Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Blog Tour Excerpt & Giveaway - Graveyard Shift by Michael F. Haspil



Graveyard Shift
Author: Michael F. Haspil
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Tor Books (July 18, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765379627
ISBN-13: 978-0765379627

Book Description:
Police procedurals go supernatural in this gritty urban fantasy debut

Alex Menkaure, former pharaoh and mummy, and his vampire partner, Marcus, who was born in ancient Rome, once hunted evil vampires for UMBRA, a super-secret unit of the NSA. That was before the discovery of a blood substitute and a Supreme Court ruling allowed thousands of vampires to integrate into society.

Now, Alex and Marcus are vice cops in a special police unit. They fight to keep the streets safe from criminal vampires, shape-shifters, blood-dealers, and anti-vampire vigilantes.

When someone starts poisoning the artificial blood, race relations between vampires and humans deteriorate to the brink of anarchy. While the city threatens to tear itself apart, Alex and Marcus must form an unnatural alliance with a vigilante gang and a shape-shifter woman in a desperate battle against an ancient vampire conspiracy.

If they succeed, they'll be pariahs, hunted by everyone. If they fail, the result will be a race-war bloodierthan any the world has ever seen.

Buy Links:
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Praise for GRAVEYARD SHIFT
“Gritty urban fantasy and hard-boiled noir packed into a hand grenade of awesome!” —Mario Acevedo, author of Werewolf Smackdown

“Those who enjoy police action mixed with urban fantasy may want to try this series launch.”—Library Journal, starred review

“The buddy-cop formula gets an undead twist with Alex—also known as the pharaoh Menkaure, reanimated to carry out an eternal duty—and Marcus, his vampiric colleague, who serve as cops in a special paranormal unit. Between the two of them, they have several thousand years' worth of superpowersand martial aptitude. The action is gritty, cinematic, and unrelenting...the worldbuilding is intriguing (as a figure drawn from Egyptian mythos, Alex injects fresh blood into undead tropes), and the reader runs no chance of growing bored during the tense race to the finish, in which a confrontation with an old enemy lays the groundwork for a potential sequel. Fans of urban fantasy, noir, and tightly choreographed action scenes will enjoy the blood and bullets in this adrenaline-heavy ride through crime scenes and secret societies.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Inventive and cleverly crafted with a unique premise, Haspil's urban fantasy is absolutely gripping. With strong, intelligent storytelling, distinctive, vivid characters, and gritty, edgy dialogue, Haspil will capture readers. Alex is a compelling, powerful hero and Marcus, his partner, is astrong and enthralling counterpart. With an intricate plot filled with actionand intrigue, Haspil lends a fresh voice to urban fantasy with his exciting and riveting debut.”—RT Book Reviews, four stars


EXCERPT

7:37 P.M.
Below Alex, the city was aflame, lit by the fading rays of a rapidly setting sun. The strong wind pulled at his open shirt and carried strange tastes with the impending nightfall.

Time for his preshift scan. He let his ka, his consciousness, his soul, slip free of his flesh and into the spirit realm. His body stood against the dying sunbeams, which graced his dark skin with a tawny glow. His true self soared forth, leaving its fleshy confines on the rooftop. He was Menkaure, the Great Bull of Horus, once more.

The city felt off- kilter, punch- drunk, stretched apart.  There was always a melody, the song of the world, lurking in the background, giving Menkaure the sensation that it was a familiar tune, but one he couldn’t quite make out. Tonight, it was riddled with dissonant tones.

He received only the vaguest of impressions. For the third day in a row, he sensed a new power in play. It hummed in the ether, a raw live wire, rolling thunder accompanying an unseen storm— primal and ancient.

Corrupt.

It, whatever It was, eluded him like a name sitting on the tip of his tongue.

It was not the Other. Neithikret, Nitokris, Ayesha— whatever she was going by these days. Of that much, Menkaure was certain. He knew her particular melody.

This tasted of vice and degeneration, an ill scent on an otherworldly wind. He couldn’t place the source, yet had no doubt that it lurked nearby.

