Around nine-thirty, I entered Small Talk, a luncheonette at the corner of Van Baerlestraat and Willemsparkweg, ordered an espresso and went upstairs to the first floor.
Lilith followed me inside and added a cappuccino to my order. She sat down across from me, took a brush from her shoulder bag and brushed back her damp hair. After dabbing her face with a tissue, she unbuttoned her jeans jacket. Her nipples jabbed the damp fabric of her T-shirt. She shivered and gave me a reproachful look which I ignored. It wasn’t my problem if she didn’t know how to dress for this fickle weather.
“So how many did you take?”
I sipped my espresso. “You didn’t count them?”
“You’re guessing,” I said. “I told you to observe indirectly, not to let your attention wander.”
Lilith leaned forward, her damp breast touching my jacket. “Could we drop the hostilities?”
I looked into her pleading eyes. “You think I’m being hostile? You blackmail me into instructing you while you have absolutely no aptitude whatsoever for my profession. I’m wasting time I don’t have on this farce, so—considering the circumstances—I think I’m downright congenial.”
“Listen, I’m sorry if I came on like a bitch, but I wouldn’t do this if I wasn’t desperate. Have you never been desperate?”
“Lucky you.” Lilith slouched in her chair, her gaze on the tabletop. “I never had any luck.”
“Spare me your life story. Save it for someone who actually gives a shit.”
I could see she wanted to punch me, but her desire to stay in my good graces apparently got the better of her. She rested her chin in her hands and studied me. “How about yours?”
“My life story?” I snorted. “Nothing to tell.”
“Nothing?” She looked up, tilted her head. “I find that hard to believe.”
“Why don’t you tell me how you become a pickpocket?”
“How?” I smirked. “I became a pickpocket by sticking my hand in other people’s pockets.”
“You don’t want to tell me?”
I finished my espresso. “See? You can be perceptive, with a little effort.”
“Are you going to be like this all day?”
“What did you expect? That I’d ‘revel’ in teaching you my ‘craft’?”
“I’m sorry if I’m a nuisance.”
“You’re not sorry. Don’t pretend to be something you’re not. I’m not an idiot.”
“I mean it.”
“No, you don’t. If you were truly sorry, you’d get up and get out of my life.”
“I can’t. I need this. I need you.”
I shook my head. “I was just the sucker who made a mistake in your vicinity. Now I have to pay for it.”
I got up and she followed me to the counter, where she paid for both our coffees. I didn’t thank her, but led the way to the nearest tram stop. The rain turned into a steady drizzle and I noticed she was still shivering in her thin jacket.
She rubbed her arms. “Where will we go now?”
“Albert Cuyp. You bruise easily?”
She narrowed her eyes. “Why do you ask?”
“Just answer the question.”
“If I’m knocked about I’ll bruise, but I don’t plan on getting caught.”
I shot her a scornful look. “Never heard of ‘collision theft’?”
“You want me to bump into someone and pick his pocket?”
“You bump into the mark. Extracting wallets is my department.”
“Oh. Okay, no problem.”
I scowled. “We’ll see.”
As the author, of course I cannot rate or review my own work. What I can do is give you, the potential reader, some background information about In Pocket.
About twenty years ago, when I was working on what was to become Reprobate: A Katla Novel, I had a half-finished story on a busker who lived in a delivery van and pretended to be blind in order to rake in more money. As such, Wolfgang was the only one who saw a murder by assassin Katla Sieltjes, who promptly started hunting him down to shut him up.
The story didn’t work and I wrote a new story with Katla as the protagonist, who breaks her rule of never leaving a witness alive when blind busker Bram Merleyn enters her crime scene. Readers of the Amsterdam Assassin Series know what happened after that, so I’m not going to rehash that story.
In the meantime, Wolfgang was still living in his van with his pet rat Gabriel, but he changed from busker to pickpocket, and acquired a heroin addiction (being one of my characters can be very taxing).
I often write on several projects at the same time, and I kept adding to the story of Wolfgang the pickpocket until it reached critical mass, all the pieces fell together, and In Pocket almost wrote itself.
In Pocket is a stand-alone novel, but it has some connections with the Amsterdam Assassin Series beyond the same locations – if you read carefully, you will find cameos from characters that also appear in the series.
