How to load a free ebook to your Kindle or computer

Some people don’t know how to get a free book (Like Burn Artist) to their Kindle or device, so here’s some tutorials I wrote to help you get reading quickly. These methods work with any book, not just mine.

How to get the book onto Kindle via USB:

  • Save the Burn Artist .mobi file to your computer.
  • Plug in your Kindle device with the USB charge cord.
  • Open up the ‘Documents’ folder on your Kindle.
  • Drag and drop (or cut and paste) the Burn Artist file into ‘Documents’
  • Disconnect your Kindle: the book should be in your library!

Kindle for PC:

Download the book. If you have Kindle for PC installed, you should be able to double-click the file and it will open in the Kindle Program automatically.

If the book doesn’t open with a doubleclick, cut and paste the .mobi file into the ‘My Kindle Content’ folder in your ‘My Documents’.


How to get the book on your Kindle or Ereader via email:

If you have a Kindle device (Paperwhite, Voyager, etc), you can send the book to your Kindle by email. To do this, all you need is your Kindle’s email address and to change a couple of settings.

To find this email address, visit using your PC’s web browser.  You will arrive on a page with three options: ‘Your Content’, ‘Your Devices’ and ‘Settings’.

Click on ‘Your Devices’ and select your Kindle or Ereader. Underneath the selected icon, you will see information about your Kindle, including the email address. It usually looks like: <Amazon username>

Now go back up, and click ‘Settings’ and scroll all the way down to the “Approved Personal Document E-mail List.” Click “add a new approved e-mail address,” and add the email address you intend to send your books from.

Remember, your Kindle needs to be attached to a Wi-Fi or 3G network for this to work. It doesn’t have to be your home network, of course; you can go to a coffee shop or a public library, for instance.

Send the Burn Artist .mobi file to your Kindle email address with no message or subject, and voila – you will be able to read the book on your Kindle! Once you’ve set this up, you can do this with any book, not just mine.


How to read a free book on your PC without Kindle:

To read the .epub file, download the free Adobe Digital Editions program here:

Once this is installed, you should be able to double-click your new .epub file and read it in your fancy new e-reader 🙂

Cold Cell: Work In Progress

My escort walked me down to the third level, a narrow hallway faced with cells with red painted bars, the same color as my new coveralls. They stretched off into the gloom of the dimmed lights… a corridor that sounded and smelled like a zoo now that everyone had just come in back from dinner. It was warm in here, and humid with the smell of an old men’s locker room. The ventilation fans did little to remove the scent of cheap bodyspray, sweat, and old toilets.

We were catcalled on the way past my new neighbors. Someone was pacing like a tiger in the darkest part of their cell, stalking from end to end. Another man was smoking, and didn’t even bother hiding it as the three of us marched past. Some men were hidden in the stark shadows cast by the single bulb light outside their cell. Another lunged at his bars with a bestial snarl, and then laughed as he reeled away. Everyone was two to a cell – sometimes three. There wasn’t enough space on Red Row. I could guess that the bunk I was to occupy was one of the ones I’d emptied after Red Dog had come at me in the bathroom.

“Hey! I told housekeeping that I didn’t want the turndown!” A man’s voice called out from the cell, deep, with an accent I pinned somewhere between Minnesota and Canada. “Did you bring me the little chocolate at least, ’cause-”

“Shut your fucking mouth!” My escort snarled back at him, racking my door across. “You! Get in there!”

He didn’t have to tell me twice. I started forward, only to be arrested when the man inside spoke again. “Yeah! Get in there! You can do it! You’re the man now, dawg!”

The guard holding me shifted nervously on his feet as the other one stalked into the cell, hand on his belt. “Do you want my stick up your ass, fuckhole?”

“Oh no sir, anything but the stick!” My celly pitched his voice high and squeaky. “We hates the stick, don’ts we precious?”

“Why you fucking piece of-” From inside, the other man laughed, a sound that fell back further into the cell as the guard lay into him.

“Ooh yes, officer! Harder! Harder!” He called out, still laughing. “Gimme that Federal bureaucracy, man! All over my face!”

“Will you shut the fuck up!?” The nightstick bounced off something metallic.

“Come on baby, bruise me up! Yeah, that’s it! Woo! I’m going to the one dollar bin! The fruit bin! Like one of those bruised up bananas that’s seen WAY too much heroin!”

“Yeah, man! Go score us that infirmary canteen!” Someone down the row shouted up.

“It’s mine! All mine! Get your own fucking crossword puzzle!” Even under assault, my next door neighbor sounded like he was having the time of his life.

