[Audiobook CASSETTE Library Edition in vinyl case.]
[Read by Paula Christensen]
An illegal immigrant is killed in a hit-and-run on a frozen mountain road in the rich Hollywood resort town of Fairview, Colorado. No one is prosecuted for his death, and his case is quietly forgotten.
Six months later, posing as an illegal immigrant and working as a maid in Fairview, Havana police officer Detective Mercado begins to secretly investigate the shadowy collision that left her father dead. Who killed him? Was it one of the smooth-talking Hollywood types, or a minion of the terrifying county sheriff? And why was her father, a celebrated defector to the United States, hiding in Colorado as the town rat catcher?
Adrian McKinty's live-wire prose crackles with intensity as we follow Mercado through the emotion and violence that lead to a final shocking confrontation.
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ADRIAN MCKINTY was born in Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland. He studied politics and philosophy at Oxford University before moving to America in the early 1990s. Living first in Harlem, New York, he found employment as a construction worker, barman, and bookstore clerk. In 2000 he moved to Denver, Colorado, to become a high school English teacher and it was there that he began writing fiction. His first full-length novel, Dead I Well May Be, was shortlisted for the 2004 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and its sequel, The Dead Yard, was selected as one of the twelve best novels of the year by Publishers Weekly and won the 2007 Audie® Award for Best Thriller/Suspense. In 2008, his debut young adult novel, The Lighthouse Land, was shortlisted for the 2008 Young Hoosier Award and the 2008 Beehive Award. The final novel in the 'Dead' trilogy, The Bloomsday Dead, was longlisted for the 2009 World Book Day Award. In 2009 he moved to Melbourne, Australia, with his wife and two children.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Chapter One Nowhere, WyomingThe frozen lake and the black vacuum sky and the dead man pleading for the return of his remaining days. "There must be some kind of mistake." No. "You've got the wrong guy." No. "You're gonna pay for this." Viejo compañero, I've paid in advance. And before he can come up with any more material I unroll a line of duct tape, cut it, and place it over his mouth. I step away from the car, check back up the trail. Moonlight on the green Park Service hut. Snow on the dogwoods. No new tire tracks. Apart from me and my confederates, no one's been here in days, probably weeks. I close the BMW's trunk and take off my ski mask. He kicks at the side panels with his soles but the muffied protests cease after a couple of minutes. I plunge my left hand into the coat pocket and bring out an orange. I stare at it obsessively for a moment, but the color and the smell are making my head spin. I return it to the coat. "An orange," I say to myself with a smile. I breathe the crisp December air, shiver. I open the driver's-side door. The seat. The key. The heat. I rummage in the bag and find Paco's Mexican cigarettes. I partially close the door and look at the BMW's rocket ship display. Which of these is the clock? Ah, there it is next to the GPS: 6:02 a.m. At least a one-hour wait. We won't go onto the ice until sunup—no point in taking unnecessary risks in the dark. I light the cigarette, inhale the loose, sweet tobacco, and let it coat my lungs. The smoke warms my insides to such an extent that when I exhale I feel empty, scared. I take an almost panicky second breath of air and smoke. Keep it there. Another sad exhalation. Two more iterations but the cumulative effect is the opposite of what I'm expecting, making me jittery, on edge. I turn on the interior light and examine the pack. A comical English explorer in shorts and pith helmet. Faros. Had them before—when I was a teenager Mexican cigarettes were the only affordable luxury you could get. Uncle Arturo managed to find Marlboros, but my father said that Faros and Rivas were just as good. I must be so nervous that I'm way beyond their power to relax me. At the bottom of the Faros packet, there is, however, something that looks like a fat joint. I take it out and sniff it. Grade-A narc from Canada—Paco must have stolen it somehow. Maybe the night of the party. It would be very tempting to light it up, but I should probably save that for after. One of those and I'd be on my ass for hours. I put it away. Check the clock: 6:06 and still as dark as ever. A breeze cuts through the door and I pull it fully closed. In brittle Eurotrash an annoyed disembodied voice tells me to fasten my seatbelt. I try to ignore it but it grows increasingly demented. "Fasten seatbelt, fasten seatbelt, fasten seatbelt." I fool the computer by clicking and quickly unclicking the belt. "Seatbelt secured," the computer sighs with relief. Clock says 6:08. I put the cigarettes in the backpack and kill the headlights. Quick scan through the radio stations. Country. Religious. Country. News. Country. Religious. I nix the radio and max the heat. Nothing to do now but wait. I wait. A gust rustling the tree branches along the ridge. A starlit vapor trail. Kicking from inside the trunk. The radio again, a Nebraska station playing polka. A ten-thousand-watt Jesus station out of Laramie. The kicking stops. I relight the Faros, finish it, wipe my fingerprints from the butt, and throw it out the window. 