Deathwish (Cal Leandros Series #4)

Deathwish (Cal Leandros Series #4)

by Rob Thurman

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In a nightmarish new york city, life is there for the taking in the fourth Cal Leandros novel from New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman.

Half-human Cal Leandros and his brother Niko are barely getting by with their preternatural investigative agency when the vampire Seamus hires them. He’s being followed, and he wants to know by whom. But the Leandros brothers have to do more than they planned when Seamus turns up dead (or un-undead).
Worse still is the return of Cal's nightmarish family—the Auphe. The last time Cal and Niko faced them, they were almost wiped out. Now, the Auphe want revenge. And Cal knows that before they get to him, they will destroy everything and everyone he holds dear. Because, for the Auphe, Cal's pain is a pleasure.
And they’re feeling good...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451462626
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/03/2009
Series: Cal Leandros Series , #4
Edition description: Original
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 294,511
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Rob Thurman is the New York Times bestselling author of the of the Cal Leandros novels, the Trickster novels, the Korsak Brothers novels, and several stories in various anthologies. For updates, teasers, music videos, deleted scenes, social networking (the time-suck of an author’s life), and various other extras such as free music and computer wallpaper, visit the author online.

Read an Excerpt



Once, when I was seven, I was chased by a dog.

We lived in a trailer park then, my brother, our mother, and me. There were lots of dogs around, most of them running loose. I didn’t mind. I like dogs. But dogs . . . dogs don’t much like me in return. Puppies do. Puppies like everyone. They’d crawl in my lap, chew happily on a finger or the tattered edge of my sneaker. Dogs are different—one sniff of me was enough. The upper lip would peel back, ears would flatten, and the warm brown eyes would go glassy and slide sideways as they hunched away with tail tucked beneath their legs. Dogs don’t just not like me; they’re afraid of me.

Except for Hammer. Hammer wasn’t right; not right being flat-out crazy. One hundred pounds of shepherd mixed with Rottweiler mixed with God knew what else, Hammer wasn’t afraid to look at me as the other dogs were. No, Hammer liked to look at me. He liked to think about me. If anyone thought animals didn’t think, didn’t plot, didn’t plan, then they’d never met Hammer. Two trailers down and one of the few dogs in the park kept on a chain, he watched me every day as my brother and I walked to school. He never barked. He never growled. He never even moved. He just watched.

Because of his lack of apparent aggression, any other kid might have been tempted to pet him. Not me. Even at seven, I knew a monster when I saw one. It didn’t matter whether his owner had made him into one or he’d been born one like me. Hammer was Hammer. You didn’t pet him any more than you petted a rabid grizzly bear. You just walked by and kept your eyes on the ground. You never looked. . . . Just as Hammer never moved.

Until he did.

Hammer was bad inside, wrong, and as I recognized him, he recognized me. And when drunk old Mr. McGee let the chain finally rust through, Hammer came for me. I had my dollar-store sneakers and a bagged lunch my brother had made for me, but I didn’t have my brother. He’d gone ahead, although he was still in sight. He never failed to make sure I was in sight. I’d forgotten my backpack like kids do. I’d catch up. No big deal, until Hammer made it one.

He’d been lying in the same position he lay in every day. Bowl of dirty water, gnawed club of wood. That day, like every day, I wondered why he didn’t like me. We were both twisted. Both wrong. So why? I didn’t get a chance to wonder any further than that. There was a blur of fur, jaws clamped into my backpack, and my body was thrown sideways. He dragged me several feet before he tore the pack completely off me.

I didn’t think. As I said, I’d seen monsters. You didn’t hang around and ponder the situation. I got up and ran. While I’d seen monsters before, been followed, watched, I hadn’t ever been chased by one. It was my first taste of death at my heels, my first taste of running for my life.

It wasn’t my last.

In fact, I ended up spending a vast amount of my life running. Not just living my life on the run, which I had as well, but actually running. I wasn’t seven anymore, but I was still flat-out hauling ass. Like the wind—like the fucking wind. Running from this, running from that—usually from something with teeth, claws, and the attitude of a great white on steroids. Things that made Hammer look like a toy poodle.

I hated it, the running. Hated it like poison. Which may be why I had finally decided I’d had enough and committed to staying in one place more than a year ago, and that place was New York City. A veritable Mecca for monsters like me, as well as monsters like Hammer—those that had me literally running for my life or the life of one of the few people I gave a shit about. There weren’t many of those. Part-time bartender, private investigator/bodyguard/jack-of-all-trades to the nonhuman world, and one suspicious son of a bitch, that was me. Not precisely Mr. Social. It paid to be wary in a dark world thought to be nothing more than fairy tales and ghost stories by most people—most people being the blindly oblivious, the cheerfully clueless, the ever-so-lucky assholes.

