I know you’re all just here for recaps, but I’m going to make you read my news, anyway. Thing the first: MADNESS is out now, in ebook and print, at all major e-tailers. It’s my first literary novel, but don’t worry, there’s no pop quiz at the end asking you what the theme was.
Thing the second: GOLD is officially finished. Well, final draft is finished. There will be editing. I’m planning a March 2015 release; I’ll let you know the official date as it gets closer, and it will be available for pre-order. If you’ve been waiting till I finished the trilogy to get your copies, wait no longer!
Thing the third: I AM GOING TO DENVER COMIC CON! As a writer! That’s right, Snowflakes, I will be in a lovely, shiny booth with a bunch of other awesome writers. May 23-25, in Denver, CO. Buy your tickets now!
It’s daylight at Stonehenge – or, well, a henge, at any rate – and some chick is rocking out, 13th-century style, on her harp. But she stops and starts looking for “Nicole”, so I’m guessing this is not a flashback. There’s a horse whinnying, and then some dude in an equally-13th-century uniform is chasing her. She throws her harp into the river, and then he slashes her open and leaves her on the bank.
The harp is up for auction. Some dude in the audience is on a walkie-talkie with a bidder, and he gets into a bidding war with a woman who looks like the dead chick. Of course, it’s all moot, because Nick is in the back, outbidding everyone.
Meanwhile, Schanke has the beat cops looking for “a vehicle” – Nick’s, of course. They find him, and Schanke finds Nick to bug him about printing a report because he doesn’t understand the software. Bidding’s up to 300K, and Schanke’s freaking out because a cop doesn’t have that kind of money. He grabs Nick’s paddle so Nick can’t bid anymore, and Nick loses the harp to the guy on the – oh. It’s not a walkie-talkie. It’s a phone. I forgot what they looked like in 1994.
Nick seems to think that the woman who owned the harp – Ellen Kushner – was murdered. Or at least, that’s what he’s telling everyone at the precinct. Nat knows better, of course. She asks if he got the harp, and he says no, but he’ll think of some way to get it, because it’s from “before”.
Flashback Time! Nick is riding through the Irish countryside in the same uniform we saw earlier, talking to some other dude about converting the Celts and whether the Holy See has sway so far north. Guys, I think you’re a little late. Via Wikipedia:
By the early 6th century the church had developed separate dioceses, with bishops as the most senior ecclesiastical figures, but the country was still predominantly pagan. The High Kings of Ireland continued pagan practices until the reign of Diarmait mac Cerbaill ca. 558, traditionally the first Christian High King. The monastic movement, headed by abbots, took hold in the mid 6th century, and by 700 Ireland was at least nominally a Christian country, with the church fully part of Irish society.
So, yeah. They’re there to convert people who are already Catholic. You might wonder instead, Nick, if the Holy See knows what the fuck it’s doing.
Nick worries that they might be unwelcome, but other dude – we’ll call him Beardy, for his luscious facial locks – is all, “So? We’ll kill ’em.”
Nick hears harp music and goes to investigate…at the henge, with the woman whose friend is improbably named “Nicole”. In 13th-century Ireland. Nick tells her the song was beautiful, and hopes he didn’t disturb her. He introduces himself – Nicolas de Brabont, but he pronounces the “s” in Nicolas, so…
I don’t speak French and I’m not an expert in early Irish history and even I know this is just a fucking mess. No wonder I didn’t remember this episode fondly.
Back in the future, Nick breaks into the auction house, looking for information on the buyer and flashing his badge to get it. Auctioneer is all, “I don’t see a subpoena, bitch. Get out.” Which he does, only to see harp lady ducking out of an alley nearby and calling a cab. So he goes back into the auction house and gets her information, because he remembered her bidder number? But not the other guy’s?
So, since he’s already broken and entered, he figures why not rob the place, too? He brute-forces his way into the special little caged closet where the harp is and just walks out with the thing.
The next day, Schanke and Nat are at the auction house, investigating the auctioneer’s death. The harp is gone, and Nat says dude’s neck was broken – but of course she checks for bite marks, because she knows Nick is just the worst. No bite marks. But if they find that harp in his house, you can bet he’ll be arrest – HAHAHAHAHAHAHA, no. We all know he has zero to worry about.
In Ireland, Nick’s falling in love with whoever-she-is (I didn’t catch her name the first time around. Not-Nicole, how’s that sound?). It’s boring. She’s all pagan, despite the fact that I’m pretty sure conversion-by-sword has been in effect for a few centuries at this point. She’s debating the politics of it with him and says something stupid about the harp having the soul of a miller’s daughter or blah blah blah. Don’t care.
Nat goes to Nick’s loft to lecture Nick about stealing and break the news about the auctioneer’s murder – which Nick knows had to have happened in the morning, because he saw the dude alive before he took the harp. Nat believes him – I mean, he won’t kill anyone, for any reason, after all – but she’s all, “I don’t know how you’re going to get yourself out of this one.”
