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Descent (Paperback)

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A Sam Jameson Series novel starring Peter Kittredge. Over 1,000,000 fans in 17 countries.

The runaway #1 Bestseller from USA Today Bestselling Author Lars Emmerich.

This is a standalone novel, but Peter Kittredge first appears in Books One and Two of the Sam Jameson series. Get them both on sale here.

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”Witty, acerbic, and off-kilter. Pretty much the perfect read!”

Some middle-aged men buy sports cars. Others find a new love interest.

Peter Kittredge became a spy.

But not a very good one. He’s instantly in over his head.

So he runs, trying to escape the life.

But can you ever outrun yourself? Or are your unconquered demons always at your heels?

DESCENT is a noir psychological thriller from #1 Bestselling Author and conspiracy master Lars Emmerich, played out against a backdrop of deep international intrigue, corporate greed, and a morally bankrupt state security apparatus.

USA Today Bestselling Author Lars Emmerich’s writing is sharp, edgy, well-researched, and eminently thought-provoking. His characters are vivid, complex, and real.

DESCENT is for fans of Chuck Palahniuk, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Dennis Lehane, Elmore Leonard, and other masters of the noir conspiracy thriller genre.

"Dark, hilarious, intense, totally engrossing."

"I didn't know what hit me! It was awesome!"

"Lars is the man!"

"Witty, acerbic, and off-kilter. Pretty much the perfect read!"

"Dude. Game-changer."

"This one had me guessing right up to the last page."

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    Enjoy a sample from DESCENT

    It was Friday, a workday, but none of them appeared to be in any shape for work.

    That wasn’t unusual for Kittredge, who hadn’t been in any shape for gainful employment for a number of months. He had the guilt of a rich but estranged father to thank for his sudden entry into the leisure class, the kind of guilt that found its way into an old man’s last will and testament. Cancer wasn’t without its redeeming qualities, Kittredge had thought at the time, hating himself as he thought it.

    Nora was the girl’s name. She snored softly in a disarmingly gorgeous way. In addition to being dangerously beautiful and capable of improbable sexual deviances, Nora seemed to have a wicked wit and a razor intellect. Kittredge liked her. It scared the shit out of him, for reasons that were still too close, too real. It hadn’t been nearly long enough since the last time a girl had nearly done him in.

    Sergio was the boy. Kittredge thought of him as a boy, but really he was a man of twenty-something years, making him fifteen- odd years younger than Kittredge, who was forty-something. As a rule, gay men didn’t count beyond forty, or thirty if they were militant rainbow-flaggers.

    Sergio seemed a little fey, and he clearly spent time on both masculine and effeminate sides of the sexual spectrum, to the great pleasure of everyone else in Kittredge’s bed at the moment. Sergio was too damn young to be a serious threat of turning into Kittredge’s next big mistake. He had a built-in half-life, which would expire when Sergio’s youth clashed with Kittredge’s middle-aged weariness. It could be perfect, Kittredge thought: plenty of quasi-meaningless but thoroughly enjoyable carnal engagement with no pressure for anything else.

    What would Charley think of all of this? Kittredge hated himself for still thinking thoughts like that. It had ended poorly with Charley, to say the least. He bore scars, psychological and physical, and barely an hour passed during which he didn’t think of the various ways Charley Fucking Arlinghaus had ruined his life.

    Charley was Kittredge’s former live-in lover, with whom Kittredge would certainly have described himself as being in a committed relationship, but whose commitment was, with the benefit of hindsight, clearly not of the fully reciprocal kind. In his more honest moments, Kittredge accepted the right amount of responsibility for the tailspin his life had become, but Charley’s treachery had sure given things a huge shove in the wrong direction.

    “I’m hungry,” Nora announced in the husky, smoky voice that had driven Kittredge wild the previous evening. And morning.

    Kittredge was thankful for the interruption. His thoughts had been headed in a dark direction. “Me, too,” he said quietly so as not to wake Sergio. “I know a place where they serve the only respectable Bloody Mary in Cologne.”

    He offered his shower to her, but she declined. “I like the smell of you boys on me,” she said with a naughty smile. In spite of himself, Kittredge envisioned Nora occupying a growing share of his calendar. He hoped the feeling was mutual.

    They dressed, he in clean clothes, she in yesterday’s skirt and a borrowed button-down shirt, and they slipped quietly out the front door of his absurdly expensive Appelhofplatz flat in downtown Köln. Or Cologne, to those less Teutonic and more Anglo.

    The building’s entrance was a block away from a subway station in either direction, but their destination was even closer than that. The Königsmarkt Bäckerei, or king’s market bakery, which doubled as an avant-garde eatery, was just a few steps away.

    “Hell,” Nora said. “I forgot my purse.”

    “Don’t worry about it,” Kittredge said. “Breakfast is on me.”

    “Thanks. That’s kind of you,” she said. “But I’m expecting a call from work, and I need my phone. Can I borrow your key?”

    Kittredge fished his apartment key from his pocket and waited in front of the Bäckerei while Nora trotted back to his apartment for her purse. She returned just a couple of minutes later with an apology on her lips.

    Kittredge waved it off. “Not a problem at all. I needed the fresh air anyway.”

