Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for Darynda Jones’ new book, The Dirt on Ninth Grave! It’s the ninth book in the Charley Davidson urban fantasy series, following Charley who is a part-time private investigator and full-time grim reaper. The tour is hosted by St. Martin’s Press, and I want to thank them for inviting me to take part. I have lots of information to share about The Dirt on Ninth Grave, including an excerpt from the book, which I hope you enjoy!
About The Dirt on Ninth Grave:
In a small village in New York Charley Davidson is living as Jane Doe, a girl with no memory of who she is or where she came from. So when she is working at a diner and slowly begins to realize she can see dead people, she's more than a little taken aback. Stranger still are the people entering her life. They seem to know things about her. Things they hide with lies and half-truths. Soon, she senses something far darker. A force that wants to cause her harm, she is sure of it. Her saving grace comes in the form of a new friend she feels she can confide in and the fry cook, a devastatingly handsome man whose smile is breathtaking and touch is scalding. He stays close, and she almost feels safe with him around.
But no one can outrun their past, and the more lies that swirl around her-even from her new and trusted friends-the more disoriented she becomes, until she is confronted by a man who claims to have been sent to kill her. Sent by the darkest force in the universe. A force that absolutely will not stop until she is dead. Thankfully, she has a Rottweiler. But that doesn't help in her quest to find her identity and recover what she's lost. That will take all her courage and a touch of the power she feels flowing like electricity through her veins. She almost feels sorry for him. The devil in blue jeans. The disarming fry cook who lies with every breath he takes. She will get to the bottom of what he knows if it kills her. Or him. Either way.
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I stood beside the booth and poured coffee into a beige cup that had the words FIRELIGHT GRILL written across it, wondering if I should tell my customer, Mr. Pettigrew, about the dead stripper sitting next to him. It wasn’t every day a dead stripper accosted one of my regulars, but telling Mr. P about her might not be a good idea. He could react the way I did the first time I saw a walking corpse a little over a month ago. I screamed like a twelve-year-old girl and locked myself in the bathroom.
For seven hours.
I admired the rascally old man, a decorated war veteran and retired NYPD detective. He’d seen more action than most. And with it, more atrocity. More depravity and desperation and degradation. He was a tough-as-nails, real-life superhero, and I couldn’t picture any situation in which Mr. P would scream like a twelve-year-old girl and lock himself in a bathroom.
For seven hours.
In my own defense, the first dead guy I saw had fallen to his death at a construction site in Kalamazoo. Thanks to a hundred-foot drop and an unfortunate placement of rebar, I had another image to add to my things-I-can-never-unsee collection. Silver linings, baby.
I pulled three creamers out of my apron pocket where I stashed them, mostly because keeping creamers in my jeans pocket never ended well. I placed them on the table beside him.
“Thanks, Janey.” He gave me a saucy wink and doctored his coffee, an elixir I’d grown to love more than air. And French fries. And hygiene, but only when I woke up late and was faced with the heart-wrenching decision of either making a cup of the key to life itself or taking a shower. Strangely enough, coffee won. Every. Single. Time.
Mr. P was a regular, and I liked regulars. Whenever one walked into the café I felt a little less lost, a little less broken, as though family had come to visit. As fucked up as it sounded, they were all I had.
A little over a month ago, I woke up in an alley, soaked to the marrow of my bones with freezing rain pelting my face and no memory of who I was. Or where I was. Or when I was. I had nothing but the clothes on my back, a honking big diamond on my ring finger, and a blinding headache. The headache disappeared fairly quickly. Thankfully the clothes and the wedding ring did not. But if I were married, where was my husband? Why had he not come for me?
I’d been waiting since that first day. Day One, I’d called it. I’d been waiting for four weeks, three days, seventeen hours, and twelve minutes. Waiting for him to find me. For anyone to find me.
Surely I had family. I mean, everyone has family, right? Or, at the very least, friends. It would seem, however, that I had neither. No one in Sleepy Hollow—or the entire state of New York—knew who I was.
But that didn’t stop me from digging in my raggedly bitten nails and clinging to the knowledge that almost everyone on the planet had someone, and my someone was out there. Somewhere. Searching for me. Scouring the galaxy night and day.
That was my hope, anyway. To be found. To be known. The spiderweb cracks in the shell holding me together were splintering, bleeding into one another, creeping and crackling along the fragile surface. I didn’t know how much longer it would hold. How much longer until the pressure inside me exploded. Until it shattered and catapulted the pieces of my psyche into space; to the farthest reaches of the universe. Until I vanished.
It could happen.
The doctors told me I had amnesia.
Apparently that shit’s real. Who knew?
While waiting for Mr. P to scan the menu he knew by heart, I looked out the plate-glass windows of the café at the two worlds before me. I’d realized very soon after waking up that I could see things others couldn’t. Dead people, for one thing, but also their realm. Their dimension. And their dimension defined the word cray-cray.
Most people saw only the tangible world. The world in which the wind didn’t pass through them but bombarded them, its icy grip only metaphorically slicing through to their bones, because their physical bodies would only let it penetrate so far.
But there was another world all around us. An intangible one where the winds did not go around us but passed through us like searing smoke through air made visible only by a ray of light.
On this particular day, the tangible forecast was partly cloudy with an 80 percent chance of precipitation. The intangible forecast, however, was angry, billowing clouds with a 100 percent chance of thunderous lightning storms and fiery tornadoes swirling in an endless dance over the landscape.
And the colors. The colors were stunning. Oranges and reds and purples, the likes of which were not found in the tangible world, glistened around me, whirled and melded together with each reaction of the capricious weather, as though battling for dominance. Shadows were not gray there but blue and lavender with hints of copper and gold. Water was not blue but variegated shades of orchid and violet and emerald and turquoise.
The clouds parted a few blocks away, and a brilliant light shot down to welcome another soul, to embrace the fortunate spirit that had reached the expiration date of its corporeal form.
That happened fairly often, even in a town the size of Sleepy Hollow. What happened less often, thank goodness, was the opposite. When the ground cracked and parted to reveal a cavernous chasm, to deliver a less fortunate soul—a less deserving one—into darkness.
But not just any darkness. An endless, blinding void a thousand times blacker than the darkest night and a million times deeper.
And the doctors swear there is nothing wrong with me. They can’t see what I see. Feel what I feel. Even in my state of absolute amnesia, I knew the world before me was unreal. Unearthly. Unnatural. And I knew to keep it to myself. Self-preservation was a powerful motive.
Either I had some kind of extrasensory perception or I’d done a lot of LSD in my youth.
About Darynda Jones
NYTimes and USA Today Bestselling Author Darynda Jones has won numerous awards for her work, including a prestigious RITA, a Golden Heart, and a Daphne du Maurier. As a born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. She currently has two series with St. Martin's Press, the Charley Davidson Series and the Darklight Trilogy. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys. Click here for more information about Darynda!
Don't forget to check out the rest of the series!
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Thanks for stopping by today, and I hope you enjoyed my stop on the tour!