Natalie Lindstrom has a gift: the power to speak to the dead, to solve crimes by interviewing murder victims. But now Natalie wants to escape. Escape from the voices that fill her head. Escape from the organization that has used her as a crime-solving tool…and now wants to recruit her daughter. So Natalie takes a job as far from crime and punishment as she can get: with an archaeologist in the mountains of Peru. Her job: to find a trove of priceless artifacts-by channeling those who lived and died at an ancient Incan site.But in the towering Andes, Natalie enters a 500-year-old storm of betrayal, murder, greed, and rage-and she cannot silence the voices of the dead. The slaughtered reach out to her. The slaughterers boast of their crimes. Alone, cut off from her family, Natalie faces a chilling realization: every truth she uncovers is leading her one step closer to a terror beyond imagining.
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October 24, 2005
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Excerpt from In Golden Blood by Stephen Woodworth
A Death in the Andes
As he did every morning, Nathan Azure rose at dawn, dressed, and shaved in the musty canvas confines of his private tent, scrutinizing the aristocratic severity of his Mayfair face in a travel mirror to make certain that not a whisker remained and that every strand of blond hair was in its proper place. He then opened the carved wooden box next to his cot and selected a pair of leather driving gloves from the dozens of pairs inside. Although he wore gloves as a matter of habit, he donned these with especial care, like a surgeon wary of infection.
He had not touched another human being's skin, nor allowed his to be touched, in more than a decade.
Seated on the edge of his cot, Azure idled away half an hour skimming Prescott's History of the Conquest of Peru, lingering over passages that he had long ago committed to memory ' those that described the abundance of gold sixteenth-century Spanish explorer Francisco Pizarro and his conquistadors had extorted from the Inca people, who tried in vain to purchase the release of their leader Atahualpa. A king's ransom, indeed.
Azure's gloves made it awkward for him to turn the pages, however, and he soon tossed the book aside. After snatching the .45 automatic from beneath his pillow, he chambered a round and shoved the gun barrel-down into the hollow of his back between the waist of his slacks and his oxford shirt. He put on a cream-colored linen jacket to cover the butt of the pistol and stalked out of the tent.
Outside, the Andean air, thin and crisp, pricked the inside of Azure's windpipe, as if he'd inhaled a handful of asbestos. The sun had yet to ascend above an adjacent peak to the east, leaving the mountains in a pall of predawn gray. Nevertheless, the camp already bristled with activity, Peruvian laborers bustling to and fro with spades and sifters, men delicately brushing dust off bits of broken metal and stone at makeshift tables. Azure had staged this dig with painstaking detail, accurate enough to fool an expert. Or one expert, to be precise.
It was all a sham. Azure had bought the artifacts at auction and then planted them on this Andean slope. The Peruvians he'd assembled to pose as his assistants were actually mercenaries ' some of them former Shining Path terrorists, others drug runners from the Huallaga Valley cocaine trade. Men whose loyalty Azure could purchase and whose silence he could ensure. Men to whom all work, whether menial labor or murder, was the same, as long as it paid well. Not unlike the conquistadors themselves.