The handful of people, humans and non-, that I did give a crap about had all ended up in New York, too—in the City That Never Sleeps, a good place for us creatures of the night. Everyone I cared about, and one in particular: my brother. He had been with me since the beginning, my beginning, and now had me running through the streets to make sure my beginning didn’t bring him to an end.

The running—it always came back to that. A pity, because I was an inherently lazy son of a bitch. Burning lungs, knotting muscles, stuttering heart—I could do without any of that, thanks. But now I was running toward something, although there was plenty to run from. Death behind me; the unimaginable before me—an unholy situation, and it only made me run faster. The bus that nearly clipped me as I ran across the street? That wasn’t even a blip on the radar. I had bigger, badder, and far more destructive things on my mind.

“Traitorous cousin.”

The side of that bus brushed my jacket as I looked up at the sound of the icy hiss. For a second I saw it crouched on top, proving that mass transport wasn’t just for hygienically challenged humans. I saw metal teeth, red eyes, and hair the color and drift of jellyfish stingers. I saw a killer. I saw a monster.

I saw family.

Then I saw something more immediately relevant—the front of a cab barreling at me. I dodged to one side as it braked. I rolled across the hood, taking down a bike messenger. Vaulting the cursing man, I ran on. I didn’t look behind me. I didn’t have to. I knew what was there. I knew what was coming, and I knew it wasn’t alone. But that was the least of my concerns. What was important to me now was getting to the park, because I had other family. Real family.

My brother was at Washington Square Park, waiting for me. We were supposed to spar. “Spar” was a word Niko used when he meant he was going to beat the shit out of me for my own good. He kept me sharp and quick. He kept me evading monsters and taxis with equal alacrity. He was the reason I’d lived this long. The ones that followed me, the Auphe, knew that too. They hated him nearly as much as they hated me. And hate was like air to an Auphe. When something was as easy as breathing, you got pretty damned good at it. But the Auphe weren’t good. No . . .

They were the best.

That’s why I ran. Not because they were behind me, but because I suspected they were also in front of me. They’d been waiting for me at the apartment building at St. Marks’s, where Niko and I lived. I’d come home to see them lining the roof, and I’d felt the internal wrench as they ripped holes in reality and slithered through. The dread was instant. If they knew for sure where I lived, they knew where I went. If they knew that, they knew the same about Niko. Months ago they had said they’d kill everyone in my life before they killed me. I believed them. Reapers and rippers and older than time—living murder wrapped in cold flesh. They didn’t lie. Why would they when blood-soaked destruction was so much more entertaining?

Yeah, it had been months, but they said it, I believed it, and now was apparently the time. Long months of waiting, but, hell, I’d have been happy to wait a little longer.

No such goddamn luck.

I came off East Eighth Street, crossed Astor, then hit Broadway and kept running. This time I was hit, a big, ancient black Lincoln, but it only grazed my hip. There was the screech of brakes as I was knocked to the asphalt. As I scrambled back to my feet and kept moving, the skies opened up and dropped a waterfall of icy rain. I was soaked instantly, but the cold I felt on the outside couldn’t touch what swirled inside me. Once on Fourth, I was running through the people. The human and the non-. The blissfully ignorant and the voraciously aware. The dinner and the diner.

Among the walking, talking snacks that were now cursing the rain, I could see the occasional pale amber eye, the gleam of a bared tooth. Upright Hammers. And they knew me as Hammer had. Smelled me. Werewolves were good at that. Leg humping and sniffing out a half-Auphe—it was all a piece of cake.

There were other monsters among the unwitting, but I didn’t bother to pick them out. I didn’t have time. I didn’t have time for anything except getting to Nik. It was a fifteen-minute run, going as fast as I could. Fifteen minutes was a long time. I didn’t let myself think it might be pointless, that Nik had been at the park for more than an hour now. I just gulped wet air, tried not to think how much easier it would be if I shot the people milling in front of me, blocking my way, and kept running.

There were people in the park, but they were all leaving—running themselves, although not as desperately as me, for shelter from the unexpected downpour. When it was cold enough to shrink your balls and wet enough to prune up everything else, it tended to put an end to casual walks and Frisbee playing. Niko would be on the far side of the green. There were bunches of trees gathered around the perimeter of the park. We worked out by a particular group of them in the northwest corner. As I ran toward it, I smelled the grass crushed under my feet, the mud, the dead leaves, the acid-free oil Nik used to clean his swords. . . .

