Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts Series #5) [NOOK Book]

Overview

A DEADLY HIGH
 
Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the ...
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Chasing Magic (Downside Ghosts Series #5)

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Overview

A DEADLY HIGH
 
Magic-wielding Churchwitch and secret addict Chess Putnam knows better than anyone just how high a price people are willing to pay for a chemical rush. But when someone with money to burn and a penchant for black magic starts tampering with Downside’s drug supply, Chess realizes that the unlucky customers are paying with their souls—and taking the innocent with them, as the magic-infused speed compels them to kill in the most gruesome ways possible.
 
As if the streets weren’t scary enough, the looming war between the two men in her life explodes, taking even more casualties and putting Chess squarely in the middle. Downside could become a literal ghost town if Chess doesn’t find a way to stop both the war and the dark wave of death-magic, and the only way to do that is to use both her addiction and her power to enter the spell and chase the magic all the way back to its malevolent source. Too bad that doing so will probably kill Chess—if the war doesn’t first destroy the man who’s become her reason for living.

From the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780345527530
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 6/26/2012
  • Series: Downside Ghosts Series , #5
  • Sold by: Random House
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 82,535
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Stacia Kane has been a phone psychic, a customer service representative, a bartender, and a movie theater usher, and she thinks that writing is more fun than all of them combined. She wears a lot of black, still makes great cocktails, likes to play music loud in the car, and thinks that Die Hard is one of the greatest movies ever made. She believes in dragons and the divine right of kings, and is a fervent Ricardian. Stacia Kane lives in England with her husband and their two little girls.

From the Paperback edition.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The pursuit of material goods must never eclipse the pursuit of Truth.

--The Book of Truth, Veraxis Article 1745

All of the documents were in place: the Affidavit of Spectral Fraud, the Statement of Truth, two Orders of Imprisonment and two Orders of Relinquishment, and, of course, the list of Church-approved attorneys. The Darnells would want that--well, they'd need it, because they were about to be arrested for faking a haunting.

At least, they would be when the Black Squad got there to back Chess up. She didn't always want the Squad to come along; police presence tipped people off, made things more difficult, and most people came pretty quietly once they realized they were busted, anyway. The Darnells didn't seem like the come-quietly type, though. Something told Chess they weren't going to take this well.

But she'd told them she'd be there at six, and it was five past already and their curtains kept twitching. They knew she was there.

Right. She'd taken a couple of Cepts before leaving her apartment in Downside, so they were starting to hit--smooth, thick narcotic warmth spreading from her stomach out through the rest of her body, a pleasant softness settling over her mind.

That was the best thing about the drugs, really; she could still think, still be coherent, still use her brain. She just didn't have to if she didn't want to, and it was so much easier to keep that brain from wandering into all those places she didn't want it to go.

And she had so fucking many of those places.

She grabbed the Darnell file from her bag, locked her car, and started walking along the cobblestoned path to the front door, weaving around the flowers and plants scattered like islands across the impossibly green sea of grass. Bees made their way from bloom to bloom, doing whatever the hell it was bees did. Sure, she knew it was something to do with pollen or whatever. She just didn't give a shit.

By the time she reached the porch sweat beaded along her forehead and her body felt damp. Summer sucked. Only the middle of June and already it was scorching.

Brandon Darnell opened the door before she'd finished raising her hand to knock. "Miss Putnam. You're late."

Asshole. She faked a smile. "Sorry. Traffic."

At least they had air-conditioning.

The entire Darnell family sat in the pretentious high-ceilinged living room, slouching on the ridiculously overpriced suede couch and chairs that were partly responsible for the enormous debt they were in. Debt they'd planned to clear by faking a haunting and getting a nice fat settlement from the Church of the Real Truth.

Too bad for them, the Church wasn't stupid--being in charge of everyone and everything on earth for twenty-four years proved that--and had contingency plans for such things. Chess was one of them.

Brandon Darnell indicated an empty chair along the back wall. "Have a seat."

Alarms started ringing in Chess's head. He seemed a little too calm, a little too . . . cheerful.

But all the other chairs were full, so she sat, shooting a glance out the window to see if the Squad had arrived yet. Nope. Damn it!

The Darnells sat there, unmoving. Watching her. Because that wasn't creepy at all.

Mrs. Darnell--frowsy, bad perm, blue eye shadow up to her brows--showed her perfect white teeth in what could pass for a smile. "Do you have any news for us? When will you Banish the ghost?"

