99 Coffins

99 Coffins

by David Wellington

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307406934
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 12/31/2007
Series: Laura Caxton Vampire , #2
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 283,882
File size: 753 KB

About the Author

DAVID WELLINGTON is the author of 13 Bullets and the Monster Island trilogy.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

Read an Excerpt

1.

Fifty thousand men had died or been wounded on this broad valley, Montrose told himself. It must have been a scene out of hell--the injured lying sprawled across the corpses, the cannon still firing from the top of one hill at the top of another. The horses screaming, the smoke, the utter desperation. This was where the country could have fallen apart--instead, this place had saved it from utter ruin.

Of course, that had been a century and a half ago. Now as he stared out over the dewy Gettysburg battlefield all he saw were the trees shimmering in the wind that swept down between two ridges and stirred the long green grass. The blood had dried up long ago and the bodies all had been taken away to be buried. Off in one corner of the field he could just make out the scrupulously period-authentic tents of a band of reenactors, but it looked like even they were sleeping in.

He rubbed his face to try to wake himself up, forgetting for the third time that morning that he still had kohl daubed around his eyes from the previous night's clubbing. Jeff Montrose was not a morning person. He preferred to think of himself as a creature of the night.

Of course, when Professor John Geistdoerfer called you at six a.m. on a Sunday morning and asked if you'd supervise a student dig until he could arrive, you made your voice as chipper as possible and you got dressed in a hurry. The professor was the hottest thing going in the field of Civil War Era Studies, one of the most influential people at Gettysburg College. Staying on his good side was mandatory for a grad student like Montrose, if he ever wanted to have a career of his own someday.

And when the student dig turned out to be something special--well, even the most hard-core night owl could make an exception. Montrose ran down through the trees to the road and waved at the professor's Buick as it nosed its way toward him. The car pulled onto the side of the road where Montrose indicated.

Geistdoerfer was a tall man with a shock of silver hair and a neatly combed mustache. He climbed out of the car and started up the track, not waiting to hear what his student had to say.

"I called you the second we found it," Montrose tried to explain, chasing after the professor. "Nobody's gone down inside yet--I made sure of it."

Geistdoerfer nodded but said nothing as the two of them hurried toward the site. His eyes tracked back and forth across the main trench, a ragged opening in the earth made by inexpert hands. At the bottom, still mostly buried in dark earth, was a floor of decayed wooden planking. The undergrads who excavated it had come only for extra credit and none of them were CWES majors. They stood around the trench now in their bright clothes, looking either bored or scared, holding their trowels and shovels at their sides. Geistdoerfer was a popular teacher, but he could be a harsh grader, and none of them wanted to incur his wrath.

The site had been chosen for student work because it was supposed to be of only passing interest to history. Once it had been a powder magazine, a narrow pit dug in the earth where the Confederates had stored barrels of black gunpowder. At the end of the battle, when the soldiers had beat a hasty retreat, they had blown up the magazine to keep it out of the hands of the victorious Union troops. Geistdoerfer hadn't expected to find anything in the dig other than maybe some shards of burned barrels and a few whitened lead minie balls identical to the ones you could buy at any gift shop in town.

For the first few hours of the dig they hadn't even turned up that much. Then things got more interesting. Marcy Jackson, a criminal justice major, had been digging in the bottom of the trench when she uncovered the magazine's floorboards about an hour before Geistdoerfer arrived. Now Montrose motioned for her to step forward. Her hands were shoved deeply into her pockets.

"Marcy hit one of the floorboards with her trowel and thought it sounded hollow. Like there was an open space underneath," Montrose said. "She, um, she hit the boards a couple of times and they broke away. There was an open space beneath, maybe a big one." Which meant the site was more than just another powder magazine, though what else it had been used for was anybody's guess.

"I just wanted to see what was down there," she said. "We're supposed to be curious. You said that in class."

"Yes, I did." Geistdoerfer studied her for a moment. "I also told you, young lady, that it's traditional, at a dig, to not destroy anything before the senior academic on-site can have a look," he said.

Montrose could see Jackson's shoulders trembling as she stared down at her shoes.

The professor's stare didn't waver. "Considering the result, however, I think we can let this one slide." Then he smiled, warmly and invitingly. "Will you show me what you found?"

