Category Archives: Kill Chain

Get signed, personalized books for the 2017 holidays

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The holidays are coming up, and of course you’re contemplating giving books as gifts to everyone you know and love. Right?

If you’d like to get copies of my novels, you can now arrange for me to scribble in them, no matter how far away you live or whether you catch me in person when I have a pen in my hand. Thanks to my fantastic local bookstore, Book People in Austin, you can order signed, personalized copies of my novels. The store ships across the USA and internationally.

Book People doesn’t have a hard deadline for holiday shipping, but the sooner you order, the better.

UPDATE! Book People says:

To ensure orders make it somewhere in time for Christmas, we ask that they be placed before (not on) December 19th at the absolute latest. Making an order that late would require UPS shipping, our more expensive option, so customers looking to ship through USPS should place orders before the 12th to be sure they make it on time. UPS shipping typically takes 3 to 5 business days and USPS typically takes 5 to 10 business days.

If you’d like to order copies of my books and have me sign them, call (512) 472-5050 or CLICK HERE.

And once you order my books, you can keep on going and order books by other authors as well. Book People has a whole store full of them. What are you waiting for?

California Dreamin’ — Songs my characters love

All the leaves are brown, and the sky is gray… okay, all the leaves are scarlet and it’s a vivid autumn day. The point is, songs. And not just songs I love, like “California Dreamin’,” but songs my characters love. I want to reassure everybody that my characters do have loves and hatreds. Because in a recent post — What do writers owe readers? — some commenters expressed surprise that the characters in my books are fictional. Please don’t panic. They’re as real to me as they are to you, and to prove it, here are their favorite, and least favorite, songs.


Evan Delaney — Patsy Cline, “Crazy.” Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Jubilee.”

Jesse Blackburn — Jimi Hendrix, “All Along the Watchtower.” Foo Fighters, “Times Like These.”

Jax Rivera — Ray Charles, “Georgia on My Mind.”

Jo Beckett — Elvis Costello, “Complicated Shadows.”

Gabe Quintana — Stephen Sondheim, “Johanna.” No, only kidding. Los Lobos, “Will the Wolf Survive?”

Lt. Amy Tang — Beyoncé/Jay-Z, “Crazy in Love.”

Rory Mackenzie — Radical Face, “Welcome Home.”

Riss Mackenzie — Amy Winehouse, “Some Unholy War.”


Jesse — “Memory,” played on a Hammond organ at the Holiday Inn in Goleta, California.

Evan — Donny and Marie.

Rory — anything that Riss has played within her hearing.

Where in the world? Olympics edition

I snapped this photo a few days ago as I headed to this building for an Olympics-related event. (Yes, Olympics-related: current and past Olympians were present.  They included water polo players, table tennis players, a guy who had just come from his event at the rowing competition, and a swimming gold medalist at Rome in 1960. The rest of us cheered them mightily.)

This should be an easy one, but tell me: who recognizes the building?

Hint 1: To gain access I had to surrender my phone, camera, and car keys, and go through airport-like security.

Hint 2: A major action sequence in my novel Kill Chain starts on the spot where I was standing when I took the photo.

Some more of Santa Barbara

Some more photos of my home town and settings for the Evan Delaney series.


The Old Mission church. In Mission Canyon, this is where Evan has a run-in with some bad guys while she’s trying to plan the music for her wedding.

It also happens to be the church where the Husband and I had our wedding. The music was gorgeous. No chase scenes ensued. (I’d already caught him.)


Me, pointing to the railing on the roof where Evan — holding her best friend’s baby — decides she doesn’t want her obituary to include the words “fatal plunge.”


The view in the opposite direction, overlooking the city rose garden and the neighborhood where Evan lives. A few blocks downhill, the car chase in Kill Chain ends when Tim North crashes into a fire hydrant and a hit man comes after him and Evan.

Pretty, isn’t it?

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Shoreline Park, setting for the closing scene in China Lake.

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Kill Chain: out now in the USA

Kill Chain, the fifth Evan Delaney novel, is published today in the USA.

