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Authors: Jennifer Estep

By a Thread

BOOK: By a Thread
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Gin Blanco has critics snared in her web!

Praise for Jennifer Estep's thrilling
Elemental Assassin series


“Interesting storylines, alluring world, and fascinating characters. That is what I've come to expect from Estep's series. . . . Easily the best of the series to date.”

—Yummy Men and Kick Ass Chicks

“The story had me whooping with joy and screaming in outrage, just as all really good books always do.”

—Literary Escapism


“Estep has really hit her stride with this gritty and compelling series. . . . Brisk pacing and knife-edged danger make this an exciting page-turner.”

RT Book Reviews
(Top Pick!)

“Gin is a compelling and complicated character whose story is only made better by the lovable band of merry misfits she calls her family. Definitely, by far, the best fantasy series I've read this year.”

—Fresh Fiction

“Each book is just as solid and awesome as its earlier predecessors.”

—Smokin' Hot Books

“Since the first book in the series, I have been entranced by Gin. . . . Every book has been jam-packed with action and mystery, and once I think it can't get any better,
comes along and proves me completely wrong.”

—Literary Escapism


“The second chapter of the series
is just as hard-edged and compelling as the first. Gin Blanco is a fascinatingly pragmatic character, whose intricate layers are just beginning to unravel.”

RT Book Reviews

“A fantastic sequel in every respect. . . . Packed with pulse-pounding action and suspense, this urban fantasy truly delivers.”


“With each Jennifer Estep book I read I'm more in awe of her writing. She always has fresh storylines with well-developed characters. . . .
must read.”

—Reading With Monie

“One of the best urban fantasy series I've ever read. The action is off the charts, the passion is hot, and her cast of secondary characters is stellar. . . . If you haven't read this series, you are missing out on one heck of a good time!”

—The Romance Dish


“When it comes to work, Estep's newest heroine is brutally efficient and very pragmatic, which gives the series plenty of bite. . . . Kudos to Estep for the knife-edged suspense!”

RT Book Reviews

“The fast pace, clever dialogue, and intriguing heroine help make this new series launch one to watch.”

Library Journal

“Electrifying! Jennifer Estep really knows how to weave a fantasy tale that will keep you reading way past your bedtime.”

—Reading With Monie

“Loaded with action and intrigue,
the story is strong and exciting. . . . A knockout, climactic ending, and a surprising twist that I didn't see coming.”


“A raw, gritty, and compelling walk on the wild side, one that had me hooked from the first page. Estep has created a fascinating heroine in the morally ambiguous Gin Blanco—I can't wait to read the next chapter of Gin's story.”

—Nalini Singh,
New York Times
bestselling author
Archangel's Consort

“Watch out, world, here comes Gin Blanco. Funny, smart, and dead sexy.”

—Lilith Saintcrow, author of
Heaven's Spite

“I love rooting for the bad guy—especially when she's also the heroine.
Spider's Bite
is a sizzling combination of mystery, magic, and murder.”

—Jackie Kessler, author of
Shades of Gray

“Jennifer Estep is a dark, lyrical, and fresh voice in urban fantasy. Brimming with high-octane-fueled action, labyrinthine conspiracies, and characters who will steal your heart,
Spider's Bite
is an original, fast-paced, tense, and sexy read. Gin is an assassin to die for.”

—Adrian Phoenix, author of
Black Heart Loa

“A sexy and edgy thriller that keeps you turning the pages. In
Spider's Bite
, Jennifer Estep turns up the heat and suspense with Gin Blanco, an assassin whose wit is as sharp as her silverstone knives. . . . Leaves you dying for more.”

—Lisa Shearin, national bestselling author of
Con & Conjure

The Elemental Assassin titles are also available as eBooks

Thank you for purchasing this Pocket Books eBook.

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To my mom, my grandma,
and Andre
for all their love and support over the years


Once again, my heartfelt thanks goes out to all the folks who help turn my words into a book.

Thanks go to my agent, Annelise Robey, and editors, Megan McKeever and Lauren McKenna, for all their helpful advice, support, and encouragement.