The student bit her lip and climbed down into the trench, with Geistdoerfer following. Together they examined the hole in the boards. The professor called up for Montrose to fetch some flashlights and a ladder. Geistdoerfer went down first, with Montrose and Jackson following. At the bottom they waved their lights around with no idea what they might find.

The powder magazine had been built on top of a natural cavern, they soon decided. Pennsylvania had plenty of them, though most of the big caves were north of Gettysburg. It looked like the Confederates had known it was there, since in several places the ceiling of the cave was shored up with timbers. Jagged stalactites hung from the ceiling, but some effort had been made to even out the floor. Their flashlights did little to cut through the almost perfect darkness in the cave, but they could see it wasn't empty. A number of long, low shapes huddled in the gloom, maybe large crates of some kind.

Jackson played her light over one of them and then squeaked like a mouse. The two men turned their lights on her face and she blinked in annoyance. "I'm okay. I just wasn't expecting a coffin."

Montrose dropped to his knees next to the box she'd examined and saw she was right. "Oh my God," he whispered. When they'd discovered the cave he'd assumed it would hold old weaponry or perhaps long-rotten foodstuffs and general supplies. The thought it might be a crypt had never occurred to him.

He started to shake with excitement. Every archaeologist at heart wants to dig up old burial sites. They may get excited about flint arrowheads or ancient kitchen middens, but the reason they got into the field in the first place was because they wanted to find the next King Tut or the next stash of terra-cotta warriors. He waved his light around at some of the other boxes and saw they were all the same. Long, octagonal in shape. They were plain wooden coffins with simple lids held on by rusting hinges.

His mind raced with the possibilities. Inside would be bones, of course, which were of great interest, but maybe also the remains of clothing, maybe Civil War-era jewelry. There was so much to be done, so much cataloging and descriptive work, the entire cavern had to be plotted and diagrams drawn up--

His train of thought was derailed instantly when Jackson reached down and lifted the lid of the nearest coffin. "Hey, don't--" he shouted, but she already had it open.

"Young lady," the professor sighed, but then he just shook his head. Montrose went to take a look. How could he not?

Inside the coffin lay a skeleton in almost perfect preservation. All the bones were intact, though strangely enough they were also completely bare of flesh. Even after a hundred and forty years you would expect to see some remains of hair or desiccated skin, but these were as clean as a museum specimen. Far more surprising, though, was that the skull was deformed. The jaws were larger than they should have been. They also had more teeth than they should. Far more teeth, and none of them were bicuspids or molars. They were wicked-looking triangular teeth, slightly translucent, like those of a shark. Montrose recognized those teeth from somewhere, but he couldn't quite place where.

Apparently Geistdoerfer had a better memory. Montrose could feel the professor's body go rigid beside him. "Miss Jackson, I'm going to ask you to leave now," he said. "This is no longer an appropriate site for undergraduate students. In fact, Mister Montrose, would you be good enough to go up top and send all of the students home?"

"Of course," Montrose said. He led Jackson back to the ladder and did as the professor had asked. Some of the students grumbled and some had questions he couldn't answer. He promised them all he'd explain at the next class meeting. When they were gone he hurried back down the ladder, desperate to get to work.

What he found at the bottom didn't make any sense to him. The professor was kneeling next to the coffin and had something in his hand, a black object about the size of his fist. He laid it quite gently and carefully inside the skeleton's rib cage, then leaned back as if in surprise.

Jeff started to ask what was going on, but the professor held up one hand for silence. "I'd appreciate it if you went home too, Jeff. I'd like to be alone with this find for a while."

"Don't you need someone to help start cataloging all this?" Montrose asked.

The professor's eyes were very bright in his flashlight beam. Jeff didn't need more than one look to know the answer.

"Yeah, sure," the student said. "I'll see you later, then."

Geistdoerfer was already staring down into the coffin again. He made no reply.

2.

I met with General Hancock for the last time in 1886, on Governors Island in the harbor of New York City. He was in ill health then, and much reduced in his duties as Commander of the Atlantic Division, and I waited in the anterooms of his office for several hours in the cold, with only a small stove to warm me. When he came in he walked with much difficulty, and some pain, yet gave me the warm felicitations we two have always shared.

