Martyr Maker Series, Book 3
Mystery & Thriller / Literature & Fiction / Religion & Spirituality
Date Published: 10/24/23
"Eriq La Salle has emerged as a terrific writer with unique gifts." ―Don Winslow, #1 international bestselling author
A war is brewing in New York City, and no one can stop it.
With grit, relentless action, and twists you'll never see coming, Laws of Annihilation is the third installment in the highly-acclaimed Martyr Maker series by Eriq La Salle.
It's another blistering summer in New York City, and a sweltering heat wave stifles the area. Hostility between the Hasidic and Black communities has been steadily increasing since a tragic incident left a Black teenager dead. When two rabbis are killed in a gruesome attack on their synagogue, it has all the signs of retaliation.
The entire city is on edge.
Through it all, Agent Janet Maclin's dreams of becoming the FBI's first female director come crashing down when she receives some devastating news. In spite of it all, she's determined to help NYPD detectives Quincy Cavanaugh and Phee Freeman find the rabbis' killer as more hate crimes put the city on the brink of all-out war. As the body count climbs with the temperature and the tensions, time is running out for Maclin in more ways than one.
Apart from his critically-acclaimed thriller titles, La Salle is a masterful mystery/crime storyteller. He may be best known for his acting roles in productions such as ER, Coming to America, and Logan, but his background in crime fiction was finely honed as he directed and executive produced countless episodes of popular shows such as Law & Order, Law and Order SVU, Law & Order: Organized Crime, CSI: NY, and Chicago PD with Dick Wolf.
Praise for Eriq La Salle's Martyr Maker Series
"Laws of Wrath is all thriller; no filler―a white knuckled treat."
―James Patterson, New York Timesbestselling author
"Laws of Depravity is a gritty crime thriller, spiritual quest, and love story all woven into one compelling tale."
"Fast paced…Characters are richly textured [and] none is without faults."
―Kirkus Reviews, for Laws of Wrath
Read an excerpt below
About the Author
Actor, director, producer, and masterful storyteller Eriq La Salle is best known to worldwide television audiences for his award-winning portrayal of Dr. Peter Benton on the medical drama ER. Educated at Juilliard and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, his credits range from Broadway to film roles, starring alongside Eddie Murphy in Coming to America, Robin Williams in One Hour Photo, and Hugh Jackman in Logan. La Salle has maintained a prolific acting career while also taking the helm as director for HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Prime, ABC NBC, Fox and CBS productions. His craft as a crime writer was honed over his many seasons as a key member of the Dick Wolf Entertainment team, which include four years as executive producer and director on Chicago PD, in addition to directing episodes of Law & Order, Law and Order SVU and Law & Order: Organized Crime. He is also executive producer, director, and one of the lead actors of Dick Wolf's “On Call,” out in 2024 on Amazon Prime Video. As a writer, La Salle is the author of several critically-acclaimed thrillers published by Sourcebooks—Laws of Depravity (2022), Laws of Wrath (2023), and Laws of Annihilation (2023). His episode of The Twilight Zone recently made WGA’s list of 101 Best Written TV Series. He lives in Los Angeles, California.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Excerpt from "Laws of Annihilation"
In Hell. It was the only way to describe the hottest summer on record. Even under the daily clamor of city life, if one listened intently it was still possible to hear the faint echo of the Devil’s joyful laughter. He was the only one who could have taken any pleasure in the torturous heat, the ungodly stench, and, of course, the gorge of hatred.
It felt like the cruelest summer ever. New York was taking gut punches from a punishing heat wave that showed no signs of easing. The Big Apple was in dire need of relief. It was thirsting for summer rains, cool merciful drops that fell from somewhere at least in the proximity of Heaven. Of all of the East Coast cities that were being strangled by the heat, New York was choking the most.
FBI Special Agent Janet Maclin drove down to the Big Apple from Washington, DC, where it was also hot, yet much more tolerable. She suffered through the slow roast of being in Manhattan because her trip was mandatory. Of her numerous visits to the city, it was the first time she had come to New York and hated it. What she hated most was her reason for having to come.
