Alex Craft

Expected publication: 
July 4th 2017
In the thrilling new novel from USA Today bestselling author Kalayna Price, Alex Craft comes face-to-face with the walking dead….

Grave witch Alex Craft is no stranger to the dead talking. She raises shades, works with ghosts, and is dating Death himself. But the dead walking? That’s not supposed to happen. And yet reanimated corpses are committing crimes across Nekros City.

Alex’s investigation leads her deep into a web of sinister magic. When Briar Darque of the Magical Crimes Investigation Bureau gets involved, Alex finds herself with an unexpected ally of sorts. But as the dead continue to rise and wreak havoc on the living, can she get to the soul of the matter in time?

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The first time I realized I could feel corpses, I had nightmares for a week. I was a child at the time, so that was understandable. These days I was accustomed to the clammy reach of the grave that lifted from dead bodies. To the eerie feeling of my own innate magic responding and filling me with the unrequested knowledge of how recently the person died, their gender, and the approximate age they were at death. When I anticipated encountering a corpse, I tightened my mental shields and worked at keeping my magic at bay. Usually that was only necessary at places like graveyards, the morgue, and funeral homes—places one might expect to find a body.

I never expected to feel a corpse walking across the street in the middle of the Magic Quarter.
“Alex? I’ve lost you, haven’t I?” Tamara, one of my best friends and my current lunchmate, asked. She sighed, twisting in her seat to scan the sidewalk beyond the small outdoor sitting area of the café where we were eating. “Huh. Which one is he? I may be married and knocked up, but I know a good-looking man when I see one, and girl, I don’t see one. Who are you staring at?”
“That guy,” I said, nodding my head at a man in a brown suit crossing the street.
Tamara glanced at the squat, middle-aged man who was more than a little soft in the middle and then cocked an eyebrow at me. “I’ve seen what you have at home, so I take it this is business. Did you bring one of your cases to our lunch?”
I ignored the “at home” comment, as that situation was more than a little complicated, and shook my head. “My case docket is clear,” I said absently, and let my senses stretch. When I concentrated, I could feel grave essence reaching from corpses in my vicinity. All corpses. There were decades of dead and decaying rats in the sewer below the streets, and smaller creatures like insects that barely made a blip on my radar, but like called to like, and my magic zeroed in on the man.
“He’s dead,” I said, and even to me my voice sounded unsure.
Tamara blinked at me, likely waiting for me to reveal the joke. Instead I pushed out of my seat as the man turned up the street. Tamara grabbed my arm.
“I’m the lead medical examiner for Nekros City, and I can tell you with ninety-nine point nine percent certainty that the man walking down the street is very much alive.” She put extra emphasis on the word “walking,” and on any other day, I would have agreed with her.
My own eyes agreed with her. But my magic, that part of me that touched the grave, that could piece together shades from the memories left in every cell of a body, disagreed. That man, walking or not, was a corpse. Granted, he was a fresh one—the way he felt to my magic told me he couldn’t have been dead more than an hour. But he was dead.
So how the hell had he just walked into the Museum of Magic and the Arcane?
I dropped enough crumpled dollars on the table to cover my portion of the bill and tip before weaving around tables and out of the café seating. Behind me, Tamara grumbled under her breath, but after a moment I heard her chair slide back as she pushed away from the table. I didn’t wait for her to follow me out as I all but sprinted across the street to catch up with the walking corpse.
The museum’s wards tingled along my skin as I stepped through the threshold. I’d been inside the museum a few times, and the collection of rare and unusual artifacts from both pre- and post-awakening was impressive, but I was a sensitive, capable of sensing magic, and between all the security wards and the artifacts themselves, the museum tended to be overwhelming. Definitely migraine-inducing in large doses. I noted that the magic in the air was particularly biting today, like one of the security wards had recently been triggered. I sucked in an almost pained breath, trying to adjust to the sudden crush of magic all around me. The extra sting of the deployed ward didn’t help.
I should have walked the extra few steps to clear the entrance wards.
I’d entered only minutes behind the man, but he almost barreled into me as the door swung closed behind me. His shoulder brushed me at the same moment he hit the antitheft wards, and several things happened at once. The wards snapped to life, blaring a warning to the museum staff to let them know something was being stolen. Simultaneously, a theft-deterring paralytic spell sparked across the would-be thief, locking his body—and the artifact—in place.
Unfortunately, while the wards were powerful, they weren’t terribly specific. Where his shoulder touched mine, the spell jumped from him to me, immobilizing me as well. Under normal circumstances, that would majorly suck. Under these circumstances? It was so much worse.
My magic still identified him as a corpse. I could feel the grave essence lifting off him, clawing at me. My mental shields, while strong, were already overwhelmed, and my magic liked dead things. A lot. I hadn’t raised a shade in nearly a week, so the magic was looking for release. Typically I made a point not to touch the dead. Now I couldn’t get away.
