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Lupo's World ~ A Blog

LAUNCH PARTY FOR WOLF'S CUT (Friday, March 28, 2014, 8-10 PM CST / 9-11 PM EST)


You're most likely strolling through Facebook in the evening right? Posting your favorite book, cartoon, and chatting with friends in between watching a cool show or settling down for the evening? There’s a fun VIRTUAL party you can drop by to help celebrate the publication of my new novel! We've got some books to giveaway also that you can enter to win, too!

The virtual party sponsored by Hook of a Book (www.facebook.com/HookofaBook) page takes place on the actual wall of the Facebook page (not on the invite wall if you have a FB invite) on Friday, March 28, from 8:00 PM to 10:00 PM CST (9:00-11:00 PM EST).

Attendees will be able to ask me any questions they want by PRE-ASKING or asking during the party via an email submission which will then be posted by the moderator to the Hook of a Book wall. Attendees can see questions answered and will be able to comment.

Please pre-ask questions using email listed below or Erin will also take limited questions during the party which will go in a queue to be asked in order received. Email Erin at hookofabook@hotmail.com (subject: (author) question). Emailing a question enters you in the giveaways, or you can email just to enter.

The night of the event (Friday, March 28) you can also inbox message Erin Al-Mehairi on the Hook of a Book Facebook page (below) if you can’t email and it will go into the queue.

Please, NO attendees should post questions to the wall of the party just because it gets too confusing. If questions appear on the wall, Erin will put in to the queue and then re-post the question as a status. I will have to wait for them to be re-posted and then answer. However, you can post to the wall to say “congratulations” and “what’s up,” and I am able to comment on that too.

We’re giving away some books! All those who ask questions will have a chance to win or you can email to enter! Keep an eye out for prompts.

Or just hang out and have conversation in the comments and enjoy your visit!

Please remember that refreshing your browser is very important to see all questions and answers ongoing during the event. Also remember to be patient. The moderator, Erin, is constantly working in the background and will be taking your emails, inbox messages, posting questions, and monitoring the party all at once.

You can RSVP or see more about the event here: : www.facebook.com/HookofaBook
Don’t forget, you also have to “like” the Hook of a Book page!

All About Hook of Book Facebook Page~
“Like the Hook of a Book Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HookofaBook! We post reviews and interviews from this site there, but it also gives us the opportunity to talk books with you more, feature upcoming covers and releases, post free or discounted books, discuss literature, and showcase books we have on list to review. We’ll talk about the book, publishing and writing industry. We’ll probably also talk grammar tips and ask lots of questions, as well as post interesting historical articles, art, photos, and other things we find intriguing.

Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Blog is an extension of Hook of a Book Services of Addison’s Compass Public Relations. We do book publicity, editing, proofreading, draft consulting, media relations, press releases and more.”


"Wolf's Cut is a stellar addition to Gagliani's Nick Lupo series. An impressive and addictive read... cements Gagliani's place at the top of the new wave of horror/crime fiction."
--Dreadful Tales

"Let out a howl, because Lupo's back, and badder than ever!"
--John Everson, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Violet Eyes and NightWhere

"With his series of Nick Lupo books, W.D. Gagliani has done more than pump a little oxygen into the tired werewolf thriller. He's resurrected the entire genre and added a rush of nitrous oxide excitement. Do yourself a favor and pick up Wolf's Cut, a nice addition to this superior series."
--Gene O'Neill, author of Dance of the Blue Lady and Other Stories

"W.D. Gagliani's Detective Lupo series is the best of the werewolf genre. Top-notch writing, nail-biting suspense, and a ferocious mix of serial killers and werewolves... Gagliani continues to deliver fast-paced horror that will get your heart pumping. Highly recommended."
--Brian Moreland, author of Dead of Winter and The Devil's Woods

"Being Italian and a former cop I can relate to Lupo on many levels. The whole series is a big hit at our store with several of our staff. We can't wait for the next book. Keep howling!"
--Tony D'Amato, Chief Armorer of The Gun Store, Las Vegas, NV

"Wolf's Edge is an exciting page-turned full of suspense, mystery, and thrills. Don't miss it."
--The Horror Zine, on the 4th Nick Lupo novel

"Gagliani once more proves that werewolves are scary as hell."
--Jonathan Maberry, New York Times-bestselling author of The Dragon Factory on Wolf’s Edge

"Gagliani has brought bite back to the werewolf novel!"
--CNN Headline News Book Lizard on Wolf’s Trap

"The best werewolf novel since The Howling!"
--J.A. Konrath, author of Whiskey Sour on Wolf's Trap

"Riveting, disturbing, gut-wrenching – and entertaining as all get-out – and and I loved every page!"
--Jay Bonansinga, author of The Killer's Game and co-author of The Walking Dead Series, on Wolf's Trap, the 1st Nick Lupo novel

WOLF’S TRAP: The Nick Lupo Series Book One.

