Monsters in My House

I just reread one of the chase scenes in We Shall Be Monsters. What I love about writing the Greenland Crime series is the chance to work some personal Easter Eggs into the story, and to build upon really local knowledge. I like to include action sequences in my books and I really enjoyed wrting the scene that occurs in the house Jane and I lived in during the four years we lived on the island of Uummannaq – see amazing photo above from Imgur.

Damn, I miss Greenland. But spending time with Constable Maratse and the rest of the cast of We Shall Be Monsters makes the longing that bit more bearable. I spent seven years in total in Greenland, but the four in Uummannaq were perhaps the most formative.

We Shall Be Monsters is the third book in the Greenland Crime series featuring Constable David Maratse. It is availble for pre-order on Amazon US, UK, Canada and Australia, and is scheduled for release on November 29 this year.

Just in time for Christmas.

Here’s some more Uummannaq!

Sneaky Devil!

I’m not sure how it happened, but the paperback version of Paint the Devil is live two weeks before the kindle version comes out.

Oops.

However, if you’re curious and want to find out more about this Scandinavian “bestseller” (Amazon Australia) – yes, I had to get that in – then you could have a two week headstart. The pre-order is still available for the kindle version, and it will stay at the pre-order price until the day of release.

Here are the links to the paperback. The kindle version can be found on the same page.

US, UK, Canada, Australia

Until then, I’ll leave you with another short excerpt from the book:

Paint the Devil excerpt

The breeze is stronger now, blowing from the sea, lifting the salt tang from the waves and brushing the roofs and windows with fine crystals. Denmark is suffering. Inland farms are drying out faster than those along the coast. Thyrup has some luck, Bo thinks. But Thyrup has the wolf, and the environmentalists, the academics, and the so-called elite, sitting high on their morals, looking down, looking from afar, looking from Copenhagen. Christiansborg is a long way from Thyrup. They are at opposite ends of the country, almost parallel, on a direct line, but poles apart. They might as well be north and south.

South.

Bo thinks of Belgium, and the headquarters of the European Union. Wonders how they can decide his fate in the jaws of the wolf.

“Experts,” Aage says, as he joins Bo beside the grave of Viktoria’s father.

“What?”

“They are sending experts from Christiansborg. One, at least. A man and his daughter. They will be staying at the nature commission house, the one down by the beach.”

“How do you know?”

“Tilde Sørensen,” Aage says, and smiles. “She called the ministry for a comment, and the minister, Felix Poulsen, said he was sending a wolf expert to Thyrup. Can you believe it?”

“What will he do?”

“Investigate, I suppose.” Aage gestures at the gate. “I need a smoke. Walk with me.”

 

The kindle version of Paint the Devil is scheduled for release on October 28th, 2018.

More Dark Stuff for the Holidays!

The Twelfth Night, the absolute scariest night in Greenland every damn year! I just had to write a story about it. 😉

It’s available now on pre-order and is scheduled for release on, you guessed it, January 6th.

Available on Amazon at just 0.99 of everything, really, until it goes live.

USA, UK, Canada and Australia

Here’s the blurb followed by the “big cover”.

When cyberactivists incite young Greenlanders in Nuuk to riot, Police Commissioner Petra Jensen must shut them down before the Twelfth Night becomes the city’s last.

In the wake of a turbulent Christmas period, Petra Piitalaat Jensen has barely resolved one serious crime before another more urgent disturbance demands her attention.

Commanding a police force suffering from fatigue and stress, Petra must rally the department and lead them on the hunt for a group of cyberactivists inciting the young people of Greenland to rise up and take charge of their future.

In a series of escalating events, Petra is drawn into Greenland’s dark underworld during the darkest month of the year, where traditional methods of policing require new thinking to overcome the first threat to Greenland’s new-found independence.

Set in Greenland’s future, “The Twelfth Night” twists Greenlandic politics, traditions and myths into a dark tale set in the darkest month of the year, in a frighteningly imaginable future.

“The Twelfth Night” is set many years after the events in the Greenland Crime series, but features several of the characters introduced in those books.

