THIEF’S MARK by Carla Neggers: Excerpt & Giveaway

Posted August 9, 2017 in Book Tour, Excerpts, Giveaway / 1 Comment


A murder in a quiet English village, long-buried secrets and a man’s search for answers about his traumatic past entangle FBI agents Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan in the latest edge-of-your-seat Sharpe & Donovan novel 

As a young boy, Oliver York witnessed the murder of his wealthy parents in their London apartment. The killers kidnapped him and held him in an isolated Scottish ruin, but he escaped, thwarting their plans for ransom. Now, after thirty years on the run, one of the two men Oliver identified as his tormentors may have surfaced.

Emma Sharpe and Colin Donovan are enjoying the final day of their Irish honeymoon when a break-in at the home of Emma’s grandfather, private art detective Wendell Sharpe, points to Oliver. The Sharpes have a complicated relationship with the likable, reclusive Englishman, an expert in Celtic mythology and international art thief who taunted Wendell for years. Emma and Colin postpone meetings in London with their elite FBI team and head straight to Oliver. But when they arrive at York’s country home, a man is dead and Oliver has vanished.

As the danger mounts, new questions arise about Oliver’s account of his boyhood trauma. Do Emma and Colin dare trust him? With the trail leading beyond Oliver’s small village to Ireland, Scotland and their own turf in the US, the stakes are high, and Emma and Colin must unravel the decades-old tangle of secrets and lies before a killer strikes again.


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“Granddad could be overdramatizing and the break-in isn’t a big deal,” Emma said as she and Colin approached her grandfather’s town house near Merrion Square. They’d decided to walk after checking in to the hotel. Wendell had staked them to an elegant, third-floor room with a view of St. Stephen’s Green. “It’s still possible we can have a good last night of our honeymoon.”

“We will no matter what,” Colin said.

She smiled. “You’ve turned into a romantic.”

“The Ireland effect.”

“Not being with me?”

He winked. “We’ll see what happens when we get home.”

Home was her tiny apartment in Boston and his house in his hometown of Rock Point, Maine. Now their apartment and house. She loved being married to him and had relished every second of their time together in Ireland. She looked at him now, her broad-shouldered, dark-haired undercover-agent husband with his ocean-gray eyes and sexy smile.

But her mind was on her grandfather. “I don’t like the coincidence of a break-in and our arrival in Dublin,” she said.

Colin gave a curt nod. “I don’t, either. Do you think he has a suspect in mind?”

“I don’t know. He’s being slippery, that’s for sure.”

“I’m not touching that one.”

“Best we stay on our toes when Granddad is in full obfuscation mode.”

“Not regretting joining the family business instead of the FBI at the moment, are you?”

“Not at the moment, no. Not ever, actually.” She sighed. “Granddad didn’t look hurt or freaked out to you, did he?”

“No, but he never does.”

True enough, she thought.

When they reached her grandfather’s redbrick building, he pulled open the door before she could knock or ring the bell. “I suppose you want to go straight to the crime scene,” he said. “Come on in.”

Without waiting for an answer, he led them through the entry and front room back to a ground-floor bedroom. He moved aside, and Emma stood on the threshold, Colin to her left and a bit behind her. The room was small and square, with two twin beds, a nightstand, a dresser and photographs of Skellig Michael on the wall opposite the window, which looked onto a terrace at the back of the house. The only sign of a problem was a spiderweb of cracked glass emanating from a fist-size hole in the window.

“Bastard unlocked the window and came right in,” her grandfather said behind them. “Used a gnome statue on the terrace to break the glass. You remember it, Emma. It belonged to your grandmother. Otherwise I’d have left it in Maine. It’s a homely little thing. Anyway, I think he went out through the back door. I don’t know if it was a man. Could have been a woman.”

Colin pointed at the bare tile floor in the bedroom. “No glass.”

Wendell shrugged. “I swept it up. There wasn’t much.”

“You shouldn’t have touched anything,” Emma said.

“Yeah, I know. It would have been easier if I’d left the doors unlocked and he walked in and out again. Less of a mess to clean up and I might never have known anyone had been here. I’d never have looked if…” Wendell stopped abruptly. “Never mind. Doesn’t matter now.”

“If what, Granddad?” Emma asked.

He rubbed the back of his neck. “I spotted a piece of broken glass on the kitchen table when I got back from the pub. That’s why I checked in here. The intruder must have taken the glass with him after he climbed through the window. If I’d been here and put up a fuss—well, you know. He could have threatened me or slit my throat.”

Colin angled a look at him. “But you didn’t see anyone?”

