In one vicious night, Kirby Brown’s world is torn apart. Her best friend is dead, killed by a madman who is now after Kirby, and she has no idea why. When the police prove incapable of protecting Kirby, she has no choice but to trust a mysterious stranger. And while she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him, she fears the strange abilities he wields.
An investigator for the Damask Circle, Doyle Fitzgerald, has come to Melbourne, Australia, to hunt down a killer. What he doesn’t expect to find is a cadre of witches capable of controlling the elements, a sorceress determined to take that power for herself, and a broken woman who is more than she seems. Doyle is certain that the reason behind the bloodshed lies in Kirby’s past—a past she has no wish to remember. Because Doyle isn’t the only one with magic in his soul: Kirby’s special gifts have the strength to destroy the world.
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Australia, Present Day
Death had come calling on a windblown, wintry evening. It smashed past the dead bolts lining the front door and grabbed the living with unparalleled glee, sucking the life from them until there was nothing left but husks. Then it tore the remains apart, as if determined to erase any evidence of humanity.
Kirby hadn’t been home at the time—but her best friend had been.
Kirby stood on the edge of the porch, in the wind and the rain, and felt nothing. No pain. No anger. Not even the chill from the wild storm that had shattered the warm Australian summer.
It was as if part of her sat in a vacuum, waiting . . . but for what, she wasn’t sure.
“Miss Brown? Did you hear my question?”
The voice held an edge of impatience. She turned, vaguely recognizing the red-haired police officer who stood before her. “Sorry. My mind was elsewhere.”
On walking into the kitchen and seeing the blood spattered like paint across the walls. Or the dismembered parts of Helen and Ross, strewn like forgotten toys throughout the house.
She swallowed heavily, then crossed her arms and licked the rain from her lips. It tasted salty, like tears.
“I asked why you were late coming home tonight.” His blue eyes studied her closely. Not with suspicion, not exactly. He was just a cop being a cop, asking questions.
“There was an accident on the West Gate Bridge. It held up traffic for hours. I was supposed to have been home by six.”
If she’d been on time, death would have caught her, too. But fate had stepped in and saved her life. She wondered why.
“What time did you get home, then?”
“Eight thirty. I stopped at the KFC down the road and got something to eat.” It had been her turn to cook, but because of the late hour, she’d decided to wimp out and just grab takeout for everyone. The chicken still sat in its box, just inside the door where she’d dropped it. She wondered if she’d ever be able to eat KFC again. “I called in the murder not long after that.”
But the constable knew all that. He’d been there earlier, taking notes, when the other detectives had questioned her. She wondered what it was he didn’t believe.
He checked his notes. “And you saw nothing, heard nothing, as you walked up to the house?”
She shook her head. “Everything was dark. I didn’t even notice the door was open until I got close.”
He raised an eyebrow. “And you didn’t find that unusual?”
In all honesty, she hadn’t. She’d merely grinned, thinking that perhaps Helen and Ross had been too involved with each other to worry about mundane things like locking the front door. “Helen had only known Ross for a week. They were still at the ‘fucking like rabbits’ stage, I’m afraid.”
She wasn’t entirely sure why she’d said that. She wasn’t usually the swearing type. Maybe it was simply the need to shock the half-smug smile from the young officer’s lips.
A faint hint of red crept across his cheeks and he cleared his throat softly. “Yes, well, that would no doubt explain why the victims had no clothes on.”
“No doubt,” she mimicked, voice remote.
She stared past the emergency vehicles’ swirling red and blue lights, a cold sense of dread enveloping her. She rubbed her arms and wished she had a whisky or a scotch. Even a beer would do. Something—anything— to drown the knowledge that death stood out there, watching and waiting.
“Do you have anyplace to go, Miss Brown?”
Her gaze jumped back to the police officer. “Go?”
He nodded. “You can’t stay here. It’s a crime scene.”
“Oh.” She hadn’t thought of that. Hadn’t thought of anything, really, once she’d stepped through that door.
“Have you got parents nearby?”