The Howling Sessions

Before Jacob, the bramble tunnel, and the den, Emma’s wolves were the ones in her father’s slides. They were a part of him, connected to him, even more than her mother. Their house was full of wolf books. Now their apartment is full of wolf books. Her father complains about having to buy for a second time the books her mother took to Spain. Her mother curses her father when she can’t find a book he has in Copenhagen. It is always the same books. They both buy books multiple times, each blaming the other for the empty space on the bookshelf, only to find the book they want beneath a newspaper, or in the car, usually after they have bought a new copy. Then there are the boxes of tapes, the howling sessions her father calls them. Emma used to listen to them as a child, curled up in the blankets between her parents. She listened to the wolves while her parents dissected, discussed and disagreed with the meaning. The howling sessions became heated, and Emma withdrew to her room, swapping wolf howls for pop music, wolf picture books for social media, parents for friends, and the wolf loped away from her, until now.

From Paint the Devil, scheduled for release on October 28th.

Available at a special pre-order kindle price from Amazon

USAUKCanada and Australia

The First Strokes of Paint: Chapter 1

The ground crumbles beneath stunted yellow grass, as Bo Falk shines the beam of his halogen lamp across the field. It’s over thirty degrees Celsius in the day, twenty at night, making the carcass of the dead ewe bloat in the heat. He clicks the lamp off and on again, seeing first one beast, then another, capturing what he knows to be the predatory gaze of the wolf. Bo’s ewe could have been killed in the night, the gasses encouraged by the heat. This is the pair he has heard about, the wolves rumoured to have made their den somewhere in the woods, between the Falk family farm and his neighbours’. Bo watches the wolves as they watch him, and then he shouts at them, the law says that’s all he can do.

“Bugger off, you evil brutes. The devil take you. This is my land. Mine.”

Bo kicks at the dusty surface of his field, cursing the land as he curses the wolves. There’s no fodder. He’s already exceeded the summer budget, piling on the debt until the money is nothing but numbers and the bank pumps more money into Bo Falk, money for feed, money for water. Falk men and women have farmed this land for six generations, and now there is only debt to pass to his son, and more debt that his son will pass on to his children. Last year it was unseasonably wet, this year a drought, and now the wolf.

Bo hurls the trigger lamp across the field, hears it crash on the dry earth beyond the carcass, pulls out his phone as the light disappears with the splinter of glass, and strides across the dead grass to his dead sheep. The wolves are gone.

“Bo?” his wife calls, peering into the darkness, her t-shirt clinging damp to her skin, her hair, slick with sweat, sticking to her cheeks, her forehead, her shoulders. “What is it?”

“Wolves,” he says. “I’m calling Viktoria.”

“Now? It’s three in the morning.”

“Yes, now. Get Jacob up.”

“He’s asleep, Bo.”

“He needs to see this.”

“Can’t he see it in the morning?”

He ignores her and she hears him bark something at the farm veterinarian. If she drives now, she’ll be at the Falk farm in just twenty minutes, long before first light. If she leaves now. Camilla Falk isn’t so sure, not about that, and not about the wolves. But if Bo says it is wolves, she believes him.

Camilla walks back to the farmhouse, her heels rubbing inside the leather boots, the soles slap slapping on the cobbles, dragging dust from the dry paddock. The crickets rub frantic legs together and she is distracted as she tries to remember the last time there were so many. Not last year, last year was too wet.

“And now too dry,” she says, her last thought on the crickets as she unlatches the door to the main house. Falk farm lies just four kilometres outside the village of Thyrup, West Jutland, just a spit and a strong gust of wind to the sea, the broad beaches, the tourist traps of the Danish west coast. Camilla kicks off the boots, pads through the stone-flagged kitchen and along the short corridor, past the painting of the church cross on the hillside to Jacob’s room. He’s sleeping, legs sprawled over the rumpled bed sheet, duvet on the floor, window open. She enters the room, presses a small hand on his bare shoulder, shakes him gently and whispers him awake.

“It’s not even dawn,” he mumbles, his mouth thick with warm air, eyes gritty with sleep.

“Your father wants you.”

“Now?”

“A sheep is dead. One of the ewes. You need to come.”

“Wolves?” Jacob asks, as he presses one hand flat on the bed to sit up.

“Yes.”