“No one, in here or outside. I wasn’t here when he broke in and I didn’t get my throat slit. And,” he added emphatically, “the glass could have been a practical consideration. A tool rather than a weapon, in case he needed to cut something.”

Emma frowned. “Cut something?”

He motioned with one hand. “Come.”

Emma felt Colin’s tension as they followed her grandfather to his study, now his home office and where he spent most of his time. When the weather was dank and chilly, he’d have a fire going, but not today, given the lingering warm, dry June weather. It had rained only a few times during her and Colin’s stay in Ireland, but the occasional lazy, drizzly day hadn’t gone to waste.

“I turned over most of my physical files to Lucas when I shut down my outside office,” her grandfather said. “He went through them when he was here last fall and took what he wanted back to Maine with him.”

Lucas, Emma’s older brother, had taken over the reins of Sharpe Fine Art Recovery and worked out of its offices in Heron’s Cove, a picturesque village on the southern Maine coast. He’d just completed a massive revamp of the offices, located in the same Victorian house where a young Portland security guard had launched his career as a private art detective. Six decades later, Wendell Sharpe was world-renowned, and Sharpe Fine Art Recovery was a thriving business, but still small in terms of staff. His only son—Emma and Lucas’s father—had cut back on his role with the company after a fall on the ice had left him in chronic, often debilitating pain.

“Lucas is considering reopening a Dublin office now that I’ve retired.” Wendell shrugged, waved a hand. “More-or-less retired, anyway. I work when he needs me or I land on something interesting on my own. The rest of my files are here.” He tapped his right temple. “I told Lucas what he needs to know for the business. Everything else can go to the grave with me.”

“The stuff you want to hide,” Colin said.

Wendell snorted. “Damn right but not from the FBI. You and your lot wouldn’t be interested. Neither would my family. Most of it’s memories, ideas, suppositions, speculations, conspiracy theories…mistakes I’ve made, people whose reputations might be harmed unfairly because of their association with me. I’m an old man. I’ve done a lot.”

Emma sat on the couch. She’d spent countless hours here in her grandfather’s study when she’d worked for him before she’d left Dublin for the FBI. She’d wanted to learn everything—about the business, art crimes, his contacts, his methods, his resources. She’d been a sponge. But she eyed him with measures of skepticism, anticipation, curiosity—the usual mix when she was dealing with her grandfather. “What do your files and memories have to do with the break-in?”

He hesitated. “Maybe I jumped the gun.”

“Granddad, just tell us everything, okay? Don’t make me pry it out of you.”

“Rusty after your honeymoon?”

Colin took in an audible breath. “Quit stalling, Wendell.”

“All right, all right. It’s tricky timing, dealing with a break-in and having your FBI granddaughter and her FBI husband show up. It looks as if my intruder had a look around in here. He didn’t toss the place, but there are signs.” He pointed to a small, dark wood box on a shelf by the fireplace. “He got in there. It doesn’t have a lock but there’s no label saying what’s inside. Never occurred to me anyone…” He didn’t finish, instead plopping onto a chair across from Emma.



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About Carla Neggers

Carla Neggers is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 60 novels, including her popular Sharpe & Donovan and Swift River Valley series. Her books have been translated into 24 languages and sold in over 35 countries. Whether creating stories of friendship, family and love or razor-sharp suspense, Carla always takes readers on a captivating journey. Her books have been called “smart and satisfying” (Kirkus), “extraordinarily memorable” (RT Book Reviews) and “highly entertaining” (Publishers Weekly), and she has been praised for her “unerring knack for creating compelling, sympathetic characters and vivid, realistic settings” (Library Journal).

Growing up in a small town in western Massachusetts, Carla developed an eye for detail and a love of a good story. Her father, a former Dutch merchant marine, and her mother, raised in the Florida Panhandle, arrived in New England just before Carla was born. Her parents’ stories and the many adventures Carla had with her six siblings honed her imagination and curiosity, key to the complex relationships, fast-paced plots and deep sense of place in her books.

Carla landed her first book sale not long after graduating magna cum laude from Boston University with a degree in journalism. An accomplished musician, she studied with members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and freelanced as an arts-and-entertainment reporter—always with a novel in the works.

Active in the writing community, Carla is a founding member of the New England Chapter of Romance Writers of America and has served as vice president of International Thriller Writers and president of Novelists, Inc. She has received multiple awards for her writing and is a recipient of the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award for romantic suspense.

In addition to writing, Carla is a dedicated runner, recently completing the Covered Bridges Half-Marathon in Vermont, a whiskey enthusiast and avid traveler. She and her husband are frequent visitors to Ireland and divide their time between Boston, home to their two grown children and three young grandchildren, and their hilltop home in Vermont.


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