Publication Date: July 8, 2011
Synopsis: No good deed goes unpunished.
A Kabbalah magician, Aaron Walker has devoted the last hundred years of his life to his Foundation, a charity that helps widows, orphans, and the stranger in the land. It doesn't get much stranger than the Lost: male witches who don't have parents to train them in the arts. Now, corporate wizards are trying to kill him, and he has no idea why.
With a handful of former students, he hops from one hidden enclave of cultural magic to another, hoping to survive long enough to contact the witches of New Salem. But the assassins don't scare Aaron as much as the price the witch Rose demands for her aid--to father a child. To keep his magic and save the world, he must remain a virgin. Merodak, the demon, offers a way out but he’s a pathological liar with a twisted sense of humor.
An urban fantasy that starts like a hardboiled detective novel and continues with non-stop action. Readers on authonomy said they could hear each character's unique voice.
Excerpt: Chapter 28 – Hunting Santas
They ate en route. Rose went into the pub alone. She came out a few minutes later with a scrappy-looking, little man in a leather jacket. The man had slicked-back, black hair and could have starred in a production of West Side Story. Eoin hopped in the passenger seat and guided her through the suburban streets.
Eoin made small talk with Rose about his mother Aoife (pronounced ee-fa) and her recent visit. His mom ran a shoe shop in Southern England, where Eoin had learned his trade. Eventually, they reached a seedy looking house on a cul-de-sac that had a broken streetlight. One of the windows in the small, stucco house was boarded up with plywood. Eoin unlocked the front door and tossed the house keys to Rose. The men hauled their gear inside quickly. It was just after midnight, and the air was icy.
When he saw Winn in only socks, Eoin said, “Size twelve wide. I’ll be right back.” Eoin raided a workroom and came back with a pair of elegant leather loafers.
“Wow,” Winn gasped. “These are beautiful. They look handmade. Italian? They must have cost at least a grand. I couldn’t.”
Eoin was flattered. “Thank you. The owner refused to pay. I give them as a gift to one who appreciates such things. Everyone today wants cheap sneakers. They don’t know what craftsmanship is any more.”
Only now did the college student notice how short their host was. He struggled for another conversation topic to avoid using any size adjectives. Winn took a guess, “Did you make your own coat, too? The layers remind me of an Australia cowboy raincoat I saw in a movie.”
Eoin nodded. “I do a lot of leatherwork, about three commissions a month for rich people. I try to only work enough to keep me in beer.”
When Rose saw how shredded her fine coat was, she said, “Winston is going to be helping our host with an errand tonight.” She tossed Winn the keys and said, “Redwing, loan him your bat.”
Eoin smiled cruelly, “A mission of vengeance for the Sidhe people.”
Redwing handed over his bat, saying, “Just have the truck back by 6:30 a.m. We need to pick up the boss.”
“An hour or two should suffice,” Eoin said, bowing his thanks.
When they were out in the U-Haul, Eoin smeared brown shoe polish on the license plates to obscure their identity. At a distance, the substance could be mistaken for mud. Once they were both in the van and the heater was rattling loudly, Eoin said, “Take a right up here and get this bucket of bolts up to about forty miles an hour. When I tell you, swing right as far as you can without hitting other cars.”
“You’re under bond oath to me for my hospitality.” A few moments later, Eoin put his open bottle of dark beer into the cup holder next to Winn’s Gatorade. “Don’t spill this.”
Eoin rolled down the window and the icy air blasted into the cab. Leaning out of the open window as far as he could, he shouted, “Now!”
They swerved over toward an assortment of brightly lit lawn decorations. “Death to the oppressor!” Eoin shouted as he clubbed a mechanical Santa, taking its head off.
Eoin slid back into place and drained his beer. “Aah, the taste of victory.”
Winn asked, “So are we done?”
Eoin chuckled, taking another bottle out of his coat pocket. “Just beginning. Tonight we strike a blow for my people. Next time, go up the driveway and along the sidewalk. It will make the aiming easier, and we’ll get a few reindeer with the grill.”
