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The Player More than merely trouble boiling as Sarah, the smart intern, walked into the offices of

There was also something simmering on top of a hot plate that was parked precariously next to a stack of papers by the copy machine.

"—send someone to one of his book signings with a pair of scissors," Zach, the silly intern, was in the midst of saying.

For a moment, Sarah hoped they were talking about finally cutting Brad's too-long tresses.

"But what if there's a long line?" asked Maggie, the clueless intern.

And that's when Sarah realized, no, that couldn't be one of Brad's book signings. No danger of long lines there. With regret, she forced herself to say: "I'm sorry, but what are you two talking about?"

"You don't by any chance have a lock of Dennis Lehane's hair do you?" Zach asked.

Sarah did that thing where her mouth and her eye slits suddenly get really small.

"Why do you need a lock of Dennis Lehane's hair?"

"To break the Curse of Dennis Lehane," Maggie said, quite seriously.

"Okay, I'll bite," Sarah said. "What's that?"

"Well, as you're aware from our last newsletter, Brad has been nominated the Shamus Award in the category of Best Hardcover novel," Zach said. "That's, like, the varsity category—all the big boys are there."

"And girls," Maggie chimed in. "Don't forget Sue Grafton is one of the nominees."

"Right," Zach continued. "And of course you know that in 2010, Brad won the Shamus in the Best First category. But did you know that no one, in the thirty-two-year history of the award, has ever won Best First Shamus and then gone onto win Best Hardcover?"

"Okay, so this is the Curse of Dennis Lehane because..."

"Because Dennis Lehane won Best First Shamus for A Drink Before the War in 1995. He was, like, twelve years old at the time. Everyone figured eventually they'd have to rename the Shamus the 'Lehane Award,' because he was going to win the thing so many times. And yet, while he has gone on to fame and fortune, he never has won Best Hardcover. Hence, the curse bears his name: because it's so powerful, not even Dennis Freakin' Lehane could overcome it."

Maggie had returned her attention to a computer screen where the website header was "How to Break a Curse."

"We're going to need some eye of newt," Maggie announced.

"I caught a salamander on the way to work," Zach said. "Do you think that will do the trick?"

"I think all newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts," Maggie said. "Or maybe it's the other way around."

While Maggie and Zach considered those imponderables, Sarah confirmed that Zach wasn't making it up: Brad will be attempting to make history on Friday, November 14, at the Shamus Awards banquet in Long Beach, California, where he will either become the only Best First winner to go on to win Best Hardcover, or he will fall victim to the Curse of Dennis Lehane.

In the meantime, this seems as good a moment as any to announce that Brad's next book, THE FRAUD, will be released July 7, 2015. In this latest installment of the adventures of "America's favorite crime-fighting newspaper reporter" (Gumshoe Reviews), Carter Ross takes on a deadly carjacking ring and the only other force of nature that might be more dangerous: his pregnant girlfriend.

So that's what Carter is up to. As for Zach and Maggie? They're going to continue scouring the web for potions that will help Brad break the Curse of Dennis Lehane. Who knows? Maybe they'll find something on Wiccapedia.

Happy Halloween,
The Interns

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