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Genre: Adult Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Shadow Alley Press
Audiobook Date of Publication: August 10, 2016
Number of pages: 415
Word Count: 111,000
Cover Artist: Lou Harper
Levi Adams is a soft spoken, middle-aged Mennonite man—at least he tries to be when he’s not murdering people.
Levi’s a golem, a Mudman, crafted from the muck, mire, and corpses of a World War II concentration camp—killing is just a part of his DNA. He doesn’t like it, but unfortunately he’s been saddled with a divine commission to dole out judgment on those who shed innocent blood. After seventy years as a cold-blooded murder machine, however, Levi’s trying to change his grisly nature. And the AA meetings and church services are helping. A little. But when he runs across a wounded girl, Sally Ryder, during one of his “hunting expeditions,” he realizes self-help may have to go on the back burner.
Someone is attempting to revive a pre-Babylonian murder god, and the road to rebirth is paved with dead bodies. Lots and lots of them.
Now, Levi must protect Ryder—the key to an unspeakable resurrection—and defeat a Nazi mage from Levi’s murky past. But the shadowy mage holds a terrible secret about the Mudman’s unorthodox birth, one offering insight into Levi’s morbid compulsion for bloodshed. It’s a secret Levi would pay anything to uncover: maybe even Ryder’s life. If Levi isn’t careful, he may end up turning into the monster he always imagined himself to be.
He blinked his eyes open for the first time: a newborn stealing his first look at the world, which, in a way, is exactly what he was. Except no squealing, rosy-cheeked infant had ever been so big, so ugly, or so filled with blood-boiling rage. Never had a child been so appalling. He squinted at first, letting in only the merest trickle of light because even the wan illumination from the moon, which loitered over the world like a fat thumbnail, was harsh to his virgin eyes.
Smells came next: the scent of musky earth, the harsh tang of powdery slaked lime—used to mask the reek of decay—and buried beneath that, the sour stink of rotten flesh and burnt hair.
The sky spit down a misty drizzle, fine droplets of cool water that turned his gray skin slick. After a few moments more his eyes adjusted fully, allowing him, at last, to survey his surroundings. Mud and muck, deep brown and goopy, lined everything. It squished beneath his shoulder blades, clung to his arms and legs, and liberally coated the corpses crudely piled to his right. Despite the mud, the bodies appeared almost white, like angry specters waiting for him, welcoming him to this new hell with silent screams and vacant eyes.
How he knew anything was beyond him, since this was the first day of his life, the day—or rather night—of his unnatural birth. Surely, no baby pushed and fought its way into the world with dark and grisly thoughts of murder and death lingering in its mind, with knowledge of mass graves, heinous experimentation, and hasty executions. But he knew such things. Fragments of memories floated and swirled inside his skull, dancing a slow funeral dirge, parading incoherent snatches of imagery through his head.
The Wehrmacht march through the streets in their black spit-shined boots and high-collared, gray wool uniforms. Smart and dashing, those uniforms, dressing up the face of murder in civility and pageantry …
The Luftwaffe soars overhead. The buzz of the single-prop Focke-Wulf and the thunderous roar of the colossal Messerschmitt transport planes fill the air with their racket …
He clutches a small boy to his chest, his body trembling as he hides, holding his breath for fear of being heard. Terror and panic wriggle in his guts as the black-garbed Schutzstaffel—the SS—make their way from door to door, fists rapping on wood, rifle buttstocks smashing out windows, booted feet kicking their way inside …
Then, train cars, loaded to capacity, roll through his thoughts. Bodies press up against one another so tightly he can’t breathe—except he isn’t a he, but a she. And she is searching for her sister. They’d been separated in all the chaos …
So many images, circling around, each screaming more loudly than the last, each demanding he lend them an ear or an eye or a hand. He clutched at either side of his head. Broad, fleshy palms pressed in as though he could simply pulverize the images and send them back to whatever nightmare they’d come from. But they kept coming, and as they came—faster and faster, like a hail of automatic machine gunfire—his chest began to itch and burn. It felt like someone had taken a cherry-red fire iron and jabbed it into the meat covering his breastbone.
A huge hand flew to the pain, his fingers finding crude markings etched directly into the skin, cut deep into the muscle below. As he touched the mark, the jagged wound, the voices and visions coalesced into a single demand. A demand for retribution. The anger came next, flowing from the brand like gasoline pumping through his veins, scorching his insides and propelling him to action. He lumbered to his feet, the muck squishing around his thick toes, and made for the muddy wall of his earthen womb. In reality, an open grave. He dug his digits in and used his flabby, though powerfully built, arms to pull himself upward and free.
He lay on the edge of the pit for a long beat, charting the lay of the land, eyes scanning the dark, which covered everything like a velvety blanket. In the distance, not so far off, he saw a squat building. Some sort of bunker, outlined by the faint glow of light bulbs. He wasn’t surewhat he was. Where he was. Or how he’d gotten there. But, as the brand burned in his chest, he was certain of one thing: someone—or, perhaps, lots of someones—had quite the butcher’s bill to account for, and he was ready to collect.
About the Author:
Hey all, my name is James Hunter and I’m a writer, among other things. So just a little about me: I’m a former Marine Corps Sergeant, combat veteran, and pirate hunter (seriously). I’m also a member of The Royal Order of the Shellback—’cause that’s a real thing. I’ve also been a missionary and international aid worker in Bangkok, Thiland. And, a space-ship captain, can’t forget that.
Okay … the last one is only in my imagination.
Currently, I’m a stay at home Dad—taking care of my two kids—while also writing full time, making up absurd stories that I hope people will continue to buy. When I’m not working, writing, or spending time with family, I occasionally eat and sleep.
You can visit me to find out more at www.JamesAHunter.wordpress.com