Title: Hell Hounds
Author: Andrew P. Weston
Genre: Paranormal Fantasy
Feared throughout the many circles of the underworld, Satan’s Reaper – and chief bounty hunter – Daemon Grim, is known as a true force to be reckoned with.
Having eliminated a major player in the uprising eating its way like a cancer through the underbelly of hell, Grim is stunned to discover he cannot afford to rest on his laurels, for the rebellion runs far deeper than was ever imagined. New players have emerged – denizens with uncanny abilities – who seem determined to support Chopin and Tesla’s revolutionary agenda.
Ever keen to test their mettle, the Sibitti – personified weapons of the ancient Babylonian plague god, Erra – also appear eager to capitalize on the growing unrest, and set about maneuvering events in order to place themselves in direct opposition to Grim’s investigation.
And if that was not cause for concern enough, there’s an insane angel on the loose, a creature as hell-bent on creating havoc as he is to return home.
How do Grim and his rabid pack of bounty hunters respond?
Baying for blood – doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Hidden amongst the ziggurat spires adorning the northwestern corner of the Palace of Westmonster, I had a commanding view of a midnight skyline that could only belong to Olde London Town. As usual, the rainbow-haloed blush of the streetlights far below twinkled into the distance, distinguishing those parts of the city anchored in the modern day from the remnants scattered throughout the broad spectrum of other eras known to saturate this, the topsy-turviest existence in all of latter-day hell; otherwise known as the Juxtapose level.
From my vantage point, it looked as if a patchwork quilt of simple open fires, gas streetlamps, and brilliant neon beacons had been scattered in all directions. Whatever the period, it made no difference: everything remained veiled beneath the stain of original sin.
I inhaled deeply, my phantom nostrils flaring in pleasure as a pungent blend of brimstone and exhaust fumes filled my nonexistent lungs.
This was my kind of place and I loved it here. But I suppose that was understandable, as I was at the top of the food chain.
Movement down below and on the opposite bank of the River Tombs caught my attention. I phased, and in the blink of an eye materialized among the crenels of the highest buttresses on the far side of Westmonster Bridge. Safe amongst the shadows, I adjusted my perspective and zeroed in on Phosphate Magnum Square in the district of Lambsdeath, a place synonymous with hellegal weapons trafficking. Not that you could call it a square anymore, for the Victorian thoroughfare was littered with ruptured gas mains, shattered cobbles, and a veritable no man’s land of debris from semi-demolished buildings, courtesy of our Sibitti friends (the plague-god Erra’s seven personified weapons) and the latest tremors they had engendered over the past several months.
Vegetation, taking advantage of the unexpected reprieve from all-enveloping brickwork, had exploded from every available crack and fissure, adding a tangled maze of roots and foliage to the already confusing minefield that remained. Along with it came cloying swarms of insects. Freed at last from the confines of centuries-old pipe work, they wove their droning spell through the air like chitinous starlings; worrying people and animals alike under a relentless assault of gnashing mandibles and venomous stings.
If that wasn’t distracting enough, an endless drizzle of oily black rain fell from leaden clouds, making the going treacherous underfoot. But not for the assassin I’d espied.
Dressed from head to toe in a figure-hugging flaytex cat suit and soft-soled boots, she looked completely at home in this environment, every inch the unrepentant femme fatale. In fact, so congruous was her presence that she pierced the legion of hearse flies swarming about the crown of the debris without attracting the slightest curiosity.
An exceptional achievement. And part of the reason for my interest.
On Satan’s orders, I had increased my efforts to uncover the extent of the cancer eating its way through the heart of our society. A difficult task. And yet, indirectly, I had been helped a great deal by the late—and not so great—Dr. Thomas Neill Cream, whose antics had alerted me to the existence of the problem in the first place.
Now that Cream had been reassigned to the Cirque du Freak, he would be out of the way for a millennia or two, enjoying the torments lavished upon our lobotomized, mutant novelty acts. That still left Chopin and Tesla on the loose, though, along with Erra and his Sibitti nose-wipes. And, of course, we now had our very own psychopathic angel on the loose.
A devil’s cauldron of a mix if ever there was one.
Bearing in mind painful missteps endured last time out, Satan wanted me to expand my team to ensure we were never again too thin on the ground. Easier said than done, that. For while the underworld was rife with murderous cutthroats and rogues, finding that special someone with the skills that differentiated them from all the other cattle hadn’t been easy.
In fact, out of the dozen or so candidates I had considered during the past four months, only one had made a lasting impression: the young lady below me now.
Tonight would be her fifth assignment I’d tagged along on—without her knowledge, of course—and I had to admit, I was impressed by her work. Over the past several weeks she had managed to take out a Low Court judge, midsession, as he summed up a case in the primary courtroom of the Olde Bully; a high value inmate under witness protection in the isolation wing of Wormblood Scrubs maximum security prison; and her last job, involving one of the most clinical demonstrations I had ever witnessed of how to dispatch an entire coven of Dread-Locks, armed with nothing but a pair of combat knives blessed in the flames of the Bãlefire.
Not bad for someone who doesn’t appear augmented in any other way apart from a preternatural ability to move stealthily. It must be down to training and focus. I wonder what she’ll be like once she receives her enhancements?
I had already made up my mind, but wanted this final opportunity to make sure of my choice.
As I mused, she had nestled amongst the undergrowth and creepy-crawlies to wait for her target to appear, most likely from one of the derelict buildings opposite. So I seized the opportunity to scan through her hellographic-profile to help pass the time.
Okay . . .
Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont, known simply as Charlotte Corday, or l’ange de l’assassinat, the angel of the assassination. Born 1768 in France to a minor aristocratic family and executed by guillotine when only twenty-four years old for the murder of Jacobin leader, Jean-Paul Marat, a person whom history calls the instigator of the radicalized course undertaken by the insurgents during the initial stages of the revolution.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Hell-Hounds-Heroes-Book-21-ebook/dp/B076GWZ4DW
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/Hell-Hounds-Heroes-Book-21-ebook/dp/B076GWZ4DW
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hell-Hounds-Heroes-Book-21-ebook/dp/B076GWZ4DW
If you could dress up as anything or anyone this Halloween, what or who would it be and why?
That would have to be Cerberus, the multi-headed Hound of Hades who guards the gates of the underworld to prevent the dead from leaving. And why? Ah, because that means on Halloween, I get to keep all the ghosts and ghouls locked away, so there’ll be a lot more treats for me!
Explain why your featured book is a treat to read:
It’s an absolute treat to read because critics call Hell Hounds: “An elevated example of urban fantasy.” Just the thing to read while you wait for little knuckles to come knocking at your door.
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Andrew P. Weston is an international bestselling author from the UK who now lives on the beautiful Greek island of Kos with his wife, Annette, and their growing family of rescue cats. An astronomy and criminal law graduate, he has the privilege of being a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, the British Science Fiction Association, British Fantasy Society and the International Association of Media Tie-In Writers.
When not writing, Andrew devotes some of his spare time to assisting NASA with one of their remote research projects, and writes educational articles for Astronaut.com and Amazing Stories.
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