GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ New Release: Blood World (Hardcover) by Chris Mooney + excerpt | I Smell Sheep

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

New Release: Blood World (Hardcover) by Chris Mooney + excerpt

Blood World (Hardcover)
by Chris Mooney
August 18, 2020
Genre: Technothriller, dystopian, hard science fiction
448 pages
Publisher: Berkley
Everything changed when scientists discovered the drug. It looked like the cure for aging, but all progress comes with a price tag. Now, eternal youthfulness will be paid for by the blood of the innocent.

The blood of “carriers” is the most valuable commodity on earth. When treated with a new wonder drug, it cures disease, increases power, and makes the recipient a virtual superman.

It also makes the carriers targets. Young people with the right genes are ripped from their families and stashed in “blood farms.”

Ellie Batista became an LAPD officer specifically to fight this evil as a member of the Blood Squad, but her ambitions are thwarted—until the day she and her partner are ambushed during a routine stop. The resulting events plunge her into an undercover world more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

Because a madman has found a way to increase the potency of the blood to levels previously unimagined. As he cuts a bloody swath through the already deadly world of blood cartels, Ellie is the only hope to stop him before the body count explodes.


Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Chapter 1

When Ellie Batista turned the patrol car onto Montclair, a quiet street in Los Angeles's Brentwood neighborhood, she spotted a big Secret Service-looking dude in slick mirrored sunglasses and a black suit ushering a boy dressed up in prep school clothing to a Chevy Suburban with tinted windows parked at the top of the driveway of a spacious, contemporary ranch house. The guy holding open the SUV's back door was bigger and taller than his partner, but the thing Ellie noticed right away was how both men were looking around like a sniper was lurking somewhere nearby, in this neighborhood where the greatest danger was living next to someone who hadn't paid their parking tickets.

Ellie was close enough now to see the anxiety on the kid's face. She hit the lights but not the siren. Her partner looked up from his smartphone, saw her shooting up the driveway, and rolled his eyes.

"No," Danny said. "No, we are not doing this again."

"Relax, Pops. I'll take care of everything."

Ellie parked at an angle so the SUV couldn't escape-at least down the driveway. She couldn't see the driver-the SUV's windows were tinted, almost black-but if there was someone behind the wheel, he might decide to make a break for it, tear across the lawn.

Danny sighed as he unsnapped the holster of his sidearm. "You're doing all the paperwork-and you're picking up lunch."

"Where?"

"Jimmy J's taco truck."

"The place where you got food poisoning?"

"I think it was a stomach bug."

"Still," she said.

"That's the deal. What's it going to be?"

"Your funeral," she said, opening the door.

At five feet eight, Ellie was tall for a woman. The guy holding open the SUV's back door stood six feet six and weighed probably close to three bills. He looked, Ellie thought, like vanilla pudding poured into a cheap suit. He had a tiny pug nose and small hands for a man so large, but there was no doubt in her mind that he could swat her away like a fly.

The driver had rolled down the windows. He knew the drill, and he rested his hands on top of the steering wheel.

"IDs and permits," Ellie said.

Vanilla Pudding sighed. "We've been stopped three times by you people just this past week alone. You're seriously screwing with our, you know, productivity."

Ellie looked to the driver. "Sir, please cut the engine and step outside." Then, to the group: "Put your hands on top of the car roof so I can see 'em."

As Danny frisked them, taking their licenses, gun permits, and handguns, Ellie studied the boy from behind her sunglasses. He looked to be eleven, maybe even as old as thirteen, and had a sweaty pie-shaped face and stringy blond hair, and there were dark circles under his eyes. He kept swallowing nervously and his eyes skittered across the ground in front of him as if it contained hidden land mines.

Carrier, Ellie thought. Had to be, given all the security. If this kid had the gene, he was worth big money. The rule of thumb in the blood world was the younger the carrier, the more potent their blood, the more he or she was worth. Blood didn't discriminate. Boy or girl, black or white, mentally challenged or potential Mensa candidate, a single child could be worth several million dollars over the course of his or her life-unless the kid was drained and dumped, the blood sold for quick cash. That seemed to be the norm these days, at least here in California, with everyone looking to make a quick buck.

"What's your name?" Ellie asked the boy.

"Christopher."

"Christopher what?"

"Christopher Palmer."

"Nice to meet you. Do you know these men?"

The boy nodded. He wore dark gray pants with loafers and a navy blue suit jacket with a school crest on the lapel, over a white shirt with a red tie. Prep school kid, lots of money.

"I need to hear you say it," she said.

"I know them."

"Are you in danger?"

"From what?"

"From anything. Are you a carrier?"

Vanilla Pudding, standing with his hands splayed on top of the SUV's roof, turned his head and spoke over his shoulder. "Don't answer that, Christopher." Then, to Ellie: "Look, kid's already late for school, and we've got to get him there before noon. He's got a big test today he can't miss."