It takes a beast to catch a killer!

Nick Lupo is a good cop--with the instincts of a great detective... or maybe a wolf. Lupo has a lot in common with wolves, which is only natural considering he's a werewolf. He's battled the creature inside him for years, but now there's another predator in the area. A bloodthirsty serial killer is leaving a gruesome trail of victims, and it's up to Lupo to track him down and stop the slaughter. Will Lupo dare to unleash one beast to stop another?

Wolf's Trap is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated first book of the savage series of horror/thrillers about Nick Lupo, the werewolf/cop. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.
Other books in the series are Wolf's Gambit, Wolf's Bluff, Wolf's Edge, and the new one, Wolf’s Cut.

WOLF’S GAMBIT: The Nick Lupo Series Book Two.

There's something terrible happening near the resort town of Eagle River, Wisconsin.

Some people are afraid there's a wild animal on the loose, savagely tearing its victims apart. Others, like Nick Lupo, know better. Lupo knows a werewolf attack when he sees one. He should, since he's a werewolf himself, though he's been able to control his urges and maintain his secret for years now. He's also a homicide cop, so it may be up to him to hunt down one of his own kind. It looks like there's a new werewolf in town, a rogue out only for blood. But looks can be deceiving. And it's only the beginning of Nick's problems.

Wolf's Gambit is the sequel to the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, and the second in the savage series of horror/thrillers about the werewolf/cop. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.

WOLF’S BLUFF: The Nick Lupo Series Book Three.

The animal attacks in Wausau, Wisconsin, remind Nick Lupo of werewolf attacks. He should know...

Homicide cop -- and werewolf -- Nick Lupo has battled other werewolves before, killers who unlike Nick have no problem hunting human prey. So when a new series of savage animal attacks terrifies the area, Nick already has a suspect in mind. And he knows that if he's right it'll be up to him to destroy her. But even as he begins his surveillance, someone else is out there, watching them both. Someone with a very deadly plan. Someone who knows just what it takes to kill a werewolf.

Wolf's Bluff is the third novel in the series started by the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, following Wolf's Gambit. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.

WOLF’S EDGE: The Nick Lupo Series Book Four.

Can one werewolf stop a pack of super-wolves?

Nick Lupo is a homicide cop with a difference. He's a werewolf. He's worked hard to control his condition, but it isn't easy to contain the beast inside him. It also means he has some very powerful enemies. Wolfpaw Security Services is a mercenary organization that wants Lupo dead. They want to infiltrate the US military with their own werewolves and they can't let anyone -- especially a fellow-werewolf like Lupo -- stand in their way.

Wolfpaw's genetic experiments have their roots in the Third Reich, or perhaps even farther back, and now they might have created a "super-wolf" nearly invulnerable to silver. Soon their ranks will be filled with these invincible warriors. Can one wolf -- even a fierce beast like Lupo -- face the fangs and claws of a pack of these killers and hope to survive?

Wolf's Edge is the fourth novel in the series started by the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, and following Wolf's Gambit and Wolf's Bluff. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.

WOLF’S CUT: The Nick Lupo Series Book Five.

Nick Lupo: A cop, a werewolf...and a target!

Homicide detective--and werewolf--Nick Lupo is hoping to finally have a chance to focus his attentions on the woman he loves, instead of the Wolfpaw mercenary werewolves who tried so hard to kill him. Lupo survived that battle--barely--and brought down Wolfpaw. But Wolfpaw was backed by a super secret group within the Pentagon whose sinister plan is already in motion. And a new enemy has set its sights on the local casino. Nick Lupo thought he was home free, but whenever he tries to get out, they drag him back in...

Wolf's Cut is the fourth novel following the Bram Stoker Award-nominated novel Wolf's Trap, so it is the fifth in the savage series of horror/thrillers about the werewolf/cop. These "North Woods Noirs" are set mostly in the wilds of Northern Wisconsin, where werewolf legends abound and the moon paints the treetops silver. Warning: adult content.
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Guest blog post: An interview with Brian Moreland, author of DEAD OF WINTER (Samhain)

Brian Moreland, author of Shadows in the Mist and the new novel Dead of Winter (just published by Samhain), discusses his influences and research and what makes him tick as an explorer of dark deeds and darkness in general. Prompts by fellow Samhain author W.D. Gagliani...

