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The Devil You Know

A Thriller

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About The Book

A Supreme Court justice is murdered and a conspiracy with potentially cataclysmic effects is uncovered in this adrenaline-charged entry in the nationally bestselling “propulsive, page-turning, compelling” (C.J. Box, #1 New York Times bestselling author) Hayley Chill series.

When a justice of the Supreme Court is killed by the police officer assigned to protect him, the country is shocked. Hayley Chill’s superiors suspect the assassination is part of a major conspiracy.

In Maui, where one member of the Supreme Court owns a vacation home, a busload of children is taken hostage with the justice’s death as ransom. Together with a deputy US marshal, Hayley embarks on the monumental task of rescuing the children while also protecting the justice. “With plot twists that keep you guessing, and a heroine who makes you stand up and cheer, The Devil You Know is a knockout” (Don Bentley, New York Times bestselling author).

Excerpt

Chapter 1: Bar Bathroom Paramour CHAPTER 1 BAR BATHROOM PARAMOUR
Hayley Chill needed a drink. Having watched a burial crew put her kid sister in the ground five days after Christmas was today’s excuse. Yesterday’s justification had been different. Who could say about tomorrow?

She found the perfect place at the end of Third Street in West Logan, overlooking the Guyandotte River. Following the service and interment, Hayley laid low in her Chapmanville motel room for a few hours. Her needs were limited: a chair on which to sit and listen to the white noise of traffic outside on the main drag through town. Wishing to avoid well-meaning friends and grieving family members, Hayley had told no one where she was staying. The same motivation prompted her to drive ten miles south to fulfill another, more pressing necessity.

Hayley entered the West Virginia roadside tavern and paused to take stock of her refuge. Low ceiling and even lower light. A Cavaliers game on a muted television over the cash register. Murmuring patrons seated at the bar and tables, their coats and jackets hanging haphazardly from seat backs or draped over stools. The bluegrass music coming over the sound system was a pleasant surprise. Hayley also scrutinized the rows of bottles on either side of the register that were backlit to colorful effect.

Yes. This place will do just fine.

She grabbed a stool at the bar, two empty seats to her left and right.

The bartender—big, bald, bearded, and wearing an Elk River Ramblers T-shirt—responded to Hayley’s predatory stare soon enough.

“Tequila,” she said.

“Jose Cuervo?”

She shook her head. “Whiskey. Beer chaser.”

The truth was, Hayley had been hitting the green bottle of La Gritona she’d packed in her bag pretty much all day. Tammy’s overdose three days earlier was a brutal shock, only the latest in a series of traumas, but it wasn’t until she had arrived in town that the full brunt of fury and grief descended on her. Returning home wasn’t a trivial matter. Too many bad memories. Too much heartache. The last time Hayley saw her kid sister alive was more than six months ago, the occasion being—unironically—another overdose-induced funeral. Tammy seemed perfectly fine then, thrilled to be pregnant with her first child. Now that six-month-old baby boy had lost his mother, and Hayley, a sister she loved. At the funeral, she couldn’t help but worry how long before her baby nephew was orphaned entirely, judging by the sallow appearance of Jeff, the boy’s father.

What a god-awful mess.

The bartender delivered the goods. Shooting the whiskey, Hayley replaced the glass on the bar ahead of the mug of cold beer, an unmissable signal she wanted a refill. Bald and Bearded dutifully poured another. Before Hayley could lift the shot glass, the inevitable guy appeared at her elbow. Fives and ones clasped in his right hand. Requisite trucker cap. A mole on his left cheek like some John-Boy Walton come to life.

Hayley felt his gaze on her.

“What’s up?” she asked with flat intonation.

Back home, Hayley had inadvertently lapsed into the soft drawl and WV dialect of her childhood.

John-Boy said, “Come from around here sounds like.”

“Twenty or so miles north. Green Shoals. I moved along after high school. Doubt we ever crossed paths.”

He offered his hand with a confident-bordering-on-arrogant grin. “Derrick.”

