The Price of Blood

The Price of Blood

by Chuck Logan

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061844218
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 10/13/2009
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 298,847
File size: 728 KB

About the Author

Chuck Logan is the author of eight novels, including After the Rain, Vapor Trail, Absolute Zero, and The Big Law. He is a veteran of the Vietnam War who lives in Stillwater, Minnesota, with his wife and daughter.

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The Price of Blood

Chapter One

Broker's House Was Falling Into The Ravine

The problem was the sloping yard and the exposed limestone foundation that had pushed out in two of the corners. Spring rains had turned the mud basement into a storm sewer, and now a gravel-toothed ditch stretched from the foundation down to the ravine like an Okie's Dust Bowl nightmare. This condition had undermined the back of the house and caused the buckled linoleum floor in the kitchen to pitch ten degrees and, back when he smoked, Broker could lay a cigarette on the table and watch it roll due east.

When he'd moved from St. Paul he'd bought the house for the lot, which had a clear view of the St. Croix River. Property was taking off in Stillwater and someday they'd pave the street and bring in city water and sewer to the north end. Someday he'd jack up the original 1870s row house, slap in a solid foundation, tear off the screwed-up kitchen addition and put in a real kitchen that some yuppies fleeing the Minneapolis-St. Paul Metro would pay big bucks for. Then he'd sell it and invest in the resort his folks owned up north . . .

But that was a retirement plan and, for now, grass went knee-high in the steep, eroded backyard and the neighborhood cats and nocturnal raccoons could prowl through it unobserved, while his crop of dandelions threatened to mutate into sunflowers. And the lilac hedges were headed for jungle and the rain had caved in the footings he'd put in to pave the dirt driveway.

His dust-busted '87 Ford Ranger was parked in the back and angled downhill, trusting in the emergency brake and two cobblestones jammed under the front wheels to keep it from rolling offthe lot.

On a mild spring morning in the last week of May, Broker opened his eyes, squinted, and figured that his life was headed into the ravine along with his house and truck.

Phil Broker, long divorced and never remarried, and with little visible means of support, rose late, threw cold water on his face, brushed his teeth, and did not shave. Barefoot, he walked his slanting stairs and floors down to the kitchen and put on water for coffee. While it heated he stared at the envelope from Publisher's Clearing House that lay on his kitchen table and declared in two-inch type: WIN TEN MILLION DOLLARS!

As he spooned Folger's instant into a cup and poured in boiling water he reminded the envelope that he didn't need the whole ten million. Two hundred and fifty thousand was the figure he had to hit.

Still barefoot and wearing only a pair of jeans, he took the coffee into the backyard and sat in a patch of thin sunlight on a distressed metal lawn chair. Through the steam curling up from his coffee cup he studied a whimsical rainbow the sun painted in the gloomy pan of oil he'd emptied from his truck the day before.

Buck up, kid, his dad would say, you still got your health.

Which was true. Broker looked younger than his forty-three years. He stood six feet tall and weighed 180 pounds and he figured that was just the right size for a man; being strong enough to stand your ground but still lean enough to run away. Barechested, with thick dark hair worn long and pulled back in a ponytail, he cultivated the aspect of a well-preserved biker who had almost turned to honest labor. His rugged face and neck and his arms below the biceps were T-shirt-tanned from working outside, in contrast to his torso and shoulders, which were pale, with plump blue veins marking the packed muscle. He'd spent a lot of time in the sun once and he didn't associate tans with beaches.

His quiet green eyes were flecked with amber and deep-set below thick, striking black eyebrows that met in a shaggy line across his unlined forehead. Young children liked his eyebrows and tugged on them, reminded of a friendly wolf toy.

Three sips into his coffee, a car pulled into his driveway--too fast--and he heard the spitting gravel hit the peeling wood siding on his house. He sighed and added a few pennies of menace to his gaze and his eyes shaded to the color of a dirty dollar bill.

Rodney in his Trans Am had to lean on the gas one last time to hear the engine roar before he cut the ignition. Broker shook his head that it had come to this. He listened to the car door slam. Too loud.

"Broker? Where are you?"

