Title: The Last Ancient
Author: Eliot Baker
Published: December 2013
Publisher: BURST Books, an imprint of Champagne Book Group
Word Count: 117,000
Genre: Supernatural Thriller/Historical Mystery
Content Warning: Non-gratuitous violence, sexual situations
Around Nantucket Island, brutal crime scenes are peppered with ancient coins, found by the one man who can unlock their meaning. But what do the coins have to do with the crimes? Or the sudden disease epidemic? Even the creature? And who–or what–left them?
The answer leads reporter Simon Stephenson on a journey through ancient mythology, numismatics, and the occult. Not to mention his own past, which turns out to be even darker than he’d realized; his murdered father was a feared arms dealer, after all. Along the way, Simon battles panic attacks and a host of nasty characters — some natural, others less so — while his heiress fiancee goes bridezilla, and a gorgeous rival TV reporter conceals her own intentions.
Driscoll gets on one knee beside Fernandez and jots notes in her pad. I point out some coppery feathers on the other side of the clearing. She tells me to be quiet while she’s writing. I ask about the marks on the deer’s back. She says silence is gold. Fair enough.
They don’t know I dropped out of Harvard Medical School my fourth year. I’ve also been on safari in Tanzania. I understand trauma and slaughter. The slash marks in the deer’s neck and shoulders are deep and precise. Its back is torn up. Something mounted it and ripped its head off, like a giant hyena or a wolf or even an exotic hybrid, but with the strength of a bear. The missing limb and heart and the disembowelment are confusing, however. Those look surgical. Meanwhile, the skull looks bashed, cracked open; yup, there are blood stains on the boulder. And the marks on the animal’s back resemble puncture wounds. Click.
A sunray shoots through the sharp woody tangle. Lights up something beside the feathers. It glows like a golden strand of spider web. I point it out, but Fernandez tells me to zip it. I salute him.
A cloud passes over the sun. The golden thread dims. I pluck it from beside the feathers before it disappears. It lights up again in my hand. The thing’s weird resilience and luster is captivating. Probably a hair, but more like a small-gauge acupuncture needle. As I pocket it, something glows blue and then extinguishes in the brush ahead of me. Maybe the sun hit on colored glass or a butterfly or a blue bird.
Twigs snap in the distance. Then more. We share a silent what-the-hell? moment. The rustling and snapping gets louder. Closer. We discern growling. Something is crashing along the path that Dr. Driscoll just carved with her machete. I suck in breath and swivel my head. Fernandez is up, his hand on his Glock. No predators on Nantucket, right, Sergeant? Even Dr. Driscoll’s dusky face goes pale.
About the Author:
Eliot Baker lives in Finland. He teaches communications at a local college and runs an editing and translating business. But he would rather sing (in English) for his heavy metal band and write novels full-time. He grew up near Seattle, got his B.A. in World Literature at Pitzer College, and got his M.S. in Science Journalism from Boston University. He was an award-winning journalist at the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror, and before that he wrote for the Harvard Health Letters. He spent four years pursuing a career in the sciences while at the Harvard Extension School, during which time he spun old people in NASA-designed rocket chairs and kept younger people awake for 86 hours at a time in a sleep deprivation study. He likes good books and bad movies, as long as there’s popcorn served.
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