by Simon Toyne
on Tour November 1-30, 2015
The author of the acclaimed Sanctus trilogy conjures an eerie epic of good and evil, retribution and redemption—the first novel in the mesmerizing Solomon Creed series in which a man with no memory of his past must save a lost soul in a small Arizona town.
On a hilltop in the town of Redemption, Arizona, the townspeople gather at an old cemetery for the first time in decades to bury a local man. The somber occasion is suddenly disrupted by a thunderous explosion in the distant desert. A plane has crashed, and it’s pouring a pillar of black smoke into the air.
As Sheriff Garth Morgan speeds toward the crash, he nearly hits a tall, pale man running down the road, with no shoes on his feet and no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only clues to his identity are a label in his handmade suit jacket and a book that’s been inscribed to him: both giving the name Solomon Creed. When Morgan tells Solomon that he is in Redemption, Arizona, Solomon begins to believe he’s here for a reason—to save a man he has never met . . . the man who was buried that morning.
Miles away, three men scan the skies for an overdue plane carrying an important package. Spotting a black cloud in the distance, they suspect something has gone badly wrong, and that the man who has sent them will demand a heavy price if the package has been lost.
To uncover the secret of his identity, Solomon Creed must uncover Redemption’s secrets too and learn the truth behind the death of the man he is there to save. But there are those who will do anything to stop him, men prepared to call on the darkest forces to prevent Solomon from seeing the light.
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Published by: William Morrow
Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Number of Pages: 480
ISBN: 0062329723 (ISBN13: 9780062329721)
Series: Solomon Creed #1
UK Title: Solomon Creed
Read an excerpt:
In the beginning is the road – and me walking along it.
I have no memory of who I am, or where I have come from, or how I came to be here. There is only the road and the desert stretching away to a burnt sky in every direction and there is me.
Anxiety bubbles within me and my legs scissor, pushing me forward through hot air as if they know something I don’t. I feel like telling them to slow down, but even in my confused state I know you don’t talk to your legs, not unless you’re crazy, and I don’t think I’m crazy – I don’t think so.
I stare down the shimmering ribbon of tarmac, rising and falling over the undulating land, its straight edges made wavy by the intense desert heat. It makes the road seem insubstantial and the way ahead uncertain and my anxiety burns bright because of it. I feel there’s something important to do here, and that I am here to do it, but I cannot remember what.
I try to breathe slowly, dredging a recollection from some deep place that this is meant to be calming, and catch different scents in the dry desert air – the coal-tar sap of a broken creosote bush branch, the sweet sugar rot of fallen saguaro fruit, the arid perfume of agave pollen – each thing so clear to me, so absolutely itself and correct and known. And from the solid seed of each named thing more information grows – Latin names, medicinal properties, common names, whether it is edible or poisonous. The same happens when I glance to my left or right, each glimpsed thing sparking new names and fresh torrents of facts until my head hums with it all. I know the world entirely it seems and yet I know nothing of myself. I don’t know where I am. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t even know my own name.
The wind gusts at my back, pushing me forward and bringing a new smell that makes my anxiety flare into blind fear. It is smoke, oily and acrid, and a half-formed memory slides in with it that there is something awful lying on the road behind me, something I need to get away from.
I break into a run, staring forward, not daring to check behind me. The blacktop feels hard and hot against the soles of my feet. I look down to discover that I’m not wearing shoes. My feet flash as they pound the road, my skin pure white in the bright sunshine. I hold my hand up and it’s the same, so white I have to narrow my eyes against the glare of it. I can feel my skin starting to redden in the fierce sun and know that I need to get out of this desert, away from this sun and the thing on the road behind me. I fix on a rise in the road, feeling if I can reach it then I will be safe, that the way ahead will be clearer.
The wind blows hard, bringing the smell of smoke again and smothering all other scents like a poisonous blanket. Sweat starts to soak my shirt and the dark grey material of my jacket. I should take it off, cool myself down a little, but the thicker material is giving me protection from the burning sun so I turn the collar up instead and keep on running. One step then another – forward and away, forward and away – asking myself questions between each step – Who am I? Where am I? Why am I here? – repeating each one until something starts to take shape in the blankness of my empty mind. An answer. A name.
‘James Coronado.’ I say it aloud in a gasp of breath before it is lost again and pain sears into my left shoulder.
My voice comes as a surprise to me, soft and strange and unfamiliar, but the name is not. I recognize it and say it again – James Coronado, James Coronado – over and over, hoping the name might be mine and it might drag more about who I am up from my silent memory. But the more I say it, the more distant it becomes until I’m certain the name is not mine. It feels apart from me though still connected in some way, as if I have made a promise to this man, one that I am bound to keep.
I reach the crest of the road and a new section of desert comes into view. In the distance I see a road sign, and beyond that, a town, spreading like a dark stain across the lower slopes of a range of red mountains.
I raise my hand to shield my eyes so I might read the name of the place on the sign, but it is too far away and heat blurs the words. There is movement on the road, way off at the edge of town.
Heading this way. Red and blue lights flashing on their roofs.
The wail of sirens mingles with the roar of the smoke-filled wind and I feel trapped between the two. I look to my right and consider leaving the road and heading out into the desert. A new smell reaches me, drifting from somewhere out in the sunbaked wilderness, something that seems more familiar to me than all the other things. It is the smell of something dead and rotting, lying somewhere out of sight, sunbaked and fetid and caramel-sweet, like a premonition of what will befall me if I stray from the road.
Sirens in front of me, death either side, and behind me, what?
I have to know.
I turn to gaze upon what I have been running from and the whole world is on fire.
An aircraft lies broken and blazing in the centre of the road, its wings sticking up from the ground like the folded wings of some huge burning beast. A wide circle of flame surrounds it, spreading rapidly as flames leap from plant to plant and lick up the sides of giant saguaro, their burning arms raised in surrender, their flesh splitting and hissing as the water inside boils and explodes in puffs of steam.
It is magnificent. Majestic. Terrifying.
The sirens grow louder and the flames roar. One of the wings starts to fall, trailing flame as it topples and filling the air with the tortured sound of twisting metal. It lands with a whump, and a wave of fire rolls up into the air, curling like a tentacle that seems to reach down the road for me, reaching out, wanting me back.
I stagger backwards, turn on my heels, and run.
Simon Toyne is the author of the Sanctus trilogy (Sanctus, The Key, and The Tower). A writer, director, and producer in British television for twenty years, he worked on several award-winning shows, one of which won a BAFTA. He lives in England with his wife and family.
This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Simon Toyne & William Morrow Books. There will be 5 US winners of 1 copy of The Searcher by Simon Toyne. The giveaway begins on November 1st, 2015 and runs through November 31st, 2015. For US residents only.