The Dead Series Book 1
(2019 RITA® Award Finalist & RONE Nominee)
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?
Page Count: 332
ISBNs: 978-1-5092-2045-8 Paperback / 978-1-5092-2046-5 Digital
“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
I suppressed yet another twinge at the memory of yesterday’s interview. Especially Jacques, sitting still and spider-like across from me. I had a feeling he didn’t miss much and wondered what I might have unconsciously revealed while Claude distracted me.
I pulled into a parking space near my unit, and my cell rang, the cheery notes of Beethoven’s Für Élise telling me Lily was calling for our weekly chat. For a second, I thought about answering. Lily might be Geordi’s mother, but I have to say, he’s pretty much the light of my life. Certainly, the best male relationship I’ve had, even counting Jason and Vadim. Who wouldn’t love a guy who brings you dead bugs he’s found in someone else’s yard, then offers to split the last éclair because you’re his “favoritest tata ever”? He’s a smart kid, too. I’m his only auntie, and the flattery still works.
I sent the call to voicemail. It almost killed me, but it’d be hard enough opening the crates, knowing how excited Vadim was when he landed this catch. You can’t get much fresher than an unexcavated site. If I spent even a half hour catching up with Lily and Geordi, I’d chicken out. And I had to know what was in those crates, or I’d never be able to let them, or Vadim, go.
I screwed up my courage, got out of the car, and unlocked the unit’s roll door. Yep. Three large crates.
I went back to the Peapod, opened the hatch, and extracted the paltry pile of produce boxes I’d scrounged from my favorite markets. I’d have to empty them again at the store for subsequent trips, or else go beg more boxes. This was ridiculous. But necessary.
Must let go. Must move on.
As is so often the case, once I got going, it wasn’t so bad. Opening the first crate was tough, and I won’t say I didn’t cry at all. Vadim was a good partner, and a better friend. At least he’d died doing what he loved—sailing the Mediterranean, with a drink in his hand and two beautiful women at his side. He was a devout atheist, but if there’s any kind of afterlife, I’d like to think he’s still sailing and drinking, and looking for the next big catch.
I found a roll of paper towels on a shelf and blew my nose, then metaphorically rolled up my non-existent sleeves and dug in.
The more valuable items were wrapped in acid-free paper and sealed in airtight containers, which I didn’t bother to open, because Vadim had helpfully labeled them. His clear, bold printing noted statuary and relics, both Pagan and Christian, from the ancient Phrygian city of Colossae, near what is now Denizli, in southwestern Turkey. The general period was the first century, so any Christian items were very early. While this fascinated me intellectually, and I did have some experience with artifacts from Turkey, it was mainly because Vadim brought them to me. My own interests lie more in the Egyptians, one of the reasons we’d complemented each other professionally. But it meant I had little personal experience with anything of this kind.
It took several trips to move the best items, and a few more for the midlevel stuff, plus getting more boxes. By the time I got to the third crate, the sun was well past its zenith, but I’d reached the dregs. Items down here were either unwrapped, loose in the packing straw, or else carelessly covered with rough cloth to prevent scratching.
This crate wasn’t as full as the others, and it looked like I was on my final trip. Thank God. I’d had a quick lunch—veggies, hummus, cheese, and bread—but otherwise worked straight through. Lily’d called twice more, but I didn’t pick up. I’d call her back over dinner, when we’d have time to chat, and I could tell her of my sudden windfall.
I plopped my last empty box on the warehouse floor, then hung over the side of the crate to excavate the bottom. I found a few more canvas bundles and pulled them out, setting them in the box, then went back once more.
I thought I’d gotten everything, until my fingers brushed against something hard, wrapped in cloth, and oddly warm to the touch. I grabbed it and heaved myself out of the crate, then examined the bundle. It felt like a rock, heavy and solid. Most of the items in this crate were broken pottery shards, from vases and the like. Hard, maybe, but not heavy. Careful not to touch the item’s surface, in case it was valuable after all, I turned it over and shook the covering loose.
Sure enough, it was a rock. Plain, gray, ordinary. About half the size of an American football, shaped like an irregular pyramid, with jagged edges and flat-but-rough surfaces. The only unusual thing about it was its warmth. Like Claude Rousseau. Which is maybe why, against my better judgment, I reached out and touched the very tip of the rock’s pyramid.
And then it shrieked at me, the agony of centuries piercing my ears till I thought my skull would burst, electric shocks searing through my fingers, hand, arm, ripping through my whole body, gripping my lungs and squeezing until I couldn’t breathe. I flung the rock away, covering my ears and dropping to the floor, shaking, gasping for air, while still it screamed, on and on and on and on, until I lay huddled on the concrete, red fire burning in my head, blackness filling my soul.
Then everything went silent.