American Gods meets Watchmen in this mythology-inspired mystery from Karsten Knight, author of the Wildefire trilogy.
In a city of gods and mortals, secrets never die.
The gods walk among us. Some lurk in the shadows, masquerading as mortals; others embrace their celebrity status, launching careers from Hollywood to Capitol Hill.
One of them just murdered Cairn Delacroix’s mother.
As Cairn sifts through the rubble, she uncovers a conspiracy two decades in the making: a cursed island, the fellowship of gods who journeyed there, and the unspeakable act that intertwined their fates. One by one, the members of that voyage are dying, and Cairn’s investigations land her in the crosshairs of the rogue goddess responsible.
With the help of Nanook, a polar bear god turned detective, Cairn descends into Boston’s underworld of supernatural crime and political aspiration. To avenge her mother and unmask her assassin, she’ll first have to reckon with a gut-wrenching secret that will rewrite the life she thought she knew.
The box was growling.
Cairn could hear it over the flames crackling in the library fireplace and the thunderstorm battering the windows outside. Her mother, Ahna, smiled at her expectantly as Cairn cradled the gift in her lap.
To my fearless daughter on her 18th birthday, the tag read. Cairn traced her fingers over the pattern of air holes punctured through the foil wrapping paper.
“I’m going to guess this isn’t the Jeep I asked for,” Cairn said at last. The box quivered in response as if to say, “No, I am not.”
“Go on,” Ahna urged her. The firelight danced across her face.
As Cairn tugged the silver ribbon to undo the bow, the box abruptly went still. Cautiously, she lifted the lid an inch.
A pair of vibrantly ice blue eyes peered out, regarding her curiously. Cairn’s breath caught.
Nestled in a blanket inside was a kitten unlike any she’d ever seen. He had a spotted gray coat thick enough to withstand the fiercest Arctic chill and disproportionately broad paws built like fur-covered snowshoes. His tufted ears bristled as he backed his stubby tail into the corner of the box.
“Lower your hand in,” her mother instructed. “Let him meet you halfway when he’s ready.”
Cairn left her trembling fingers outstretched six inches from the creature’s muzzle. He cocked his head to the side, and after a moment’s hesitation, he extended one of his comically enormous paws and batted at Cairn’s fingertips. Apparently, she passed his test, because all at once he rushed forward, nuzzling the glands beneath his foxlike ears against the bony ridges of her knuckles.
When Cairn could finally form words again, she repeated, “This is not a Jeep.”
“No, but he’s great at off-roading.” Ahna was smirking now, her maternal X-ray vision penetrating Cairn’s nonchalance into the melting heart beneath. “He’s a Canadian lynx. When I visited your grandparents up in Labrador, I found him in their garden one morning, nibbling away at a crowberry bush. A predator had mauled the mother just beyond the fence. I couldn’t bear to leave him to fend for himself.”
The kitten awkwardly clambered out of the box, his plump white belly momentarily getting caught before he flopped out onto the shag carpet. Cairn watched him stagger across the room toward the bookcases that housed her father’s collection of rock and mineral specimens. His tail wiggled in anticipation right before he made a dramatic leap for one of the shelves—
—and failed spectacularly. He dropped back to the floor, rattled. A second attempt yielded the same result. On the third try, however, the lynx clung defiantly to the edge by two paws, and after some frantic scrabbling, he pulled himself up to the ledge. Cairn and Ahna applauded.
“Ahna …” Cairn’s father, Emile, appeared in the doorway, arms crossed, a pair of jeweler’s magnifying glasses perched atop his disheveled hair. He pointed at the tiny creature, which was using the craggy surface of an amethyst as a chin-scratching post. “How many times have we talked about smuggling exotic pets into the country?”
Cairn scooped the kitten off the shelf and held him inches from her father’s nose. “Come on, how could a face this cute possibly be illegal?” The fluff ball hung limply in her hand and blinked.
Emile’s wistful eyes landed on his wife. “In my experience, it’s always the cute ones that get you in the most trouble.”
Ahna blew him a kiss. “He’ll need a name,” she said.
The lynx crawled down into Cairn’s lap and curled into a ball. Within seconds, he was snoring softly, unfazed by the fierce winds raging outside the Delacroix’s seaside home.
Cairn gingerly ruffled the hair on his neck. “We’ll name him Squall.”
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About the Author
Karsten Knight is the author of the historical mystery NIGHTINGALE, SING, the time-traveling thriller PATCHWORK, and the Polynesian volcano goddess trilogy WILDEFIRE (Simon & Schuster)–though some say his writing career peaked at the age of six, when he completed a picture book series about an adventurous worm.
He is a graduate of College of the Holy Cross and earned an MFA in writing for children from Simmons College. Karsten resides in Boston, where he lives for fall weather, bowling, and football season.
Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads
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