Welcome to the first of two launch parties I’ll be having here at Bitten By Books this summer! (The second will be in a couple of weeks, for a release coming out under my real name, David B. Coe.) I want to thank Rachel and Bitten By Books for hosting me again this year. This is my fourth year with an event on the site and I’m really pleased to be back.
Dead Man’s Reach, the fourth book in my Thieftaker Chronicles, was released this past Tuesday by Tor Books. Dead Man’s Reach follows Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, and A Plunder of Souls, and continues the adventures of Ethan Kaille, a conjurer and thieftaker (the 18th century equivalent of a private detective) living in pre-Revolutionary Boston. Each book in the series is a stand alone mystery set against the backdrop of some key event leading toward the American Revolution. In past volumes I’ve blended my fictional murder mysteries with the Stamp Act riots, the arrival of occupying British troops in Boston, and even a small pox epidemic. But Dead Man’s Reach is special. It’s the book I anticipated writing from the very moment I first had the inspiration for this series. The novel begins in February 1770, on the eve of the first killing tied directly to the conflicts between Crown loyalists and those rebels who called themselves patriots. And the book ends a couple of weeks later, just after the bloody shooting known in American history as the Boston Massacre.
I have a Ph.D. in history, and I’ve been writing fantasy novels for nearly twenty years. From the beginning the Thieftaker books have been a geek-fest for me, allowing me to combine my two passions — history and fantasy — in a way I never envisioned all those years ago when I first went off to graduate school. As soon as I started work on the Thieftaker series, I knew that I would close the cycle (or at least this arc in the Ethan Kaille tales) with the Boston Massacre. It was, in many respects, the first truly searing event in American history, and one of the defining moments of the pre-Revolutionary era.
The events leading to the shootings on King Street, were incredibly complex. One of the great challenges of writing this book was blending all the historical details necessary to convey the weight of the moment with my fictional narrative in a way that told both history’s story and mine in coherent ways. I’m proud of the final product and I hope you enjoy it, too.
If you haven’t yet started reading the Thieftaker series, shame on you! Just kidding. Sort of . . . You can begin with Dead Man’s Reach, or you can go back and pick up the earlier volumes. Whatever you choose to do, if you enjoy mystery, magic, a touch of romance, and history with an attitude, you’re going to love Ethan Kaille and his adventures.
Buy a print copy of Dead Man’s Reach from Amazon by clicking here. Buy a Kindle copy of Dead Man’s Reach from Amazon by clicking here.
Excerpt fromDead Man’s Reach:
“Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, February 21, 1770
Ethan Kaille slipped through shadows, stepping from one snow-crusted cobble to the next with the care of a thief. He held a knife in one hand, his fingers numb with cold. The other hand he trailed along the side of a brick building, steadying himself as a precaution against the uncertain footing.
Dim pools of light spilled onto the street from candlelit windows. Flakes of snow dusted his coat and hat, and melted as they brushed against his face. Every breath produced a billow of vapor, rendering his concealment spell all but useless.
The air was still–a small mercy on a night as cold as this one–and a deep silence had settled over Boston, like a thick woolen blanket. Even the harbor, her waters frozen near to shore, and placid where they remained open, offered not a sound. In the hush that enveloped the city, Ethan’s steps seemed as loud as musket fire.
Will Pryor, who had stolen several gemmed necklaces and bracelets from the home of a merchant in the North End, lived here on Lindal’s Lane, in a room above a farrier’s shop. Ethan had followed the man for two days, and though he’d not yet seen the jewels in Pryor’s hands, he had little doubt but that the pup still possessed them, and was merely biding his time until he could sell them without drawing undue attention to himself. Ethan was determined to keep him from finding a buyer. He feared, though, that the uneven sound of his footsteps would be enough to wake Pryor from a sound slumber, much less alert the thief to his approach.
Ethan reached the worn wooden stairway leading up to Pryor’s room and began to climb, wincing at every creak, eyeing the window, which glowed faintly. It wasn’t until he heard the murmur of voices, however, that he thought to examine the steps with more care. Leaning forward, squinting in the murky light, he felt his stomach clench.
Footprints in the snow. Several pairs.
Seconds later, an all too familiar voice called out, “Come and join us, Ethan. We’ve been waiting for you.”
“Damnit!” he muttered, teeth clenched.
He kept still, snow settling on his shoulders, and he pondered his options. Realizing that he had none, he pushed up his sleeve, cut his arm, and whispered an incantation to remove his concealment spell.
A glowing figure appeared beside him, russet like a newly risen moon, with eyes as bright as flames. He was the ghost of an ancient warrior, tall, lean, dour, and dressed in chain mail and a tabard bearing the leopards of England’s ancient kings. He was also Ethan’s spectral guide, the wraith of an ancient ancestor who allowed Ethan access to the power that dwelt at the boundary between the living world and the realm of the dead. For years, Ethan had called the ghost Uncle Reg after Reginald Jerill, his mother’s waspish brother, of whom the ghost reminded him.
Reg regarded Ethan with an expression that bespoke both amusement and disapproval.
“I didn’t know she was here,” Ethan said.
Reg scowled, as if to say, No, but you should have.
Ethan could hardly argue. For years, Sephira Pryce, the so-called Empress of the South End, Boston’s most infamous and successful thieftaker, had been interfering with his inquiries, swooping in at the last moment to take for herself items he had been hired to recover, stealing his clients and with them the finder’s fees they paid. She reveled in tormenting him, although most times she seemed content to taunt and ridicule. On occasion, she set her toughs on him, allowing them to beat Ethan to a bloody mess. And every now and then, she threatened to let them kill him, and dump his body in the leas of Boston’s Common.
That she and her men had reached Pryor first, should have come as no surprise at all.
“Don’t stand out there pouting, Ethan. It’s only a few pounds. Mister Wells should never have gone to you in the first place. A man of means, of culture. He should have been mine.”
Ethan glanced at Reg. “I’d gladly pay a few pounds if it meant a moment’s peace and an end to her mocking.”
Reg grinned and faded from view. Ethan cut his arm again before climbing to the top of the stairway and pushing open Pryor’s door.
Three of Sephira’s men stood before him, blocking his way. One of them, a brute named Afton, was as large as a British frigate and almost as welcoming. He had dark, stringy hair and a broad, homely face. Next to him, smaller, also dark-haired, stood Nap, a flintlock pistol in his hand, full-cocked and aimed at Ethan’s heart.
The third man held a blade instead of a pistol. He had pushed up the sleeve on his left arm; a trickle of blood ran from a cut on his forearm, twin to the gash Ethan had carved into his own skin. Gaspar Mariz was a conjurer like Ethan, and though in private conversations he had declared himself Ethan’s friend, he still answered to Sephira. Ethan had no doubt that if she ordered him to kill Ethan with a spell, he would attempt it. He stared at Ethan, his expression grim, the lenses of his spectacles catching the light of a candle so that they appeared opaque.
Behind these three, were three others. Will Pryor, lanky, youthful, with yellow hair and dark eyes, sat in a chair, blood seeping from his nose and split lip, as well as from a raw wound on his temple. He watched Ethan, clearly uncertain as to whether his arrival presaged an escape from his predicament or a worsening of it. Another brute loomed over him: Gordon, as big and as ugly as Afton. And beside these two, a look of smug satisfaction on her lovely face, stood Sephira.”
About D. B. Jackson
David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the award-winning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, which was released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, comes out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.Connect with D. B.
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