Chess's phone beeped--a text. A text from the Black Squad, thank fuck, they were almost there. Good. She didn't have to sit around wasting time with these people.

"I do have news." She pulled the forms from the file. "This is my Statement of Truth, copies of which I've already filed with the Church. This one is for you to sign. It's the Affidavit of Spectral Fraud, which is basically your confession, and this one--"

"What the hell are you talking about? We haven't committed any fraud, there's no--"

"Mr. Darnell." Normally she'd stand up for this part, but what the hell. The chair was pretty comfortable. "I found, and photographed, the projectors set up in the attic. I won't bother to point out to you where the holes in the ceiling are, since you already know. The 'ectoplasm' on your walls has been analyzed--twice for confirmation--as a mixture of cornstarch, gelatin, iridescent paint, and water."

She waited for a response and didn't get one. Good. "I also have pictures of the portable air conditioner you set up beneath the house--that's another crime, by the way, putting anything underground, but I imagine you know that--to fake sudden changes in temperature. One of my hidden cameras caught you breaking the mirrors, and another one very clearly shows you and Mrs. Darnell discussing your crimes."

Mr. and Mrs. Darnell looked guilty. Their children--Cassie and Curtis, how cute--looked confused. Chess directed her next comments to them.

"I have two Orders of Relinquishment here. You two are going to be taken to the Church with your parents, but when they go to prison you'll be moving in with another family member or, failing that, a home will be found for you. You'll be safe there."

She could only hope that last line was true. It hadn't been for her. None of those "homes" she'd been sent to had been safe, or at least not more than a couple of them.

But that was a long time ago. That was before the Church was really settled. That was a mistake; she was an anomaly, or something, and it mattered only in her memories.

Because the Church had saved her. They'd taken her out of that life and given her a new one. The Church had found her and made her into something real.

The two children looked at each other, looked at Chess, looked at their parents. What was the expression on their faces? Shock, curiosity? Chess couldn't quite read it.

She squeezed her eyes shut, opened them again. Shit, she didn't usually have problems like this from her pills. And no way had she gotten a bad batch; Lex had given her those, and Lex might be in charge of the Downside gang in direct opposition to the one Chess's . . . Chess's everything worked for, but Lex wouldn't try to do her any harm. She knew that. Lex was her friend.

So what the fuck?

Her eyes itched, too; she raised her hand to rub at them. Struggled to raise it. In fact, she'd been sitting still for a few minutes, hadn't she? Without moving.

The room started to rock around her, as if she and the Darnells sat on the deck of a ship in stormy waters. Nausea slithered through her stomach, up her throat.

Her skin tingled. Not her skin, actually. Her tattoos--runes and sigils inscribed into her skin with magic-imbued ink by the Church--tingled. The way they always did in the presence of ghosts--or in the presence of magic.

It took forever to turn her head to the left, on a neck that felt like it was being squeezed by strong, hard hands she couldn't see. Who was . . . Fuck, someone was casting some kind of spell on her. Who was it, what was it?

She couldn't tell, couldn't see well enough to tell. Just a shape, a spot of darker shadow in the long hallway. But whatever it was--it felt like a man, she had enough presence of mind to know that--it was powerful, it was strong, and it was about to beat her.

Something inside her struggled. The noise of the Darnells' shouting faded, as if a stiff wind had come up and was blowing them all away. The adult Darnells yelling, cackling; the young Darnells panicked and confused.

And over it all words of power seeping into her consciousness, spoken in a deep smooth voice like smoked glass. Smoked glass with jagged edges; she would cut herself on them, they'd slice into her skin and her blood would spill out onto the floor, staining the carpet the Darnells couldn't pay for. Staining everything except her soul: That was filthy enough already, covered with grime and pain that would never go away, no matter how many pills she took or lines she snorted. She deserved to be punished for that. Deserved to die for it.

But she didn't want to. Not just because she was afraid of the City of Eternity, either. As her breath came shorter and shallower, as the black edge around her vision thickened until she could see only tiny spots of the room, all she could think about was Terrible. The only man in the world who made her feel . . . like she was okay, like she could be happy. The only one who understood her. The only one who loved her.

The only one, period.

She would not leave him. She refused to leave him.

His face grew in her mind: black hair pomaded into a rockabilly DA, thick heavy muttonchops, the face she'd once thought was ugly and now couldn't understand why or how she'd ever thought that. Because every scar showed how strong he was, those hard dark eyes thawed just for her, the heavy brow smoothed when he looked at her and it all added up to Terrible, and she was not going to let some shithead scam artists and their rent-a-witch steal her from him. He'd expect her to fight. He'd expect her to win, too.

