Thursday, June 18, 2015

Author of the Week... Joe Hart

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22713450
Widow Town
Pages: 327
Published: June 16, 2014
Published By: Black Spine Books


Synopsis:
In the future there is no such thing as a serial killer.

A breakthrough research project has detected an active gene present in all known psychopaths and developed a vaccine to make it completely dormant. People are inoculated at birth. Society has rejoiced the extinction of the sociopathic mind.

There hasn’t been a serial killing in America in over forty years.

Sheriff MacArthur Gray resides in the future but lives in the past. His world views have chased him from a large metropolis to his home town, but there is no sanctuary to be found after he arrives.

Because people are dying and only he can see the truth.

A psychopath has somehow survived and is thriving in the new world. Soon Gray is thrust into a nightmarish race against the killer where no one is safe, and everyone is a suspect.  




Buy Links:
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Exclusive Excerpt:

Chapter 1

A scream woke him, cut off before it could reach its crescendo.
Ryan came to lying on a hardwood floor, tasting blood in his mouth—his blood. He tried to sit up and found he could. He was in a house, a hallway. Its walls were familiar but not home. He blinked and let the memories outside the door of his mind flood inward. A whoop came from nearby, and Darrin walked through a doorway to the left carrying his big knife, the one that gleamed even in the dark. Darrin’s dark eyes caught and pinned him to the floor.
“Whatcha doin’ down there little brother?”
“Passed out, I think.”
“You think? I’m pretty sure you did, so’s that cooze you were supposed to be watching when she knocked you over. You cracked your head on the floor.”
Ryan put a hand to the back of his skull, ran his fingers over a growing knob there, a golf ball half buried under his scalp.
“What’d you do to her?” Ryan asked.
Darrin knelt close to him, a reek of cigarettes, sweat, and something else coming off his skin. “What do you think I did, little brother?”
Adam clunked toward them through the hall, his big boots like hammers on the wood floor. A crooked grin hung off the side of his mouth, his right canine peeking out. He held the steel contraption in one hand. Darrin pivoted without standing.
“Done?”
“Done,” Adam said, the smile getting wider.
“You didn’t leave anything?”
“Nope.”
“You’re sure? Because one fucking drop of saliva and you’re going to prison, my friend.”
Adam seemed to consider it, the wheels turning, slow but sure. “Nope.”
“Good.” Darrin brought his attention back to Ryan. “Get up; your mouth’s bleeding.”
Ryan nodded, wiping at his teeth with his jacket sleeve. He pushed himself onto his feet and rubbed the back of his head again, the lump there feeling larger through the gloves he wore.
“We good?” Darrin asked, panning from Adam to Ryan and back again.
“Yep.”
“Yeah,” Ryan answered.
“Then let’s go.”
Outside the frogs harped from a slue somewhere in the dark. A swarm of gnats gathered around them as soon as their feet hit the ground, and Ryan only had a moment to look up and see the half moon soaring overhead before he heard Darrin emptying out his little container on the front porch. There was a whoosh of the gas igniting and an orange light bloomed across the house, throwing their shadows into long shapes on the lawn. Ryan glanced at Darrin, his eyes alight with the dancing flames and with some internal burning. He’s on fire inside, Ryan thought as Adam walked past him toward the van parked near the edge of the vegetable garden. Darrin followed him and made his eyebrows jump once as he passed Ryan, his eyes dark again.
“We go, little brother, we go.”
They piled into the Ford, Darrin behind the wheel and Ryan in the middle. Adam rolled down his window, the sideways grin back on his face, as they pulled away from the burning farmhouse.


