Tuesday, February 5, 2019

The Cassie Tam Files by Matt Doyle

The Cassie Tam Files Book 1
by Matt Doyle
Genre: SciFi, Crime Noir, Clean Lesfic
When PI Cassie Tam is hired to investigate the death of a local virtual
reality junkie, she thinks it will be easy money. In New Hopeland, VR
junkies die every day, and the local PD already declared it an
accidental overdose on synthetic stimulants. But the more she digs,
the more that things don’t add up.
To make things even more complicated, her client, the deceased’s
sister Lori, is a Tech Shifter – someone who uses a metal
exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal – and Cassie has always been
wary of that community. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t
fast becoming the first person she’s been genuinely attracted to
since splitting with her ex.
Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

I’m sorry to bother you,” she says, and turns back towards the door. “I’ll see myself out.”
Where are you going?” I ask.
To look up some more names. You’ve made your position quite clear.”
I never said that I wouldn’t take the case. I just wanted you to understand how unlikely your scenario is.”
Lori stops in her tracks and looks back at me. “You’ll do it?” she asks, her voice a conflicted mess of desperation and disbelief.
If there’s something to be found, then I’ll find it.”
I…thank you. Thank you.”
Yeah, well, don’t thank me yet,” I reply, getting to my feet. I walk back to the kitchen, slide open one of the drawers, and pull out a small metal disc about one inch thick, and five inches in diameter. I throw it to Lori, and she whips her arm out, snatching it from the air. She turns it over in her hand, studying the glass top. “You seen one of those before?”
Lori shakes her head.
It’s a standard Case Tool, at least for me. Take it with you, and when you get home, tap the screen three times quickly. It’ll load a bunch of files for you to complete. Don’t worry, it comes with a holo-keypad, so you won’t need to hook it up to anything. I prefer to keep things connected to my server, and mine alone when I can help it. Take your time, answer the questions with as much detail as possible, and tap to send them back to me. Before it’ll send ’em, it’ll ask you to enter your details to transfer the deposit for the case.”
Okay,” she nods. “How much am I looking at?”
Aside from being a potential murder case, this is gonna prevent me from taking on any other work for the duration, so I’m not gonna be working cheap. The deposit’s five thou. If I find nothing, that’ll be it, but if something turns up, I’ll expect the same again
on completion. That cool?”
Yes. Absolutely. Thank you.”
Not a problem. Now get yourself home so that I can get some sleep.”

The Fox, The Dog and The King
The Cassie Tam Files Book 2
When PI Cassie Tam and her girlfriend Lori try to make up for their recent
busy schedules with a night out at the theatre to watch the Tech
Shift performer Kitsune, the last thing they expected was for Cassie
to get a job offer. But some people are never off the clock, and by
the end of the evening, Cassie has been drawn into a mundane but
highly paid missing pet case. Unfortunately, in New Hopeland City,
even something as simple as little lost dog can lead you down some
dark paths.
Until now, Cassie wasn’t aware that there even was a rabbit hole,
let alone how far down it goes.

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Caz! Be careful!” Charlie lets out an exasperated sigh, and adds, “Those are new cushions.”

I stop wiping the freshly spilt coffee on my trouser leg with my hand and give her an only partially serious indignant look.
“What? You can handle a bit of caffeine, the material can’t.”
“Terribly sorry,” I reply, relaxing back into Charlie’s couch. I raise my mug daintily to my mouth and take a sip, complete with a raised pinkie finger, then place the mug gently back onto the coffee table between us. “Better?”
Charlie almost gags on her own coffee as she tries to stifle a laugh and ends up dribbling some of the molten goodness down her chin.
“Oh, do be careful, Charlotte. These are new cushions,” I say, throwing in my best mock posh tone.
And now we both laugh, the sound bringing with it warm memories of times long gone.
The woman opposite me, Charlotte Goldman, is one of the top synth stimulant dealers in the city—an Elite Seller in fact. She’s also my ex-girlfriend. We only dated for a year but our breakup, while not what you’d call nasty, shook me and left me far too snarky to be dateable for a long time afterward. Then, Lori Redwood came knocking. She hired me to investigate her brother Eddie’s death. He was a VR junkie, and I honestly thought that the case would be simple when I took it. It wasn’t. For many reasons.
Somehow, Lori managed to break through my previously impenetrable walls, and one of the positive changes that she’s set about making in my life since we started dating is to make sure I reconnected with Charlie. I’m grateful, but I don’t think her intentions were entirely pure. Our now mutual friend, Jane, once told me that Lori had a habit of dating assholes. Part of me thinks that having me talk her up to my ex, who, if I’m being honest, I was still a little hung up on, is a way of boosting her own confidence in us. I could be wrong, of course. It has, unfortunately, been known to happen from time to time.
No matter what Lori’s reasons were, I am glad she did it. I’ve missed Charlie. Missed the way she makes me feel when I’m around her. Up until recently, I thought that was entirely due to the romance, but looking at it now, I know that I was wrong. I would be lying if I told myself I could look back on it and say we were never suited in that way, but the things I missed the most don’t need romance thrown in. Relaxing over a hot drink, catching up on what we’ve been up to, that sort of thing.
“And what’s that smile for?” Charlie asks, smiling wickedly with the question.
“I was just thinking about how much I’m enjoying being able to kick back around someone and be the person who isn’t an investigator for hire, stuck in the middle of something potentially nasty.”