Moving her lips hurt. She forced herself to do it anyway. "Arkrandia arkrandia, bellarum bellarum, dishager dishager, arkrandia arkrandia, bellarum bellarum . . ."

The Banishing words started to come faster, stronger. Not much, and her vision still hadn't cleared, but she could feel it. Something was building inside her--power was building inside her--and it was chasing away the choking fog of the dark spell.

She kept chanting, her voice creaky and rough, scraping against her throat, while she made her stiff fingers move. She needed to get into her bag; she had goat's blood in there, cobwebs and chunks of snake. If she could find a piece of iron to grab, it would help.

The witch loomed over her, his large body giving off the faint smell of sweat and cheap aftershave.

Were her feet on the floor? She thought they were, was pretty sure they were, and she guessed it didn't matter if they weren't, because she had to try anyway. She started to stand, her legs shaking and hurting beneath her.

The witch hit her, knocked her back. Fucker. That wasn't even a good punch; it was a wimpy little bitch slap. Now she was getting pissed. Who the hell did he think he was, this soft bag of shit in a shiny-cheap black tent and a pair of dorky-looking loafers? He thought he could come in to one of her cases, attack her?

Bullshit he could.

More anger, to make her even stronger. She was finding it now, that pit of rage deep inside her, the hatred for everyone, for everything they'd done to her. The hatred for herself that never seemed to end, would never end, would never lessen. It was there, and she needed it, and she took it and used it to clench her right hand into a fist, a good strong one. She'd never been too bad at fighting--not with her upbringing--but Terrible had shown her some new stuff, taught her how to do it, where to hit.

So she wasn't worried at all when she pushed herself up and punched him with all her might. And she had something nobody else had--or at least nobody who wasn't a trained witch who'd put some real thought into physical self-defense, which her opponent obviously hadn't.

She pushed her power into that fist, all of her energy, the anger and pain and everything else, and felt it reverberate when it hit him. Good. That gave her more strength, more will to fight.

Unfortunately, seeing her bounce back seemed to give the Darnells the will to fight, too. As she drew her fist to have another go, her energy returning in a rush as the spell was interrupted, an arm wrapped itself around her neck, yanked her against a well-padded chest.

Where the fuck was the fucking Squad? Yes, the whole thing had probably taken much less time than it felt like it had, but they should be there--

The witch dropped his shoulder, ready to hit her again. To hit her properly this time, while Mr. Darnell held her defenseless. Nice.

And, nope, she wasn't going to let them do that.

The witch checked his swing when she leaned forward as much as she could, trying to bend over completely so Mr. Darnell would rise from the floor. He pulled back harder, his arm tightening around her throat. She kept leaning. Lights started sparking behind her eyes, red and green fireworks of imminent death bright against the figure of the witch, the tackily tasteful living room.

Just when she thought she couldn't bear it one more second, she stood up straight. Fast. So fast Mr. Darnell didn't have time to react; he kept pulling her, and they both tumbled to the floor, the witch's fist barely missing her.

With Mr. Darnell beneath her and the witch leaning over, she kicked out with her right leg, managed to catch the witch in his rather ample stomach, and sent him stumbling a few steps away. Her elbow dug into the soft space below Mr. Darnell's rib cage. His arm around her loosened--not a lot, but enough for her to sit up and start to roll off him.

Roll right into the barrel of the gun.

"Stand up." Mrs. Darnell's voice didn't shake. Her eyes didn't leave Chess's face. "Come on, get up."

Great. This was just great. How many people had she busted in her four-year career? Almost exactly four years, in fact. Dozens. Dozens of people. None of them had ever tried this shit with her.

That could have been because if she had any suspicions they might, she asked the Squad for backup, of course. Where the hell were they?

Her legs still felt weird from the spell. That energy hadn't faded completely. She risked a glance at the witch, saw him standing with his fists clenched, whispering something. Another spell. Wonderful.

"Mrs. Darnell, I don't think you want to do this."

"I think you're wrong." Mrs. Darnell's narrowed eyes shot beams of cold hatred at Chess. "I think you're really, really wrong."