1. So, Brian, what experience warped you and turned you into a horror writer?

I would say watching movies like Jaws and Alien and The Howling when I was a kid. I never had so much fun being scared. I got similar experiences from reading horror novels. For me, horror creates an adrenaline rush that makes the experience thrilling. When I decided to try my hand at writing a horror story, I discovered that being creative and exploring my own imagination can be just as thrilling as watching a great movie or reading another author’s novel. It’s also very fulfilling to share my fiction with readers.

2. What was the book or movie that made you say: "I have to do this kind of thing myself!" (Or maybe you said: "Boy, I could do a better job than this!")

I’ve said both those above quotes many times. The Alien, Aliens movies definitely inspired me, as well as Dean Koontz’s Watchers, Robert McCammon’s Stinger and Swan Song, and a number of books and short stories by Stephen King. I wanted to write at their level. I’ve studied their books, their writing style, how they orchestrated terrifying scenes, and did my best to learn from the masters.

3. I read about how you intended your novel Dead of Winter (Samhain Publishing, part of their new horror line, which debuted in October 2011) to have parallel past and present stories, but then chose to stay in the past. How did you research it? How did you handle the time-relevant details?

That’s correct. Dead of Winter was originally about a modern-day detective, Tom Hatcher, and a serial killer that had links to strange killings that happened back in 1870. The historical flashbacks were based on real events that I discovered in my research. Whenever I get a kernel of an idea that intrigues me, I read a lot of non-fiction books and surf the net. Google has been great for doing research. I always double-check facts I read about on the internet, because you can never be too sure. I might read something interesting on Wikipedia and then search for books on the subject to cross-check the historical facts. I also interview experts and historians. The more I came across weird supernatural stories involving the Jesuits and the Ojibwa tribes of Ontario, Canada, and cannibalism and mysterious evil spirits, the more I felt the 19th Century scenes were much more fascinating than the modern-day scenes. So I decided to place Inspector Tom Hatcher and the serial killer known as the Cannery Cannibal in 1870 with the rest of the characters. It was a fun challenge writing a completely historical novel and I’m glad I did it.

4. You wrote a novel set in World War 2 (Shadows in the Mist). Why is this war so fascinating? Why are Nazis so desirable as bad guys -- is it because they dabbled in the occult? (Indiana Jones said: "Nazis! I hate those guys..." What was your inspiration for this book (which I haven't had a chance to read yet, but I look forward to reading.)

I’m like Indiana Jones, I hate those guys too. I believe that any fanatical group makes for a good villain. And the Nazis--based on how cold and ruthless they were and how many millions of people they killed--are universally thought of as evil. The fact that a few of them really practiced the occult makes them interesting for a horror novel. Shadows in the Mist explores the question, “What if at the height of WWII, the desperate Nazis created a supernatural weapon to stop the Allied forces from invading Germany, but instead, unleashed something evil into the foggy woods?” Following a rogue U.S. platoon behind German lines, I blend action, adventure, horror and suspense with real historical facts about WWII and the Nazis and the occult. (Shadows in the Mist re-releases from Samhain Horror in September of 2012.)

5. How do you create your characters? Are they born whole in your mind, or do you develop them layer by layer?

Definitely layer by layer. At the beginning of a novel I’ll usually decide what occupation the main character will have first and build from there. In Shadows in the Mist, I wanted to tell my story from the point of view of a U.S. soldier, Lt. Jack Chambers, fighting in the trenches. He’s also got a squad to look after, so I made him a platoon leader who cares too much about keeping his men alive.

Dead of Winter was a detective mystery from the beginning. Originally my main character was a small-town sheriff in present-day Michigan. When I decided to move the setting to Ontario, Canada, my character changed to a British inspector to fit the history. The priest was a Jesuit exorcist from the get-go, but he went through several name changes before I was satisfied with Father Xavier Goddard. My characters always evolve over time. Each draft I write, I add more character flaws, back story, and often make them stronger than they first start out. For instance, I might think a lead heroine is acting too much like a damsel in distress—so I’ll change her actions so that she can handle her own. As I throw my characters into scenes of conflict, I learn who the are and how they handle themselves, how they talk, how they behave battling for their lives or risking their lives to save others. It’s like painting a painting. It’s never a masterpiece after the first attempt. I just keep adding brush strokes, layer by layer, until I feel a character is the best that I can make them.

6. What is the one element in your fiction that you think most reflects your voice/philosophy?

I would have to say Good prevails over Evil. I believe that when a man or woman digs deep into their soul to face their greatest demons, they can tap into a reservoir of courage and strength and conquer anything. We all have that capability and I like to write stories where the heroes and heroines come out stronger in the end.