Beneath him, the city mewled and whimpered in myriad voices. His altered state- of- being afforded him senses beyond the mundane five. He saw the soft orange- yellow presences of the souls of the living. Seeded among them, rare as shooting stars in the night sky— yet more common than they should be—he saw the telltale blue- white presences of lost souls who had not yet crossed.  These had no remaining flesh to animate, yet haunted the periphery of the mortal world, confused, aimless, and full of raw, unchecked emotions.

Since the Reveal, they were multiplying at a steady rate.

Because of the vampires.

Menkaure saw several vampires now, still indoors, their soulless existence appearing as negative presences violating reality.  Those he sensed were going about the mundane business of preparation for their night shifts at various jobs. Nearly the entire economy of the city had shifted to a twenty- four- hour schedule, and the vampires, numerous as they had become, had to contribute to society.

Some notes in the evening’s song grew louder.

Someone was coming. Apparently, a few minutes alone was too much to ask for.
         
Menkaure let his ka snap back into his flesh. He stretched his arms out before him and grasped the railing to steady himself. He felt the momentary drain of the effort; then Re’s dwindling beams restored his strength.

The door to the rooftop crashed open. The wind here, twenty stories up, often caught the door and slammed it into the side of the building. Tonight was no exception.

Before he even turned around, Alex knew it wasn’t one of the vampires. Whoever it was, was entirely too loud. Alex turned around as a young woman struggled with the door.

Latina, athletic, just shy of six feet tall, early to mid- thirties— not much younger than Alex appeared to be. She had her hair in a ponytail and wore casual clothes. Had to be the FNG, the fucking new guy, Stephanie Garza.

Garza fought to close the door. It prob ably felt like a hundred pounds. Garza finally shut it and walked over to where Alex was standing.

“Detective Romer?”

“Let me guess, Narcotics, right?”

“That obvious?”

Alex laughed. “Read your file. You don’t look like what I was expecting.”

“I get that a lot. It’s the height, right?”

“Yeah.  You’ve got no problem with the hours, I take it?”

“Yeah. I mean, no. No problem.” The gal couldn’t stop smiling. That would be gone soon enough.

“You’re sure you’re ready to jump down the rabbit hole?”

“I’ve seen my share already, that’s why I transferred. Well, that, and the pay is a lot better.”

Alex buttoned up his shirt and tucked it in his slacks. He readjusted the holster and the detective’s badge clipped to his belt.

Garza laughed nervously. “Captain Roberts wants to talk to you.”

“Any hint as to what’s up?”

“He didn’t tell me.”

“Well, welcome to Nocturn Affairs. Full of secrets within secrets within secrets. Everyone plays things close here. That’s not bad advice, by the way.”

Alex walked toward the door, and Garza followed him.

“Regular cops want nothing to do with us weirdos,” Alex said. “That’s one reason we’re out here in the boonies, renting office space in an empty building instead of having a proper precinct or space down with Metro.” The Miami- Dade Police Department hadn’t been called Metro- Dade in about two decades, but while names changed easily, habits didn’t. He was going to correct himself, but Garza didn’t seem to mind.

Alex opened the door, and it swung in his hand as if there were no wind at all. He let Garza walk past him, and then pulled it shut.

It slammed home with an unintended finality. That was it. Time to start rationing. No more sun for today.

They moved down the short flight of stairs toward the elevator. Alex pushed the call button, and the doors opened. They stepped into a world of synthesized remade music, droning at the edge of consciousness, banal, and stripped of all its original glory.

“Do you have any first- day advice for me?”

Alex pushed the button for their floor.

“You’re paired with Zorzi Cigogna, right? Listen to him and do exactly what he says. Keep your head on straight. Don’t act like a boot.  He’ll see and hear things you can’t, and you can pick up things he won’t. This won’t be like Narcotics. Regular cops are growing their balls back and dealing with the youngbloods. We get the hardcases.  Every one of the vampires—”

Garza’s intake of breath interrupted him.

“Old habits,” Alex continued. “Every one of the nocturns in this unit has several hundred years of experience behind them. Marcus, our Ancient, has disarmed some situations just by showing up.”

“An Ancient? Wow! What’s he like?”

