Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Dying is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann - Excerpt and Giveaway - October 8, 2013

The Qwillery is pleased to share an excerpt with you today from Dying is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann. There's also a giveaway!

       It’s not as easy as it looks to come back from the dead.
       It’s a shock to the system, even more than dying is. The first new breath burns like fire. The first new heartbeat is like a sharp, urgent pain. Emerging from the darkness like that, the sudden light is blinding, confusing. Coming back from the dead feels less like a miracle than like waking up with the world’s most debilitating hangover.
       When I gasped my way back to life that night, it took a moment for my eyes to adjust, and for the fuzzy, greenish smear in front of me to come into focus. When it did, I found myself staring into the grinning face of a dragon. It was fake, obviously. Even in my groggy, fresh from the dead state I was pretty sure there were no such things as dragons. The smiling, cartoonish head was attached to a green plastic body with a cracked wooden saddle on its back. Where its legs should have been was a big, rusted metal spring embedded in the dirt beneath it. A spring rider, I realized, the kind kids rode on in parks. Was that where I was? A park?
       I lifted myself up onto my elbows and looked around, trying to remember where I was and why I’d come here. This wasn’t the first time I’d died—in fact, it was the ninth; I was keeping count—but that didn’t mean it had become any easier or less disorienting. It was night. The stars above were hidden by thick, smoggy clouds that turned the moon into a feebly glowing smudge. There were sodium streetlights nearby, close enough to light my surroundings in a sickly yellow pallor. I saw another spring rider behind the first, a unicorn this time, and in the distance a seesaw, a rusted merry-go-round, and a half-broken jungle gym.
       A playground. What the hell was I doing in a playground?
       Oh, crap. It all came back to me then. Bennett. I’d come here looking for a man named Bennett. I sucked in a deep breath, my lungs still aching. There was a small, ragged bullet hole in my shirt, right over my heart, rimmed with blood and gunpowder. I stuck my finger through it and touched the smooth, unbroken skin beneath. The bullet wound had already healed. There wasn’t even any blood, except for what was on my shirt and what had spattered in the dirt around me. The rest had been reabsorbed back into my body, neat and clean.
       I was a freak, but at least I was a meticulous freak.
       Groaning, I turned onto my side. Something small rolled off me, landing softly in the grass. I picked it up. It was a bullet. The bullet, in fact; the one that had killed me. My body had spat it out as it healed itself. I tossed it away. The bullet landed on a patch of bare dirt, rolled a few inches, and came to a rest against the worn leather shoe of a dead body that sat slumped at the base of the swing set.
       I should have been surprised, but I wasn’t. I’d gotten used to seeing corpses when I came back from the dead. Way too used to it.
       This one’s head drooped toward its shoulder, its jaw hanging slack. Its skin was as brown and paper-dry as a mummy’s, as if it’d been sitting there undiscovered for centuries, but the black silk shirt hanging off its withered frame and the cheap gold chain around its neck told a different story. He’d once been a beefy psychopath named Maddock, Bennett’s bodyguard. Now he was more like beef jerky, emaciated and dried out, as if he’d been dug out of an ancient pyramid in Egypt. Only he’d just died a few moments ago, and this wasn’t Egypt, this was Queens.
       I got to my feet and stood over Maddock’s body. The son of a bitch hadn’t just shot me dead, he’d done it with my own damn gun. I pulled my chrome-plated Bersa semiautomatic handgun from his dead fingers. I glanced around the playground, looking for Bennett. I hoped I hadn’t lost him. For the past couple of months, ever since the little boy in the crack house died, I’d been off my game, like my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. I still did my job. I still broke into warehouses, vaults, and homes, and stole priceless objects for a low-level crime boss in Crown Heights named Underwood to sell on the black market, but I was losing my touch. After botching a recent job by setting off a silent alarm I should have known was there, I suspected Underwood was running out of patience with me. I’d heard enough agonized screams coming from behind his black door to know that an angry Underwood was a dangerous Underwood.
       So when he asked me to bring Bennett in, I figured this was my chance to show him I could still pull my weight. My mistake was thinking the job would be an easy one. I thought I had the element of surprise on my side, but when I followed Bennett to the old, deserted playground in Queens, he was less than surprised. It was an ambush. The moment I passed through the gate, Maddock came out of the dark and wrestled the gun out of my hand. Next time, Underwood should come for me himself, not send some halfwit errand boy, Bennett had said, and then Maddock shot me with my own gun and I’d died for the ninth time.
       The ninth that I knew about, anyway. It’s hard to be sure about these things when your memories don’t go back more than a year.
       I hurried through the open playground gate and onto the sidewalk outside. Bennett couldn’t have gotten far yet. I never stayed dead for more than a couple of minutes. The brisk late-September night air nipped at me. This time of year in New York City, the days were still warm but the nights grew cold, as if winter were trying to sneak up while no one was looking. Bracing myself against the chill, I looked up and down the empty street, past the boarded-up windows of the vacant buildings to either side. I spotted Bennett in his blue pinstripe suit ducking around the corner, and sprinted after him. As I rounded the corner, he stopped next to a parked black Porsche and reached into his pocket for the keys.
       “Bennett!” I yelled, and ran at him.
       He saw me. His eyes widened in surprise, and the color drained from his face. He looked like he’d seen a ghost. He pulled out a set of keys with his trembling hand, and fumbled in an attempt to press the unlock button on the key chain. Before he could try again, I tackled him to the sidewalk. The keys bounced out of his hand and slid under a nearby Dumpster.
       I put one hand on his chest to hold him down, his heart jackhammering under my palm. I tucked my gun into the back of my pants and patted Bennett down. I found a small, snub-nosed revolver in a shoulder holster and tucked that into my pants, too. Bennett stared at the bullet hole in my shirt.
       “You’re dead,” he said in a hoarse whisper. “I saw you die!”
       I retrieved a pair of plastic wrist ties from my pocket. I rolled Bennett onto his stomach and started binding his wrists together behind his back.
       He didn’t put up a fight, only craned his neck around to stare at me with a combination of horror and awe. “How are you still alive?”
       If he wanted an answer, he was asking the wrong guy. I didn’t know any more than he did. I pulled Bennett onto his feet and dragged him toward where I’d parked.