"Killing a Church employee is automatic grounds for execution. Not to mention we get a special dispensation so we can haunt you until that execution happens. I really--"

"You idiot. How the hell did you manage to catch us, being that stupid? I don't want to kill you, no. But I will, unless you sign those forms and give us our money."
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 30 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(27)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(1)

2 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 30 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 5, 2012

    Well...this book was just like the others. If you know me, you k

    Well...this book was just like the others. If you know me, you know I LOVE this series. This book was action packed, mysterious, and filled with Terrible! :-)

    Stacia Kane surprises me in every book. I am also so impressed by her world building, the attention to detail in everything and her language that she created. It's so funny and crazy at the same time they way the Downsiders talk. Although I really enjoy, I am thankful that Chess doesn't talk like that. :-P Since Chess is a witch for the church she is dealing in sorcery, spells and ghosts on a daily basis. Her "ingredients" for these spells are so unique that only Stacia Kane could have come up with this stuff.

    "A shriveled chicken claw wrapped in cloth, soaked in dried blood to harden it. A ball of white wax stuffed with fingernail clippings and shreds of snakeskin. A short thick braid of hair, made from smaller braids, all different kinds of hairs, and stiffened with what she thought was the liquid equivalent of the greenish powder. A bent nail. Knotted threads." -Chess going through a spell bag

    I went through almost all sorts of emotions in this book. The last book, Chess did a lot of soul searching. This book continued her journey but it also focused on her doubts about her relationship with Terrible. Not doubts on the actual relationship, but in herself being able to sustain a long lasting relationship. Downside readers know that Chess is a drug addict. She dabbles in Cepts (pills) and Speed mostly. Chess loves to push the limits and surely did in this book too. She has so much self loathing going on that she just can't fathom the fact that Terrible can love her unconditionally.

    "But as his arm wound around her waist, as she was filled with the smell of him, the taste of him, the feel of his body hot and hard against her, she didn't care. Because right at that moment she had him, and right at that moment she could finally let herself rest, could stop worrying, could get past all of the things that scared her and let herself go." -Chess

    Chess evolved more in this book. She is slowly getting there and it definitely won't be a quick process with Terrible or not. But I love the journey that she has embarked upon with him.

    Lex is of course still in this book. He has now taken over his half of Downside since his father's passing in the last book. He still has a thing for Chess, I think he's in love with her, but won't admit it. Chess definitely won't admit that to herself. No matter what, Lex is always there for Chess when she really need him. I think I have a soft spot for him. I'm not sure if it's because I feel sorry for him or what. She has continued her relationship with Blue, but we don't get to her about her much.

    This book was slow moving for me, but once it hit about the halfway point there was no stopping it. There was so much action that I didn't want to put the book down. About the last 50 pages were the best for me. There are so many great scenes and quotes that I could go on all night. My Nook is filled with highlights.

    If you haven't picked up this series and like Urban Fantasy, I highly recommend this series to you!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 18, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Kane can do no wrong!

    Stacia Kane can do no wrong in my book. Man this series just grabs you by the balls and will not let go! This review will be hard to write without spoilers; that’s for sure. (The only reason Chasing Magic didn't get a the full 5 stars is that I felt like Chess back peddled some in her relationship with Terrible and I feel like they are solid and she should be over some of her self destructive ways. So I have high hopes that we will see a new an improve Chess in the next book.)

    Terrible equals awesomeness. He is the best male character I’ve read since Karen Marie Moning’s Barrons. He is exactly what Chess needs in her life. He is strong but can also be sweet and kind but Chess is the only one that gets to see that side of him. These two complete each other (yes that is the most freaking cheesy thing to say about these two but it’s the Truth. And Truth is Fact and Fact is Truth. Dig!)

    I’ve send it before and I’ll say it again; I have a love/hate relationship with Chess. And in Chasing Magic I wanted to freaking killer her in one part. (Those that have read it know what part I’m talking about) All I could think was that botch better not hurt Terrible again. But Chess pulls her head out of her sorry ass just in time and I loved Terrible’s reaction to the guilt he saw on her face. That scene with them two is in second place with the bathroom scene from an earlier book for hotness.

    We get to see Chess and Terrible out of their element when she brings him to Elder Griffin’s wedding. And I could have died at Terrible's answer to Griffin's husband's question as to if Terrible and Chess were going to get married....



    I think that Chess has done some growing and realizes that she can no longer sit on the fence about some things in her personal life. I just hope that her small growth stays with her and that we see more personal growth in the future from her. DO NOT BACK PEDDLE.