I make free e-book review copies available to readers who want to review In Pocket on GoodReads and retailer sites. To get your hands on a free review copy, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘review copy In Pocket’ in the subject line.
Are you a book reviewer and interested in an ARC of In Pocket? Send an email with ‘ARC reviewer In Pocket’, and maybe you can get In Pocket a month early (publication date August 1st).
Picking the wrong pocket might prove fatal…
Nomadic pickpocket Wolfgang gets blackmailed into teaching his craft to the mysterious Lilith, a young woman with no aptitude whatsoever to become a pickpocket. Wolf figures the easiest way is to go with the flow and instruct Lilith in the art of emptying other people’s pockets, but even he could never foresee the dreadful consequences…
IN POCKET is a standalone novel by Martyn V. Halm, the author of the Amsterdam Assassin Series. Follow Wolf as he gets entangled in a possibly fatal web of violence and deceit, where nobody is who they seem to be and everyone has a hidden agenda.
Just as a reminder – I will experiment with pre-orders for In Pocket, so the ebook will be available at pre-order for the low, low price of 99c (for those who like the ebook without strings attached), but only until the publication date, when the book will become the (still cheap) price of 2.99.
So follow my blog and get a two dollar discount when you pre-order In Pocket before August 1st!
Aconite Attack, the fourth Katla KillFile, will be published in a few days, but you can get an Advance Reader Copy from today! If you’re interested in reading the story before its official launch date and support an independent author, read on:
Aconite Attack is the fourth Katla KillFile, after Locked Room, Microchip Murder, and Fundamental Error.
The pitch for Aconite Attack:
Assassin Katla finds a devious way to get a target to poison himself…
The Aconite Attack KillFile (10,600 words) follows Katla Sieltjes, freelance assassin and corporate troubleshooter, as she gets herself hired by the CEO of a modelling agency to permanently remove his playboy partner, who is quickly draining the firm’s resources on his downward spiral into self-destruction. Katla finds a way to administer a poison to the target, but he has to be isolated for her plan to succeed. But every plan has a fluke factor, and Katla soon finds herself in a struggle for life and death when the target reveals his darker side…
The Katla KillFile short stories chronologically precede the novels in the Amsterdam Assassin Series.
Each KillFile features Katla Sieltjes, expert in disguising homicide, executing one of her contracts. While not mandatory reading, each KillFile provides insight both in Katla’s work methods and skill, and additional background information in her character and personal history. The KillFiles can be read out of order, as the contracts are random samples from Katla’s past.
This e-book features a glossary.
Aconite Attack will be published on New Years Eve, but a limited amount of Advance Reader Copies will be made available to early reviewers.
“Am I eligible for an ARC of Aconite Attack?”
You do not have to be a reviewer for a magazine or other official publication. All readers are eligible for an ARC, provided they are able to write a review and post it on their blog and retail sites (links to the retail sites will be provided to reviewers on the launch date). Reviews don’t have to be long, but honesty is required. Reviews are for readers to make up their mind if they want to read the story, so it’s important to give a fair assessment of the story’s entertainment value.
“What if I don’t like (parts of) the story?”
Please put that in your review. Readers might share your opinion and avoid reading something they don’t like, or they might not share your opinion and like the story for the reasons you don’t like it. Whatever you do, give your honest opinion.
“How can I apply for an ARC?”
Simple, just send an email to email@example.com with “Aconite ARC” in the subject line and you’ll receive an ePub and a mobi file, so you can choose the device you want to use for reading the story. Download the attached file to your hard drive and upload the file into the e-reader of your preference.
“How long do I have to read the story and write and post my review?”
The story is just over 10,000 words, so most readers can read it in an hour or two, maybe three if they read at a leisurely pace. The review doesn’t have to be long. Just state that you’re reviewing an ARC provided by the author, and what you liked/disliked about the story and why. Posting the review on the retail sites and blogs is a matter of minutes. If possible, post your reviews on the launch date. If you’re late, post the review a day or so later, but preferably no longer than a week after the launch.
All ARCs will be sent out until December 30th. Applications after midnight December 30th will not be considered for ARCs, so send your application email as soon as possible.
Thank you for your support,
Martyn V. Halm
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