saw Potter’s malefic face, eyes rolled back and drool trickling down his chin as his voice rose in crescendo, merging with the cacophonous cries of the murder of crows. Then there was a flash of light, powerful and all consuming, growing with an inane brilliance until she blacked out.

Selina discarded the towlette and hit the button that revealed the Jeep’s unique storage compartment wherein was housed the agents’ private arsenal. Within was an array of exotic medieval weaponry, high tech automatic firearms, grenades, smoke bombs, and electronic surveillance gear. She grabbed fresh clips for her Sig Sauer 9mm and the SPAS-12, an Italian made semi-automatic shotgun that had fallen out of favor with most agents due to its weight and complexity, but she knew her partner preferred it over the Benelli M3 that was currently in vogue. She buttoned up the SUV and joined Crowe at the edge of the cornfield. He was intent on the glow of a fire that had come to life deep within the field, and in the gathering cloud of black crows that circled overhead.

“Where better to find a scarecrow than in the middle of a field of corn?” he said, taking the shotgun from Wolfe.

“Yeah, well I’d feel a lot better about this if we had an idea of what we were walking into.” Selina drew her sidearm and chambered a round.

“What’s to know? We’ve got black magic, a medieval poppet of some kind, and a crow whisperer. My guess is that all this ends when I blow that little bastard’s brains out the back of his skull. And if not, I’m sure you’ll cook us up a little spell or two to keep things interesting.”

“You know it’s not that simple.”

“It never is, sweetheart,” Crowe said, a grin spreading from ear to ear. “C’mon, it’s chilly as hell out here. I’ve a hankering for warming myself by the bonfire Potter’s got cooking.”

“And if he’s not alone?”

“No worries. I’ve got plenty of shells to go around.”

The two agents spread out and entered the field three rows apart, headed toward the warm glow of the crackling bonfire, its flame licking up above the stalks perhaps as many as a hundred yards in. The uneven ground and pressing, claustrophobic rows made moving silently impossible as the dry and brittle blades crackled with their every step. As they moved deeper into the field, Selina got the sense that they were not alone. When the whispers began, she was sure of it.

“Martin?”

“I hear them.”

“I don’t like this.” Selina looked around her, trying to pinpoint the source of the baleful chatter.

“We’re almost to the party,” Crowe responded. “They’ll come out to play then.”

“Damned things, sneaking around,” she muttered, gun at the ready. She pressed on, even as the incessant clamor increased. Another step and a crow, black as night and hid easily by the dark shadows of the rows, took flight, its wing brushing her as it sailed up to join its brethren. “It’s the fucking birds,” she called out, unnerved as she noticed more rising up around her from the ink black. It was all she could do to not start firing at them.

“Selina?”

“What?” she barked.

“We’re here.”

Wolfe crept forward another dozen feet and peered into a clearing roughly fifteen yards in diameter. The crop circle was conjoined with another, equal in size, and within it raged the bonfire fueled by timber and the stalks cut down to form the unnatural enclosure. But it wasn’t the conflagration that drew their intention. Instead it was what towered above them to the fore. Looking down at them, its silhouette framed by the harvest moon beyond, was a truculent effigy. They’d found their mommet.

The agents moved into the clearing, seemingly alone save for the murder of crows that swarmed overhead and perched upon the head and shoulders of the frightful scarecrow. His fearsome visage did little to deter the creatures he was meant to intimidate. In fact, the rooks appeared to honor the unsightly figure, cawing in reverence to its aberrant semblance.

“That’s one ugly mother fucker,” Crowe said. Wolfe moved closer to her partner, positioning herself so that they were back to back.

“Not so, Agent Crowe. The Bodach-rocais is a thing of beauty, an earthly recreation of the one who bears no name, but is with us just the same.” The agents turned to see William Craft step out of the corn, flanked by Jennifer Cox and Brian Potter. “But soon, the Nameless One will walk among us and we shall rejoice as it feeds upon the weak and unrepentant.”

“Blessed Goddess,” Wolfe said, edging closer to her partner, gun raised and sighted from one figure to the next. “Look at their eyes.”