And Auphe. I smelled Auphe.

Elf and Auphe, one and the same. Proof that mythology never failed to get it wrong. How it had gotten blond, prissy, silk-wearing elves from the world’s very first monsters, I would never know. After pointed ears and pale skin, the resemblance stopped, and the steel teeth, razor claws, and lava eyes of a demon started.

I ignored the few people who gave me quick stares as they ran in the opposite direction, and tried to get more speed. I couldn’t—I was giving it all I had and more. But then I was there. I was in the trees. The leaves had all fallen and the dark branches should’ve been bare as they split from the trunk to spread against the sky. They weren’t. They were filled with Auphe, as pallid as the winter sky behind them. They were hidden enough by the rain that I could barely see them, but they were there. There had been no one behind me because they had beaten me here, the same twenty from the apartment building. From the roof to the trees—it was only a step for them. Open a door in reality, pass through, and there you were.

The one on the bus hadn’t been following me. It had been playing with me. Homicide and humor—it was one and the same to the Auphe.

And Niko faced them all.

Revealing himself, he stepped from behind a glistening black tree trunk. Jesus. Alive. Fucking alive. And he was ready, with dark blond hair pulled back and katana held high in the pounding rain. The Auphe didn’t blink, didn’t move. “Gun,” Nik said calmly.

I was already reaching under my jacket for the Glock .40 in my shoulder holster. My grip should’ve been tight and cramped with adrenaline, but I’d pointed one weapon or another so many times over the past four years that my touch was light and confident. The rest of me could’ve taken a lesson. Normally I was good at this—I saw monsters all the time and faced them head-on. Kicked ass, tail, flipper . . . whatever they had. But this . . . this was the Auphe. Half of my gene pool. They’d been not only the bogeymen of my childhood, but of my whole damn life. Outside windows at night, around darkened corners, trailing behind me from the time I was born until I was fourteen. Bad, right?


There was worse. They took me. For two years. I didn’t remember those years and I probably never would, but inside, at a level I couldn’t access, I somehow knew what they had done. Could feel it. Seeing just one was enough to have the taste of screams and blood in my mouth and a chunk of ice in my gut.

Seeing twenty of them was like seeing the end of the world.

Pointing a gun at the end of the world seems fairly goddamn futile. I did it anyway. “It’s broad daylight, assholes. Seems bold even for you,” I said tightly. I didn’t freeze, not this time. I swallowed the bile, grew a pair, and kept the Glock steady. Two-headed werewolves, mass murderers, dead bodies hanging like fruit in a tree, I’d faced all of that—I’d face this. “Or did you get the weather report I missed out on?”

“Faithless cousin.” Hundreds of titanium needle teeth bared at me as the closest one spoke. “The blind do not see us.”

“And when your eyes are ripped from their sockets,” hissed another, “neither will you.”

Jesus, family. It was a bitch.


Excerpted from "Deathwish"
by .
Copyright © 2009 Rob Thurman.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Deathwish (Cal and Niko Series #4) 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 80 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
Cal Leandros is half-human and half-Auphe; he looks human, but has the power to move about space and dimensions so he can travel from one plane to another. He denies his Auphe heritage and does not look in the slightest like the pointed ears, pale skin, razor claws and crimson eyes of that evil species. Mortals know the Auphe as elves from mythology. They want Cal but he and his brother Niko defeated their efforts to snatch him. Soon eighteen more arrive; Cal notices they are all females, which worries Niko as he thinks the enemy has switched tactics from muscle to something worse.

While trying to figure out how get rid of the latest infestation Cal and Niko are handed a case by the latter¿s vampire lover Promise. Her former lover Seamus the vampire feels someone is stalking him and he wants the brothers, who have opened up a preternatural private investigator firm, to find out who and why. They learn the Vigil who clean up supernatural messes are watching the flamboyant vampire; they feel he is coming close to exposing himself to humans. Their mission is to keep humans and monsters separated. While the siblings deal with these two problems, a third issue surfaces. Promise¿s daughter Cherish the thief and con artist stole something from a monster who is in town to retrieve it. Between the Auphe, the Vigil, and the theft, the siblings feel they are back in the MADHOUSE.

