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Authors: Hank Schwaeble

Diabolical

BOOK: Diabolical
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Table of Contents
 
 
 
Bram Stoker Award–winning author of
Damnable
 
“Hank Schwaeble has done it again.
Diabolical
more than lives up to its title.”
—F. Paul Wilson,
New York Times
bestselling author
 
“With
Diabolical
, Hank Schwaeble proves he is the real deal and one of the best new horror writers out there.”
—
David Liss, Edgar
®
Award–winning author of
The Devil's Company
Praise for Hank Schwaeble and
Damnable
 
“Flat-out fabulous . . .
Damnable
kept me breathlessly glued to the pages from start to finish. Fast-paced, edgy, and gripping.”
—Cherry Adair,
New York Times
bestselling author
 
“Hank Schwaeble is a new, talented voice on the scene. He writes with a confidence that could be called swagger if it wasn't so good.
Damnable
is a powerful tale . . . fresh and irresistible.”
—Thomas F. Monteleone, award-winning author of
The Blood of the Lamb
 
“Hank Schwaeble steps into territory usually dominated by Dean Koontz . . . and solidly holds his ground. Suspenseful, inventive, and consistently surprising.”
—Gary A. Braunbeck, Bram Stoker and International Horror Guild–award winner
 
“Fast-paced and tension-ratcheting . . . a page-turner sure to satisfy the most fickle supernatural-thriller junkie.”
—Deborah LeBlanc, author of
Water Witch
and
The Wolven
 
“Hank Schwaeble's
Damnable
is a first-rate fusion of horror, suspense, and noir. There are plenty of creeping chills and chilling creeps here for every fan of the dark. Schwaeble takes the horror-action novel to the max.”
—Tom Piccirilli, award-winning author of
Shadow Season
 
“Schwaeble's voice is sharp and smooth . . . Noir has never been this dark.”
—
Rue Morgue Magazine
 
“Part horror, part thriller, part noir, and all successful . . . One hell of a recommendation for this read.”
—
Horror World Reviews
 
“Stylized and unpredictable, Hank Schwaeble's
Damnable
is a real treat.”
—
Fangoria
 

Damnable
is chock-full of deeply flawed but intensely intriguing characters, simultaneously unconventional, disturbing, and remarkable. Its flair for the macabre makes the suspense tingle, and the story lingers long after the final pages. One awesome kickoff.”
—Steve Berry,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Emperor's Tomb
 

Damnable
is an extraordinary debut with superb characters that live and breathe with both frailty and charm, thrills and chills that keep you turning the pages, and a plot line that absorbs the reader through and through. It's a wonderful book that's not to be missed.”
—Heather Graham,
New York Times
bestselling author of
The Keepers
 
“Exhilarating.”
—
Midwest Book Review
 
“Highly recommended.”
—
Dark Scribe Magazine
 
“Bodacious babes, dastardly demons, sociopathic sadists, and a maniacal mastermind combine forces in . . .
Damnable
. . . A damn good read . . . A sequel must surely await; it would be hard to keep Jake Hatcher from dealing with unfinished business.”
—
Hellnotes
 
“Hard-hitting paranormal horror . . . great twists.”
—
Desert Book Chick
 
“[An] outstanding debut thriller . . . a seamless combination of suspense, romance, mystery, and horror.”
Jove titles by Hank Schwaeble
DAMNABLE
DIABOLICAL
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
 
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
 
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have control over and does not have any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
 
DIABOLICAL
 
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author
 
PRINTING HISTORY
Jove mass-market edition / July 2011
 
Copyright © 2011 by Hank Schwaeble.
 
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
 
ISBN : 978-1-101-51615-7
 
JOVE
®
Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
JOVE
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “J” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
 
 
 

http://us.penguingroup.com

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This book couldn't exist without the wonderful efforts of my tireless agent, Bob Fleck, and my editor with a heart, Tom Colgan. And, of course, it wouldn't have been nearly as much joy to write without my first reader and essential critic Rhodi, who always keeps everything so positive.
CHAPTER 1
THE GUY AT THE BAR WITH THE WINNING SMILE AND FLAWLESS hair was on the small side, so Hatcher decided he'd have to kill him.
He dropped his eyes to the note one more time before crumbling it and stuffing it into the pocket of his jeans.
Roses are Yellow
Falcons are Blue
I know a fellow's
Been looking for you
 
Side alley, Chief. Four balls.
 
—Mr. E
A runny splash of moon reflected off the indigo Pacific, the churn of waves flashing silver as they broke on the beach. Hatcher inhaled a briny whiff of sea breeze. It carried a chill in through the patio, managed to cause goose bumps on his arm even as it dissipated under the ceiling fans that blew hot air down from the lights.
Three months. Hatcher liked Venice Beach. The weather was tame. The people managed to be friendly while still leaving you alone. Nobody ever asked what his last name was. Nobody seemed to care about anything except soaking up the sun and having a good time.
He took in a breath, exhaled half of it. Mr. E was still grinning, scraping nuts from a bowl and shaking them in a loose fist, for all appearances quite invested in conversation with one of the blonde barmaids as she rested a tray of empty glasses against her hip. Long-sleeve white shirt, untucked, cuffs turned once and hanging open; black vest, unbuttoned. He looked completely at ease. Not even so much as a glance in Hatcher's direction. Hadn't made noticeable eye contact when he walked in, hadn't looked over from the moment he'd taken a stool.
It was a Thursday night. Crowd was light. Two couples sharing a booth. Half a dozen regulars scattered around the bar, dropping comments out of the sides of their mouths while they watched a football game. Two young gals conspired over drinks at one of the tables, talking behind cupped hands about stuff that made them giggle. Patio was empty. Place wasn't very big. The guy seemed to be alone.
Yes, Hatcher concluded. No doubt about it. Way too slight a build. He'd have to kill him. And quick.
There were other options, of course. There always were. Just not good ones. It was still several minutes till. He could slip out, walk right off the patio, vanish into the cool California night. Zero Residual Presence. He sure as hell knew how to do that. But that was a tactic, not a strategy. It didn't solve the problem, only kicked the can down the road. Or maybe just along the curb a few feet. That was the trouble with running. You never knew how far away you were really getting, because behind every problem was a person, and people had a way of giving chase.
On the other hand, if the individual you pegged as doing the chasing was incapacitated, the distance you could put between you and your problem was likely to be much bigger.
Besides, it was rarely better to run from a fight. Engaging an adversary created some control over the dynamic. Running meant you were either scared to make a stand or content to let yourself be hunted. That pretty much established where you were on the food chain.
Not that engagement was a foolproof strategy. Killing the guy wouldn't necessarily solve anything. But it would sure address the food-chain issue. There was a term for it in the military. Decisive Intervention. In this case, the idea would be to turn the tables, be the predator rather than the prey. What sucked about it was he'd still have to move on. In the civilian jungle, the guys with badges were at the apex. They hunted in packs.
And considering he'd dropped one from a rather tall building not that long ago, he figured he'd already used up whatever breaks he could hope for when it came to taking on cops.
The guy took a swig of his beer, popped some more peanuts into his mouth. Didn't glance over once.
BOOK: Diabolical
9.65Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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