Today I’m sharing an excerpt from Richochet by David Kennedy! You can read my review from the blog tour here.
David A. Kennedy
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: November 6th 2018
Genres: Adult, Thriller
Brenda Roseberry’s youth was fractured with personal loss and sexual assault. In response, she’s trained her body through rock climbing and Isreali martial arts. Her genius at engineering tends toward the devious: she invents technology that allows her to see through walls, along with bulletproof clothing and specialized grenades.
Brilliant, fearless, and eminently disturbed, Brenda is ultimately recruited by Special Crimes Response And Mitigation—SCRAM. And so begins her daring pursuit of white-collar crime, fringe terrorist conspiracies, and anyone deserving of her unique brand of draconian justice.
Her only real friend is a notorious MS-13 gangster named Pucaso. He’s got a crush on her but that only makes Brenda deride him and loathe herself. Still, she relies on his help, whether she’s in Belize to wipe out the server farm of a corrupt hedge fund, or on Maui to take on the poisonous executives of a giant chemical company. Brenda treats wrongdoers like insects—the kind that need extermination.
Goodreads / Amazon
After the initial polar gale subsided, there was mostly only snow. Tucked high and tight beneath the mammoth overhangs, only wisps of it touched her camp. Unzipping the portaledge fly, Brenda spent hours watching the snow fall past, as if through a window on top of a two-hundred-story building.
The storm front slowed as the Sierra crest to the east bunched it up. The wind died and snowflakes fell, and fell. The silent whiteout that invaded all of Yosemite Valley lasted another two days and nights.
Take stock, regroup, make a plan. There was nothing else to do, except jump—a prospect that was becoming more and more likely. Reversing the climb was long past being feasible. She could wait for better weather, or take a leap.
The ropes and slings outside the shelter were frozen, the route above in horrendous condition. Lengthening her tether, Brenda could gather icy snow and meltwater of questionable quality, which required extra boiling. Getting sick now would be moronic. She calculated there was sufficient fuel to last five or six days. The wall could be in shape in a couple of days. She would wait it out, for as long as possible. There was plenty of peanut butter.
As darkness lowered, mostly clear skies meant a frigid night. Before she retreated into the portaledge, Brenda saw that a heavy fog rose from the valley floor. By headlamp, she reread a short fantasy novel whose yellowed pages smelled of fresh mildew. Condensation was the bitter adversary of any tent camper. High on a wall, it could be more than irritating. Given enough time, the moisture would drive you mad.
The sound of rockfall jerked her upright, out of a doze. Nothing struck more fear in the boldest of hardmen than the unpredictable and inescapable threat of something whistling down onto your noggin. Helmets saved lives, but, as in a meteor strike, object size mattered a lot. Brenda grabbed hers and put it back on—no one could wear the darn thing for a week straight—and peeked outside. She panned the headlamp beam over the frosty ledges. Nothing was obvious. She heard another sharp impact as she zipped up the door. This time more clearly, closer. Heart racing like it rarely did, Brenda looked out again and to her horror, spotted a large divot on the wall—the recessed part of it.
Impossible, based on her location within the complex geometry. Unless the projectile hadn’t fallen from above, which didn’t leave many alternatives.
So, when she saw the next strike happen ten feet away—actually saw the small circle of rock disintegrate as if by magic, peppering her with bits of stone, there was only one explanation. A bullet.
Someone was shooting at her.
Off went the headlamp. Motionless, as if that would help, Brenda tried to calm her heart rate and tried to think. She succeeded at neither. Nor could she control her breathing, adding to her anxiety. Rashly, she fumbled for the radio and switched it on.
“Hugh,” she whispered in husky urgency. “Come in, Hugh, this is Bre—Wanda. Do you read me? Hugh, can you—”
“Hey, Wanda. Yeah, sure I read you.” Hugh sounded in good cheer. “Are you okay? Do you want—”
“Someone’s shooting at me!” She raised her voice. “They almost hit me!”
“Huh?” Hugh sounded bewildered. The sound of other voices in the background filtered through. “What do you mean, someone’s shooting at you? Is this a joke, Wanda?”
“No, it’s not a freaking joke, Hugh! There’ve been three shots in the last minute, and they’re getting closer.”
“Are you sure? Maybe it was—”
“Yes, I’m sure,” she insisted. “It couldn’t have been rockfall!”
“I didn’t hear anything. You know how quiet it is in the winter, I woulda heard—”
“Not if they used a silencer.”
“What? A silencer? C’mon, you sure you’re not pullin’ my chain?”
“Jeez, you really think I’d do that? Like, ever?”
“No,” Hugh admitted. “Doesn’t sound too likely. Well, you want a rescue? Yes or no.”
“Not here,” she said. “But I’m comin’ down.”
“Soon as I can. If I make it, I’ll use the radio.”
In the dark, Brenda prepared to jump. She dared not use any light, which could pinpoint her location on the cliff.
It would be a low-percentage dive. Too close to the wall for any margin of error, too dark to see diddly-squat anyway. She’d left her MIRFLIR rig at home, unwilling to expose it to damage in the rugged environment, since building a new one would take about six weeks.
Second-guessing and hem-hawing were anathema to Brenda. The past and the future would take care of themselves. BASE chute fastened, she quickly gathered whatever valuable gear she could easily stuff into Hugh’s haulbag, and cast it off. She listened for it, but never heard it tumble or hit the ground.
No matter. Die cast, all that jazz. Brenda unclipped from her tether, got as far from the wall as possible, and let go.
Gravity welcomed her and panic momentarily overwhelmed her as she hurtled down uncontrollably. The wingsuit was at home. An oversight she hoped to have time to consider later. She tried to splay into a flight position to ease away from the rock wall that she could almost touch as she sailed down at terminal velocity. Releasing the chute too soon would almost surely smack her against El Capitan, which was rarely in a forgiving mood.
Wait, wait—go! Brenda ripped the cord, felt the parachute fabric whip out and up from her backside, felt herself slow up, felt an enormous relief, right before the unexpected impact knocked her unconscious.
Dave is a guidebook writer/publisher turned novelist. He began rock climbing around 1984, which was a “logical” extension of hiking, camping and backpacking since boyhood. After his first article on climbing in San Diego’s back-country was published in Rock & Ice magazine, he created the San Diego County Climbing Guide, which proved extremely popular. Next came San Diego Adventures: Classic hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing. In 2007 he completed and published a second edition of the climbing guide, which vividly detailed over 2,000 routes.
Subsequently, he embarked on a fiction-writing odyssey, producing sci-fi novels and short stories “rather unsuccessfully” in terms of publication. He finally found his proper voice in 2017 when he wrote Ricochet, an intense modern-day thriller about a young female vigilante. Upon its completion, he learned about Acorn Publishing while attending the 2018 Southern California Writers’ Conference and was signed by them shortly thereafter.
David is also an accomplished horticulturist. He became interested in tropical plants called Bromeliads in 2010, which quickly turned into a passion. He is an active member of the San Diego Bromeliad Society, and has won “Best of Show” awards in their annual show multiple times. His Tillandsia collection is considered one of the best in the region. For many years he and his wife Debbie have been chief volunteer caretakers of the San Diego Zoo’s Kent Bromeliad Garden.
Becoming a novelist is the realization of a lifelong dream. David loves the process of storytelling, of waking up each day well before dawn and diving into the art of making words come together in a way that appeals.