    Ok let’s move away from the personal side before I spoil you guys…

    This time around Chess and Terrible are dealing with people in Downside going crazy and dyeing from speed that some new dealers are selling on the street. The speed is special in the fact that it has magic mixed in with it. All kinds of bad and bloody crap goes down because of this new “designer” drug. Chess and Terrible find themselves up against an angry mob of “zombies”.

    And in the middle of them trying to figure out who is behind it, they have to deal with Lex. See he has big plans now that he is in charge of the other side of town. He got plans, big plans. Like trying to get Terrible to work for him or kill him if he says no. I am so done with Lex.

    Also Terrible is still having problems with the sigil that Chess put on him a few books back that saved his life. In true Chess fashion all her bad choices are coming back to bite her and everyone around in her in the ass.

    If you are a Urban Fantasy fan and you have not started this series you need to do so NOW! Great writing, great characters, just LOVE LOVE LOVE this series. I pre-ordered Chasing Magic while I was reading the FREE ARC from Netgalley because I know this is a series I will re-read so many times. Honestly, I own this series in ebook and audio book and I enjoy it in both formats. And once Chasing Magic is out in audio I will be paying it again!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2014

    Love this series

    Write more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2013

    Love'em all

    Hooked!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2012

    Excellent

    Another excellent book from Ms Kane. I know it may sound greedy but--may we have some more please? As long as you write them I will read them. Thank you!!

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  • Posted July 31, 2012

    LOVE THIS AUTHOR!

    THE CHARACTERS AND SETING OF THE BOOK ARE GREAT! STRONG YET VUNERABLE, LOST BUT STILL FIGHTING TO CARVE OUT A LIFE FOR THEMSELVES IN A CRAZY WORLD. I LOVE THIS SERIES!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 29, 2012

    Stacia Kane's are really good, once you start reading can't put

    Stacia Kane's are really good, once you start reading can't put them down. Can't wait to read the next book. The keep you on the edge to where want to read more. I hope she keeps them coming.

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  • Posted July 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Still Rocking

    Loved the 5th installment in this series. Chess has so much self-hatred..I love watching her gradually work her way to out of that darkness through her love for Terrible. Keep up the great work, Stacia! Can't wait to see where you take us next!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2012

    dark, gritty, and captivating

    Another great Chess installment!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2012

    Fantastic!

    Once again this series grabs my heart and squeezes! Fantastic writting and love reading Chess grow.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2012

    Loved it!

    Another great book by Stacia and can't wait for the next book to come out!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 29, 2012

    Awesome

    Wow! Another awesome story.

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  • Posted June 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    The Series Just Keeps Getting Better

    It’s so hard to put into words just how incredible this book, and indeed, this whole series is, at least not without rehashing the entire story for you or including spoilers. The entire atmosphere of the Downside Ghosts series, with not only the entire Church/ghosts/churchwitch setup but also of the realities of life in Downside for all its good and all its evil just draws you into their world and refuses to let you go, long after the final words of the final chapter.

    What really makes this series, however, is Ms. Kane’s ability to make the reader actually care what happens to all of her characters. It’s not just Chess, and Terrible, and for some readers, Lex and Blue. It’s the Elders, Bump, even some of the minor characters that we meet in pipe rooms and back alleys. The intricate plots and multifaceted characters chew you up and spit you out, leaving you desperate for more.

    One thing I feel is worth mentioning is that I do not think think that this book would work well as a standalone. As much as ms Kane throws in a bit of a refresher for those who haven’t read the previous novels recently, there is just so much depth and so many nuances in this world that I truly believe newcomers will miss out on too much of the history between the characters to get the full impact.

    I for one am completely obsessed with this series. Chess is one of the most unlikely heroines you will ever read about in any sort of romance, not just urban fantasy. She’s a liar, a cheat, a junkie. She’s arrogant, stubborn, impulsive, and full of self-loathing and self-sabotage. Even so, one just can’t help but be engrossed by her, even at those times you want to grab her by the hair and give her a good shake for some of the things that she does. Terrible, as well, is about as much of an anti-hero as you could imagine. Physically unattractive, violent, and an enabler to Chess’ drug addiction, his devotion to Chess makes him one of the greatest heroes in urban fantasy. These characters aren’t superheroes. They aren’t even what most would consider to be good people. And yet they are without a doubt some of my favorite fictional characters of all time. And that’s saying something.

    A resounding 5/5 Stars.
    {This title provided, free of charge, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. Full review available on The Romanceaholic}

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    Posted February 12, 2013

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    Posted July 9, 2012

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    Posted September 20, 2012

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    Posted November 14, 2012

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