Horror John Meaney Bone Song

ISBN 13: 9780575081758

Bone Song

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9780575081758: Bone Song

Hailed as “the first important new SF writer of the 21st century,” John Meaney delivers a darkly luminous new thriller that blends futuristic noir with gothic fantasy. Here, in a city of the dead where desire is very much alive and murder a pleasure for connoisseurs, an honest cop must face his own darkest impulses just to have a prayer.

There have been four victims already. Famed for their beauty and one-of-a-kind artistic gifts, they were murdered in the most shocking ways imaginable and their corpses stolen. Now the famed diva Maria daLivnova is arriving in Tristopolis—a city literally powered by the massive necroflux generators that process the dead—and it is up to Lieutenant Donal Riordan to make sure she ends her limited engagement alive.

But Riordan isn’t the only one watching deLivnova. For the Diva is being followed by two other secret “protectors”: Commander Laura Steele—who’s made a more or less successful transition to para-life—and her partner, the invisible free-wraith Xalia. They are part of the necropolis’s vast underground network and they’ve mobilized against an unseen enemy for a battle of epic proportions. For a perverse death cult with powerful members in every stratum of society has learned how to distill from the bones of their sacrificed victims the ultimate thrill—a nectar that, once tasted, is impossible to resist. And the more precious the life, the greater the pleasure it is to take it away.

Soon Riordan will find himself in the unlikeliest of alliances as he journeys through a world of corruption—both aboveground and below—among gargoyles and zombies, spirit slaves and assassins, science and sorcery, in search of an enemy even the dead have every reason to fear....

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About the Author:

John Meaney is the author of four previous novels. His novelette Sharp Tang was short-listed for the British Science Fiction Award, and To Hold Infinity and Paradox both appeared on the BSFA short lists for Best Novel. Meaney has a degree in physics and computer science and holds a black belt in Shotokan karate. He lives with his wife in Kent, where he is at work on his next novel, Black Blood, the sequel to Bone Song.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One


Donal sketched a fingertip salute to the shadows beyond the stone steps. Stuffing his hands in his overcoat pockets, he looked up at the two hundred stories of police HQ rearing upward, dark and uncompromising. It was late and cold and the sky appeared deep purple, heavily opaque.

Somewhere near the top, Commissioner Vilnar's office waited. And reading between the lines of this morning's phone call, the commissioner had a new job lined up for him—something Donal was not going to enjoy.

"Son of a bitch," he muttered.

From the shadows came a low growl.

"No offense," Donal added.

Donal unbuttoned his coat and moved easily up the steps, two treads at a time, passing between the glowing pillars that lined the stairway. He stopped at the big bronze-and-steel doors.

"Lieutenant Donal Riordan." He spoke clearly. "Badge number two-three-omicron-nine."
A tingling swept down Donal's skin, then huge locks rotated and clunked, and the doors swung inward. Donal passed inside, into the vaultlike reception area.

To the right, the duty sergeant, Eduardo, was a shadowy figure above the imposing granite block of his desk; otherwise, the place was deserted. Donal's footsteps echoed back as he headed for the bank of cylindrical lifts at the rear, his coat swirling capelike in the mixed cool and hot breezes that swept through this place.

He stepped into an empty elevator shaft.

"Hey, Gertie. Floor One Eighty-seven, please."

For a moment, nothing. Then:

*Anything for you, hon.*

The words felt like a caress.

Donal's stomach tipped as he shot upward.

Ten seconds later, he stepped out into a half-lit corridor.

*Later, darlin'.*

"See ya."

In the reception offices, Commissioner Vilnar's secretary, known to every cop as Eyes, was sitting with her back to Donal. Slender silver cables hung around her switchboardlike console. Without turning, she waved her pale hand, which Donal took as a signal to go straight in.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome, Lieutenant."

Donal strode past a row of ordinary-looking filing cabinets. Each was marked secure, imprinted with a tiny fist-shaped sigil. He wondered what they contained. Probably the commissioner's expense sheets.

The black doors in front of Donal pulled apart, and he stepped through into Commissioner Vilnar's office. There was a lone visitor's chair made of black iron set before the imposing desk. Behind Donal, the doors closed with a faint screech.

