The Crypt Thief (Hugo Marston Series #2)by Mark Pryor
It’s summer in Paris and two tourists have been murdered in Père Lachaise cemetery in front of Jim Morrison’s grave. The cemetery is locked down and put under surveillance, but the killer returns, flitting in and out like a ghost, and breaks into the crypt of a long-dead Moulin Rouge dancer. In a bizarre twist, he disappears under the cover of… See more details below
It’s summer in Paris and two tourists have been murdered in Père Lachaise cemetery in front of Jim Morrison’s grave. The cemetery is locked down and put under surveillance, but the killer returns, flitting in and out like a ghost, and breaks into the crypt of a long-dead Moulin Rouge dancer. In a bizarre twist, he disappears under the cover of night with part of her skeleton.
One of the dead tourists is an American and the other is a woman linked to a suspected terrorist; so the US ambassador sends his best man and the embassy’s head of security—Hugo Marston—to help the French police with their investigation.
When the thief breaks into another crypt at a different cemetery, stealing bones from a second famed dancer, Hugo is stumped. How does this killer operate unseen? And why is he stealing the bones of once-famous can-can girls?
Hugo cracks the secrets of the graveyards but soon realizes that old bones aren’t all this killer wants. . . .
“Haunting imagery in Père La Chaise cemetery sets the stage for Pryor’s chilling sophomore entry, and the City of Light becomes a backdrop for Marston’s adventures. The clever antagonist leads him on a merry chase that will keep the reader entertained throughout."
—RT Book Reviews
"Two young lovers make the fatal mistake of sneaking into Paris’s Père Lachaise Cemetery the same night as a bone-stealing psychopath in Pryor’s propulsive second novel starring affable former FBI profiler Hugo Marston…. The engaging characters sweep readers into a suspenseful chase from Pigalle to the Pyrenées."
“An eerily good read. Pryor has crafted another chilling, complex, and compelling story. Don’t start it if you need a good night’s sleep!”
—Allison Leotta, author of Speak of the Devil
“A complex puzzle, genuine suspense, and a compelling protagonist—what more can any reader ask for? Oh yeah, a great location: Paris. I’m sold.”
—Michael Robotham, author of Say You’re Sorry
“Pryor’s second case for Marston (after The Bookseller) doesn’t disappoint. The crazed serial killer leads readers into the darkest regions of Paris, making it a good bet for Cara Black fans.”
“Has an imaginative plot and a strong sense of place... well written.”
-New York Journal of Books
“When a debut book is as strong as the first Hugo Marston mystery, The Bookseller, one always wonders whether the sophomore attempt will live up to that high mark. In this case, with The Crypt Thief, Pryor has proven that his first success was not a fluke. He brings both the seedier side and the diplomatic halls of Paris to life every bit as successfully as he did in the first Hugo Marston book.... [Pryor's] descriptive language is beautiful. Equally fine is the manner in which each character emerges as a fully realized individual.”
-Reviewing the Evidence
“There’s no shortage of excitement in this second Hugo Marston mystery-thriller, set in modern day Paris. So strap in, it’s going to be a ride you won’t forget.”
-The Big Thrill
“Author Pryor uses this truly creepy scenario to create a nail-biter of a novel. It has enough bizarre twists to keep you reading into the night. The setting in the famous Paris cemetery gives the story just enough of a sense of the exotic to pull the reader in, and to anticipate something far different from a run of the mill mystery. The Crypt Thief leads us on the trail of a cold-blooded killer to a truly fiery conclusion.”
Read an Excerpt
THE CRYPT THIEF
A Hugo Marston Novel
By MARK PRYOR
Prometheus BooksCopyright © 2013Mark Pryor
All rights reserved.
The man stood still, scanning the night for movement. Seeing none, he stepped off the cobbled path and moved through a cluster of crypts, looking for a place to rest. He found four low tombs and swept a bouquet of flowers from the edge of one before sitting down. He listened for a moment then pulled a canvas bag onto his lap, reassured by the muffled clunk of the tools inside.
He rummaged in the bag and pulled out the map he'd drawn on his first visit to the cemetery, two weeks ago. Leaning forward, he pointed his headlamp at the ground before switching it on, holding the map in its yellow glow and running his eyes over the familiar lines and circles.
A breeze passed through the trees and he heard the rustle of leaves, like sighs of relief after a long, hot day. The gentle draft reached him and ruffled the page in his hand, caressed his cheek. He clicked off the lamp and looked up, savoring the coolness, and he shut his eyes for just a moment, tipping his head back so the sweat on his throat could dry.
Behind him, a scraping sound.
He looked over his shoulder at a pair of oak trees, blacker even than the moonless night, their limbs reaching out to each other like uncertain strangers, sightless branches jostling each other to touch the wind.
Taking a deep breath to relax himself, he turned his eyes to the concrete headstone at his back, suddenly curious about whose bones were beneath him. He switched his headlamp on and its light drew shadows out of the raised letters on a brass plaque. He mouthed the words James Douglas Morrison. Below the name it read, 1948–1971. A string of letters under the dates made no sense to him. Latin or Greek, perhaps.
