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  • The Best of Evil
  • Written by Eric Wilson
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  • The Best of Evil
  • Written by Eric Wilson
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307550552
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Written by Eric WilsonAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Eric Wilson

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List Price: $9.99

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On Sale: November 23, 2011
Pages: 352 | ISBN: 978-0-307-55055-2
Published by : WaterBrook Press WaterBrook Multnomah/Image
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

“Spare your soul,” he ranted, “and turn your eyes from greed.…”

The tattoos on his arms still reading “Live by the Sword” and “Die by the Sword,” Aramis Black is ready for a fresh start. Determined to set aside his violent tendencies, he opens an espresso shop in Nashville and begins to put his childhood memories behind him. The past isn’t finished with him, though. One ordinary day at the shop, a man is shot before his eyes, speaking dying words to Aramis that are all too familiar.

Aramis realizes that his path to freedom will demand forgiveness–forgiveness from God and forgiveness of others. Along the way, he must uncover the conspiracy behind a centuries-old mystery and the shocking truth of his mother’s death. The question remains: Will Aramis be able to conquer his past, or will evil get the best of him?

Excerpt

If she had lived, I know she would be ashamed of me. I’m trying to change that.
My mother adored her morning coffee. I imagine her in my espresso shop, quiet, unimposing, lifting her drink and winking at me the way she did when I was a little kid in Oregon. A few months back I started the place with her in mind. She would love the mahogany counters, the polished brass rails and gleaming Italian machinery, the rich aroma.
Black’s—that’s what I call my shop, in honor of the family name. Mom was always busy, they tell me. A dutiful housewife with a set jaw and silky, raven hair twisted back in a bun. She bore secrets no one should have to carry alone, and when at last she did seek support, she found only hostility and greed and a cup of conspiracy that spilled over into the lives of her family.
Dianne Lewis Black. Despite her weariness, her eyes sparkled. That much I remember and hold on to.
She’d still be with us if not for Uncle Wyatt’s mistake, and I still hate the carelessness that stole her life away. I was six when she died. I watched her fall, a stone’s throw away. For two decades, that one moment held me in its grip. I wallowed in its rage through my young adult years, courting violence and a nasty drug habit. I tattooed my cynicism onto my forearms.
Live by the Sword on one. Die by the Sword on the other. Despite all this, I’ve never stopped believing that we are created with the ability to soar. But then circumstances slash at us and pluck our feathers, and we get entangled in our sins. We fight to get free. We struggle, flapping our wings, beating at the air. Exhaustion leaves most of us numb.
Thirteen months ago I decided to break away. I packed a U-Haul and left Portland to live with my brother in Nashville, Tennessee—a place to start over, start clean. A safer world, I thought. This morning proved me wrong. Sitting here at my desk, putting it on paper, I hope to gain a glimmer of understanding. This is my way of processing, I guess. Not that it’ll change things. My shop is in shambles, and a fellow human being is dead.
-=-
Two and a half hours before the shooting at Black’s, I was barely out of bed and shaking off my nightmares. I stumbled from the bathroom toward the kitchen, feeling cheated of sleep, quiet, and a general sense of sanity. My brother’s guitar strumming in the living room did little
to improve my mood. I wouldn’t think of asking him to stop, though. Music is Johnny Ray’s love, his life, his very breath, wrapped up in a three-minute, three-chord, country music ditty. The man has his dreams, and with a name like Johnny Ray Black, how can he fail? I’d do anything to
make it happen for him. “Sounds good,” I said, pausing in the doorway. His eyes jerked up. “Aramis? Don’t scare me like that.”
“Jumpy, jumpy.”
“I thought you were long gone, kid.”
“Should’ve been. I’m running late.”
Cross-legged in his Tabasco boxers, surrounded by sheet music and scribbled notes, Johnny Ray shifted his guitar and tucked a section of yellowed newspaper under his knee. “Guess you better get movin’.Listen, grab yourself a muffin on the way out. Should be one left on the table.”
“Another of your bran concoctions?”
“You got it. All natural, from scratch, and still warm.”
“Ahh. That explains the smell.”
“Hey now.”
I pointed at his folded edition of the Nashville Scene, a weekly rag full of local news, events, and divergent viewpoints. “You hiding something from me, Johnny?”
“We’ll talk later.”
“I know. You’re looking to get me tickets to the U2 concert, aren’t you?”
“Don’t go gettin’ your hopes up.”
My brother pressed his knee down on the paper and shifted his attention back to his guitar, golden brown hair falling over his shoulders, bronzed skin glowing—evidence of his weekly tanning bed routine.
He believes “you’ve gotta look the part, gotta be video friendly,” blaming his music aspirations for his obsession with health and appearance. Truth is, he’s always envied the fact that I got Mom’s Mediterranean coloring. I joke with him that he got the talent and I got the looks.
“How can you sit like that?” I asked. “Doesn’t your butt get numb?”
“As a rock.”
I slipped into the kitchen, scowled at the lone muffin, then rummaged in the cupboard. “Hey, what happened to my Froot Loops?”
“You finished them yesterday,” my brother called back.
“I did not.”
“You did too.”
“Did not.”
“Well, it wasn’t me,” he said. “I wouldn’t touch the stuff, and you know it.”
“Fruit, Johnny. It’s good for you.”
“Very funny.”
Knowing that I lack any culinary skills, Johnny Ray gets a chunk of my change each month and does our grocery shopping and cooking; Froot Loops and Dr Pepper are his two concessions to my dietary
needs. He asked, “What would you do without me, little brother?”
“Spoil myself rotten.”
“Honestly, I worry about you. You can’t survive on caffeine forever.”
“It’s better than the stuff I used to do. Cheaper too.”
“And legal, Aramis. I’ll give you that.”
I went to the table, hefted the muffin, and took a bite. Yum, yum. Lots of fiber.
“Still, there’s something not right,” my brother said as I returned to the living room. “You’ve stayed clean for a year now—which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong—but I can see it in your eyes. You’re
still on edge.”
“On edge?” I snorted. “I’m dog-tired. Drop it, okay?”
“You’ve always got a reason to avoid the issue.”
“What issue?”
“Uncle Wyatt. And the way Mom died.”
“What? Where did that come from? It was over twenty freakin’ years ago. Why keep dredging up the past?”
“See now, that’s your pain talking.”
“Dude.” I pulled on my jacket. “I know you’re trying to help me, but it’s too early in the morning for psychoanalysis. I have to get to work.” I took another bite.
“It’s come full circle—that’s all I’m trying to tell you.”
“Sure. If you say so.” With my mouth full, my words were pebbles rolling in wet gravel.
“I’m not sure you’re ready for it.”
“Gotta go. My customers will be lining up soon.”
“I’m probably gonna regret this, but…Aramis, does this look familiar?” My brother’s question brought me to a halt. In his hand, waved into view from the folded newspaper, he held a silk cloth with Mom’s initials embroidered on it: DLB. Hours after my mother’s death, after the police had come and gone, I’d realized this memento was missing. She’d given it to me in confidence, saying that it held secrets, and then someone had stolen it away. I’d always wondered if the thief had known its significance. He must have. “Is that…?” I took the cloth from my brother, cradling the soft material. I felt like a boy again. Six years old. Choked with emotion.
“It’s Mom’s handkerchief.”
“I found it last night.” Johnny Ray gestured toward the front door. “On the steps, in a FedEx envelope.”
Eric Wilson

