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Free Fall (Retrievers Series #5)

Free Fall (Retrievers Series #5)

4.1 21
by Laura Anne Gilman

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The Cosa Nostradamus is in disarray; the Truce holding violence in check has been broken. Magical Manhattan is at war, and Wren Valere is left without her partner/lover Sergei, whose past loyalties keep him from her side just when she needs him the most.

Hoping to keep herself occupied, Wren takes a job— but what should have been an ordinary Retrieval


The Cosa Nostradamus is in disarray; the Truce holding violence in check has been broken. Magical Manhattan is at war, and Wren Valere is left without her partner/lover Sergei, whose past loyalties keep him from her side just when she needs him the most.

Hoping to keep herself occupied, Wren takes a job— but what should have been an ordinary Retrieval instead forces her to realize that it is time to do more. It is time for the Cosa to take the battle to the enemy.

But she'll do it her way. The Retrievers' way. Sneaky, smart—and with maximum damage possible. What was lost will be found, what was stolen will be Retrieved. And this war will be ended, once and for all.

Wren Valere always finishes the job. Always.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Picking up shortly after the devastating battle between humans and fey atop the Brooklyn Bridge in 2007's Burning Bridges, Gilman's compelling fifth foray into the fantastic netherworld of modern-day Manhattan takes an even darker turn. Most of the surviving members of the Cosa Nostradamus, an informal collective of demon Fatae and magic-using human Talents, have retreated into hiding, while the Silence, a violently anti-fey covert organization, has regrouped under the leadership of a dangerous fanatic. When Wren Valere, a professional thief and Talent, takes on a simple smash-and-grab job that turns out to be a setup, she swears to stop the Silence and their fey-hunting vigilantes once and for all. With streamlined prose, Gilman deftly weaves intricate plot threads and complex relationships into an almost painful buildup of violent suspense. The result is an intelligent and utterly gripping fantasy thriller, by far the best of the Retrievers series to date. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

Publication date:
Retrievers Series , #5
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.50(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt

Spring, 1910
New York City

The conversation was subdued and civilized,as befitted the surroundings: a large, tastefully decorated library, surrounded on three sides by leather-bound books and a marble fireplace, and on the fourth by a wall of floor to ceiling windows, respectably covered by sheet curtains to allow light in but deflect the gaze of those on the street.

Out of the murmured conversation, a complaint lifted into the air. "We must have a motto."

"Oh, not again," his companion replied."Who would we tell this motto to, Alan? Where would we place it? Over what mantel would it be carved?" He gestured around the rather plain room they met in, the high ceilings and wainscoting on the walls almost austere in their simplicity. "It seems somewhat counterindicated for a secret society, if it truly wishes to remain unnoticed. If we must formalize our identity, I should think a statement of purpose before a motto."

The argument had been raging on-and-off for three months now, ever since they had gathered to bring in the New Year and officially inaugurate their new organization, and most of the assembled men—eleven in all—were heartily sick of it.

The first man stuck to his guns. "We all know why we are here, Maxwell. A motto will bind us together, remind us of our purpose. Give us light in the darkness."

"A lamp will work as well for that," Maxwell retorted.

There was some muted laughter among the other men gathered, which quickly turned to coughs and covered grins. All eleven were well past the first blush of youth, with graying hair and faces that showed lines of wear. Yet they were all full of energy and vigor; the perfect advertisement for a generation of leaders, the lifeblood of Manhattan society, both business and social. Only under the surface did a difference show, a stern determination inherited less from Society and more from their Puritan forebears.

"Gentlemen, please." Their leader, a relatively young man with a fashionably clean-shaven face and well-cut brown sack suit held up his hand."Peace. Alan, I am certain that a motto will be chosen when the time is right. It is not a thing to be rushed, after all. Posterity would not thank us for an ill-chosen motto.

"For now, it is more important that we come to order with the day's business. If you would please join me?"

The eleven men gathered around the long, dark mahogany table. It would not have looked out of place in a formal dining room, but instead of china and linen it was set with a three-color map of the United States, a Holy Bible, and a sword of gleaming watered steel placed lengthwise along the center of the table, its tip resting on the Bible. The hilt was of an Indian style, placing the age of the weapon at anywhere from 300 to 600 AD.

"Lord, we ask your blessing upon this gathering. In silence we have seen the wreck of human nature. In silence we have borne the preditations of the old world, the creeping darkness coming upon us."