As he realized that the beating wasn’t going to get him anywhere, the guard stalked back out and slammed the door across, swearing like a Navy shoreman. The far less enthused officer nudged me forward, and I got my first look at my new roommate as he rolled himself back up to his ass, still wheezing with mirth.

He was huge: a good three hundred pounds of raw beef, none of it fat. He was seated with his feet wide apart, elbows resting on his knees, his back to the white porcelain sink. His shoulders were level with the rim. I’d known some big men in my time and rarely felt small around them. Short as I am, I was burly, built for weightlifting and shotput and showjumping. Tall, cut men like Zane didn’t faze me, but this man wasn’t just tall. My new cellmate was built like a pro-wrestler. He could have body-doubled for the Hulk.

He had a fading outdoorsman’s tan, but it was the geometric blue ink tattoos that lay across his bald scalp, bull neck, and heavy shoulders that distinguished him from just another skinhead bruiser in this place. They were not anything like the mishmash of gang symbols and trashy flash that passed for tattoos in prison. Care and planning had gone into them, and it was the tattoos that flipped the switch of intuition. I hesitated as deja-vu hit me like a baton to the gut, but I couldn’t recall a name, or a place where we’d met before. Just a shadow of a memory, a patterning… like the ghost of something we’d once done together, over and over again. In light of Kutkha’s frank discussion of my other lives, past and present, the recall was accompanied by a nagging sense of being in terrible danger.

“Stop gawking and get in, asshole.” The guard jabbed me in the back. With motions that were already becoming rote, I crossed the threshold and turned, the back of my neck crawling as I held out my wrists to be un-cuffed.

“Mmmm, now that’s what I’m talking about.” The big man chuckled behind me. “That is one hell of a mint. White virgin chocolate… Fair trade and shade grown.”

The guard glanced over my shoulder with something that might have been momentary concern, at least about the liability of locking someone of my size in with the likes of The Hulk… but it didn’t stop him from racking the door closed, locking it, and walking away to join his coworker.

I drew a deep breath and turned around. “Let me guess. You recognize me from somewhere.”

“I’m writing home to-” When I turned back around to face him, the seated man’s voice fell off, even before I began to speak. “That depends. How many pornos have you starred in?”

I flushed before he could find my composure, jaws clenched. “Exactly zero, thank you very much.”

“Listen to you. ‘I’ll have a buttered scone and a bit of tea, thank you very much,’” my cellmate raised his voice to a prim falsetto as he got to his feet. In the claustrophobic enclosure of the cell, I had never seen a bigger man in my life. He was smirking, and holding an invisible teacup and saucer in his hands, the pinky holding the ‘cup’ held out at a jaunty angle. There was absolutely nowhere in this space I could retreat to that this man could not reach.

Everything I will miss in the years to come

I’m going to miss the Great Barrier Reef. I’m sad that I will never get to see it, and regret that I didn’t visit it before I left Australia to throw my lot in with the USA. I’m going to miss the National Parks of the Americas, the forests and valleys that will be leveled, the shale fields that will be pounded relentlessly for the oil that oozes through the cracks of shattered stone.

I will miss being able to able to travel across the USA by road or rail. It is no longer safe. I’m privileged enough to be able to ‘pass’, for the most part, but if I’m taken to the wrong hospital or attended by the wrong EMTs or somehow found out in public, I am not safe.

I already miss the prospect of a cleaner, smarter, better educated global society built on principles of secular liberty and justice: Elon Musk’s future is where we should be headed, but we probably won’t live long enough to arrive. Technology will now progress only for the benefit of dictators.

When the time comes, I might have to let go of my remaining innocence in the face of war or invasion. I will miss the times when I could blog without fear of arrest, or sit in the peace of my home with a full belly and a sense of having a future, however much work that future required. I grieve that in the knowledge that we will live in an ever-warming climate of hate, fear, and bigotry. We have had two world wars to learn from… but we apparently do not learn.

I do not fear death, but in the times to come, I will miss truly living.

Blood Hound Excerpt

This is an excerpt from Chapter 11 of Blood Hound, which is on sale for 99c on Amazon between the 29th – 31st, just in time for Halloween!

Outside, Yuri loomed down over me like a coffin on its heel. The old wolf was actually older than Nic, which meant he was cresting his early 60s. He was enormous, the kind of hoary man that could pound the shit out of thirty-year-old prizefighters in the ring without breaking a sweat. Now, his heavy shoulders were hunched in towards his chest, his hands buried in his pockets. His skin was clammy and pale.

“Yuri. You look… dreadful.” I was, for a moment, bereft of words. “Where have you been?”