Thanks to Tony Mauro for designing another terrific cover, and thanks to everyone at Pocket and Simon & Schuster for their work on the book and series.

And finally, a big thanks to all the readers. Knowing that folks read and enjoy my books is truly humbling, and I'm glad that you are all enjoying Gin and her

I appreciate you all more than you will ever know.

Happy reading!


need a vacation.”

I looked up from the tomato I was slicing and stared across the counter at Finnegan Lane, my foster brother and partner in so many murderous schemes over the years.

“Vacation? I hardly ever take vacations,” I said. “I have a barbecue restaurant to run, in case you've forgotten.”

I gestured with the knife at the rest of the Pork Pit. Most people wouldn't consider the restaurant much to look at with its blue and pink vinyl booths and matching, peeling pig tracks on the floor that led to the men's and women's restrooms. The long counter that ran along the back wall was older than I was, as were most of the cups, dishes, plates, silverware, and stainless-steel appliances. But everything was neat, clean, and polished to a high gloss, from the tables and chairs to the framed, slightly bloody copy of
Where the Red Fern Grows
by Wilson Rawls that hung on the wall
close to the battered, old-fashioned cash register. The Pork Pit might not be some fancy, highfalutin place, but it was my gin joint, my home, and I was damned proud of it. Always had been, always would be.

“A vacation,” Finn repeated, as if I hadn't said a word. He was rather persistent that way. “Somewhere warm, somewhere sandy, somewhere where nobody knows your name, either as Gin Blanco or most especially as the Spider.”

Finn's voice wasn't that loud, but when he said
the Spider
, the words echoed like gunshots through the storefront. The folks sitting at the tables behind Finn immediately froze, their thick, juicy barbecue beef and pork sandwiches halfway between their plates and lips. Conversation dried up like a shallow puddle in the desert, and everyone's eyes cut to me, wondering how I would react to the sound of
particular name.

My assassin name. The one I'd gone by for the last seventeen years, when I was out late at night killing people for money and eventually other, nobler reasons.

My hand tightened around the long, serrated tomato knife. Not for the first time, I wished I could use it to cut out Finn's tongue—or at least get him to think before he opened his mouth.

An elderly woman sitting two stools down from Finn noticed my death grip on the blade. Her face paled, and her hand clutched at the collar of her white silk blouse like she was about three seconds away from having a heart attack.

Sighing, I made myself
relax and put the blade down on the counter. Fuck. I hated being notorious.

After a lifetime of being invisible, I was suddenly the most well-known person in Ashland. Several weeks ago, I'd done the unthinkable—I'd killed Mab Monroe, the Fire elemental who'd been the head of the city's underworld for years. Mab had murdered my mother and older sister when I was thirteen, and her death had been a long time coming, as far as I was concerned. I didn't know anyone who'd shed any real tears over the Fire elemental's messy demise.

But now, everyone wanted their pound of flesh—from

Mab's death had left a vacuum among Ashland's legit and not-so-legit power players, and they were all scrambling to stake their various claims, solidify their shady operations, and position themselves as the city's next top dog.

Some of them thought the best way to accomplish that last feat was by killing me.

Idiot after idiot had come to the Pork Pit in the last few weeks, either singly or in small groups, all with one thing on their minds—taking out the Spider. Most of the elementals came at me straight on, challenging me to duels and wanting to test their magic against my own Ice and Stone power. Everyone else, well, they were content to try to get the drop on me when I was either opening up or closing down the restaurant.

Whatever their method, it always ended the same way—with the challengers dead and me asking Sophia Deveraux to dispose of their bodies. I'd killed more people in the last month
than I had in a year as the Spider. Even I was getting a little sick of the constant, not-so-surprise attacks and blood spatters on my hands, clothes, and shoes, but the stream of suicidal lowlifes showed no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

The old lady next to Finn sucked in a breath. I looked down and realized that I'd picked up the tomato knife again and was rubbing my thumb over the smooth, polished hilt. It wasn't as strong or sharp as the five silverstone knives that I had secreted on my body, but the serrated blade would do plenty of damage. Most things would, if you put enough force behind them, and being forceful was one of the many things I excelled at.

BOOK: By a Thread
7.63Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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