Boston, 1767: In D.B. Jackson's Thieftaker, revolution is brewing as the British Crown imposes increasingly onerous taxes on the colonies, and intrigue swirls around firebrands like Samuel Adams and the Sons of Liberty. But for Ethan Kaille, a thieftaker who makes his living by conjuring spells that help him solve crimes, politics is for others...until he is asked to recover a necklace worn by the murdered daughter of a prominent family.Suddenly, he faces another conjurer of enormous power, someone unknown, who is part of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of power in the turbulent colony. His adversary has already killed--and not for his own gain, but in the service of his powerful masters, people for whom others are mere pawns in a game of politics and power. Ethan is in way over his head, and he knows it. Already a man with a dark past, he can ill afford to fail, lest his livelihood be forfeit. But he can't stop now, for his magic has marked him, so he must fight the odds, even though he seems hopelessly overmatched, his doom seeming certain at the spectral hands of one he cannot even see. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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July 03, 2012
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Excerpt from Thieftaker by D. B. Jackson
Boston, Province of Massachusetts Bay, August 26, 1765
Ethan Kaille eased his knife from the leather sheath on his belt as he approached Griffin's Wharf, the words of a warding spell on his lips. He had sweated through his linen shirt, and nearly through his waistcoat, as well. His leg ached and he was breathing hard, gasping greedily at the warm, heavy air hanging over Boston on this August eve. But he had chased Daniel Folter this far--from the Town Dock to Purchase Street, over cobblestone and dirt, past storefronts and homes and pastures empty save for crows and grazing cows--and he wasn't about to let the pup escape him now.
The western horizon still glowed with the last golden light of day, but the sky over Boston Harbor and the South End shoreline had darkened to a deep indigo. Hulking wooden warehouses, shrouded in a faint mist, cast deep, elongated shadows across the wharves. Clouds of midges danced around Ethan's head, scattering when he waved a hand at them, only to swarm again as soon as he turned his attention back to his quarry.
Ethan stepped onto the wharf and peered into murky corners, expecting Folter to fly at him at any moment. The boy had shown himself to be a fool; now he was desperate as well, a dangerous combination. Ethan preferred to handle this without casting, but he already knew what spell he would speak if he had to.
"You're mine now, Daniel!" he called. "Best you come out and face what's coming to you!"
No answer. He crept forward, wary, his gaze sweeping back and forth between the warehouses that loomed on either side of the pier. He heard small waves lapping at the timbers, and the echoing cries of a lone gull. But Ethan was listening for the man's breathing, for the scrape of a shoe or the whisper of a blade clearing leather.
After a few more steps, Ethan halted, afraid to stray too far out onto the pier lest the pup sneak past him. If he lost Folter to the tangled streets of the South End, he would have to begin his search anew.
"You shouldn't have stolen Missus Corbett's necklaces, Daniel!" Ethan pitched his voice to carry, but his words were swallowed by the hazy twilight air and the sounds of the harbor. "Her husband is angry. He's paying his hard-earned money to get her jewels back, and to have some justice meted out on her behalf."
He waited, listening, watching.
"Your only way out is through me, lad. And I'm not going anywhere."
Still no response. Doubt started to gnaw at Ethan's mind. Had Folter found some other way off the wharf? Or was he simply smarter and more patient than Ethan had allowed?
Neither, as it turned out.
Ethan heard a footfall to his left and wheeled quickly, his knife held ready. Folter stepped from the darkness, the faint glow of twilight shining in his eyes and glinting off the dagger he carried.
"Corbett can rot fer all I care!" he said. Brave words, but his voice trembled, almost as badly as his blade hand.
Ethan shook his head and approached him slowly. "You know better, lad. Mister Corbett is a man of means. He decides who rots and who doesn't."
Folter was bigger than he remembered. He stood a full head taller than Ethan, with long limbs and a thin, bony face. His hair, damp and lank, hung to his stooped shoulders. His breeches were torn at the knees, his waistcoat stained; the sleeves of his shirt barely reached his narrow wrists. His knife had a long, curved blade, and though he passed it from one hand to the other, wiping his sweaty palms on his breeches, the movements were deft. Ethan guessed that he would be a formidable foe in a knife fight if it came to that.
"Tha's not true," Folter said. "Not all of it, anyway."
Ethan stopped, leaving some distance between them. Folter's gaze met his for a moment before darting away, first to one side, then to the other. He was looking for a way out or past--or through, if need be. Ethan sensed that Folter had already taken his measure and convinced himself that he could prevail in a fight if he had to. He was wrong, but he had no way of knowing that. Ethan didn't exactly cut an imposing figure. He was of medium height and build, and looked like a competent fighter, but not one to be truly feared. His hair was starting to go gray at the temples, and his face was lined and scarred. Folter would see in him someone too old and too small to be a true threat. Others had made the same mistake.
"I done a bit o' work fer Pryce--Miss Pryce--back a year or two. If she could see her way clear t' let this slide..."
"I don't work for Pryce," Ethan said.