On the other side of the desk, the big chair rotated, revealing the commissioner's bald head, the wide shoulders of his black suit.

"Sit down."

"Thanks."

"Have you ever been to the opera, Riordan?"

"Sir?"

"That"—the commissioner's flat features moved; a sketched rehearsal for a smile—"is what I thought you'd say. Read this."

A desk drawer slid open, and Commissioner Vilnar pulled out a broadsheet newspaper. It looked like a luxury edition, warm yellow vellum bearing a curlicued violet script: a copy of the Fortinium Times. Its layout was similar to the Tristopolitan Gazette, though not the flimsy edition that Donal read: the plebeian version shredded apart within hours.

"Um . . ."

There was a gangland killing featured on the bottom of the first page. A blue-and-white photograph showed an innocent victim, a passing nurse who'd stepped between a slowing car and the real target, Bugs Lander.

"Try the Culture section," said the commissioner. "Under Theater."

"You're kidding." Donal turned the heavy pages. "This? About the opera singer?"

Purple ink shimmered as his gaze moved across the description of Maria daLivnova's performance in The White Masque.

"I don't see—oh. She's coming to Tristopolis. The Theatre du Loup Mort."

The venue was an ornate building off Hoardway that Donal had passed many times.

"That's right. And while the diva is here"—Commissioner Vilnar reached over and retrieved the paper—"absolutely nothing bad is going to happen to her. Am I right?"

Donal closed his eyes, opened them again.

"Are you suggesting protection duty, sir?"

"I don't have to suggest anything."

"Um . . . no, sir."

From another drawer, the commissioner removed separate vellum sheets. Indigo typeface delineated a series of crime-report summaries, each headed with a location and date, the first crime scene being in the city of Fortinium. Two other sheets were reprinted newspaper articles.

"Six months ago," said Donal.

"Read the details."

The report described a famous actor falling dead onstage, accompanied by surprised applause from some of the audience who failed to realize how premature the death scene was.

"A fake ambulance crew," added Commissioner Vilnar before Donal could finish the paragraph, "came to take the body away. Five minutes before the real medics arrived."

"Thanatos," muttered Donal.

Commissioner Vilnar frowned: he disapproved of bad language. Donal continued to read scanning reports from three other countries in Transifica, plus one from Zurinam.

"The bodies. That's the common factor." Donal looked up. "Someone's after the performers' bodies."

"That's right." Commissioner Vilnar pointed at the third report, of family bodyguards at a heavily fortified mausoleum, who shot first and asked no questions. They had killed two of the intruders and driven off the others. "That was Trelway Boskin the Third, and his body is still in its sarcophagus."

One of the dead actors, Sir Alyn Conroly, had made it as far as the city morgue. That was in Lorgonne, on the dank south coast. There, forensic seers had found microscopic holes left by toxic slivers that had already dissolved.

But the morning after their examination, when a seer's assistant pulled open the lead-lined drawer that should have contained Conroly, the drawer was empty.

"And it is murder," said Donal. "Not just body-snatching."

"In a courtroom, in the other cases, that would be idle speculation."

"Yes. I see."

The reports covered twelve murders in total.

In Zurinam, where a popular foreign singer called Shalaria was visiting—just Shalaria, no last name—the same kind of thing had occurred. But after Shalaria's collapse, according to local custom, city officials had fed her corpse to the glistening albino snakes that lived in the city's largest cathedral.

In the blue-and-white photograph, the snakes were coiled impassively around the stone columns, while a congregation prayed. There were no signs of the digested remains.

The reprinted article, written by a Tristopolitan journalist, commended the city fathers for their speed in committing Shalaria to the snakes without those bothersome delays incurred by forensic examinations. Luckily, the authorities were trustworthy, the article continued, otherwise one might even doubt that it was Shalaria's body at all.

Donal pushed the papers aside.

"It could be coincidence."

"So. What else could it be?"

"A conspiracy across two continents. With resources and rigorous planning."

"And a burning desire," said Commissioner Vilnar, "to go for lucky thirteen?"