Chapter 2

“When did they start pissing in the coffee around here?”
MacArthur Gray lowered his own cup, tasting the bitter tang, and gave his deputy a look.
“Joseph, how many times are you going to say that?”
“I suppose until they quit doing it over at the diner.”
“I would say that’s an awful rude assumption you’re making.”
“What? That they urinate in the coffee?”
“Yep, I find the flavor to be closer to cigarette butts and toilet bowl cleaner. Piss has a different taste entirely.”
Deputy Ruthers gave the sheriff a glance and burst out laughing, slopping a little coffee onto his pants and the car seat.
“Damn it, Joseph, look what you’ve done.”
“Sorry, Sheriff. Apologies.”
Gray focused on the dirt road and the sun seeming to rise directly from its end. A field to the left rose and fell with head-high cornstalks for acres beyond measure, their green color standing out against everything else dead or dying. Dust plumed behind the cruiser in a cloud, the sky already a mocking blue. No rain in weeks.
“They sure it was a house fire? Could be Jacobs is just burning a brush pile or something?” Ruthers said.
“They didn’t say, but any and all smoke has to be looked into right now. There’s a burning ban, and Jacobs knows better than most what a spark could do around here.”
Gray saw Ruthers shoot him a look and glance back at the road. “What do you really think, Sheriff?”
“I don’t know.”
“What’s your gut tell you?”
“That I didn’t eat enough this morning.”
Gray piloted the cruiser around a sharp bend, a flock of blackbirds bursting from the roadside in a flay of wings and beaded eyes. A finger of smoke rose above the trees to the right, and Gray turned the car into the long dirt drive past a pitted relic of a mailbox, the letters worn away to almost nothing. When the house came into view, Ruthers inhaled and set his coffee in the center console.
“Well shit,” Gray said.
The front of the Jacobses’ house was a blackened mess. The covered porch was gone, and soot ran in vertical streams up the siding. The windows, trimmed with white decorative shutters before, were blackened, their glass shattered or cracked. The shingles were curled up in a greeting and a bit of rubble that might’ve been a glider swing still smoked.
Ruthers started speaking into the radio, calling back to Mary Jo, telling her they would need the fire truck from Wheaton. Gray parked a dozen yards from the smoking structure and stepped out into the morning air that smelled of cooked paint and char.
“Get that hose going off the side of the house there, will you, Joseph? And just wet the grass a little, don’t spray the porch.”
“Yes, sir.”
Gray picked his way toward the front porch, the screen door gone, the brass knob blackened like a nub of coal. With long strides, he made his way around the side of the farmhouse, seeing that the rest of the structure looked untouched by the flames. The buzzing of flies sizzled to his left, and he looked at the doghouse near the edge of the woods, the dead dog lying at its entrance. Its throat was slit, a red gap ringed by clotted fur gone from gold to burgundy like a sunset.
Gray drew his weapon.
The Colt 1911 Long Slide came out of the holster in a seamless glide of pitch-black steel. Gray made sure the safety was off before moving around to the back of the house. The backdoor was unlocked and opened without a sound into a small mudroom. Work boots stood in pairs beside brightly colored sandals. A wooden sitting-bench lined one wall, and a low freezer stood against the opposite.
Gray waited, listening to the quiet. Except for the hush of Ruthers squirting water on the lawn, there was nothing. No sounds of life. No dishes banging or footsteps coming to investigate his presence. After another minute, Ruthers approached from outside and stepped in behind him.
“Sheriff—”
“Get that fancy pistol out of your holster, Joseph; there’s something wrong here.”
Ruthers struggled with the nylon straps holding his Deacon .7 Striker and finally released it, touching the digital thumbprint reader on its handle twice in quick succession. The weapon issued a short click.
“What is it?”
Gray didn’t answer for a long time, still listening, hoping. “The smell.”
“I don’t smell anything,” Ruthers whispered, his eyes looking past the sheriff’s wide back.
“You will.”
They moved through the house, Ruthers pointing his gun into each doorway as they went, Gray holding his at the floor, his dark eyes watching. The kitchen stood empty, late August sunshine filling the space up with orange light so thick it looked solid. Pans sat on the counter, a layer of grease coating one, another half-cleaned in the sink. The faucet dripped once, breaking the silence. Gray walked into the dining room, his boots clicking against the hardwood floor. A vase of flowers lay on its side on the dinner table. Water pooled on the floor in Rorschach patterns, yellow petals became miniature boats on their surfaces.
The smell got stronger, and Gray stopped, glancing to his right at a stairway that ran up into relative darkness. Ahead, the front entry and living room were empty, the TV blank except for an elongated reflection of his movement. A white door to the right stood closed, its paint clean and fresh as if applied the day before. A collage of pressed flowers against a blue paper background hung from its middle. Gray moved to the door, his breathing steady, still listening, waiting. He gripped the doorknob, pointing the long-barreled Colt straight up. Ruthers moved in to his other side, the Deacon at shoulder level, its barrel flashing a small red light every three seconds. Gray nodded once and waited until Ruthers returned the signal. He flung the door open, readjusting his position, bending his knees, his finger tightening on the trigger.
The smell was awful but the sight was worse.
“My God in heaven,” Ruthers managed before he covered his mouth with one hand and stepped back. Gray stood in the doorway looking into the pink-walled bedroom and finally dropped his gaze to the splattered floor before closing his eyes to a sight he knew he’d never forget.


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About the Author:
Joe Hart was born and raised in northern Minnesota, where he still resides today. He’s been writing horror and thriller fiction since he was nine years old. He is the author of seven novels and numerous short stories, including the books The River Is Dark, Lineage, and Widow Town. When he’s not writing, Joe enjoys reading, working out, watching movies with his family, and spending time outdoors.


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