Schanke has been doing some actual police work, and finds out that the bidder Nick was up against was none other than a descendant of Beardy! Who, we all know, totally killed Not-Nicole back in the day, right? I mean, I’m not spoiling that, am I? No, of course not.
Nick and Schanke go to Beardy 2, Electric Beard-A-Loo’s hotel. The manager won’t give them his room number, but Nick mojos him and ta-da! Beardy 2 ain’t even mad, bros. He just starts babbling about the harp and how it was in his family and whatever. Also, there’s a curse on the harp? Because since the Beardy family has owned it, the estate hasn’t yielded as it should? Okay, then.
Beardy asks where the harp is, and Nick says that shit goes underground all the time and it might not be seen for a hundred years. Beardy gives us some straight-up Austrian economics wisdom by telling Nick, sort of apropos of nothing, that there’s a saying in the antiques trade: an item’s value is whatever someone is willing to pay for it. Schanke says it’s very valuable, indeed, then: someone’s killing for it.
As they’re leaving, having not got anything from Beardy 2, Nick is suddenly all, “Hey, there’s someone else here,” and has Schanke go around the house. He finds someone up on the roof, breaking in, and lets her get away while he inspects her bolt cutters. Luckily, Schanke’s on it, and he catches her on the ground. Harp Lady.
Joanna! That’s her present-name, anyway. She’s Irish? Welsh? Something with an accent. Welsh. The harp is Welsh, not Irish. Sorry, my bad.
Anyway, they check her passport. The last time she was in Canada was when Ellen Kushner died. She’s looking like the killer, but she says that Ellen was going to donate the harp, but died before the paperwork was complete. She was at the auction house to get the info on the buyer, but couldn’t. So she was going to talk to Beardy 2, only she had to break in because she can’t mojo anyone. She didn’t even want to steal the harp – she just wanted to see if Beardy 2 would sell.
Schanke goes down to the morgue to talk about the case with Nat. He leaves when Nick comes in, and Nat’s all, “So Schanke thinks whoever took the harp killed the guy. But you didn’t kill him, so howsabout you tell me why this stupid thing is so important to you?” And then it’s Flashback Time again.
Nick’s hanging out in some castle with Beardy, who’s giving him the business about falling in love with Not-Nicole. Gwyneth! Finally, someone says her damn name! Anyway, I’m sure you all can fill in this scene by yourselves. “Don’t date her!” “She’s great!” “She’s a heathen!” “Screw you! You’re not my real dad!” Or, you know, whatever.
Nick blows off a meeting of lords to go see Gwyneth. She tries to sell him some overpriced, drop-crotch man-leggings and then claims she loves food despite eating some truly heinous vegan calorie-free crap.
They argue about paganism, and Nick asks what the “soothsayer” told Gwyneth about him. “You will live very long, and in that time, never find happiness.” Because you insist on being the worst is left unsaid, but I think it’s implied.
Nick asks her to play for him, and then we fade to the next day. Oh, so the “Nicole” she’s looking for is Nick. That makes more sense. Beardy comes upon her and kills her, and Nick’s just a little too late to stop it. The villagers find him with her body, and obviously think he killed her, because what murderer doesn’t lovingly cradle his victim at the scene of the crime?
Present-Nick offers to get Joanna a lawyer.
Past-Nick gets bailed out by Beardy, on the condition that he goes to the Holy Land to fight as penance. Nick doesn’t like the deal, but he takes it.
Present-Nick calls in…Beardy 2’s lawyer?!
So Beardy 2’s lawyer goes straight to Beardy 2 and says that Joanna’s been released, she doesn’t have the harp, and oh, yeah, here’s where she’s staying, since you asked and that doesn’t seem weird to me at all.
Joanna goes back to her hotel and the harp’s just sitting on her coffee table. Beardy 2 shows up to kill her, and we finally get to see that Beardy 1 killed Gwyneth. This show loves its parallel construction.
Something happens at the precinct that I wasn’t paying attention to, but it makes Nick rush out to fly to Joanna’s rescue. But it’s some rando yelling down the hotel stairs that makes Beardy 2 forbear to shoot Joanna. He runs out of the building and into Nick, who’s vamping it up to disorient Beardy 2, who has the harp and pulls a gun on Nick. Oh, Nick’s figured out that Beardy 2 killed Ellen Kushner to get the harp to lift the curse on his family. He shoots Nick, who punches him and returns the harp to Joanna on the street. Beardy gets up and tries to get the harp back, but he’s run over by a truck as he tries to cross the street.
In the coda, lab tests come back and prove that Beardy 2 was the killer of the auctioneer. Nick tells Nat not to worry about him, and she’s all, “Dude. How do I not worry when you’re the height of professional misconduct?” He tells her that she’ll keep him on the straight and narrow.
Next week: Schanke investigates Nick! Which will come to nothing, like it always does! But probably Schanke will be in The Raven! Which is always worth a laugh!
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