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Omaha Stakes ($15.95, 328 pages, ISBN: 978-1-60381-931-2), is Book 5 of Mark Everett Stone’s popular urban fantasy series featuring a super-agent employed by the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation. Next up: The Spirit in St. Louis and two sequels to The Judas Line.
“This action-packed urban fantasy follows the brooding Kal Hakala, human head of the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation in an alternate contemporary America, to what promises to be the first of many confrontations…. [Stone] writes in a brisk, conversational style …. The setting fuses magic and technology in appealing ways that will hopefully be developed in future installments…. Kal’s frolic through a nifty supernatural world is enjoyable.” —Publishers Weekly
(The Judas Line): “Delightful…. Even the obligatory near-apocalyptic ending is coherent, surprising, and exciting.” —Publishers Weekly Starred Review
(Chicago, The Windigo City): “Stone has written a novel difficult to put down. Endless tension along with well-implemented action make the reading experience a necessity, not an option.” —ForeWord Magazine
(Things to Do in Denver When You’re Un-Dead): “I have really enjoyed reading this book…. The story could just be one of guns, blood and guts and magic, but… Mark Everett Stone has made these characters seem real.” —Michele Herbert, Fantasy Book Review
Books in Motion has issued audiobooks of Mark’s first four BSI novels, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Un-Dead, What Happens in Vegas, Dies in Vegas, I Left My Haunt in San Francisco, and Chicago, The Windigo City. They plan to tape the entire series.
Mark’s first novel, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Un-Dead, won the second place Forward Literature Award for Humor and was one of seven titles nominated for ForeWord Magazine’s debut fiction award, ForeWord Firsts. The Judas Line was a finalist for ForeWord’s Book of the Year Award and earned a starred review in Publishers Weekly.
Agent Kal Hakala, who has been running the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation as its temporary director, has his hands full. First there was the windigo crisis that threatened humanity with extinction. Now he has received an anonymous challenge from a creature calling himself Maydock: “Come to Omaha within the next five days, or every day thereafter I shall kill ten humans in many inventive and disturbing ways.”
Maydock has infiltrated BSI Security and can monitor Kal’s every move, so until Ghost can repair the breach, Kal has no choice but to travel to the Heartland with no team backup and only those items he can carry. While Kal dances to Maydock’s tune, Canton and his team covertly follow as close as they dare, realizing that if they are caught, they will trigger Maydock’s epic murder spree.
Even as Kal is put through his paces, he uncovers corruption so insidious it tears at his fragile sanity. With the odds stacked so heavily against him, how can Kal possibly vanquish the most powerful being he has ever encountered?
Says Stone, “For the fifth book I wanted to explore Kal’s evolution now that his sister is no longer there to keep his fragile sanity intact and he no longer has the crutch of his rage to sustain him. How we deal with adversity tells us a lot about our character, and it is incumbent upon me as an author to keep developing my protagonist in a way that is both logical and exciting. Also, I wanted to continue to give larger roles to some of my other recurring characters, such as Canton, because I find them as interesting as Kal, sometimes even more so.”
Born in Helsinki, Finland, Mark Everett Stone arrived in the U.S. at a young age and promptly dove into the world of the fantastic. Starting at age seven with the Iliad and the Odyssey, he went on to consume every scrap of Norse Mythology he could get his grubby little paws on. At age thirteen he graduated to Tolkien and Heinlein, building up a book collection that soon rivaled the local public library’s. In college Mark majored in Journalism and minored in English. Mark lives in Denver with his wife, Brandie, and their two sons, Aeden and Gabriel. Click here to find Mark on the Web.
Keep reading for an excerpt:
Red clouded my vision as anger replaced the icy worm of fear. “What are you?” I snarled, my Interdiction twinging a bit in the presence of Straights. I was moving into dangerous territory here. “Did I kill one of your … friends?”
Maydock’s dry laughter was really starting to chap my ass, but he kept up his chuckling for a few seconds. “Kal, I am something new under the sun, the first of my kind. An incipient species ready to stride the world like colossi.”
With no further comment, I smashed my smartphone against the corner of the chest of drawers, sending shattered plastic and delicate components flying. Lowenstein’s head fell to the floor with a dull thud and rolled to a stop next to Nihsen’s size nines. I put the cheap phone to my ear.
“Good, Kal,” Maydock purred. “Now … three eight three one.”
“Three eight three one. That’s the code that will disarm the bomb attached to young Nelson.”
My skin began to crawl. I knew what would come next, but remained silent.
“He is three blocks away. Two blocks directly south, one directly east. A warehouse under renovation and is currently unoccupied by human prey. He is on the roof. You have ten minutes. Come alone or he dies. Oh, and destroy the phone.” Click.
I didn’t think twice. The cheap cell joined the detritus of the smartphone as shards of plastic and paper circuitry rained down upon the carpet.
“What are you doing?” shouted Nihsen, grabbing my arm.
“I have to go.”
He wouldn’t let go. Damn, but he packed some muscle beneath that tubby exterior.
His eyes blazed with mistrust. “What did he tell you?”
“Check the Picasso,” I said, pointing to the crudely rendered, spear-wielding Spaniard. “Camera is in there somewhere.” While everyone looked toward the print I hightailed it out of there, taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
My sneakers hit concrete at a run and the too-humid air walloped my face like a wet slap. The car was close, but so was the warehouse. I briefly considered raiding the Hyundai’s trunk but realized that time was short and I had plenty of lethality hidden about my body. At least, I hoped so.
Three blocks passed in a blur; the only sound I was aware of was the flapping of my trench coat. I spied my destination. It was the only building large enough to be called a warehouse—a three-story brick monstrosity surrounded by shorter structures, equally old and worn. An ancient, weathered Gulliver surrounded by storefront Lilliputians.
Most of the small windows decorating the warehouse were either boarded up or broken. As I approached, I became aware of an aura of decrepitude and abandonment that practically shone from its crumbling russet façade. If it was being renovated, it must’ve been from the inside out.
I knew it was a trap. Had to be. Maydock was toying with me, putting me through my paces for his cruel amusement. It would be up to me to spoil his fun.