Hayley pegged him for a Logan High School football star, and she wasn’t wrong. Derrick Getty hadn’t put on much additional weight like so many other high school jocks by their thirtieth year. Her sandy-haired barstool paramour was in excellent shape, broad-shouldered, and tall enough to seem gargantuan in the cavern-like barroom.

Hayley had noticed him glancing to his left once or twice as he spoke. Five other locals Getty’s age, male and female, were sitting at a large table near the front door.

Grew up here. Going to grow old and die here.

She had managed to escape this world. Most don’t.

Getty’s hand was still hanging in midair. She relented and shook it with minimal enthusiasm.

“Hayley.”

“Nice to meet you, Hayley.”

The guy actually winked after he said her name. Bald and Bearded served up a pitcher of beer to him without having been asked. Getty made no move to return to his table.

Hayley shot the second whiskey and replaced the empty glass in the refill zone.

Her suitor responded with a low whistle of admiration.

“I can sure respect a woman who knows how to drink. Any other skills?” he asked with what he imagined was a devastating gaze.

Hayley Chill was a US Army veteran, one of the first women to earn a blue cord. Until recently, she’d been employed by a clandestine association—former presidents, ex–Supreme Court justices, retired directors from the intelligence community, and other discharged heavyweights of the US government—that called itself Publius. Not so much the deep state as a deeper state. Among other deeds, Hayley had saved a sitting president from assassination, stopped a massive cyberattack on the Eastern Seaboard, and helped prevent a second US civil war. Personal losses she’d suffered in the past year compelled her to retreat from further involvement with the group. Her main agenda since that self-imposed hiatus was to avoid thinking. Stop remembering. Exist barely above sentient. The alcohol wasn’t an ideal facilitator of that action list, but the cost was right and it didn’t leave track marks.

She held Getty’s gaze with her powder blue eyes. “Got nothing for you, stud.”

The former jock’s grin calcified. Grabbing the pitcher by the handle, he winked at Hayley again and strutted back to his table near the door.

“Is that fucking douchebag hassling you, miss?” asked the bartender. “Rushing for twenty-two hundred yards and thirty-one touchdowns in your senior year can sure do some weird shit to a dude.”

“Nothing I can’t handle, thanks.” She pointed her chin toward the empty shot glass. “Hit me again?”

Hayley Chill had reached that place, a kind of transcendent state. There was no stopping her now. Stripped of thought, memory, and restraint, she was on the verge of becoming pure energy.

How much loss am I expected to take?

She was washing her hands in the ladies’ room when the door banged open and her wink-happy suitor entered the cramped space. The arrogant smile on Getty’s face faltered for a moment in reaction to Hayley’s expressionless assessment of his bold intentions. The former high school running back flinched as her right hand sped toward him. But it continued past his unguarded torso and found the latch on the door. The sound of Hayley engaging the lock was all the signal Derrick Getty needed to close the distance between them.

He put his hands on Hayley’s shoulder and arm, pulling her mouth to his. Before their lips joined, however, she turned him like a failed assassin and pushed him backward into the single stall.

Dumb, dumb, dumb…

But action took precedence over caution. Any action would do.

Her finger found his belt and button fly. Straddling the toilet, the local man initially resisted Hayley taking command; never before in his countless sexual conquests had he been so wholly subordinated. But her turbo-charged authority was persuasive. Catching on, Getty relented, excited like he’d never been excited before.

Unlocking the bathroom door and pushing it open, she stepped into the dimly lit barroom. Leaning against the pool table, waiting for Hayley, was a redheaded woman her age and height but at least thirty pounds heavier. Wearing a Gap sweatshirt and high-rise mom jeans, Margot Dombrowski was scowling. Hayley barely glanced at the woman as she continued toward her barstool across the room.

Dombrowski propelled herself off the pool table and into Hayley’s path.

“He’s in there, isn’t he? You fucked my boyfriend, huh, bitch?”

Hayley wanted only to return to her place at the bar, where Bald and Bearded would have teed up the next round by now. She turned a shoulder to her accuser and tried to slip past.

The other woman cut Hayley off, grabbing her roughly by the arm.

“You little whore! We’re not done here!”