Jacob nods, find his jeans on the floor, tugs them over his large bare feet. His mother steadies him as he stumbles, his foot catching in the denim trouser leg.

“Still asleep,” he says, almost laughing.

Jacob zips and buttons his jeans, buckles the chafed leather belt. There’s a plastic knife sheath looped on one side of his belt, but he doesn’t remember where the knife is. He’ll buy another from the store. He scours the floor of his room for a t-shirt as his mother leaves. She fills the kettle as he plods from his room to the kitchen, pulling a shirt over his lean stomach.

These are lean times, Camilla thinks as she brushes his cheek with her hand, kisses him before she starts breakfast. Jacob slips his bare feet inside the same boots she had worn – his boots. He dips his head to peer out of the leaded window to the right of the door, grabs a torch from the windowsill, and goes outside.

There is a tree, an oak, in the centre of the Falk family farm. Jacob swung beneath it as a child, climbed it as a teenager, he might curse it as a man, as his father does each morning, cursing it to the roots; the roots that run deep, anchoring them to the land. They will never leave. Jacob walks beneath the bough, feathers his palm over the trunk. He loves it still, he hasn’t learned to hate it, not yet.

He finds his father by the ewe and turns on his torch with a click. He directs the beam at the ragged hind leg and plays it over the distended belly, encouraged by the heat of the seventh tropical night in a row in Viking lands. His father takes the torch, flicks his hand against Jacob’s chest, and points to the road.

“Here comes Viktoria,” his father says, as lights bump along the beech-lined gravel road running straight between the fields to the farm, three hundred metres from the Thyrup road.

“You called the vet?” Jacob points at the ewe. “It’s dead.”

“And so will we be if they don’t listen.”

“They?”

“Christiansborg. Parliament needs to listen, Jacob. We have to make them.”

“But calling the vet at…” Jacob looks up at the sky. “It’s not even four.”

“Go and meet her.”

Jacob turns, kicking at the dust as he walks across the dead grass to where Viktoria parks her car. She used to babysit when his parents went to the dance. He might have tried to kiss her once, before she married. Now he just stares when he can get away with it, shrugs when she catches him.

“A dead ewe, Jacob, what is he thinking?” she says, as she steps out of the car – a Volvo – so new the dust is streaked in apologetic lines, reluctant to cling, unlike the thick layers clogged beneath the flakes of rust on the Falk family tractor.

“He says it’s wolves.”

“Is that right?”

Viktoria grabs a torch from the boot of the Volvo. She clicks it on and, for just a second, the light catches her hair, teasing Jacob with a flash of lust, a memory of that almost kiss. Was she eight years older than him? He doesn’t remember, he just watches her close the boot and then follows her as she walks along the northern wing of the farm. He jogs once to catch up until he stands beside her and his father, the three of them beside the dead sheep.

“Bo,” Viktoria says, as she crouches by the sheep and examines the carcass in the light, flaring the nostrils with her fingers, lifting the hind leg with her hand. She shines the light over the ragged lacerations, nods when Bo tells Jacob to turn the sheep, and finds another wound in the belly, smears of blood caked in dust. Viktoria clicks off the torch as she stands up.

“Well?” Bo asks.

“It could be a wolf,” she says. “It could be a dog.”

“It’s not a dog.”

Viktoria sighs. “Then you don’t need me, Bo. You already know what it is.” She looks at him. “But what do I care? It’s your money.”

“Say it’s a wolf.”

“It might be. But we don’t know.”

“I saw them.”

“Wolves?”

“Over there,” Bo points. “Anton’s seen them too.”

“Anton Bjerg? He never said anything to me.”

“He doesn’t have sheep. The wolves are cowards, they won’t touch his cattle.”

“Bo,” Viktoria says. “It’s tourist season. You know what it’s like. The beaches are crowded, there’s a dog in every other family. They get loose. Every year.”

“This isn’t a dog, or dogs, Viktoria. These are wolf bites. They are making their den, on my land.”

Jacob watches his father, sees the lines crease his forehead, ticking and tugging at the skin around his eyes, as the first light fills the sky. The church spire is now visible on the low hill that presses out of the parched earth between the farm, the fields and the village. The poorer fields are yellow and dry, green only where the water is pumped and sprayed over the crops for five thousand Danish kroners a day.