"I'm not through with my questions."

"All due respect, Officer, what you're doing, LAPD-it's harassment."

"So, if I'm hearing you correctly, sir, you don't want to cooperate."

"How about you take our licenses and gun permits, our weapons, do the background checks, whatever, while you follow us to his school? We drop him off, and then we can play question and answer for as long as you want. I'll give you the numbers for his parents, too. You can call them along the way, make sure everything's copacetic."

"Give me the numbers."

The parents' names were Cynthia and Francis Palmer. After she wrote down the numbers, she showed them to the boy. "Are these your parents' phone numbers?"

"Yes," he replied. "Can I sit in the car, please? It's really hot out."

Ellie opened the back door for him. Then she looked at Vanilla Pudding and said, "Lead the way."

Danny took over driving duty so she could work the laptop installed in the car. As she checked the licenses and permits, she thought about the steroid-laced goons playing rent-a-cop and wondered if someone, maybe even a group of people, was watching the boy right now, shadowing his movements and working on a plan to abduct him. She doubted anything would happen on the way to school, but something might go down at the school. Last month, a group of masked men armed with assault rifles stormed their way into a fancy private high school in Van Nuys to abduct a pair of teenagers who carried the blood gene. The gunmen were killed, along with two students and six school employees. There was a lot of talk in the state about teachers arming themselves.

The bodyguards checked out. Their gun permits all checked out. Ellie called the numbers Vanilla Pudding, whose name was Trevor Daley, had given her. She got the boy's mother on the phone, but the woman refused to answer any questions until Ellie gave her own personal information.

Ellie didn't blame her. Families of carriers had to worry about people posing as police and federal agents. You couldn't trust anyone these days. Anyone.

When the boy's mother called back fifteen minutes later, she seemed more relaxed. Ellie asked the woman a series of personal questions, comparing her answers with the information listed on the computer screen. Everything seemed to be in order.

St. Devon's Academy looked more like a maximum-security prison facility than a private school. Its sleek modern buildings sat behind tall concrete walls that had barbed wire installed along the tops. Almost all schools these days had fences or walls, but this was the first one she'd seen that had its own guard tower. Seeing a guy armed with a high-powered rifle and a scope looming above a bunch of little kids kicking around a soccer ball or just hanging out, acting like this was all normal, made her heart sink.

When it came to carriers, the police were subject to the same checks as ordinary citizens. Ellie and Danny had to wait several minutes while two men armed with assault rifles checked and rechecked their IDs. Forms were signed, fingerprints scanned, and after the gate was unlocked, Danny pulled up against the curb of what appeared to be the main building. Another pair of armed men guarded the door. Others were stationed at various checkpoints and roamed the perimeter and parking lot.

Vanilla Pudding pulled up behind them. Ellie got out and again asked the boy if he felt safe. He assured her that he did, and off he went to the front door to submit his hand to the portable fingerprint scanner one of the guards was holding.

"You happy with your job?" Vanilla Pudding asked.

"Is anyone?"

Vanilla Pudding smiled. He had tiny, baby teeth. "Reason I'm asking is, my company has a lot of clients who are young girls. They'd feel more comfortable in the presence of a woman." He reached into his coat and came back with a business card. "If you want to make some real money, with real health benefits, call me."

Ellie thanked him, handed him back his documentation and weapons, and headed back to the patrol car.

"Your stop-and-frisk routine back at the house," Danny said as they drove away. "You mind telling me what that was about?"

Ellie shrugged. "We saw something, so we stopped."

"We?"

"The kid looked scared shitless, so I decided to check it out."

Danny's gaze cut to her; he wanted, she knew, to call bullshit. And he'd have been right, of course.

Ellie had been a patrolwoman for a little over a year, but her real goal-her future-lay in the LAPD's newly formed Blood Crimes Unit. Admittance was extremely competitive-only the best and brightest. She considered herself reasonably intelligent, knew she was a hard worker, and, for the most part, had good people skills. What she had going against her was lack of investigative experience-and BCU looked for two years minimum, even for lowly data analyst positions.

The way she figured it, the more information she could collect on the blood world during her stop-and-frisk routines, as Danny called them, the more knowledge she would accumulate, and the more attractive she'd look when she reapplied to the BCU.

There was another, more personal reason she didn't want to get into it with Danny-with anyone.

Ellie was about to change the subject when Danny, thankfully, did it for her. "You ever wonder what it's like?" he asked.

"Being a carrier?"

"Getting an infusion."

Ellie shrugged. "Don't really see the point."

"You can say that 'cause you're young and good-looking. How old are you, again? Twenty-four?"

"Twenty-six, which is a whole two decades younger than you, Gramps."