7. If you were forced to pick only 10 books you could keep (the desert isle scenario), what would they be?


The Island by Richard Laymon
Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Phantoms by Dean Koontz
The Stand by Stephen King
Books of Blood by Clive Barker


Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell
Iron John by Robert Bly
Excuse Me Your Life Is Waiting by Lynn Grabhorn
Harry Potter Series by R.K. Rowling
Lord of the Rings Series by J.R.R. Tolkien

8. Which three authors have influenced you the most and why?

Horror authors Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and Richard Laymon. They write stories that are pure fun and adventure. They create loveable characters and monsters, and their writing style keeps you on the edge of your seat. They know how to write thrilling action and ratchet up the tension. I’ve done my best to write books that ignite all the senses and are a joy to read.

9. Describe your next novel project!

I’m over 300 pages into writing my third novel The Devil’s Woods about a secret forest on a Cree reservation up in British Columbia, Canada where a lot of strange things are happening and people are vanishing. This one has both ghosts and some really cool creatures. I don’t know why I keep setting my books in Canada. I guess because there are some places up there that are still isolated. Plus, I love the wilderness, and British Columbia is absolutely beautiful.


Brian Moreland writes novels and short stories of horror and supernatural suspense. His first two novels are Dead of Winter and Shadows in the Mist. He loves hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, and dancing. Brian lives in Dallas, Texas where he is diligently writing his next horror novel. You can communicate with him online at http://brianmoreland.com/ or on Twitter @BrianMoreland.
Brian’s blog for news about his books: http://www.brianmoreland.blogspot.com

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Guest Blog Post by Hunter Shea, author of Forest of Shadows (Samhain)

Growing up an absolute horror junkie, starting at around age 5, when it was time to write my first full length novel, I had one major question to answer. What, out of all the monsters, spirits and demons that populate my subconscious, will I pluck out and spend the next year or so living within an almost invisible, conjoined twin state? I spent a lot of time living with that question, letting it roll around the old brain pan, sifting its contents like a mad gold digger until I found that one true nugget that could give birth to a writing boom.

And then it hit me. It has to be about ghosts! Why ghosts? Because, unlike discovering gold in them thar hills, most people either have a personal ghost story, or are close to someone who has lifted the veil between this world and the next. I recently tested that theory in my writer’s group when I brought the subject up. Sure enough, five out of six people had had their own encounter with a phantom, wraith, ghost, whatever you want to name it.

Ghosts scare people because of what we, as a society, perceive to be their very real nature. Even if someone says they don’t believe in spirits, put them in a strange house at night and see how they react to odd noises or distant moans. Sure, it could be the house settling, but there’s a very primal part of our brains that reacts to the potential of the supernatural in ways we can’t control. Everyone loves a good ghost story, even the ones who say they get scared by them. It only seemed natural that I try to spin my own ghost story, and for close to four years I did just that, writing my book, Forest of Shadows, combining the classics of a good haunt with new, hopefully terrifying twists and turns.

Another reason for choosing ghosts was a series of unexplained encounters my wife and I had with a phantom boy in my house for over a year. He would be there, clear as day one moment, and gone the instant you went to seek him out. The oddest part of all was the feeling of comfort that always washed over us when he was around. Who was that boy and why did he only stick around for that one year? We’ll never know. But I did know that I wanted to get aspects of those events onto paper.

So I wrote. And the ghosts of my past and that shades of society’s darkest nightmares became my constant companions. When I knew I was going to write a scene involving apparitions or shadow people, I would darken the room, so it was only me and the feeble light from my computer screen. I wanted to feel the tingle of the phantom presence at my back, catch shadows within the inky darkness moving about from the corner of my eye. I wanted to be scared.

Enjoy this excerpt from Forest of Shadows. If you feel you have to sleep with the light on tonight, I’ve done my job.

“I’m here,” he called out with far less authority than he had wished. His voice cracked and he swallowed off the last syllable as he gulped for air.

With the normal night sounds silenced, his ragged breathing sounded like the whoosh of an incoming breaker.

He caught movement behind the window leading to the great room. A flash of something pale and alive. He blinked hard.

The face of a boy was pressed against the glass. But there was no body beneath it.

Judas stifled a scream and felt a strong urge to empty his suddenly swollen bladder right there and then. He watched the face, with its benign expression, indifferent to the terror stricken man in the front yard, as it pushed forward through the glass without breaking it. As the head hovered on the porch, a prepubescent body dressed in a dirty t-shirt and shorts slowly materialized. His neck came into focus last, forming the bridge between head and torso.

No way! No freakin’ way! Judas turned on his heels and started to run.

