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Hungry Ghosts
Cover of Hungry Ghosts
Hungry Ghosts
Eric Carter Series, Book 3
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Stephen Blackmoore's dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.
Necromancer Eric Carter's problems keep getting bigger. Bad enough he's the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, has come back — and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade, Carter is slowly turning to stone.
To make matters worse, both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other. But only one of them can be telling him the truth and he can't trust either one. Carter's solution? Kill them both.
If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact, he'll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst trials the place has to offer him: his own sins.
Stephen Blackmoore's dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.
Necromancer Eric Carter's problems keep getting bigger. Bad enough he's the unwilling husband to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte, but now her ex, the Aztec King of the dead, Mictlantecuhtli, has come back — and it turns out that Carter and he are swapping places. As Mictlantecuhtli breaks loose of his prison of jade, Carter is slowly turning to stone.
To make matters worse, both gods are trying to get Carter to assassinate the other. But only one of them can be telling him the truth and he can't trust either one. Carter's solution? Kill them both.
If he wants to get out of this situation with his soul intact, he'll have to go to Mictlan, the Aztec land of the dead, and take down a couple of death gods while facing down the worst trials the place has to offer him: his own sins.
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    Chapter 1


    Sharpie magic is the best magic.


    I stand on the side of the road, cool fall breeze blowing through the scrub brush. Half a dozen trucks pull out of a gated, hillside compound in the moonlight, kicking up dust and gravel. The men in the truck beds wear ballistic vests, skull-printed face masks, wicked looking guns clutched tight in their hands.


    I wave as they go by, but they have no idea I'm here. I've got a "Hi My Name Is" sticker on my chest with the words "NO ESTOY AQUÍ" written in Sharpie and pumped with enough magic to keep me hidden from them. I didn't need to write it in Spanish, the magic doesn't work that way, but I've been speaking almost nothing but for the last two months, and it helps me focus.


    They're on their way down to a warehouse on the outskirts of Tepehuanes, Mexico, just down the road. It holds several thousand kilos of heroin in varying degrees of processing. It's currently on fire.


    I set the fire.


    I don't care about the heroin or the Sinaloa Cartel men entrusted with operating and guarding it. I just need them out of the compound. With them gone there should be about half a dozen men left inside. Plus the one I came to talk to.


    The estate of Manuel Bustillo is fairly modest by narco standards. He's not terribly important in the Sinaloa Cartel. Middleman stuff. Processes heroin, cocaine, meth. I hear he used to handle a lot of pot coming up from the south, but with medical marijuana in the U.S. getting so popular and so much weed being grown inside the states, the cartels have had a hard time moving product. Things are tough all over.


    I'm not here because Bustillo is a Sinaloa man, or because he's a murderer, thug and all around bad guy. I've hung out with worse people. Lately, I've been wondering if I might be worse people.


    I don't much care about Bustillo at all, actually. I'm here because he's a stepping stone. A link in a chain. I'm looking for someone, and he's going to help me find her.


    I got his name from a guy in Hermosillo a couple weeks back. And I got that guy's name from somebody in Ensenada, whose name I got in Tijuana. I found out about the Tijuana guy from somebody in San Diego, who I tracked down from a guy whose arms I broke in an alley behind a strip bar in Los Angeles.


    It's been a busy few months.


    Bustillo's house sits on ten acres of hilltop Durango real estate looking down on rocks and scrub brush. It's surrounded by an electrified fence and a ten-foot-high, brick wall. Spanish Colonial. Terra cotta tile, fake adobe.


    I sling my messenger bag over my shoulder, pick up my Benelli M4 twelve-gauge, and stroll unseen through the gate before the two men watching it shut it up tighter than a nun's butthole.


    The men in the courtyard have no idea I'm here, but once the gunfire starts—and boy howdy is there gonna be gunfire—the Sharpie magic's going to be pretty useless. Them not seeing me depends on them believing they can't see me. It's hard to ignore a guy firing at you with a shotgun at the best of times.


    I find a convenient spot out of the way and take a seat. The men walk the courtyard nervously fingering the triggers on their guns. A while later I check my pocket watch, an antique, railroad grade, 1911 Sangamo Special. Aside from being a nasty piece of magic that can twist time into ugly knots if you use it right, it's a really good watch.


    It's been half an hour. That should give Bustillo's men enough time to get down to the warehouse and out of my hair. I...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 2, 2017
    Blackmoore’s third urban fantasy featuring Los Angeles-based necromancer Eric Carter (after Broken Souls) is freewheeling and laced with smart-alecky banter. As a consequence of his strategic marriage to Santa Muerte, Queen of Mictlan (the Aztec land of the dead), Carter is slowly petrifying into a jade statue, a fate shared by her other husband, Mictlantecuhtli. Carter knows that the only way to save his skin is to kill both of them. This leads to a concatenation of escapades that includes dalliances with the avatars of both the king and queen, a bargain with an incarnation of Quetzalcoatl, and a journey to Mictlan, where reanimated corpses and the titular ghosts run rampant. The novel’s plot is loose and dependent on info dumps of Aztec and Mayan folklore, but Blackmoore keeps the action brisk and the mood light, sprinkling his text with breezy witticisms (“Mages are just academics who found something practical to do with a philosophy degree”). Fans of the series will devour this installment in anticipation of Carter’s next adventure.

  • Library Journal

    January 1, 2017

    Necromancer Eric Carter is driving the roads of Mexico looking for the avatar of Santa Muerte, the former Aztec goddess of the dead worshipped throughout Latin America. He has vowed to kill her despite technically being married to her. She has manipulated Eric, leading him to her former power base in Mexico City and promising him that if he will slay her ex-husband, Mictlantecuhtli, he can save himself from the growing infection that is turning him to stone. And yet another Aztec god has made Eric promise to destroy both death gods and burn their palace to the ground. VERDICT While Blackmoore provides the backstory on Carter's path to his current predicament (as traced in Broken Souls), this is probably not the place for new readers to jump in. The learning curve is complicated by the high number of Nahuatlan (Aztec language) words and names embedded throughout the author's refreshingly different worldbuilding.--MM

    Copyright 2017 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Hungry Ghosts
Eric Carter Series, Book 3
Stephen Blackmoore
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