A wounded hero must confront his own worst enemy: himself Mick ""Brew"" Axbrewder was once a great P.I. That was before he accidentally shot and killed a cop-worse, a cop who happened to be his own brother. Now he only works off and on, as muscle for his old partner, Ginny Fistoulari. It's a living. And it provides an occasional opportunity for him to dry out. But their latest case demands more than muscle. Brew's dead brother's daughter has disap-peared. His brother's widow wants him and Ginny to investigate. And both of them seem to expect him to sober up. Because the darkness they're find-ing under the surface of Sunbelt city Puerto del Sol goes beyond one missing teenager. Axbrewder will need all his talents to con-front that darkness. Most of all, he'll need to con-front his own worst enemy-himself. More than two decades ago, bestselling author Stephen R. Donaldson published three novels about Mick Axbrewder and Ginny Fistoulari as paperback originals under the pseudonym Reed Stephens. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
The author of the bestselling Chronicles of Thomas Covenant SF series delivers a pretty good tough guy yarn in this minimally revised reissue, the first of Donaldson's mysteries to feature alcoholic ex-PI "Brew" Axbrewder, who dries out occasionally to assist Ginny Fistoulari, his former partner and romantic interest. Axbrewder can't overcome his guilt and shame over the accidental slaying of his policeman brother. When Fistoulari rousts him from his drinking this time, it's because his young niece, Alathea, has gone missing. Fighting withdrawal through much of the book, Axbrewder joins Fistoulari in helping the girl's mother-talking to unsympathetic policemen, hostile school officials and, as their investigation expands, parents of other children who have simply disappeared from school only to turn up as dead junkies and whores. The book is dated in ways important and not: Axbrewder rents a Torino to drive; the large urban school district is just beginning to computerize records; the police seem indifferent to a bunch of 12- or 13-year-old schoolgirls disappearing from school and later showing up as corpses. Fans of the author's most recent Axbrewder story, last year's The Man Who Fought Alone, might relish this peek at his origins, but readers seeking a contemporary mystery are likely to be disappointed. (Dec. 10) FYI: The novel was first published as a paperback original in 1980 under the pseudonym Reed Stephens. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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October 18, 2003
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Excerpt from The Man Who Killed His Brother by Stephen R. Donaldson
I was sitting at the bar of the Hegira that night when Ginny came in. The barkeep, an ancient sad-eyed patriarch named Josý, had just poured me another drink, and I was having one of those rare moments any serious drunk can tell you about. A piece of real quiet. Josý's cheeks bristled because he didn't shave very often, and his apron was dingy because it didn't get washed very often, and his fingernails had little crescents of grime under them. The glass he poured for me wasn't all that clean. But the stuff he poured was golden-amber and beautiful, like distilled sunlight, and it made the whole place soothing as sleep -- which drunks know how to value because they don't get much of it.
It made the dull old fly-brown santos against the wall behind the bottles look like the saints knew what they were doing and it made the drinkers at the tables look peaceful and happy. It made the men playing pool in the back of the room look like they were moving in slow motion, flowing through the air as if it were syrup. It made Josý look wise and patient behind his stubble and his groggy eyes. It was one of those rare moments when everything is in the right place, and there's a soft gold light shining on it, and you feel like you're being healed. It never lasts -- but you always think it will, if you just stay where you are and don't stop drinking.
By the curious logic of the drunk, I felt I'd earned it. After all, I'd been drinking most of the time for several days now, just trying to create that amber glow for myself. So when Ginny walked in the door -- when every head in the bar turned to stare at her -- I didn't know which to feel first, surprise or resentment. There wasn't any doubt she was looking for me.
I had the right to be surprised. For one thing, she had no business walking into the Hegira like that -- especially at night. The Hegira is down in the old part of Puerta del Sol, on Eighth Street between Oak and Maple. Cities are like that: The old parts -- where the descendants and countrymen of the founders live -- have street names like "Eighth" and "Oak." The rich suburbs -- half of them built in the last ten years -- have flashier names like "Tenochtitlýn" and "Montezuma." And in the old part of town women don't go into bars at all. When the Chicano and Mestizo and Indian women want their men to come out, they stand on the sidewalk and send in their children.
As Ginny pushed her way through the door, scanned the room, and came striding over toward me, the quiet buzz of voices stopped. Josý's eyes went blank and empty -- you could tell if she spoke to him he was going to say he didn't speak English. The men with the pool cues stood very still, as if they were waiting to start a different kind of game.
But I also had another reason to be surprised. This wasn't the way Ginny was supposed to come looking for me. She came looking for me often enough -- I would've probably drunk myself to death by now if she hadn't been so faithful about it -- but this wasn't the way. We had a system worked out, and she was breaking it.