The world has changed – corporations govern, priests are armed, gangsters cross-dress and the very-rich are being murdered. Bannister, an ex-soldier turned detective is hired to protect the privileged, secretive group targeted by a ruthless killer.
Alphonse Beckha has a problem. A beautiful party guest has been murdered in a horrifyingly spectacular fashion during his grand party. She wasn’t the first. Desperate to protect himself, and put an end to the killings, Beckha reaches out to Bannister. A wildcard, but unlike the police, someone Beckha feels he can control.
Bannister soon learns that what looked like an easy payday is fraught with deceit, violence and conspiracy. Before the dark motives are uncovered, Bannister must chart a path through corporate interference, a paramilitary Catholic church, transvestite thugs and out of touch elites who play dress-up in superhero costumes.
Excerpt – Prologue
This troop transport hums like aluminum cicadas in a steel wool bush. Soft, persistent, hypnotic white noise vibrates my eardrums and rattles bones. We’re running dark; the cabin burns red from the jump lights, less of a shock to the eyes when you hit the silk in the black night.
Almost go time, I lean back against the bulkhead trying to relax, just as my “vitamins” kick in and the familiar mix of pump and aggression boils under my skin. I look around, remember how excited I used to get before action. Now? Now I’m just tired, tired of…all of this. Which, given some reflection, is a little crazy, most people would kill to be me, to be who and where I am. It’s the same story for everyone on this ship, we’re the elite of the non-elite, I should be grateful.
Should be. Instead I’m fingering the tattered remnants of this old book of “Philip Marlowe” detective stories, wishing myself into a time nobody remembers. “Trouble Is My Business”, both the title of this book by Raymond Chandler, and a good summation of my life and times. Sure, these pages are the last piece of my father I can touch, but that’s not why it’s in my hands. It’s my magic, my totem, like a hard boiled road map to a new kind of me I haven’t quite figured out yet. Whether I figure it out or not, something has to kick loose, ‘cause I’m not all that happy with the current me.
We’ve all got to fit in someplace, even if the fit chafes. No matter how much they fiddle with the box, tribes become monarchies, morphing into governments, falling to corporations, you still need to find your place in the box. People like me, we’ve always been around, different times, different names, same story. Use power to stay in power, give a name to the muscle you can flex. Praetorian Guard, Inquisition, SS. Who are we? We’re the Corporate Home Office Protection Operations, and it didn’t take long before it was just “ChopOps”. It fit. It stuck. That’s who we are. And if you’re a bright boy, you stay on our good side.
We’re the archangels of this time. But the thing about archangels is there’s always a god around somewhere to pull your strings, or wings. Me? I’m a soldier who wants to be Marlowe, pull my own strings, maybe just cut them altogether.
The cabin floods green as the jump lights fire, it’s go time. I stuff the old book back under my vest, snug. I cinch up my silk and check my auxiliary chute, clip on to the jump line, and wait.
I look at the faces of my guys, wonder how many are going to punch a ticket to Valhalla tonight, you never know.
But I know this, it ain’t gonna’ be me.
I’m going to be Marlowe, I’ll pick my own gods.