'Grimm - The Icy Touch': Read the first chapter of the novel

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Is the wait for the next episode of "Grimm" too long? Well, Zap2it has you covered. In anticipation of the release of the "Grimm" novel "The Icy Touch" on Nov. 5, here is an exclusive first look at the first chapter of the story.

The plot synopsis for "Grimm - The Icy Touch" reads: "When a torched body is found in an underground tunnel, Portland Police Captain Sean Renard takes one look at the victim's burned claws and assigns the case to homicide detectives Nick Burkhardt and Hank Griffin. They soon discover that a criminal organization known as The Icy Touch is threatening Wesen into joining their illegal drug-smuggling operation, and brutally murdering those who refuse. But as Nick closes in on the gang's charismatic and ruthless leader, the Grimm uncovers an ancient -- and deadly -- rivalry ..."

The premiere of "Grimm" Season 3 picked up right from where Season 2's cliffhanger left off, and that plot continues to unfold over the course of the season's first few episodes. "The Icy Touch" is a completely different storyline, but one fans of "Grimm" will be able to connect to.

The excerpt begins below:


CHAPTER ONE
Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.
Present Day.

Captain Sean Renard stared at the badly burned body on the morgue table. It smelled of smoke and burnt flesh -- and methane.

"How'd they find this guy?" he asked. Though he had his suspicions, he had encountered the odor before.

"Fire Department got a call about smoke coming out of the ground in a vacant lot," Sergeant Wu said, blinking in the glare of the bright light over the stainless steel table. He tugged nervously at the jacket of his new police department uniform. "Damn thing doesn't fit right," he muttered. The new dark blue uniforms had been hastily made up, and didn't seem to hang as well as the old two-tone ones.

"Cause of fire determined?" Renard continued.

"Just guesswork, Captain. Some guy walking by the lot saw smoke, thought it might be some kind of underground natural gas fire so they called the gas company and the fire department. Gas line was ruled out. Firemen looked down in the hole, saw this guy's legs down there. Like he'd crawled down and died there. I've felt like crawling in a hole and pulling the dirt over me in my time but ..."

Renard noticed that Wu was glancing around the room, looking at anything but the body. It was indeed a repulsive corpse. The skin had been scorched off most of the upper half, exposing charred muscles and membranes. The eyes had melted out. The hands too were badly burned ...

Wu glanced down at the body, winced, looked away.

"Weird about that donut box ..." he said.

Renard nodded. The corpse's clawlike right hand gripped a piece of torn, charred cardboard. All that was legible on the cardboard was the name, "WICKED DONUTS" and a shop address on Halsey.

"And look at that hand," Wu went on. He was clearly trying to find something he could deal with to make an observation about. "Like a sloth's claws. Kinda weird."

"Enfoncer des portes ouvertes," Renard muttered.

"What's that mean?"

"Hm? Oh it's a French expression about 'breaking down open doors.' Stating the obvious. Okay ..." He drew the sheet over the body, to Wu's visible relief. "Let's get the coroner on this."

As they went to the door, Wu said, "I figure he was a bum getting sloppy with Sterno, or something. Tries to crawl down a hole to put the fire out, maybe."

"The boys in rubber boots find anything else down in that hole?"

"Naw, just hooked the guy out with a grabber. Firemen's job isn't to climb down holes. Well except now and then. I knew a case where this Chihuahua was stuck in a --"

"Never mind the Chihuahua, Wu. Have the report on my desk."

"You got it, Captain. You want that hole excavated?"

Renard shook his head. "Not yet. Let's see what the coroner says about this guy."

"What's up with the sloth claw?"

"Deformity. Or damage to bone from fire." Renard didn't want Wu thinking about it too much. "Who knows?"

That telltale claw might be left over from a woge event, Renard figured. Maybe it hadn't disappeared on death, the way they usually do, because of the fire trauma. But he was pretty sure he knew what kind of claw that was.

Chances were, it was the claw of a Drang-Zorn.

"You know," Wu said, frowning, as they walked up the hall to the elevator. "I saw something about Wicked Donuts on an incident report ... Yeah. Guy over on Halsey said his store was robbed. But they only took donuts." After a moment he added, "Perp mighta been a cop."

Renard winced.

"Sorry Captain. It had to be said." "Just -- send me that donut shop report, Wu."