My magic battered against the inside of my shields, looking for chinks in my mental walls that it could jump through. Fighting the spell holding me was a waste of energy—I was well and truly caught—so I focused all of my attention on holding back my own magic. But I could feel the chilled fingers of the grave sliding under my skin, worming their way into me and making paths for my magic to leach into the animated corpse frozen against me.
I wanted to open my shields and See what the thing in front of me was truly made of. But if I cracked my shields to gaze across the planes of reality and get a good look at the body, more of my magic would escape. And too much was already whispering through my shields, making fissures where more could follow. Sweat broke out on my paralyzed brow as I poured my focus into holding my magic at bay.
But I was touching a corpse.
The grave essence leaking from the body clawed at the fissures my magic was chewing through my shields, and it was too much. If I could have stepped back . . . But I couldn’t.
All at once a chunk of my mental wall caved, and the magic rushed out of me. Color washed over the world as the Aetheric plane snapped into focus around me. A wind lifted from the land of the dead, stirring my curls and chilling my clammy skin. I could now see the network of magic holding me in place, as well as the knot of magic in the sprung ward, but more importantly, I could see the corpse in front of me. And it was a corpse, no doubt about it, the dead skin sagging, bloating.
But under the dead flesh, a yellow glimmer of a soul glowed.
Which meant the body was both dead and alive. Considering it was up and walking around, it was a heck of a lot more alive than a dead body should have been.
The soul inside was the color I associated with humans, so this wasn’t a corpse being worn and walked around by something from Faerie or one of the other planes. I still couldn’t see spellwork shimmering across the dead flesh, but it had to be there, binding the soul inside the corpse. But whatever kind of half-life the man existed in wasn’t going to last much longer if I couldn’t get hold of my magic.
The hole in my shields wasn’t huge, but I could feel my magic filling the body. And the grave and souls didn’t get along. I couldn’t stop the hemorrhage of magic, but I managed to slow it to a trickle.
I’d barely noticed the crowd gathering around us until one of the museum guards began releasing the spell holding us. If the antitheft paralyzing spell was dropped, I’d be able to get my distance from the corpse.
But either he wasn’t a very good witch, or he was stalling—likely to wait for the cops—because he was taking his sweet time as more and more of my magic flowed out.
I’d ejected souls from dead bodies before. While souls didn’t like the touch of the grave, they tended to cling to their flesh pretty hard and it took directed magic to pry them free. I was actively fighting expelling the soul, and only a small portion of my magic had filled the corpse, but the soul’s connection to the body felt weak, tentative.
I couldn’t shift my gaze to the museum worker, but I could see him out of the corner of my eye. Oh please, release the damn immobility spell.
Too late.
In a burst of light, the soul popped free of the corpse.
Nothing about the body changed. It had already been dead and it was still held immobile by the spell, but the soul stood free. For a long moment it was almost too bright to look at, a shimmering, crystalline yellow. But souls can’t exist without a body, and in a heartbeat the glow dimmed, the form solidifying as the soul transitioned to the purgatory landscape of the land of the dead.
If I could have stumbled back in shock, I would have, but I couldn’t even blink in surprise. Not because the soul transitioned—that I expected—but because the ghost now standing in front of me was that of a young woman.
My focus shifted from the balding, middle-aged man to the woman who might not have been old enough to drink. Ghosts weren’t like shades. While shades were always an exact representation of the person at the moment of death, ghosts tended to reflect how a person perceived himself. Appearing a little younger or more attractive was common. I supposed it was even possible that if someone identified across gender lines, their ghost might reflect that discrepancy. But this ghost was a drastically different age as well as being a different gender and ethnicity. And that was unheard of.
The ghost-girl looked around, no longer inhibited by the spell holding the body she’d been inside. Her dark eyes rounded as her eyebrows flew upward and her motions took on the frantic quickness of panic.
A panic that didn’t last long as a figure appeared beside her. He was dressed from head to toe in gray and carrying a silver skull-topped cane. The Gray Man. A soul collector.
I wanted to scream No. To run between him and the girl who clearly hadn’t belonged in the dead body. Things didn’t add up here, and I wanted to talk to the ghost.
But I still couldn’t move.
I stood silently frozen in place as the Gray Man reached out, grabbed the soul, and sent her on to wherever souls went next. Then he turned and looked at the body she’d vacated. His expression gave away nothing as his gaze moved on to me. He gave me one stern shake of his head, which could have meant he didn’t know what was going on or that he knew but it wasn’t any business of mine.
Then he vanished.
Of course, that was the moment the guard released the spell. I stumbled back as the now truly dead body collapsed.
I barely registered the gasps and screams. I only half noted the gun that clattered across the marble as the lifeless body hit the floor. I was far too busy staring at the spot where the Gray Man and the ghost had been. She hadn’t belonged in the wrongly animated body. So how the hell had she gotten into someone else’s body? And why?