“Long time explaining.” His voice caught and clicked weirdly, like he was talking through a mouthful of soggy bread and thumbtacks. There were awkward, painful pauses between his words. “Can I sit… down?”

Details filed into my awareness in seconds. The bruises under his eyes. The dried spittle at the corner of his lips. The coat he was wearing was too heavy for the summer heat. My nape prickled. “Perhaps. Tell me where you’ve been.”

“Came back to talk about Vincent.” He finally looked down at me then, and I recoiled slightly from the door. Yuri’s eyes were normally dark, the whites a little yellow from hard years of prison hooch and nicotine. Now, they were black—a blackness that sucked in light and didn’t return it. No reflection, no life, no anything. For a moment, they held me captive with the siren promise of knowledge. I knew somehow that Yuri, or the thing that had once been Yuri, now held more knowledge than my own curious mind could withstand.

Letting him in felt like a bad idea, but the mystery was irresistible. I licked my lips, throat suddenly dry, and opened the door to let him pass. “Shoes on the rack, please.”

Yuri crossed the threshold. He didn’t take off his shoes, and my brief captivation disappeared. Honestly. I really hated it when people didn’t take their shoes off.

The huge man lumbered to the kitchen, turning his head one way, then the other. He stopped, neck craned, and stared at the icebox section of the refrigerator. The icebox. The seal was still in the tin chalice, in the icebox. My heart rate leapt.

“I’ve been underground.” Yuri didn’t look at me as he took his seat, shuffling heavily into a chair at the kitchen table. The table was a small, square thing, no bigger than a card table, and barely sat Vassily and me. Yuri, sitting side-on with his elbow braced down, dwarfed it. “Underground. I figured you might be interested in some new work.”

“That depends on the nature of the work.” I stayed standing. “I assume you don’t want coffee?”

“No.” Yuri swiveled his face towards me just as I was about to step in through the door. The look in the other man’s eyes stopped me. “We have the kind of work you want. The kind you really want. None of this underpaid Girl Friday bullshit.”

“Who’s ‘we’?” In the closeness of the kitchen, Yuri smelled like alcohol. Not liquor, like vodka or whiskey, but pure alcohol. The cold, nose-stinging smell of preservative. Surreptitiously, I rubbed my fingers together and then pitched my own thigh. No, I wasn’t still dreaming. “The Manellis?”

“Manelli.” Yuri ground the word out like a woodchipper. It could have been agreement or just echolalia. “Hell no. I was sent t-to make you an offer. The kind that suits a true magus.”

Now there was an expression you didn’t hear every day. I stared at Yuri intently, trying to pick up anything I could. He wasn’t right, but he wasn’t… anything. I was beginning to mistrust things with a lack of aura, and I was beginning to think I’d made a mistake letting him into my house. “That seems reasonable. You have three minutes to make your pitch.”

The big man looked up lazily with his void-black eyes and laid one of his hands on the table. “Power. Instruction. A position of leadership. And an out from the Organizatsiya, and the geas that Sergei has on the whole damn thing.”

A creeping sensation ran up through my spine. I remembered the dream, though I could not recall the face of the pale-skinned, white-haired woman in the circle. I did remember the last stark image before rising: my mouth stuffed full of my own entrails. “You’re not Yuri. Yuri knows nothing about these things.”

“I do now,” Yuri said. The words seemed to carry a weight to them, wielded like a fist through the thickness of his tongue. “And I’ll tell you this, Lexi. You’re so powerful that you could become a god.”

I was rendered speechless. It was partly the awful cliché, but it was also because the thought had never genuinely occurred to me. I wanted to be better at my Art. Who wouldn’t? Godhood was never on the agenda. “Why on earth would I want to be a god?”

“Men like you are either masters or slaves. Most of ’em are slaves. That’s why the Vigiles take kids with the gift, Lexi. It’s why operations have spooks, and don’t let them out of their sight. You don’t want to stay here.” In that moment, Yuri sounded more like his old self, halting voice and all. “Living and d-dying… under someone like Sergei? Lev? They all think you belong to them.”

The words hooked in my sense of pride. I tried reaching back inside, towards Kutkha, but I felt nothing there. It was as if I were walled off from him, left with nothing other than the distant sense of beating wings. “I have on good authority that gods don’t exist.”

“They do. Men become gods. Jehovah? He was a war leader and a spook. Alexander the Great? Jason and the fleece? Heroes and mages, the lot of ’em.” Yuri’s black eyes bored into me. “Just like Carmine.”

My eyes narrowed. “How do you know Carmine?”