---

"Nick -- you're joking, right? You don't really want me to climb inside that weird little thing do you?"

"Hey, it wasn't my decision, Hank."

Hank Griffin snorted. "Suppose the Sheriff's department sees us? We'll be a laughing stock. We're supposed to be homicide detectives, not circus clowns."

Nick Burkhardt nodded slowly, looking at the little car.

"It does look like a clown car."

It was a wet October morning and they were standing in the Portland Police Department parking lot staring at the tiny vehicle, each of them with take-out coffee cups in hand.

"Is that a whatsit -- a "Smart Car?" Hank asked.

"Um ... no. This is a new thing. It's called a 'Pocket Car.' Kind of a Minicooper, kind of a Smart Car. Even a little smaller. More ... sustainable? The City is trying to be environmentally conscious."

"Nick -- screw this. Why don't we just drive my car?"

"Department policy. They want someone to show off how concerned they are. They mean well."

"I'm all for clean air, Nick, but this thing, forget it. Hey ... I don't see any others in the lot."

"Department only has one other so far. Renard wants us to have this one." Nick chuckled, and opened the passenger side door. "I mean -- can you see a couple of street cops driving in something like this? I heard they're gonna get Chevy Volts for patrol cruisers."

"Patrolmen gonna get Chevy Volts?" Hank went around to the driver's side, and angrily yanked the door open. "A Chevy Volt'd be a damn Humvee compared to this thing. And it's got that PPD rose painted on the side, too." He climbed in, grimacing as he folded his long legs into the car. Hank was a tall black man, and had a hard time fitting into the seat. "I've heard patrolmen grumble about that rose symbol on the cruiser. 'Other cops get a bad-ass badge symbol.' But I never minded it till today. Now I feel like I should put on a clown nose and find the Rose Parade."

Nick wasn't much shorter than Hank. He squeezed in, putting the seat back as far as it would go. But he still felt like a hunchbacked.

"Yeah. It sucks," he said. "It's just for now, Hank. Let's see how it drives."

As they pulled out of the lot, he turned to look out of the side window. The glass was glazed to reflect heat, which inside made it almost mirror-like. A dark-haired man in his early thirties looked back at him; the man had rather large, dark eyes. Not bad looking. A little too baby-faced, perhaps. It was his own reflection. He could almost see the Grimm in that shadowed face ... They were out on the street, heading up N.E. Sandy Boulevard, wheels sluicing the wet streets of the gray Portland morning, before Hank delivered his verdict.

"You want to know how it drives? Like a bumper car at a carnival. This thing is a diss, man." He swore colorfully for awhile.

"You interested in our first call?" Nick asked.

"Another diss, from what I heard. Now they got us investigating donut shop robberies!"

"You are in a bad mood, Hank. You went to that new club last night ... You hung over?"

"Hung over? Me? No!" He put on a pair of sunglasses with one hand, driving with the other. "Not much."

"Renard asked us to take the donut shop. There's a connection with that possible homicide in Precinct Three. The guy found burned to a crisp. Renard seemed to think we might have something to bring to this one ..." He looked at Hank. "You and me particularly."

"Wesen connection?"

"Must be. Take a left here ..."

Ten minutes later they pulled up in front of Wicked Donuts at NE Halsey and 57th. A teen skateboarder drifted by, his wheels clacking. He stared at their car.

"Yeah, kid, that's my ride," Hank muttered, grunting as he eased himself out of the enclosed space.

They went into the donut shop. There was no one behind the counter, and the only customer was a big-bellied middle-aged hippie guy finishing a jelly donut. He was wearing a fading t-shirt that said "Set Cannabis Free." Passing the hefty, bearded guy, Nick could smell marijuana.

"Serious munchies?" Nick asked, looking at the remains of the donut.

The bearded guy stared at him and then got up, and walked hastily out the door.

"Skittish, isn't he?" Nick said, looking around the shop. There were old-timey pictures of flappers and Roaring Twenties showgirls, some of them dressed in dancing donut costumes; above a juice cooler was a framed slogan, "Wicked Donuts, Wicked Good!"

"The donuts do taste damned good," Hank said. "But how come they got to look like that?" Some of the pastries under the display's glass were shaped like coiled vipers; some were like flotation devices with SS Titanic written on them, others resembled opened mouths, or sharks. There was a bearclaw shaped like a bear trap. Others were baked in peculiar, abstract shapes and wild colors. Flavors included Licorice Goat Milk and Acai Berry Cactus.

