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       In the House of the Wicked: A Remy Chandler Novel, p.1

           Thomas E. Sniegoski
 
In the House of the Wicked: A Remy Chandler Novel


  Praise for the

  Remy Chandler Novels

  A Hundred Words for Hate

  “Sniegoski nicely juggles a large cast and throws in some touching moments (Remy’s conversations with his late wife, Madeline, are especially sweet) and humor (as always, provided by Remy’s dog, Marlowe) to balance the epic violence. There’s more than enough nonintrusive exposition to let new readers jump into the story, while longtime fans will appreciate the development of recurring characters.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “A fun, fast ride that takes advantage of a strong setting and interesting characters. And when a book combines that with serious angel smackdowns, really, what else do you need?”

  —The Green Man Review

  Where Angels Fear to Tread

  “This strong, fast-paced noir fantasy is a treat. Remy is a compelling character as he constantly struggles to hold on to the shred of humanity he forged for himself by suppressing the Seraphim…. Sniegoski adds a creative new spin to the good vs. evil scenario while bringing in some biblical characters that are decidedly different [from] what you read about in Sunday school. This is one of the better noir fantasy meets gumshoe detective series on the market today.”

  —Monsters and Critics

  Dancing on the Head of a Pin

  “[Sniegoski] nicely blends action, mystery, and fantasy into a well-paced story…. A very emotional read with the hero’s grief overshadowing his every move. An intense battle is fought, new secondary characters are introduced, and readers should gain a more solid picture of the hero’s past.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “Equal measures heartbreaking and honorable, Sniegoski has created a warm, genuine character struggling with his identity and destiny. Although this innovative urban noir draws heavily on Christian beliefs, the author’s deft touch keeps it from being preachy. The fast pace, gratifying character development, and a sufficiently complex plot to hold your interest from start to finish make this one a winner.”

  —Monsters and Critics

  “A fun read. The pace of the book is excellent, and it never has a dull moment…. The tale is definitely something that you would read out of a 1930s crime noir novel, and it is engaging, tightly written, and moves along at a rapid pace. You won’t find a dull moment.”

  —Sacramento Book Review

  “Dancing on the Head of a Pin is the second novel in the Remy Chandler series and a wonderful addition it is…. Remy has this twisted sense of humor that lightens whatever situation and makes the story even more delightful to read. The plot of the stolen weapons is tight and very focused. Along with the great characters, including the secondary ones, and the action-packed plot, Dancing on the Head of a Pin is an entertaining and smart detective story.”

  —Night Owl Romance

  “A powerful urban fantasy.”

  —Genre Go Round Reviews

  A Kiss Before the Apocalypse

  “The most inventive novel you’ll buy this year…A hard-boiled noir fantasy by turns funny, unsettling, and heartbreaking. This is the story Sniegoski was born to write, and a character I can’t wait to see again.”

  —Christopher Golden, bestselling author of Waking Nightmares

  “Tightly focused and deftly handled, [A Kiss Before the Apocalypse] covers familiar ground in entertaining new ways…. Fans of urban fantasy and classic detective stories will enjoy this smart and playful story.”

  —Publishers Weekly

  “This reviewer prays there will be more novels starring Remy…. The audience will believe he is on earth for a reason as he does great things for humanity. This heart-wrenching, beautiful urban fantasy will grip readers with its potent emotional fervor.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “It’s kind of refreshing to see the holy side represented…. Fans of urban fantasy with a new twist are likely to enjoy Sniegoski’s latest venture into that realm between humanity and angels.”

  —SFRevu

  “Blurring the lines between good and evil, A Kiss Before the Apocalypse will keep readers riveted until the very end. This is an emotional journey that’s sometimes filled with sadness, but once it begins you won’t want to walk away. Mr. Sniegoski defines the hero in a way that makes him very real and thoroughly human…. Fast-moving, well-written, and wonderfully enchanting, this is one that fantasy readers won’t want to miss.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “A fascinating look at religion and humanity from a different point of view. Mr. Sniegoski has written a compelling story of what emotion can do to even the most divine creatures. A Kiss Before the Apocalypse is not a book that one can pick up and put down easily. Once you start, you will not want to put it down until you are finished.”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “An exciting, page-turning mystery with the bonus of the popular paranormal aspects as well. This author has created a compelling central character with both human and angelic features which allows the reader to become completely immersed in the story and the tension as it builds. The suspense alone leaves the reader anxious to come back for more. The story builds to a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting conclusion and will leave you wanting to read more of this character and certainly more of this author.”