We had some matters of small business to conclude. Last of these was the thin sheaf of documents I had compiled, about my work at Gettysburg in July 1863. "I think they should be burned," the general told me, without a glance at them. His eyes were fixed on my face instead, and as sharp and clear as I remembered, from the third day of the battle. The pain had not then touched his fierce intellect, nor his spirit. "These papers offer nothing to posterity save moral terror, and would ruin many a fine career should they be published now. What benefits any of us to stir up old memories?"

One does not question a man of Winfield Scott Hancock's authority. I bowed over the papers and gathered them again into my valise. He turned to reach for a glass of tea, which steamed in the icy room.

"And what of the soldiers?" I asked. "They are veterans, all."

But his answer was immediate. "They are dead, sir," he told me, putting his feet up on the stove. "It is better for them to remain so." His voice sank lower as he added, "and best for our sacred Conscience, as well."

A week later he was brought to Pennsylvania, and buried there, having died of a very old wound that never healed.

--the papers of Colonel William Pittenger

3.

The unmarked car sat screened by a row of trees only a hundred yards from the barn. The same barn she'd been looking at for so long--just a big unkempt pile of weather-eaten wood planks, with here and there a broken window. It looked like it ought to be deserted, or even condemned, yet she knew it was full to capacity with the fifteen members of the Godwin family, every single one of whom had a criminal record. As far as she could tell they were all asleep. A gray squirrel ran up the side of a drainpipe and she nearly jumped out of her seat. Getting control of herself, she scribbled some notes on her spiral pad. Sept. 29, 2004, continuing surveillance outside of Godwin residence near Lairdsville, Pennsylvania. This was it, she thought. The day of the raid had finally come. She looked up. The dashboard clock ticked over to 5:47 a.m. and she made a note.

"I count five vehicles out front," Corporal Painter said. "That's all of them--the whole family's in there. We can get everybody in one sweep." As the junior officer on the investigation, Caxton had been assigned to shadow one of the more experienced troopers. Painter had been doing this for years. He sipped at an iced coffee and squinted through the windshield. "This is your first taste of real police work, right?"

"I guess you could say that," she replied. Once upon a time she had worked on a kind of investigation. She had fought for her life against vampires far more deadly than any bad guy Painter might have tracked down in his career. The vampire case had gotten her promoted, but it didn't appear anywhere on her permanent record. It had been nearly a full year since she'd moved up from the Bureau of Patrol to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. In that time she'd taken endless classes at the academy in Hershey, qualified on tests both written and oral, passed polygraph and background checks and full psychological, medical, and physical fitness evaluations, including a urinalysis for drug screening, before she was actually permitted to work a real investigation in the field. Then had come the hard part, the actual work. For the last two months she had been pulling twelve-hour shifts in the car, watching the barn that they believed contained one of the biggest meth labs in the Commonwealth. She hadn't made a single collar yet, nor confiscated any evidence, nor interviewed a person of interest. This raid would prove whether or not she was cut out for criminal investigations, and she wanted to do everything perfectly.

"Here's a tip, then. You don't have to write down the time every five minutes if nothing happens." He smiled and gestured at her notepad with his coffee cup.