She shook her head. No use explaining that she didn’t have parents at all. None that she remembered, anyway, and certainly none she wanted to find. As near as she knew, she’d been a ward of the state since birth, and she’d spent her formative years being bounced from one foster home to another. Helen had been the one permanent fixture in her life. They shared everything, even down to a birthday. They’d met in a government facility at the age of eleven, and had run away after it burned down and they’d been faced with separation again. Now Helen was gone, and Kirby was alone. Again.
She raised her face and let the rain wash the heat from her eyes. Don’t cry for me, Helen would have said. Just find the answers.
“No friends you can bunk with for the night?” the officer continued.
Again she shook her head. They’d moved into the Essendon area only a few weeks ago. She’d barely had time to unpack, let alone make new friends. And she’d always been slower than Helen in that department anyway.
“Perhaps we can book you a hotel room for the next couple of nights.”
She nodded, though she didn’t really care one way or another. The young officer studied her for a moment longer, then walked away. Her gaze fell on the door. A symbol had been carved deep into the wood—a star point sitting at the top of a circle. If there were meant to be other star points, then they were missing. She wondered if this were deliberate, or if perhaps the intruder had been interrupted before he’d finished his design. Instinct said it was the former, though she had no idea why she was so certain of this.
The police had asked her several times about it. She had a feeling they were as perplexed by its presence as she was.
She crossed her arms again and turned her back on the house. The chill night wind picked up the wet strands of her hair, flinging them across her face. Absently, she tucked them back behind her ear and listened to the wind sigh through the old birches lining the front yard. It was a mournful sound, as if the wind cried for the dead.
Helen would have called it the wind of change. Normally, she would have sat under the old trees, letting the cold fingers of air wrap around her, communing with forces Kirby could feel but never see. She would have read their futures in the nuances of the breeze and planned a path around them.
If she had talked to the wind tonight, she might still be alive.
Tears tracked heat down Kirby’s cheeks. She raised her face to the sky again, letting the rain chill her skin. Don’t cry for Helen, she thought. Find the answers. Make sense of her death.
But where to start?
Footsteps sounded behind her. She turned slightly, watching the young police officer approach. Just for an instant, her vision blurred, and instead of the policeman, it was a gnarled, twisted being with red hair and malevolent yellow eyes. It reached out to grasp her soul—to kill, as it had killed Helen and Ross. Fear squeezed her throat tight, making it suddenly difficult to breathe. She stepped back, half turning, ready to run, but then the being became the young officer again. He dropped his hand, a surprised look on his face.
“I didn’t mean to startle you, Miss Brown.”
“You didn’t. I just . . .” She hesitated, then shrugged.
He nodded, as if understanding. “Arrangements have been made for you to spend the night at the motel down the road—if that’s okay with you.”
“Yeah, sure.” Where she was didn’t really matter right now. It wasn’t as if she’d be able to sleep.
He frowned slightly, as though her attitude bothered him in some way. “Would you like to collect some clothes or toiletries before you go?”
“I’m allowed inside?” she asked, surprised.
He nodded. “Only upstairs. The kitchen and living rooms are still out of bounds, I’m afraid.”
And would be for some time—for her, at least. It was doubtful whether she’d ever be able to enter the house without remembering. She rubbed her arms again, suddenly chilled. Though she was soaked through to the skin, she knew that wasn’t the cause. It was more the sense that death was out there—and that it wasn’t finished yet.
“Ready when you are, Miss Brown,” the young officer prompted when she didn’t move.
Her hand brushed his as she headed for the door. His skin was cold—colder even than hers. As cold as the dead. She shivered and shoved her imagination back in its box. It was natural for his hands to be cold. The night was bitter, and he’d spent a good amount of time out on the veranda, watching her.
She kept her eyes averted from the living room as she ran up the stairs. Her bedroom was the first on the left, Helen’s on the right. Helen’s door was open and the bed still made. She and Ross had obviously been making out on the sofa again.
Swallowing heavily, Kirby headed for her wardrobe and grabbed a backpack. She shoved whatever came to hand into it—sweaters, jeans and a couple of T-shirts—then headed over to the dressing table to collect underwear. And saw, on top of the dresser, a small, gift-wrapped package.