From the time she was a child, Agent Maclin had had grand dreams of becoming the first female director of the FBI. She’d entered the Bureau knowing that as a woman she would have to run faster and jump higher than her male counterparts just to be considered half equal. Fueled by her dream, she outran and outjumped the best of them. Though sexism had hindered her at numerous turns, it was good old- fashioned bureaucracy that left her dream all but wilting on the vine. It didn’t matter that seventeen years into her career she had acquired quite the reputation, as not just a rising star but a bona fide standout. She had certainly accomplished more than all of her peers and most of her superiors. Bringing down two major serial killers within a month of each other was just one of the many achievements on the impressive résumé she had built on the journey toward her lifelong dream. Ultimately, none of it really mattered because, even though she had entered the Bureau as a young attorney, she had blossomed into a talented field agent and not a bureaucrat or politician, which, throughout the history of the FBI, had been the traditional path to directorship.
It was public knowledge that the long-standing, current director of the Bureau was being vetted as the heavily favored vice- presidential replacement after the current VP had suffered irreversible brain damage from a severe stroke just five months into the current administration’s incumbency. Now that the director was more than likely leaving, all types of rumors were spreading. There was speculation, thin and unsubstantiated, that he was aggressively looking for a woman to succeed him. Although she knew, both logistically and realistically, she didn’t stand a chance, the spark, however faint, still reignited the flames of her most desired dream.
Under normal circumstances, she wasn’t the type to allow herself to get caught up in things she considered highly improbable. But for once, she embraced the distraction of hope— because, unfortunately, the current circumstances of her life were unfolding as anything but normal.
She’d started the day with a stomach full of butterflies. By the time the receptionist ushered her into the penthouse office on Park Avenue, they had mutated into angry dragons that were currently wreaking havoc on her intestinal fortitude. She wore her favorite navy- blue pantsuit with a crisp white collarless top beneath. She wasn’t much on jewelry. She wore no earrings, bracelets, or rings— just a simple, rose- gold Lady Bulova and a silver hamsa necklace barely peeking over the second button of her blouse.
The tiny hand- shaped amulet had several names and meanings.
In the Jewish faith, it was referred to as the Hand of God, but Agent Maclin didn’t wear it for any religious reasons because she was definitely not the religious type. She had worn the necklace for the last thirty- four years because it was all that she had left of her mother, who had passed away when Maclin was seven years old. Born into a proud Protestant family, her mother converted to Judaism just before marriage to hopefully establish spiritual consistency for her impending family. The irony was that although Maclin’s father was raised in a Conservative Jewish family, by the time she was born he had at best grown indifferent to the faith.
Maclin wasn’t a woman who was easily intimidated. Yet, the large office made her feel like a truculent child waiting to be reprimanded by the principal. She stuck her hands in her pants pockets in an attempt to stop them from trembling. She wasn’t the most patient of women. Agent Maclin was a verb, a ball of kinetic energy who found her greatest peace when she was doing. The helpless waiting was nerve- racking. The quiet office didn’t help in any way; the silence was burdensome. She looked through the twelve- foot-tall windows facing 49th Street and could see down the corridor of high- rises all the way to the West Side.
The inside of the building was unfazed by the scorching heat wave that was punishing everything outside. The office felt like the coolest place in New York, both thermally as well as estheti-cally. She tried to distract herself by taking in all that she could of the space that was unabashedly vying for a shot on the cover of Architectural Digest. Everything about it screamed of money. The address, the bone suede walls with coffered ceilings, customized fixtures, and intricate appointments throughout. The room even smelled rich; the scent of some high- end fragrance floated in the air like a perfect reminder of a tropical island. There was an original Picasso as well as one of Degas’s famous paintings of a ballerina.
It was not surprising to her that the man she came to see had an “ego wall.” It was the one wall solely dedicated to the long list of his accomplishments over an extremely successful career.
There were multiple degrees from Harvard and Princeton along with his photo on the cover of Time magazine, not to mention the framed pictures of him with three different presidents. There were tchotchkes and even artifacts in display cases from various parts of the world, no doubt collected during his extensive travels. Despite how much she had read up on him, he still held the upper hand because he knew more consequential things about her.