"It could be." Donal tapped the papers. "Even if not, this diva will need a protection detail. It's a question of how thorough the protection is."

What Donal meant was, how much money the department was prepared to spend. For a moment, a flash of something that might have been humor passed through the commissioner's eyes.

"She'll be safe in our city."

Donal understood that statement for what it was.

"When do I start, sir?"

"You just did."

In the antechamber, a folder was waiting for Donal on the desktop. He opened it and drew out a letter.

"You're supposed to read it," Eyes said.

Donal checked the letterhead, which bore the embossed Tree Frog insignia of the City Borough Federation, as well as the federal Salamander-and-Eagle.

Xoram Borough Council
99 Phosphorus Way
Xoram Precinct
Tristopolis TS 66A-298-omega-2
Tristopolis Police Headquarters
1 Avenue of the Basilisks
Tristopolis TS 777-000
Quatrember 42, 6607

Re: Meeting with Malfax Cortindo, Director, City Energy Authority

Dear Commissioner Vilnar,

It has been absolutely my pleasure to arrange a meeting between one of your officers and Director Cortindo of the City Energy Authority. The latter body is, of course, a credit to our city, and the director evinced no hesitation in assuring me that he will be overjoyed to provide any technical assistance that is germane.

I have communicated with Director Cortindo that Lieutenant Donal Riordan will be meeting with him, as per your indicated request of 40th ult., on the evening of Quintember 37 at nineteen o'clock, at the Downtown Core Station. All facilities will be placed at the lieutenant's disposal.
Kindest regards,

K. Finross
Alderman Kinley Finross

P.S. All best to your honored wife. Sally and I hope to return the favor at the Styxian Ball.
Donal checked his watch. The appointment was for tonight in less than an hour.

"Sweet bleeding Death. How am I supposed to get there on time?"

Eyes shrugged without turning away from her console.

"Sorry. I didn't make the arrangements."

"No, of course not." Donal replaced the letter in the folder. "You want me to leave this her...

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Book Description Orion Publishing Co, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Lieutenant Donal Connor has been given the most bizarre of new cases. Four famous stage performers have died in recent months, thee of them in state capitals within Transifica, the fourth in far Zurinam. And now the idolised Diva, maria deLivnova is coming to Tristopolis. Donal s boss is determined that nothing like this is ever to happen in his city. Connor is to have anything he needs as long the Diva lives.And so begins a dark investigation through a world where corpses give up their pyschic energy in the massive necrofulx generators that power the city, where gargoyles talk, where wraiths work in slavery, a world of the dead where corruption is alive.This is an extraordinary SF novel set in alternate universe quite unlike any imagined in SF before; a universe where magic and the supernatural and the undead are given a scientific rationale and horrifyingly plausible rationale.The novel s setting, Tristopolis, is the ultimate noir city; an immense baroque creation of haunted stone skyscrapers, black metal and city-wide catacombs. Its hero Donal Connor is immensely likeable and easy to identify with. Even once he s dead. Bookseller Inventory # AA29780575081758

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Book Description Orion Publishing Co, United Kingdom, 2008. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Lieutenant Donal Connor has been given the most bizarre of new cases. Four famous stage performers have died in recent months, thee of them in state capitals within Transifica, the fourth in far Zurinam. And now the idolised Diva, maria deLivnova is coming to Tristopolis. Donal s boss is determined that nothing like this is ever to happen in his city. Connor is to have anything he needs as long the Diva lives.And so begins a dark investigation through a world where corpses give up their pyschic energy in the massive necrofulx generators that power the city, where gargoyles talk, where wraiths work in slavery, a world of the dead where corruption is alive.This is an extraordinary SF novel set in alternate universe quite unlike any imagined in SF before; a universe where magic and the supernatural and the undead are given a scientific rationale and horrifyingly plausible rationale.The novel s setting, Tristopolis, is the ultimate noir city; an immense baroque creation of haunted stone skyscrapers, black metal and city-wide catacombs. Its hero Donal Connor is immensely likeable and easy to identify with. Even once he s dead. Bookseller Inventory # AA29780575081758

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