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Waking the Witch [Paperback]

Kelley Armstrong
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
List Price: CDN$ 17.95
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Product Description

Review

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

“Like Stephen King, . . . Armstrong not only writes interesting page-turners, she has also achieved that unlikely goal, what all writers strive for: a genre of her own. . . . This is not The Call of the Wild; it’s Nora Roberts meets The Sopranos by way of Henry David Thoreau.”
— The Walrus

“Armstrong’s prose has a punchy, easy flow.”
— The Globe and Mail
 
“Armstrong is quite deft at making Savannah simultaneously formidable, sympathetic and real. . . . A quick and fun read, Waking the Witch is . . . a good starting point for readers new to Armstrong.”
— The Miami Herald
 
“Kelley Armstrong must have decided one day to throw every genre she could imagine — mystery, horror, supernatural thriller, romance and chick lit — into her writerly cauldron. What she conjured up is the hilariously hip Women of the Otherworld series.”
— Calgary Herald
 
“Mesmerizing . . . the ‘other-worldly’ atmosphere conjured up by Armstrong begins to seem strangely real. Armstrong is a talented and original writer whose inventiveness and sense of the bizarre is arresting.”
— London Free Press


From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

KELLEY ARMSTRONG is the bestselling author of the Women of the Otherworld series, as well as the New York Times #1-bestselling young adult trilogy, Darkest Powers. She lives in rural Ontario with her family.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

One
 
 
For five years, I’d toiled as executive assistant slave to Lucas and Paige and now, finally, I was in charge. For the next week anyway.
 
The plaque still read Cortez-Winterbourne Investigations, but  that could be easily changed with the deft use of an energy-bolt spell. Levine Investigations rolled off the tongue so much more easily. At one time, I would have done it, if only as a joke, but there are things you can get away with at sixteen that just don’t fly at twenty-one.
 
I used my key card, then crept through the lobby, trying to squelch the click of my heels.
 
“Savannah!” a voice chirped behind me. “I thought I heard you come in.”
 
I started a cover spell, but Tina had already spotted me. I considered a knockback spell—make her trip and give me time to escape. But that would, sadly, not be a good way to launch my week playing a responsible adult.
 
When Paige said we were getting an accountant for a tenant, I’d thought, Great, someone nice and quiet. That was the stereotype, but apparently, no one had told Tina.
 
“I’m so glad I caught you,” she said. “It’s almost ten and no one’s in the office yet.”
 
It was 9:14.
 
“There was a man here looking for Lucas,” she continued. “I called upstairs and the phone rang and rang. Did he and Paige leave on vacation already? I know Adam is at a conference. In Spokane, isn’t he?”
 
I made a noncommittal noise. Tina might be human, but she had a supernatural sense for snooping. Adam said we should hire her. I threatened to give her his home address and that shut him up.
 
“I hate to tell you kids how to run your business, but you really need to have someone up there during business hours. It’s no wonder you have hardly any clients. You need a full-time receptionist.” She patted my arm. “Yes, I know, dear, you’re the receptionist, but you’re always flitting off, doing God-knows-what. I could—”
 
“Oh, my cell phone’s vibrating,” I lied. “Could be a client. I’ll talk to Paige about drop-ins.”
 
“It’s no bother, dear. I wanted to speak to you anyway. I think I have a job for you.” Tina lowered her voice, though we were the only ones in the lobby. “I started dating this man. A widower I met online.”
 
“And you want me to run a background check? Good idea.”
 
“Oh, no. A man has the right to his privacy. It’s just . . . Well, I was watching this show on private investigators, about a firm of women hired by other women to test their mate’s loyalty.”
 
It took me a second to catch her drift. “You want me to try to seduce your boyfriend?”
 
Her lips pursed. “Certainly not. Just get dolled up, talk to him, flirt with him, and see whether he’ll flirt back.”
 
“I’m probably half his age. I’d be worried if he didn’t flirt back.”
 
A muffled snort made me glance down the hall. A guy a couple of years older than me leaned out of the stairwell doorway. Light hair just past his collar, denim jacket, boots, and a pair of snug-fitting worn blue jeans. He lifted a finger to his lips, shushing me, and I tried not to stare even if he was definitely stare-worthy.
 
I turned back to Tina. “That guy who wanted to speak to Lucas. Did you let him in?”
 
“Certainly not.” She lowered her voice. “He looked a little dodgy.”
 
“Was he in his midtwenties? Dark blond hair? Looks like he lost contact with his razor a few days ago?”
 
The guy arched his brows, mock-indignant.
 
“Yes, that’s him,” Tina said. “Now about my job offer . . .”
 
“Spend the money on a shopping spree at Victoria’s Secret and make sure he’s too exhausted to look at twenty-year-olds.”
 
