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An Orchestra of Treachery (Queen of Thieves #1.25)


A good thief always expects the worst and prepares for anything.

Ilanna isn't simply good; she's the greatest thief produced by the Night Guild in decades. 

But alone in Voramis, bereft of allies and friends, she has no one to count on when a golden opportunity—the perfect heist—goes inevitably awry and knives in the dark are drawn. 

Even her wits, cunning, and preparations may come up short in the face of treachery, landing her squarely in the path of dangerous, bloodthirsty foes willing to stop at nothing to get their hands on her prize. 

An Orchestra of Treachery expands on the Queen of Thieves trilogy and deepens your understanding of Ilanna's character. Grimdark, shocking, and action-packed, it's everything you want in a heist novel!

Plot twists
Gritty and dark
Amoral characters

An Orchestra of Treachery (Queen of Thieves #1.25)

Look Inside

“What dagger could be worth that bloody much?” Ilanna eyed the small mountain of imperials atop the wooden desk. A fortune in coin, more than she’d ever seen in one place. “What, is it made from pure gold and studded with diamonds?”

“Does it matter?” Madam Clafoutis arched one white eyebrow imperiously. “You’re not exactly in a position to turn down such an offer.”

Ilanna fought to suppress a scowl. She didn’t quite succeed. The look she cast at the aging madam held more than a little irritation. She needed no reminder of her current…circumstances. They’d been all she’d thought about for the last five months.

“Nor are you,” she shot back, her voice sharp. “If you were, you’d have looked at this proposition with exactly the same skepticism I am and done far more digging into the truth behind it.” She rose to her feet and placed both palms flat on the wooden desk that stood between them. “That you are bringing it to me rather than your usual contacts leads to all manner of questions.”

“Such gratitude she displays!” Madam Clafoutis’ upper lip, painted a cherry red that stood in stark contrast to her pale and powdered face, curled into a sneer. “We take her in, offer her shelter in her time of need—”

“At exorbitant rates!” Ilanna matched the madam’s expression in fury, if not in the weight of age. “You’re doing me no favors, Madam Clafoutis. Not with ‘offering me shelter’—” She parroted the woman’s voice with a generous helping of scorn. “—or bringing me this job.” She leaned forward, narrowing her eyes down at the woman seated in the overstuffed, faded leather chair across from her. “Which leads me to believe you need this as much, or perhaps even more, than I do.”

Madam Clafoutis raised her head. “You audacious little bitch!” Flying spittle accompanied that last. “Need I remind you where you stand?” She rose abruptly, her white-starched wig slapping Ilanna in the face, her corset-supported breasts nearly dealing a second blow. “I am Madam of The Arms of Heaven. The Arms of Heaven!” Her voice grew more shrill, higher in pitch and intensity, and her fury set her sapphire-blue silk dress and the bustle beneath rustling like a forest in hurricane winds. “Voramis’ foremost house of pleasure, filled to bursting with the most sought-after beauties from—”

“Spare me!” Ilanna threw up her hands. “I may be under your roof, but I am not one of your painted pixies.” She bared her teeth in a snarl. She might have no choice but to show respect and deference to the Guild Council, but she’d be damned if she backed down before this overstuffed hag. “If you truly expect me to do more than immediately dismiss this offer—an offer that I shouldn’t have to point out is far too good to be true—then you’d better get bloody talkative bloody quick. Because we both know that there are any number of thieves you could hire for precisely this job, and the fact that you’re not going to them has me questioning even more!”

“What?” Madam Clafoutis sniffed. “It’s impossible to believe that I’d hire you because I’ve been told—”
“If the next words out of your mouth are any form of flattery, then I’m walking out that door.” Ilanna stabbed a finger toward the heavy oak door that sealed her and the madam into the secretive underground chamber.

Madam Clafoutis’ face hardened. The look did not suit her. The former courtesan had features best suited to simpering smiles, fluttering eyelashes, and imbecilic giggling from behind silken fans. Her current expression reminded Ilanna of a pumpkin left overlong in the sun.

Ilanna wasn’t fool enough to underestimate the woman based on looks alone. She hadn’t risen to her place of power—both as Madam of The Arms of Heaven and in the Voramian underworld—merely because she’d known how best to use what the gods had given her between her legs. The woman’s plump, powdered, painted, and ordinarily sunny face hid a devious mind and razor-sharp cunning. An ugly temper, too, which Ilanna was risking with her insolence. But she had no intention of being suckered into a suicidal heist or double-cross just to avoid pissing off the matronly Clafoutis.

Seemingly sensing she was getting nowhere—and apparently desperate enough to rein in her natural vitriol—Madam Clafoutis controlled herself with a deep breath. A slow smile spread across her lips. The expression was clearly rehearsed, for it appeared so natural, so disarming. Doubtless it had disarmed many a man over her decades. But Ilanna didn’t fail to notice the expression’s insipidity.

“Very well,” Madam Clafoutis said in a voice just a tad too sweet. “You are right. I do have my reasons for bringing this heist to you.” She held up a hand—one adorned with two rings to each finger, many of which bore gemstones worth nearly as much as the egg-sized ruby set into the pendant in the line of her cleavage—to stop Ilanna. “No, I will not tell you what they are. It must be enough for you to accept that I am bringing this to you rather than my usual contacts because I would rather avoid attention from the wrong parties.”

By that, of course, she meant her masters. The Bloody Hand, the gang that ran not only The Arms of Heaven and all the brothels, bordellos, cathouses in Voramis, but every crime and vice under the sun—and a few more besides.

“And if I choose not to accept it?” Ilanna folded her arms across her chest, then quickly remembered that pose drew attention to the swell in her belly and let her hands drop to her sides. “If I say I’d rather stay out of this because I don’t trust the clients.”

And I certainly don’t trust you.

“Then you’ll find yourself looking for someplace else to…convalesce.” Madam Clafoutis’ gaze dropped pointedly to Ilanna’s midriff. “And there’s no telling what might happen if certain parties get it in their heads that your presence here poses a threat to them. Any arrangements between your Night Guild and said parties could evaporate like that!” She snapped her fingers for emphasis.

The words were no doubt intended to instill fear—and once, they might have—but Ilanna was beyond fear. After what Sabat had done to her—and she to him in return—she’d vowed never to be afraid again. Madam Clafoutis’ threat slid off her with no more effect than a throwing knife striking hard stone.

But that it was needed at all spoke volumes. If she’s willing to threaten me into agreeing, then she’s desperate, indeed.

The question Ilanna couldn’t quite wrap her head around was why. And once she found that out, she’d have leverage.

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