Hey everyone! This is just a reminder that Fog Season will be available on February 5, 2019. It’s not too early to pre-order a copy from your favorite bookstore or website. Angry Robot books has you covered with links to everything from Amazon to WHSmith.
After our intrepid heroines restored the family’s fortunes and good name in The Sisters Mederos, they expect that things should get back to normal. Yvienne tries to go straight, taking over the family business, and Tesara tries to come to terms with her magic powers.
Then the private detective shows up, and things go sideways. Here’s a teaser with the new guy, Abel Fresnel:
A knock interrupted Abel Fresnel as he finished tying his tie at the round mirror over the cheap deal dresser. He picked up the small pearl-handle pistol on the battered dressing table and palmed it. It was a lady’s gun but no less dangerous for all that. He liked the way it felt in his hand.
He went to the door and positioned himself behind it, ready to slam it closed if he didn’t like what was on the other side.
“Who is it?”
“Front desk, Mr Fresnel. You have two letters, sir.”
Still cautious Abel opened the door. The eager clerk waited with his post, his starched collar already wilting under the pomade applied to his hair. “And may I just say, sir, how honored we at the Bailet are–”
“Thanks,” Abel said, taking the letters and closing the door on the clerk, with just enough time to see the man’s expression turn from expectant to crestfallen. One of the occupational hazards of the Harrier profession was hero worship. The least the hotel could have done was put him up in a better room, if they expected to fawn over him, he thought. The room was small, cramped, and narrow. It was little more than a sailor’s rest, but at least Abel had the place to himself. He could put the wash basin outside the door when he finished, and a maid came by and emptied it. There was a water closet at the end of the hall. Best of all, Abel was able to jigger the lock to his room so that the master key wouldn’t be able to open the door.
The first letter was an invitation to come to the Charvantes house for a meeting with the Merchants’ Guild to discuss the tenor and direction of the investigation into the criminal and civil activities of former Guild liaison P. Trune.
The other note was a letter from his mother, to idle eyes anyway. Abel ignored the florid, breathless feminine script littered with phrases about how she missed her darling son, her rheumatism, and gossip about the neighbors. He ran his fingers across the rough paper, picking up the tiny pricks and bumps of a carefully lettered code.
Contact in Port Saint Frey has identified the younger Mederos girl as an unnatural. Find her and bring her in alive. Exercise extreme caution. She is believed dangerous.
An unnatural. No wonder Doc had a special interest. The Harrier Agency was always looking for unnaturals — and if Doc couldn’t find them, he had ways to encourage the talents of his Harriers. Abel wondered if Doc had sent him to Port Saint Frey with this second job in mind or if it had come to his attention after Abel had been dispatched. The letter was undated and unfranked, meaning it hadn’t come by the mail coaches that trundled along the coast. While that passage was secure, the mail took ten days and multiple stages to carry letters between Great Lake and Port Saint Frey. Doc had sent this coded letter via the express riders who galloped their spry, lean ponies down through the Chahoki empire and across the Desert Sea. The fearless riders were able to shave the time to five days, but they were expensive, and many a letter pouch languished under the bones of a painted pony and its orphan rider, shot down by Chahoki horse soldiers wielding their fearsome repeating rifles. Doc was lucky though; his letters always got through.
This was the first instruction he had received since he had come to town two days ago. Three weeks ago a request for the services of the Harrier Detecting Agency came to Doc Farrissey’s offices in Great Lake. Doc had dispatched Abel alone, and he had made the journey via stagecoach westward through Chahoki territory and then down the coast through the Ravenne Protectorate. He had sent word to Guild headquarters that he had arrived and waited orders. This was the first they deigned to reach out to him.
Abel had not been cooling his heels for the last two days. He was a Harrier, and a Harrier always got his man, and part of that success had to do with understanding the client as well as their target. He had the kind of unassuming demeanor that made people comfortable, and he listened — to the gossip, the constables, the gents o’ the night who would ramble on for the cost of a glass of whiskey or a pint of ale. He had gleaned a lot in the past two days, and all of it would be enormously useful in both of his jobs — the one for the Guild, and the one for Doc. Because while Doc might have thought the two were completely unrelated, Abel had discovered that the Guild, the Guildmaster, and now the unnatural younger Mederos girl, were all entirely intertwined. And after meeting the self-possessed elder sister, he was more certain than ever that whatever happened during the Great Fraud, the girls had something to do with it.
When Abel was eight years old, nearly twenty years before, his father indentured him to Doc Farissey as an errand boy. A roof over his head and a trade and not too many beatings — it was the best he could hope for. He liked being told to run fast on his deliveries, and he liked threading through the crowds, his wiry little body ducking and dodging, taking all the short cuts at a sprint. He didn’t like the cursing and the beating, and he didn’t like the fact that he never had enough to eat, and he missed his mother. Once he took time out after delivering a message to one of Doc’s cronies to divert down a familiar alleyway to his old house. There he perched like a small gargoyle on top of a back wall and watched his mother hanging out clothes in the narrow strip of yard behind the house. He almost called out to her when his father saw him and gave a yell.
Abel had been so startled he fell off the wall, had the wind knocked out of him, and was caught by the old man. He got beaten twice — once by his father, who told him never to come back, that it was a breach of contract — and once by Doc.
When he was nine, he was summoned to Doc’s office. Doc was a big man, with a big stomach and a big black beard. To a kid, he was a giant. He handed Abel a thimbleful of liquid and told him to drink. For all Abel knew, it was strong spirits. He drank eagerly, thinking it was a sign that Doc would treat him like one of the big boys, and almost immediately his throat and stomach burned as if he had drunk lye. He couldn’t scream, just clawed and grasped at his throat, and when it was over and he was still alive, Doc knelt beside him and put Abel’s limp fingers around his wrist.
“What can you tell?”
“Everything,” Abel managed to whisper.
Doc chuckled. “I knew you had it in you, boy. Just needed to bring it out.”
By the time he was fifteen, he very nearly didn’t need to touch his target to know if they were hiding something. He could almost tell their very thoughts, but he usually didn’t need that much detail. Emotion, unease, small tics and changes in expression — all were as revealing as a confession.
Doc always said it took an unnatural to find an unnatural. This wasn’t the first time he had been tasked to bring in such a person of interest. Dangerous though she might be, the Mederos girl stood no chance against a Harrier.
Whistling, Abel sauntered down the stairs to breakfast in the hotel dining room.