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Fiction Private Investigators

Dead Air

A Cullen and Cobb Mystery

by (author) David A. Poulsen

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
May 2017
Private Investigators, International Mystery & Crime, Hard-Boiled
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2017
    List Price

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A Calgary Herald Bestseller!
There’s no such thing as bad press …

Ex-cop turned private detective Mike Cobb is hired as the personal bodyguard of right-wing radio celebrity Buckley-Rand Larmer, who has been receiving a string of vicious, graphic threats. Once again, Cobb recruits crime journalist Adam Cullen, this time to dig into Larmer’s past and find out who might have a grudge against him.

Soon it becomes evident that Cullen and Cobb have more to contend with than the not-so-veiled threats. When Larmer’s associate turns up dead, the broadcaster is charged with the killing, but Cullen believes the murder might be related to a series of suspicious deaths of right-wing media figures going back years. As layers of secrets and lies peel back, Cullen and Cobb have more than Larmer’s guilt or innocence to worry about. A vicious killer is out there somewhere, poised to strike again.

About the author

David A. Poulsen has been a broadcaster, teacher, professional cowboy, football coach, stage and film actor and—most of all—writer. His writing career began in earnest when his story The Welcomin’ won the 1984 Alberta Culture Short Story Competition. Now the author of 27 books, many for middle readers and young adults, David spends 60 to 80 days a year in classrooms and libraries across Canada (and beyond) as a visiting author/presenter. The UBC Creative Writing alumnus and former Writer in Residence at the Saskatoon Public Library recently made his inaugural foray into the world of adult crime fiction with Serpents Rising, the best-selling first book in the Cullen and Cobb Mystery series. There are now four titles in the series and the fourth—None So Deadly—hit bookstores in the spring of 2019. The Man Called Teacher, coming in 2019, is his first adult western. David lives on a small ranch in Alberta’s foothills where he and his wife Barb raise and train running-bred quarter horses for barrel racing competitions.

David A. Poulsen's profile page


  • Unknown, A Dewey Divas and Dudes Summer 2017 pick

Excerpt: Dead Air: A Cullen and Cobb Mystery (by (author) David A. Poulsen)

June 1999

The shadows were deepening as darkness rolled over and around the dense, still forest. The poplars and spruce stood silent and unmoving, the moonlight peeking through clouds, but only now and then.
Black emerged from the meeting with his inner circle — the three people he trusted. One final meeting to tie up the last loose ends and make certain everything was in readiness for the departure. There could be no mistakes — not now when they’d come this far and been so successful. In every way.
Black liked the darkness. It was why he had chosen the name. They’d all chosen colours, all four members of the organizing committee — it had been his suggestion, based on his favourite movie, Reservoir Dogs. And for him, Mr. Black was the perfect choice — black, the colour of coal, of outer space, of night … of death.
The rest — the attendees (he disliked the term “delegates”) were numbers. Numbers, like colours — anonymous.
The week couldn’t have gone better. He was absolutely certain of that. A magical time in a magical place. Not one complaint. As tough physically, mentally, and psychologically as this camp had been, the most demanding he’d ever been a part of, every single delegate was going away from here happy, energized, and full of hope for a brighter future than ever before.
That was something else he’d insisted on. It was a camp — not a boot camp. Black felt the latter term had a negative ring. The left painted boot camps as intense, hate-inspired brainwashing sessions. But they weren’t that, not at all. This camp had been carefully designed to prepare attendees to fight long and hard, crush all opposition, and do whatever it took to win. You could only effect change by being in power. And camps like this one equipped delegates to help bring about the victory that had to happen.
As the noise from the final night’s celebration filtered through the trees, he moved away from his companions to reflect, to smile, and to plan. And to do what had to be done.
The time for reflection felt good. He thought back on all the months of planning — of arranging for this place, just a few miles from Buffalo, Wyoming, with all its Old West history and only several hundred yards from the site of the Wagon Box Fight, an important part of that history. The logistics had been flawless — from the food and drink, the supplies the instructors and guest speakers needed, everything right down to the porta-potties, every detail, including the intense secrecy that was the most important detail of all. And the most amazing part was knowing that a few hours after the camp was packed up and gone, there would be virtually no evidence to show that it had even taken place. Or, most importantly, who had been there.
The presenters had been even better than Black had dared hope for — inspirational and zealous without coming off so extreme as to be characterized merely as crackpots. That was important given the number of new recruits at this gathering. And it was important, too, because that was something else the left had done and continued to do — focus its attention and its attacks on the few who were unable to contain their admitted intolerance and their over-the-top fervour. One of the Fox News commentators — Carlisle, the guy from Wichita, Kansas, who spoke on Thursday night — had said it perfectly. “The public will buy anything that is packaged and presented well — they’ll buy nothing that’s packaged and presented badly. We have to be better salesmen than the other side.”
And Black knew Carlisle was right. Now the stage was set. There would never, could never be another Clinton. The second president in history to be impeached was still in place. Acquitted by a liberal-dominated court. But the slut president wouldn’t be there much longer; in less than two years he’d be gone. His replacement was ready and waiting. And best of all, Black knew that after this week, after this camp — his camp — conservative commentators and right-wing future candidates and incumbents were more prepared to go into battle than they’d ever been.
Tomorrow they’d leave, go back to their homes and home bases, ready to take the fight to the next level. Black felt his gut tighten as the excitement of knowing what these six days had been and what had been accomplished took hold of him. He managed a rare smile.
Black’s walk had taken him to the back of the camp, directly behind the RVs and tents that dotted the large clearing designated Bivouac C. His walk had been deliberate, designed to bring him to this area. One last detail to be taken care of. And he was the one who had to do it. He knew that.
He almost laughed at the gall of the infiltrator. And the stupidity. The fool actually believed he could come in here, spy on them, steal their secrets, and walk away unscathed. And what then? Print them in some poorly crafted story the left-wing media would fall over themselves to present? How arrogant and stupid journalists could be.
This one was arrogant, stupid, and wrong. Wrong to think he could pull it off. And just as wrong to agree to meet Black privately — there’s something I want to share with you. And the fool had bought it, further evidence of his idiocy.
Black stopped just behind a low canopy of brush and larger pines. He slipped the backpack off and onto the ground in front of him, reached in and took out first the night goggles, then the knife. Everything he needed.
He pushed the backpack under the brush. He’d retrieve it in the morning as they were preparing to leave. All of them. Except for the one who would not be leaving. He would remain here — forever.
Black began moving slowly and silently through the deep, dark woods — to the place they had agreed to meet. And for the second time in as many minutes, Black was smiling.

Editorial Reviews

Another exceptional, riveting read from a master of the genre.

Midwest Book Review

The banter is entertaining, and the winning combination of character and plot will certainly appeal to mainstream-mystery fans.


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