Derrick Getty exited the ladies’ room at the same moment that Hayley whipped her arm from the redhead’s grip and shoved her backward against the pool table.

Hayley’s erstwhile suitor bounded in three strides to the altercation, putting his large, athletic frame between the combatants.

“Keep your hands off her,” he said, his cartoonish winks and vaudeville smirking now a distant memory.

Hayley put both hands on Getty’s chest and pushed him away. The former high school jock fell backward and into the arms of his girlfriend. Reaching behind him, he took hold of a cue from the pool table. In anticipation of delivering a power stroke to Hayley’s head, Getty planted his right foot forward.

She had only a second or two to act. Instincts took command.

Standing sideways, Hayley lifted the knee of her rear leg. Getty assumed she was going for his body and braced for the blow, putting all of his weight into his right, lead leg… exactly what Hayley had anticipated. Instead of attacking his body, however, she stomped her booted foot down on his leg just above the knee. The audible pop of rupturing quadriceps and patellar tendons preceded Getty’s screams by a fraction of a second.

Pool cue sliding from his grasp as he collapsed to the floor, Getty gripped his right knee in a futile attempt to reassemble its many broken parts. The fuss he was raising wasn’t wholly compatible with the jovial, tough guy image he’d cultivated since grade school. Snot dripping from his nose comingled with his tears of excruciating pain.

Hayley stood over the fallen man, the extent of his injuries all too obvious to her. Derrick Getty’s days rushing on the gridiron—limited in recent years to the occasional pickup scrimmage on Sundays at the local high school—were over. With a glance, Hayley determined that Bald and Bearded was on the phone already, summoning the police. Not to worry. Witnesses would attest to her actions as being well inside the scope of self-defense.

She will be back in her motel room in Chapmanville by midnight. Getty, however, will spend the next three days in the hospital. Three surgeries to reassemble his knee will succeed to the extent that the hitch in his step is barely noticeable. Like so many pain sufferers across the nation, Getty’s addiction to OxyContin will blossom into a full-fledged heroin addiction; his personal bankruptcy due to ongoing medical expenses will seem less important.

But miracles can happen, even in West Virginia. Following a second overdose in which he will be declared DOA by an ER resident late for a Friday night Bumble date, Getty will rise from the ashes of a merciless addiction. Group homes. Intense counseling. Loving friends and family members. Recovery will take a village of good intentions. By year two of his sobriety, Derrick Getty will be employed by a Richmond-based rehab center and receiving glowing tributes from coworkers and patients. Five years after his altercation with Hayley Chill at the tavern on Third Street in West Logan, Getty will be elected to the US House of Representatives for West Virginia’s third district, capitalizing on his high school athletic exploits and running on a single platform of combating the opioid crisis.

Nothing of that future was apparent to Hayley at the time. Watching her bar bathroom paramour writhe on the floor, she recognized the wreckage of her present existence.

Loss upon loss.

A life without intention and headed in one direction: down.

She shrugged, aware of her intoxication for the first time that day.

Nothing new under a black sun.

About The Author

Photograph by Lauren Ehrenfeld

Chris Hauty’s debut, Deep State, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, and Barry Award nominee. Other novels include the CALIBA Award–nominated Savage Road, and Storm Rising, as well as the acclaimed novella Insurrection Day. He currently lives in Glendale, California.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria/Emily Bestler Books (March 19, 2024)
  • Length: 336 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668022139

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Raves and Reviews

“Chill’s beautifully drawn character highlights a terrific, riveting action thriller that leaves us thinking even as we’re turning the pages.”

– Jon Land, USA Today bestselling author of the Caitlin Strong Novels

"Hayley Chill is such a likeable and engaging character...I have read all four in the series and one novella and can recommend them all to those who like exciting political thrillers."

– Deadly Pleasures Magazine

"An action-packed novel that starts strong and never letes up, with some twists you don't see coming. A great Memorial Day read."

– Red Carpet Crash

"The pacing is perfect, the characters' sense of urgency trasnferring to the readers, who will start turning pages with increasing speed."

– Booklist

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