(Publisher’s Weekly, Oct. 13)
At the start of Stone‘s chilling second thriller, set in the early 1980s and the prequel to Mr. Clarinet (2007), Det. Sgt. Max Mingus and his black partner, Det. Joe Liston, think a decomposed body discovered in a primate park in Miami, Fla., is just one of the city’s more bizarre murders. But when a tarot card—the ominous King of Swords—is found in the victim’s stomach and his entire family killed, it’s clear something darker is at work. The detectives are soon hot on the trail of a young Haitian pimp and his fortune-teller mother, who are thought to be linked to voodoo gang leader Solomon Boukman. Rumors abound about Boukman’s human sacrifices and allegiance to the voodoo god of death, Baron Samedi, but few have actually seen his face. With police corruption rampant, Mingus and Liston realize that in order to take down Boukman, they’ll have to hunt him alone. The violence is every bit as gruesome as in Clarinet, but Stone expertly harnesses it to propel his multilayered saga of good, evil and everything in between. (Dec.)
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(popwatch.ew.com, Dec. 1, Tina Jordan)
It’s time for another installment of our regular PopWatch feature, “Starting Lines.” If this is your first time at the rodeo, fret not, for the game is a simple one. We bring you the opening sentences of three new book releases; you rate them via our highly futuristic poll technology. This week’s contenders have a thematic link; each one features an animal in the intro:
* It was the last thing he needed or wanted, a dead ape at the end of his shift, but there it was—a corpse with bad timing. —from The King of Swords, by Nick Stone
* “Boys and girls, Howls ‘n Growls proudly presents, direct from a sold-out month at Hollywood’s Rin-Tin-Tin-Pan Alley, put your paws together and give a real…welcome to Gracie!” —from Howl: A Collection of the Best Contemporary Dog Wit, from the editors of Bark magazine
* Oh, no. I’ve killed the chicken. —from Babylonne, by Catherine Jinks
Miami 1981. When Detective Max Mingus and his partner Joe are called to the scene of a death at Miami’s Primate Park, it looks like another routine investigation…. until two things turn up: the victim’s family, slaughtered; and a partly digested tarot card in the dead man’s stomach, “The King of Swords.”
The bloody trail leads Max and Joe first to a sinister fortune-teller and her scheming pimp son, then to the infamous Solomon Boukman. Few have ever met the most feared criminal in Miami, but rumors abound of a forked tongue, voodoo ceremonies and friends in very high places.
Against a backdrop of black magic and police corruption, Max and Joe must distinguish the good guys from the bad. What is the significance of the “King of Swords”? What makes those who have swallowed the card go on a killing spree just before they die? Can Max find out the truth about Solomon Boukman before death’s shadow reaches his own front door.
See signed books by Nick Stone at www.vjbooks.com
Nick Stone was born on Halloween 1966 in Cambridge, England. He first thriller, ‘Mr Clarinet’ became a critical and commercial success in the UK and the United States. Stone’s second novel, King of Swords – a prequel to Mr. Clarinet, set in Cocaine Cowboy era Miami – was published in hardcover in the UK in August 2007, and last month in the US . King of Swords has met with equally strong critical acclaim , with several reviewers considering the novel superior to his debut.
See Nick Stone signed books at www.vjbooks.com