Alex gave Garza a sidelong glance. She must not have dealt with any real hardcases in Narcotics. It took vampires a couple of centuries to work up to their full potential for depravity.

“He’s like an Ancient. Between you and me, he’s kind of a prick. I’ll let you make up your own mind.”

The elevator stopped and the doors opened. The familiar smells greeted Alex like old enemies. The recycled office air. Scorched coffee. That metallic tang of the Hemo- Synth that seemed to catch you in the back of the throat.

They stepped into a dark gray cubicle farm more suited to an accounting department than a police section. Alex turned toward the break room. The place was empty. The majority of the personnel, most of them vampires, would trickle in over the next hour. The only sound came from the cheap off- white blinds as they clacked softly in the stream of the air- conditioning. The blinds were only there for show; the windows behind them had been painted opaque long ago.

“You deal with thropes much over in Narcotics?” Alex entered the break room and took a large metal thermos from the refrigerator.

“I heard about a case or two, but that’s as close as I got.”

“You will here. Hopefully, it won’t be soon. Just let one of those poor bastards go off his meds during a cycle and then we’ve got big problems.”

Alex stepped out of the break room and headed for Captain Roberts’s office, Garza still in tow.

“That happen a lot? With the therians, I mean.”

“Less than you’d expect, but more often than you’d like.”

“Therians.”  There was another PC word. Derived from “therianthrope.” It amounted to skin- changers, shape- shifters, call them what you will— cursed bastards who’d lose control about once a month. At least now there were meds to help them deal with it. Granted the word “thrope” didn’t make much sense by itself if you thought about it, but then slang words often didn’t.

Alex continued. “You know only one in every three thropes is actually registered? Folks don’t report attacks, for obvious reasons.”

Captain Roberts called out from his office, interrupting Alex. “Taking your sweet time, Romer?”

“On my way, Captain.” Alex tipped his thermos at Garza. “I’ll talk at you later.” He bit his tongue not to add in “kid.”  After all, he was supposed to be only a few years older than she was.

He walked into the captain’s office.

Roberts was a solid cop, who should have collected his pension a couple of years ago. A sense of duty had kept him from retiring after the Reveal. His wife, now his ex, had been losing her fight with breast cancer. When word got out about the vampires, she was one of the first high- profile cases to go over to the other side. That was before Washington passed those idiotic laws and ICE got in the business of trying to control the vampire population. Far too late of course, but then that was the rule if you counted on the government to react to a trend.

Now, instead of a few thousand, there were roughly 1.2 million vampires in the good ol’ U.S. of A. And they needed their own special brand of law enforcement. So when the city was looking for good cops with a solid sense of command and familiarity with the nocturn situation, Roberts had been the logical choice to head up the section.

He sat behind his desk, tie undone, and ran a hand through the few strands of hair still on his scalp. He looked like he’d had the mother of rough days.

“Close the door, Alex. I wanted to talk to you before everyone else rolls in. Any chance you’ve got your report done?”

“What do you think?” Alex smiled.

Alex closed the glass door, a pretense of privacy. Vampires in the area would be able to hear whatever they said anyway.

Roberts wrinkled his nose. “You could take it a little easier on the aftershave.”

“You know how it is. I wear it, humans bitch. If I don’t, I get to hear how much I smell of death from all of them,” Alex said.

“Sorry, Alex. I’ve had an ass- kicker of a day.”

“Join the club.” Alex sat and made a gesture of opening the thermos. “You mind?”

“Go ahead.”

Alex opened the top, and immediately a power ful smell of chamomile, thyme, and frankincense filled the small room.

“That holistic stuff help much?” Roberts asked.

“Some.” Alex took a swig from the thermos.

“I’ve got to hand it to you, not going for the vamp blood, you know?” Roberts said. “I’m not sure what call I’d make if I was sick. I just don’t know.”

Roberts and a lot of other folks thought Alex had some rare terminal disease. Alex let them go right on thinking that. It kept people from asking too many questions.

“We all have different ways of coping. You shouldn’t judge too harshly,” Alex said.

Roberts glanced at the blank space on the desk where his wife’s picture had once been.