“Maybe he got the same offer. Maybe he said ‘yes.’ He was tired of being somebody’s bitch. What about you?”

“I’m no one’s ‘bitch’,” I replied, crisply.

“Psh. You’re Sergei’s bitch. I watched you grow up right into his design, kid. Grisha’s skinny little weirdo, accidentally sorted out onto the conveyor belt for fighting cocks before he got thrown into the grinder with the rest of the chicks.”

“Sergei is coming back to Brighton Beach,” I said. “He will likely name Vassily Avtoritet, and I will be his second.”

Yuri leaned in. The prickling was worsening, ringing cold bells through my nerves. There was something wrong about Yuri’s skin. It was distended and tight, and when I looked down, I noticed his tattooed hands were bloated and puffy. “Kid, they haven’t even made you a captain. They think you don’t have the experience. Killing people doesn’t put you in line for anything except a bullet between the eyes when the big cats vote you’re too out of control. That’s just cold hard reality. Did you ever wonder what Sergei sees in you?”

Of course I did. Numerous men had been born in or on the periphery of the Organization, and of all of them, Sergei had selected me and Vassily. I have one clear memory of him from my childhood: a memory of being hoisted up in tattooed hands the size of Christmas hams, looking down into his broad, beaming face and bushy beard. Sergei was as much a Slav as Vassily and I were, but he had red hair: red hair and violet eyes. I remember looking down into those twinkling purple-blue irises, understanding even then that they were full of cold humor and equally cold assessment. When he was here, he’d been a shadow over my shoulders, always watching. Every school report, every play, every equestrian competition. He watched everything with indulgent, predatory patience, rewarding the good and being outwardly disappointed by the bad. The same way you trained a dog.

“No. And how would you know?” I asked.

“Son, I was the first guy to bring heroin here from the ’Stans. Me and Nic. We took a convoy of poppy over the border all the way to a ship in Karachi.” Yuri exhaled, and his throat buzzed with phlegm. “I knew Sergei before you were a gleam in your daddy’s eye. Man is a Class-A shitbag. A real circus master. He’d fuck you with a razor blade for your jacket if he wanted it.”

I glared at him in sullen, offended silence.

“I know what Sergei sees in you. Same thing he sees in all t-the rest of us poor motherfuckers.” Yuri grinned. “Machine parts.”

The undeniable truth of Yuri’s words made me pause. I rubbed my hands on my thighs, leaning away. My fingers were stinging with salt, rubbed raw within the illusory security of their casings.

“Tiny, fragile, cheap… machine parts.” Yuri’s voice dropped to a brittle hiss. “Itty bitty. And there’s lots of you. Lots of Alexis. Lots of Yuris. You’re already a slave. Just like your mother.”

“You don’t know anything about my mother.” That remark snapped the growing hypnotic fugue short. I reached back and pulled the gun free from my waistband. “Shut up.”

“I know more than you do.” Yuri’s soulless eyes burned under the fluorescent lights of the kitchen. “You think your dad was her only man before she capped herself?”

“SHUT UP!” I barked.

A weird, choked sound bubbled up from Yuri’s throat. It took me a moment to realize he was laughing. “She hated him. Hated you. She hated us. The Organization.”

Shaking, I raised the pistol in a teacup grip. My arms, back, and stomach were taut with rage.

“Yeah. Get angry.” Yuri sat back but didn’t otherwise move. He didn’t give two shits about the gun. “Think about it. You get t-to choose what Sergei did with you? Choose what you were born into? How you turned out?”

My nostrils trembled as I drew a deep, furious breath.

“Had your school paid up, car paid up, all sponsored… so you could do this. Pull a gun on the guy tellin’ you how things work. You’re a slave, kid. You joined the system, and they got you good.”

It was true. It was all true. Sergei had put Vassily and me through The Knox School together, bought our cars. After my mother’s funeral, Sergei had bought my first horse. They weren’t gifts—they were investments. We’d both known it and worked hard out of gratitude and obligation and maybe more than a little fear. Our patron had checked us into college and assigned us our subjects. Finance. Business. He wanted white-collar leaders with a taste for comfortable living and big money. I had done everything he wanted—except one thing.

“So you tell me, Alexi. Where’d it get you? Your loyalty?”

I lifted my chin. My instincts screamed at me to disengage, but pride wouldn’t let me. I’d taken so much shit from the other muzhiki in this place. “I’ve got everything I need.”

“You work like a dog, live in a shitty apartment, and half the Organization thinks you should be put down. There ain’t no respect for spooks in this place, kid. I know the guys at work, what they say about you.” Yuri didn’t blink. “Rumor is you’re a faggot.”