Shadows were seeping out of the trees like spilled molasses, coiling through the grass and sweeping up their trunks. The deathly quiet was broken by the hum of incoherent murmurings. Dozens of whispered voices swirled around him as the shadows continued their steady march towards the driveway and his only means of escape.

He swung back around and the boy was only a few feet from him, his body more corporeal. In fact, if Judas hadn’t seen him materialize from a wafting head he would have sworn he was face to face with your average ten year old boy out for a late night sneak.

This time Judas gasped aloud.

The boy narrowed his cold gray eyes, raised a rigid arm and pointed at the advancing shades.

Even though he wanted to run mad and screaming from this place, something compelled him to stay. Slowly and with great fear, he turned his head.


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Excerpt from WOLF'S EDGE (Nick Lupo #4) - Samhain Publishing

Wolf’s Edge
By W.D. Gagliani

“He who fights with monsters should beware lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”
—Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil


(Somewhere between Minocqua and Eagle River, WI)

The keys clicked lightly under his fingers, and he watched the short paragraph take shape on the laptop’s screen before him. The light it emitted was enough to cast a blue-white glow across the room and over his shape. He hunched over slightly, refocusing his eyes and positioning the bifocals to give him a clear look at the text he was leaving behind. He moused over a phrase, adjusted it, cut another word here and added several words there.

He was very quiet. His family slept, and he didn’t want to complicate things by awakening them. Karina snored softly in the adjacent room, her form stretched under the sheet in the sideways position she preferred. Down the hall, the nearest room was where Katerina slumbered the innocent sleep of the six-year-old, a favorite bear watching over her from one side of the pillow and an animal—a jolly looking dog from the latest Pixar movie—was crushed in her sleepy embrace. The boys slept in the far room, across the hall from the main upstairs bath.

He smiled sadly as he thought of his family, asleep and unencumbered by what ate at him like acid. His smile turned into a frown and then a grimace as he tasted the acid column that rose in his throat. Real or not, he felt the vomit push its way into the back of his throat, and he fought to swallow it down.

Hands shaking, he typed a few more words, reread the six lines or so he had written into the blank file, then he moused over to the Print command and heard the sheet work its way through the elderly Epson below his desk. Then he highlighted and copied the text, clicked into the open browser, scrolled to where the text box sat waiting, empty, its cursor blinking like a clown’s evil wink. He pasted the text and Submitted it, then closed the page and clicked into the Preview function. There it was, his text posted on his website’s main page where the counter would soon begin to click upward as his regulars checked his blog and news.

He closed the browser but left the computer on. It really didn’t matter.

Behind him, where the bottom of the built-in bookcase met the lower cabinets, their shelves hidden behind cherry-wood doors, he flicked the disguised switch and waited for the upper bookcase to disengage from its lock. It hissed open a few inches, and he reached between its edge and the frame and opened wide the secret compartment. Behind the movable bookcase were several shelves of items and a built-in safe. He ignored everything but one item. He took it from its resting place inside the red velvet-lined case, then pushed the compartment door shut again.

He took the object and held it up where moonlight entering the wide picture window could illuminate it. The huge, silver disk above shed light over the lake and its surroundings, leaking into the living room and over his hands. The heavy object shone in the light. It was a dagger perhaps nine inches in length, sheathed in lightweight wood criss-crossed with carved symbols. The dagger’s grip was set with several irregular shaped jewels in a line above the straight cross-guard. The moonlight blackened the jewels so they looked like pools of darkness in the hilt.

His eyes suddenly filled, and he tilted his head as if tears could be coaxed to clear his pupils on their own. His motion achieved nothing, and the tears swelled up until they were heavy enough to seek their own ways across his cheeks. He repressed a sob.

He had decades to sob over.

He tucked the sheathed dagger into his belt, leaving his hands free.

Almost without realizing how he had gotten there, he stood in front of a door down the hall. Now holding the dagger in one hand, he used the other to edge the door open just enough to slip inside, where his daughter slept among stuffed animals and at least one doll. Her golden hair was made into a silver halo by the moonlight filtered through the blinds. She was tucked in all the way to her chin, her tiny hands wrapped around the plush dog.

He let his tears fall onto her pillow for a moment, looking at her one last time. Then he swiftly slid the blade from its scabbard, placed one hand over the top of her face and pressed down hard, effectively preventing her scream and keeping her from seeing what he was about to do.

Forgive me, he prayed as he quickly drew the blade once across her throat. He wasn’t sure who would grant the forgiveness, however.

Dodging the hot spray, he held her head down on the pillow until it and the bed were sodden, and her tiny struggles were finished.

Not long. It didn’t take long at all.

Sobbing quietly, snot bubbling from his nostrils, he left his daughter’s room and entered the next, where the boys slept.

