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Authors: Jacqueline Carey

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Poison Fruit

BOOK: Poison Fruit
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Roc Books by Jacqueline Carey

 

Agent of Hel

Dark Currents

Autumn Bones

Poison Fruit

ROC

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) LLC, 375 Hudson Street,

New York, New York 10014

USA | Canada | UK | Ireland | Australia | New Zealand | India | South Africa | China

penguin.com

A Penguin Random House Company

First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) LLC

Copyright © Jacqueline Carey, 2014

Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

Carey, Jacqueline, 1964–

Poison fruit: Agent of Hel novel / Jacqueline Carey.

p. cm

“A ROC book.”

ISBN 9780698158634

1. Women detectives—Fiction. 2. Werewolves—Fiction. I. Title.

PS3603.A74P65 2014

813'.6—dc23 2014015080

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

* D P G R O U P . O R G *

Version_1
Contents

Also by Jacqueline Carey

Title page

Copyright page

 

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-one

Chapter Twenty-two

Chapter Twenty-three

Chapter Twenty-four

Chapter Twenty-five

Chapter Twenty-six

Chapter Twenty-seven

Chapter Twenty-eight

Chapter Twenty-nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-one

Chapter Thirty-two

Chapter Thirty-three

Chapter Thirty-four

Chapter Thirty-five

Chapter Thirty-six

Chapter Thirty-seven

Chapter Thirty-eight

Chapter Thirty-nine

Chapter Forty

Chapter Forty-one

Chapter Forty-two

Chapter Forty-three

Chapter Forty-four

Chapter Forty-five

Chapter Forty-six

Chapter Forty-seven

Chapter Forty-eight

Chapter Forty-nine

Chapter Fifty

Chapter Fifty-one

Chapter Fifty-two

Chapter Fifty-three

Chapter Fifty-four

Chapter Fifty-five

Chapter Fifty-six

Chapter Fifty-seven

One

P
emkowet in November is a study in neutral hues. Don’t get me wrong—it’s still a beautiful place, but you have to work a little harder to see the beauty. Except for the dark green pines, the trees are naked and barren. It’s overcast more often than not, a sullen gray sky reflected in the gray waters of the Kalamazoo River.

Still, it makes you appreciate the subtler charms that it’s easy to overlook on a bright summer day: the tawny expanses of marsh grass waving gracefully along the shallow verges of the river, the elegant yellow-gold traceries of willow branches draping toward the water.

And of course the dunes, the vast sand dunes, rendered more majestic without the foliage of cottonwood, oak, and birch trees that disguises their scope in the growing season. Those dunes are what make a little town in southwest Michigan such a popular tourist destination. Well, the dunes, the white-sand beaches on the shores of Lake Michigan, and the eldritch community—and, last month, the hauntings.

I was glad
that
was over. It had been a close call, but the gateway between the dead and the living was closed. The annual Halloween parade had been a debacle, but it hadn’t turned into a cataclysmic bloodbath. Talman “Tall Man” Brannigan’s remains had been laid to
rest once more, and the local coven had sealed the mausoleum with all kinds of protection spells just in case.

And I was still Hel’s liaison, authorized by the Norse goddess of the dead, who presided over the underworld that lay beneath the sweeping dunes, to maintain the balance between her rule of order and the mundane authorities. It helps that I work for the Pemkowet Police Department. Technically, I’m a part-time file clerk, but the chief calls me in to consult anytime there’s eldritch involvement in a case.

That’s me: Daisy Johanssen, girl detective.

Well, except that at twenty-four, I can’t really call myself a girl. And, perhaps more significant, there’s the fact that I’m only half human.

My mom’s a hundred percent human and one of the nicest people you’d care to meet. No one here holds it against her that at nineteen years of age she inadvertently summoned my father, Belphegor, lesser demon and occasional incubus, with a Ouija board.

Obviously, she wasn’t originally from Pemkowet. Well, obvious to anyone who was, at least. I consider myself a local, and no local would risk fooling around with a Ouija board. When you’re sitting on top of a functioning underworld, there’s just no telling what could happen.

The problem is that the Pemkowet Visitors Bureau promotes paranormal tourism while downplaying the possible risks, and as a result, we get tourists who are unaware of the very real dangers they might face—like the spectators at the Halloween parade last month, who weren’t expecting to encounter the reanimated corpse of an infamous axe murderer.

Or like my mom, who was vacationing here on spring break with some college girlfriends.

If you’re wondering what sort of special powers my demonic heritage gives me, the answer is pretty much none, which is because I refuse to claim my birthright.

There’s a good reason for it. If I did, it would breach the Inviolate Wall, which separates the divine forces of the apex faiths—Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, all the big -isms—from the mortal plane. And a breach of the Inviolate Wall could ultimately unleash Armageddon.

At least that’s what I’ve always been told. It’s conventional wisdom around these parts.

Oh, and two weeks ago, one of the Norns laid some major soothsaying on me and informed me that someday the fate of the world might hinge on the choices I make.

No pressure, right?

When I asked her for advice, she told me to trust my heart. The problem with that—I mean, aside from the fact that it sounds like a line of dialogue from a Lifetime movie—was that my heart was in a serious state of confusion, which is why I’d been spending an inordinate amount of time that November mooning over the subtle glimpses of beauty to be found in the bleak, dun-colored landscape instead of confronting actual issues. And if one of the issues hadn’t decided to man up and acknowledge the fact that we had things to discuss, I’d probably still be mooning.

Mooning
, by the way, is a particularly apt term when there’s a werewolf involved.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that my heart leaped when my phone rang and Cody Fairfax’s name popped up on the screen. I hadn’t seen him since Halloween night, and I was pretty sure he’d been avoiding me on purpose, not entirely without reason.

I let the phone ring a few times before I answered. “Hey.” I kept my tone casual in case Cody was calling on a police matter. “What’s up?”

“Nothing,” he said. “I’m off duty today. And I just thought . . .” There was a long pause. “We need to talk, Daisy.”

No kidding. It had been well over a month since we’d had what I’d categorize as earth-shattering sex. I hadn’t made a secret of the fact that I’d had a crush on Cody since we were kids riding the school bus together. Cody hadn’t made a secret of the fact that there was no possibility of a real relationship between us because I was an unsuitable mate for a werewolf. Kind of ironic, since he was in the eldritch closet, so to speak, but there you have it.

My temper stirred and my tail twitched. Um, yeah. I don’t have any demonic powers, but I do have super-size emotions that occasionally cause bad things to happen, especially when I lose my temper . . . and I
have a tail, of a more modest size. “Are we really going to have this conversation on the
phone
, Cody?”

“No, no,” he said hastily. “I just wanted to see if you were free. Are you at your apartment? I’ll come over.”

“Yeah, that’s fine.”

“I’ll see you in ten.” He hung up.

I spent the next ten minutes tidying my apartment and, okay, checking my makeup. For the record, I mostly resemble my mom: fair skin, white-blond Scandinavian hair, a pert nose. The only trait I inherited from dear old Dad’s side of the family—well, aside from the tail—is jet-black eyes, the kind you don’t find in ordinary mortal humans.

Ten minutes later, I heard Cody’s footsteps on the stairs leading to my apartment, which was located above Mrs. Browne’s Olde World Bakery.

BOOK: Poison Fruit
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