Demon of the Air

"Hooked me in five pages. I lost an entire Wednesday reading DEMON OF THE AIR"

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Mexico, 1517: The Emperor Montezuma rules the known world. Daily canoes and trains of sweating bearers carry tribute to his island capital, Mexico-Tenochtitlan, while squadrons of ruthless warriors enforce his will. Gold, silver, cotton, jewels and precious feathers change hands in his markets. The temples run with the blood of human sacrifices.

All seems well, but Montezuma is troubled. Mysterious strangers have appeared in the East. Are they men or gods? Visions and rumours disturb his dreams. The soothsayers he turns to for guidance give him only enigmatic answers and he knows he cannot trust his advisers - especially his Chief Minister, the unscrupulous Lord Feathered In Black.

Yaotl, the Chief Minister's slave, is troubled too. He was ordered to escort a sacrificial victim up the steps of the Great Pyramid, but the victim ran amok, uttering a bizarre and sinister prophecy and leaping to his death before the War-God's priests could cut out his heart.  Then he learns that the Emperor's soothsayers have vanished.

The Emperor scents a connection between these two events and orders Yaotl to find it - on pain of death if he fails.  But it soon becomes clear that whatever the connection is, Yaotl's own master will stop at nothing, including murder, to keep it secret.

To get to the truth will take all Yaotl's wits and will to survive. It will lead him into confrontations with the peril destined to overwhelm his whole world and with a monster from his own past - and into the hands of a sadistic killer.

Winner of the Debut Dagger Award

Published by Simon & Schuster (UK) Ltd on 2 February 2004

Pocket Books edition published on 7 February 2005

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