Here’s what the Guardian said about the novel:

“Evan Delaney is a paragon for our times: tough, funny, clever, brave, tireless and compassionate. In the very readable Kill Chain, she chases round the world to save her father from kidnappers, and is pitted against worthy opponents — especially the pair of chemically altered whores with the bodies of children but “eyes stained with age.” The pace and inventiveness never flag, and the climax, which takes place in the terrifyingly impersonal container depot in the port of Los Angeles, is both nailbiting and moving. But the brilliant writing is what puts this thriller way ahead of the competition… Intelligent escapism at its best.”

Security, schmerity

Flying to Houston yesterday, I proofread the page proofs for the U.S. edition of Kill Chain, which will be published in November. (Fourteen hours From London, through Dallas. I had time.) This was probably the sixth time I’ve read the book since finishing it. (Editing, rewriting, copyediting UK edition, proofreading UK page proofs, copyediting U.S. edition…) And this time, a line I’d written stopped me cold. Evan Delaney is flipping through some classified documents, illicitly obtained by a former British intelligence agent. She sees a photocopied memo from the Secret Intelligence Service.

I thought: No way. It’s impossible that a British spook could have photocopied secret documents at SIS headquarters.

What had I been thinking, writing that? When I taught at the University of California, we were strictly limited as to how many copies we could make. We had to enter a personal code to activate the copier. The machine knew who we were and how many copies we’d made. And if UC was so ruthless, British intelligence must certainly be ten times more so. Any clandestine service will control access to copiers and keep exacting records of who touches them and how many pages they copy. It must. Damn, I thought — I should have written the sentence differently. Made it a spy camera photo of classified documents. But not a photocopy.

I needn’t have worried. Obtaining Top Secret materials in London is easier than buying Kleenex.

“Top secret al-Qaida file left on train.”

The Metropolitan police has launched an investigation after top secret intelligence documents on al-Qaida and Iraq were left on a train in London, the Cabinet Office confirmed today.

It is understood the two documents, relating to al-Qaida activity in Pakistan and the security situation in Iraq, were lost yesterday.

The files were left at Waterloo station, on a train heading to Surrey, by a senior security official.

So that’s why I can’t find a seat on trains out of Waterloo.

And it gets better. Or worse, if you’re the government. The police launched a search for the documents. But they’d already been found by another passenger, who turned them in — to the BBC.

Kill Chain – the underground truth


Shepherd’s Bush tube station in London is set to close for refurbishment. Transport for London says the improvements are necessary; commuters are griping because the station will be closed for eight months. The station, in the middle of a busy shopping and residential area in west London, can definitely stand a facelift. It may have looked spiffy in the 1920s, but today it’s scuzzy around the edges. Still, I feel nostalgic about the place.

When I was researching Kill Chain, the Husband and I spent several days tromping around London with a tube map and a camera, scoping out settings for the book. We rode the Underground extensively, checking out the layout of stations above and below ground. I don’t want to include spoilers here, so I’ll just say that we did all the things normal tourists do when riding the tube. We checked to see how easy it would be to vault the turnstiles if one were being chased by a psychotic hitwoman, for instance. And whether the escalators lend themselves to being used as a slide, in an emergency. And we investigated where on a tube platform it would be possible to hide, and how to keep from being seen by CCTV, convex mirrors, and the transport police. We worked it all out in detail.

We’re lucky we weren’t arrested, or worse.


Here are a couple of photos I snapped on the expedition. This one was taken from the entrance to Shepherd’s Bush tube station, looking across the green. Seeing the police van reminded me that perhaps I shouldn’t ask my husband to time me as I sprinted down the stairs, wearing a heavy backpack and clutching a small electronic device with a button I kept depressing.


And here’s BBC Television Centre, at White City, one stop up the Central Line from Shepherd’s Bush. It gets a mention in the book. No sign of any journalists… maybe they were all inside walking through raspberry jam.

Sometimes I just love this job.