In New York, in America, they were safe. But these men looked beyond their walls, considered what might be looking at them with a hungry or jealous eye. And Europe was under more than one shadow, stretching out toward the New World. They knew it, even if the government did not, yet.

"In silence we have watched as the glory of your word was drowned under the work of evil-doings. And so in silence we gather now, to protect those who would be true to their better natures, those who have no defense against the serpent of evil save your flaming sword and fierce justice, and those who, through lack of knowledge, have no salvation. We are the wall between the old world and the new, and we ask your blessing upon our hands, and our weapons, to guide them true."

"Amen," the others chorused. They all sat down, seemingly without thought of placement or precedence.

"All right. I hereby call this meeting to order, on this the 15th day of March, the year of our Lord 1910. Have we any special orders to be brought forward at this time?"

There was a short pause, while the members looked to each other. When no one stood up or indicated they wished to address the group, the Speaker went on.

"Very well then. Have we updates on old business? Yes, Mr. Carson?"

The member so indicated let down his hand and stood up. Now that the meeting had been called to order, their speech was more considered, their address more formal. "The money-lending situation down near Green Street has been resolved. The gentleman in question understands that we will be watching him, and his rates, quite closely for the foreseeable future. I expect that there will be no further unpleasantness."

A few grim nods at that: money-lending was not a crime, nor were the rates the man was charging—no one, after all, was forced to go to him for loans—but it was wrong nonetheless. Business was business, but there were seemly limits.

"Very good." He looked down the table as Mr. Carson sat down. "Mr. Van Stann?"

Van Stann was a short man with sallow skin and a zealot's eye. "The den of opium addicts near the fish market has been closed down. It required some cleansing to accomplish, but the owners will not attempt to reopen."

"Costs?" This had been debated sharply among the members before action was taken, on exactly that question.

Van Stann didn't hesitate. "Two residents were trapped inside, unable to move themselves enough to escape. They would not have lasted long on their own, anyway. I doubt even the kindest of homes would have kept them from the drug longer than a day or two. The building is a total loss."

"We should have it strewn with salt, to be certain," another man at the table suggested. "I know it is but superstition, but at times using their own fears against them is the only way to ensure success."

There was a low rumble of agreement to that. The chairman was within rights to call the meeting back to order, but he allowed the side discussion to go on.

"And yet," Mr. Goddard, a banker who brought a refreshingly practical viewpoint to the table, asked, "If we play into those fears, are we not encouraging them, rather than stamping them out? How can that be true to our charter, to protect them even from themselves?"

Van Stann was back on his feet."If we can keep another place such as that from being rebuilt? Sometimes, the lesser evil—the much lesser evil in this case—must be embraced, to keep the ignorant from greater crimes!"

"And who are we to determine what the lesser evil is?" Goddard shot back. "I do not claim that level of wisdom for myself!"

"Gentlemen! Please!" The chairman knew his fellow members well enough to intercede at this point. It had never come to violence before in this chamber, and he prayed it never would, but every member of the Silence was full of conviction and fire, else they would not have been allowed entrance to the group.

Once he had them settled down and seated again, he continued, in a more sedate tone."A suggestion has been raised, and not without merit—and risks. Does anyone second Mr. Van Stann's motion?"

Several hands went up, while other faces turned hard as granite.

"Very well. It has been moved and seconded. All who are agreed?"

Seven hands raised.


Three hands.

"Seven to three, one abstaining. The motion passes. Add the cost of the salt to the minutes, if you would, Mr. Donnelly?"

The secretary nodded, his hand flying over his notepad. They had offered to buy him a typewriter, but he preferred the old-fashioned way of doing things.

"Is that all for old business? Very well then, I open the floor to discussion of new business. Mr. Clare?"

Ashton Claire stood, taking his time. He was a slender man, not much over five feet ten inches tall, and not quite so immaculately turned out as his companions, but the empty sleeve in his coat made others give way before him, as befitted a man who served his country in the Indian campaigns with honor, and paid the penultimate price.

"It has been reported that the selkies are back in the harbor. Already, we have lost three sailors to their wiles, two off naval ships at liberty, one a merchantman. The Portmaster begs our aid in the matter."

There was a quiet murmur at that. Many of the men at the table had considerable investments tied up in shipping, and this struck close to home.

"We gave them fair warning, twice before," the Chairman said heavily. "Still they cannot leave our harbor alone."