Dying is My Business

Dying is My Business
St. Martin's Griffin, October 8, 2013
Trade Paperback and eBook, 384 pages

Given his line of work in the employ of a psychotic Brooklyn crime boss, Trent finds himself on the wrong end of too many bullets. Yet each time he’s killed, he wakes a few minutes later completely healed of his wounds but with no memory of his past identity. What’s worse, each time he cheats death someone else dies in his place.

Sent to steal an antique box from some squatters in an abandoned warehouse near the West Side Highway, Trent soon finds himself stumbling into an age-old struggle between the forces of good and evil, revealing a secret world where dangerous magic turns people into inhuman monstrosities, where impossible creatures hide in plain sight, and where the line between the living and the dead is never quite clear. And when the mysterious box is opened, he discovers he has only twenty-four hours to save New York City from certain destruction, in Dying Is My Business by Nicholas Kaufmann.

About Nicholas

Nicholas Kaufmann has had his work nominated for the Bram Stoker Award, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the International Thriller Writers Award. He is the critically acclaimed author of Walk in Shadows, General Slocum’s Gold, Chasing the Dragon, Still Life: Nine Stories, and Dying Is My Business. His short fiction has appeared in Cemetery Dance, The Mammoth Book of Best New Erotica 3, City Slab, The Best American Erotica 2007, Zombies vs. Robots: This Means War!, Dark Fusions: Where Monsters Lurk, and others. He used to write the "Dead Air" column for The Internet Review of Science Fiction. He lives in Brooklyn, NY, but you can visit him at http://www.nicholaskaufmann.com.

Website  ~   Blog  ~  Twitter @TheKaufmann

The Giveaway

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Dying is My Business and a copy of Chasing the Dragon by Nicholas Kaufmann. US/CANADA ONLY

Chasing the Dragon
ChiZine Publications
Trade Paperback, March 15, 2010
eBook, April 17, 2012

Centuries ago, St. George fought and killed a dragon—or so the legend goes.

The truth is somewhat different.

George failed in his mission, and the Dragon still walks the Earth, protected by an undead army, hiding in the shadows and slaughtering men, women, and children for its prey. Each of George's descendants through time has been tasked with killing the Dragon, and each has failed.

Twenty-five-year-old Georgia Quincey is the last of the line—the last, best hope for defeating the Dragon once and for all. But Georgia is also an addict, driven to the warm embrace of the needle by the weight of her responsibility and the loss of everything and everyone she has ever loved.

Tracking her nemesis to the small town of Buckshot, New Mexico for their final showdown, Georgia is about to discover the truth about the Dragon, a terrible secret that could put all life on Earth in peril.
Chasing the Dragon was nominated for the
Shirley Jackson Award and the International Thriller Writers Award

How:   Log into and follow the directions in the Rafflecopter below.

Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59 PM US Eastern Time on October 17, 2013. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules and duration are subject to change at any time without prior notice*

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. This book sounds interesting and I can never pass up an book giveaway! Thanks for such a wonderful opportunity to read such an amazing story! THanks fort his giveaway!

  2. Sounds great, a total anti-hero if there ever was one. I love the cover too. What are those creatures?!

  3. WOw!!! What an awesome excerpt! THis is the first I've come across this book/author and I'm definitely intrigued :) Thanks for sharing!

  4. I love books featuring anti-hero's, they are always so much more fun when your not sure if you love or hate them. The excerpt was fantastic. I'm definitely adding to my TBR.
    Thanks for the giveaway.

  5. Wow, I think both books sound like really unusual and interesting stories - especially Dying is My Business. I'm looking forward to hearing more about Trent and what his deal is.

  6. Thanks for the giveaway. both of these sound fantastic. :)

  7. You had me at 'dragon'. I love stories about dragons - granted, I prefer when they are sympathetic characters - so I pretty much like to read anything that comes along with one or more as part of the narrative. I now have your book on my TBR list!

  8. Thanks for the giveaway. I would love to read this book. Sounds very good.

  9. Enjoyed the excerpt, can't wait to read the whole thing!