Excerpt from Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Heart-Shaped Box

A Novel.

By Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box

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“ ‘My stepfather was a lifelong spiritualist, and I believe he is only here to teach my daughter that death is not the end. But she is eleven and needs a normal life and to sleep in her own room, not in mine. The only thing I can think is to try and find Pop another home, and the world is full of people who want to believe in the afterlife. Well, I have your proof right here.

“ ‘I will “sell” my stepfather’s ghost to the highest bidder. Of course a soul cannot really be sold, but I believe he will come to your home and abide with you if you put out the welcome mat. As I said, when he died, he was with us temporarily and had no place to call his own, so I am sure he would go to where he was wanted. Do not think this is a stunt or a practical joke and that I will take your money and send you nothing. The winning bidder will have something solid to show for their investment. I will send you his Sunday suit. I believe if his spirit is attached to anything, it has to be that.

“ ‘It is a very nice old-fashioned suit made by Great Western Tailoring. It has a fine silver pinstripe,’ blah-blah, ‘satin lining,’ blah-blah. . . .”

Danny stopped reading and pointed at the screen. “Check out the measurements, Chief. It’s just your size. High bid is eighty bucks. If you want to own a ghost, looks like he could be yours for a hundred.”

“Let’s buy it,” Jude said.

“Seriously? Put in a bid for a hundred dollars?”

Jude narrowed his eyes, peering at something on the screen, just below the item description, a button that said YOURS NOW: $1,000. And beneath that: Click to Buy and End Auction Immediately! He put his finger on it, tapping the glass.

“Let’s just make it a grand and seal the deal,” he said.

Danny rotated in his chair. He grinned and raised his eyebrows.

Danny had high, arched, Jack Nicholson eyebrows, which he used to great effect. Maybe he expected an explanation, but Jude wasn’t sure he could’ve explained, even to himself, why it seemed reasonable to pay a thousand dollars for an old suit that probably wasn’t worth a fifth of that.

Later he thought it might be good publicity: Judas Coyne buys a poltergeist. The fans ate up stories like that. But that was later. Right then, in the moment, he just knew he wanted to be the one who bought the ghost.

Jude started on, thinking he would head upstairs to see if Georgia was dressed yet. He had told her to put on her clothes half an hour ago but expected to find her still in bed. He had the sense she planned to stay there until she got the fight she was looking for. She’d be sitting in her underwear, carefully painting her toenails black. Or she’d have her laptop open, surfing Goth accessories, looking for the perfect stud to poke through her tongue, like she needed any more goddam . . . And then the thought of surfing the Web caused Jude to hold up, wondering something. He glanced back at Danny.

“How’d you come across that anyway?” he asked, nodding at the computer.

“We got an e-mail about it.”

“From who?”

“From the auction site. They sent us an e-mail that said ‘We notice you’ve bought items like this before and thought you’d be interested.’ ”

“We’ve bought items like this before?”

“Occult items, I assume.”

“I’ve never bought anything off that site.”

“Maybe you did and just don’t remember. Maybe I bought something for you.”

Jude said, “Fuckin’ acid. I had a good memory once. I was in the chess club in junior high.”

“You were? That’s a hell of a thought.”

The foregoing is excerpted from Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced without written permission from HarperCollins Publishers, 10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022

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