THE BLACK ACE
Hatred, blackmail, and murder—a Brad Shade hat trick. The Black Ace reunites us with our favourite, savvy fourth-liner, with plot twists, wisecracks, and an ending that could only come from G.B. Joyce.
Thanks to Shade’s work at the NHL draft last season, he gets to hold on to his job as scout for L.A.—at least for now. But a journeyman’s work is never done. Shade is checking out the talent in Regina with his old friend and teammate “Chief.” But when they learn of the suicide of an old teammate from their playing days in L.A., they take a sometimes violent detour through the dark side of a small town with no shortage of secrets it wants kept at almost any cost.
A hangover laced with dread had Derek Jones in a crushing headlock and drenched in a cold sweat as he crawled and lurched across the empty streets of Swift Current in an F-150 that had rolled off the dealer’s lot sometime late in the previous century. It was minus twelve outside and the truck’s heater sighed uselessly. Jones’s blood had thinned over four years of waiting tables and banging waitresses on a Caribbean cruise ship and it hadn’t thickened since coming home six weeks before. His breath, redolent of mouthwash, frosted the windshield and his lone working headlight left the world ahead a black void. At every stoplight and stop sign he worried that his truck would conk out and strand him. He needed this job like he needed the other two just to get by, and if he was ﬁred for showing up late and half in the bag, his old man would kick him to the curb.
Jones wiped a tiny porthole on the windshield to peer out. It was about the size of a bar coaster, and when he wiped his dripping nose afterward on the sleeve of his lumberjack jacket he thought he could smell Jack Daniel’s and his last pack of duty-free Marlboros. His head and eyelids dipped and he drifted into the wrong lane, a couple of raced heartbeats away from a head-on with an oncoming car. He swerved hard and took a deep breath. Ice pellets bounced off the windshield like a thousand rounds of frozen machine-gun ﬁre and reassured him that he was, in fact, still alive, even if under siege. It could have ended right there, he thought, and he let himself be buoyed by the notion, previously unimaginable, that things could be worse.Read More » | More Previews »
Gare Joyce is a feature writer and editor with Sportsnet magazine. He has written for ESPN the Magazine, The Globe and Mail, and the Ottawa Citizen, and has won four National Magazine Awards. Joyce is the author of eight books.