Justin Gustainis is visiting Dark Faerie Tales with his take on Humpty Dumpty set in his Occult Crimes Unit Investigation series. He has recently released a paperback copy featuring two novellas set in the urban fantasy Quincey Morris series, Morris & Chastain Investigations: Play with Fire & Midnight at the Oasis. Also, Justin will release Known Devil a new Occult Crimes Unit Investigation novel on July 30, 2013 from Angry Robot.
Today’s giveaway is courtesy of Justin Gustainis! One lucky reader will win either a copy of the Morris and Chastain novellas (either print or digital) which are available now — or a copy of Known Devil (either print or digital), which will be available in June.
This is the city – Scranton, Pennsylvania.
It’s a nice place to live, work, and raise a family – if you don’t mind that your next door neighbor is a werewolf, or that the guy down the street works the late shift because he’s a vampire. Yeah, in this world the supernatural is real – and mostly the “supe” community and humans get along okay. But when there’s a crime involving supernaturals – either as perps or victims, I’m the one who gets the call.
My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge.
By the time we got to the parking lot behind Jerry’s Diner, the uniforms had already secured the crime scene. As we approached the yellow tape, the cop standing in front of it pulled it up so we could duck underneath.
“We” is me and my partner, Karl Renfer. Karl’s a vampire – deal with it.
Behind the crime scene tape, the ground was thick with small, jagged pieces of some white material. I tried not to step on any, but it was impossible to avoid them all. Some crunched under my shoes with a sound that made my skin crawl. Beside me, Karl walked silently. No matter what surface is under his feet, he never makes a sound. Sometimes that creeps me out.
Scanlon from Homicide was already there. As a Lieutenant, he doesn’t have to go to crime scenes, but he does anyway – a street cop through and through. It was Homicide who’d notified Occult Crimes that this was a case we might take an interest in. Once I had a look at the crime scene, I realized they’d been right.
“Evening, Scanlon,” I said. It was just past two in the morning. I’ve got enough seniority to avoid the night shift, but I work it because I want to. In Occult Crimes, that’s where the action is. I guess I’m like Scanlon that way. Karl works the night shift because he has no choice.
Scanlon turned slowly. We hadn’t surprised him – hell, with the crunching noises my feet were making, we wouldn’t have surprised a zombie, and they’re half-dead already.
“Markowski,” Scanlon said. Karl just got a nod. I don’t think Scanlon cares for vampires much – but under the Department’s Affirmative Action policies, he has to accept them, like it or not.
“So, who do we got here?” I asked him.
Scanlon consulted the clipboard he was holding. “Dumpty, Humpty E. Looks like he took a tumble from up there.”
Scanlon looked upward, and I followed his gaze. There’s a welding operation next to Jerry’s Diner, and the two businesses are separated by a brick wall that looked to be fifty feet high.
“No wonder he broke up the way he did,” I said. “Jumper?”
“Doesn’t look like it,” Scanlon said. “He didn’t leave a note, and I’ve had some guys from the squad talking to his friends and family. He had a sunny personality, they say – never depressed. Everybody liked him — thought he was a good egg.”
“At least one person didn’t,” Karl said.
“The paramedics couldn’t save him,” I said. It wasn’t a question. If the EMTs had been successful, we wouldn’t be here.
“The King’s Men ambulance service got here just three minutes after the call came in,” Scanlon said. “You know how fast they get around in that special ambulance of theirs.”
“Yeah – it’s got a huge engine,” I said. “Lots of horses.”
“Well, they did what they could for the guy,” Scanlon said. “Paste, tape – even Super Glue. One of the EMTs is a jigsaw puzzle freak, and even he could get the poor bastard back together.”
“Whoever did him in sure knew how to crack an egg,” I said.
“Did the EMTs take anything from the scene with them, Lieutenant?” Karl asked.
Scanlon looked at him for a second, as if deciding whether to answer. “No, not a thing. Why?”
“’Cause I just realized – something’s missing from this crime scene. Something big.”
Scanlon and I looked at each other, and the light seemed to dawn on both of us at the same time.