About Eric Wilson

Eric Wilson - The Best of Evil
Eric Wilson is the author of Dark to Mortal Eyes, Expiration Date, and the first book in the Aramis Black series, The Best of Evil. He lives with his wife, Carolyn Rose, and their two daughters in Nashville, Tennessee.
Praise

Praise

Praise for The Best of Evil

“With The Best of Evil, Eric Wilson reveals himself as THE author to watch. His writing sizzles; his characters grab you and won’t let go; his story intrigues, entertains, and makes you think. This is a page-turner you’ll talk about with your friends.”
Robert Liparulo, author of Germ and Comes a Horseman

“The world through Aramis Black’s eyes is mysterious, rich, and brewing with surprise.”
Brandilyn Collins, Seatbelt Suspense

“Eric Wilson masterfully weaves together mysteries from past and present in this gutsy thriller. Wilson is an extraordinary writer with one of the freshest voices in fiction today. The Best of Evil is first-rate suspense.”
–Gina Holmes, Novel Journey/Novel Reviews

“A work of amazing maturity and skill.”
James Byron Huggins, author of Cain, The Scam, and Sorcerer

The Best of Evil is riveting reading–Eric Wilson at the top of his game.  He combines suspense, history, a reality-game show, full-blooded characters and yes, palpable evil, into one addictive read.  You’ll love his flawed but charismatic protagonist, Aramis Black, a man prepared to live by the sword and die by the sword.  Quite simply, The Best of Evil is the best of fiction.”
Randy Singer, author of The Cross Examination of Oliver Finney

“In The Best of Evil, you get the best of Eric Wilson–the only novelist I know who can make you wish you’d paid more attention in your seventh grade history class.  Wilson manages to make Meriwether Lewis into a figure of contemporary fascination in this intriguing tale, set in modern-day Tennessee.  Aramis Black is serving up hot coffee and sarcasm when a customer gets shot dead, propelling us into a story with all the twists and turns of a Smokey Mountain road.  A stolen hankie, a pretty girl, a lock of hair, simmering family tensions, and a complicated hero with a dark past–The Best of Evil has it all.”
Melanie Wells, author of When the Day of Evil Comes and The Soul Hunter
Discussion Questions

Discussion Guides

1. As a child, Aramis saw his mother murdered. How has this impacted his life and his relationships? In what ways did you empathize with his character?

2. For years, Aramis lived a rough life on the streets. How does the story show this? What causes him to change his ways and move in with his brother? Have you had a similar moment when "the lights came on," so to speak?

3. Johnny Ray is a concerned older brother. What did you like about his character? What things made him flawed?

4. When Aramis tries to move past the death in his shop, how does he lean on Brianne? On Samantha? When his immaturity shows, did it frustrate you, or did you have sympathy for him?

5. Were you familiar with the historical mystery of Meriwether Lewis' death? Did the story give you new information? Did it change your perspective at all?

6. Aramis finds old ways rising to the surface, specifically in confrontations with his uncle and father. What did you think of his slowly changing relationship with his father? Do you have similar tension with family members?

7. Despite Aramis' rough edges, he also shows a soft side. In what ways did you see this? How did it make you feel toward his character?

8. When Aramis agrees to have dinner with Brianne, did you suspect the trouble they would get into? What did you think of their resulting bond? Have you faced situations that yoked you in an unhealthy relationship?

9. Did you think Detective Meade's character was he too standoffish? How did the interaction between him and Aramis change? Were there ways he taught Aramis by example?

10. Did the final revelation on the Natchez Trace surprise you? In what ways was if foreshadowed? How did it tie into earlier warnings against greed?

11. Aramis decides to hide a clue for his brother--and readers--to find. Did you figure it out? What did you think of his decision to leave it alone?

12. Was the image of the hawk effective for you emotionally? Spiritually? Did the story encourage you in your own "fight to get free"? In what ways did you see Aramis' desire to "get the best of evil by doing good"?


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