Chapter Two

“You’re saying the man was dead before he ran into the security system?” The cop interviewing me looked up from his notepad, one skeptical eyebrow raised. “And what makes you think that?”
“I’m a grave witch. I sensed him when he walked by on the street,” I said, not paying as much attention to the questions as I probably should have been. Most of my attention was focused on the body that someone had draped a black tablecloth over just a few yards away, still where it had collapsed near the door. When I’d first sensed the body—when it was still up and walking around—it had felt like the very recently dead. Now my magic told me it was older, days, maybe even a week, deceased.
I squinted, as if the action could reveal more about the body. It didn’t, of course. I could have reached out with my ability to sense the dead, thinned my shields so I gazed across the planes and spanned the chasm between the living and dead, but there was a lot of magic—both latent and active—in the museum, and my shields were already rather worse for the wear after getting caught in the antitheft spell with the corpse.
The cop’s eyes narrowed. “So you’re saying you noticed the deceased before he entered, and you followed him in?”
“I, uh . . .” Crap. Yeah, I definitely should have been paying more attention to the questions at hand. One look at the cop’s expression told me that I’d just gone from “unlucky witness” to “potential suspect.”
The door to the museum swung open and my gaze flicked over the cop’s head. Tamara stepped inside. She held out her laminated medical examiner ID as she assessed the scene, clearly trying to identify who was in charge.
“That was fast,” the other officer— the one interviewing the museum curator—said with a look of relief on his face. He wasn’t a homicide detective and he’d responded to a robbery call only to discover a dead body. He likely wanted to hand over his notes and be done with this mess.
Tamara shook her head. “I was across the street. At lunch.” The last words held the barest edge, no doubt aimed at me. “I let my office know I was at the scene. The rest of my team should be here soon.” She made her way toward the prone figure. Her baby bump was just barely showing, but her gait had changed slightly. Nothing major, but I’d known her long enough to notice. “Did anyone try to resuscitate the victim?”
The cop who’d been questioning me held up one hand, two fingers raised, clearly indicating I shouldn’t go anywhere. He half turned toward Tamara, never letting me out of his sight. Yup, I was officially in his suspect category, and I hadn’t even told him I’d been responsible for driving out the soul who’d hitched a ride in the man’s body.
“He was clearly dead when we arrived, ma’am. I checked for vitals, but he was gone.”
Tamara nodded absently and reached down to pull the makeshift shroud from the corpse. “What the—?” She jumped backward, dropping the cloth. “Get a magical hazmat team here now. This body needs to be sealed and contained behind a circle. Now.”
The cop in front of me radioed in Tamara’s order as his partner began drawing a circle around the corpse. Tamara kept backing away, never turning from the body.
I took advantage of the sudden chaos and slipped around the officer so I could get a better look at the body. The shriveled lips had pulled away from the corpse’s teeth, giving him an eerie death grin as his skin had slipped down his face. This wasn’t decay that happened in less than half an hour—this was days of rot. Which corresponded with how long dead my magical senses claimed the man to be.
Tamara’s backward stride, steady and slow as if she were afraid that if she turned and ran, the corpse would jump up and give chase, had finally taken her to my side. I knew it wasn’t the decay that had her on edge—I’d seen her happily autopsy bodies in much worse states. No, it was a recent experience she’d had that had nearly killed her and her unborn child. An attack by a body that had transformed after death.
She turned to me, her dark eyes wide. “What have you gotten me into now? And why do I hang out with you?” She hissed the question, her voice too fast, too breathy with fear. “You don’t think he is. . . ?”
“A ghoul?” I shook my head. “Trust me, I’ll never forget what they feel like. No, this is something different. I don’t know what’s going on, but I definitely don’t like it.”

