It must be the Apocalypse. It’s raining non-stop in LA — hard enough to flood the streets and send the mundys running for higher ground. It’s raining angel blood Downtown, in Hell, as war rages up above in Heaven. And Stark — aka Sandman Slim, everyone’s favorite half-angel and former Lucifier — is actually working for the Man. Again.
Only now, the Vigil’s got him chasing people who are involved in worshiping the nasty and grotesque old Gods, left over from the strange universe that preceded ours. It seems the Angra Om Ya are taking advantage of the current metaphysical upheaval to try and get back into the game. And there’s no shortage of magical idiots willing to help them, if the carnage Stark’s encountering is any indication. Read more…
Deep in the bowels of Staten Maximum Security Prison, a saint sits in his cell — healing others while harming himself.
His name is Sonny, and the prisoners love him. They say he has healing hands, and can absolve you of your sins. He’s good to talk to, mostly because he just listens.
He just sits and watches with those eyes.
The corrupt prison hierarchy loves him, too, but for different reasons. He’s willing to take the rap for murders that take place outside of the prison walls in exchange for heroin. Killings their equally-corrupt friends need swept out of their zone of blame, and into someone else’s.
Someone who’s happy to take others sins onto himself.
Sonny is in his thirties. He’s spent over a decade rotting in prison, expecting nothing but junk for blame, convinced he deserves this, somehow.
But then someone comes to confess something to him — something that changes everything — and then Sonny is gone. He pulls off a daring escape from the prison he’s called home, and the people who’ve been using him to cover up their murders.
And then he starts to kill people for real.
Some time ago, Jimm Juree was an up-and-coming crime reporter for Chiang Mai’s paper of record, and felt that she was going places. Unfortunately, her mother had other ideas on the destination, and packed most of their odd and contentious family down to the southernmost part of Thailand — there to manage a dilapidated holiday resort in Maprao for reasons known only to her. Since then, Jimm’s writing has consisted of English translation, counter-scamming online charlatans, and the occasional fluff piece for the local rag.
Given that she’d much rather be writing about crime, death, and other mysterious happenings, one might think that it’s a good thing that the world seems intent on sending them her way. Unfortunately, this has the habit of making her a target — something she’s had some experience with by now. But she at least has the consolation that, if her wits can’t keep her ahead of the perpetrators, at least her contentious family has her back.
Which is a good thing, right about now, as what started as a fluff piece — interviewing a European author who’s settled in their neck of the woods — has percolated into a potentially deadly mystery.
When Junior Bender was a young man, just starting his criminal career, he had an on-the-job run-in with an older, more experienced burglar: the one and only Herbie Mott. The guy could have just told Junior to scram, or else set him up for a fall, but for some reason he took the kid under his wing. And, over time, he taught the up-and-coming crook the tricks of his trade, both practical and esoteric, and become something of father figure to Bender — maybe the only real father he had, as things would turn out.
But the long and short of it is that Bender knows Herbie pretty darn well, as there’s a lot of the old man’s style in him. So when “executive crook” Wattles (of the many blow-up dolls) shows up at Bender’s hotel room, creepy hitman in tow, and “asks” him to find out who broke into his office — or else prove it wasn’t him — he’s got a pretty good idea who was actually responsible.
Problem is, when he goes to ask Herbie what he thought he was doing, he finds the old man dead — murdered quite painfully, in fact. Read more…