Excerpt | Sucker Punch by Laurell K. Hamilton

I may only be three books deep into Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series, but that doesn’t mean I’m not excited for tomorrow’s release of Sucker Punch! Today I’m thrilled to be sharing an excerpt from this latest installment. I hope it peaks your interest and gets you even more excited for tomorrow. It sure is making me even more thrilled to get caught up on this series!

Sucker Punch by Laurell K. Hamilton
Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: August 4th, 2020

A brutal murder, a suspect in jail, and an execution planned, but what if the wrong person is about to be killed?⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
When a fellow U.S. Marshal asks Anita Blake to fly to a tiny community in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula on an emergency consult, she knows time is running short. When she arrives, there is plenty of proof that a young wereleopard killed his uncle in the most gruesome and bloody way possible. As the mounting evidence points to him, a warrant of execution is already under way.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
But something seems off about the murder, and Anita has been asked for her expert opinion on the crime scene. Despite the escalating pressure from local cops and the family’s cries for justice for their dead patriarch, Anita quickly realizes that the evidence doesn’t quite add up.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Time is against Anita, as the tight-knit community is up in arms and fear against supernaturals is growing. She races to uncover the truth and determine whether the Marshals have caught the killer or are about to execute an innocent man—all in the name of justice.

| Excerpt |

We drove for a few minutes in companionable silence.

“It’s a dark night up here,” I said.

“The cloud cover is thick tonight, but if it clears off, you’ll see stars here like I’ve never seen outside of the desert or the ocean.”

“It’s not just cloud cover, Newman. Last night was the dark of the moon, and tonight won’t be much brighter. If Bobby Marchand has been a wereleopard—sorry, Ailuranthrope—for this long, he shouldn’t even shift form this far from a full moon.”

“It’s one of the things that bothered me enough to try to delay executing him, and don’t worry. I’m having trouble remembering all the new terms, too. Besides, we know that Bobby Marchand is a leopard, so we don’t have to use the generic terms between us.”

“Great. I appreciate that. I hate the new vocabulary. Do you have the warrant of execution in hand already?”

“Yeah, the judge e‑mailed it to the sheriff’s office and got it signed through DocuSign just hours after the body was discovered.”

“I remember when getting the warrant faxed over was high‑tech,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s all high‑tech most of the time now. Fast and efficient, maybe a little too efficient.”

“How much time is left on the warrant?” I asked.

“About sixty hours out of the original seventy‑two. I should have called you sooner.”

“Should isn’t helpful, Newman. Concentrate on what we can do here and now. Second‑guessing yourself just eats up your energy and time.”

He glanced at me, then back at the road. “Maybe, but they’ve started to get really picky on extending the timeline on a warrant of execution.”

“Yeah, since they stretched the window for a warrant from forty‑ eight to seventy‑two, they don’t like extending the time unless it’s a live hunt where you can’t lay hands on the murderer, and you’ve got this one locked up in jail. There won’t be grounds for more time, and if you don’t pull the trigger in a timely fashion, it will be seen as refusing to perform your duty as a marshal of the preternatural branch, and that will be a career killer.”

“Better my career than an innocent man’s life.”

“You told me you don’t believe he did it, but we didn’t have time for you to tell me all your reasons over the phone.”

“No, I needed you here ASAP so you could help me figure out what’s wrong with this case.”

“I’m surprised that the first police on scene didn’t just kill him on sight. They would have been able to make a good case for it being a clean shoot.”

“If they’d found him covered in blood right beside his uncle’s body, they probably would have, but he was in his bedroom passed out. I’m not sure they’d have even suspected him if he hadn’t had blood all over him.”

“I looked at the crime scene photos you e‑mailed me. First glance, the victim was clawed to pieces. Why wouldn’t the local cops suspect the only wereleopard living in the house with him? I’m not complaining that they didn’t jump to the conclusion, but it’s simple cop math to think it.”

“Like Jim said, Bobby is a local boy. He’s well‑liked. Doesn’t drink too much, doesn’t do much of anything to excess, and his family is rich enough that he could afford a lot of excess.”

“A lot of shapeshifters are careful about doing anything that will lower their control of their inner beast, like drinking or drugs or even strong emotions,” I said.

Newman nodded. “Which means that Bobby is careful and doesn’t take chances with his beast.”

“He sounds like a model citizen,” I said.

Posted by arrangement with Berkley Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Laurell K. Hamilton, 2020.

| Series Reading Order |

Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter – click here to go to Goodreads for series reading order

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