“Yeah, it’s just . . .  it’s not the same. Never can be. Like these vampires out there. You can’t ever really trust them, right? It’s like they’re always withholding something.  Every one of ’em . . .” Roberts censored himself. You never knew who could be listening.

“I know what you mean. Who lives as long as they do to be ‘on the job,’ right?”

“Don’t get me started. What’d your partner dig up?”

“Haven’t talked to him yet,” Alex said. “Marcus is checking in with an old source now. We should have a lead soon. I hope.”

“You want some good news or more bad news?” Roberts made little finger- quotes in the air when he said the word “good.”

“Let me guess. Constance got bureau commander?”

The rumor mill had been alive with tales that the Nocturn Affairs Section was  going to get bumped up to a proper bureau and that they  were  going to get a vampire to head it.

Roberts nodded. “Word is Lelith handpicked her. What’s the deal between those two anyway?”

Alex didn’t like Constance Howe. He didn’t trust her and couldn’t be sure she wasn’t one of the bad guys. But Marcus assured him that having her head the Nocturn Affairs Bureau, while Lelith thought she had her in her pocket, was a closet win.

Alex kept his face noncommittal. “They’re both vampires, I guess. Does that mean you’ll be out of here?”

“After a transition period. I filed my papers today.” Roberts didn’t look happy. He stared down at his desk.

“Well, that’s the first bit of good news I’ve heard all day. Good for you.  You’ve dealt with enough of this bullshit.” Alex smiled for him.

“You know a guy named Trent Summers?”

Alex felt the smile vanish.

“Yeah, he’s a fed with the Behavioral Analy sis Unit out of Quantico. I used to work with him back in— well, I used to work with him.”

“He sends his regards,” Roberts said.

“So we’re on to the bad news now. When did you talk to him?”

“He was on a telecon at City Hall. Says he’s coming to town in the next couple of days.”

“That’s not good. Abraham?”
Roberts nodded.

As of that morning, Abraham had sent some kind of manifesto to the media. The talking heads had been going on about it all day.

So much for damage control using that old copycat idea.

“So the manifesto is real?” Alex asked.

“Looks that way.”

Alex shifted uncomfortably in his chair. “And the murders we thought were copycats?”

“Probably the real deal. That means Abraham is sitting right in our laps.”

“That’s just fantastic. And it’s only Wednesday. How’re they sure?”

“The manifesto The Standard Bearer printed—” “Yeah?”

“Someone leaned on ’em and they finally gave up the original. Postmark came from our fine city.”

“Damn. Listen, Captain, if you want me and Marcus to play hosts to the feds and drive ’em around—”

Roberts held up a hand. “That’s not why we’re having this talk.”

“If the feds want this one, they can have it. I’ll even wrap it up with a bow and a gift basket.”

Roberts nodded. “Frankly, they’re better equipped to deal with this sort of thing.”

“I sense a ‘but’ coming.” Alex braced himself for the next piece of news.

“You’d be right. City Hall wants this to go away pronto. You know as well as I do they have friends in D.C. They made some calls and someone tossed out your name.”

“Ah.”

“Yep. I don’t even want to know what you and Marcus did before, but someone in D.C. was impressed with your handiwork. So folks told me to tell you, regarding this Abraham deal,  they’re willing to turn a blind eye and let you and Marcus do what you have to do.”

Alex laughed halfheartedly.  There it was. The ever- present “they.” The puppet masters.  People the conspiracy nuts would have a field day with if the truth ever came out.

“In this political climate? They don’t even know what they’re asking. Tell them I want full immunity, in writing. For starters.”

Alex knew they’d never agree to any such thing, but this way it wouldn’t look like he was completely unwilling to play ball. He had a decent idea who was making the request, and that person would know this was bullshit right from the start. If they were really serious, they wouldn’t have asked.  They’d have ordered.

“I’m just the messenger.”

Alex crossed his arms. “They don’t want us dealing with this problem. Nobody’s ready for the fallout. As soon as the bodies start piling up, it would be our asses out in the wind.”

Why were they asking anyway? If Abraham had started his activities before the Reveal, they would have probably recruited him right into UMBRA.  Were the Lightbearers getting so powerful they could pressure the men Alex suspected were behind the request? If that was the case, everyone was pretty much screwed. Fucking politics.