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Published: February 2nd 2016

Grave Visions by Kalayna Price is the much-anticipated fourth installment in the kick-ass urban fantasy series about Alex Craft, a grave witch who can communicate with the dead.

If you want to hear voices from the dead in Nekros City, you call Alex Craft. She's a Grave Witch with reasonable rates and extraordinary powers, who specializes in revealing the secrets of the dead. But now she's the one fighting to keep her own secret. She's not human—and her newly discovered heritage is causing havoc for her both in the human realm and in Faerie. But her status as an unaffiliated fae also makes her an ideal candidate to investigate a new street drug that has surfaced in several of the spaces between the human and fae worlds.

This glamour-infused drug causes hallucinations that turn real—at least for a while and often with deadly consequences. Searching for the source of this drug—and its purpose—lands Alex front and center in the conflict brewing in Faerie and she must find answers before she's dragged so deep she loses her freedom.

The first time I raised a shade for profit, my client fainted. Since then, I’ve tried to better prepare clients for their encounter with the dead.

It doesn’t always work.

“You son of a bitch,” Maryanne Johnson yelled as she slammed her palm against the edge of my circle. “I knew you were sleeping with her.”

The shade of her late husband didn’t respond. He sat motionless above his grave, his face empty and his gaze distant. That seemed only to irritate the woman more, and she slammed her hand against my circle again.

“Ms. Johnson, calm down. He can’t understand your anger. He’s dead.”

If she heard me, she gave no indication, and I shuddered as she hit the circle again, the impact vibrating through my magic. The circle wouldn’t hold much longer, and if it failed, I’d be standing in the middle of a graveyard with my shields wide-open. Not a good thing.

“If you don’t take a step back, I’m going to have to end the ritual,” I said, moving around the grave so that I partially obscured her view of the shade.

She didn’t listen.

“This is between him and me.” She rummaged through her purse, muttering curses under her breath. When she looked up again, her smile was dark. She lifted a small revolver, leveling it at the shade. “How long were you with that hussy?”

And that’s my cue to end the ritual.

I didn’t repeat the question to the shade, because he would have answered. He would have had no choice. Shades were just memories with no will or consciousness. Matthew Johnson may have kept his mistress a secret during life, but he couldn’t hide the truth in death. And I had the feeling, regardless what his answer might be, it could only make this situation worse.

I didn’t need that.

“Rest now,” I whispered under my breath as I reached out with the part of me that sensed the dead and reversed the flow of magic that gave the shade form. The words weren’t strictly necessary, but I’d used them for so many years, they were now part of my ritual, producing a near Pavlovian response with my magic. The shade dissolved, the life heat I’d imbued in it rushing down the well-worn path of my psyche.

