Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Bad Karma excerpt

When Bad Karma was released in hardcover in 2009, Booklist had this to say about it:

Detective Bill Shannon, introduced in Bad Thoughts (2007), is back, and a welcome return it is. Relocated from Boston to Boulder, Shannon has fled the Boston PD for a low-stress lifestyle, picking up a little work on the side as a private eye. But despite his efforts to find psychic and psychological peace of mind after his horrific encounter with Herbert Winters, the demonic serial killer from the earlier novel, Shannon discovers that putting distance between himself and the old evils doesn’t help him escape the new evils. Zeltserman weaves together elements of both mystery and horror genres, as Shannon again finds himself confronting the darkness that roams the boundary beyond one’s physical senses. It’s as though Zeltserman has aimed a 12-gauge sawed-off at smarmy New Age sensitivities and fired off both barrels. Irony abounds, as Shannon unmasks deviant gurus, evil yoga studios, Russian gangsters, and guys who use their baseball implements in socially unacceptable ways. If you liked the first novel in this series, you’ll love this one. — Elliott Swanson

Now Bad Karma is back in e-book form, and from time to time I'll be posting short excerpt's from my Boulder-based hardboiled PI novel.


The house was barely a shack, probably no more than four rooms. A chain link fence surrounded the property, the yard mostly dirt mixed with a few weeds. Tires, a stove from the fifties, and a worn-out looking sofa were sitting in the front yard. As Shannon made his way up the walk to the door, a yellow and white pitbull mix charged out from under the sofa. When the dog got close to Shannon, it threw itself at him, but a chain around the neck snapped it back. The dog let out a yelp, then was back on its feet, frothing at the mouth and nearly airborne as it tried to get at Shannon’s throat.

Shannon eyed the dog cautiously and edged away from it. The front door opened and a kid, maybe eighteen, wearing a stained sleeveless muscle shirt and shorts that fell past his knees stepped out. He was thin and had a squirrelly look about him, with long greasy blond hair, bad skin and eyes that were too small and set too close together. His sleeveless shirt showed off greenish-colored tattoos on his pale and nearly skeleton-thin arms. Even though he had none of Taylor Carver’s good looks, Shannon could tell that they were brothers.

Randall Carver gave Shannon a quick look, then focused on the dog, yelling at it to shut up. “Buttercup, shut the fuck up!” he warned a second time. To Shannon’s surprise, especially given the frenzy the dog had worked herself into, she listened to him, cocking her head to one side as she paid full attention to the kid. Randall looked back at Shannon. “Who are you?” he asked.

“My name’s Bill Shannon. I’d like to talk to Eunice Carver. Is she home?”

“What do you want to talk to my ma about?”

Shannon walked towards the front door, stopping when he got a few feet from Randall. Up close, the younger Carver smelled like a mix of sweat and bad cheese. The kid’s eyes darted from left to right as if he were trying to make up his mind whether to stand his ground or flee.

“I’m investigating Taylor’s murder,” Shannon said. From behind he could hear Buttercup growl.

“Are you a cop?”

“I’m a private detective. You’re his brother, Randall, aren’t you?” Almost as if his head were attached to some invisible string, the kid nodded. “I’d like to talk to you also,” Shannon said. “Is your mom home?”

“Let me see.” Randall stuck his head into the house and yelled, “Ma, there’s a guy here wants to talk to you!”

A woman’s voice yelled back, “What about?”

“Taylor. He’s some sort of private eye.”

There was a silence within the house. Then, “Tell him I’m busy!”

Randall turned to Shannon and smiled, revealing teeth that were the color of chewing tobacco. “My ma’s too busy to talk with you,” he said. “And so am I.”

“That’s too bad. I would’ve thought the two of you would want to help find the person who murdered your brother. This won’t look good when your lawsuit goes to court.”

“How do you know about ma’s lawsuit?”

“I’d like to tell you, but you’re too busy to talk now.” Shannon turned and started towards his car, making sure to give Buttercup a wide berth. Randall stuck his head back in the door, yelled, “He says you not talking won’t look good with the lawsuit!”

“How does he know about that?”

“He won’t say!”

“Goddamn it!” There was a long silence that was broken only by Buttercup’s growling, then, “Tell him I’ll talk.”

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