Excerpt: SKINJOB by Bruce McCabe

Last week, Bruce McCabe‘s Skinjob was published in paperback in the UK by Transworld Books. It is published in North America by Dreamcon Publishing. Here’s the synopsis:

A bomb goes off in down town San Francisco. Twelve people are dead. But this is no ordinary target. This target exists on the fault line where sex and money meet.

Daniel Madsen is one of a new breed of federal agents armed with a badge, a gun and the Bureau’s latest piece of technology. He’s a fast operator and his instructions are simple: find the bomber – and before he strikes again.

In order to understand what is at stake, Madsen must plunge into a sleazy, unsettling world where reality and fantasy are indistinguishable, exploitation is business as usual, and the dead hand of corruption reaches all the way to the top. There’s too much money involved for this investigation to stay private…

Check back in half an hour for an interview with Bruce. In the meantime, check out this quick excerpt from the thriller:

WEDNESDAY

CHAPTER 1

The high‐rise office workers in San Francisco’s finance district sensed it as an eerie sway. It passed quickly beneath their feet, but a good many started towards the fire escapes anyway, in case it was the seismic prequel to something worse. A moment later the tourists walking the Embarcadero and children eating ice‐creams on Pier 39 looked up as a muffled ka‐rump broke the summer stillness. In the opposite direction the residents on Russian Hill watched walls shake and cutlery skitter across
tables.

Retailers and shoppers within three hundred yards of the intersection of Jackson Street and Grant Avenue experienced sound and shock as one. The thud shattered their afternoon like a hammer, and they watched, wide‐eyed, as windows dissolved into cascading waterfalls of glass. After the thunderclap, fragments of masonry peppered from the sky like hail.

At Maggie’s on Grant, a cafe fifty yards from the intersection, the waitress placed a tray of coffee and Danishes on a front table and a second later found herself thrown to the ground. Her first reaction was to get up, embarrassed, and brush herself off. Then she saw other astonished faces rising from behind upturned chairs and tables. She shook her head, trying to throw off the highpitched monotone shrilling in her ears, and stared at where the front window had been. She stepped shakily into the street, feeling shards crack and splinter under her shoes. People lay scattered, hunkered, coughing. Dust billowed, depositing a fine, sooty film over every surface. Above, an angry black cloud boiled over a pristine blue sky.

Without lowering her eyes, the waitress fished in the pockets of her uniform and withdrew a cell phone. She did nothing for a few seconds, then looked down and dialled 911.

*

Sergeant Shahida Sanayei was halfway through her shift as surveillance duty officer at SFPD Central Station when she felt a vibration through her seat and heard yelling in the corridor. Then her communications panel lit up. As she donned her headset she noticed one of the patchwork of camera views on the Wall – the cinema‐sized display dominating the room – was black. She selected the line from the dispatch centre. ‘Viddy ops.’

‘We’re getting reports of an explosion. Downtown. Near the corner of Jackson and Grant. What can you see?’

‘Wait one.’ Shari’s hands moved rapidly over the electronic map on her console. In seconds she selected sixteen cameras in and around the intersection. She stared at the Wall as they came online. Five, ten, fourteen. Plus two black squares. Two dead. The live ones were filled with dust and smoke that varied from a light brown haze to an ugly, impenetrable black.

‘Okay, location is correct. It looks big. I’ve got two cameras out in a hundred‐and‐fifty‐yard section. Looks like you’re going to need fire units.’

‘On their way.’

‘I’m going to need a minute to adjust the angles and get you a good assessment. Can you hold?’ Shari snapped her fingers at her team but specialists Angie Mertz and Lynn Symonds were seasoned operators and already making pan and zoom adjustments, working to construct a sensible picture as rapidly as possible.

‘Roger that. I have to direct mobile units. Call me back as soon as you have something.’

‘Sure thing.’

Shari watched as the collage came together, piece by piece. Her team started with the more distant cameras to frame the smoke plume and get a sense of the size of the affected area, then worked inwards, experimenting to get the best angles. They hit paydirt with camera 643, less than thirty yards from the scene and tilted crazily at the sky, but still functioning. When they rotated it, an image came into view straight from the London Blitz…

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