“No. No. Bring him back.” The woman railed against the edge of my circle. “He died too easy the first time.” Without her target of choice visible, she swung the gun in my direction. “I paid for this ritual. Now bring him back.”

I was seeing the land of the dead overlaying reality, but even if the revolver looked rusted and ruined in my sight, I had no doubt it was in fine working order in mortal reality. Ms. Johnson herself might have had enough innate magical ability that my circle stopped her from crossing into my ritual space, but unless her gun was loaded with charmed ammo—doubtful—my circle would do nothing to stop a bullet. Which meant I had to defuse this situation. Fast.

“Ms. Johnson I think—”

She cocked the gun.

Right. One shade coming right up.

I plunged my magic into the unseen corpse and pulled Johnson’s shade free again. He emerged looking exactly the same as the moment he’d died, right down to the bit of tomato soup in his beard.

As soon as the shade appeared, the woman’s rage refocused on her deceased husband. The bullet she fired passed through the shade with no effect, but that didn’t diminish her fury. She fired off two more shots and I crept to the edge of my circle, trying not to attract attention as I dialed the police.

I seriously needed to start screening my clients better.
“Alex, tell me you didn’t sleep here last night?”
I jerked upright at the question and my chair rolled away from my desk. The coins I’d been analyzing before I’d nodded off scattered; several rolling over the side of the desk to fall with loud plinks onto the floor. I frowned at the sound and blinked bleary eyes as I tried to focus on the speaker.
Rianna, my once-lost-now-found best friend and business partner, stood in the doorway of my office, her arms crossed over her chest as her green gaze swept over first me and then the mess that comprised my desk. At her side, the barghest who acted as her constant shadow huffed through his large jowls and shook his shaggy head.
“Morning,” I said around a yawn. My neck and back ached—no doubt from sleeping in a chair—and I stretched, trying to work out the kinks. “What time is it?”
“A little after eight. You have a . . .” She pointed to her temple and I placed a hand to the side of my face.
One of the coins clung to my skin. I peeled it off, feeling the slightest tingle of a spell in the metal. Great, one magic coin in the whole lot and I’d slept on it. Of course, maybe it would do me some good. The spell felt like a fortune charm and goodness knew I could use a little luck.
A glance over my desk turned up a blank form. I taped the coin in the provided box and jotted down my initial analysis. I’d do a more in-depth check on the spell later.
After setting down my pen, I looked up to discover Rianna still standing in my doorway, her expression somewhere between concern and disapproval.
“What? I had a lot to do.” I waved a hand to the mess of coins and forms. She cocked one dark eyebrow, clearly unconvinced. With a sigh, I slipped out of my chair and focused on gathering the escaped coins. Even through the solid wood of the desk, I could feel the weight of her stare.
“Oh, yes,” she said, drawing out the words for emphasis. “That looks like an important case. One so pressing, it warranted working through the night.”
I didn’t answer. Rianna and I both had our private investigator licenses, and as grave witches, our specialty was finding answers for our clients by questioning the dead. Analyzing charmed coins didn’t exactly fall within the typical Tongues for the Dead case description, but peering into the land of the dead to raise shades did nasty things to the eyes. So, I’d been searching out cases that wouldn’t make me blind before my thirtieth birthday. It didn’t pay nearly as well as raising shades, but it covered some bills without burning out my vision.
“My last client got arrested before paying for her ritual,” I said, as if recouping the income justified working overtime on a simple spell-identification case we both knew wasn’t pressing.
We also both knew exactly why I hadn’t gone home last night. He had a name.
Falin Andrews.
The Winter Queen’s knight was currently crashing in my one room loft. Considering we were occasionally lovers, that might have been okay, except that it was the Faerie queen’s royal decree placing him there and saying I suspected her motives was more than an understatement. He suspected them too—which was why he himself had told me never to trust him while he was under her rule. Oh yeah, and he’d told me that while holding me at dagger-point. Just after saying he loved me.
Our relationship was complicated, to say the least. In the two weeks he’d been staying at my place we’d barely spoken, by mutual consent. And besides, I was sort of seeing someone else. Can we say awkward? Yeah.
The office was a better option.
When I remained quiet, Rianna joined me on the floor. Together we gathered the coins, the only sound the clicking of my dog’s nails on the wood as he moseyed over to see what we were doing—and if we had food.
Rianna shot a glance at the small Chinese crested and frowned again. “PC’s with you, so I take it you never planned to go home last night? I thought you arranged to stay in Caleb’s guest room until you could figure out what to do about Falin.”
“I did.” And it wasn’t so much that I’d worked it out as that Caleb, my landlord, had insisted. The problem was . . . “The guest room isn’t soundproof and I don’t think Caleb and Holly ever sleep.”
