“Jaye Roycraft writes with bone-chilling, hypnotic words that ultimately demand the reader's full attention.”
—Suzie Housley, MyShelf.com
War is hell, even when you’re already dead.
It’s been twenty years since the vampire-mortal war nicknamed Hell ended, but underneath the gloss of political correctness and affirmative action, old hatreds die hard, especially in the heart of Chi-No, Wisconsin.
It is here that many of Chicago’s young vampires are mysteriously dying the true death. Chi-No police detectives Kilpatrick and Duvall have been assigned to the latest case.
Human John Kilpatrick is not happy at being transferred to the “graveyard shift,” and he resents being partnered with a vampire. Master vampire Wulf Duvall isn’t thrilled to be working with an ignorant meatball like Kilpatrick, but he’s excited to be doing something more important than checking taverns for illegal blood whores. Battling each other is hard enough, but the investigation goes from bad to worse when a mortal makes an assassination attempt on Duvall.
Duvall, scarred by 300 years of betrayal, and Kilpatrick, whose black-and-white world has been turned upside down, race against time to discover the true power behind the conspiracy to destroy the peace that no one seems to want. What time is it? Half Past Hell, midway between life and the grave, peace and war . . . time to kill or die.
Jaye Roycraft, a former big-city police officer in Wisconsin, has incorporated her police procedural knowledge into her stories of the undead, creating urban fantasies that twist together modern realism with history. Jaye, author of ten novels, has presented numerous workshops for writers both online and at conferences, has been a contest judge, and has been a featured panelist at Dragon*Con. Jaye recently moved from the frozen tundra and now lives in sunny Arizona.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.55(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Kilpatrick had been to hundreds of crime scenes before, but this one was different. Word of the incident had spread over the low band channels faster than gossip. So many patrol officers were sliding by in their squads to gawk at the victim that the incident commander had posted a cop at the front door with strict instructions not to let anyone inside unless they had specifically been dispatched to the assignment.
Kilpatrick was lucky in one respect. As one of the detectives assigned to the case, he was privy to a sight few mortals outside the veterans of Midnight Storm ever got to see--a corpse that wasn't human. Once the initial fascination and satisfaction that there was one less monster walking the earth wore off, though, Kil cursed his luck. He hated these kinds of cases. They were a waste of his time and the city's money. It wasn't so much that twelve years as a cop had jaded him, although he supposed that was true, or that he no longer cared about justice. He simply believed that the only good vampire was a dead one--correction--a real and truly dead one.
This one was as dead as they came. It had been a male, with the long hair favored by his kind. Beyond that, it was difficult to tell much about the victim's original appearance. His pale skin had taken on a sickly gray cast, reminding Kil of the skin on a piece of rotten fruit. The body was stretched out crosswise on a bare mattress in a small bedroom and was naked from both the waist up and down. A pair of jeans was pulled halfway up its legs, making Kil glad the body was face down. Based on how disgusting the rest of the bodylooked, he had no desire to look at a dead vampire's privates.
It was a typical squid rooming house, one of many in the inner city. Black sheets were nailed over the inside of windows that were boarded over on the outside. Furniture was old and mismatched. The kitchen and dining rooms, no longer needed for their original functions, were made over into extra bedrooms. As a day shift detective, it was the kind of house Kil had been lucky enough to avoid in recent years. Ever since Chicago's poorer neighborhoods had been destroyed during Midnight Storm, thousands of homeless survivors, mostly vampires, had traveled north to resettle across the state line. The vampire war, cleverly named by some media genius, had been nearly twenty years ago, but it seemed like yesterday to Kil that the vampires had come to Milwaukee to displace the blacks and Asians in the old duplexes on the near north side. So many had flocked from Chicago that Milwaukee had been renamed Chicago North, but Chi-No was what everyone except the map-makers now called the city.
He cursed to himself again. His luck seemed to be running out. With the recent spate of vampire deaths, it was a scene Kil was sure he would be subjected to all too often in the near future. He took one last look at the corpse before he stepped out of the room to make way for the medical examiner.
At least his luck was better than that of the squid who had the unfortunate distinction of dying in a flophouse with his pants down.
Two hours later Kil was downtown. It had been a long day, but in sitting down to fill out his overtime card, he felt none of the exhaustion. Four hours at time and a half had a way of lessening the pain of the worst assignments, even interviewing squids.
"John, in my office."
Kilpatrick looked up to see Lt. Attridge standing a few feet away.
"I'm getting ready to punch out."
"I know. In my office."
Kil followed his boss into the small office and wondered what it was this time. Maybe the lieutenant wanted a lengthier report. Hell, maybe one of the squids had complained he had looked at him cross-eyed.
"Close the door."
Those words were a bad sign. It wasn't the reports, then. Most likely a citizen complaint. Well, it wouldn't be the first, and it wouldn't be the last. He shut the door, sat down, and picked up the papers the lieutenant shoved across the desk at him.
It was no citizen complaint, but a five-page personnel transfer, and Kil's name was on it. He was transferred from day shift to late power shift, effective immediately.
"Son of a bitch!" The whispered expletive was softer than his feelings, but was still loud enough to be heard by the lieutenant. Just five years ago such profanity in front of a commanding officer would have earned him a good ass-chewing. But five years ago was before affirmative action legislation, spearheaded by the peacemakers on both sides, had mandated that vampires be allowed into responsible job positions.
Lt. Attridge sat quietly, resignation covering his face like a mask he was too weary to remove.