Before she recovered from that suggestion, I took off.
 
The guy waited until she was safely in her office, then strolled to meet me.
 
“Dodgy?” he said. “I’m not the one wanting a hot chick to try seducing my new boyfriend.” He extended his hand. “Jesse Aanes.”
 
I’d heard of him. A half-demon PI out of Seattle who’d worked with Lucas a few times. Lucas said he was a good guy, which was the only seal of approval I needed.
 
“What brings you to Portland?” I asked.
 
“Cases. One that I’m working now and a new one I wanted to run past Lucas. Two birds, one stone. I left him a message, but he hasn’t returned it, which isn’t like him.”
 
“He’s on vacation with Paige. I confiscated their cell phones and the only messages I’m passing on are well wishes and death notices.”
 
He laughed. “Good idea. They can use the break. Did that woman say Adam isn’t around either?”
 
“He’s at a conference. It’s just me for the rest of the week.”

Jesse hesitated and I knew what he was thinking—he needed help, but I wasn’t what he had in mind.
 
“Why don’t you come up to the office,” I said. “Tell me what you’ve got.”
 
I used my key card to unlock the stairwell door. Yes, we have key card entry everywhere, plus a shitload of protective spells for the second floor. I undid them under my breath as we walked.
 
As Tina said, we don’t get a lot of drop-in clients. We don’t want to. While we rarely turn away paying human customers, our clientele is almost exclusively supernatural and they don’t need an ad in the Yellow Pages to find us. Given that Lucas is heir to the Cortez Cabal, though, not everyone who finds us wants to hire us. Hence the heavy security.
 
Jesse followed me up the stairs. “I guess the daughter of Eve Levine and Kristof Nast doesn’t need to worry about strangers attacking her in an empty office.”
 
“If they do, I can always use them for my next ritual sacrifice. Volunteers are so hard to come by.”
 
It’s not the sort of crack you should make when you have a notorious dark witch for a mother and an equally notorious cutthroat sorcerer for a father. It was a test of sorts, and Jesse passed, just laughing and saying, “I’ll watch my step then.”
 
“So what’s your power? I know you’re a half-demon.”
 
“Agito.”
 
Telekinesis, then. Agito was the second of the three levels, meaning he had mediocre abilities. Having dealt with a high-level Volo before, I was much more comfortable with an Agito.
 
His powers explained how he’d snuck past Tina. Using telekinesis, he’d caught the door before it closed. I’d have to talk to Lucas about that. Yet another argument against human tenants.
 
I led Jesse into the meeting room. He didn’t sit down—didn’t even take off his jacket—just strode straight to the table and pulled files from his satchel.
 
He set a crime-scene photo on the table. “Six months ago, two young women were murdered in Columbus, Washington, about an hour over the Oregon border. I doubt it made the Portland news. Nothing all that hinky about the killings. No sign of a serial killer or sexual sadism. Just the shooting death of two twenty-five-year-olds who led the kind of lives where you sort of figure, sooner or later”—he gestured at the photo of the two women—“this is how they’re going to end up.”
 
“Hookers?”
 
He shook his head. “Just not exactly sterling members of society.”
 
“Drugs?” I said. “Booze? Petty crime? All of the above?”
 
“You got it. Nothing you haven’t seen a million times before. I was on that path myself until Lucas got me out of some trouble and persuaded me there were legal ways to use my skills. Anyway, these girls didn’t run into a Lucas. They were high school dropouts. Never held a job more than a few months. One had a kid at sixteen. Both had short rap sheets, and a string of boyfriends with longer ones.”
 
I lifted the photo to take a closer look. The two bodies lay on a floor. Both were fully dressed, T-shirts covered in blood, each bearing a hole. Single gunshot wounds to the chest. One was on her back, eyes open, arms akimbo, legs twisted, a pool of blood under her. The other was stretched out, arms and legs only slightly bent, eyes closed. The blood under her was smeared.
 
“Both shot, as you see,” Jesse said. “A through-and-through for the first, the bullet apparently lodging in the wall over there.” He pointed to the edge of the photo. “They recovered another bullet from inside the second victim. The first one died immediately. The second didn’t.”
 
“Doesn’t look like she tried to get away, though. Drugged?”
 
“I don’t have tox screens.”
 
“No sign of rape or torture, like you said. Looks execution style. A classic case of ‘Hey, bitch, you gonna pay for that dope or what?’ The answer, apparently, being ‘or what.’ ”
 
“Yep, that’s what it looks like.”
 
When he didn’t go on, I glanced at him. “So what’s your interest? Is one of these girls a supernatural?”
 
“Not as far as I know.”
 
He set a second photo on the table. I...
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