“So they’ve officially hooked up?”
“Who knows if it’s official, but they go at it like bunnies.”
Rianna gave me a sympathetic glance as she passed me the last of the coins. “I’d invite you to my place, but . . .”
But she lived in an enchanted castle in Faerie. Well, actually my enchanted castle, but I’d never been inside it. I’d inherited the castle in a rather grisly way and the whole thing creeped me out. Besides, I’d have to pass through the winter court to reach limbo, where the castle currently resided, and with the Winter Queen determined to add me to her court, it wasn’t worth the risk of her finding a reason to detain me. So yeah, not currently a viable option for a place to crash.
I shrugged. “I’ll figure out something.” Climbing to my feet, I dumped the coins into a magic-dampening bag—my client thought they were cursed, and though I’d found no evidence of any malicious spells, better safe than sorry—before straightening. Rianna rose slower, levering herself up with the edge of my desk. She teetered when she reached her full height. I looked at her then, really looked at her.
When I’d first rescued Rianna, she was a wasting shadow of her former self, but in the last few months, she’d reclaimed a soft glow of health. The glow was missing today, her cheeks pale and dark smudges ringed her eyes.
“Are you feeling okay? I’m the one who passed out at her desk, but you look worse than I feel.” Though I was definitely feeling the weeks of gradual sleep deprivation.
Rianna gave me a feeble smile before shrugging. “I think maybe I caught something.”
“I didn’t know changelings could catch a cold.”
Another shrug. “Apparently. It must be going around. Ms. B. won’t be in today. She said something about the garden gnome being unwell.”
If I wasn’t frowning before, I definitely was now. When I’d inherited the castle, I’d also sort of acquired the people—well, two fae and one changeling—living in the castle. Like I said, creepy. The garden gnome I’d never met, but Ms. B was a brownie who’d tended the castle for longer than anyone seemed to remember. She’d taken a liking to me and recently decided to claim the roll of receptionist at Tongues for the Dead—I hadn’t had a say in the matter. She was gruff on the phone and some of our clients balked at her diminutive size and inhuman appearance, but I’d gotten used to having her around the office. I’d never heard of a fae getting sick, but honestly, despite the fact the fae had come out of the mushroom ring seventy years earlier, or the fact I’d recently discovered I was more fae than human, I didn’t know all that much about the day-to-day life of fae.
“Well, I hope he recovers quickly. And you too,” I said, my frown deepening. Rianna was all but leaning on the barghest. The large doglike fae stared at her, concern clear in his red-rimmed eyes. “Do you have any rituals scheduled today?”
She shook her head, swaying slightly with the movement.
“Good. Maybe you should keep it that way.”
She gave me a half nod, as if completing the movement would have taken too much energy. “I think I’ll go sit down.”
“Do you need a healer? Or a doctor?”
“No, I just . . .” She trailed off as she turned, swaying a moment before taking a breath and putting one foot very purposefully in front of the other. “This’ll pass in a minute. It’s happened a couple of times in the last week. Let me rest a moment.”
I walked around my desk and helped her into one of the client chairs. She collapsed gratefully, but I didn’t get a chance to question her because my cell phone buzzed on my desk and I had to rush back around to grab it.
The displayed number wasn’t one of my saved contacts, but I recognized the Central Precinct extension, so I guessed the caller. It had been a while since I’d heard from my favorite homicide detective, and our last few encounters hadn’t gone all that well, so I was relieved he was finally calling.
“Hey, John,” I said, tucking the phone between my shoulder and ear and heading back to Rianna.
“Craft?” a gruff male voice asked from the other side of the phone.
It wasn’t John.
I stopped in my tracks and briefly considered playing it off as a wrong number. If this was a client, professionalism was way past gone. But there was something familiar about the voice, I just couldn’t put a name to it. After an uncomfortably long pause, I confirmed he’d reached the right number.
“This is Detective Jenson. I need you at the morgue in an hour.”
He disconnected as soon as the last word escaped his mouth, leaving me no time to accept or deny his request. I pulled the phone away from my ear and stared at it like it might morph into something venomous. Because of my—largely unexplained—involvement in several major cases, John and I had suffered a falling out. But his partner Jenson? We’d never been close. And since my fae heritage had manifested, he’d been downright hateful toward me. Well, most of the time at least. It had been made clear to me that the police department wouldn’t be hiring me for a case anytime soon, so why did Jenson want me at the morgue?
“Alex?” Rianna made my name a question, concern mixing with curiosity in her voice.
I shook my head as I redialed the number Jenson had called from. The line rang four times before going to voicemail. Frowning, I ended the call without leaving a message.
“Well,” I said, shoving the phone in my back pocket. “I either have a job . . . or I’m about to walk into a trap.”