Thankfully they had given up the bunk beds, preferring two individual singles set perpendicular to each other. He approached the closest, his younger son, and said his quiet good-bye.

Then he repeated the procedure with the heavy hand, pressure downward holding his son’s neck in position and keeping him quiet and blind. The blade sang through the young skin with nary a hitch, but this time the blood gush half-caught him as he swayed to evade it. His older son grumbled in his sleep, muttered, and snored after shifting sideways on his pillow. In a moment the large hand, the father’s hand, was holding the small head down, and the other hand was doing the deed almost as if they were independent of each other and of his control. He barely moved this time, letting more of his son’s blood bathe him as he suppressed the struggling boy beneath. This son had been his favorite.

He waited again for the bleed-out, snot now coating his chin. He was unmindful of the snot and tears and saliva that ran freely from his open mouth.

Then he headed for the master bedroom, where his wife waited.

Her eyes were open and questioning when he approached, apparently having heard either his walking or the children’s struggling. She probably hadn’t processed what she’d heard, because her instinctive alarm had not forced the issue and fully awakened her fear.

“What—” she began, but his hand covered her lips and eyes, and his one motion took the blooded silver blade through her neck. Even as the curtain of blood jetted out from her, he could feel the scream under his hand, the accusation, the terror.


It didn’t matter whether she asked the question, it was what he heard. His body covered hers, lovingly, feeling her struggles diminish until finally it went still beneath his.

He was drenched with his family’s blood now, a symbolic sacrifice of everything he had ever loved.

Carefully, he replaced the blooded dagger in its hiding place. The box contained two dagger-shaped cradles, and his filled one of them. The other cradle was dusty—it hadn’t held its dagger in decades.

Then he took a pistol from its hooks above where the case holding the blade lay among other items. He closed the secret compartment’s door.

He dragged himself through the hallway and to the living room, with its view of the woods and the lake. He surveyed the moonlit scene one last time.

He felt nothing, really. Did he?

His family’s fresh blood soaked his clothes and clogged his nostrils with its sweet, metallic stench.

No time for regrets. It was too late. Better decisions would have led to better outcomes.

The pistol in his hand was an antique, but he had kept it oiled and in good condition. And the magazine was filled with his best home loads. He pulled the toggle and cocked the German war-issue 1908 Parabellum model, which most people knew as the Luger. He felt the weight of the pistol, its superb balance, and he allowed himself one small, sad smile.

He stood with his back to the wide, white wall. Twisted the gun around in his grip. Rested the oily barrel on his forehead.

When he squeezed the trigger, the last thing he saw was the frozen face of his wife, asking Why? Her staring, accusing eyes registered for a fraction of a second, and then it was over.

His body spasmed once against the wall now ruined by the shower of blood and bits of skull, spasmed then slumped to the hardwood floor. A lake grew quickly below him like a crimson outline.

One hour later, the sound of breaking glass washed over the frozen tableau inside the house. Heavy boot falls marked the intruder’s trek through the rooms, one by one, ending at the wall where a man’s body lay slumped, his head collapsed like a deflated child’s balloon.

The blood was black in the reflected moonlight.

The intruder shook his head, then set about the search, which had just become more complicated.

Another hour passed, and the intruder found what he knew was there to be found. Not much effort had been made to keep the secret storage area truly hidden. With a laser measuring device, the intruder quickly located the several discrepancies that signaled secret compartments behind false walls.

Still almost two hours before dawn, the intruder found the main gas valve in the rear of the basement, the portion behind a door located in the cedar-paneled bar area dominated by a regulation pool table and various rich man’s toys. Behind the door, the house’s systems were ensconced in a room with walls of reinforced poured concrete. The intruder flicked on the lights, located the gas line and took a few moments to follow it with his eyes, then he took a wrench from his waist pack and loosened a couple connectors. He waited for a minute until he could smell the gas quickly escaping the pipe, then retreated through the open door.

Back upstairs, he set an innocuous-looking cell phone housing on a hallway table near the back door and basement entrance. Inside was a tiny, remote-operated device that would ignite upon receipt of a certain signal text. When it did, it would at the same time provide the needed spark and destroy itself. It would be indistinguishable from the kind of slag left by any sort of cell phone upon melting.

Confusion was the intended result. The crime scene would be a mess. Suicide? Murder? Murder-suicide? Unlawful entry, or fakery? The man whose body lay slumped against the wall would be blamed, and they’d stop looking for the rest of the story. Small-town cops would never go beyond the obvious in this one. There was plenty of the obvious on which to concentrate.

The intruder left the premises undetected. Two hours later—and a fair number of miles away—the time he knew was needed to fill the enclosed space with gas, he sent the text message.

