“Black Rain sizzles with tension and twists that both entertain and magnetize. The plot envelops the reader into a brilliantly conceived world, full of strange and amazing things. Graham Brown is an exciting new talent, a writer we’re going to be hearing a lot from in the years ahead. I can’t wait.”

—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Vendetta

“Black Rain is an adventure that’s not only a terrific read but is smart, intelligent, and poised to shake up the whole thriller community. Every copy should come with a bucket of popcorn and a John Williams soundtrack to play in the background. I loved it.”

—Linwood Barclay, #1 internationally bestselling author of Fear the Worst


Only the writer knows how instrumental others are in the work that he gets to call his own. In my case, at least, those brief moments of intervention often seemed far more important to the final outcome than all the months of furious typing.

And so, first I must thank my wife, Tracey—both for putting up with me to begin with and for all the things I’ve learned from you. Without you, this book would still be a poorly written first draft, gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. Also, thanks go out to all the friends and family who read those early drafts, particularly Larry and Shelly Fox (gracias, los Zorros); to Christopher Gangi, who is like a brother; to my actual brothers; and, of course, to my parents, who never stopped me from trying anything, even if it was dangerous or just a little crazy.

And, of course, a writer never feels like a writer until they’re published. None of which would have been remotely possible without my agent, the fantastic and amazing Barbara Poelle; how I was lucky enough to sit at your table, I’ll never know. The same goes for Irene Goodman, Danny Baror and the crew at Bantam Dell, beginning with my editor, Danielle Perez, whose suggestions and thoughts are so on point it seems she knows the characters better than I do. Thanks as well to Marisa Vigilante for her input and assistance, Carlos Beltran for the fantastic cover and everyone else whose efforts went into making this happen.

There came one called Destroyer, who gouged out their eyes, and another called Jaguar, who devoured their flesh. They raced for the trees and they raced for the caves. But the trees could not bear them and the caves were now shut. And then came the torrent; a rain of black resin that poured from the sky. Rain through the day and all through the night and the earth was blackened beneath it.

—The demise of the wooden people, from the Mayan text Popul Vuh



The darkness of the jungle loomed above, its dense, tangled layers spreading like a circus tent from the towering pillars of massive trees. Gorged on the rain, it grew impenetrable and unyielding, a home to thousands of species, most of which never left the confines of its elevated embrace. Life was lived up there, high in the canopy; the ground was for shadows and crawling things and for that which had died.

Jack Dixon allowed his gaze to fall from the lush world above him to the soil beneath his feet. He crouched, examining a set of tracks. The tread of the heavy boots was easy to discern, but subtly different from those he’d found earlier. These were deeper at the toe, pressed down into the earth and spaced farther apart.

So the targets were running now. But why?

He looked around, wondering if he’d come up too quickly and given himself away. It seemed unlikely. Knotted undergrowth blocked most of the sight lines, and where one could see, the vaporous fog grayed the distance to infinity. It was as if nothing else existed, no world beyond, only endless trees, clinging moss and vines hanging limp in the mist like ropes from an empty gallows.

Besides, if they had seen him, he’d already be dead.

Dixon motioned to a man trailing him. He pointed to the tracks. “Something spooked them,” he said.

The second man, whose name was McCrea, studied the print for a second. “But not us.”

Dixon shook his head. “No. Not us.”

As cicadas buzzed in the distance, a subtle tic fluttered across McCrea’s face. But nothing more was said and the two men moved on, holding their assault rifles in front of them and creeping even more slowly than before.

A few minutes later they came upon what Dixon had begun to expect. Another kill. A fresh kill with no stench, though the birds had found it already. As Dixon brushed past the last of the blocking undergrowth, the carrion flock scattered in alarm, flapping to safety in the trees.

Exposed by their departure was the mangled body of a man in the same jungle fatigues as Dixon and McCrea. He lay facedown on a swath of crimson mud with a native spear broken off in his back. Chunks of flesh had been gouged from his legs, and his right arm and shoulder were gone, not cut clean but torn away, leaving only tattered strips of flesh and sinew draped over bloody spits of protruding bone.

“What the hell,” McCrea said, turning at the sight.

Dixon stared, disturbed but pragmatic. He addressed the dead man. “That’s what you get for trying to leave me behind.”

Beside him McCrea fought to hold it together. “The bastards did a number on him.”

The bastards were a native group known as the Chollokwan, a tribe that had been harassing them ever since they came west of the river. In a pair of skirmishes weeks before, Dixon and his men had gunned down a handful of the charging natives. But it seemed one lesson was not enough.

“Saved us the trouble,” Dixon said. “Now search him.”

McCrea dropped to the ground and rifled through the man’s pockets. Finding nothing, he pulled out a small device and switched it on. It began clicking slowly, accelerating into a rapid buzz as he zeroed in on the right spot.

“I told you he had them,” Dixon said.

McCrea put the Geiger counter away and dug into the man’s pack. He froze in place as a shrill cry rang out from the depths of the jungle.

Silence followed in its wake.

“It’s just another bird,” Dixon said.

“It sounds like …”

Dixon glared at McCrea. “It’s a long way off,” he growled. “Now just find the damn stones and we’ll get out of here.”

Under the weight of Dixon’s gaze, McCrea went back to work, soon plucking a greasy rag from the litter. Unfolded, it revealed a group of small stones, slightly larger than sugar cubes but twelve-sided and shimmering with a dull metallic gloss. Beside them lay a scratched, colorless crystal.

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