Mr. Gilbert raised his hand, and was acknowledged. He stood, a tall, angular man, with deep hollows under his eyes. He was an importer, with direct and firsthand knowledge of the problem."I do not underplay the significance of the damage selkies may do—they have long been a temptation to the sailing man long gone from his home."

Several of the men at the table crossed themselves, or looked horrified, but Gilbert ignored them. "However, we must acknowledge that selkies were once man's allies on the oceans. They may not understand why—to their eyes—we have turned against them."

"That partnership took effect when mankind was still mired in the age of superstition and folly," the Chairman said. "It is a weak relict of what humanity was once, not what it is becoming. Those partnerships are null and void in this modern age."

Gilbert bowed his head to indicate his acceptance of that."I do not disagree. But they are, as you say, of a different age, and slow to change."

"We have given them warnings. We have told them to leave our men alone. Still, they persist. Is there a man here who would argue that we have not given fair notice?"

Gilbert waited a moment and then, finding himself alone, shook his head and sat down.

"So be it. Have their rocks slicked with oil and set afire. Any of the creatures who do not willingly leave after that, take care of with a single shot to the head or heart."

"We should destroy all of them," one of the men at the table muttered. "Filthy abominations!"

Gilbert would have reacted to that, but the Chairman was more swift.

"They are animals, Mr. Jackson. Of human mien, perhaps, but without the grace of God's touch, and so unable to understand the evil of what they do. Had it been harpies, then I would be the first to agree with you, but selkies… They were, as Mr. Gilbert reminds us, our helpmeets once, and it behooves us to remember that. They are of an older age, and Time and Science has passed them by. Destroy them for that? No. If we must, then let it be only when we ourselves are in dire threat, and only then with a heavy heart. The Lord created them, as he created all on this earth, and it is not our place to judge His works.

"Now. Is there further old business for us to discuss?"

There was none.

Meet the Author

Laura Anne Gilman is the author of the popular Cosa Nostradamus books for Luna (the “Retrievers” and “Paranormal Scene Investigations” urban fantasy series), and the Nebula award-nominated The Vineart War trilogy from Pocket, as well as the YA trilogy GRAIL QUEST for Harper. Her first story collection is DRAGON VIRUS and she continues to write and sell short fiction in a variety of genres. Follow her at @LAGilman or www.lauraannegilman.net

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Free Fall 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
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harstan More than 1 year ago
In the twenty-first century, magic is not used by reciting spells, but by being able to channel current through their bodies. These adepts are called Talents and the non-human members of the Cosa Nostradamus are named Fatae. The Silence is a top secret private organization that protects the innocent from t abuses, but has become corrupted and believes the Talent and the Fatae must be eradicated.---------- Retriever Wren Valerie obtains objects for clients. She is separated from her lover Sergei the Null who can not channel current, but is addicted to it. If they make love and her current goes out of control, Sergei will die. He forgives her for their separation and hopes they can find a way back together. Meanwhile he uses his contacts inside the Silence to gather information for the upcoming confrontation with the magic users. Wren is in underground place for a meeting but it is really a trap and she is almost raped and killed by vigilante Nulls who label her as ¿it¿. However she kills them instead and is determined to breach the fortress of the Silence in order to retrieve kidnapped children with Talent being brainwashed for use in some Silence operations. Sergei and Wren¿s live-in cuddly demon P.J. plan to keep her safe as the three know something is not right with Wren.--------------- This latest Retriever novel is one of the best tales in an exhilarating series due in part to the separation between Wren and Sergei. Readers see both sides prepare for the upcoming final battle with the current channel practitioners coming together to protect Magical Manhattan. Fans of fantasy and romantic fantasy will appreciate Laura Anne Gilman¿s superb FREE FALL.---------- Harriet Klausner
Jackiel79 More than 1 year ago
Interesting and fast moving. A little repetitious if you've read the other books in ghe series. It would be nice to finally com to resolution.
Mina_Dark More than 1 year ago
Every time I get to the end of one of Wren's stories and think, "Well, that's got to be it. There's no way Laura will come up with any more adventures this good," I am proved completely WRONG! This was a fantastic novel, and it might even be my favorite of the series...of course, I haven't read "Blood From Stone" yet, but that's next! Oh, this book was so good! Wren kicks major magic butt! If you love these and are bummed that "Blood From Stone" will be the last one for awhile, try Kristina Marrick. Her latest book, "The Feminist Avenger," (with a female main charcter named Ven - how about that!?) will be out next month!