After almost a year off to get Khirro taken care of, it’s time for the return of Icarus Fell.
For those of you who may not know him, the poor fellow not only has an unfortunate name, but he’s also dead. A couple of muggers killed him in the rain outside a church (don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything…it happens around page 4 of the first book, On Unfaithful Wings) and that’s when things started getting really weird. How weird? Archangels, demonic priests, trips to Hell kind of weird. Now, in Icarus’ third adventure, SECRETS OF THE HANGED MAN, he has a new face tagging along and a new enemy at his heels!
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SECRETS OF THE HANGED MAN
Icarus Fell thought the afterlife couldn’t get any worse…until Hell came looking for him.
When you are the orphaned child of a disgraced nun, and you’re saddled with a ridiculous name like Icarus Fell, you don’t expect things can go drastically downhill.
Until death comes along and an archangel recruits you for a job you screw up so badly you nearly lose your son to a demonic priest and a fallen angel.
And then, burdened by the lives lost because of your foul ups, you travel to Hell, a detour that costs you more dearly than you could ever have imagined.
No, things couldn’t get much worse in the afterlife…unless Satan sends his lap dog to bring back the one thing he thinks belongs to him.
Why couldn’t death be easy?
Excerpt from Chapter Two
Ben Trounce sat on the bench at the bus stop, the world passing him by unnoticed. People came and went, buses growled to a stop, air brakes popping, then pulled away again, leaving him alone.
A word with an ominous, foreboding connotation. He stared at the cell phone gripped too tight in his right hand, but saw it no more than he saw the people, the buses, the cars. Her words consumed him.
She was having an affair: he knew it, she knew he knew it. The fact followed them everywhere, stalking them. It forced their conversations into talk of weather and work surrounded by uncomfortable silence, it lay between them in their bed like an ugly child neither of them dared acknowledge. But they lived on with it, ignoring it and pretending it didn’t exist.
She’d called half-an-hour before saying she needed to talk. Nothing unusual in what she said, but her tone caused the knot in his throat, the twisting of his gut. The way her words formed—hesitant, halting, choked—told him she’d made a decision, and the quake in her voice suggested it would change his life forever, and not in a good way.
Ben stood, jammed the phone into his pocket and looked up at the gray sky. The unyielding rain that had beaten the city into a uniform state of depression since January began had stopped at last, and puddles lay on the sidewalk, waiting to ambush anyone walking without care. Another day, he might have taken solace in the lack of precipitation, might have allowed it to lift his mood, but not today. Today, worry gnawed his gut like a rat determined to escape its cage.
He turned to his right and bumped shoulders with a teenager arriving at the bus stop. The young man cursed at him, called him an asshole, but Ben walked on without apology. He trod in a lurking puddle, soaking his foot, but paid it no more attention than he did the angry teen.
He lived a few blocks away, so he had no need for a bus. The bench at the bus stop on the number 30 route had been the closest place to sit when her call made his knees threaten to buckle with dread anticipation. A convenient place to collect his thoughts.
The walk home drifted by like a dream flirting with becoming a nightmare, one in which the dreamer sensed the beauty would soon be consumed by flame. Robin red-breasts sat vigil on lawns, waiting for earthworms to emerge from their soggy lairs; he identified with those worms as his runners splashed through puddles in every low spot on the sidewalk on his way to confront his wife. Like the worms, he knew the danger lurking at his destination, but had to go anyway.
Ben stopped by the low gate at the end of the path to the bungalow they’d purchased four years before, at a time when he was her one-and-only, not her one-of-two. A fixer-upper with dark green paint flaking around the windows and boards in the fence loose and leaning, he’d never gotten around to the fixing-up part of the deal. The grass should have been cut once more before winter, but its pre-spring lushness afforded better opportunity for the worm to escape the robin’s eye. He should be so lucky.