Debriefing the Dead

The Dead Series Book 1

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The Dead Series

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The only thing Hyacinth wants is her life back. Literally. She and her sister were murdered by Demons, leaving her young nephew, Geordi, to his father’s family in the brutal Sicilian Mob. Then Archangel Michael offers her a deal: recapture a powerful rock the Demons stole, and she can live long enough to find Geordi a safe home. Refuse, and she’ll continue up (or down) to the Afterlife.

So, slightly more alive than dead, she heads for Turkey and the Demons, taking Geordi, her mysterious neighbor Jason, and a sexy dead guy only she can see with her. But the hardest part won’t be battling Demons, meeting Satan, or dodging Middle Eastern customs—it will be later, when Geordi is settled, and Michael rips her away again. How can she abandon her nephew? Or can she outwit the Angel of Death himself, and stay with Geordi forever?



“DEBRIEFING THE DEAD is fun and smart, ambitious and self-aware…. It is well-written, researched, and edited. It doesn’t turn away from horrors and the horrible consequences of horrors. It asks big questions and doesn’t always provide the reader with comforting answers. It treats the reader like a grown-up. Author Kerry Blaisdell is a professional, and the fact that it comes as such a relief to me makes me wonder if I should re-examine my reading life.” ~ Fiorella Mauro, The Romance Reviews

 “Hyacinth is a well-crafted character with a deep, intriguing personality. She really feels rounded and three-dimensional, like an actual person. The love interests were interesting too, in particular Eric, since his peculiar situation makes him all the more enthralling. The ending is unexpected, the pacing is fast, and the writing is pretty good as well. With so many twists, turns and secrets, this book is a fun, original, adventurous novel that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. ” ~Majanka Verstraete, InD’tale Magazine

 “To say I loved this book is such an understatement…I freaking LOVED it! It’s got adventure, archaeology, paranormal, action, spirituality (Heaven/Hell/archangels/demons/Satan/death/afterlife), a touch of romance, history, travel… For it being Kerry Blaisdell’s debut, it’s incredibly written without a flaw in the plot. The characters are so well-conceived and fleshed out, they appeared to come to life. ” ~N.N. Light, Book Heaven: Matching Books to Readers Since 1990

 “An amazing story filled with secrets and surprises and an adorable seven year old. The story doesn’t lack in suspense and left me hurrying to finish so I could find out what Jason’s secret was. I can’t wait for the next book in the series which I hope will be sooner rather than later.” ~Linda Tonis, The Paranormal Romance Guild

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Chapter One

“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” ~The Bible, 1 Peter 5:8

I smelled Death on the two men who walked into my shop that day. I should have listened to my nose.

Of course, death is an everyday part of my life, which is probably why I ignored it. I’m a dealer in rare artifacts, particularly those that haven’t been acquired through, um, normal channels. Okay, I’m a fence, and before that, I robbed graves. But only those already being robbed, by “professional” archaeologists. And frankly, I know as much or more as they do about the care and preservation of ancient relics.

In any case, my shop, Hyacinth Finch’s Boutique des Antiquités, now stocks items that are either stolen, or are being stolen back, by one or another of my usual clients, members of the Marseille elite who enjoy stabbing each other in the back, art-collection-wise. They pay well, and leave me to live my life the rest of the time, so I guess you’d call it a symbiotic relationship.

But these guys weren’t from my client base. Until they arrived unannounced in my office above the shop, and sat, uninvited, in the chairs in front of my desk, I’d never seen them before. Which made their interest in this exact batch of goods even more suspect.

“Who are you again?” I asked, more to buy time than anything else.

The one on the left smiled genially. He was larger than his companion, not exactly fat, but taller and more…spread out, for lack of a better description. His dark blue eyes were rimmed with thick lashes, and his hair was oiled into a slick black shell. His tanned skin cracked and peeled in places, like he’d had one too many sunburns, and he had a heavy French accent, but as it was late August, and we were in southern France, neither was exactly remarkable. I myself spoke fluent French, but he’d begun in Franglish, and I hadn’t corrected him.

“Mademoiselle Finch.” He leaned forward, the flimsy wooden chair legs groaning and spreading under his bulk, making it look as if he had six legs instead of the usual two. “Je vous assure, nothing would please me more than to provide our bona fides. But the time, it is lacking.” He glanced at his companion, equally dark and oily, but not as talkative. Oily Two smiled, close-mouthed, and gave a Gallic shrug. We’re all pals here, right?

