Karen Marie Moning raves that Stacia Kane “delivers dark, sexy urban fantasy at its finest.” Now Kane introduces her most addictive antihero yet: a Las Vegas PI who makes his own luck—and embodies everything that’s oh-so-right with Sin City.
A lot of bad hands get dealt in Vegas, but E. L. Speare may be holding one of the worst: He’s cursed with the need to commit sins, and if he misses his daily quota, there’s hell to pay—literally. Fortunately, his hometown affords him plenty of chances to behave badly.
But Speare’s newest case really has him going out on a limb. The right-hand man of a notorious crime boss has been found dead in a Dumpster—minus his right hand, not to mention the rest of his arm. What catches Speare’s attention, however, is that the missing appendage was severed clean by a demon-sword, a frighteningly powerful tool of the underworld.
Speare’s out of his element, so he turns to a specialist: Ardeth Coyle, master thief, dealer in occult artifacts, and bona fide temptress. Ardeth’s hotter than a Las Vegas sidewalk on the Fourth of July, but she’s one sin Speare has to resist.
The dismembered corpses are piling up, unimaginable evil lurks in the shadows, and if this odd couple hopes to beat the odds, Speare needs to keep his hands off Ardeth, and his head in the game.
The home of Lazaro Doretti sat way back from the road, hidden by a stucco wall and a row of trees. The wall and trees, in turn, hid a couple of guard posts, with armed men watching the street and the wide green lawn. Two towers at opposite ends of the sprawling cream-colored mansion held more guards and guns and a direct line to a private “security company” that was more like an army. It was a hell of a setup, really, one the vast majority of people wouldn’t be able to afford. One Lazaro Doretti wouldn’t have been able to afford if he’d been the honest businessman he claimed to be.
Speare hit his brakes and rolled his window down at the wrought-iron gate, ready to identify himself to the video camera there, but the gate was already swinging open. Not unusual, really, but given what his mother had said, it probably wasn’t a good sign.
He nudged his old Dart up the curving driveway and stopped right in front of the house’s columned entrance. Statues of nymphs and satyrs—the usual pretentiousness, with some extra mysticism to reflect Lazaro’s devotion to the Old Magics—flanked the double doors. Just like the two thickset men in pale bulletproof-vest-concealing suits did.
Speare nodded at them. “Hey, Artie. Sylvio.”
Sylvio gave him a curt nod in return—probably still pissed about losing a hundred bucks to him in a pickup poker game the week before—but Artie offered a subdued smile as he opened the door. “He’s waiting for you in the kitchen. Hope you’re hungry.”
“That bad, huh?”
Artie’s smile faded. “Bad news. Bad news, man. He’s cooking up a feast in there.”
Shit. That probably meant carting home a load of Tupperware before he hit the Strip later. Like he had time to waste on that, when he hadn’t committed anything that could be considered a sin in—oh, no, he’d lied to his mother. It was only a venial sin, but it might give him an extra hour or two before the beast in his head started getting grumpy.
And that hadn’t even been a beast-avoiding lie. He just hated telling his mother the truth. About anything. “What happened?”
Artie shook his head. “Oughta hear it from him. I ain’t sure of the details. But it’s bad news.”
“Probably that bastard Fallerstein,” Sylvio said. “I bet he’s behind it.”
Fallerstein. If that was why Lazaro had called him . . . damn it, he’d told the old man before that he didn’t want to get involved in his mob bullshit. Not involved like that, at least.
Artie and Sylvio didn’t need to hear that, though. “Well, I guess I’ll find out, huh?”
“I guess you will,” Artie said, patting him on the back as he crossed the threshold. “In the kitchen.”
Stacia Kane has been a phone psychic, a customer-service representative, a bartender, and a movie theater usher, and she thinks that writing is more fun than all of them combined. She wears a lot of black, still makes great cocktails, likes to play music loud in the car, and thinks that Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made. She believes in dragons and the divine right of kings, and is a fervent Ricardian. Kane lives in England with her husband and their two little girls.