“Say that again.” Every muscle in my body trembled. It couldn’t be true. My finger tightened on the trigger. In the ensuing silence, the small click seemed very, very loud.

“Faggot.” He sounded it out long and slow, like I hadn’t heard the first time. “You don’t believe me? Ask Nic. Everyone thinks you make out like you’re a big tough guy after killing your dad to hide it. But it doesn’t have to be that way,” Yuri replied. “You want your soul to walk beside you like it was real, like Carmine? You can do that. Want to learn how to walk on water? It’s possible. Create gold? Skullfuck people from across the room? You can. I can sense it, Lexi. You woke up. You’re one of the big boys now.”

bh_mockupGet Blood Hound on Amazon:

Russian Mafia 101: The Russian Mafia Doesn’t Actually Exist

john-wick-2014-full-movie-720p-hd-free-downloadMy novels and stories deal heavily with the (so-called) Russian Mafia – that mythic Eastern European organized criminal organization that was so badly portrayed in Eastern Promises and portrayed with far more realism in John Wick. There is already an established ‘mafiya’ genre in Russia, which is typified by the amazing TV drama series Brigada. But despite this, the Russian Mafia doesn’t actually exist, per-se.

It may seem strange to be writing about something I claim doesn’t exist, but here’s what that means in Alexi’s own words:

The term ‘Russian Mafia’ is a poor analogue for the many unallied brigadi that make up Slavic organized crime. For one thing, any given Organizatsiya has members from all corners of the Eastern Bloc, as well as Turkey, Israel, and Chechnya. For another, the term ‘mafia’ conveys a certain sense of conservative, orderly unity, evoking images of hereditary Families led by a single Don. Every one of the organizations that could be described as ‘Russian mafia’ does things their own way. If the Italian Mob is a family business, then the Russian Mafia is a fast-food franchise: a cluster of para-military cells unified around a team of managers, with each cell branching out further into a web of patsies, fall-men, bookies, dealers and common street thugs.

Vassily and I occupied a strange position within our own brigada. We were both immigrant children born in America to long-time Thieves-in-Law. Our hereditary position conveyed a certain hollow prestige, in that the senior authorities invested more time into us, but they also expected more.

Essentially, the Russian Mafia is a fractured collection of individual criminal organizations, most of which are not Russian at all. They operate internationally and within the former Eastern Bloc, and the ones based in Russia, Ukraine and surrounding countries are heavily involved in business (especially the gas and oil industries), politics, banking and the Eastern Orthodox church. There are some who cooperate (and even hold ‘councils’ between leaders), but more of them are rivals for the same

Eastern Promises was just about the gayest thing ever, which was great, but it was highly inaccurate.

Eastern Promises was just about the gayest thing ever, which was great, but it was highly inaccurate.

business. Russian mafia organizations range from small gangs of semi-rural youth led by petty criminals through to advanced, complex organizations with ties to the Kremlin and access to military-grade weapons. They compete and convolve in ways that have mystified law enforcement for decades, form crazy alliances with forces as diverse as Nigerian pirates, the Mumbai Mafia, Thailand’s tourism industry and ISIS – and this fluidity one of the reasons that they are currently the most successful criminal enterprise in the world.

Fictional Depictions

In terms of fictional depictions, Brigada is without a doubt the best (semi-sympathetic) portrayal of an Organizatsiya, detailing the life of a young soldier returning to his hard-scrabble regional town and entering into a life of crime. Poverty is still a major driving force behind the formation of Eastern European criminal organizations. The old Soviet factory towns where so many people still live are deprived of opportunity and jobs, and are often bleak, conservative places often falling into disrepair. Soldiering, crime, or luck are the only ways a lot of these young men break out. This is especially true of the old ‘Stans south of Russia, rural Ukraine, and Bulgaria – where are not coincidentally where the Russian Mafia draws most of its members.

Eastern Promises really tried, but it was heavily exoticized and basically took Italian Mafia tropes and vaguely converted them to a Russian cast: about the only thing they got right was the mafia’s involvement in human trafficking. But let’s be frank – I think most of us were watching it for the naked Turkish bath knife-fight, right? John Wick reduced the Organizatsiya to a series of mooks whose only purpose was to be gunned down by Keanu Reeves, but the cultural and social depictions were far more in line with the reality.

Next in the series, I’ll elaborate on this inaccurate exoticism a bit more: specifically, the infamous hand tattoos and the ‘language’ of these tattoos that are now practically iconic.

Want to learn how to swear like a sailor in Russian and Ukrainian? Check out this post:

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