She smiled back and shoved the pad into her pocket.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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99 Coffins 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 57 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*she stumbles drunk*
AdonisGuilfoyle on LibraryThing 7 months ago
The second novel in David Wellington's vampire series is an exciting improvement on the first. Trooper Laura Caxton is still fairly useless, but at least she is facing her fears - and this time, she is in charge. One year after the events in 13 Bullets, Laura and her miserable mentor Arkeley have been immortalised on film as vampire hunters, but all Caxton wants to do is forget and move on. When Arkeley asks for her help with another case, she tries to refuse him, but curiosity wins over her better judgement and the two end up in Gettysburg. An archaeological dig has turned up 99 vampire coffins on the battlefield, and Laura must make sure that the old bones are well and truly dead - but the 100th coffin is empty.The combination of history and vampires in this story had me hooked - I didn't know anything about the Battle of Gettysburg, or the American Civil War, but Caxton's investigation into an undead army of Union soldiers really brought the details of that era to life (pardon the pun). And the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia, where Arkeley tries to force a confrontation between ancient vampire hag Justinia Malvern and one of her creations was absolutely fascinating, and very atmospheric. The head vampire was actually very charming and amusing, too, which made a change from the usual feral monsters of Wellington's mythology.The terror - and feeling of claustrophobia - generated by Caxton's battles with vicious and virtually unstoppable vampires is what sets this series apart from the many other examples of vampire fiction I have read recently - that, and the 'gay lady supercop' heroine, of course. I actually shared the Trooper's sense of despair and guilt, when she and the others were facing wave and after wave of supernatural killers in Gettysburg. Truly the tense, tortuous stuff of nightmares.
Falcon124 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
An interesting twist on vampires and a fascinating linkage into the American Civil War. Well written with good characters that made for an enjoyable, fast paced read.
simply00complex on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Summary: Laura Caxton is now a famous vampire hunter and they've even made a movie about her ordeal with vampire, but the horror is just beginning when she is called to an archaeologist dig where 99 vampire coffins were discovered. All seems fine when she notices that they're all missing their hearts, but someone just might be holding on to the hearts and waiting for the perfect time to raise army of 99 vampires once again.Review: At first, I was a little discouraged when I saw this was 'historical fiction,' but it didn't feel like a history--not at all. It was quite interesting tying the vampire horror in with a secret of the Civil War. This book was even better than the first one. Horror mastermind David Wellington brings us another great horror tale.Series order: 13 Bullets, 99 Coffins, Vampire Zero, 23 Hours.
shelleyraec on LibraryThing 8 months ago
99 Coffins is something a bit different. At first I found the dual narrative irritating even though I understood its importance to the story - it felt like it interupted the urgency of Laura's story but in the end I didn't mind so much, and in fact find the whole idea of his premise intriguing.I generally don't like horror (with some notable exceptions) but I enjoyed this because it didn't dwell on the splatter and gore. It was dark but not gratuitous and the action was fast paced, taut and interesting. I havn't read the first in the trilogy but that didn't really affect my reading of this, though it was obvious there was some back story I could have benefited from knowing. I do plan to pick up the next book to see how they track down A.
princesspeaches on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I am a vampire novel fan, but this one just didn't do it for me. I enjoyed the historical aspects of the novel, but took issue more with the characteristics of the authors vampires.
silversurfer on LibraryThing 8 months ago
A terrific 2nd part in the series. Laura Caxton kicks vampire Butt. She unwillingly assumes the Throne of Vampire Killer from her Mentor, Arkley. And finds herself facing vampires from the Civil War. Very clever plot, lots of thrills and gore...and a twist of an ending. Makes you want to turn to the next book to continue Laura's struggles. She is a compelling, sharpley drawn and very sympathetic character.
clark.hallman on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This was a very creative and original story. An archeological dig by a local college in Gettysburg unearths 99 coffins in an underground ammunition bunker on the famous battle field. Actually there were 99 intact coffins and one destroyed coffin. Of course the 99 coffins contained vampires with their hearts missing. State Trooper Laura Caxton, the famous vampire hunter, and her disabled mentor, Jameson Arkeley, were called in to help figure out what was going on. It turns out the destroyed coffin had contained a vampire, who was now on the prowl and really hungry. Believe it or not, the 99 ¿sleeping¿ vampires had been soldiers during the Civil War and had been waiting since the battle of Gettysburg to be awakened. The book alternates between present day and the Gettysburg Civil War battle, and the battle segments seem to be well researched. As you might have guessed, all 99 vampires are resurrected by their on-the-prowl associate and an all out war ensues. The vampires are really vicious, just the way they are supposed to be; and there is much action, volumes of violence and lots of fun in this book. I liked it very much.
lesleydawn on LibraryThing 8 months ago