"In the back."

Rodney, a world-class asshole who lifted weights at a health club, swaggered around the house with his pocked skin damn near orange from a tanning booth fire. He had short, spiky blond hair and fried video-arcade blue eyes. He looked around and said, "What a fucking dump."

Broker had been to Rodney's cheap condo in Woodbury. There was green fur growing in the swimming pool.

"It's an investment," said Broker.

"You insured? I could torch it for you, no extra charge."

"Where is it?"

"In the trunk."

"Bring the car back here."

"First I want to see some money."

Broker pulled a wad of currency from his Levi's and dropped it on the peeling lawn table that, like the chair, was stricken with white paint leprosy. Rodney reached. Broker covered the cash with his hand. His square hand looked like he'd preferred to go without gloves last winter. Rodney judiciously took a step back.

"Bring the car around. Don't take it out in the driveway on a public street," said Broker.

Rodney's derisive laugh sounded like birds burning up in high tension wires. Again, Broker shook his head. More and more he had to deal with assholes like Rodney who failed to grasp basic emotional math or elementary physics. It genuinely frightened Broker that Rodney worked a day job as a machinist for Northwest Airlines. More and more, he worried that guys like Rodney were out there being air controllers or running the dials at nuclear power plants.

Rodney went back for his wheels and gunned down the drive and parked next to Broker's truck. He got out and popped open the trunk.

"One Power Ranger's toy," said Rodney, throwing back a flap of olive drab army blanket and revealing the full auto, military M16A/203. The one with the grenade launcher grafted ominously under the barrel.

"Ammo for the launcher?" asked Broker.

Rodney dug in the blanket and palmed three blunt 40mm high explosive rounds. Like butter-tipped baby dinosaur teeth.

"Just three?" Broker raised his eyebrows.

"Three should be enough for the customer to see if the goods work. Take it or leave it. Got some other folks interested." Rodney grinned his skin cancer grin.

Broker squinted, unconvinced.

"I shit you not. These gang-bangers in north Minneapolis are up to battalion strength and put out some feelers." Rodney's grin broadened. "I said this magic word to them: grenade."

"Bullshit," said Broker. Rodney was in the reserves and liked to make with the military terminology.

"This deal sours, the future is over north," said Rodney. By future, Rodney meant the many guns he intended to pilfer from Uncle Sam.

"North Minneapolis isn't exactly my territory," said Broker.

Rodney glanced at Broker's shit-kicker truck and laughed. "Yeah, you best stick with your wood-niggers up in Stearns and Pine counties."

"It's their money. I'll call you tonight, after six. I'll set the deal for tomorrow at twelve noon," said Broker.

"They coming down here?"

"I'm not giving them a choice. Bad enough I have to drive up thirty-five east with one machine gun. I ain't doing it with five more of them."

"And I get to meet them?"

"Yeah, Rodney, you meet them and deal direct from now on. I'm not real hot on this gun stuff."

Rodney strutted to the lawn table, snatched up the bills, and counted. He stopped in midcount, staring.

"It's all there," said Broker.

Rodney's eyes jittered on two mourning doves that delicately executed a feeding ballet atop a birdfeeder set into the lip of the ravine. Unlike everything else in the overgrown, eroded yard, the feeder showed a caring hand, sanded and varnished and shaped with an elegant flair for craftsmanship. A zigzag stuck in Rodney's eyes as he tried to extract a thought. Out of place.

"Birds," he said.

"I got nothing against birds," said Broker. The Price of Blood. Copyright © by Chuck Logan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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What People are Saying About This

John Sandford

A brilliantly crafted novel of twisted sexuality, death, and mystery.
--John Sanford

James Grady

Chuck Logan displays rare and powerful talent.
--James Grady

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Price of Blood 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Over the top action. From Minnesota to Vietnam and back.... never a full moment. Gold, gangs,sting operations, a little sex, keeping you turning pages and waiting for what comes next. If you like raw, down and dirty adventures, you will love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great Broker story, have read them all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't get beyond page 72
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too bad for the author. The book was enjoyable up to the point the ebook format failed.
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