  —Affaire de Coeur

  “An intriguing, amazing story about a person torn between trying to live as a human while hiding his angel side as well. Remy was a very interesting, complex main character…. A funny yet sometimes heartbreaking story and I had a wonderful time reading it.”

  —Night Owl Romance

  ALSO BY THOMAS E. SNIEGOSKI

  A Kiss Before the Apocalypse

  Dancing on the Head of a Pin

  Where Angels Fear to Tread

  A Hundred Words for Hate

  IN THE HOUSE OF

  THE WICKED

  A REMY CHANDLER NOVEL

  THOMAS E. SNIEGOSKI

  A ROC BOOK

  ROC

  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  Penguin Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2,

  Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,

  Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,

  New Delhi - 110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632,

  New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue,

  Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Roc, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, August 2012

  10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

  Copyright © Thomas E. Sniegoski, 2012

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  REGIS
TERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA

  LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA:

  Sniegoski, Tom.

  In the house of the wicked : a Remy Chandler novel / Thomas E. Sniegoski.

  p. cm.

  ISBN: 978-1-101-61724-3

  1. Chandler, Remy (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Private investigators—Fiction. 3. Angels—Fiction. I. Title.

  PS3619.N537I5 2012

  813’.6—dc23

  2011053175

  Set in Adobe Garamond

  Designed by Alissa Amell

  Printed in the United States of America

  PUBLISHER’S NOTE

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  ALWAYS LEARNING

  PEARSON

  For Hurricane Irene…thanks for nothing….

  And for Pat and Bob Dexter, thanks for the juice.

  ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

  For LeeAnne, as always, for all that you do, and Kirby for making me smile.

  Thanks also to Christopher Golden, Ginjer Buchanan, Katherine Sherbo, Liesa Abrams, James Mignogna, Dave “Who Threw the Pies?” Kraus, Kathy Kraus, Pam Daley, Mom & Dad Sniegoski, Mom & Dad Fogg, Pete Donaldson, Kenn Gold, Erek Vaehne, Garrett Jones, and Timothy Cole and the Morlocks down at Cole’s Comics in Lynn.

  Farewell and adieu to my dear Spanish Lady…

  —Tom

  IN THE HOUSE OF

  THE WICKED

  Table of Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  Chapter Twenty-two

  Chapter Twenty-three

  Chapter Twenty-four

  Chapter Twenty-five

  Chapter Twenty-six

  Chapter Twenty-seven

  Chapter Twenty-eight

  Chapter Twenty-nine

  Chapter Thirty

  Epilogue

  PROLOGUE

  Occupied Poland, Dachau

  1943

  It was cold in the interrogation hut, and Konrad Deacon wondered how much longer it would be.

  For a moment he considered that the man he wished to speak with had already met his fate in the chambers, that the invaluable information he held in his mind was lost to the ages as suffocating gas filled his lungs, and all that he had been was turned to smoke and ash within the fires of the crematorium.

  It was a disturbing thought, and one that Deacon did not wish to dwell upon as he sat in the wooden chair behind the simple desk, clutching his leather satchel to his chest, waiting for the man promised by Reichsführer Himmler himself.

  The information Deacon hoped to receive from this man was priceless, and should be more than enough to finally allow him membership in the cabal. He’d been trying to gain a seat for years, but now he believed he had found something that would finally force the gathering of the world’s most powerful sorcerers to recognize him.

  He squirmed impatiently in the chair, then pulled up the edge of his purple leather glove to check the time. He’d been waiting twenty minutes, but it might as well have been twenty hours, as far as he was concerned.

  Konrad Deacon was not accustomed to waiting, and contemplated voicing his displeasure to der Führer when next they met to review Adolf Hitler’s astrological chart.

  Yes, Hitler was indeed a madman, but even madmen were useful. Let him have the world if it would reveal to Konrad the mysteries of the universe beyond the pale.

  The sudden sound of heavy-booted feet made him gasp, and Deacon looked toward the door in anticipation. He stood, satchel still clutched to his chest, watching as the door swung open and armed soldiers roughly pushed a tattered old man inside.

  Deacon studied the hunched figure. He was clothed only in the filthy, shapeless, striped uniform of the concentration camp; worn leather shoes missing their laces were on his feet. His hair had been shorn to the skull, his once-impressive beard cut away. But even in this desolate state the old man radiated something special.

