Welcome to our third week of celebrating the fabulous
In today's post, we're taking a look at the Offbeat Crimes series, and a personal story Angel has chosen to share. We also have a giveaway, all the way at the bottom.
First up, Lime Gelatin And Other Monsters
Kyle Monroe, his irritating new partner, and their fellow freaks at the 77th Precinct must learn to work together to stop a vicious murderer that might not even be human.
Kyle Monroe’s encounter with a strange gelatinous creature in an alley leaves him scarred and forever changed, revealing odd abilities he wishes he didn’t have and earning him reassignment to a precinct where all the cops have defective paranormal abilities.
Just as he’s starting to adjust to his fellow misfit squad mates, Kyle’s new partner arrives. Tall, physically perfect, reserved, and claiming he has no broken psychic talents, Vikash Soren irritates Kyle in every way. But as much as he’d like to hate Vikash, Kyle finds himself oddly drawn to him, their non-abilities meshing in unexpected ways. If they can learn to work together, they might be able to stop the mysterious killer who has been leaving mutilated bodies along the banks of the Schuylkill.
“Why do they call you Kirby?”
“You’d hear it sooner or later, I guess.” Kyle shrugged. “It’s this thing I do, absorbing other people’s talents temporarily. If they’re close to me. Or touch me. Like Kirby, the little pink dude in the video game.”
Just that? Soren didn’t edge away, or change expression at all. Was he made of stone? “It’s a thing. Everyone here has a thing.”
After a few more steps, Soren asked, “Always?”
“What… Oh, was I always like this? Who knows? I mean, maybe I’ve picked up stray thoughts or something, but no. It’s pretty recent. Knowing that I do this.”
Kyle took a wide arc around Vance as he entered the squad room, pointing to the double desk in the far corner, well removed from everyone else. “That’s ours. Coffee’s over there, but you might not want that coffee. Let me grab my file and we’ll go see the lieutenant.”
A flutter of wings sounded overhead—a brilliant flash of feathers shooting in front of Kyle to land on Carrington’s desk at the back of the room. With a raucous call, the pink and neon-blue raven folded his wings and waddled over to snap at Carrington’s pen.
“Stop it, Edgar.”
“You couldn’t get laid at a clusterfuck!” Edgar squawked, making another grab for the pen.
Carrington sighed and handed the ballpoint over. “There. Go play. Try not to get ink all over your feet this time.”
Edgar seized the pen in his Pepto-Bismol-colored beak and flew to his perch on the other side of the room where he called out, “Fuck you very much!” then proceeded to draw random lines on the paper tacked up beside his perch for Edgar’s art projects.
“So what’s your story, Soren?” Vance called across the squad room. “What flies your freak flag?”
“Yeah, what do you do?” Jeff Gatling stopped teleporting his banana from one corner of his desk to the other.
“I don’t really do anything,” Soren answered as he hefted the empty coffeepot. “Guess I’ll make fresh since I’m the new guy.”
He opened the top to remove the filter and every human voice in the squad room yelled out, “No!”
Most people would have startled, maybe dropped the carafe. Soren just blinked at the roomful of people gesturing wildly. He took the filter out and emptied it over the trashcan. “Why not?”
“You don’t want to do that.” Kyle stayed by his desk, a nice safe distance from the coffee station. “That’s Larry’s job.”
“Larry’s not keeping up then.”
The container of sweetener packets began to rattle. It shivered across the counter and leaped to a messy end, ceramic shards skittering across the floor. The desk that Krisk and Wolf shared rose from the floor several inches then slammed back down. Wolf fled with a squeaking yelp just before the desk flipped on its side.
Soren glanced toward Kyle. “Larry’s not a cop, is he?”
“He is…he was! A dead cop. Larry’s a ghost. He gets ticked if anyone else makes the coffee. Put the stuff back, please!”
“Larry?” Soren raised his voice but to all appearances remained completely unruffled. “I’m new here. I’m very sorry I invaded your jurisdiction. See? I’m putting the carafe back. Closing the top. Are we good, Larry?”