    They’d barely taken their seats when the waiter showed up, seemingly out of the blue, with a dangerously tall Bloody Mary, which he handed to Kittredge without preamble. “And for the lady?” he asked.

    “I’ll have the same,” Nora said, smiling at Kittredge.

    “Not your first time here, I take it,” she said when the waiter left.

    “Not by a long shot,” Kittredge replied with a shy smile. He couldn’t tell if she viewed his obvious affinity for early morning spirits as evidence of a fun-loving lifestyle, or as betrayal of the slow rot eating outward from the center of him. Two sides of the same coin, he figured, and there was no use in beginning a relationship under false pretenses of any sort. He was far too old for any of that kind of bullshit.

    She was pretty. And there was a self-assured coyness to her that pulled at him, drew him inexorably toward her even as it probed a painful wound. In an uncanny way, Nora reminded him of... her.

    He shook his head, angry at himself.

    “You okay?” Nora asked. “You checked out for a minute.” Kittredge mumbled an apology, took a healthy swallow of the best Bloody Mary in Cologne, and waited impatiently for the alcohol to seep into his bloodstream.

    “Local?” he asked her, wondering at once if he sounded to Nora as desperately hopeful as he felt.

    “I am,” she said. Her coquettish smile reaffirmed that he had no poker face whatsoever, but that she was charmed by his open hopefulness. “I moved here two summers ago.”

    Work, it turned out. She was an economist at Kleinmann Holdings, GmbH.

    “What does Kleinmann hold?” Kittredge wanted to know.

    Other people’s businesses, it turned out, and Kleinmann generally held them by the balls while squeezing every last penny out of them. At least, that’s how Nora characterized it.

    “Small world,” Kittredge said.

    “How so?”

    He used to be an economist as well, he told her. He worked for the US State Department. Before... all of that. He really didn’t want to get into it, and he could tell from the concern and admirably disguised sympathy on her face that she wasn’t inclined to press him for details, even though he had brought the subject up.

    “Anyway, I’ve not yet stumbled upon my Next Big Thing,” he said, clearly intending it as a corner around which he hoped to steer the conversation.

    Nora obliged. “Economics is bullshit anyway,” she pronounced with a wave of her hand and a dismissive shake of her head. “You can torture any theory enough to eventually get it to match the past. But as for the future? Nobody has a clue. Especially not us. No theory I’ve met has any predictive power whatsoever.”

    Kittredge laughed. He’d arrived at a similar conclusion one time after leading himself in tautological circles while trying to come up with something profound to tell the US Ambassador to Venezuela.


    It wouldn’t leave him the hell alone.

    “I almost don’t even bother looking at a company’s books any more,” Nora went on, her eyes studying Kittredge, who had momentarily left the conversation again.

    She went on undeterred. “They’re all fake anyway. Mostly, I just want to know which politicians a particular company is bribing, and which regulators are in their pocket. That’s the most accurate measure of a company’s economic potential. How sweaty is the love-knot with the pols. That’s what I really want to know.”

    Kittredge chuckled. “You’re not allowed to be jaded until your forties,” he said, finishing his drink just as the waiter arrived with two more.

    “I’ve always been precocious,” Nora said, that easy smile tossing salt on the still-open wound in Kittredge’s heart. Damn, this girl could own me without thinking twice, he realized. What a delicious possibility. One for which he wasn’t even close to prepared, but he had lately become more and more accustomed to leaping headlong into precipices of all ilk. What was one more disaster?

    They ordered food. Kittredge nibbled, still suffering from food aversion, but downed another eleven-Euro Mary as if it were his job. He almost felt normal again, nearly able to face the remainder of the day, which he hoped would include a lot more of Nora.

    And maybe of Sergio, as well. “How did you meet Sergio?” Kittredge asked between half-hearted bites of brötchen.

    Nora blushed. “Online,” she said. “Is that pathetic, or what?”

    “Not at all,” Kittredge said. More than a few of his recent trysts had begun with the aid of an online dating service. Although “dating” might be a misleading term, he reflected. It was mostly about finding people, boys and girls, who were keen to party. “But Sergio seems a little...”

    “Gay?” Nora finished.

    “Not to put too fine a point on it,” Kittredge said, “but yes. He’s definitely got a lot of gay in him.”

    “Maybe I like a man who isn’t afraid to share me,” Nora said, mischief in her eyes. “And maybe I like a man who shares my taste in men.”

    Kittredge was sure that he was falling in love. The shallow kind, anyway.

    He took her hand on the way back to his apartment after breakfast, eager for more, happy for the insatiable appetite that made him feel connected to himself, vital, alive.

    They kissed in the doorway, and he fumbled to find his apartment key, his heart pounding, anxious to get inside and get busy, and anxious to surprise Sergio with another round.

    He caressed her backside as she led the way back toward his bedroom, and she paused near the entryway to rub against him. She took his hand and pulled him toward the bed.

    She stopped, and her body stiffened.

    She screamed, a horrific, ear-splitting, piercing wail that chilled his blood. She turned and buried her face in his shoulder, sobs wracking her body.

    Over her dark hair, he saw what she had seen. Sergio’s smooth, athletic body lay in a pool of blood, his face horribly disfigured, bashed beyond recognition, beaten to a pulp in Kittredge’s bed.