This book is a thrill ride. I really tried to read it at a slower pace, but found that I couldn't put it down. The kids were asking for dinner, toys were spreading across the floor, dished were piling up, but I couldn't stop reading. I loved it, and I can't wait to start reading Vampire Zero.David Wellington - you rock!!
kanata on LibraryThing 8 months ago
continued the brilliant writing of his first vampire book. Definitely a unique spin on such a well trodden subject. He's at the top of my list of author's who I will automatically but whatever they write next.
ecantulv on LibraryThing 8 months ago
I picked up this book and instantly I was hooked...but it changed once I was a few chapters in. I couldn't stay with this book. It took me quite a while to actually finish this book. I heard so many good things about this book, but, it just wasn't for me, I suppose. I do think people who are fans of vampires' will have an easy time with this book, but I found it rather boring and shallow.
timdt on LibraryThing 8 months ago
David Wellington's creative continuation of his action packed story of vampires and those who hunt them. Laura Caxton returns from '13 Bullets' when 99 coffins are unearthed below the battlefields of Gettysburg. The alternating storyline between the present and past is done very well and Wellington propels the action at breakneck speed making this a fast read. There's very little sense of foreboding though as you read through the action sequences. The outcome feels preordained. There are, however, some surprises along the way and I'm looking forward to reading the third installment.
drneutron on LibraryThing 10 months ago
One of my issues with recent vampire stories is that authors have been watering down vampires until, in most cases, they seem like people with superpowers instead of terrifying monsters. To my mind, vampire stories lose a lot of their power when this happens. Wellington's books - 13 Bullets and 99 Coffins - definitely do not suffer from that problem. His vampires are evil predators that are truly other than human. Which makes the stories so much more gripping for me, especially as the humans have to cope with the otherness. Be prepared for some pretty graphic images, though. 99 Coffins is the sequel to 13 Bullets, and if you want to get the full flavor of the story, it's best to read them in order. If you don't have the first volume, though, go ahead and dive in. Wellington does a good job of catching readers up with the story. The story starts with the discovery of a hidden cache of coffins at the Gettysburg battlefield, which turns out to be the remnants of a Union plot to use vampires to beat back the Confederacy in the darkest days of the Civil War. Unfortunately, that discovery leads to modern-day mayhem. The unfolding of the plot is wonderfully done, and my only complaint would be that Wellington tries a little too hard to be politically correct in his imagining of the main characters. Once he gets going, though, the development sucks you right in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"D-d-dawa awd M-mowa" she giggled and hugged him
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Yo no fighting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hey uncle vlad i thought u were at ur castle
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fqs moved to 99 res one. Her nook was messed up
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sup
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was here.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gender: she. Fur: black. Eyes: blue. Personality: meet her. Parents/history: unknown. Kits/mate/crush: none.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name-Yellowkit Gender-Male Looks-Light grey tom with 1 black stripe down his back and percing yellow eyes Personality-Funny,Energetic , Sarcastic,and Loving
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name:FireBlaze Gender:Male Age:25 moons Personality: Kind, Brave, Fearless when he has to be, and most of all, loyal. Why he wants to be deputy: "When I was first born into the forest, I was quite scared. I was scared of the new things; the people, the prey, and the predators. As I grew older, I knew that I needed to change my habit. My friends made fun of me, and one day, dogs raided our camp. My friends, kin, and whole clan died. I was the only survior. I soon found a River Tribe, and after all I had gone through, I made myself fearless. These are the exact words I said to them: 'Greetings! I am FireBlaze! I wish to seek shelter and food for a little while. My clan has been destroyed, and now is a time of grief for me.' They let me join, and soon I wanted to stay. Thy made me a sharpclaw general, which is a deputy. I found a mate, had kits, and even made some friends! But... they all died... and I was forever alone again. But today, I found Stormclan, and I wish to be the loyal deputy I was once more. That is why I wish to become a deputy... thank you for reading.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Name: Shadowclaw Gender: male Age: 27 moons Appearence: sleek black with green eyes Why He Wants To Be Deputy: He wants to serve his clan as best as he can, even if it means him not being deputy. He is an exceptional fighter and a fair hunter, but he is always working on hunting. He is a wise cat, he likes settling conflicts without violence, whether between clan mates or clans all together. Personality: He loves kits. He loves watching them grow up into fine warriors. He also cares about everyone, regardless if they are a friend or foe, although if a foe he will treat with extreme caution and alertness. But his clan will always come first, even before his mate, which is why he doesnt have one, because he is too busy with the care of his clan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deputy Applications
amy_freese More than 1 year ago
A pretty fast paced book. Lots of suspense and spookiness. What I liked most was the originality of the concepts involved. If you like under budget zombie movies, you will LOVE this book.