Agent Maclin analyzed the office in the same way she ran a crime scene. She gathered facts based on meticulous observation. Even though she had already read as much information as she could, she still gathered clues about the man who knew more about her future than she did. Maclin hated more than anything that she no longer controlled her fate. After being seated for two minutes, she concluded that the leather Barcelona chair she sat in was intentionally only mildly comfortable. As beautiful as the office was, it was never designed for meetings lasting longer than necessary. It was fine by her because she certainly didn’t want to be there any longer than she needed to be.
She stared at a Swarovski crystal clock on the desk, irritated that she had now waited six long minutes past the designated time of the meeting. Just as her hands stopped trembling, one of the double doors to the office opened. The man breezed in and greeted her with an apology that she felt was filled more with eti-quette than sincerity.
“My apologies. My staff meeting ran longer than normal,” he offered.
Maclin hated the man the second she met him. She thought he looked too slick with his gelled hair, artificial tan, and two-thousand- dollar loafers.
She was a bit surprised that he was younger looking than his online photos and even the magazine covers. He looked too young, she felt, to have acquired all the expertise he was renowned for.
“It’s quite all right. I was just admiring the view,” she lied.
She reminded herself to smile because her natural disposition was sometimes a bit off- putting to people. Today, more than any other, she needed not to put anyone off and certainly not the man she came to visit. Maclin wasn’t an unfriendly woman by any means; but unfortunately, she had the kind of pensive face that more often than not seemed frozen in a permafrown . Her lifelong habit of pursing her lips made her seem as though she was just two ticks away from a full- on scowl. Whenever she was contemplative— which was most of the time— the corners of her mouth turned downward like a grumpy fish. Her malady only added to the pile of misogyny that she waded through on a semiregular basis at the Bureau. “You know, Janet, maybe if you smiled a lot more, you’d go a lot further.” She’d once overheard two of her male colleagues laughing about how she had a terminal case of Resting Bitch Face.
Maclin extended her hand and smiled hard, as though it were the most natural thing in the world for her. She smiled like a woman who was certainly worthy of her host’s empathy. He had small, manicured hands that looked better than hers ever had. There was a softness to them. His handshake had the tentativeness of a man afraid that a firm greeting might somehow jeopardize his liveli-hood. He was the type of man that Maclin usually easily dismissed; she had very little tolerance for men with tepid introductions.
Yet, she was in no position to rebuff him because regardless of the unimpressive measure of his hands they still held all the power.
However, the minute they shook she knew that things weren’t going to go her way and all the smiles in the world wouldn’t change that. Now she had to wade through indeterminate minutes of polite chatter before he confirmed what she already knew.
The man’s name was Dr. Winston Quinlan III, and he was widely regarded as one of the top five oncologists in the country.
Maclin had traveled from DC to New York to see him so that he could offer his professional opinion about how much time she had before she died.
“…and, unfortunately, after looking at your CT scan we weren’t able to find anything that contradicted your previous two doctors’
prognoses. Stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer is certainly a huge challenge on its own, but now that it’s spread to your pancreas and other parts of your body, I’m afraid we’re terribly limited in what we can hope for. I do have to say that in some cases— although it is rare— we’ve seen people beat the odds and live another three to five years.”
Maclin stayed standing and looked at him directly. “The thing about working in law enforcement is that I’ve given enough bad news over the years to have learned how to take it. There’s no need for you to feel that you have to give me some false sense of hope. I just need the facts so I know what to expect and when to expect it.”
“Well then, I would have to start by saying that, frankly, I’m surprised that you’re currently functioning as well as you are. In the next month, two max, things are going to get pretty bad and then only worse from there.”
“Would chemo and radiation help any?” she asked.
“In your case, I’m afraid not. Your cancer is much too aggressive.”
“At the risk of sounding clichéd, how long before I, uhh…you know?”
“I think we’re looking at three months. Four, tops. I’m sorry I can’t give you better news.”
Agent Maclin looked over the doctor’s shoulder and stared at the painting of the ballerina, and for the next minute was able to shut out everything else. Dr. Quinlan continued speaking, but his voice became nothing more than a steady whirr of garbled apologies. Maclin looked so hard at the painting that she thought she saw it come alive. She found escape in seeing the ballerina move. She saw grace and perfection. She could even smell the hard work and hear the applause of the faceless audience. She felt the warm foot-lights that lit up the stage. The more Maclin looked at the painting, the more she thought about how much it was filled with life and possibilities that were no longer available to her.