He put the lamp and his map back into the bag and pulled out a water bottle, half empty from his long and dusty journey to this place. Two long swigs were all he allowed himself, and he put the bottle away.
He stiffened as voices drifted in from the path that he'd just left, conspiratorial whispers that wound between the stone and concrete tombs, soft words given form by the clarity of the night.
Two voices, a man and a woman.
In a moment his bag was open again, thick fingers gripping the butt of the gun he'd never used, a .22 Ruger he'd bought from a drunk outside a bar in Montmartre three months ago.
He slid the bag onto the ground and moved so he could see the path, his small feet stepping on the firm soil between patches of gravel, moving him silently between the stone slabs. As a boy, his mother had laughingly called him mon petit scarabée, my little scarab, for the way he could scuttle about the house without being seen, popping up where least expected to startle her, or, if he was there, to make his father turn red and growl.
The Scarab peered around a tall tombstone into the darkness and saw the couple coming toward him, arm in arm, heads close. They walked slowly, swaying as if they were drunk, holding each other up as their feet scuffed over the cobblestone path. They wore matching outfits: black T-shirts and camouflage pants tucked into military-style boots.
And they had no idea he was there.
He thought about letting them pass, he almost wanted to, but they made the decision for him by stopping ten yards away.
"His grave should be here," the woman said. "You have the candle?"
They were speaking English, the man thought. He spoke English, too. Un petit peu.
"Yeah, sure." The man slipped off a backpack. "Somewhere."
"This is so exciting," the woman said, her voice a stage whisper, breathless. She had olive skin and dark hair pulled back into a ponytail. Green eyes, the Scarab guessed.
He knew where they were going, where so many damn Americans went: to pay homage to a drug addict and alcoholic, a man who squandered his musical gifts and destroyed every piece of his talent with a needle. If they had the sense to recognize the power of the grave, he thought, they should have the sense to seek out those whose bones had something positive to offer.
He watched from the shadows as they stood at the edge of the path. His breath caught in his throat and he felt a stab of anxiety as he realized: They'll see my bag.
He squeezed the grip of the pistol that hung by his side, as if reminding himself of its presence. He couldn't risk them seeing his tools, raising the alarm.
He stepped out of the shadows and walked toward them, his gun parting the darkness in front of him. He trod carefully, quietly. He was the Scarab, scuttling out from between the stone tombs, unexpected and unseen until he was close enough to see their eyes widen and their mouths drop open.
He knew what they were seeing, too, and the fact that they looked at his face for so long before seeing the gun told him so. He'd seen that look when he didn't have a gun in his hand, gotten it all his life. They were seeing a man barely five feet tall, the height of a child but with the stocky build of a professional, adult wrestler. They were seeing the face he'd gotten from his father, the long thick chin under wide cheek bones, and the narrow slits for eyes that sat deep, hidden, and unreadable. Eyes that were black holes bored into the base of an unusually high forehead, which itself ended with the spirals of copper wire that sprang across the crown of his head.
He watched them as they watched him and, when they'd taken all of him in, he decided that no words were necessary. He aimed at the man, pointing the gun toward his chest, squeezing the trigger softly like he'd practiced in his apartment. Now, though, instead of a click he heard a sharp crack. Once, then a second time after he'd brought the little gun under control, and in the dark night he heard the man fall onto the cobbles of the Avenue de la Chappelle. He looked over at the woman. She seemed to be hyperventilating, with one hand clamped over her mouth, as if quieting herself would circumvent the inevitable.
He was pleased so far. Such a small gun but so effective and easy to use.
He inched his aim to the left, covering the woman, the girl, his finger firm on the trigger. It crossed his mind, for just a moment, that he could do more with her than he could with the man, exert control and make her ... do things for him.
Their eyes met and held, but not for long enough to see whether he'd been right about their color. She was looking at his gun, her mouth working silently, and then her eyes flicked back to his face as her left arm rose from her side, stiff, and she put her hand out as if she were a policewoman stopping traffic. The Scarab stared at her palm for a moment, so white in the darkness, her fingers so delicate and frail, a desperate gesture from a girl who had nothing else to offer. A spiderweb to stop a train.
He pulled the trigger, again a gentle squeeze that wouldn't mess up his aim. The crack seemed louder than before, more satisfying to the Scarab, and it sent a bullet through the middle of her palm and into her shoulder. Her hand flew up and then fell back to her side, and the girl let out a high-pitched whine as she took a step back, her head shaking in disbelief. The Scarab moved forward to see the expression on her face.
Surprise and confusion, he thought. But mostly fear.
She looked down at her hand, which released blood onto the path in a thick stream. Then she looked up, directly into his eyes, and opened her mouth wide.
The Scarab didn't wait for her to scream. He shot her again, jerking the trigger three times, knowing he couldn't miss from so close, and she crumpled to the ground without making another sound.
Excerpted from THE CRYPT THIEF by MARK PRYOR. Copyright © 2013 by Mark Pryor. Excerpted by permission of Prometheus Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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