Baker Street Inquisitor
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The Conway Cases Series-Book Two
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Alternate History/Noir
Tags: Urban fantasy, alternate history, noir, Werewolves, vampires, inquisitor, terrorist, Sydney, journalist,
Release: August 31, 2012
Cover Designer: Delilah K. Stephans
Conway Cave has got everything except the girl, but he's learned to live with that, filling the gaping hole that Sonya Romney left behind with six years of alcohol and other women. He's the youngest Grand Inquisitor ever to sit on the throne of the Sydney Holy Office, the city's top dog. He's popular, according to The Star Observer's latest polls. He has “friends” in all the worst places.
And an illegitimate son, Michael, for whom he would do anything.
Soon, he'll have to.
When Michael is kidnapped for ransom and hostage exchange by rabid werewolf terrorists, Conway breaks every rule in the book to ensure the boy's safe return, rekindling his relationship with Sonya along the way.
However, Conway's plan to make the werewolves pay goes awry. It's only a matter of time before his boss the Lord Inquisitor General finds out about his misdeeds, and the clock is ticking fast...
Monday, 26 August, First Quarter 49.6% illuminated
“See you tomorrow,” Michael told the bus driver.
“That you will, scallywag, that you will.”
The boy stepped off the bus, shouldered his schoolbag, and took a sip from his bottle of ginger beer while the bus turned away from the kerb. A trail of rust-coloured dust wagged behind it like a tail as it rumbled off down the long empty road cutting through the bush, the fields, and meadows. It was a cold, sunny day. Michael took a dark-blue knitted beanie out of his bag, which Sonya had bought for him in Catacomba, and pulled it over his head and ears. Then, following in the bus’s direction, he set off on the fifteen-minute walk home. Five minutes later he paused in his ambling to pick up a stick and whip the weeds fringing the footpath. He sipped his ginger beer. The brown glass bottle glinted in the afternoon sun. He was thinking about the bottle, about how he was going to add it to his growing collection when he got home, so he didn’t notice the brown Datsun Bluebird sedan nosing out between the scrub and a couple of gum trees across the road until the car slowed to a creep beside him.
Michael looked askance at the car, and kept walking.
A man in the passenger seat wound down the squeaky window, stuck a street directory out, and opened it with hairy hands and long fingernails to a pair of pages marked with a frayed red ribbon. Michael knew, from the stories Conway told him when Sonya was out of earshot, and from leafing through books in the school library, that the man was a lycanthrope and his fingernails were like a lady’s because he hadn’t clipped them after the last full moon.
The lycanthrope said, “Hello there, youngster. Can you help me and my girlfriend here find Cave Inn Lane?”
Sonya had drilled Michael on stranger danger. He shook his head at the man, thwacked a clump of dandelions with his stick, and quickened his pace to a speed-walk.
The Datsun kept up.
“Hasn’t your mother taught you any manners? Be a good boy and help a bloke out.” The lycanthrope’s hooked fingernail stabbed at something on the map, the car all the time creeping alongside the boy, tyres crackling the grit of the road. “You live in these parts don’t you? We’re not from around here.”
“Don’t talk to strangers,” Michael mumbled, scowling at his own skinny shadow sliding over the ground ahead of him. “Don’t know where that lane is anyway. Told you so.”
“My name’s Rea,” the driver called out. “Lucy Rea—and my mate here’s Wally. Tell us yours and we won’t be strangers anymore, eh?”
Michael pretended not to hear her. He didn’t like her pretend-cheerful voice.
“Youngster, hey, youngster,” said Wally. “You look mighty familiar to me. I reckon I’m a mate of your dad’s. He wouldn’t happen to be the Grand Inquisitor down in Sydney, now, would he?”
Michael stopped and turned his face to the car, squinting at it in the harsh cold sun. “You’re a werewolf,” he said, deliberately using his father’s word over the preferred “lycanthrope.”
“So you can’t be a mate of my dad’s.”
Wally closed the street directory, pulled it back into the shadowy Datsun, and replaced it with a snub-nosed revolver that he pointed at him. “Yeah, thought I sniffed a resemblance.” His thumb cocked the hammer. “You look a lot like His esteemed Eminence Conway Cave.” In the lycanthrope’s hairy fist the revolver twitched toward the car’s back door. “Get in, and don’t try anything clever, buggerlugs, or I’ll blow your brains out.”
Michael’s stick and ginger beer fell out of his hands. The bottle thudded against the footpath, leaking frothing liquid into the dirt around his school shoes. His teeth began to chatter, and his hands, hanging numb and limp at his sides, shook uncontrollably as he stared down the stubby barrel of the gun.
“In,” the werewolf barked.
Michael couldn’t make himself move, even though his brain was screaming at him to run, to fall back into the scrub and cut through the bush to his property—never mind the killer snakes and spiders.
“Get him,” said Rea. “Little bastard’s wetting himself.”
Sonya Romney rushed between the two gargoyle guards into the coldly ultraviolet lobby of the Holy Office, tried to take the lift straight up to the Grand Inquisitor’s penthouse, but was thwarted by a young apprentice inquisitor.
“Madam, ah, madam.” The bulletproof glass door snapped against the wall when the apprentice bolted out of his cubicle, skidding across the marble floor toward her, the snow-white hood of his black robe billowing from his shoulders. “You can’t just go where you please around here. You’ll have to come with me to reception and sign the visitors’ book first, explain the nature of your visit.”
“I need to see Conway Cave immediately.”
The apprentice’s sparse blond eyebrows sprang up to his hairline before plunging into a scowl. “Well, His Eminence doesn’t allow walk-ins. You need to make an appointment.”
“I don’t need an appointment. Just tell him Sonya Romney is here.”