“There’s no yolk!” I said. “Just a lot of shell.”
“It was so obvious, I never thought of it,” Scanlon said. “We ought to be up to our ankles in the yellow stuff.” He looked at Karl with might have been a little respect. “Good catch, Detective.”
“Did they kill him for the yolk, or was there another motive?” I said. “That’s the big question.”
“Could’ve been a mugging that got out of control,” Scanlon said. “Or maybe some of those anti-cholesterol people – they’ve been getting more militant lately.”
“They’ve never killed anybody before, have they?” Karl said. “Mostly they just protest outside fast-food restaurants.”
“There’s a first time for everything,” Scanlon said. “I’ll have some detectives bring in their head nutritionist for questioning.”
“And we’ll work the supernatural angle,” I said. “See if some witch is running a spell that needs a lot of the yellow stuff as a base ingredient.”
“Sounds good,” Scanlon said. “Let’s keep each other informed.”
“Absolutely,” I said, and Karl and I turned away.
As we got around to the front of Jerry’s Diner I checked my watch – almost 2:30.
“About time for our break,” I said to Karl. “And it looks like Jerry’s running a special.”
“Scrambled Egg Buffet!” the sign in the window read. “All You Can Eat, $2.99!”
“Okay with me,” Karl said, “but you know I can’t touch that stuff. They got anything for vamps in there?”
“Of course,” I said. “All the restaurants do, these days.”
Karl shrugged his big shoulders. “I guess we could kick back for a little while, maybe see if we can figure out this case.”
“Good idea,” I said to him. “Come on – I’ll buy you a blood.”
This fractured fairy tale is set in the universe of my “Haunted Scranton” novels, Hard Spell, Evil Dark, and the forthcoming Known Devil. It’s a world in which all the supernatural creatures of your nightmares are real – vampires, werewolves, witches, demons, all of them. Mostly, the “supernaturals” and humans live together amicably. But when there’s a problem, Detective Sergeant Stan Markowski of the Occult Crimes Division is the one who gets the call.
Justin Gustainis was born in Northeast Pennsylvania in 1951. He attended college at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university that figures prominently in several of his writings.
After earning both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the US Army. Following military service, he held a variety of jobs, including speechwriter and professional bodyguard, before earning a PhD at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.
Mr Gustainis currently lives in Plattsburgh, New York. He is a Professor of Communication at Plattsburgh State University, where he earned the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2002. His academic publications include the book American Rhetoric and the Vietnam War, published in 1993, and a number of scholarly articles that hardly anybody has ever read. His popular series of urban fantasy novels featuring investigator Quincey Morris and his partner “white” witch Libby Chastain include Evil Ways, Black Magic Woman, Sympathy for the Devil and the two novella collection Play with Fire/Midnight at the Oasis.
Want to read more from Justin Gustainis?
This giveaway is provided by Justin Gustainis
Winner’s Choice Giveaway! One lucky reader will win either a copy of the Morris and Chastain Investigations: Play with Fire & Midnight at the Oasis novellas (either print or digital) which are available now — or a copy of Known Devil (either print or digital), which will be available in June
Available March 26, 2013 from Solaris
About this Book:
Two occult investigations featuring the much-loved urban fantasy sleuths Quincy Morris & Libby Chastain.In Play With Fire houses of worship are burning around the U.S. From churches, to synagogues, to mosques. Usually while the places are full of people. Initially dismissed as random acts of violence, Morris and Chastain uncover the deadly meaning behind the fires, and the terrifying cause they seek to serve.
In Midnight at the Oasis Middle Eastern terrorists have conjured a deadly djin that will lay waste to America — unless Morris and Chastain can stop it first.
Available July 30, 2013 from Angry Robot
About this Book:
My name’s Markowski. I carry a badge. Also, a crucifix, some wooden stakes, a big vial of holy water, and a 9mm Beretta loaded with silver bullets.
A new supernatural gang is intent on invading Scranton – as if I didn’t have enough to contend with!
Supernatural gang warfare? Not on my watch!
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