She stared at it for several seconds without moving. Helen had known, she thought. Or at least had sensed that she might not be around for their mutual birthday, in two days. Tears blurred her vision, and a sob caught at her throat. She grabbed the present, shoving it into the pack, then opened the drawer, grabbed a handful of underwear and stuffed that in as well.
She turned and found the young officer standing in the doorway, watching her closely. Though his stance was casual, there was a coldness in his eyes that sent another chill down her spine.
“Ready to go?” he asked, pushing away from the door frame.
She hesitated, then felt stupid for doing so. He was here to help her, not hurt her. She bit her lip and walked toward him. He didn’t move, forcing her to brush past him again. Once more her vision seemed to blur, and it was leathery, scaly skin she was brushing past, not the uniformed presence of the young police officer.
“Want me to carry that backpack for you?” he asked, reaching for it.
She stepped away quickly. “No. I’m okay.”
He frowned again, then shrugged. “This way, then, Miss Brown.”
He led the way down the stairs. Another officer, a blond-haired man in his mid-forties, joined him at the base. “Constable John Ryan,” he said to her, his voice as kind as his brown eyes. “Constable Dicks and I have been assigned to keep an eye on you for the night.”
Her fear stirred anew. “You think the murderer might be after me as well?” She knew he was, but it was not something she wanted to say out loud—as if by voicing her fears she would invite the presence to step further into her life.
“Just precautionary measures, that’s all.”
His smile never touched his eyes, and she knew he was lying. He motioned her to follow the young officer. They stepped into the wind and rain and sloshed their way across to the nearest squad car. Constable Ryan held open the back door and ushered her inside.
“It won’t be long,” he said. “Then you can finally relax.”
Relax? Knowing death was out there, waiting for her? But she forced a smile, knowing he meant well.
Constable Dicks climbed into the driver’s side and started the car. It took only five minutes to reach the motel. Dicks pulled up near the front office, and Constable Ryan climbed out and returned with the key.
The motel was L-shaped and single-story. Her room was number thirteen. Some thought it unlucky, she knew, though up until now she had never considered it so. Dicks parked the car in the room’s allotted space and Ryan got out, quickly opening the door and inspecting the room. He came back moments later and opened the squad car’s back door. Kirby grabbed her pack and climbed out.
The room was basically a small suite—there were two sofas and a couple of armchairs in the main room, along with a kitchenette, a table, and a TV. A bedroom lay to her right, with the bathroom next to it.
She headed for the bathroom. She needed a shower, needed to wash the smell of death from her skin. She wished she could do the same with her memories.
“Need anything to eat, Miss Brown?” Constable Ryan asked, picking up the phone. “I’m going to order some pizza.”
The thought made her stomach turn. She shook her head, then closed the bathroom door. Leaning her forehead against the wood for a moment, she took a deep, long breath. She wanted—needed—to be alone.
But she wasn’t, so she couldn’t let go just yet. Couldn’t allow herself to feel the pain. She had a bad habit of doing that—of repressing emotion, and not just hurt, Helen had once told her.
She dumped her backpack against the bathtub and reached into the shower, turning on the tap. The water was icy, so she let it run while she hunted around for the little packets of soap and shampoo. She found several of both in the cupboard under the sink and shoved a couple in the shower. Out of habit, she put the rest into her pack. Never waste anything had been her and Helen’s motto for as long as she could remember.
From the living room came an odd sound—a gurgling sort of cry that was quickly cut short. Goose bumps chased their way up her arm. There had been fear in that cry, and the recognition of death.
Swallowing heavily, she opened the bathroom door and peered out. Constable Ryan sat in one of the two armchairs, but he didn’t react in any way to her reappearance, and there was something decidedly odd about his posture. Something that sent a chill through her soul—a sensation that only increased when her gaze met Dicks’s.
“Something wrong, Miss Brown?”
The coldness she’d noticed earlier in his eyes was deeper, almost inhuman. She clenched a fist, resisting the impulse to slam the door shut. “Did you call out? I thought I heard someone call my name.”
The lie tasted lame on her tongue, and amusement gleamed briefly in Dicks’s blue eyes.
