Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A balloon, all alone.

On my ride out last week, the first call was a low priority, a request to deal with a balloon.  Not a hot-air balloon, but a regular one. A popped one.

A resident had found it in a patch of scrub near his home. It wasn't the balloon itself that bothered him, more the powder spilling from it.  Another unit got there before we did, a rookie, and this is the conversation that ensued between him and my officer, AJ:

AJ:  What does it look like?
Charlie:  Errr, a balloon.
AJ:  No, fool, the powder. Is it black?
Charlie:  No, it's white.
AJ: So if it's heroin, it's China White. Balloons and heroin go together, but it maybe cocaine. How close are you?
Charlie:  Standing right over it. Why?
AJ:  It could also be anthrax.
Charlie:  Holy s*#@, really?
AJ:  Nah, just messing with you.

Turns out it was none of those things. Just some flour some kid (probably) had put in a balloon to throw at one of his buddies.  I guess you'd call it a false alarm, of sorts, but I did suggest AJ taste the stuff just to be sure.  He declined, and we went on our way.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Happy Launch Day!

Today is a day I never dreamed I'd see, and I'm excited to announce the release of my second mystery novel, THE CRYPT THIEF.

The story...

It’s summer in Paris and two tourists have been murdered in Père Lachaise cemetery in front of Jim Morrison’s grave. The cemetery is locked down and put under surveillance, but the killer returns, flitting in and out like a ghost, and breaks into the crypt of a long-dead Moulin Rouge dancer. In a bizarre twist, he disappears under the cover of night with part of her skeleton.

One of the dead tourists is an American and the other is a woman linked to a suspected terrorist; so the US ambassador sends his best man and the embassy’s head of security—Hugo Marston—to help the French police with their investigation.

When the thief breaks into another crypt at a different cemetery, stealing bones from a second famed dancer, Hugo is stumped. How does this killer operate unseen? And why is he stealing the bones of once-famous can-can girls?

Hugo cracks the secrets of the graveyards but soon realizes that old bones aren’t all this killer wants. . . .

Praise for The Crypt Thief...

"The Hugo Marston series now belongs on every espionage fan’s watch list."

"Mark Pryor has created a perfect second book for Hugo Marston. It delivers everything we loved about The Bookseller without being a retread. The Crypt Thief is proof that both Hugo and Pryor should be around for some time."


“Haunting imagery in Père La Chaise cemetery sets the stage for Pryor’s chilling sophomore entry, and the City of Light becomes a backdrop for Marston’s adventures. The clever antagonist leads him on a merry chase that will keep the reader entertained throughout."
RT Book Reviews

"Two young lovers make the fatal mistake of sneaking into Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery the same night as a bone-stealing psychopath in Pryor’s propulsive second novel starring affable former FBI profiler Hugo Marston…. The engaging characters sweep readers into a suspenseful chase from Pigalle to the Pyrenées."
Publishers Weekly 

Pryor's second case for Marston (after The Bookseller) doesn't disappoint.
—Library Journal 

Author Pryor uses this truly creepy scenario to create a nail-biter of a novel. It has enough bizarre twists to keep you reading into the night. The setting in the famous Paris cemetery gives the story just enough of a sense of the exotic to pull the reader in, and to anticipate something far different from a run of the mill mystery. “The Crypt Thief” leads us on the trail of a cold-blooded killer to a truly fiery conclusion.
Suspense Magazine 

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Charlie Sector, cold and quiet

It was quiet all night.  A may evening when the cops in Charlie Sector and I should have been wearing short sleeves. Instead, the car's heater was on and the cold wind seemed to have swept people from the streets.

Even at 12th and Chicon, where the dealers and buyers meet for huddled sales conferences, where the girls looking for Johns hang off the sidewalk in the hope of business, even on this busiest of east Austin corners, all was quiet.

We set up in an alley and saw little more than trash cart-wheeling in front of us. One man, his head down, waved a gloved hand as he passed, perhaps mocking or perhaps in sympathy. We bided our time but finally moved to a stretch of MLK where Nick, my officer for the evening, promised we'd catch people blowing away the 35mph limit. But fifteen minutes with the laser-gun gave us nothing, even the traffic was slow and lumbering, not happy about being out in the cold.

Then, at 9pm, a hot shot call. A disturbance, violence, people at risk. Nick hit lights and sirens and I checked the map on his computer. We were on the wrong side of Charlie but what caught my attention was the mass of units heading to the call from every direction, electronic bugs swarming to only light in the dark, like nerds spotting a hot girl at a Star Trek convention.

The call was downgraded soon enough, so we peeled off hoping to find something somewhere else. The best we could manage was a trip to the A&E at St. Davids to get the name of a woman injured in a car crash. When we got there, she'd gone.

Nick apologized several times for the quiet night but it wasn't his fault. I told him that, said he'd done such a great job the criminals were scared to come out and play.

And, for the first time since I started riding out, I actually wondered, "Should we go get donuts?"

We didn't.