The Ripper by Jon F. Merz
Synospis: A horrifying serial killer is loose on the streets of Boston and Lawson must track him down. But this killer has a past…and a terrifying agenda. And it’s one that will shock even the most jaded Fixer around.
Meet Lawson: vampire by birth, Fixer by trade. His mission: preserve the secret existence of vampires by any means necessary.
LAWSON. A cynical, wise-cracking vampire charged with protecting the Balance – the secret existence of a race of LIVING vampires that have evolved alongside humanity for thousands of years.
A FIXER. Part-spy, and part-commando — James Bond with fangs. Lawson mixes shrewd cunning with unmatched lethality to get his job done. He tries his best to
dismantle conspiracies, dispatch bad guys, and live long enough to get home.
ARTHUR. The grizzled retired Fixer has seen his share of danger, and he’s also got his share of skeletons in his closet. Now, one of them is coming back.
THE RIPPER. A horrifying serial killer that is targeting young vampire women and leaving their eviscerated bodies on the streets of Boston.
MARTY. She wants nothing more than to become a Fixer, like Lawson. But will her desire end up killing her?
NILES. Lawson’s Control is in love, but can he finally enjoy a relationship that lasts, or will this one lead to more heartbreak?
XIANG. A top Chinese assassin in Boston and on Lawson’s tail. But what’s he really in town to accomplish?
N’YAK TUL. An ancient race of subterranean dwellers too frightening to ever see the light of day again…hopefully.
Buy it now at:
Amazon ( Kindle ) $4.99 | Barnes and Noble ( Nook ) $4.99
I took the first shot across my jaw. It knocked me back a step and I tasted blood. The second punch came hard on the heels of the first one, but by that time, I was ready for it and brought my right arm up to guide it away from my face. As I went to trap the arm and shatter the elbow, my attacker went with the energy and ducked under my assault, punching me in the crotch.
I grunted and dropped, but used the momentum to collapse on my attacker, climbing on to his back and going for a chokehold.
He flipped me over his back before I could cinch it on and I landed hard, the wind punching its way out of my lungs. I sucked wind and rolled to the side a moment before his elbows caved my sternum in.
We were both on our knees now in a dirty, urine-soaked alley in Dorchester by the Ashmont MBTA station. Judging from the stench, the place was used by the homeless as a public latrine.
But I didn’t have time to consider how much my dry cleaning bill was going to be. My attacker came at me again, dropping back and shooting his leg right out at my face.
I shifted and let it pass my head before snaking my arm over it and locking out his leg. I jumped to my feet and stomped down, hearing the crack of his joint.
He grunted and rolled away.
And to think, I’d only wanted to have a nice, friendly chat with this guy.
Dao Xiang ostensibly worked as a member of the Chinese consulate here in Boston. Each day promptly at eight-thirty in the morning, he dutifully reported to work in the Trade & Business section of the consulate. There, he would peruse the local news looking for area companies that might have interesting technology that the Chinese government – the Communist Chinese, that is – would be inclined to purchase. Whether they obtained it legally or illegally, it didn’t much matter. The Chinese had long ago learned their lessons from the Soviets: offer enough money and pretty soon, even the staunchest patriot gladly looks the other way while they pocket the greenbacks.
If that was the extent of Xiang’s job here in Boston, he wouldn’t have popped up on my radar with a termination order from the Council.
But Xiang wasn’t just a simple clerk.
He was a highly-ranked officer in the Guojia Anquan Bu, better known as the Guoanbu, China’s state security apparatus. Within the Guoanbu, Xiang belonged to the Second Bureau, responsible for overseas intelligence collection, recruitment of foreign agents, and some much darker activities beyond that. Rumor had it Beijing had ordered Guoanbu agents to assassinate several members of a small, but vocal Taiwanese group intent on shedding light on China’s laundry list of human rights violations.
Colonel Dao Xiang, it was said, had personally put two bullets into the skull of a young Taiwanese college student here in Boston. And far from being subtle about it, Beijing had ordered it be made as public as possible.
So Xiang walked right up to the girl as she strolled to class one day last month and put the Smith & Wesson by the underside of her ear. He fired twice, the rounds blasting their way through her neck and into her skull before exiting with the majority of her brains splattered on the campus bulletin board.
It was dirty, brazen, and flaunted the Guoanbu’s belief that they were largely impervious to retribution.
Unfortunately, the action registered on the Council’s radar.
Xiang was one of my kind.
He’d been feeding the Council intelligence for years about Beijing’s moves and policies. His information helped us maneuver assets into position and influence the scope of things behind the scenes so that we benefited the most without any of the humans ever being the wiser.