The trio were soon joined by others, dozens of local townsfolk, each with blank, soulless eyes. Selina recognized the sheriff among them, and others, like the local gas attendant from where they’d filled up as they entered town, a woman who had bumped into her on the street. Soon, it was as if all of Logan had descended on the field, all with the same vacant stare, all possessed by something altogether evil and malignant. As they moved forward, encircling the agents, the crows came down, one perching on each of the residents’ shoulders.

“Any suggestions?” Crowe asked.

“I’d say the birds are the key somehow, so short of picking them off one by one, I’ve got nothing.”

“How’s about we see what their Nameless One thinks about becoming the Headless One?” Agent Crowe raised his shotgun and leveled it on the scarecrow. He pulled the trigger, sending a hot slug ripping through the effigy’s head. It exploded in a splash of blood and gore as a dissonant cry rose up from the enraged crows. Their human minions began to stagger, tumbling into one another as the fowl took flight in a chaotic mass.

Wolfe began firing into the sea of black as the murderous crows dove at the agents, their beaks and talons drawing blood as they swarmed about them. Soon, she was flailing with her arms, desperately trying to beat them back as their dead began to litter the crop circle floor.

Crowe aimed once more at the effigy, bearing down on its chest cavity, when it suddenly ruptured, the tattered flannel ripping apart and a wave of red eyed rooks pored out coming straight for them. He fired and ducked as this new assault sent both he and his partner diving for the ground. He swung the shotgun like a club and a crow exploded in a mass of feathers and blood.

“Selina!”

“Hang on,” she cried.

It was utter madness. The townspeople had now collapsed, writhing in some kind of unknown agony, while desperation gripped the agents. Crowe continued to beat at the birds with his makeshift club, while Selina knelt beneath him, fumbling under her shirt and withdrawing the charm she wore there, a replacement of the one she’d once received as a gift from the occult detective, Landon Connors. This talisman was of her own making, a symbol of her faith and charged with magicks that she’d labored over in the weeks that she was in recovery following her run in with the Grim Beast of Iaeger.

“Got it,” she said, even while hoping that it would work. She spoke the ancient words that would trigger the spell she had placed within the amulet and there was a rushing sound as if all the air had been drawn in close to them, then it exploded outward as a cascading blue fire rose out from their protective circle, consuming the crows in the preternatural illuminate.

Selina collapsed as the crows fell to earth like a heavy black rain of death.

Return here next week for another Wicked Wednesday installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Seven will be posted on October 12th

A Murder of Crows (Part Five of Nine)

Posted in Free Fiction, Occult Detective Genre, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , , , on September 28, 2011 by cairnwood

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

FIVE

A harvest moon cast its baleful illumination over the forlorn cemetery plot while Martin Crowe worked diligently at unearthing what lay buried beneath him. The crickets had grown silent, their incessant chirping replaced by a mournful wind that rustled through the corn rows that surrounded the forgotten dead and the rhythm of Crowe’s shovel slicing into the freshly turned earth.

“Martin, I think I’m onto something here.” Crowe looked up from the deepening grave to see his partner hovering overhead, her face illuminated by the viewscreen of one of their handheld thermal cameras.

“Good,” he replied, leaning on his shovel. “I needed a break. What’ve you got?”

“I was trying to figure out a way to recover the markings on this headstone. They’re so badly weathered that they’re impossible to read and I thought there may be a clue there.” Wolfe knelt beside the gravesite and lowered the thermal down to her partner. “That’s when it hit me. I pressed my hands flat against the stone over the raised letters and let them soak up some of my body heat, then hit it with the thermal.”

Agent Crowe stared at the image captured on the screen. “What would I do without you?” he said. Starring back at him was a single word, resting above an obscured symbol. “Mommet?” He adjusted the settings on the device, filtering the colors to try and divine the symbol more clearly. “Doesn’t ring any bells,” he said, passing the imager back to his partner.

“Not with me either, but the symbol’s runic in nature. I’m going to fire up the Monster Manual and see if I can come up with something.”

“Good work, partner. You’re right, you just might be on to something.”

“I do try,” she said with a smile. “The only bad thing is that Potter kid will probably run his mouth the whole time. Maybe I should take him out of the Cherokee and cuff him to the bumper.”

“Or you could just shoot him?”

“Don’t tempt me.”