  It was a power passed down from the ages, a power that would be no more once this vessel met its inevitable end. Which was why Deacon had come to this godforsaken place, to speak with this godforsaken man.

  The old man shivered as he gazed about the interrogation shed, his dark, sunken eyes clearly wondering why he had been brought here, what new horrors awaited him.

  “Rabbi Eshed,” Deacon acknowledged the man, unable to suppress a smile.

  Eshed stumbled back, as if repelled by Deacon’s joy in such a loathsome environment. The holy man turned his gaze toward the guards who still waited at the door, then back to Deacon.

  “You may wait outside,” Deacon told the pair.

  They hesitated, giving each other a worried look.

  “I take full responsibility for the prisoner,” Deacon reassured them. “And I will be sure that Reichsführer Himmler hears of your excellent service.” He lifted a gloved hand and motioned them out.

  “Much better,” Deacon said, as the guards stepped outside and closed the door. Then he gestured at the chair positioned directly in front of the desk. “Please sit,” he said to Eshed, and he sat again, the wooden chair creaking under his weight.

  Eshed didn’t move.

  “Sit,” Deacon repeated, an edge to his voice. “I insist.”

  “Why have I been brought here?” Eshed asked, moving slowly toward the chair.

  Deacon did not answer, silently watching the old rabbi as he carefully lowered himself into the chair.

  “Thank you,” Deacon finally said. He placed his leather satchel down upon the desk and reached inside to remove a leather-bound journal. “You wouldn’t believe the pest I made of myself trying to locate you, Rabbi.”

  “Locate me?” the old man asked. He sat stiffly, eyes darting warily about. “For what reason?”

  Deacon placed the satchel on the floor against the chair leg, then centered the journal on the table in front of him. He removed his gloves and put them in the pockets of his coat. Then he opened the journal to where a pen had marked his place.

  “At first I believed the stories to be nonsense,” Deacon said as he removed the pen’s cover and placed it on the table beside the book. “But then I continued to hear them, and I began to wonder if they might, after all, be true.”

  Deacon looked up, running his bare hand over the creamy white surface of the blank page.

  “Stories,” the old man repeated. “What stories have you heard?”

  Deacon smiled again.

  “One about a battalion of fine German soldiers assigned to purge a tiny Polish village of its Jewish influence, only to be ruthlessly killed by a monster.”

  He watched the old man’s eyes, searching for a hint.

  “A monster made of clay.”

  Still the old Jew showed nothing.

  “A monster brought to life using ancient magicks long believed lost with the passage of time,” Deacon continued.

  “Fairy tales,” Eshed grunted.

  “Excuse me?”

  “You have brought me here to discuss fanciful tales told to children to make them behav
e—to eat their vegetables and to go to sleep when they are told. Yes, of course I know these stories well. I heard them from my own parents and told them to my—”

  “You misunderstand me, Rabbi,” Deacon interrupted, feeling his ire begin to rise. “I talk not of fairy tales, but of actual eyewitness reports that—”

  “Drunks and fools,” Rabbi Eshed spat. He managed what appeared to be a smile, though it could very well have been a grimace of pain.

  “Let me be certain that I understand. You are calling soldiers of the Third Reich drunks and fools?”

  “Perhaps they concoct such fantastic stories to deflect the truth that a village of farmers and craftsmen were able to defeat so many of their number. Of course it was a golem that stopped them…. What else could possibly have stopped the führer’s expert soldiers?”

  The old Jew actually laughed then, a horrible sound that said so much of how the holy man felt about his captors.

  “I said nothing about a golem, Rabbi Eshed,” Deacon said.

  “Everyone knows the tales,” the rabbi countered. “A man of clay brought to life by supernatural means to avenge the offended.”

  Deacon slowly nodded. “Of course, of course,” he murmured, running the smooth part of his thumb up and down the shaft of his pen. “But what of those from your village? Those who, to spare their own lives, swore that the golem was indeed real and that it was you who brought it to life.”

  “Many would swear to almost anything if they believed it would grant them another few moments of life,” Eshed said.

  “Do you honestly believe that’s true, Rabbi?” Deacon asked, feigning a sad smile. “That your people would swear to a lie before meeting their maker?”

  “We believe in the afterlife, but doubt of its existence is never stronger than when we are faced with death. Some cling desperately to what they already know rather than face the uncertainty of the unknown.”

  “How about you?” Deacon asked. “Do you fear the unknown?”

  The old Jew shook his shaggy head. “I do not,” he said. “For I know that Paradise is waiting.”

 
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