When the dead need to talk, Alex Craft is always ready to listen…

As a Grave Witch, Alex solves murders by raising the dead—an ability that comes at a cost, and after her last few cases, that cost is compounding. But her magic isn’t the only thing causing havoc in her life. While she’s always been on friendly terms with Death himself, things have recently become a whole lot more close and personal. Then there’s her sometime partner, agent Falin Andrews, who is under the glamour of the Winter Queen. To top everything off, her best friend has been forever changed by her time spent captive in Faerie.

But the personal takes a backseat to the professional when a mysterious suicide occurs in Nekros City and Alex is hired to investigate. The shade she raises has no memory of the days leading up to his brutal ending, so despite the very public apparent suicide, this is murder. But what kind of magic can overcome the human will to survive? And why does the shade lack the memory of his death? Searching for the answer might mean Alex won’t have a life to remember at all…


Whoever said dead men tell no tales obviously never met Alex Craft.

After a month spent recovering from a vicious fight with a sorcerer, grave witch Alex Craft is ready to get back to solving murders by raising the dead. With her love life in turmoil thanks to the disappearance of Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews and a shocking “L” word confession from Death himself, Alex is eager for the distractions of work. But her new case turns out to be a deadly challenge.

The police hire Alex to consult on a particularly strange investigation in the nature preserve south of Nekros City. The strange part: There are no corpses, only fragments of them. A serial killer is potentially on the loose, and Alex has no way to raise a shade without a body, so she’ll have to rely on the magic of others to find leads. But as she begins investigating, a creature born of the darkest magic comes after her. Someone very powerful wants to make sure the only thing she finds is a dead end—her own.


Grave witch Alex Craft can speak to the dead, but that doesn’t mean she likes what they have to say.

As a private investigator and consultant for the police, Alex Craft has seen a lot of dark magic. But even though she’s on good terms with Death himself—who happens to look fantastic in a pair of jeans—nothing has prepared her for her latest case. Alex is investigating a high profile murder when she’s attacked by the ‘shade’ she’s raising, which should be impossible. To top off her day, someone makes a serious attempt on her life, but Death saves her. Guess he likes having her around...

To solve this case Alex will have to team up with tough homicide detective Falin Andrews. Falin seems to be hiding something—though it’s certainly not his dislike of Alex—but Alex knows she needs his help to navigate the tangled webs of mortal and paranormal politics, and to track down a killer wielding a magic so malevolent, it may cost Alex her life...and her soul.