Crowe returned to digging. He was already at least five feet deep and he knew he didn’t have much more to go. Fifteen minutes passed before he struck something solid and another ten before he cleared a stone slab, roughly six by three feet. He lowered the lantern down from overhead to get a closer look at the cut limestone. The slab itself was broken in three places, and was carelessly reassembled. Bracing himself, he hefted up the smallest of the pieces, leaning it against the earthen wall of the grave pit. Within the stone cask lay a large black bird, a crow, with its breast bulging unnaturally. Martin reached down and picked the bird up and pulled at its sides. Stuffed inside its chest cavity was a human heart.

“Fuck,” he said, dropping the remains and backing away from the broken crow. He clamored up and out of the pit, wiping his hands on the damp grass. “God damn it I hate black magic,” he spat. He fumbled for a cigarette, unnerved by the handling of the vile fetish. Heading for the Grand Cherokee, he mulled over the possible ramifications of his find, but those thoughts were quickly extinguished when he saw the black SUV. A host of black birds sat perched upon it, a murder of crows cawing in unison at his advance… and in the passenger seat he could see his partner slumped over, illuminated by the fold down monitor of the onboard computer terminal, a trail of blood trickling down her face.

Return here next week for another Wicked Wednesday installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Six will be posted on October 5th

A Murder of Crows (Part Four of Nine)

Posted in Free Fiction, Occult Detective Genre, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , , , on September 21, 2011 by cairnwood

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

FOUR

Wolfe and Crowe followed Brian Potter into his grandparents’ backyard. Lyle and Elspeth Potter were vacationing in Florida, having long ago leased out their surrounding fields to larger, more corporate-minded farmers. Selina was pretty sure that they’d be appalled by the state their property was in. The pool and surrounding patio was littered with broken glass, empty beer cans, liquor bottles, and enough general refuse to start a small landfill.

“As you can see, the party got kind of out of hand.” Potter kicked at a discarded bottle of cheap wine, its remnants splashing red onto the multicolored river rock that bordered the cement walk that encircled the pool. “I wish there was more I could tell you. Billy and I were close. ‘Were’ being the operative word. After high school we drifted apart. I tried to make a connection with him at the party, but he was out of it. He was dead set on Jennifer and nothing I said registered with him one bit.”

“Jennifer?” Agent Wolfe repeated. “That would be Jennifer Cox.?”

“Yes, ma’am. I saw them leave together, so as much as I’d like to help I really think it’s her you should be talking to.” He took a step back and motioned toward the pool area’s side entrance. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have guests arriving soon and I’ve a lot of preparations to attend to.”

“Not so fast, chief,” Crowe said, his eyes burrowing into the young man. “It’s our understanding that Craft and Cox were last seen leaving by way of ‘the cemetery gate’. I take it that’s through here.” He pointed toward the ivy covered gate leading toward the rear of the property.

“I wouldn’t know.” Potter’s eyes darted away and Selina smiled.

“You don’t know what?” Agent Wolfe asked. “If your friends left by way of that gate, or whether it leads to the cemetery?”

“Let’s go, kid.” Crowe put his hand on Potter’s shoulder. “We’d like to have a look at what you’ve got cookin’ out back.”

“Sure, but… you know, the sheriff, he already…”

“Yeah, we know, the sheriff’s been all over this with his fine tooth comb, but you of course understand why we’d want to have a look for ourselves.”

“Yes, sir.”

The three passed through the ivy gate and strode across the back lawn, Potter leading the way. The small cemetery plot, nestled between a bower of mulberry bushes and the wide expanse of corn awaiting harvest, consisted of a few dozen stones, many of which were broken and leaning against their bases. As twilight descended, their walk was accompanied by the sound of crickets and the caws of the gathering crows whose flight was framed against the purpling sky.

“It’s nice to see that Logan County’s crack detective work is in full force.” Agent Crowe hovered over a low mound of fresh earth laid out in front of a weathered headstone. “I hope you’ve got a good explanation for this, Mr. Potter, because unless I’m mistaken, this looks like a fresh grave.”

“I, uh…”

“Selina, cuff the kid and plant his ass on the ground over there where we can keep an eye on him. I’ll bring the Cherokee around.” He walked up to the young man and smiled, patting him on the cheek. “Something tells me your plans for tonight just got changed.”