Imagining the fireball, he smiled slightly.

In his trunk lay the wooden case he had removed from the scene.

Endgame: First Day

Chapter One


The bitter breeze blowing off the lake cut through his leather jacket and, instinctively, he dug his large hands into the pockets. He made fists, but he wasn’t aware he had.

The usual clanking of small boat rigging was down to a dozen or so stragglers still in the water of the North Point Marina. Lupo stood with his back to the old roundhouse, which was boarded up for the season. Wistfully, he recalled warm days on the lake, playing dominoes and drinking overpriced canned beer from the roundhouse deli, getting greasy with chips and sandwiches wrapped in waxed paper. Across the weathered picnic table in his memory was Caroline Stewart, laughing as they struggled to play the old man’s game they had somehow both enjoyed picking up.

Lupo’s fists started to hurt from the pressure, and then they started to itch.

It was strange, after all these years, having such clear memories of Caroline. She’d been his professor, confessor and confidante, and then lover.

And then he had killed her.

“Jesus, Nick, could you just let it go?” The voice from behind him startled him, but he pretended otherwise.

“You’ve beaten yourself up for too many years. You have good reason to move on now, and accept the past and what you are and what you will always be.”

Lupo wanted to stifle the raspy voice, but he already knew the old man would have his say.

He had killed Caroline Stewart, and that act of violence, while not completely his fault, had damned him forever, as far as he could tell. It had confirmed his suspicions—he really was a monster.

“Get over yourself,” said the old-man voice.

He resisted for a few moments, then whirled around.

There was no one there. Ghost Sam liked these surgical strikes, making his point in as bloody a manner as possible, then disappearing…wherever he disappeared to. Most likely Lupo’s head, which was definitely not a healthy place to be.

He was a monster, Ghost Sam’s platitudes notwithstanding.

How could a werewolf not be a monster?

“You’ve faced real monsters. I know monsters. You’re not much of a monster.”

“Christ, Sam, you still have a sick sense of humor even after death, you know that?”

“Laugh away, cop boy. But will you ever listen to me? No, you won’t. Apparently you inherited that stubbornness you always accuse your dad of having.”

Actually Lupo listened to Ghost Sam fairly often, both when he saw him and when he didn’t. But there had to be an end to it, a line he could draw.

His mind wandered back to Caroline, and what the Creature had done to her. The guilt was still tangible. She had backed his decision to become a cop, and he’d been on his way to being a good one when the most traumatic incident of his life took place. The Creature had done it, he knew it intellectually, but he couldn’t stop thinking that the Creature was still part of him, or that he could have controlled its rage. Miraculously, he had managed to evade suspicion, though he’d lived in fear for years, and then he’d climbed the ranks of the Milwaukee Police Department, all the way to Homicide Detective.

Until his past—and his secret—had come back to torment him and endanger the woman he now loved. He had managed to protect her so far, when she wasn’t protecting him, but he had a lousy record when it came to women who became attached to him.

He stifled what he had to admit was a sob.


Things weren’t so smooth now, and it was all his fault.


He’d tried to get her some help, but she was either at her meeting right now or at the casino. He couldn’t quite grasp why a woman as successful, intelligent, beautiful, and perfect in every way had succumbed to a strangely warped version of the same gambling addiction he saw manifested in old folks who flushed their life savings away while standing blank-eyed at slot machines.

What the hell was he supposed to do, lock her up? Keep her out of the casino?

He snorted in spurious laughter. He remembered when he was the one who needed to be locked up, when he feared the full moon would take him and force him to commit murder after grisly murder. In fact, the moon had indeed caused him to do some bad things, but he’d learned to beat the moon’s influence.


He had a lot on his mind today. It wasn’t just Caroline’s memory, or Jessie’s gambling. It was the look in Tom Arnow’s eyes as he’d died, after Lupo had flicked that damned dagger squarely into his chest. And it was what he’d done even later.

That damned cursed dagger.

He turned away from the gray water, his fists itching like a delicate torture. He wished he could flay the skin off his hands.

His iPhone buzzed in his pocket. Damn it, somebody always interrupting his life. He dug it out with an itchy hand.

“Yeah?” he barked.

He listened for a minute, verified the address, and clicked off. Third Ward, crime scene. He was practically there already. Just a hop down Lake Drive and then a few blocks south of downtown. DiSanto was meeting him there.

He turned and half expected to see Sam Waters standing nearby, his gray hair gathered in its usual ponytail and his small but somehow still imposing frame tucked into a too-large leather parka. But he was alone.