"Son of a fucking bitch," Kil repeated, almost as if he challenged his boss to respond. Kil wanted a reprimand. Hell, he would have welcomed a tongue-lashing. He wanted things to be like they had been. Like they should be. But the world would never be the same.
Still, Kil wanted a reason--some piece of logic that would right the upside-down. "Why, Lieut? I deserve that much."
The lieutenant ran his hand down his face. "It won't make you feel better."
"Tell me anyway."
Attridge sighed and leaned all the way back in his chair, as if wanting to distance himself from Kil's response. "It's these vampire deaths. Three of them tonight alone. Six total in the last week. We're getting pressure for action."
"I know what you're going to say, so don't say it. They're citizens, and you're a cop."
Kil couldn't believe what he was hearing. "Don't give me that crap, Lieut. You sound like the goddamned mayor."
The lieutenant's eyes narrowed, a sure sign that his patience was growing just as thin. "And I don't want to hear any of your shit. I'm under orders, too. All of us are doing things we don't want to do."
It didn't make Kil feel any better. "Citizens, my ass," he mumbled. "Besides, there's no evidence of foul play."
"Vampires don't just up and die, John, you know that. We treat them as suspicious deaths until we know otherwise."
"But why me?" Kil knew he was pushing it, but he didn't care.
"They need experienced officers on the late shifts."
More propaganda. Kil hoped to hell he never became a supervisor. He'd never be able to spoon-feed such pabulum to a fellow officer. "You mean they need humans. None of those squids on late shift have more than five years on the job."
The lieutenant's pale blue eyes lost a few degrees. "Don't call 'em squids. Or leeches, or maggots. I can guarantee the late shift commander won't put up with that. They want balance and diversity on the shift."
"Diversity, my ass. You mean they want people to keep the squids in line if things get ugly with this vampire investigation."
"Go get your new partner."
"Now? I just worked a twelve hour shift."
"I don't care. You're working a double shift. There's a briefing at 2200 hours. Duvall has a habit of not answering his radio, but Dispatch has him doing a tavern check at Leon's. On the way back, call your wife and get something to eat. Now get out of my office before I write you up for insubordination."
"Transferred to the graveyard shift" had taken on a whole new meaning.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Half Past Hell, Book 1 of The Hell Series, Jaye Roycraft Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy I love vampire stories, especially those with a romantic slant so this was one that caught my eye. The romance though is barely existing, very thin and really only a suggestion, but the action and the drama is perfect. Its a good story, a different slant, mixing traditional vampire politics and abilities with modern constraints and prejudices. If this were real I could see it happening very much as written, and that level of practicality and realism made it a great book for me, one I’d happily re read. Vampire cop Duvall – I love the way he calls his new human cop partner Meatball – well, its only fair when the cops term vampires Squids ( not sure why but ) Though its well recognized that Duvall is a good cop, that he does an excellent job, he’s still stuck with prejudice, from the general public to the top brass at work. It made me feel for him, and wonder why people are so generalised in prejudices – but sadly that happens all the while and it felt very genuine here. Slowly he’s working on his partner Kilpatrick and chancing his perceptions, getting him to recognise that not all vampires are the same, that they work hard and deserve the same recognition for it – and ultimately the same equalities all round. When Vall has to face a hostage situation alone against four BOS members who are armed, and due to policies he as a vampire isn’t allowed a gun – well, that made me think about the unfairness of it. Most of the problems here seem to be fear driven, scared that vampires may take over from humans. That is the kind of read I enjoy, one that I could imagine is real, would happen, and that finishes neatly. I had a few people in mind who I thought might be pushing the scene but I was wrong – and I love that, that the story kept me guessing. Its one I’d re read and will happily read more from Jaye Roycraft. Stars: Four and a half, I’d really have liked a little more romance for a five but its a really fun read, and a great start to a series. ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.
Twenty years ago, all Hell broke loose in Chi-No, Wisconsin. The mortals were at war with the immortals or vampires, and with the now ex-Senator¿s help a peace treaty of sorts was settled between the two feuding races. Vampires were now allowed to have jobs, and do much as the humans did, except they were not permitted to carry fire arms. Now two decades have passed and it seems the ugly head of war is resurfacing from the underground. Several vampire deaths have been discovered by Chi-No Police Department, resulting in shift changes for some of the more experienced officers. When John Kilpatrick hears the news that he will be taking on a new shift as well as a new partner, he is less than happy. To Kil, vamps were just a waste and they had no place in his world. Wulf Duvall was a three hundred year old vampire that has lived through more than one war. He will do whatever it takes to stop the vampire deaths, even if it risks his own undead life. Teaming up with his mortal partner is a chore in itself, obviously the dislike goes both ways, but they have to suck it up and stick together or all Hell¿s going to break loose, literally. The attack on Duvall from the Brothers of the Sun, was totally unexpected. Nearly killing him, Duvall did not stop searching for the reason why sucklings were dying. But with the help of a fellow vamp, Duvall discovers that in the synthetic blood sucklings were consuming, there were traces of silver nitrate mixed in. In small amounts, silver nitrate proves fatal for vamps. The new woman in his life, Veronica just happens to be the ex-Senator¿s daughter could she have set him up because he was becoming to close to discovering who was behind this crime? Half Past Hell is an extraordinary mystery filled with bits of sex, love, deceit, and conspiracy. Ms. Roycraft captures the reader¿s attention from the very start. There was always some kind of action going on, it is impossible to lose interest in this compelling story. 5 Hearts