From the critically acclaimed author of Fated and Breathers comes “a fast-paced adventure that succeeds as both a hard-boiled homage and a paranormal romp” (Publishers Weekly, starred review and Pick of the Week).
Meet Nick Monday, a San Francisco P.I. who was born with a unique talent: the ability to steal other people’s luck. All it takes is a handshake and Nick walks away with their good fortune, which he then sells on the black market. But wheeling and dealing in destinies involves more than just eating Lucky Charms, and lately, Nick’s own fortunes have taken a turn for the worse. That is until Tuesday Knight, a curvy brunette with an irresistible offer, walks into his office. Tuesday is willing to pay Nick $100,000 to retrieve her father’s stolen luck. That’s a lot of corporate cappuccinos, even for a caffeine addict like Nick. Problem is, Tuesday’s dad is also the city mayor, the feds are turning up the heat, and a Chinatown crime lord is holding all the fortune cookies—most of them bad. Throw in a couple of femmes fatales, a douche bag vegan, and a mysterious albino luck poacher, and it all adds up to one inescapable truth: you can’t take something from someone for nothing without eventually paying like hell for it. . . .
It’s my understanding that naked women don’t generally tend to carry knives.
But considering all that’s happened since I woke up this morning, I wouldn’t have been surprised if she’d pulled out a meat cleaver. Or a chain saw.
“Why don’t you put that thing away,” I say, before I realize that was probably a bad choice of words.
From the glint in her eye I can see she’s considering obliging me, so I take a couple of steps back, which is about all of the wiggle room I have, since it’s less than three feet before my luck runs out.
Where I am is the roof of the Sir Francis Drake Hotel in San Francisco after ten o’clock on a late-August night with an angry, naked woman holding me at knifepoint. Which doesn’t completely explain my current predicament, but at least it gives you an idea of what my day’s been like.
A helicopter approaches, the propeller thwup thwup thwupping, the lights cutting through the darkness and fog. At first I think it’s the cops until I see the CBS logo painted across the side.
Great. I’m making the evening news. This is all I need.
Maybe I could have prevented all of this from happening had I paid more attention to my better judgment.
Or found a four-leaf clover.
Or eaten another bowl of Lucky Charms.
I’m not superstitious, but sometimes it doesn’t hurt to take precautions.
“This is all your fault!” she says, holding on to the eight-inch carving knife with both hands. “All of it. Your fault!”
It’s at times like this that I wish I’d taken some classes in situational diplomacy.
Even though I grew up in a somewhat lax home environment and had the opportunity to embrace a lot of personal freedom at an early age, I still know how to behave in a civilized manner. Like saying please and thank you. Or turning off my phone in a movie theater. But tact and finesse have never been my strong suits. Not that I have an inflammatory personality. I’ve just never been particularly adept at managing interpersonal relationships. And if any situation called for a little skill and tact in dealing with someone, this is it. But I don’t know if this type of scenario calls for humor or reason. Plus it’s a little awkward considering she’s naked, so I try to keep my eyes above the horizon.
Still, I have to do something to let her know I’m not the enemy, so I give her a smile, one that’s meant to be reassuring. Something to ease the tension and lighten the mood. Not that I’m thrilled to be here. I can think of other things I’d rather be doing. Like sleeping or playing naked Twister. Instead, I’m on the roof of a hotel trying to defuse a tense situation before anyone else gets hurt. But like any naked woman holding a knife, she completely misreads my intention.
“Do you think this is funny?” she says, pointing the knife at me, stabbing at the air. Not in a menacing way, but more like Rachael Ray making a point about how to properly slice eggplant. Only this isn’t the Food Network. And I’m not a big fan of ratatouille.
“No,” I say, shaking my head. “It’s not funny at all.”
A crowd has gathered on Sutter Street, twenty-two stories below, their faces upturned and indistinct in the hollow glow of the streetlights, but even from this height I can make out the media circus pitching its tent. News vans, reporters, floodlights. A dozen cameras trained at the top of the hotel. The CBS helicopter circles us, the cameraman hanging out the open door with a video camera, his lens pointed my way.
I smile and wave.
I feel like I’m in a Hollywood movie, a dark action-comedy, with a little bit of intrigue and personal drama thrown in for fun. Characters die, illusions are shattered, and things get messy. I just wish I knew how this ended. How things wrapped up. My personal denouement. But I forgot to read my copy of the script. So I just wait and hope that someone gives me a cue.
The helicopter circles, the videotape rolls, the people on the street below wait for the scene to play out, and I’m an actor trying to remember my lines.
S.G. Browne is the author of Big Egos, Lucky Bastard, Breathers, Fated, and the Breathers novella I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus, as well as the ebook collection Shooting Monkeys in a Barrel. He lives in San Francisco. Follow the author on Twitter and Facebook, or visit SGBrowne.com.
"Wickedly sharp and wildly entertaining. S.G. Browne is one of today's very best writers." —New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry
"Springboarding off a traditional noir framework, Browne delivers an insightful, intriguing tale....With twists aplenty, this fast-paced adventure succeeds as both a hard-boiled homage and a paranormal romp." —Publishers Weekly (starred review & Pick of the Week)
"Browne hits the funny bone hard....Smartly constructed fiction...that sets it apart from the crowd." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Full of witty writing and hilarious adventures...I laughed out loud many times. Read the book: it will be your good fortune." —New York Times bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson
"Lucky Bastard is wonderful San Francisco noir, full of humor, irony, hot women, and cranial trauma. What more could you ask for in a book? The titular bastard may be in for a very bad day, but Browne's readers are the lucky ones." —New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden
"A very clever novel....Nick [Monday] is a likable narrator...and the story’s lightly noirish feel gives the proceedings an evocatively gritty texture. This one will appeal equally to readers of mysteries and fantasies." —Booklist