This is an excellent urban fantasy due to the two brothers, who love one another and will do whatever it takes to keep their sibling safe. Readers will feel the story line is moving at the speed of light as the Leandros brothers move from one escapade to another adventure without a respite. Told in the first person rotating chapters between Cal and Niko, fans know up front and in person what motivates each of them. They make a great team as they battle against overwhelming odds leaving the audience to root for them to succeed and wait for their next misadventures.

Harriet Klausner
VampireRanger More than 1 year ago
This book follows perfectly in the footsteps of the earlier books. Some plot twists and non-stop action make this book impossible to put down. Its great to watch the way these characters develop. Cal transforms from a mouthy,angst ridden punk who kicks ass into a mouthy punk that kicks even more ass. And Niko... I'm not tellin' read it yourself.
lovetoreadAR More than 1 year ago
This book was amazing. As usual, Thurman does not disappoint. Deathwish follows up and expands on the power of the books before it. Humor, friendship, loyalty, horror, action and plot twists a plenty. I couldn't wait to see what happened w/the turn of each page. And most important, the brothers bond which makes the series the unstoppable force it is. I loved how this time around we got an even deeper look into the boys as we got POV's from both Cal and Niko. Now Nik, we didn't know a lot of his inner workings before. This book opens him up. It's a whole new world for fans of the Leandros boys. I can only imagine where the road leads next, I can't wait to find out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Published a year after Madhouse, Rob Thurman's Deathwish starts immediately afterwards. Before the characters have a chance to recover from the physical and emotional torments, they are plunged into another dysfunctional family nightmare: this time, Promise brings the brothers in to save her vampire daughter's life-or unlife. I really enjoyed that, for the first time, the chapters alternate viewpoint between Cal and Niko. We've had Cal's assumptions about his brother, but protective big brothers can conceal more than younger ones realize. Definitely satisfying, along with more puck and peri issues, old enemies, and a new one even more lethal than Niko. Read the novel, then re-read the opening chapter for ah-ha moments you wouldn't have picked up on the first time.
SheepInWolfsClothing More than 1 year ago
In the latest of the Cal and Niko series of books, Ms. Thurman proves once again that she's a magician. I don't believe I have ever read another book that was so touching and captivating while still being laugh out loud funny. **If you want to read this book, I strongly suggest starting with Nightlife, the first of this series. You won't want to miss out on Moonshine or Madhouse (#2 and #3 respectively) either. One of the most amazing parts of this book in particular is that we finally get Niko's point of view. If for no other reason, that would make this my favorite book.
jshillingford on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this series, and it keeps getting better and better. This time around, the author shook things up a little with the format. The first three books were all told from Cal¿s point of view, which worked just fine. Deathwish, however, alternates between Niko and Cal as the narrator. I¿m of two minds about this ¿ on the one hand, it was very cool to see the world, and in particular Cal, through Niko¿s eyes. He loves Cal unconditionally and that was great to read first hand. It also added a lot more humor as we saw how clearly they understand each other (and Niko¿s positive reinforcement of Cal with ¿unhealthy¿ food was very funny). On the other hand, it was sometimes difficult to remember who was speaking and I found myself flipping back to the chapter start to see which brother was talking. Since they are often talking about the same events, they¿re both men, they refer to the other as brother and know the same people, readers need to be careful of the nuances to differentiate, especially after hearing only Cal for the last three books. I think overall, the benefits are worth the extra attention and would like the new format to continue.The plot was very suspenseful as we learn that not only do the Auphe want to torment Cal, they have a new plan that has Cal and Niko contemplating drastic measures to ensure it doesn¿t happen. Though the Auphe are the main danger here, a subplot involving Promise¿s heretofore unmentioned daughter Cherish, a vampire ex-lover and a ruthless hunter consume most of the book ¿ and shakes up Niko¿s relationship with Promise. We also get to see Niko lose his cool, and show just how deadly he is. The best development was the maturing of Cal, and Niko recognizing it. The two brothers disagree more and Cal takes a stronger stand on issues, even overruling Niko. The books have always been blatant about how protective Niko is of Cal ¿ yet here we see firsthand that the reverse is true. A very small plot twist at the end actually surprised me! All our favorite characters are here, Robin, Delilah, and even Mickey.The conclusion was very satisfying, while still leaving room for further adventures. Though I am disappointed that Thurman¿s next book will start a new series with a different, female, protagonist (I want more Cal!), I am also excited to see where she goes with a heroine. In any case, the author has earned a loyal fan in me and I¿m anxious for more. Highly recommended!
