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NEW RELEASE: The Hound of the Burgervilles – E.J. Russell

The Hound of the Burgervilles - E.J. Russell

QSFer E.J. Russell has a new MM paranormal comedy mystery out, Quest Investigations book 2: The Hound Of The Burgervilles.

This case is really going to the dogs…

After I try a little off-the-books interrogation to locate my selkie almost-boyfriend’s nearly-ex-husband (don’t ask, it’s complicated), I’m in the doghouse again with my bosses, who bust me back to surveillance. Ugh. So when another human inexplicably storms into Quest Investigations—something our security spells ought to prevent since I’m supposed to be the only human admitted to our offices—I’m reduced to staking out local fast food restaurants to check out the guy’s alleged sighting of a giant, glowing-eyed, dumpster-diving spectral hound.

Ridiculous, right? Humiliating, too, not to mention boring. But at least they didn’t fire me.

Imagine my surprise when there actually is a giant, glowing-eyed, dumpster-diving spectral hound—one of the Cwn Annwn, Herne the Hunter’s traitor-tracking dog pack, to be exact. Jeez, who let this dog out? It’s my case, though, so it’s up to me—Matt Steinitz, aka Hugh Mann—to return him to Faerie. But while Herne’s normally hopping kennels are inexplicably unpopulated by pups, they’re playing host to one extremely dead body.

Uh oh. Looks like someone’s bite was a lot worse than their bark.

Guess my love life will have to take a back seat again while we nose out the truth.

Dammit.

The Hound of the Burgervilles is the second in the Quest Investigations M/M mystery series, a spinoff of E.J. Russell’s Mythmatched paranormal rom-com story world. It contains no on-page sex or violence, and although there is a romantic subplot, it is not a romance. The series is best read in order.

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Excerpt

Eleri squinted at the tor, scanning for something that I couldn’t detect. “There.”

She took off up the hill with me slogging along behind her. The tor was one of those changeable Faerie geography things—sometimes it could feel like you were scaling Mount Everest and other times it wasn’t any more strenuous than hiking over the Nike campus berm. Today it was somewhere in the middle, so by the time we got to the top and stopped inside a dense grove of alder and birch, I was breathing heavily but not about to pass out. Eleri, of course, looked as fresh as she had in the line at Wonderful Mug, although considerably more awake.

“Grizel’s stream is through there.” She pointed at what appeared to be a solid wall of tree trunks.

“How the heck are we supposed to get the lay of the land? I may be a surveillance specialist, but I can’t see through that.”

She shrugged. “So move the trees.”

It was my turn to give her the Seriously? glare. “Now is not the time for dryad humor, Eleri.”

“For a change, I’m not joking.”

“Fine. I’ll bite. How the heck to I get trees to move?”

“Ask them nicely.” For an instant, she maintained her poker face, but then she relented and grinned at me. “Chill, BFF. I’ve got you.” She strode forward and placed one palm on a birch, the other on a neighboring alder, murmuring something I couldn’t hear clearly but which sounded like Welsh.

And the trees moved aside.

“Damn. You’re good,” I said.

Eleri just winked at me and gestured for me to follow her. We crept through the magically less dense copse until we could peer out through the underbrush to the hillside beyond.

Grizel was there, all right, in all her blue-skinned glory. She wasn’t tall—probably a handspan shorter than Eleri who barely topped five feet—although her knot of iron gray hair, held in place by some kind of bone, added another inch or three. She was wearing the same ankle-length green skirt and faded, loose-knit shawl that she’d been wearing the first time I’d seen her, so either she only had one set of clothes or she had a really consistent fashion sense.

On the other hand, if you were called the Washerwoman of Death, who knew how you handled your own laundry?

Several garments already hung from low-hanging branches of the gnarled oak tree about halfway down the slope. She had a couple of clothespins gripped between her teeth as she lifted a limp shirt out of the wicker basket at her feet.

“Uh oh,” Eleri murmured. “Somebody’s number is up.”

“Let me do the talking, okay? She can be really literal about what constitutes a question, and we can only ask three.” I’d been formulating them for the last week, turning them over in my mind to make sure they couldn’t be interpreted more than one way, and I was convinced I had them nailed. Wyn was as good as found already, and then Lachlan and I could get on with…getting it on. “Just block her access to the stream as fast as you can because if she makes it into the water, she doesn’t have to answer.” And once we tipped our hand, our chances of successfully ambushing her again would be precisely zero.

“I’m not an idiot,” Eleri hissed. “I know how this works.”

“Okay. You head for the stream and I’ll herd her toward you. But she’s quicker than she looks, so don’t dawdle.”

“Don’t worry,” she said, lowering into a sprinter’s crouch. “If I can outrun a forest fire, I can outrun her.”

“Ready. Set. Go!”

We launched ourselves out of the trees, Eleri speeding toward the stream bank while I angled toward Grizel. She saw me—I know she saw me, because she stared right at me—but she didn’t do anything other than spit out the clothespins and bare an alarming array of pointed yellow teeth.

Uh oh. I remembered something from our first encounter—she’d believed I’d been some kind of tribute, a gift to her from Mal, in exchange for information.

Maybe tackling her without his backup wasn’t my most brilliant notion.

I started to slow my pace, but before I could veer off to the side, something streaked past me, clipping my hip and sending me staggering into the laundry.

While I was wrestling with a face full of wet suede—ewww—Grizel shouted a curse in Gaelic. When I finally pulled the clinging fabric off my head, she was charging down the hillside, a lean wolf with a telltale white blaze on his flank nipping at her heels.

“Jordan,” I groaned. “Of course it had to be Jordan.”

The young werewolf had started interning at Quest at the same time Eleri hired on, and he was nothing if not enthusiastic. Unfortunately, he didn’t possess a lot of common sense and if he’d ever considered the consequences of his actions before he plowed full steam ahead, I’d never heard about it.

Eleri was crouching at the stream’s edge, her arms spread, her fingers sprouting leaves and her signature thorn accessories, a resolute expression on her face. While Grizel hadn’t run from me,  Jordan, as reckless as he was, was getting the job done of driving her toward Eleri. Okay, this might work out after all. 

But then Grizel reached into the pocket of her apron, and her arm flew in a windup any major league pitcher would envy.

“Fetch!” she called.

Jordan’s gaze immediately snapped to follow the trajectory of whatever she’d sent sailing through the air and he took off after it, crashing through the underbrush in his eagerness.

 Grizel cackled, then calmly strolled the last few yards toward the stream, neatly bypassing Eleri who, for some reason, didn’t try to stop her. Grizel stepped into the water on extremely large bare blue feet, then turned to smirk at us.

“Safe,” she said. “Tha great ninnies.”


Author Bio

E.J. Russell–grace, mother of three, recovering actor–writes romance in a rainbow of flavors. Count on high snark, low angst and happy endings.

Reality? Eh, not so much.

E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.

Author Websitehttps://ejrussell.com
Author Facebookhttps://ejr.pub/ws-fb-profile
Author Twitterhttps://twitter.com/ej_russell
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