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BREAKING NEWS: After this issue of The Scoop, The Official Newsletter of the Carter Ross Fan Club™, went to press, the interns received word that Brad had been nominated for a Shamus Award for Best Hardcover Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. Expect discourse on this subject in the next issue.

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The Player

The quiescence of early morning at the offices of was shattered with the first swing.

Zach, the silly intern, had his gloved hands wrapped around the handle of a sledgehammer. His face was covered in thick safety goggles. Shards of drywall lay at his feet.

He brought the tool back and was just about to slam it into the wall again when Sarah, the smart intern, came running around the corner.

"Zach, what are you doing?" she asked.

"Brad is in Jamaica for the week, so I figured it'd be nice to have a surprise waiting for him when he gets back," Zach said.

"By, what, destroying the office?"

"No, no. This is where the hot tub is going."

"Hot tub?" Sarah asked. "What hot tub?"

"We'll put the bounce house over there," Zach said, pointing vaguely to his left. "We'll have to raise the roof a little to give us some extra head room, but that shouldn't be a big deal. I've got a contractor who can do it on the quick."

"Zach, what are you talking about?"

Zach rested the sledgehammer for a moment and lifted his glasses up on his forehead. "It has been scientifically proven that periods of relaxation make workers more efficient, while physical activity makes them more focused and creative," he said. "That's why Silicon Valley startups install all those cool diversions for their employees. I figured we could get by with just a hot tub and bounce house."

"Just a hot tub and a... Zach, where are you going to get the money to pay for all this? You know our entertainment budget barely covers punch and pretzels at the holiday party."

"Haven't you heard? Brad is one of the nominees for the 2014 Kirkus Prize," Zach said. "It's one of the richest literary awards in the world, with a payout of $50,000. I figured he'd want to spend at least some portion of that windfall on us, his loyal and long-suffering laborers."

"Long-suffering?" Sarah said. "Peter has spent the last two-and-a-half weeks creating a replica of Neuschwanstein in the computer game Minecraft. I don't think that's exactly the epitome of misery."

"Hey, you try getting these spires to look right!" Peter, the slothful intern, hollered from the next room.

"And, besides, there are more than 200 other finalists for the Kirkus Prize," Sarah said. "Brad has less than no shot."

"You're thinking glass-half-empty," Zach said. "According to the United Nations, there are something like 300,000 books published in the United States every year. That means Brad has already beaten out more than 99.9 percent of the field. If I told you I was 99.9 percent of the way through a piece of cake, you'd think my chances of finishing were pretty good, wouldn't you?"

Sarah walked next to Zach and grabbed the handle. "Put down the sledgehammer," she said, "and step away from the wall."

Zach relinquished his grip and returned to doing... whatever it is he does when not creating havoc. And thus quiet was returned to the offices of The boss really is in Jamaica for the week, celebrating the completion of the rough draft of the next Carter Ross thriller. The title remains under wraps, but Brad promised it is, "without question, the best one yet."

For those in the Washington, D.C. area, Brad is looking forward to making an appearance at the Newseum's "Inside Media" program on Saturday, July 26 at 2:30 p.m. The event is filmed in front of a live studio audience. Zach is petitioning to add a laugh track, but that doesn't look like it's going to happen. So please feel free to come out, enjoy the Newseum's beautiful new location just a few blocks from the National Mall, and Brad will probably buy you street meat after the show.

Otherwise, there are only three other things to say: 1) THE PLAYER remains available wherever books are sold; 2) the interns would like to remind you that summer in the Northern Hemisphere is a wonderful time of year to enjoy a shady spot and a great book, whether it's Brad's or another one of your favorite authors'; and 3) Zach has a hole to patch.

Yours From the Hardware Store,
The Interns

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