Silhouette: A Peacer Novel (The Peacer Series)

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9781250001498: Silhouette: A Peacer Novel (The Peacer Series)
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Minority Report meets Blade Runner as a man must solve his daughter's murder only to find that the trail leads right back to himself in Dave Swavely's Silhouette, the first of The Peacer Series

A post-quake San Francisco is ruled by a private corporation called the Bay Area Security Service. Its founder, Saul Rabin, is revered by many as the savior of the city, but by others he is feared and loathed as a fascist tyrant. And because of the cutting-edge antigravity technology being developed by his company, this controversial figure is about to become the most powerful man in the world.

To his protégé, Michael Ares, the old man is a mysterious benefactor whom he respects and admires. But when Michael's daughter and best friend are brutally murdered, he follows a trail of evidence that leads dangerously close to home. Closer than he could ever imagine.

A future world of aerocars, net glasses, and neural cyberware provides the backdrop for this timeless tale of good and evil, revenge and love, infamy and destiny. Fans of Blade Runner and Ghost in the Shell will love this page-turner filled with thought-provoking images of dark shapes which, despite their pain and power, could never blot out the light that surrounds them.

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About the Author:

DAVE SWAVELY is a published author of four nonfiction books. He lived in the beautiful Napa Valley for ten years and now resides in lovely Chester County, near Philadelphia. Silhouette was his first novel, and the sequel, Kaleidocide, was also published by Thomas Dunne Books.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

UNMASKEDA Prequel Short Story In Dave Swavely’s upcoming novel Silhouette, Michael Ares is a war hero hired and given a license to kill by an autocratic regime determined to “keep the peace” in a post-quake San Francisco of the future.  He faces a gauntlet of trials on his way to either death or glory, including the impossible dilemma of investigating a murder where all the evidence leads back to him.  This is the story of an episode from Michael’s past that is mentioned in Silhouette and comes back to haunt him during the events in the novel.  And it is a story about some fine lines that are very hard to walk. 

**********

Keren Reyes was convinced that the man sitting at a table in the Embarcadero Plaza was the killer--something about a mask, which she would explain to me when I arrived. So I parked far enough away and stayed out of his line of sight as I walked to her position. Many of the citizens of San Francisco knew my face, and the man would definitely recognize me if he was a peacer as Reyes suspected, because that would mean we worked for the same company.

The term “peacer,” which had become the post-quake moniker of choice for our law enforcement officers, was considered ironic by our critics, and would indeed prove to be so in this case, if it was one of us who murdered and mutilated three people in cold blood.  Especially if those in charge of him were okay with it.

Reyes was a peacer herself, and a good one who had proven trustworthy through years of experience with the Bay Area Security Service (BASS for short).  So I had taken it very seriously when she told me her theory about the perp being an employee—seriously enough to ask her to keep it between us at this point, and seriously enough to leave the castle to deal with it myself.  I wasn’t on the streets as much as I used to be, now that I was an “executive peacer,” so it felt good to strap on my guns and possibly see some action for a change.  And as it turned out, I wasn’t disappointed.

As I made my way toward Reyes’ position, I slipped my glasses on and reviewed the news report (if you could call it that) that she had sent me, which was a big part of my motivation to handle this myself, in a discreet manner.  BASS’s most vocal critic on the net had the same theory as Reyes, but for different reasons—unless he was just lying and using the murders as an excuse for more of his blatant propaganda, which was quite possible. 

Either way, Harris was a PR problem waiting to happen.  He was the leader of a group of “revolutionaries” (we called them “squatters”) who invaded and made their home in our Red Tunnel, one of three big ones in a system of underground passages that BASS had installed in the months following the quake.  The tunnels snaked out to various parts of the city from the thirty-story above-ground headquarters we had built on the top of Nob Hill, known affectionately as the castle.  The access provided by the tunnels was a key tool in maintaining order in the city and establishing our authority over it in those early days.  It’s a good thing we developed better ways to mobilize, because this one was now controlled by a twisted version of Robin Hood and his merry band. 

Within days of their invasion of the Red Tunnel, Harris and the squatters had impressively managed to overhaul the power and water systems so that they could live in that portion of the tunnel, and they had armed themselves sufficiently so that the only way we could remove them was by lethal force.  And since they had already been flooding the web with propaganda against us (and now from right under our nose), BASS leadership made the decision to leave them there, at least for the time being, rather than make them martyrs.  One example of such propaganda was the video of Harris that I was now watching in part of the view inside my glasses.  I had seen it earlier when Reyes first sent me the link, but had to review it again because it was hard for me to understand everything that the freak was saying.
 