Yeah, right.

“Look,” I said, suppressing a shiver of unease, despite the heat, “even if I wanted to, I’m not sure I could find this particular lot.” I pretended to check a leather-covered log book I had open on my desk. “Where did you say it originated?”

“Turkey.” Oily One’s smile said he knew I knew that, his yellowed teeth big and sharp behind his dry, cracked lips.

I ran a finger down a column on the page. Look at me—organized, professional, absolutely-not-lying business woman extraordinaire. “Nope. Nothing’s come in from Turkey.”

His gaze flicked to the log, then around my office. Books filled wood-and-glass cases along the walls, and papers crowded the floor. The window stood open behind me, letting in the Mediterranean breeze and the slanted late afternoon sunlight. Also, un fourmilion—an antlion—a long, thin-bodied insect with lacy wings, that my seven-year-old nephew, Geordi, would have been fascinated by. He loves bugs. Me, not so much, but I’m a vegetarian, and a live-and-let-live kinda gal, and this guy wasn’t doing anything besides buzzing lazily around my office, looking for ants to trap. At least, that’s what Geordi says they do. I hate ants, so if there were any to chow on, more power to him.

Oily One and Two didn’t seem bothered by him, but I rather wished they were, so we could hurry this along. The bell on the downstairs door had only rung once since lunch—when these two entered—and it seemed like a good day to close early. One of the perks of being an independent “art dealer” such as myself. The downside is, I can’t afford to alienate potential clients. I have my regulars, but business ebbs and flows, and extra cash is always handy. Especially now.

I forced a smile of my own. “I want to help you—I do. But I have no idea where to find…something like this.” Technically, this was true. I’m a big believer in technicalities.

Oily One leaned in closer, waistband straining, hands on his knees, palms up. Open. Friendly. I didn’t buy it, but apparently, the antlion did. It landed on his shoulder, black body silhouetted crisply as it crawled unnoticed over the expensive white of his suit.

He smiled again. “Surely a businesswoman of your reputation…?”

“Messieurs. I’m not sure what you’ve heard”—or from whom—“but I am merely a dealer. I buy. I sell. I don’t find.”

“Vous me surprenez. It is said you are très accomplie at these things.”

I tilted back in my chair. “You flatter me. I’ve had good luck. And good clients. I can only sell what they bring in. Speaking of which—who did you say referred you?”

Touché. Point à moi. But he wasn’t giving up. “A shipment from Colossae, in southwestern Turkey—près de la rivière Lycus. A region in which you specialize, non? Perhaps you have contacts. You will make some calls. We will, of course, reward your efforts.”

He took out a business card and wrote on the back, the movement causing the antlion to take flight, hovering between him and his companion. Oily Two waved it away, then caught my eye and lifted a hand, as though asking if he should squash it. His full-lipped, sharp-toothed grin was creepier even than his friend’s, and I shook my head hastily, noting that the insect—no dummy—was already out of reach.

His friend passed the card to me, and though our fingers never touched, I suddenly felt…heat…burning off him in sharp waves. I jerked my hand away, taking the card with me. It was as cool as paper usually is, and I gave a mental shake and glanced at the number he’d written, then had to hide my shock. This would be enough for me to take a year off—or pay for Geordi and his mother, my sister Lily, to get really far away from her ex. Some place where he could never hurt them, ever again.

I flipped the card over. Les Rousseaux was printed on it in plain type, with a cell number below. When I looked up, he smiled. Again.

“Claude Rousseau.” He indicated Oily Two, who gave a slight bow. “Mon frère, Jacques. We are most pleased to make your acquaintance. If you hear of anything, you will call. Yes?”

“Yes,” I said, the interview’s end finally in sight. “Of course.”

They rose to go, their tread surprisingly silent on the stairs, given their combined bulk. I waited until I heard the bell on the front door tinkle one last time. Then I ran down and shot the bolt. I flipped the sign in the window to read Fermé, then pulled down the shade. Next, I went to the back door and locked it as well. Only when I was alone in the dark store, so familiar and comforting in its clutter, did I take a deep breath and blow it out.

The whole experience bothered me on a number of levels, not the least of which was the timing. You see, I wasn’t exactly upfront with the Rousseaux. Not only would I be able to locate the lot they wanted, I already had it—in storage, where it’d been for several months. The thing is, only two people should have known its origins.

One of them was me.

And the other was dead.



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Available in print and digital at all major online e-tailers, or order from your local bookstore:

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