That Buxom Blonde Phil Was Looking For

A Long, Hard LookAn excerpt from A Long, Hard Look. Watch for the second Phil Brennan mystery, A Still, Small Voice, this summer.


My front door does not have an annoying habit of failing to stay latched.

It latches just fine. I make sure of it.

So it concerned me not a little that it was ajar when I rounded the top of the stairs.

I froze, then stepped back a bit. I stopped on the top stair and leaned my forehead against the wall, which put my good ear almost in the hallway where it could listen better.

Nothing.

These old wooden floors creak if you look at them. Nobody was moving in my place.

Which meant one of two things: nobody was in my place, or they just weren’t moving.

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Finding the Right Title

That She is Made of TruthWhen I started this book years ago, the title was anodyne (all lower case) and the lead character was Jake Calcutta.

And eleventyleven other things were different.

Everything’s changed; much adjustment to the story, which now features Jesse Donovan, instead of, well, the other guy.

Everything changed, but the title.

Until now.

The old title didn’t fit anymore.

Like renaming a child just before you send them out into the world, this is unsettling, but it’s still the right thing.

And so, the first Jesse Donovan mystery will be called That She is Made of Truth.


Through the Fog (Chapter 53)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

By the time Max and Mossie and friends arrived, Siobhan had filled in enough of the gaps to make most of it make some sense.

Patrick, Feany the First, had infiltrated Dubin’s organization a year before. He discovered quickly that Conor Dubin was a man of temperament, and could be closemouthed like a clam with one associate and chatty as a schoolgirl with another. The SDU officer unfortunately hadn’t been interesting enough to Dubin to get him to open up about life, the universe, and other crimes. I guess it’s tough to do an accurate personality profile on someone like that.

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Through the Fog (Chapter 52)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

When the blow came I wasn’t the only one surprised.

Niall’s fist hit the side of Feany III’s neck with a sound like a handful of meatloaf you threw at the wall. Feany III went down like the meatloaf, and then there was one. Feany the Only must have heard Fearghal behind him; he dodged ever so slightly and caught the ham-sized fist in the side of the head instead of the pressure point on his neck. It was still almost enough; his head rocked, and he shoved backwards into Fearghal. Fearghal went over backwards, and Feany scrambled behind a car.

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Through the Fog (Chapter 51)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

I looked at what I could see of the glorious old building; the triple nave above us, the square stone columns, arches everywhere. I wanted to take a closer look at the organ; built just before the Great War, it incorporated parts from the original from 1872. I had a quick mental image of being under a pump organ; I was so small that I could only pump one of the pedals; someone else was on the other, and the feet of the players (I use the term loosely) dangled over our heads. I wonder where that was, and if it was even real.

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Through the Fog (Chapter 50)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

As we slipped down the stairs, I could barely hear the three behind me; Max and his big friends. When we got to street level it was black. Out front it was gently lit, but back here there were no lights but the stars.

In five minutes we’d be at the church, and I’d either be goading some thug into calling Dubin, or involved in something much, much worse. Siobhan could pretend it was all business; I couldn’t.

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Through the Fog (Chapter 49)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

“Tonight?”

“Hey, you were surprised to see the map there still, right? You think he’s gonna leave it there forever? No, we advance his timeline with audacity.”

“You’re sure he’ll bite?”

“You’ve convinced me.”

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Through the Fog (Chapter 48)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

Siobhan’s room was on the ground floor; not directly below Rob’s, but close enough that wireless connections for video worked between them.

She stayed in persona once we were back in the room. I had a harder time with the clothes than the hair; blonde was gonna suit her long before a leather mini would.

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Through the Fog (Chapter 47)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

The chap behind the bar, whose name should have popped into my head but didn’t, gave me a nod between the heads of hair at the bar. I held up one finger, which he seemed to be expecting, and headed around to the table I’d sat at with Rob and Mossie. It was empty, which was a pleasant surprise, or completely expected—I’d walked past a couple empty tables to get here; most of the patrons were lining the bar where service was faster.

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Through the Fog (Chapter 46)

It’ll make more sense if you start with Chapter 1.

Through the Fog

We walked across the gravel of the carport, then across an unkempt grassy area and down concrete steps to a rocky beach. There, over the sound of the waves, Dubin explained his plan.

He had arranged for a professor of Celtic history to ‘find’ the Brendan map and announce it to the world. I was to allow others to comment on its authenticity to see who else might support it. He hinted that some of the supporters might be ‘associates’ of his, but that they would only speak up if no other linguists or historians accepted the map as genuine.

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