“Maybe you heard the TV.”
And maybe it was all in her imagination. Maybe she was finally going mad, as one of her many foster parents had insisted she would. But that parent had been a devout Catholic and had believed magic to be the devil’s work. And while she couldn’t actually raise magic—not in the same manner Helen had been able to—she could bend the energy of the air and the earth to her will. Which sounded more dangerous than it was, because in reality she could to do little more than create a net that had the power to bind one thing to another. Still, it was quite amazing that she’d lasted in that particular home for three months.
But as she stared at Dicks, she knew it wasn’t imagination or madness. Something odd was happening in the room. The feel of magic was in the air.
“I’ll just go have my shower, then,” she said, closing the door.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Kirby Brown arrives home to find her best friend murdered messily and now there is an evil stalking her. When Doyle Fitzgerald comes to her and rescues her from peril she's not sure if he's also a hero or if he's a villain. What does he want from her and how come she's so attracted to him?Its quite readable but nothing earth-shattering, much of the plot is quite predictable but I enjoyed the ride.
Great story start to finish of indivuidual agents that work for the Damask Circle. I cannot put this series down, and I would recommend anything written by Keri Arthur.
The beginning of this book haunts me even now. I'd been planning on doing some light reading before going to bed but ended up staying up late, eyes wide open and heart pounding. I couldn't dim the lights and curl in bed without preternatural creatures haunting the shadows, threatening to peek through the slits of my window blinds and hunt me down. I was that freaked out. On the plus side, that also meant that I really found myself identifying with Kirby when she became one of the hunted. If that counts as a plus. The afraid-to-go-to-bed me might not agree so much, but I'm looking back on hindsight. Of course, Kirby has other traits that make her likable. She's afraid of many things, including the situation she's in and her powers, but she's also a fighter. And she stands up for herself. She also has Doyle. While they don't meet until the best of conditions (understatement), they develop a bond stronger than the one that hits Doyle when he fights meets her (think back on book one for a clue here). Adding a little spice to the mix, neither of them expects to find the kind of connection that draws them together, and the resulting dynamics are a lot of fun to watch. I was disappointed that the thrills and suspense that hooked me in the first pages didn't continue throughout the entire book. While there was a good bit of action going on, the lack of adrenaline rush after the first pages made the later parts of the book fall flat in comparison. It was interesting how Kirby's past plays a role in the plot, and I would have liked to see this played up a bit more. In comparison to other UF crime novels I've read, this one doesn't play up the suspense and investigation portions as much. At the same time, I love how Kirby's vulnerability is exposed more and how she isn't overtly badass like many UF heroines are. Fans of Keri Arthur's Damask Circle will enjoy this second installment in the series. I recommend this for readers who enjoy a good dose of romance in their UF crime reads.
Suffered a Slight Case of Sequel-itis I would like to thank NetGalley and Dell for granting me the chance to read this e-book in exchange for an honest review. Though I received the e-book for free that in no way influenced this review. <blockquote>PASSION REBORN In one vicious night, Kirby Brown’s world is torn apart. Her best friend is dead, killed by a madman who is now after Kirby, and she has no idea why. When the police prove incapable of protecting Kirby, she has no choice but to trust a mysterious stranger. And while she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him, she fears the strange abilities he wields. An investigator for the Damask Circle, Doyle Fitzgerald, has come to Melbourne, Australia, to hunt down a killer. What he doesn’t expect to find is a cadre of witches capable of controlling the elements, a sorceress determined to take that power for herself, and a broken woman who is more than she seems. Doyle is certain that the reason behind the bloodshed lies in Kirby’s past—a past she has no wish to remember. Because Doyle isn’t the only one with magic in his soul: Kirby’s special gifts have the strength to destroy the world.