Born in Belfast, but raised all across America, Devlin O’Brien has always been a distinctly unlucky person. If a thing can go wrong, it inevitably will, in spectacular fashion. That didn’t keep him from throwing himself into, and rapidly ascending the ranks of the international underground community of thieves, hitmen, hackers, and masterminds. Instead of hoping for a beneficial break, he relies on instinct sharpened through his career and skills painstakingly acquired in his youth. His current job, however, threatens him both professionally and personally. Bandages are ripped from emotional wounds and he stands exposed to his enemies. Will he prove himself equal to the task? Or will Devlin’s luck, terrible as it may be, finally run out?
As the twilight years approach, one’s priorities tend to change. In his younger days, Patrick Hardy wanted what all young men want: fame, fortune, and the adulation of fans. It wasn’t until later that he came to value friendship more than jewelry and art. That his friends are all jewel and art thieves didn’t hurt. Bouncing between high profile jobs on the outside and short stretches behind bars, Patrick has acquired more knowledge about the wider criminal world than most. For the right person, asking the right questions, he could prove a valuable trove of information. Assuming, of course, that he doesn’t have his own interests in the field.
Formal education only goes so far. After that, street smarts rule the night. Asher Knight sits at the crossroads of the two. Steeped in the violence of gang life almost since birth, Asher used his natural intellect like a scalpel to carve a path to freedom by his sixteenth birthday. From there, he found his way into art theft, where a mixture of his unorthodox style and gangland brutality serve to make him into a formidable foe. His connections are vast and mysterious; his plans, convoluted and impossibly dense; and, when he sets his mind to a task, he allows nothing to stand in his way. The only question is this: what is it that he really wants?
Michel St. Laurent:
A life spent ignored eventually develops into an adulthood beneath notice. Such is the case for Michel St. Laurent. Virtually unseen by his father for nearly three decades, except for occasional car talk, the unusual and slightly charming Frenchman makes his living in Paris as a cabbie: polite, efficient, and entirely forgettable. His secret desire for fame and notoriety, coupled with a closely held debt he can never repay, drive him forward into danger. His skills, both personal and professional, might be the only things capable of getting him out of trouble, in the end.
In the business of extra-legal acquisitions, and occasional skullduggery, there are few things more important than who you know. Friends equal connections and connections, after all, equal influence. By that measure, Alexander Jeager ranks high on the list of influential underworld figures. Backdoors, barely spoken of secrets, and an intricate network of close personal friends earned him his place as a premiere middleman and information broker. At least, that’s what he was, before he retired from the game without warning. Few people know what took him away from his high-flying lifestyle; fewer still have any idea what it would take to pull him back in.
Patterns exist everywhere in nature and in civilization. One only has to know where to look. For the last eight of her nineteen years on earth, Ally Jeager has committed herself to finding some sense of order in the random events surrounding her life. A connection exists between her father’s prolonged “business” trips, her mother’s abrupt death, and the near-decade where she raised herself, with nothing more than books and letters as company. Some pieces have already fallen into place; others stubbornly resist her efforts to find their appropriate place. With her fierce intellect, driven on by a gaping necessity so deep that even she is barely aware of it, can Ally ferret out the truth of things? Or does her father’s strange friend, the Irishman by way of the States, hold the vital puzzle piece that will let everything, finally, make sense?
Anton Levchenko has suffered more than most. As a child, he was always a little different than his friends and family. Quicker with math, intuitively grasping the underlying rhythm of chemistry and electronical systems as early as six. His differences, however, went deeper than his knowledge or his academic interests. When he was old enough to understand the true nature of his disconnect, he found himself increasingly ostracized from those who should have protected him. His size, a full head shorter than most, made him a natural target for bullies. As a burgeoning adult, gainful employment was impossible; word spread and job offers dried up. And now, as an incredibly competent bomb maker with a considerable resume behind him, he still struggles to find acceptance in the underworld that he chooses to call home. A person can only take so much before they snap. As old friends return and new enemies emerge, each increasing the pressure in their own way, will Anton’s long fuse finally reach its end?
It’s impossible to be everything to everyone, but that’s never stopped Stanislav Novikov from trying. To his father, Stani is the dutiful son, following in the dubious criminal traditions of his family. To his superiors, he is a fastidious tracker, a skilled accountant, and a reasonably capable squad leader. To his preferred partners, Iosif and Leonid, he is a stern lieutenant, tasked with making the snap decisions leadership requires. And to his enemies, Stani is a physical representation of the might of the Russian mafia. His own needs, however, remain a mystery, even to himself. Only when the battle lines are drawn, and alliances are forged (and broken), will he find a chance to seek something truly for himself.
What do you get for the woman who has everything? Sarah Ford was born into a life of luxury, benefiting from the privileges of being one of the ‘haves’ by simple virtue of her birth. It wasn’t until she ventured outside of that bubble that she witnessed the plight of the ‘have-nots:’ those downtrodden people without a method of evening the playing field or rising above the struggles of daily life. As soon as she was able, Sarah threw away the prestige offered by her last name – wealth, connections, and a life of unearned luxury – and turned her fierce intellect into the task of seeing that the money she’d taken for granted could be distributed to those who needed it most. Her chance encounter with Devlin O’Brien while they were both on a job from opposite ends, led her deeper into the criminal world and earned her a reputation as an able hacker and coordinator, as well as an almost preternaturally skilled planner. When that relationship violently dissolved, both personally and professionally, Sarah distanced herself from the life that reminded her of what she’d once had: adventure, excitement, and a never-ending string of new challenges. With the return of her ex-husband, Sarah must ask herself if a life of boardroom conflicts and business deals is enough for her anymore. Or, does the woman who has everything still want a little more?