As Crowe stalked off into the growing darkness to retrieve their vehicle, both he and his partner failed to hear Brian Potter’s mumbled response.

“Don’t be so sure, Agent Crowe.”

Return here next week for another Wicked Wednesday installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Five will be posted on September 28th

A Murder of Crows (Part Three of Nine)

Posted in Free Fiction, Occult Detective Genre, Wolfe & Crowe with tags , , , , , on September 14, 2011 by cairnwood

An excerpt from Descendant
Available now from Belfire Press

THREE

Martin Crowe’s attention was focused on the mosquito that had landed on the back of his hand. He watched as it became fat with his blood, only partially annoyed by the subtle itch that tingled from where its proboscis penetrated his flesh. The insect began to convulse and the blood seeped out from its fractured abdomen before falling away, twitching in silent agony, at the agent’s feet. He knew that the female mosquito drew blood from its victim to supplement their diet with much needed iron and protein as a part of their reproductive process. What this particular mosquito didn’t know, didn’t sense, was that his blood wasn’t the nourishing kind. Moral of the story? Stick your nose in where it doesn’t belong and you end up dead. That was something that Martin Crowe was more than aware of.

“It looks like Dispatch was right about this one.”

Crowe turned his attention to his partner who was descending the steps of the Hocking County Sheriff’s Office. He admired her and the easy way she had with people, especially the locals. It was something he struggled with, preferring to lose himself in the work itself. She had a knack for looking them dead in the eye and telling them exactly what they wanted to hear. She had charm, that was for sure. He, on the other hand, did not.

“Throw enough shit against the wall and some of it’s bound to stick,” he grumbled, fishing out a cigarette from his inner pocket. As a Special Agent attached to the FBI’s Paranormal Operations Division, one of the hardest things for him to swallow was the way most of their cases were assigned. He had a general distrust of psychics, and depending as heavily as they did on Dispatch to divine paranormal events with their crystal balls and Ouija Boards, or whatever they used to get a line on where the agents would be sent next, didn’t sit well with Martin Crowe. “What are we looking at?”

“On the surface, nothing.” Selina Wolfe joined her partner by their flat black SUV. “We’ve got a twenty year old male missing for forty-eight hours. Not so out of the ordinary, but he was last seen at a Hallowe’en party on the outskirts of town. Plenty of witnesses to his being there. He snuck off with a local girl and hasn’t been seen since.”

“She a suspect?”

“Sheriff doesn’t think so. In fact, he’s not concerned at all. Why would he be? The kid in question, William Craft, is a college drop out and has a reputation as a small time drug dealer, moving a little grass and the occasional litany of recreational drugs. Not unlikely for someone like that to just up and move on.”

“So why the red flag from Dispatch?”

“Because he’s not the first young man to go missing a few days before All Hallows in this area. I’d say this has been a fairly common occurrence stretching back at least twenty years, maybe far longer.”

“Ritual sacrifice?”

“It’s got my spider sense tingling.”

“You read too many comic books.”

“You don’t read enough,” she said with a smile.

“So, what’s the plan? Track down his little girlfriend and put the screws to her?” Crowe had a distaste for following leads and questioning suspects, especially young girls. He was generally the heavy and preferred a straight on fight to playing good cop – bad cop, particularly with a bunch of stoned kids who probably didn’t know their asses from a hole in the ground anyway.

“Not yet,” Selina replied, sensing her partner’s frustration. “Interestingly enough, the name Potter came up in the Dispatch file as a possible lead and, lo and behold, the secretary shares with me that if anyone knew what Craft was up to it would be a friend of his named Brian Potter. The sheriff questioned him, but got nowhere.”

“That’s because he doesn’t have our sparkling personalities.” Crowe flipped his spent cigarette butt into the street.

“Exactly,” she said, climbing into the passenger seat of their Grand Cherokee. “If this is ritualistic in nature and William Craft’s been marked as a sacrifice for some sort of Samhain ritual, then we’ve got less than twenty four hours to put a stop to it.”

“Nothing like being under the gun to inspire our best work.” Crowe pulled the Jeep into traffic and made his way down East Second Street, past the typical Italianate façades that were so prevalent throughout these small, Midwestern towns.

Return here next week for another Wicked Wednesday installment of
A Murder of Crows

Chapter Four will be posted on September 21st

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