Man’s best friend is about to become America’s worst enemy...
When a sudden rash of deadly canine attacks hits the greater Miami area, Lieutenant “Ghost” Walton, Special Ops, takes little notice. Blame it on the heat, a rare disease, or the fact that people just don’t know how to take care of their pets.
But when the body count rises, and the perimeter of blood and carnage spreads wider and wider, into the farthest reaches of Miami-Dade county, Ghost has no choice but to pay attention. Doggedly, he tries to uncover the link between these lethal incidents, but he doesn’t count on falling for a sassy out-of-towner with a dark past, nor does he expect to stumble onto a plot that threatens national security.
From The China Dogs
Xian weighs up the eagerness in his colleague. A soldier ever-hungry for war. A man desperate for power. ‘There is an old superstition that if you hear a dog howl late at night then someone somewhere is dying. Today you come to me, Zhang, seeking to make a whole army of dogs howl and many, many people die. Are you certain that this is the moment for such disturbance?’
Old superstitions are everything in China. As much a part of modern day living, as they were ancient life. And when you look the world over, you see that we’ve incorporated many rituals and saying into our own worlds as well. Well, certainly I have.
I am a lifelong Manchester City fan, and have been since the club was penniless and a million miles away from the success it is today (for non-soccer fans they are English Premier League Champions and have just won the title for the second time in three years). As I child, I had to stand at exactly the same spot in the ground, precisely on the half-way line, right down at the front, near the player’s tunnel. I was convinced that if I didn’t get this exactly right, then the team would lose. I had to wear my lucky scarf and on no account must I be late. Oh, and one last thing, I had to shout and sing for my team so loudly I would have no voice left by the time the final whistle blew. If I did not do these things to the very best of my ability, then they would lose, and it would be my fault.
Of course the team lost. Many, many times. No matter how loudly I shouted or where I stood. But still today, I have my match day superstitions and so does my own son (a certain route to the new ground must be taken by his mom, who must drive rather than me, and there are rules on where to park and what pre-match food must be consumed).
But none of my ‘lucky habits’ compare to those in Asia. While researching The China Dogs I found endless examples of good and bad luck rituals in every day Chinese life, most of which had survived over the centuries.
The New Year is a big, big time for superstitions - first off, there’s the run up to the big day. No telling spooky stories – it only excites the spirits and evil ones are likely to come and lodge with you. Best get a bucket of firecrackers in order to scare them off on New Year’s Eve and all families need to clean house before the new year rolls in, so they can be totally sure it is clear of those evil spirits and there’s plenty of room to accommodate good luck. But you mustn’t wash your hair on New Year’s Day, as that will just rinse away all the good luck that you worked so hard to attract.
If you’ve made a good start to the year, then here are some tips to stay lucky:
Steer clear of knives and sharp objects as they can sever your good fortune. Don’t wear black, wear red. Red envelopes with cash in are given to children and even single people to bring them good luck, while black is such a funereal colour you are tempting fate. Don’t give a clock as a gift, as it signifies that time is running out, but do gift a couple of mandarin oranges as it extends the sweetness of life and supports the belief that ‘good things come in pairs.’
Never hit anyone with a broom, it’s likely to bring you bad luck for the rest of your days. Certainly don’t live in a house facing north, it will bring woe to the whole family. It’s better to be clean-shaven than have a beard (especially if you’re a woman!) and don’t trim toenails at night, as this is likely to bring ghosts into the house. Incidentally, if you have a baby and it’s crying for no apparent reason, then this is a sure sign you already do have ghosts in the house.
Don’t point at the moon as it might make the tips of your ears fall off. If you’re getting married, make sure the partner is not three or six years older or younger than you are, and should you crave a pet, on no account keep a caged turtle as it would most definitely result in ruin.
Personally, I love superstition. It’s oral history and reminds me of the age before science hit TV and everyone ended up a smart ass. The China Dogs weaves a little superstition into the characters and storyline here and there but I hope it does it respectfully. If you’re reading the book, look out for the number 8. Originally the title was going to be 88888.
I’d tell you why, but that would be unlucky.
SAM MASTERS is a pseudonym for an author who has written seven books, including a bestseller that has sold in more than 30 countries. This is his first novel for Witness.