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She's short, round, and pushing forty, but Julia Kalas is a damned good criminal. For 17 years she renovated historic California buildings as a laundry front for her husband's illegal arms business. Then the Aryan Brotherhood made her a widow, and witness protection shipped her off to the tiny town of Azula, Texas. Also known as the Middle of Nowhere.
The Lone Star sticks are lousy with vintage architecture begging to be rehabbed. Julia figures she'll pick up where she left off, but she's got a federal watchdog now: police chief Teresa Hallstedt, who is none too happy to have another felon in her jurisdiction. Teresa wants Julia where she can keep an eye on her, which turns out to be behind the bar at the local watering hole. The bar's owner, Hector Guerra, catches Julia's eye, so she takes the job. But before she can get to know him as well as she'd like, they find a dead body on the bar's roof.
The county sheriff begins trying to pin the murder on Hector for reasons that Julia discovers are both personal and nefarious. Unfortunately, the evidence cooperates, but Julia's finely-honed personal radar tells her Hector isn't a killer. She risks reconnecting with the outlaw underground to prove it and learns the hard way that she's not nearly as tough--or as right--as she thinks she is.
Nine Days, Koenig's debut, is atmospheric, gutsy and fun, and Julia Kalas is an intriguing new heroine in crime fiction.
"A satisfyingly flawed female lead, a deep sense of place, and dead-on descriptions combine to create a Coen Brothers movie in print."—Anne Frasier, USA Today bestselling author of Play Dead
"Seventeen years experience running guns and washing dirty money has given narrator Julia Kalas a well-earned confidence, a rough-and-tumble way of talking you know will cause her trouble—and provide us with thrills—throughout this blue-ribbon debut novel. When her husband’s killers chase Julia into a Texas-based witness protection program, and her new overseer pulls the wrong switches in Julia’s worried mind, look out law enforcement, a murderous Aryan Brotherhood, and anybody else who might be trying to pin murder on Julia’s new friend and employer, Hector. A shocking, rousing finish stretches the muscle and sinew of Julia’s swagger, then twists us magically—a perfect setup for Julia and Hector’s next legendary tale."—Jack Getze, Fiction Editor, Spinetingler Magazine
“Enthralling from the first page, Nine Days is a blistering and unforgettable debut from a tremendous new voice in crime fiction. Minerva Koenig is a name to watch for.”—Ed Kurtz, author of A Wind of Knives and The Forty-Two “Minerva Koenig has crafted a smart, twisty debut with the perfect noir scenario: A government witness who fears that her remote new address is only a trap. Julia Kalas can diagnose the structural ills of an old building in minutes but can’t rebuild her life without demolishing the rotten, corrupt infrastructure of a whole town. Trouble in small town Texas? Brother, I’ve been there, and the only way I’m going back there again is with Kalas. Neither Barbie doll nor Phyllis Marlowe, she is sexy and appealing and, by the way, can probably kick your ass.”—Jesse Sublett, author of Grave Digger Blues