A wet season, a dry season, and now wolves, denning in the woods.

“I’m calling Tilde after breakfast,” Bo says.

“Tilde Sørensen?”

“From Thyrup Dagbladet. She’ll want to talk to you.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ll tell her you said it was a wolf.”

“For God’s sake, Bo…”

Bo clenches his fists by his sides. He takes a long breath, as he waits for Viktoria to settle. Jacob lets the sheep roll back onto its side and stands up.

“Your dad had a farm, Viktoria,” Bo says.

Had,” she says. “He went bankrupt.”

“He was a friend of mine.”

“Until cancer put in him a hospice.” Viktoria gestures at the church. “And then Aage Dahl buried him. Right over there.”

“He can see us, you know.”

“It’s a little early for Aage, don’t you think.”

“I was talking about your dad.”

“I know,” Viktoria says.

“Then help me,” Bo says, as he reaches for Viktoria’s arm. “We’re struggling, this year more than most. It’s the drought, and now the wolves. One takes my crops, the other my sheep. Say it’s a wolf, Viktoria.”

“It might be,” she says, as Bo lets go of her arm.

“Say it is.”

Viktoria nods, ever so quickly, and Jacob sees it. He follows her to the car when Bo tells him to. The grass, dead straw, hollow vines and husks, scratch along the leather of their shoes until they both reach the cobbles, and the dust settles between the stones. The light is stronger now, and Jacob can see strands of Viktoria’s hair clinging to her cheeks, tiny beads of sweat between the top of her lip and her nose. There’s not a lick of wind, nothing to hide the sudden thud and thump of teenage lust in his chest, the tingle in his fingers.

Married, he thinks.

Viktoria opens the boot of the Volvo, tosses the torch into a plastic crate, and looks at him through the glass. She almost smiles at the look in his eyes, and he wonders if she remembers the half kiss when he was seventeen.

“You’ve grown up,” she says, as she closes the boot.

“What?” His throat is sticky, and he licks his top lip.

“Don’t be like your father. He’ll die on this farm, or it’ll kill him, like my father.”

“You said it was cancer.”

“Farming is a cancer, Jacob,” Viktoria says. She opens the car door and gets in. “I’ll tell Tilde it’s a wolf,” she says.

Jacob nods, turning as his father walks past the end of the north wing, calling out something about breakfast, with a nod towards the kitchen.

“Between the bank and the politicians, what’s one more predator, eh?” Viktoria says, as she starts the car.

Jacob takes a step back as she closes the door and reverses into the courtyard. He watches her go, waits until she has reached the road, and then turns to look over his shoulder at the church on the hill, and the woods below. There the wolf lurks beneath the trees, the vet will confirm it, the local paper will report it. The wolf summer begins.

 

About Paint the Devil

As the wolf debate heats up during Denmark’s hottest and driest summer on record, wildlife biologist Jon Østergård and his teenage daughter relocate to the West Jutland village of Thyrup, to study problem wolves in a community divided by fear, belief, opinions and violence.

Jon quickly discovers that his experience of wolves in Greenland means nothing in a farming community fighting to have their voice heard in an increasingly divisive national debate.

Pressed by politicians demanding an objective report on one side, and locals on the other, Jon risks losing his way as the debate turns ugly, and his daughter is drawn into a family convinced that extreme action is necessary to protect their livelihood. 

Sporadic wildfires flare up in the surrounding countryside, and the flames force a small pack of wolves closer and closer to the village.

Available from Amazon

USAUKCanada and Australia

Wolf Summer!

After 199 years, the wolf has returned to Denmark. Big wolves, similar in size to Timber Wolves, cross the border from Germany. The first was spotted back in 2012, which was interesting, as I was living way north – practically in white wolf country – in Qaanaaq, at the top of Greenland. I did live in polar bear country, and bought a shotgun at the supermarket – as you do – at the suggestion of a local hunter. The area around Qaanaaq is a denning area for bears. But, despite bears coming in the night, I didn’t see one, and no wolves in the two years I lived there. But, wolves were in Denmark, and it made the move back a little more palatable.

The Danish nature was/is rewilding.