"That's just Portland," Nick said. "You know: 'Keep Portland Weird.'"

"Long as you and your shape-changing pals live in this town, Nick," Hank said, his voice low, "not much chance it'll be anything else."

"Anybody working?" Nick called. "Or are the donuts free?"

Almost instantly a man in a smudged white apron sped from a back room, dusting powdered sugar off his hands. Nick could see the clerk was anxious, and his emotional state immediately exposed his Wesen nature. For a moment Nick saw the Wesen's true form shimmer into visibility: a gray-furred rat-like face, protruding front teeth, no real chin, red eyes. A Reinigen.

Then the Wesen visage disappeared, and he seemed an ordinary man with a weak chin, small brown eyes set closely together, an overbite, and a receding hairline.

But he'd somehow sensed that his true Wesen nature had been seen. He turned to Nick, eyes narrowing.

"You! You're that Grimm with the cops!" he snapped.

Hank snorted. "There any of these guys who don't know about you, Nick?"

"Fewer and fewer," Nick said. It bothered him how many Wesen knew about him. It was dangerous. "I'm Detective Burkhardt, this is Detective Griffin." Nick glanced at the name on a sheet of paper Sergeant Wu had given him. "Are you Mr. Popatlus?"

"Yeah, yeah, I'm Fritz Popatlus. Wait -- they sent detectives out here over some stolen donuts?" He sniggered. "Figures. Cops. Donuts. Priorities, right guys?"

Hank sighed. "There's a connection to another case, here. Maybe. Tell us about the big donut heist."

"Hey it was just about every pastry in the shop. Whoever it was broke in the back door, took a lot of catering boxes, filled 'em up, and about cleaned the place outta pastry. Several hundred dollars worth, retail price. Bastard snagged five bottles of Healthjuicer too, from the cooler over there."

Nick glanced at the door to make sure no customers were coming in. He didn't want his next question overheard.

"You know any Drang-Zorn?" he asked.

"Drang-Zorn?" He glanced at Hank. "Can I talk in front of this guy? He a Grimm too?"

"Hell no, I'm not a Grimm," Hank said.

''Hell no', he's not a Grimm," Nick said, amused. "But you can talk freely in front of him."

Popatlus shrugged. "Sure, I know a Drang-Zorn. Regular in here. Sorta pal of mine. Haven't seen him for a while. Used to bowl with him, but you know how they are -- those badger guys. Ill-tempered bunch. Can't stand losing. So we stuck to watching football games together."

"What's his name?"

"Clement. Buddy Clement."

"Big fan of your donuts, was he?"

"Yeah, practically lived on 'em. Well, you couldn't live on 'em but you know what I mean."

"And you had a falling out over bowling?"

"Nah -- 'cause I wouldn't loan him money. He wanted to get out of town. Said he had to do it in a hurry. Said they'd done something to his bank account -- couldn't get any cash."

"He wanted to get out of town? Why?"

"Don't know. Seemed kinda scared. Tell you the truth, I felt guilty saying no, went to his place later, to try to see if I could help him and his wife out. But they'd moved out already. Landlady said he just split overnight, owing two weeks' rent."

"You know his wife too?"

"Yeah. Ruby."

"A Drang-Zorn?"

"Who else would marry a Drang-Zorn but a badger babe?"

"What was his address, before he moved?" Nick asked.

Popatlus wrote it down on the back of a receipt and handed it to Nick.

"So you think Buddy stole my goods?" he asked.

"Seems like it."

"You guys gonna get my pastries back?"

"You wouldn't sell stale pastries pawed over by some badger guy now would you?" Hank asked, looking at him innocently.

"Well ..."

"Never mind. You got anything more here, Nick?"

Nick shook his head. "Someplace else I want to have a look at."

"You officers like a dozen donuts on the house?"

"Yeah!" Hank said.

"No," Nick said.

"Oh, come on, Nick, Jeez, sure it's technically illegal for us to take 'em but ..."

"I'll buy you a dozen of your choice, Hank."

"I'm totally taking you up on that. I'll have six of those jelly fire hydrants and half a dozen coiled vipers, the ones with sprinkles."

"Grimm" airs Fridays on NBC at 9 p.m. ET.

Photo/Video credit: Titan Books
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