The Cassie Tam Files Book 3
New Hopeland City may be the birthplace of Tech Shifter gear, but it
isn’t the only place that likes to blend technology with folklore.
Now, a new nightmare is stalking the streets…
When PI Cassie Tam is attacked on the way home one night, she expects the
police to get involved. What she doesn’t expect is to be forced
into acting as bait to lure out a lunatic in a tech-suit
literally out for blood. But past actions have consequences, and doing so may be
the only way she can get a clean slate from the city’s law makers.
If only that didn’t mean having to face down a wannabe vampire.
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When Lori smiles like that, her eyes take on a slight twinkle, making their pale blue tone feel warm and welcoming. That being the case, it takes me a moment to realise I didn’t understand a word she just said. Am I so drunk already? “Uh, sorry. What?”
Lori giggles and repeats, “Nei hou gaau siu.” When I stare blankly, she frowns and asks, “Is my pronunciation off? I was sure that was right.”
What were you trying to say?”
I was trying to tell you that you’re funny in Cantonese.”
And at that, the laughter spills out of me, uncontrolled to the point I have to bury my face in the table to muffle the sound. If we’d been in our usual haunt, Northern Main Street’s late-night café-cum-alternative hangout Tourniquet, I’d have let loose uninhibited. The people there look like an odd bunch when you’re viewing things from the outside, but if you spend enough time there, you soon realise they’re all really nice people with tastes and hobbies that fall outside the mainstream. Seeing as we’ve opted for Cartwright’s on Dunstone Avenue, though, I’m trying to hold back. Honestly, I am. I’m just not doing a good job of it.
The staff in Cartwright’s are lovely, but the clientele is a little less raucous than those at Tourniquet, and so I’m already drawing some confused looks by the time I wipe the tears from my eyes. “I’m sorry,” I say, “I’m sorry.”
I’ve never been much good at languages. Oh God,” Lori sighs and shoots me a now far more nervous smile. “Put me out of my misery. What did I say?”
I shrug. “You probably told me I was funny in Cantonese.”
Lori tilts her head and says, “Okay, now I’m confused.”
I don’t speak Cantonese.”
Yes, you do.”
I really don’t.”
You really do. I mean, you can’t seriously be telling me you’ve been using diu in the Taiwanese sense?”
No, no…,” I reply, waving my hands in frantic motions. “Wait. What does it mean in Taiwan?”
It was old slang for cool.”
Oh, right. No, I’m definitely using it the way you think.”
So you do speak Cantonese then.”
No, I swear in Cantonese. I couldn’t hold a conversation in it. My dad had a thing about me swearing. He hated it, even when I was an adult. It was the one thing that always made him roll his eyes at Mom. Anyway, he spoke Mandarin, English, and a little French, so my options for big kid words were kinda limited. I went to school with a guy named Tom Huang; he spoke Cantonese, so I got him to teach me the cool words. Dad probably got the gist of what I was saying, but I think he appreciated the ingenuity of it.”
And now, Lori laughs and buries her face in her hands. She shakes her head and says, “I am such an idiot.”
Nah, it’s not like I’ve ever spoken Mandarin around you, so how would you know? Honestly, I know enough Mandarin to get by, but we always spoke English at home, so I just picked that up easier. Let’s see, though…you would have meant  hěn gǎoxiào. Or if you wanted to be really over the top with it, nǐjiӑng shénme dōu néng bӑ wŏ lè huài le. That’s ‘everything you say cracks me up.’”

Lori shakes her head. “I think I’ll stick to English.”

Matt Doyle is a speculative fiction author from the UK and identifies as pansexual
and genderfluid. Matt has spent a great deal of time chasing dreams,
a habit which has led to success in a great number of fields. To
date, this has included spending ten years as a professional
wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing
multiple works of fiction.
These days, Matt can be found working on multiple novels and stories,
blogging about pop culture, and plotting and planning far too many projects.
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Matt Doyle said...

A big thank you for hosting!

Marcy Meyer said...

The cover looks very cool. Sounds like a good read.

Matt Doyle said...

Thank you Marcy :)