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Saved from certain death on the Whistler-Vancouver highway after his luxury car malfunctions, Mark Morata feels honour-bound to reward his rescuer, Geoff Pybus, with a token of his undying gratitude. Geoff, a frustratingly humble university professor, happy with his family’s lot in life, only wants the impossible: for his modest, straightforward wife to get tenure at her university.
Luckily, Mark is a man for whom impossible is just another word. As a sophisticated importer-exporter of certain recreational substances (“drug lord” is such a cliché), Mark gets to work on the academic world with the same relentless nature that helped him climb to the top of the cartel. However, the hallowed campus halls reveal an environment that is vicious and corrupt beyond anything he has ever encountered in the drug business...
Kieran Egan’s Tenure is a wildly entertaining satire mash-up, where campus culture collides with crime.
Excerpt from Tenure:
As Mark Morata pressed his foot down, the new Tesla silently accelerated up the hill, easing him back into the seat. This was his favourite stretch of road: the coastal mountains towering up on the left, the cedar-clad islands speckling the sea to the right. Mid-morning, mid-week, a sunny spring day, just a few cars heading the other direction, north to Whistler, where fresh snow on the higher runs was drawing to the ski-slopes those who could be free from work. He had wined and dined and flattered and subtly threatened the beautiful Thai twins who were miraculously effective at conveying his cocaine to the party animals needing a further high after skiing. A satisfactory couple of days. Nothing on the road ahead and in his mirror only the Honda he had swept by moments before.
A thump under the car, subdued by the massive batteries. Had he run over something? An animal, a stone he hadn’t seen? A spurt of yellow and black smoke briefly filled the rear window. The car veered left then right, then straightened. He wrenched the wheel to follow the curve of the road ahead, with no effect.
No brakes either. He crossed the yellow lines, into any traffic that might come round the bend ahead, drifting unstoppably towards the rock-face at the side of the road, splattering loose stones on the hard shoulder.
He pulled himself away from the door as the mountainside began to scratch then tear at the car. He tightened his grip on the steering wheel, turning it uselessly. The scraping noise of metal against rock was made worse by the snapping and cracking of the shrubs that had found niches in the mountainside. Holding his breath, the muscles of his hands, arms, and shoulders began to lock. The car juddered as it was bounced from one outcropping of rock to the next. He might at any point be thrown across the road and over the cliff down to the sea. The cliffs were not high, but were enough for a fall to be fatal.
A rounded chunk of the mountain came towards him, slamming the door by his elbow with a tearing boom, and the Tesla lurched back over the shoulder of loose stones onto the road. It gathered speed going downhill, wheels now astride the central yellow lines. There was a straight run for maybe a hundred metres and then the road curved sharply to the left. Still no cars coming towards him, but if he continued straight, the Tesla would be over the cliff before it was halfway round the curve.
He caught a flashing glimpse of the Honda he had overtaken accelerating to get between the Tesla and the fall over the cliff. Close to the bend, the Honda turned against the right front side of the Tesla, trying to force it to follow the curve away from the fall to the water. The panels of the two cars crashed against each other. The tires of the Honda shrieked as it turned harder into the Tesla. Mark was horrified that his much heavier car would carry the Honda and its driver over the cliff as well. But the screaming wheels of the Honda found some traction, and the two cars began to move slowly, strainingly left, till the Tesla’s wheels were again over the centre lines.
The road curved more sharply left up ahead, and the weight of the Tesla could not be turned that much while moving so fast. Mark waved at the driver to pull away, let the Tesla go! As the bend approached, the Honda leaned harder into the Tesla. But its wheels began to lose their grip and the two cars slid towards the edge, their panels screaming like metal banshees.
“With the Japanese yakuza wanting a piece of his action and the Vietnamese gangs breathing down his neck, drug lord Mark Morata has his hands full. But when he decides to make an 'offer they can’t refuse' to the members of a university faculty, he doesn’t know what he is in for. Filled with delightfully quirky characters, Tenure is an entertaining romp that pits organized crime against the disorganized mob of the academic world.”
“An inspired mash-up of academia and the underworld which opens with a Hitchcockian-style hook that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. Tenure establishes Egan as an exciting and distinct new voice in Canadian crime fiction."