6:15. I leave the window open and turn everything off. And sit there. Sit. As the day meditates. Time passes and finally a hint of morning in the black distance and above me a blue, distilled silence as night switches off its stars. Here goes. From the passenger's seat I unwrap the ROAD CLOSED—SUBSIDENCE DANGER sign I stole yesterday in Fairview. Won't be enough to fool a ranger from the Park Service but it should keep away any early-morning hunters or ice fishermen. I grab the Smith & Wesson 9mm, get out of the car, and walk back up the trail until I find the aluminum swing gate. In the distance I can see the lights of vehicles on the highway. Big rigs, Greyhound buses, nothing that's coming down here. I duct tape the sign to the top bar of the gate. Hmmm. In the light of day it doesn't look so fantastic but it'll have to do. I drag the gate through the snow, close it, and lock it with the padlock I've specifically brought for this purpose. You're going to need to be pretty determined to come down this road now. I take a few steps to the side and admire my handiwork. Maybe a good idea to get rid of all the footprints. I grab a tree branch and brush over the area on my side of the gate. That's better. Not likely that man or beast is going to come by at this time of the morning, but my business is going to take a while and this should help deter the curious. I wipe away all the tire tracks and footprints until I reach the bend in the road, then I toss the branch and return to the BMW. I get back inside and warm my hands over the vents. 6:36. Better get a move on. I grab the green backpack and put the sledgehammer, the gun, the handcuffs key, the gloves, and the ski mask inside. I get out of the car and close the door. Dawn is a smear on the eastern horizon and light is beginning to illuminate the low clouds in alternating bands of orange and gold. Ok. I shoulder the backpack and walk out onto the lake, bend down and examine the ice. About twenty, thirty millimeters thick. Good enough, I imagine. I trudge back to the car, open the backpack, and put on the gloves and ski mask. A click of the button and the trunk pops open. His eyes are wild, his naked body Pollocked with mud, oil, and paint flecks. His legs covered in yellow bruises. He's been trying to kick open the emergency release lever with his knees. He's having trouble breathing. I see that the duct tape is partially covering his nostrils. The sort of clumsy mistake that could have suffocated him. I rip the tape off his mouth. "Bastard," he says, and spits at me. Save your strength, if I were you, compañero. I lift his legs out and then grab him by the arm and heft him from the trunk onto the embankment. I shove him facedown into the snow, take the knife, and cut through the duct tape at his ankles. I step away from him and remove the Smith & Wesson M&P from my jacket pocket. He gets to his feet, but he can't do anything with his hands still cuffed behind his back. I waggle the gun at him to make sure that he sees it. "Now what?" he says. I point at the lake. "I'm freezing. I want my clothes. I'm freezing to death." I bring the 9mm up to his navel and press it against his bruised stomach. The gun and the ski mask are iconic images of terror. It would take someone of sterner stuff than him to resist this kind of pressure. "All right," he says. I turn him and push him gently in the direction of the lake. He mutters something, shakes his head, and walks through the frozen snow to the lakeshore. His body is pale, almost blue white. And he's a big man. Six foot four, two hundred and fifty pounds, none of it fat. He was a college football player back in the day and he's kept himself in shape. Five miles on the treadmill each morning and rugby training every Wednesday with the Gentlemen of Aspen. More grumbling, and he stops when his soles touch the ice. He hesitates. The snow was full of air and not too frigid but the ice is dry, .at, and sticky. It's cold enough to burn. "What do you want me to do?" I'm about to speak for the first time but the words die on my lips. Not yet. Not yet. I wave him forward. "On this?" I nod and extend the gun. "Ah shit," he says but begins walking. It's full light now. The sun advancing over the plains. The moon a fading scar. Beautiful. The lake. The trees. Frost cry...
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