He stood up and his voice involuntarily rose. “They wanted this to become a law- enforcement issue. They don’t get to pick and choose when the gloves come off.”

“You don’t have to convince me.”

Alex nodded and let out a breath. It wasn’t Roberts’s fault. He sat back down and took an angry swig from the thermos.

“You heard what happened this morning?” Roberts asked.

“I was there, remember? Did the guy I bring in sober up?”

“He died. Docs say it was some kind of system shock.”

Shit.

“Can’t catch a break, can we?”

“Might have. While you were handling your business, another sanger . . .” Roberts corrected himself. “Another nocturn had just downed a pint of what he thought was Hemo- Synth. Just like the others. Blood- frenzied out into the street and took down three of us before the pain kicked in and he burned enough to realize it was daylight. Only this time we got the original bottle and there was enough fluid left to test. Lab tells us it was human blood. Not one hundred percent pure though.  They’ll tell us more when they run more tests.”

“There’s a new shitstorm,” Alex deadpanned.

“You have no idea. The FDA has opened a formal investigation, though no one will admit to it openly. The Lightbearer Society is doing their best to keep it quiet. At Lelith’s direction, Media Relations is in the dark. She’s got her PR machine in full spin mode. Any hint there might be something wrong with the artificial blood supply . . .  Well, I don’t have to spell it out for you.”

“No, you don’t. But that requires you to brief me personally?”

Roberts sighed. “I know you don’t give two shits about half this stuff. But like it or not, you and Marcus have more experience than almost this entire section combined. As long as I’m still in charge, we’ll be eating this shit sandwich together, all right?”

Alex nodded, his lips pinched together. What the captain didn’t know was that the government still had their foot on Alex’s neck. And Marcus’s, too, for that matter. Nearly all of the older nocturns had some Sword of Damocles hanging over their heads. Ever- present, yet increasingly unknowable, elements in the government were blackmailing them into doing this cop thing. He didn’t know what the government had on the others, but in his case, they had some rather important canopic jars they suspected he  couldn’t do without. Alex didn’t know for sure and was reluctant to find out.  They’d been extorting him for as long as Alex had worked with them, back on the UMBRA special program with the NSA, and before.  There was no reason to expect any change now.

“You and Marcus are dropping all your other cases. I want you on this blood thing and Abraham exclusively. Hell, for all we know the two are connected.”

Alex doubted it. That wasn’t Abraham’s style.

“Are we okay here? Anything you want clarified?” Roberts asked.

“That all?”

Roberts shook his head. “What, you want more?”

Alex considered it. Roberts was right. It wasn’t even true dark yet.



About the Author:
Michael F. Haspil is a geeky engineer and nerdy artist. A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, he had the opportunities to serve as an ICBM crew commander and as a launch director at Cape Canaveral. The art of storytelling called to him from a young age and he has plied his craft over many years and through diverse media. He has written original stories for as long as he can remember and has dabbled in many genres. However, Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror have whispered directly to his soul.

When he isn’t writing, you can find him sharing stories with his role-playing group, cosplaying, computer gaming, or collecting and creating replica movie props. Lately, he devotes the bulk of his hobby time to assembling and painting miniatures for his tabletop wargaming addiction.
Michael is represented by Sara Megibow of the KT Literary Agency and Adrian Garcia of the Paradigm Talent Agency.

He has collected and made replica movie props for over twenty years and enjoys the way a particular collectible lets an individual connect with a meaningful story.

He spends entirely too much time gaming or thinking (some might say ‘scheming’) about strategies and tactics in all kinds of gaming be it board games, computer games, or his passion, tabletop wargaming. He devotes the largest share of the gaming pie to Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 tabletop game. He has collected and played Grey Knights, Space Marines, Tyranids, Dark Eldar, Necrons, and Space Wolves. Michael is a regular contributor to “The Long War” a premiere podcast and webcast dedicated to tabletop gaming, but especially to Warhammer 40,000.

Author Links:
Website ¦ Twitter ¦ Goodreads ¦ Facebook ¦ Youtube


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