Sunday, 22 July 2018

Blog Tour / Excerpt - Dead of Night by Michael Stanley

FIRST-EVER stand-alone thriller by the international, bestselling authors of the Detective Kubu series FABULOUS Vietnamese-American FEMALE protagonist STUNNING African and Vietnamese setting Explores the relevant and devastating Rhinoceros trade 

When freelance journalist, Crystal Nguyen, heads to South Africa, she thinks she’ll be researching an article on rhino-horn smuggling for National Geographic, while searching for her missing colleague. But, within a week, she’s been hunting poachers, hunted by their bosses, and then arrested in connection with a murder. And everyone is after a briefcase full of money that may hold the key to everything. 

Fleeing South Africa, she goes undercover in Vietnam, trying to discover the truth before she’s exposed by the local mafia. Discovering the plot behind the money is only half the battle. Now she must convince the South African authorities to take action before it’s too late. She has a shocking story to tell, if she survives long enough to tell it…

 Fast-paced, relevant and chilling, Dead of Night is a stunning new thriller that exposes one of the most vicious conflicts on the African continent… 

Excerpt :

As she left the building, a wave of heat hit her. It was difficult for her to
comprehend that just three days before, she was cross-country skiing
in Minnesota at minus five degrees Celsius. In Pretoria, it was about
thirty-five and sticky with it.

I don’t miss Tolo’s attitude, she thought, but I do miss his

There was a rush of people on the sidewalk. South Africa’s economy
may have been shaky, but downtown Pretoria was frenetic. A scruffy
man walked up to Crys and asked her for money. She shook her head
and started to walk away, but he followed.

‘I’ll get you a taxi,’ he said. Crys shook her head again. It had only
taken a few minutes in the cab to get to the department from the hotel,
and she was looking forward to the walk back. Fortunately, he wasn’t
persistent and vanished into the crowds.

As she walked on, however, she had the sensation that she was being
watched. She spun around just in time to see the man who’d asked
her for money. He quickly looked away and pretended to be going in
another direction.

Probably a pickpocket looking for an easy hit.
Crys knew more than a little karate. A scrawny pickpocket didn’t
worry her; but she did hold her briefcase more firmly, and when she
reached her hotel was pleased to escape the crowds and the heat.
When she opened the door to her room, Crys was relieved to see
her suitcase on the bed. At last, something was going right: Delta had
actually come through with their promise to deliver.

Crys went to open it, but as she did, she noticed that both locks were
broken. All that was preventing the contents from falling out was the col-
ourful strap she always used – more for identification than for security.
Crys groaned. Her next stop was at Tshukudu Nature Reserve on
the border of the Kruger National Park, so she’d have to buy a new
suitcase before heading out there.

She flipped the case open.
‘What the—’ Crys couldn’t believe what she was seeing. Someone
had been through her belongings. Her neatly folded clothes had been
taken out, scrunched up, and stuffed back in; all her toiletries had been
removed from their bag, but not replaced. And the lining of the case
had been cut. Someone had been checking to see whether anything was
hidden behind it.

Why would anyone do something like this?
It wouldn’t be customs – Crys had travelled a lot and knew they
were usually halfway decent at repacking suitcases. She pulled out her
phone and pressed the number for Delta’s baggage services.

After waiting for an age to get through to the right person, Crys was
assured that her bag had left the airport in good shape. She frowned as
she rang off, staring at her jumbled belongings. Could this have hap-
pened after her suitcase arrived at the hotel?

She picked up the room phone, called the concierge and asked if he
had taken delivery of the suitcase.
‘Yes,’ he replied, ‘at about half past two.’
‘Did you notice if it was in good shape?’
‘Yes, it was. Is there a problem?’
‘Yes, there is! It’s wrecked – someone’s broken it open. And they’ve
been through it. My stuff’s all messed up.’
‘I’ll call the police right away, madam.’
‘No … don’t bother.’ Crys sighed, dropping onto the bed, exhausted.
‘My insurance will cover the suitcase itself, and I don’t think I’ve lost
anything. It’ll just be a waste of time to get the police involved. But…’
She thought for a moment. ‘You didn’t notice anyone following the
porter who delivered the suitcase to my room, did you?’
‘No, madam.’
‘Who has access to room keys? Because if the porter delivered it
intact, somebody searched it in the room.’
‘No one other than the housekeeping staff has a master key. And
also the porter – but he only had it while he was taking it up for you.’
‘Would it be possible to look at any CCTV you have of the foyer of
the hotel and the passage to my room, please? I’d only need it from the
time the suitcase was delivered to you.’

There was a silence. Then he answered that he’d check with the
manager, but didn’t think there would be a problem. He’d let her know
the next morning.

Crys thanked the man and hung up.
She was beginning to feel a little spooked – first the man following
her and now this. She lay back on the bed, letting the cool draught of
stale air from the air-conditioning unit flow over her, but her mind
was still racing. Her first day in South Africa hadn’t been a good one.
Crys decided a little yoga would help her calm down, so she folded a
towel on the floor, sat down, and twisted into a half lotus. She breathed
deeply, closed her eyes, and started softly chanting her mantra: Úm ma
ni bát ni hồng. Úm ma ni bát ni hồng. Úm ma ni bát ni hồng. Úm ma
ni bát ni hồng.

She slowly began to relax. Her mind focused. Her heart rate slowed,
and she tried to open her mind to good thoughts. But images of the
vandalised suitcase rattled around her head.

After about thirty minutes, Crys brought herself back to the present,
uncoiled, and went for a hot shower. She resigned herself that there was
nothing more she could do that evening, so prepared for a night of
jet-lagged sleep.

As she put her head on the pillow, Crys realised there was a bright
spot in all of this. She could use her bad first day as a topic for her
special column for the Duluth News Tribune.
With that thought in mind, Crys closed her eyes and fell into a
troubled sleep.

About the author 

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award. Dead of Night is their first stand-alone thriller

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