Emilia Durante Espina – not her real name, but close enough for any of her clients – has never played well with others. Her intelligence, ferocious in its own way, gravitates in a specific, wholly non-traditional direction. Her interests in the arts is purely aesthetic, in stark opposition to the men and women around her who view it in financial values. And she has simply never understood other people, nor has she held any particular interest in doing so. The skills she does possess, however, have made her a valuable commodity for thieves, crime lords, and politicians the world over: violence, in all its forms and variations, come as easily to her as breathing. Through main force and dogged determination, Emilia dragged herself up from the seedy side of Little Havana into an accomplished operative. Her latest assignment – delivered by a mysterious client, whose motivations even Emilia doesn’t quite understand – promises to at least be interesting. What she doesn’t expect is how it will take her back into the darkness of her past; what she doesn’t know is whether or not she’ll be able to find her way out again.
Inspector Neetipal Adlai:
Left to its own devices, corruption spreads through a city like uncaged wildfire; it seeks out the vulnerable and the powerful alike, immolating anyone foolish enough to get close enough. Ever since his earliest days, Neetipal Adlai has always been fascinated by fire. The allure of the flames drew him away from the city of Nashik and into the ranks of Interpol, where his keen mind and ascetic attention to detail quickly set him apart from his colleagues. Through strict regimens and routines, he has kept the corrupting influence at least arm’s length away from him but the balancing act between justice and obsession cannot hold forever. Now, thrown into the furnace of London’s soon to be war-torn underworld, he finds his resolve tested like never before. Will he pull away from the flames in time? Or will his single-mindedness finally lead him into the inferno’s waiting embrace?
The Lady in the Black Dress:
She wears mystery like others wear dresses, changes names as easily as her shoes, and cuts weakness away like so many split ends. Every inch of her is elegant excitement; delicate danger; and beautiful, ruthless pragmatism. What scant information can be uncovered about her is vastly outweighed by the questions her very presence instills in any who see her. All that is known for sure is that she is driven to some goal – a secret held only by herself and her “second,” David – and every man, woman, and child she encounters serves only as a means by which she can reach that end. She is not a pawn in the global game of crime and politics, but a player at the highest level; not a cog to be used and discarded, so much as she is the machine itself. She is the Lady. And she will have what she desires, no matter who must fall before then.
Eight years of life in poverty, at first. Three mysterious visitors leading to ten math problems, then four years spent in the lap of luxury, with every possible comfort afforded her. Tens of thousands of files, painstakingly converted into an unbreakable code, five or six pages at a time. Thirty-five guards, three devoted specifically to her welfare, with only a single friend among them all. Millions of dollars, both legal and illegal, tied specifically to the odd workings of her little mind. One gilded cage. This is the life of Avis Williams, under the strict watch and “protection” of the premier London kingpin and his mysterious masters, until a thief and his team of allies and associates conspire to free her from the only permanent home she has ever known. Now, with nothing except her prodigious intelligence and her friend Neal, she finds herself at a crossroads again. Will she return to the shelter of a known criminal, drug dealer, and possible murderer? Or will she roll the dice again, testing her luck against the only numbers she does not know, in hopes of finding a life on her terms?
If the globally feared, pathologically sadistic, and lethally efficient mercenary ever had a name, no living soul could say what it was. Aiden has made a name for himself in the criminal underworld by taking on impossible jobs and leaving bombed out ruins in his wake. The men under his command view him as a mixture of things, somewhere between a father and a messiah, and he has cultivated their fanatical loyalty over the years. Every disciple either worships him with their actions or lies dead as a result of their own failures…every former student, save one. A woman, his equal in every way that matters, once managed to escape his orbit. Now, as illness turns his body against him and fractures his mind into jagged shards of insanity, Aiden takes on last job with one final goal: to find the one that got away and to bring her back into the fold. If the rest of London must die for that to happen, then so be it.
For every bright light, there must be a shadow of equal depth; for every luminous star, someone must reside in darkness. William Parker, more commonly known as simply Billy, lives in the underbelly of London, catering to and caring for those souls the great city would rather ignore. Crippled and paralyzed by some log-ago beating, Billy uses his lieutenants to see to the needs of his charges. For the most part, he keeps his head down and only occasionally surfaces to harass London’s reigning drug lord, hill. The time has come, though, for the Black Market’s uncrowned king to seek bigger game and larger victories. The arrival of a team of thieves, led by a charismatic Irishman, provides Billy with an opportunity to go on the attack. Is the rivalry between Billy and Hill strictly business? Is there something more to their relationship than meets the eye? Either way, one thing seems certain: no one has ever given up the spotlight without a fight.
Lord Charles Fairfax
Idle hands are often the devil’s workshop and few hands are as idle as those of Lord Charles Fairfax. Baron of Berkely, inheritor of a powerful estate, and wealthier than the average person could imagine, Fairfax spends his days mired in the minutiae of his businesses and his evenings wooing an endless parade of beautiful women. For most, a life of such opulent luxury would be enough, but Fairfax isn’t most people. To him, the position which affords him such privilege is a lead weight, keeping him from greater heights. One can only wonder how far he is willing to go for more power and prestige; one can only fear how far he has already gone.