But Xiang terminating someone out in the open like that? It had shown where his allegiance truly lay. Especially concerning for the Council was the fact that he could have turned down the assignment according to an internal memo another one of the Council’s intel ferrets had sniffed out. Turns out Xiang actually volunteered to be the trigger man on the job.
He was supposed to place his true family above all others. He was supposed to always stay in the shadows and never risk exposing the race of living vampires that had evolved alongside humanity thousands of years ago.
He’d failed on both counts.
The Council hates losing valuable assets like Xiang. But he’d made his choice. And the Council made theirs.
They passed down the sanction.
And since the crime had happened on my beat, I got the call from my Control, Niles.
The rest, as they say, is history.
I’d been staking him out for the better part of the last two days. Living in my car – even the nice new Mercedes that it is – gets really old after awhile. I’d trailed Xiang from the Chinatown basement Kung Fu school he studied at down into Dorchester earlier tonight. I had no idea what he might be doing down in these parts, but it didn’t matter much. A job was a job.
Imagine my surprise when Xiang turned the tables on me – he’d parked near the Ashmont T stop and then ditched the car to go on foot. I could have waited for him, of course, but I’d made the decision to stay close.
And nearly paid for it with my life.
He’d come at me first with a broomstick he’d swiped from a supply closet in the station. He slammed the broomstick down on my pistol and knocked it away before trying to ram the broomstick through my heart. But I’d moved in and disarmed him before he took off running into the shadows that bled out from the backside of the station.
I’d chased and took the sucker punch to the jaw for my trouble.
Now, we were both sucking air. Xiang came up across the alley from me, carefully not committing too much weight to his damaged knee joint. I’d scored on that one, but he was still dangerous. And he studied an obscure form of Kung Fu known as White Eyebrow. I’d seen it practiced, but never fought anyone experienced in using it.
When he moved, he did it suddenly and with surprising speed given the damaged leg he was hobbling on. He shot a low kick out and then snapped it up as I fell for the feint, driving it hard into my midsection. He followed up with a centerline punch that took me back another two steps as I tried to absorb as much energy from the attack as I could.
I dropped my arms down over his punching arm and then doubled them back up into his face, going for an eye gouge. I needed to limit his ability to see in the dark and taking out his sense of sight seemed like a good idea.
But Xiang was good. As my fingers shot at his eyes, he arched his back and my hands only scraped across his eyebrows. He continued to drop back and then I saw his feet come up off the floor as he went into some sort of back handspring.
I narrowly avoided the double kick and then he was over and back on his feet again, already committing another attack even as I tried to enter on him.
We clinched and I heard his gasps for breath. Sweat rolled down my forehead and stained my shirt underneath the leather jacket I wore. The cold January air bit at my flushed skin and I desperately wanted this to be all over.
Xiang tried a head butt into my right orbital bone, but I turned and took the brunt of the strike across my cheek instead. It still hurt like hell.
But it had also compromised Xiang’s balance. As his energy came forward with the strike, I went with it, turning and then kicking back and up into his hip joint with an uchi mata inner leg reap type of throw. Xiang went over and landed hard on his hip.
But he didn’t stop. Through gritted teeth he swore at me in Fukienese. I shrugged. “Shouldn’t have volunteered for that hit, Xiang.”
He paused long enough to grin wickedly. “Council?”
He nodded and got to his feet, dusted himself off and then brought his hands up. His left hand went under his right elbow and his right hand formed a closed fist. Xiang had the lean, sinewy body of a lifelong martial arts practitioner. His close-cropped hair gave him a military bearing and the stoniness of his eyes marked him as a killer. “Well, come on then, Fixer. Let’s see how good you really are.”
I noted his elbows were especially close to the front of his body, protecting his center. That meant his sides were open to attack.
I came in quickly, without adopting any posture of my own. I’ve always found that advertising your style of fighting makes little sense on the street. Far better to simply move from a natural position into full attack. It gives your enemy no chance to prepare themselves.
In other words, it makes my job easier.
I made a big movement, launching a right haymaker at Xiang. He moved to intercept, but then I dropped the energy out of the attack and kicked in at his wounded knee.
Before he could respond, my foot crashed onto the already wounded joint and buckled the leg. As Xiang went down, he tried to sweep my legs out from under me, but I jumped over the attack and came down stomping on to the top of his good leg.
Xiang grunted and rolled back.
Too late, I moved with him. He shot an elbow back at me and I took the brunt of it in my sternum. I sucked fire in my lungs but drove a sword hand to the side of his neck, chopping straight in trying to rupture the disks in his upper spine.
