Thursday, December 31, 2015

Maelstrom by Jordan L Hawk

Between his father’s sudden—and rather suspicious—generosity, and his own rash promise to help Christine plan her wedding, Percival Endicott Whyborne has quite enough to worry about. But when the donation of a mysterious codex to the Ladysmith Museum draws the attention of a murderous cult, Whyborne finds himself in a race against time to unlock its secrets first.

Griffin has a case of his own: the disappearance of an historic map, which quickly escalates to murder. Someone is sacrificing men in dark rituals—and all the clues lead back to the museum.

With their friends Christine and Iskander, Whyborne and Griffin must discover the cult’s true goal before it’s too late. For dark forces are afoot at the very heart of the museum, and they want more than Whyborne’s codex.

They want his life.

Click Here to Check Out the Whyborne & Griffin Series #1-5

As usual, I was blown away by Jordan L Hawk's Whyborne & Griffin, of course, I never expected not to be.  The entire series has me on the edge of my seat but there was something about Maelstrom that had me perched on the edge that I might as well have sat on the floor because it took everything I had to stay on the chair.  As always, Christine adds her unique brand of friendship and determination.  I don't do spoilers but I will say there came a point that I was yelling "NO! NO! NO!", the rest I will let you discover for yourself and trust me, you will want to find out.  Can't wait to see what she has planned for their next adventure.


Chapter 1
I stood amidst the press of bodies at the Nathaniel R. Ladysmith museum, desperately wishing I were elsewhere. Preferably back in Alaska; although I’d despised the cold climate, at the moment the memory seemed heavenly compared to the stuffy heat of the crowded grand foyer. Sweat crept down my back beneath my layers of clothing, and I longed to slip outside and remove my gloves. In previous years, I might have at least escaped to one of the open windows in hopes of catching a bit of a breeze.

Unfortunately, the days of my anonymity were over. Almost as soon as I arrived this evening, Dr. Hart and the museum’s president Mr. Mathison cornered me. We’d soon been joined by the head librarian, Mr. Quinn, whom I couldn’t remember ever seeing outside of the Ladysmith’s library before, let alone in formal wear.

The gathering tonight celebrated a rather large donation of rare books to the museum’s library. Although my philological expertise tended to the deciphering of more ancient languages, the source of the donation made it of more than usual interest to me.

Two years ago, my husband Griffin and I had traveled to Egypt to assist our dear friend Dr. Christine Putnam. Christine’s sister, Grafin Daphne de Wisborg, had joined us, ostensibly in mourning for her dead husband.

In reality, Daphne had used the books in the late graf’s library to find a way to communicate with the spirit of Nitocris, Queen of the Ghūls, lurking Outside our ordinary world and awaiting her chance to come back. Daphne, possessed by Nitocris, then murdered her husband and came to Egypt with the intent of turning the world into a wasteland of the dead for her ghūls to rule over. My left shoulder still bore the scar of the bite she’d inflicted with her jackal teeth, as we fought for our lives in the Egyptian desert. As for Christine, losing her only sister in such a terrible fashion…well, she didn’t speak of the incident, but it couldn’t have been easy.

The letter from the current Graf de Wisborg had taken Christine by surprise; that much I did know. The young graf had found himself in possession of a crumbling castle he had little interest in maintaining, and an extensive library he cared for even less. Daphne’s connection with Christine, and thus the museum, had inspired him—and if his generous donation came with the chance to travel and meet rich American heiresses, so much the better.

I’d come tonight not only to please the museum director, but to offer my support to Christine. Her nerves were already stretched thin from the stress of planning her upcoming wedding; this had certainly done them no good. Unfortunately, I could think of no way to politely extricate myself from the director and president.

“This is quite the triumph, don’t you think, Mr. Quinn?” asked Dr. Hart. His balding head shone with sweat, and his face flushed red with the heat.

“Indeed.” White tie and tails somehow failed to make Mr. Quinn look any less like an undertaker. His silvery eyes went to Dr. Hart, then to me. He then proceeded to stare at me without blinking. “I suspect we’ll find many tomes of great value within. Perhaps Dr. Whyborne would care to assist when we open the crates.”

His suggestion caught me off guard; cataloging new arrivals wasn’t remotely one of my duties. Still, it would give me an excuse to look for the truly dangerous tomes and suggest they be kept under lock and key, before they had a chance to find their way onto the general shelves. “Of course, Mr. Quinn. I’d be glad to assist.”

Dr. Hart rubbed his hands together with glee. “The Wisborg Collection will finally wipe the smirk off the faces of those fellows from Miskatonic. Their paltry library will be nothing compared to ours!”

“Now, now,” Mr. Mathison said with a good-natured smile. “Let’s not forget Miskatonic University is Dr. Whyborne’s alma mater.”

“Dr. Whyborne belongs to Widdershins,” Mr. Quinn said, giving Mathison a rather poisonous glare. “His allegiance, I should say. To the museum.”

“Er, yes.” I cast about for some means of escape. Once again the elite of Widdershins crowded the Ladysmith’s grand foyer, nibbling on canapés beneath the looming hadrosaur skeleton, exclaiming over the carefully curated displays from Nephren-ka’s tomb, and silently judging one another’s clothing, demeanor, and heritage. “I say, has anyone seen Dr. Putnam recently?”

“Last I saw, she was speaking with the graf,” Mathison said, taking a flute of chilled champagne from a passing waiter. I snagged a flute of my own.

“No, no, the graf is being set upon by every heiress in the place,” Dr. Hart replied. “The ones with enough money to desire a title to accompany their fortune, that is.”

“He looks like Orpheus stalked by the maenads,” Mr. Quinn observed wistfully.