“Hotter than Hellboy, with news in the Babellian dialect of the Entertainnet, featuring features from today and from the sacred dawn of modern media, A.K.A. the century before this one.  Bringing you some more Tabloid Dirt on the BigAss and their Nazi tyrant, and this one hits close to home.  You know I get by with a little help from my friends,” he sang that part.  “Some of them were doing a Milk Run into the city by the bay-ay,” singing again, “and they never came back.”
 
Harris’s tattoos stretched out toward the viewer and morphed into pictures and videos of two naked bodies, one male and one female.  They were inked all over like he was, but with gaping wounds and drying blood interspersed with the body art.  The male body had been castrated, and the high-res, close-up images left nothing to the imagination.
 
“You may have Total Recall that on December 6 of last year we found the corpse of one of our fellow civil rights champions in a Crime Alley in the city.  She was martyr to a god no one believed in...” 

He sang the last line, which was from a popular Prisoner song that I actually recognized, unlike the last one.  But I was pretty sure the lyrics had nothing to do with how he was using them. 

“Some of us are Handy Dandys with ballistics—remember I was a peacer (insert laughter) myself at one time, and others among us have worked for the COPS too.” 

When he said “insert laughter” as he always did when he mentioned the word “peacer,” he also made the gesture that he was in the habit of thrusting out every time he said that word:  the index and middle fingers backwards, then just the middle finger.  It had become so effortless by now; he probably did it in his sleep when he dreamed of his former days at BASS.  And when he mentioned COPS, one of his tattoos become a shaky hand held camera view of a policemen accompanied by a song with lyrics that said, “Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for you?”
 
“So we showed you how the bullets that killed our Newsomer almost surely came from a BASS gun,” Harris continued.  “Her only crime was buying food, giving us this day our Daily Bread, and she ended up like a slimer in Ghostbusters.” 

More music in the background, this time “Who ya gonna call?” 

If the woman who died was indeed one of the squatters, I thought, then buying food was not her only crime...everyone in the Red Tunnel was breaking numerous laws by invading and living on our property. 

Harris went on:  “So after we exposed this billionth abuse of authority by the Sodamn Insanes who run this city, the next Mercy Killing—meaning they killed another of our angels of mercy—was done by Mack the Knife instead of a gun.  And now The Third Man has gone missing, and no body has been discovered yet.  We obviously pulled back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz, so they had to change their Modus Operandi to keep us from more proof of what we all know—that these peacers (insert laughter) are trying to silence us one by one.  The Silence of the Lambs!  Speaking of the Wizard of Oz, again, Cha-Ching!, they’re too much like the Cowardly Lion to come in here and face us all like men, so they have to wait until we’re Alone in the Dark and act like the Cereal Killers they are.  That’s all a so-called ‘peacer’ is, you know.  He’s a Psycho Killer, Qu'est que c'est, fa fa fa, fa fa fa fa fa fa...” 

I turned it off, though French words in a song were probably easier to understand than his media-speak.  But I knew why he did it—he received money from the advertising departments of the big entertainment companies, credited automatically to his accounts every time he made reference to one of the products they produced or distributed.  Plus I’m sure he simply enjoyed the fetishistic integration of the popular arts into his life, as all super-geeks did—especially the entertainment of the twentieth century, which to them was “the sacred dawn of modern media,” as he had called it.
 
Now the only window open in my glasses was the one on the top right that showed Reyes’ position relative to mine, so I rounded a building and went into a side entrance until the two blips were next to each other.  Then I moved my finger on an arm of the glasses until the tracking window closed and the brightness increased, so I could see her better in the dark restaurant.  It was closed in the middle of the night, of course, but she had requested access because it afforded the best view of our mark, and of the elaborate monument he was sitting near. 

The original version of Vaillancourt Fountain had been completed in 1971, a forty foot high and twice as wide conglomeration of long square concrete tubes that twisted around one another.  30,000 gallons of water were pumped through the tubes from the pool at the bottom, then poured out of their open ends to start the cycle again.  The water had been shut off by the city several times to save the high electricity costs, but protests always brought it back until it was finally destroyed by the earthquake.  The art value of the fountain had also been highly controversial—some considered it a gross monstrosity and others thought it was unique and daring.  Saul Rabin, the founder of BASS and current dictator of the city (also known as “The Mayor”), had been one of its fa...

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