He rolled again, going with the energy of the attack. But I was committed now and as he came up, I clamped down on his neck and squeezed for all I was worth. Xiang pummeled my rib cage in desperation. I heard something crack and knew I was in for about four weeks of painful sleep.
But I didn’t let him get any air and soon enough, his body went limp as he went unconscious.
I let his body drop out of my grasp and looked around for my pistol that I’d lost earlier.
My pocket vibrated.
I frowned and fished out the iPhone. Niles was calling in. The guy’s got a helluva sense of timing.
“Lawson. You sound like hell.”
“I think I just scored a few busted ribs for my effort.”
“Slap some tape on them and you’ll be good to go.”
I spotted the pistol laying under a cardboard coffee cup and grabbed it. Turning, I saw the Xiang hadn’t moved.
“Easy for you to say, you’re not the one who has to sleep with them broken.”
“I’m sure you’ll manage.”
“Why are you calling me, Niles?”
He paused. “Did you manage to finish that job yet?”
I stood over Xiang’s sprawled form. His eyes were still closed and he looked unconscious. I frowned, then leveled the pistol on his heart.
His leg came up so suddenly, I never even saw it until he’d kicked the pistol out of my grip and sent it skittering across the alley.
“Son of a bitch!”
I scrambled to find the piece, thinking that at any moment Xiang would attack. But as I closed my hand on the pistol and turned ready to fire, the alley was empty.
Xiang had vanished.
I was still holding the iPhone and heard Niles calling my name. I put the phone back up to my ear as I scanned the alley with my gun ready to shoot.
“Are you all right?”
I frowned. Xiang had melted into the night and trying to go after him then would have been foolish. I had busted ribs and no dead Chinese assassin to show for it. “I suppose. The bastard got away.”
“You heard me. Let him go.”
That sounded like the kind of nasty back room political bullshit that normally makes me want to puke. “The Council giving him a second chance or something?”
“Not even close. But he’s back-burnered for the time being. You can catch up to him another time.”
“I let him go now and he’ll go to ground. We’ll never find him again. Hell, he’ll leave the country if he’s smart.”
“Not your problem. You’ve been reassigned.”
“Reassigned? What the hell are you talking about, Niles?”
“Another body just showed up in the morgue. And it’s bad, Lawson. Really, really bad.”
About the author:Connect with Jon:Website | Facebook Author Page | Twitter | Goodreads
As a writer, Jon has published over two dozen novels with major publishers like Kensington’s Pinnacle Books, St. Martin’s Press, and many more. He is also the author of eleven installments in the internationally bestselling adventure series Rogue Angel (2006-present) with Harlequin’s Gold Eagle line. His short fiction story “Prisoner 392” (appeared alongside Stephen King in FROM THE BORDERLANDS, 2004, Warner Books) earned him an Honorable Mention in 2004’s Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror edited by Ellen Datlow. Jon has also co-authored two non-fiction books: LEARNING LATER, LIVING GREATER with Nancy Merz Nordstrom (2006, Sentient Publications) and THE COMPLETE IDIOT’S GUIDE TO ULTIMATE FIGHTING with Rich “Ace” Franklin (2007, Alpha Books/Penguin/Putnam).
Jon is perhaps most famous for his Lawson Vampire series of supernatural action novels starring the Fixer Lawson, a jaded anti-hero charged with protecting a race of living vampires from exposure. There are currently seven novels (The Fixer, The Invoker, The Destructor, The Syndicate, The Kensei, The Enchanter, The Ripper) five novellas (The Courier, A Fog of Fury, The Infiltrator, Mission: Malta, The Shepherd) and eight short stories (The Price of a Good Drink, Interlude, Red Tide, Rudolf the Red Nosed Rogue, Enemy Mine, Frosty the Hitman, Oathbreaker, Invitation to Dance) in the series with many more adventures yet to come.
As a producer, Jon has formed New Ronin Entertainment with longtime friend Jaime Hassett to create television and feature film projects in the New England area. Their first project is THE FIXER, a new supernatural action series based on Jon’s Lawson Vampire novels. Filming of the pilot begins in 2013.
Jon has studied authentic Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu/Ninjutsu for almost twenty years under Mark Davis of the Boston Martial Arts Center. He has also trained with senior Bujinkan instructors both in the United States and Japan. During a trip to Japan in February 2003, Jon earned his 5th degree black belt directly from the 34th Grandmaster of Togakure-ryu Ninjutsu, Masaaki Hatsumi. In addition to traditional training, Jon has also taught defensive tactics to a wide range of clients, including civilian crime watch groups, police and EMS first responders, military units, and federal organizations including the US Department of State, the Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Prisons.
In his past, Jon served with the United States Air Force, worked for the US government, and handled executive protection for a variety of Fortune 500 clients.