But wolves have a habit of stirring up trouble, regardless of statistics, and that got me wondering. The idea of Paint the Devil was born, and as the debate really kicked off earlier this year, the book started to write itself.

There are always two sides to a story, but Paint the Devil has a third – the story of the wolves, something the main character: wildlife biologist Jon Østergård has to take into consideration as he navigates through the heated debates and opinions dividing the community of Thyrup, a small (fictive) village on Denmark’s west coast.

So, without further ado, here’s the blurb, the links, and the cover for Paint the Devil, available for pre-order and scheduled for release in October.

As the wolf debate heats up during Denmark’s hottest and driest summer on record, wildlife biologist Jon Østergård and his teenage daughter relocate to the West Jutland village of Thyrup, to study problem wolves in a community divided by fear, belief, opinions and violence.

Jon quickly discovers that his experience of wolves in Greenland means nothing in a farming community fighting to have their voice heard in an increasingly divisive national debate.

Pressed by politicians demanding an objective report on one side, and locals on the other, Jon risks losing his way as the debate turns ugly, and his daughter is drawn into a family convinced that extreme action is necessary to protect their livelihood. 

Sporadic wildfires flare up in the surrounding countryside, and the flames force a small pack of wolves closer and closer to the village.

Available from Amazon

USAUKCanada and Australia

Seaweed & Secrets

Seven Graves One Winter is set in the settlement of Inussuk on the west coast of Greenland. Inussuk doesn’t exist, but the strange pieces of art shaped and crafted from seaweed, bones, skulls, pebbles, and sinew do, or at least they did when I visited “Inussuk” in 2010. 

As I write in the book, it wouldn’t take much of a detective to locate the real Inussuk on the map in Uummannaq fjord, but I like the fact that the location of the settlement is a little mysterious, hidden for a while. But I will never forget the people I met, the sound of the surf breaking on the black sand beach, and the fin whales passing by as I was treated to coffee in the artist’s house.

All the characters in my books about Greenland are fictitious, but each of them share a common grounding in Greenland, the country, and its people.

Are you ready for it?

Weird stuff going on today, but I’m getting things done, and I’ve finally “locked” the cover for the 3rd book in the Greenland Crime series. Feral is darker – much darker. I can’t say too much, as Blood Floe has only just hit the digital shelves, but the dark nature of Feral will make sense once you get to the end of book 2.

The fun thing is – for me at least – I’ve been listening to Taylor Swift (with a bit of Childish Gambino thrown in) all day! Damn! And, yes, during that time, the cover got the finishing touches. Yeah, still wondering about that. I’ll leak some more stuff about Feral closer to the release date: sometime in December this year. But, until then, I’ll leave you with the cover(s).

And one more cover – the big one!

Yeah, it’s been a good day.

Blink and you’ll miss it!

I couldn’t resist fiddling with the cover of Seven Graves, One Winter, mostly because I like the cover for Blood Floe. Does it make a difference? Nah, probably not, but I like it, but it really is a case of blink and you’ll miss it. Of course, if that’s the case, you’ll have to keep your eyes shut tight to miss the larger version of the cover. 😉

So what’s going on? Why the subtle(ish) changes in the cover, and why… just why? Well, book 2 in the Greenland Crime Series is so very nearly ready to be released or unleashed on the world. That’s why. 🙂

Blood Floe is still available at a crazy pre-order price here, on Amazon:

USAUKCanada, and Australia

The Blood is Floeing

Here’s a teaser, the opening paragraph from Blood Floe.

Even in the unfathomable dark of the polar winter there is always light. The moon reflecting on the surface of the sea ice, the green and white curtains of the Northern Lights twisting across the black night sky, the stars, pinpricks of light scrutinising the tiny villages and settlements dotted along the west coast of Greenland, the houses casting warm yellow squares onto the snow through thick-paned windows, the tiny red lights of the radio mast glowing above the graveyard on the mountain’s knee above the settlement of Inussuk, and a cigarette burning a bright orange, a smouldering flame just a few centimetres from the lips of the man wearing a headlamp, that he shined with slow drifts of his head to the left and right, as he searched for that damned dog that shunned the harness and refused to be trained.

Available for pre-order at just 0.99 from Amazon

USAUKCanada, and Australia