#BlogTour~Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E Hardisty #GuestPost @Hardisty_Paul @OrendaBooks

It’s my stop on the blog tour for Paul E. Hardisty’s latest thriller to feature vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker. Paul has kindly shared a guest post below.

Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.

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About the Author

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a cafe in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia. His debut thriller The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.

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The Last Fight I Was In by Paul E. Hardisty

The last time I fought, properly, when it mattered, was because of a woman. Not over a woman, mind, but because of the kind of person she was. I have described it in some detail in a short story I’ve written recently called New Year’s Eve.
We’d only been married a year. We were at a New Year’s Eve celebration in Calgary, in Canada, at a pizza restaurant owned by a friend of a friend. It was cold. A fresh dump of snow corniced over the hard edges of the city. The place was packed. We were introduced to the host, a short guy, broad and gym-muscled. He looked my wife up and down, said something cheesy like hello beautiful. She towered over him. He was still staring at her when I introduced myself as her husband. That got his attention. Paul’s an engineer, my wife said. He’s just got back from Ethiopia. Well isn’t that great, said Restaurant Owner, booze breath wafting over me. Where the fuck is Ethiopia? I was about to explain when he leaned forward and said: Who gives a shit, right?
He wandered off. We didn’t know anyone there, and we didn’t care, just stood close and sipped our drinks and held hands and swam in each other’s eyes, the rest of them just flowing around us as if we were a rock in the middle of a river. It was fun.
Until the screaming started.
A high-pitched wail split the room, followed quickly by a loud crash, and then a man’s voice, deep and angry, bellowing. It was coming from the kitchen. Next thing I knew, my wife was striding towards the commotion. I ran after her. Drunk Restaurant Owner was there. A small Asian man dressed in a chef’s smock cowered on the floor beneath him. Blood streamed from his face.
My wife screamed at DRO to stop. He turned, faced her, told her to mind your own business. He was not polite. And then, as if to emphasise the point, he spun and let go a withering kick that caught the cook in the jaw, sending his head crashing into the steel panelling. The cook slumped to the floor.
I can’t relate the whole incident here, but my wife didn’t back down. He started coming at her, fists bunched at his sides, glaring. I didn’t really have a choice. I stepped between them, blocked his way. Enraged, the guy put his head down and came at me like a bull. My back was to the front entranceway windows. He caught me in the hips with his lowered shoulder. When my back hit the glass, I felt the pane flex behind me as it took our combined mass, and then explode as we flew into the parking lot.
We landed on the ice-covered tarmac in a shower of glass, him on top. The force of the impact knocked the air from my lungs, and for a moment I lay gasping for breath, my body adjusting to the sudden onslaught of minus thirty. But DRO had taken the worst of it. On the way through, he’d caught the shard-edges on his arms and face. As he staggered to his feet and saw his blood dripping onto the snow, whatever drugs he’d been doing really starting to kick in.
Look what you did to your restaurant, you idiot, I said, pointing at the blown-out window. The guy looked up, all the guests now crowded at the windows looking out at the two morons in the cold.
The idiot stripped off his shirt and stood there flexing his bare torso in the cold. And then he charged. The snow was hard packed and slippery. It was difficult for him to accelerate. Just as he reached me I side stepped him and drove his head into a car’s front bumper. He hit with a blunt thud, collapsed to the ground. I jumped on top of him, pounded his face. I felt his nose go, then his jaw. It was over.

Be sure to check out the other great bloggers on the tour.

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