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THE LAST KING OF CALIFORNIA is out today.
SPECIAL ISSUE: Read Chapter Zero of my new novel.
Welcome to the Hammer Party.
Today my novel THE LAST KING OF CALIFORNIA is out in the UK, and as for now only in the UK. Fortunately, we live in the 21st century and getting books from other countries has become very simple.
And while you’re at it, why not go ahead and pre-order my next book, EVERYBODY KNOWS, out in the US in January?
THE LAST KING OF CALIFORNIA, set in the aftermath of SHE RIDES SHOTGUN, is sort of like THE SEVEN SAMURAI if the farmers were all car thieves and meth dealers, the bandits come to rob them were a white power skinhead gang, and the samurai coming to save them was one skinny young man with scared eyes, all set against a backdrop of California wildfires. Below is a sample in the form of the novel’s Chapter Zero. First taste’s free.
CHAPTER ZERO OF THE LAST KING OF CALIFORNIA
See a scar of smoke across the belly of the sky.
Follow it down to the trailer burning on the desert floor. Smoke boils up black as the void, greasy with particulates, fluming from the vent Troy Gullet hacked in the fiberglass roof a few years back during a failed attempt at brewing crank. Moths of grey-orange ember float on heat currents. Sparks cough out with the smoke, come to earth, briefly jewel the scrub before dying out. It is the brief and shrinking time between California fire seasons, and nothing catches. Not now.
Hear no sound but the gobble of the fire. The cracking and snapping as its slow teeth chew.
The men watch leaning against the truck, close enough for the heat to water their eyes. They watch until Beast is sure the job is done.
Beast Daniels is newly unleashed on the world, so fresh from a ten-year bit in Calipatria that he still has gate money in his pocket. Everything about him is brutal and blunt – even his gut is a hard hillock tenting his T-shirt. On his left bicep ride four blue thunderbolts. Each blue bolt marks a killing.
When he is sure the job is done he points to the rising smoke.
“As close to heaven as that fuck will ever get.”
The men laugh – at least they make a noise like laughter. Some of them, their eyes do something different and they’re glad that Beast is watching the fire and not their faces. As they climb in the truck Beast rubs his arm where the fifth blue bolt will go, soon as he finds the time.
Later, when the firemen find Troy, his corpse still smokes like a blown-out candle. Much of him has burned away. What’s left is still shaped like a man, face up on the floor of the trailer, legs curled into a crouch by the heat, arms still spread-eagled thanks to the twelve-penny nails driven through his palms into the melted linoleum beneath.
Later still in a cold and windowless room, a medical examiner will work open Troy’s lipless mouth, careful so the brittle burnt jawbone doesn’t crack off in her gloved hands. She will find his mouth full of ash. It is an important thing. Ash in the mouth means Troy was alive as the flames took him, that he died breathing fire.
A terrible death. As Beast Daniels built it to be.
Murder is a type of magic. It has powers so a single person killed with intention can haunt the world more than a million lives ended by cars crashes or cancer. Beast Daniels knows this. It’s why he and his men Christed Troy to that trailer floor and left him there to burn alive. So his ghost will infest the minds of every plugged-in peckerwood from here to Bakersfield. In Victorville, Pomona, Fontana, Devore, everywhere white trash outlaws huddle and do dirt, they’ll talk about Troy Gullet and his terrible death.
They’ll wonder what sin Troy committed against the Steel to earn this terrible death. But in truth Troy was no more guilty than the oxen burned for Odin back in Viking days. Troy’s ghost was needed is all. The power of his fear and pain.
Aryan Steel used to hold every SoCal whiteboy in its hand. That was before the McClusky War and all the infighting, bushwhacking and splintering that followed. Beast Daniels has come to make that open hand a fist again. To do that he must be known. He must be feared. To begin his work he needs a herald to announce him. Someone to sing his song.
Now Troy will sing it with an ash-filled mouth.