I edged away from him—but I also took a quick look about to make certain the graf wasn’t actually being torn apart. I assumed as much from the lack of screams, but…well, the former Graf de Wisborg had been killed and eaten by his own wife.

I didn’t see the new graf, but I finally spotted Christine near the Nephren-ka relics. Iskander stood beside her, in earnest conversation with my father.

My heart sank. God only knew what Father might be saying to them. To suggest I’d been shocked when Father offered Whyborne House as the venue for Christine’s wedding would be an understatement. Obviously he must have some sort of ulterior motive, but what he had in mind hadn’t yet become clear. Most likely he thought doing favors for my friends would convince me to abandon my career, return to the fold, and take up my position as the heir of Whyborne Railroad and Industries. It was, I suspected, the same reason Father settled a large amount of stock on Griffin for his birthday last month.

“Excuse me—I need to speak to Dr. Putnam.” I hurried away without waiting for an answer. As I wove through the crowd, I caught sight of my friend Dr. Gerritson and his wife. Unfortunately, they appeared to have been cornered by Mr. Durfree and Mr. Farr, a pair of art curators known for their passionate disagreements on anything and everything. I hurriedly ducked behind a gaggle of heiresses to avoid being drawn in.

My champagne had grown warm in the stifling heat. A whisper of magic chilled the glass, frost forming briefly on the outside of the flute before melting. I lifted it to my lips and was promptly jostled from behind. Champagne splashed across my chin and down the front of my shirt.

“Oh, sorry Percy, didn’t see you there,” drawled Bradley Osborne. He didn’t sound sorry at all.

I took out my handkerchief and began to dab ineffectively at my now-wet clothing. “Quite all right, Bradley,” I gritted out between clenched teeth. “Accidents do happen.” Not that I imagined for an instant this had been an accident.

Bradley observed my efforts at drying myself with a smug smile. “You really ought to watch where you’re going. Been drinking a bit more champagne than good for you, eh?”

The old familiar anger ached in my chest. I straightened my spine, which forced Bradley to look up at me. “Actually, I’ve been speaking with Mr. Mathison and Dr. Hart.”

His jovial mask slipped—just for an instant, but enough to let me know I’d struck home. Bradley had spent his years in Widdershins trying to claw his way higher into society. When we’d first met, he’d held me in contempt, for…well, for all sorts of reasons, but not taking advantage of the class I’d been born into was certainly one of them.

Bradley’s right hand tightened around his champagne flute; his left he tucked at the small of his back, perhaps to conceal a fist. Then he relaxed and put on a false smile. “I’m sure they found your father’s money and name—I mean, your conversation—most fascinating.”

I forced my expression to remain neutral, even as I seethed within. It wasn’t just Father’s money that had brought me to the attention of the museum’s board and president. Most of the blame lay with my wretched brother Stanford, who’d held Widdershins’s upper crust hostage in this very foyer, forcing me to save them.

“Among other things,” I replied coolly.

“Ah, yes, other things.” He continued to smile, but his eyes were cold and dead as knives. “By the way, how is Mr. Flaherty?”

“I’m quite well,” Griffin said from just behind Bradley. “Thank you for your concern, Dr. Osborne.”

I felt a thrill of savage satisfaction when Bradley started in surprise. Griffin stepped to my side, his green eyes fixed on Bradley and a smile no more genuine than Bradley’s on his lips. The man I called husband always cut a handsome figure, but the tailcoat and white tie suited him very well indeed. His chestnut hair, worn longer than strictly fashionable, curled around his collar.

Unfortunately, Bradley recovered quickly enough. “I’m glad to hear it, Mr. Flaherty,” he said even as his lip drew into a sneer. “After all, if I recall correctly, you were shot right over there. I take it the wound no longer troubles you?”

Goosebumps prickled on my arms despite the heat, and I felt as though the marble floor had shifted beneath me. The night Stanford had taken the museum staff and donors hostage, he’d also tried to kill me.

But first he’d shot Griffin, with the clear intention of hurting me. After first calling me a sodomite.

The implication had been obvious enough. But Stanford was a madman who had tried to murder the most powerful people in Widdershins. Polite society put his insults and actions down to lunatic ravings.

Whether anyone really believed that or no…well, Griffin had quietly received an invitation to various museum functions, including this one, with no real explanation as to why. If pressed, no doubt it would be pointed out he’d tried to save everyone at the Hallowe’en tour and been gallantly wounded in their defense. Surely that was worth a few invitations to exclusive events?

And perhaps it was the real explanation. I honestly didn’t know and certainly would never ask. But I had no doubts as to Bradley’s opinion.

Would he try to use it against us? He hadn’t so far, but that didn’t mean the day wouldn’t come when we’d find police knocking on our door. Or my name in some headline from a tawdry New York paper, as no reporter in Massachusetts would dare risk Father’s wrath.

My hand tightened on the champagne flute, the scars beneath my white glove pulling tight. The great arcane maelstrom that underlay Widdershins turned beneath my feet. A breeze ruffled through the gathering, bearing on it the scent of the nearby ocean.

“As I said, I’m quite fine,” Griffin replied. “Come, Whyborne—you need to dry your shirt.”

He touched my elbow. The breeze died away, and my sense of the maelstrom receded to the back of my mind, in the same place that kept track of my heart beating and my lungs breathing.

“Yes,” I said, and let him steer me away.

Author Bio:
Jordan L. Hawk grew up in the wilds of North Carolina, where she was raised on stories of haints and mountain magic by her bootlegging granny and single mother. After using a silver knife in the light of a full moon to summon her true love, she turned her talents to spinning tales. She weaves together couples who need to fall in love, then throws in some evil sorcerers and undead just to make sure they want it bad enough. In Jordan’s world, love might conquer all, but it just as easily could end up in the grave.



No comments:

Post a Comment