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Inquisitor Blues

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Emotions unite; ideas divide. A maverick inquisitor finds what he wants is absolutely not what he needs.
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Author: Cin Eric
Description

Book One in The Conway Cases series

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Alternate History

Release: October 28, 2011

Editor: Annie Duguid

Line editor: Greta Gunselman

Cover artist: Delilah K. Stephans

Words: 76408

Pages: 222

ISBN: 978-1-927361-03-0

Price: $5.95


Back Cover:

Conway Cave’s job requires him to be bedfellows with a Browning Hi-Power, to seize heretics and confessions using any means necessary.

He is an inquisitor for the Sydney branch of the Holy Office. Nearing the end of a long sick leave he calls a “holiday,” he's recovering from a werewolf assault and avoiding Sonya Romney—friend-with-benefits, gossip columnist—in an attempt to ignore his growing feelings for her.

But when his partner is imprisoned by the Grand Inquisitor for conspiring with a werewolf terrorist, Conway suspects the Grand Inquisitor of a cover-up and goes against the Holy Office to prove it. This means scraping together allies fast, without the Grand Inquisitor and his gargoyle spies catching on.

To protect his friends, Conway has to hunt down the so-called terrorist and expose two sex scandals entangling the Grand Inquisitor and a high-profile bishop. Conway enlists Sonya's investigative prowess, promising her a front-page scoop, and makes a protective pact with a vampire underworld figure. But his partner's wife is making desperate deals of her own.

As Conway falls in love with Sonya, and the Grand Inquisitor sets a killer trap, how will he be able to follow his heart without getting his brains blown out?


Excerpt:

There was a heavy flap flap flap of displaced air, and then the demon-like outline of a gargoyle glided over the chimney and dived down toward him with the finesse of a rock ejected from a catapult.

Conway stepped backward, getting the fence behind his back while the gargoyle landed six feet away from him with a crunch of stone on bitumen. It was one of the pair he’d seen perched on the balcony at the front of the house. It had a human face, a lion’s body of chiselled muscles that sweated glittering rain under the moonlight, and eagle wings draped like a cloak over its forelegs. Standing up on its hind legs made it taller than Conway, and from its paws retractable claws of sharpened granite blades extended several inches and flexed.

Conway glanced into the gargoyle’s black hole of a mouth and was about to give it his badge number and tell it to piss off when a second gargoyle swept over the rooftops and crash-landed, surrounding him. Identical twins. How touching.

Conway pulled back his coat and slipped his gloved hand under his shirttail and closed it over the grip of his pistol. For all the good it’ll do me. You needed a shotgun loaded with yellows to give a gargoyle grief. A handgun wouldn’t make it think twice about attacking. “I’m Inquisitor four-seven-nought-two-two,” he told the pair. “Surely you’ve been briefed.”

The gargoyles took a step closer, said nothing.

“Didn’t you hear me, gargoyles? Maybe you’ve got silt between your ears?”

“We’ve orders from higher up, mate,” said the first, belching the words up from the bottom of a deep, dry well.

Conway squinted, sneered, “And what are your orders exactly?”

“To take you in, see? No hard feelings and all. This is strictly business.”

“Yeah, we’ll be given extra pigeons for this. Don’t struggle and we won’t cut you too much.”

There was only one man in Sydney with the authority and power to order a gargoyle to harm an inquisitor: Rudolph Grint. Surprised? Hardly.

Conway quick-drew his Hi-Power and shot out the second gargoyle’s eyes.

It roared like a landslide. “I’m blind, I’m blind!”

Conway turned tail and ran.

His coat caught the air like a sail, spreading out and slowing him down, the gunmetal-grey lining reflecting the moonlight. He felt a warning prickle on his nape. The skin on his spine crawled. He threw a half-glance over his shoulder in time to see the first gargoyle gliding over him. Oh, fuck. Fuckfuckfuck.

Conway aimed and emptied his magazine into it.

Through blue after-images of muzzle-flash and chipped off bits of gargoyle, he saw its paws swipe down in an attempt to scoop him up off his feet. The claws sliced into his back and sent him sprawling. He dived into a jarring roll, teeth rattling upon impact when his shoulder connected hard with the road, and then leaped up into a sprint. Head down, legs pumping like pistons, combat boots thudding against bitumen and smashing through puddles, he had to put as much distance between himself and the fucking airborne knife-set as he could before it plunged after him again.

Fenced backyards turned into buildings, streaming past on either side. High brick walls, steaming air vents, barred windows, some of them lit from within. He reloaded in mid-run, pocketing the empty magazine, smacking in a full one and racking the slide. No doors, no doors. Nowhere to hide. He had to get off the streets, go underground. Reaching the lane’s end, he charged into the side street, soles skidding when he threw his body weight left into the corner and kept pounding up the wet road. His lungs were on fire, wheezing, sucking in air through a straw.

A piece of newsprint cartwheeled past in front of his path. He thought of Sonya briefly, really hoped he’d see her again. Yellow electric light was filtering through a screen door set into a brick building up ahead. Flying up the three concrete steps, Conway tried the handle, shot off the lock and barged through into a bakehouse. The scent of baking bread and sweat overwhelmed him. The place was hot and humid. Bare light bulbs hung from a pressed tin ceiling, making the clouds of flour in the air shimmer. Big black ovens lined the walls, churning out breads, pies, pasties, pastries, biscuits. Several people, dressed in white aprons, overalls and hairnets, stood frozen, eyes round and aghast, jaws slack with shock.

“Inquisition,” Conway panted, waving his handgun.

White-hot pain blazed down his back as stars became supernovae in front of his vision.

Swallowing a groan and gritting his teeth, he turned back to the entrance he’d just barged through, imagining a gargoyle blocking the exit to the street. The flimsy screen door was still hanging on by a hinge. The street outside appeared dim and deserted. Somebody had chocked the industrial door open with a brick. Conway kicked the brick aside and tried to slam the door; it hit something rock-hard a few inches short of the jamb, and then a big stone paw shot through the gap and reached for him, its claws snipping like garden shears. He lifted his left forearm on instinct like a shield, fired into the gargoyle’s face, and felt the sting of five granite knives cutting into his flesh. Shouts. Bellowing. The bakers swarmed around him in a frenzy of flour and panic, all pushing and shoving the door shut. Someone slammed the bolts. The door continued to shudder in its frame as the gargoyle rammed into it repeatedly from outside, and Conway took advantage of the confusion to slip out through the front door, stealing a white cotton apron on his way out.

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