“Oookay. Glad to oblige. I’d just like to know why.”
“The lass told you about my heritage, didn’t she?”
“The Sidhe were once a noble people, feared and respected by all mortals. We inspired awe. But when I say the word elf, now, in this wretched season, what do you think of?”
Eoin spit out the window. “Because of him, our name is a synonym for toy-making slaves that children wouldn’t be afraid of. That foul slaver’s very name is an anagram for Satan. It’s no coincidence that he dresses in red. The hoof prints on the roof are his, not the deer’s. Turn left.”
Up ahead they witnessed the biggest display of Christmas lights he had ever seen. A large
Santa was climbing into a mock chimney just beside the mailbox. He accelerated toward the target without being told. “That’s the spirit.”
When they were almost there, Winn heard the brief whoop of a police siren. “Hold true!” shouted the alleged fairy. The next Santa went flying farther than the first.
“I don’t have a license,” Winn said as they vibrated over fake boxes of toys and an electric snowman.
“Neither do I,” said Eoin, with his brogue showing. “Useless things.”
“The police will want to see one,” Winn explained.
“Turn onto the highway ramp ahead and leave the boys in blue to me.” As they fishtailed back onto the road, Eoin pointed his forefinger at the police vehicle, and the turbocharged engine sputtered to a halt.
The rest of the night was a blur of laughter, vandalism, and chase. Winn had a vague memory of writing anti-Christmas messages in the snow in urine in front of a Macy’s store. Around 2:00 a.m., Eoin used kung fu to decimate a whole row of Santas in front of a department store.
“Monkey Claw,” Eoin explained. “Good for short people against taller opponents. I practice a variation of Drunken Master I like to call Drunken Monkey.”
“Nice,” Winn commented. “Do all you magic types know kung fu?”
“No, just people that Walker trains.”
“Why is that? It’s not like he’s some kind of commando himself.”
“In his words, ‘That none should be lost.’ He’s got some pretty weird ideas about religion and morality, but he’s right about that one. If you go through the trouble of saving a life, you want to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.”
“What’s wrong? You seem depressed all of a sudden.”
“Such a pity I was born in this soulless age of technology. I would have liked to be part of one of the Epics. There’s no chance of that happening before I die.”
Winn said, “We could use a guy like you at the Met tomorrow. You’d be good with the cameras. We’re going to get this magic sword that can cut anything.”
“The unfailing blade of Manannan Mac Lir?” asked Eoin.
After Winn described the medieval weapon, the fairy said, “That’s the unerring blade, called Retaliator. It cuts through any foe’s armor and always strikes true.”
“So, are you interested?”
Eoin said, “I’d be proud to fight by your side. This is the best hunt I’ve had in years.”
At near dawn, when they pulled into the driveway, Winn could barely see. Eoin was snoring. As he came in, Ray handed him a bottle of water and a hand full of aspirin.
“Thanks. I didn’t drink anything, but I ache all over from the fight at the hotel.” After he popped the medicine, Winn said, “Eoin knows about the sword and volunteered to help liberate it from its bondage.”
Author Bio: Scott Rhine wanted to find a job that combined his love of reading with math problem solving, so he studied both short stories and computer languages. As a techno-gypsy, he worked on optimizing some of the fastest and largest supercomputers in the world. A couple of degrees, patents, and children later, at forty-eight, he still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up. When his third publication, "Doors to Eternity," hit #16 on the Amazon epic fantasy list, he decided to become a full-time author. Since then, each book of his "Jezebel's Ladder" series has hit the high-tech science fiction top 100. His highest rated book is the contemporary fantasy "Foundation for the Lost."
Humor is a part of every story he writes because people are funny, even when they don't think so. In the real world, something always goes wrong and people have flaws. If you can't laugh at yourself, someone is probably doing it for you. Strong female characters also play a major role in his stories because he's married to a beautiful PhD who can edit, break boards, and use a chainsaw.