"Yeah, wait until you hit middle age. Your body starts changing without your permission. Everything begins to wrinkle and sag, and everything hurts. It's depressing as hell." Danny sighed. "You do know this is one massive government conspiracy, right?"

Ellie drew a slow, deep breath through her nose as she shifted in her seat.

"No," he said. "No, don't give me that look. I'm not some conspiracy nut. Carrier blood is a real thing. It's a fact. It's got that circulating protein there, that enzyme called eNAMPT that makes cells produce these unbelievable amounts of energy, which is why carriers look like they don't age, why they seem to be able to fight off disease. I mean, that's a legitimate medical thing, right?"

Ellie sighed. "Yes."

"Okay, and we also know a full-body transfusion of carrier blood alone doesn't erase wrinkles and burn belly fat and increase muscle tone and all that other wonderful stuff-which is why, back in the day, scientists and biohackers started experimenting with carrier blood mixed with other medications. They found one that worked, that chemo pill that's now off the market because it's supposedly carcinogenic, Vira-something."

"Viramab."

Danny snapped his fingers. "That's the one. So, all these megawealthy one-percenter types start flocking to these holistic centers that are springing up like warts all over the East and West coasts, and they're paying mucho dinero to get these carrier transfusions mixed with Viramab, and, voilĖ†, the shit actually works."

Everything Danny had said so far was 100 percent true. Now here comes the crazy curveball.

"This goes on for about a year," Danny said, "and then suddenly the government shuts everything down because people getting these transfusions allegedly die from them."

"Allegedly?" Ellie chuckled, saw that he was dead serious. "Danny, people actually died. They were on the front pages of major news sites. Their immune systems eventually broke down-"

"That's what the government wants you to believe."

"You're saying that all those well-known actors and actresses and titans of industry and rich folks from all over the world who died from these blood transfusions were targeted by the CIA or some such bullshit? Please don't tell me you believe that."

"I'm talking about the Illuminati."

"Okay, we're done here."

"You read that article last week in the Times, the one about Senator Baker from Ohio? Guy was showing early signs of dementia, right? People were urging him to retire. Now the dementia's gone-"

"According to an anonymous source," Ellie said. "There's no direct proof-"

"Oh, please. Pull up the side-by-side pictures. There's no doubt he's using carrier blood. And that's my point. Wealthy people, people in power-you know they're getting carrier blood from someone who has perfected the recipe. Could be an underground supplier, could be big pharma. Who knows? Point I'm trying to make here is that the law and rules of society only apply to common folk like you and me. The wealthy and the elite-these are the people who can get their hands on this stuff. These are the people who will continue to live and reproduce, and in time they'll create a new world order."

Danny had a point. Not about the whole new-world-order bullshit, but the fact that the privileged and the elite had access to things that regular people didn't. She wasn't na•ve about the way the life worked, especially when it came to crime-the one person with the best political connections and the best lawyer, sadly, had the chips stacked in their favor. But when it came to carrier blood and whatever chemical cocktail worked-if there actually was one-so much was still unknown because the whole process had all been driven underground, made illegal. Younger carriers had blood that was "fresher" and, it was believed, more powerful and longer lasting-which was why kids were being abducted in record numbers not only in California but across the country, imprisoned and forced to live out their lives like golden geese.

At least that was the operating theory. No one had ever found or seen one of these mythical "blood farms," as they had been dubbed by the media, so no one knew for sure if they existed. The blood world in LA consisted of two main factions: Armenian Power X was a cartel that, on the surface, seemed more organized than the second faction, the Mexicans, who seemed to favor draining and dumping carriers.

"The blood I'd want to try," Danny said, "is Pandora."

You and everyone else, Ellie thought.

"Bye-bye, wrinkles and belly; hello, smoother and tighter skin, thicker hair, more muscle tone, and less body fat. But wait-there's more! Order now, and we'll throw in, free of charge, the most intense orgasms you will ever experience in your entire life."


About the Author:
Hailed as “one of the best thriller writers working today” by Lee Child and “a wonderful writer” by Michael Connelly, Chris Mooney is the international bestselling author of twelve novels, most recently, The Snow Girls. His fourth book, The Missing, the first in the Darby McCormick series, was a main selection of the International Book of the Month Club and an instant bestseller in over thirteen countries. The Mystery Writer’s Association nominated Chris’s third book, Remembering Sarah, for an Edgar Award for Best Novel. Foreign rights to his novels have been sold to twenty-eight territories. He has sold nearly two million copies of his books.

Chris teaches writing courses at Harvard and the Harvard Extension School, and lives in the Boston area with his wife and son. His new novel Blood World will be published in August of 2020.

Praise for Chris Mooney:
“Scary voice, scary talent. Mooney is one of the best thriller writers working today.”
– Lee Child

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