He crossed the deserted parking lot between the boarded-up roundhouse and the yacht club and climbed into the slightly battered Maxima he clung to stubbornly. Rich DiSanto, his partner of two years, hounded him ceaselessly about the car. As a homicide detective, Lupo had the choice to drive his own vehicle while on duty, and he preferred comfort to style.

“At least get a Mustang or a Camaro, one of those new ones,” DiSanto had a habit of nagging almost weekly.

“If I did,” Lupo usually reminded him, “you wouldn’t be very comfortable.” It was true—the Maxima had the horsepower he wanted, thanks to some custom work, and the leather seats were comfortably worn. DiSanto’s long legs needed the ample space below the seat.

No way would he confess to the childish DiSanto that he’d been, in fact, tempted by the recent Mustangs.

Lupo sat for a minute. A strange tingle centered on the back of his neck made him turn and scan the rest of the lot. A couple cars in slots near the yacht club and a minivan toward the beach side were his only company. They were deserted, probably people who worked maintenance at the club. He shrugged.

Paranoia strikes deep.

He’d given Wolfpaw Security Services—or whatever they were calling themselves these days—enough to chew on for a long while, and right now the congressional hearings were gearing up in D.C. He had to be the last thing on their minds at the moment.

He shrugged, then started up and zipped onto Lake Drive, heading south along the coastline. The trees that dotted the parkland around the pond beside the curvy road were already half bare. He chafed at the thought of another case, on top of the half dozen he and DiSanto still had pending. It was just that kind of fall season, he mused, with people losing their cool after having lost their money or their house, or their family. Tended to make people a little crazy, as did the weather, which had been gray and drizzly or downright cold for three weeks already.

Lupo knew, because the Creature within also wanted out. The depression that had set in to harass his human side had begun to affect the Creature, too. Bleed-through had started to increase a year ago, and Lupo wondered if it was an age thing.

The shitty fact of it was that he didn’t know, and he couldn’t ask, because all the other shapeshifters he had met so far he’d had to kill. There was no asking for fatherly advice in his world. He hadn’t even realized there were others like him until they showed up and started killing people he cared about and trying their damndest to kill him, too.

He checked again the address they’d texted him as he passed under the U.S. Bank building, Wisconsin’s tallest skyscraper at a conservative 601 feet, and headed for Water Street, which would take him into the heart of the Third Ward a few blocks south.

He had ambivalent memories of the Third Ward, since his friend Corinne had been involved with a porn outfit that had set up shop in a loft in one of the renovated warehouses there. She’d been murdered by Martin Stewart and a long nightmare had begun to unfold, the only positive aspect of which was his new and sudden relationship with Jessie Hawkins, whom he’d known for years but hadn’t realized he had fallen in love with until they were both targeted by the serial killer.

First she’d been his landlord Up North, where he went a few days a month to distance himself from people he might hurt when the moon turned full. They had certainly been friends for years, since she’d first taken over her family’s properties near Eagle River. In that time she had begun her practice inside the reservation, tied to it and its people because they were her own people, too. Jessie Hawkins came from a mixed marriage, her father having been a prominent physician and surgeon and part-time coroner, and she’d followed his footsteps in all the best ways. But neither Jessie nor Lupo had realized their attraction until the killer Martin Stewart began targeting everyone Lupo knew, including Jessie.

Now Lupo was hip to the fact that she was beautiful, a sort of earthier version of a famous model, as he had been told. Her flaming, highlighted chestnut hair either left to bounce off her shoulders in a controlled blaze or harnessed in a ponytail still made him want to comb it with his fingers. Her dark eyes were limpid, light-reflecting pools set above a long, straight but slightly upturned nose and a generous, smile-ready but sensuous mouth.

She had moved in with him recently, after he had brought them more trouble by kicking the sleeping wolf that was Wolfpaw Security Services.

Just thinking of them and what they had done—and almost managed to do—to everyone he cared about brought a rage so severe he worried about his own self-control. He shook his head.

“You’re right to worry,” Ghost Sam said, speaking from the passenger seat. He was translucent.

Lupo was used to the sudden appearances. “Damn right. But I almost took care of it, didn’t I?”

“If running away is taking care of it, then yes, you almost did.” Ghost Sam had a way of speaking sarcastically that made Don Rickles look like a comedian for children.

Damn it, Sam, I miss you.

“I know. I miss those Bloody Marys we used to have Up North,” the apparition said wistfully. “I miss the better Bond movies…Daniel Craig’s good, but they’ve sacrificed character for non-stop action.”

“It’s a reboot,” Lupo pointed out.

No answer.

The passenger seat was empty again.

Shit, talking to myself again.

Except he always felt slightly better afterwards.

He was almost there.

* * *  Read More