</blockquote> Kirby comes home to find Helen, her best friend/roommate, & Helen's boyfriend Ross, murdered. Brutally murdered, to the point where even the police are disturbed. She knows in her heart that she is the one who was supposed to have been killed, not Helen. But even that can't be right since Helen told her the two of them would die in an auto accident. Doyle, a shifter whose form is a black panther; Camille, a powerfully strong witch; and Russell, a relatively young vampire, are all members of the Circle of Damask. They've been sent down to Australia by Seline to investigate some murders relating to some sort of magical circle. Both Helen & Kirby are products of state homes and foster homes, and both have powers. Helen was a storm witch, while the Circle suspects that Kirby is an Elemental witch. Kirby's memories of her childhood come back in fits and starts, sped up when Helen's ghost tells her she is the binder and that she must stop the fifth from their circle from killing the fourth and therefore being able to take all the powers, which would destroy the earth. This person, the fifth from their original circle, wants to control all the elements, otherwise known as the circle of five. This whole time Kirby is being chased by all kinds of nasties, harassed by the cops, and generally just having a terrible time of it all. Doyle sticks to her like glue in an attempt to keep her alive. He ends up falling for her while working to keep her alive. Kirby has baggage galore. She repressed most of her childhood memories, particularly of one state house where one of the male caretakers would rape the 10 & 11 year old girls night after night. He never touched Kirby because of her green eyes, calling them "Fey" eyes. It was clear he was a bit afraid of her, but not enough to stop his depraved behavior. So she still had to hear this happen each night to all the others, including Helen. Helen grew up and lived by the motto of seizing the day, while Kirby retreated into a shell, trusting no one but Helen. No matter how often Doyle saves her butt she can't seem to bring herself to trust him. And for some unknown reason the two can read each other's thoughts, but can't read/hear others. Kirby comes off as rather weak willed and whiny, unlike the very proactive female lead in the first book in this series. She is far more reactive, and I found that very frustrating. I understand that is part of the persona she created for herself after the one experience when she was eleven, but she's almost 30 now and it's past time for her to wake up, face facts and move forward. Letting her past dictate her present & future seems like a cowardly path to take - and I don't like my lead character (regardless of gender) to be a coward. Though she gets better, she doesn't impress me nearly as much as the female protagonist in book one. Though this book is still a fun read, it makes me wonder if the third book will suffer from the same slump or if it will lean back towards the powerful excitement of the first book.
When I started this series, I fully expected it to be very similar to the one that proceeded it (Nikki & Michael) because it featured the Damask Circle again. However, I couldn't have been more delightfully wrong. This series has new hero/heroines in each book and the plots are very different. While there are connections (through the Damask Circle), those connections are tenuous at most and that opens the series up to go in whatever direction Ms. Arthur wants to take it (or rather wanted to take it since this is a republished series). Kirby came home to find her long-time best friend and said friend's significant other brutally murdered. She's looked at as a potential suspect but also as a potential future victim (assuming she's not the killer in the first place), but when the police take her to what should be protective housing, one of the cops on duty turns out to be far more than he seemed and only thanks to gut instinct on her part does Kirby escape yet again the gruesome fate in front of her. Doyle has been sent by the Circle to investigate a series of murders forseen by their seers. They came up with a list of names. Kirby wasn't originally on that list, but they quickly come to realize that she's at the very center of the mess he's investigating. I have to say I really didn't know where this book was going to end up, nor many of the secrets that ended up coming to light. I thoroughly enjoyed that fact. I could just sit back and enjoy the ride. Man, oh man, was there a ride here. The relationship between Kirby and Doyle was rocky from the get-go, though as time passed and they hunted for her friend's killer, they of course grew closer to one another. I enjoyed the fact that while there was a vampire (Doyle's fellow Circle investigator), vampires themselves didn't play a huge role in this book. It makes a nice break from the vampires that have featured so prominent in other works by Ms. Arthur. Doyle is a were and Kirby is a witch (much stronger than she knew up until the beginning of the book). This is a fantastic book that stands alone, though it does clearly belong in the Damask Circle series. I'm glad I read it and need to get to the third book in the series soon. 4.5 stars! Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Keri Arthur really knows how to put a story together! Once Kirby was able to put a little trust into Doyle, they made an amazing team! They both kicked some serious ass when needed, and with Keri, there is always some well deserved ass kickings handed out!!! I already recommend Keri to everyone I know and now I have another book to tell them to pick up!! I received and ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Read from March 01 to 02, 2014 Book Info Paperback, 352 pages Expected publication: February 25th 2014 by Dell (first published June 5th 2002) original title Circle of Death (Damask Circle, #2) ISBN 0440246563 (ISBN13: 9780440246565) series Damask Circle #2 other editions (6) Source:Netgalley EARC Book Buy Links AMAZON B&N BOOK SYNOPSIS PASSION REBORN In one vicious night, Kirby Brown’s world is torn apart. Her best friend is dead, killed by a madman who is now after Kirby, and she has no idea why. When the police prove incapable of protecting Kirby, she has no choice but to trust a mysterious stranger. And while she finds herself inexplicably drawn to him, she fears the strange abilities he wields. An investigator for the Damask Circle, Doyle Fitzgerald, has come to Melbourne, Australia, to hunt down a killer. What he doesn’t expect to find is a cadre of witches capable of controlling the elements, a sorceress determined to take that power for herself, and a broken woman who is more than she seems. Doyle is certain that the reason behind the bloodshed lies in Kirby’s past—a past she has no wish to remember. Because Doyle isn’t the only one with magic in his soul: Kirby’s special gifts have the strength to destroy the world. My Thoughts Like Circle of Fire book 2 Circle Of Death focuses on one couple who are brought together during a murder investigation by Damask Circle members. However this time found myself totally delighted with both main characters as they clicked for me immediately upon being introduced to them, this in turn made the story much more enjoyable as it unfolded. The writing also seemed to be smoother as the plot pacing and the way in which different story threads were connected flowed better as did the development of both Kirby and Doyle as their story lines were exposed, the two manage to uncover clues to the killer they are seeking as well as a relationship that is more believable since they do not instantly act upon their attraction to each other but let it develop a little more naturally as they spend time together. Just like lots of other romantic suspense this one takes place in a short period of time but manages to impart a lot of action, tense moments as well as some surprises that keep you wanting to find out what comes next which all ties together to create a reading experience that is very easy to follow. While there is a lot going on in this book that gives us glimpses into both Doyle and Kirby’s past it adds to the reality of the story and as things build every new reveal brings us closer to why Kirby is one of the women targeted by the killer. Like first book in the series this book can be read as a stand alone since it concludes without a cliffhanger ending of any kind, a fact that I am particularly fond of as so many series lead from one book to the next. [EArc from Netgalley in exchange for honest review]
Circle of Death is a pulse pounding suspense filled read. Camille, Russell and Doyle are sent to Melbourne to prevent a vision that shows young women dying. They are to late stumbling in on Kirby when arrives in her kitchen to find her room mate and boyfriend already dead. The team transfers Kirby to a safe house but Kirby isn't totally defenseless being an elemental witch. Kirby's past holds the key to these deaths, but she can't remember her past. Will she remember before all is lost...the fate of the world hangs in the balance. The romantic tension is strong but the relations building is slow going and more believable. Kirby finds herself pulled toward Doyle but she is cautious. I found Circle of Death reads more smoothly and has a faster pace then the first book in this series. I really enjoyed the plot, characters and found this story very entertaining. I received this ARC copy of Circle of Death from Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication February 25, 2014.
Circle of Death is a quick and enjoyable read, one that is good for a lazy weekend. It didn't consume me, and I really didn't find it to be especially memorable. The main character (Kirby) comes home to find her best friend and roommate dead, and the rest of the book is about the aftermath of that incident. Why did it happen, how does their past factor into the murder, is Kirby next, etc. In addition, the Circle of Damask, a paranormal agency is on the case because if they don't prevent any linked future murders bad things can happen. Doyle is of the team from the Damask Circle, and the book centers around Kirby and him. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Circle of Death is the second in a loosely connected series. In Circle of Death we head to Australia. Magic users are being killed and former thief and shape-shifter Doyle has been sent with Witch Camille and Vampire Russell to stop the killer. Kirby has just lost her best friend and roomie to a horrific killer when she is rescued by Doyle. But she has no idea who to trust despite the connection she feels to him. This story is fast paced, well written, and stands well on its own. I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.