A breeze ruffled through a stack of papers, but no further mayhem ensued. The carafe slid from its pad on the coffeemaker and floated to the water cooler where Larry, who never manifested in a visible form, whistled tunelessly while he filled the carafe.
From his dim corner of the room, Carrington said in his dry, genteel way, “Welcome to the Island of Misfit Freaks.”
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Second in the series, The Pillbugs Of Time
Relationship and communication issues plague Officer Vikash Soren, but those are nothing compared to facing stick-throwing tumbleweeds, pill bugs and…time travel?
Vikash Soren, the perfect police officer except for his odd paranormal ability, never seems to lose his temper. Always serene and competent, he’s taken on the role of mediator in a squad room full of misfits. But on the inside, he’s a mess. Unable to tell his police partner that he loves him, Vikash struggles silently, terrified of losing Kyle as a lover, partner and friend.
But life in the 77th Precinct doesn’t leave much room for internal reflection. A confrontation with a stick-throwing tumbleweed in Fairmount Park leads to bizarre consequences involving pill bugs, statues and…time travel? If Vikash manages to survive the week and stay in one point in time, he might be able to address normal things like relationship problems. He just needs Kyle to have a little more patience. Maybe a few centuries’ worth.
Normal was something one left at the door when assigned to a paranormal police station. Officer Vikash Soren had seen that demonstrated the first time he had set foot inside the 77th. During roll call, the man who would later become his partner had accidentally shot fire from his fingers at the ceiling. Someone else’s fire, as it turned out. In the weeks that followed, he had encountered an animated leather jacket, worked with a vampire, a lizard man and various officers of dubious paranormal talents, and had helped stop the killing spree of an alligator snapping turtle the size of a sedan.
It would follow that nothing should surprise him anymore.
But when he walked into the squad room that morning, late due to a doctor’s appointment, his colleagues had gathered around the periphery of the room to watch Greg Santos in a fistfight with a puddle of water.
Coffee cup in hand, he wandered over to lean against the desk beside his partner.
“Hey, Kash.” Kyle gave him a quick glance, his attention fastened on the unlikely pugilists. “Everything go okay?”
“Yes. Shoulder’s fine.”
“You’re not even going to ask, are you?”
Vikash sipped his whipped cream-drowned mocha latte. “You’ll tell me.”
“You saying I talk too much, Soren?” Kyle nudged him with an elbow. “One of us has to. The suspect was originally an ice tree. Tree-ish. Thing. It was ice and looked like a three-year-old had built a tree out of Legos.”
Carrington Loveless III, the department’s nutritionally challenged vampire, came to lean against the desk on Vikash’s other side. “It was, as I understand it, standing on the Ben Franklin Parkway and hitting people as they walked by. Didn’t seem to be causing injury, but we can’t have an ice beast swatting tourists’ asses. Harassment, at the very least. Bad for the city’s image.”
“Why, yes. Yes, it did.” Carrington’s smile was just half a fang short of evil. “Melted through the net in which Santos had snared it, and the resulting puddle goosed him. Things escalated rather quickly from there.”
Greg didn’t seem to be making any headway, other than getting soaked. “Should get an Odo bucket,” Vikash murmured.
Kyle chuckled into his coffee. “Seriously, Carr? You never watched Deep Space Nine? The character who could only retain a solid shape for so long?”
Carrington sniffed. “Masters level courses in geek. Between the two of you, that’s what I’d need to decipher half your conversations.”
“This from someone who sings opera in the car,” Carrington’s partner, Amanda Zacchini, muttered as she walked past, her steps hindered by the piece of equipment she carried. Shira Lourdes, Greg’s partner, hurried after her with an armful of some sort of corrugated hose.
“I like a lot of music!”
“Moody, dark, emo music, sure,” Amanda countered, though her attention was on what she and Shira had brought in, most likely from Amanda’s truck, since they’d tracked in snow as well.