Shrike58 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This feels like the culminating book of an arc, no matter what else Thurman may write about the Brothers Leandros, as the final showdown with the Auphe has come, and there are dangerous complications in Niko's life as a result of Niko's relationship with Promise the Vampire, as her nothing-but-trouble daughter Cherish crawls out from under a rock at just about the worst moment possible. The only question is what threat will do in Cal & Niko first; Cal's lethal blood relations or the menace that is hot on the trail of Cherish. I'm not going to answer that question as it would gut the story. The important thing here is that Cal has reached the point where he's no longer a whiny, if lethal adolescent, but a man on his own two feet, and that is also what makes this book a culminating point.
MichalSh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Just finished "Deathwish", no. 4 in the Cal Leandros series. Though I enjoyed all the books in the series, "Deathwish" was definitely one of the highlights. To stay alive, Cal and Niko must now juggle more than one major life-threatening problem: - The Auphe are back big time, determined to kill Niko while Cal's watching, and then use Cal in a most unholy-slash-nightmarish way; - The vampire Seamus hires the Leandros brothers to find out who's following him. It turns out he's an old flame of Promise's, and when Seamus realizes Niko is Promise's current flame, he decides he really, REALLY doesn't like Niko.- And as if the trouble-meter isn't way past the red zone already -- just at the wrong time, Promise's surprise-daughter, the naughty Cherish, shows up at Promise's apartment, followed by a murderous pack of South American killer monster-dogs. She's fleeing for her life, having stolen a shiny necklace from an eccentric (okay, homicidal) monster-pet-loving rich guy called Oshossi, who'd now stop at nothing to get his revenge. Cherish asks Promise's help. Niko -- and as a result, Cal and Robin -- are dragged into the mess....Why some readers might like this book less: Unlike in earlier books, here the author switches back and forth between 2 points of view: Cal's and Niko's. Niko's first-person style is obviously different from Cal's. It's dry, collected, subtle. Due to a certain plot twist, such a POV-switch is indeed necessary, but style-wise, Cal is a much more fascinating narrator. Can't get around that. ...Why I liked this book more, anyway: In "Deathwish", more than in earlier books, author Rob Thurman ditches her gloves completely, and she absolutely doesn't pull ANY punches. We get a clear, brutal look at Cal and Niko -- who they really are, and to what extent each brother will go to protect the other. The sense of approaching doom is heavily felt throughout the book, and the conflicts -- both internal and external -- are carved with sharp, merciless strokes. Ron Thurman is a gutsy storyteller -- and she makes me laugh -- and therefore has won my heartfelt appreciation. So. Though I know this book is controversial to followers of the series, for me it's 5-star worthy.
edstan76 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I borrowed this book from a co-worker. I have not bought it yet. Undecided if I will buy it or not. I do want to read the next book in the series b/c i've read the first 4. This is definitely an improvement over the first few novels. But in this one, Thurman switches between Cal's point of view and his brother Nico. I like switching between POV's in a first person novel. Though there has to be a reason for it in the story. There was none in this book. Most of the time Cal and Nico were in the same room when Thurman would switch POV's. If the plot allow's a different view then great. But there was no reason to switch. Should have stuck with one or the other.On the plus side this story takes place right after the 3rd book. And deals with its aftermath. Good plot, and character development. A nice guest star. Also more info about Robin and Cal's boss. The series keeps getting better as Thurman writes more. Still a slightly diffcult read. But fun none the less.Thank you to Fran, Melissa's mom for letting me borrow this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like that the character evolution is happening without actually changing the characters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rollercoaster rides, loved Niko's pov. I highly recommend this series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The snapshot description on the back of the book really doesn't do the plot justice. If you have read the previous 3 books and are emotionally invested in the characters you'll be able to empathize and sympathize with their plight, if your unable to put yourself in their shoes however then it probably wont be enjoyable for you (but if you can't do that why are you even reading them in the first place?). This is also the first book where the author switches off from the point of view being exclusively to Cal and letting us peek in Niko's head for a change, normally I get really irritated when authors do this but Thurman made it work for me. Character development, daunting moral decisions between what is wanted, what his needed and what is right, and an inner-monologue that has me snickering as though Cal were my own younger brother that needed a good head thwap. Personally, I was not disappointed.
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"She sighs"
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Sandy111 More than 1 year ago
I love Cal, Nik & the ever horny Robin. This series has it all: action, sexy & funny all served to you in great stories.
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TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
I thinknthe book was amazing and by every other person review it must be better then i though... and it was and is
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