When Amanda attached the hose, Vikash finally recognized it—a Shop-Vac, of the sort people had in their garages or by their workbenches. He shook his head as he hurried over to get the vac plugged in for Amanda. While the male squad members had been standing around watching the struggle, some of them taking bets, their two female members had been deriving a solution.
Without another word, Amanda switched on the vac, sucked up the water combatant, removed the hose and jammed a rubber ball in the opening, effectively trapping the animated water and leaving Greg panting on the floor.
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And so far, third in the series, Skim Blood And Savage Verse, available now from the publisher
Words damage more than just feelings as Carrington hunts feral books menacing the city.When a ferocious book attacks Carrington at his own birthday party, he believes it’s an isolated incident. But similar books soon pop up all over town, menacing innocent people with harsh bits of poetry and blank verse that deliver damaging physical blows. It’s a frustrating case with too many variables and not enough answers, and the stakes go up with each attack.
With the help of his misfit squad mates at the 77th and the public library’s Rare Books Department, the missing pieces decrease but not Carrington’s vexations. His commanding officer rakes him over the coals at the beginning of every shift. His police partner has lost patience with what she sees as his delusional relationship choices and his inability to pick the right man in a vast field of two. City Hall demands that the books be stopped immediately. It’s enough to put a nutritionally challenged vampire off his skim blood.
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Why I Can't Give Up On Humanity
I've told this story before but it seems more important now. These are dark, dangerous times and we need to remember that not everything is dark out there sometimes.
When my son was still in school, we traveled quite a bit. At least one trip a year – that's what we saved for. He's always lived in the same place but we've been adamant that he see more of the country and the world.
One of our trips several years ago was to Los Angeles and we were coming back in the evening from visiting the Watts Towers, driving through a typical LA neighborhood—single story homes, wide straight streets. We were in a small line of cars pulling up to a stop sign, when the vehicle two cars in front of us slammed on its brakes and a figure flew from the impact with that car's hood.
"Oh, my god," my hubby gasped out. "They just hit that guy on the bicycle. What should we do?"
Okay, I have to break into my own story here to explain that I was trained as an Army medic at one time and did go on to finish my LPN. Some things you don't get out of your bloodstream.
"Stop the car! Stop the car!" I might have yelled or whispered, it's hard to remember, but I was flying out of the car before he'd managed to stop at the curb.
The bicyclist was on the ground, his mangled bike some feet away. He was breathing okay, pulse was good, but his leg had taken the hit and might have been broken. Not properly conscious, he was trying to get up. A crowd was gathering. Great, I thought. Just what this poor guy needs.
Still, a crowd meant possibly helpful people. "Who's calling 911?" I yelled as I put my hand on the man's shoulder and tried to get him to lie still.
A woman held up her hand, already on her cell to dispatch. Good. The driver was still there. She was upset but she wasn't running. Also good. On the ground with the bicyclist, my two thoughts are keep him still and calm and try to get him talking. It took me a bit to get his name. He was really disoriented and drifting. By the time I looked up again, we had a protective circle around us.
Someone had found his cell. I relayed the man's name. They called his family. Someone had retrieved his satchel and the things that had fallen out. The protective circle remained until the ambulance and police arrived. In the bright lights from the emergency vehicles, I saw that crowd. White people, Asian people, African American people, men and women, old and young—and they stood there, shoulder to shoulder, to make sure this man they didn't know would be all right.
I still cry when I think about it sometimes. That's my America, people standing together, people trying to help, and I know those people who stood there that night, they're still out there. I know that there are many, many more still out there. Bad things are happening. We're losing faith in a lot of things. But because of that night, I will never lose faith in humanity.
About Angel Martinez:
Angel Martinez currently lives part time in the hectic sprawl of northern Delaware and full time inside her head. She has one husband, one son, two cats, a love of all things beautiful and a terrible addiction to the consumption of both knowledge and chocolate.
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Thanks for celebrating with us. Come back next week for more of Angel's books, our Q&A, and one more chance to win!
Until then, happy reading!