Excerpt week: Nightbird, a JET Kindle World novella

By Toby Neal

All this week, Written Words is publishing excerpts from books by fellow author-members of the Jet and Lei Crime Kindle worlds. Today, enjoy this taste of Toby Neal’s Jet novella, Nightbird.

small NightbirdThere was never anything good in the news, nothing but more bombings and destruction. Dr. Lila Weiss wondered why she even bothered to read it. She set the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv aside and looked back into the ocular piece of the microscope.

The long, slender fibers of the neurons on the slide looked like graceful branches, their delicate synaptic filaments frozen forever, fixed with a purple stain. She studied the slide carefully, delicately tracking along the cell fiber, using a motorized dial to move the slide whose exact position could be captured like map coordinates.

There it was: a tiny snarl in the slender trunk of the neural cell.

She isolated the spot, zoomed in on it further, and discerned the telltale patch of plaque that was interfering with the transmission of signals along that particular neuron. Saving a digital image for the project’s file, she lifted her eyes, focused on the bleak far wall of the lab, and rolled her shoulders, standing up from her stool.

Doing this pathology work was a necessary part of her latest research project, a catalogue of known brain diseases and their etiology—but it became monotonous, and her eyes needed a break.

Straightening her back, she picked up the paper again, scanning through the story on a firefight that had occurred last night at a mosque. “Investigation is ongoing, but an Israel Defense Forces soldier, Maya Weiss, has been taken into custody in connection with the attack.”

Maya Weiss.

Lila sat abruptly on the steel stool in front of her workbench, one hand coming up to cover her mouth as her finger touched the grainy photo on the rough newspaper of a woman, shrouded in a headscarf, held between two soldiers.

“Maya,” she whispered. “I can’t believe I’ve finally found you.”

Lila shot to her feet and pushed away from her microscope, shrugging out of her lab coat. She had to help her little sister.



Amos Arran, codename “Benjamin,” watched the prisoner through a one-way unbreakable mirror into the holding cell. Maya Weiss, supposedly fluent in six languages, looked small, bedraggled and about as deadly as a kitten curled on the mattress in the corner of her cell, her Israeli Defense Force uniform filthy and stiff with dried blood from the head injury she’d sustained during the firefight.

She’d been one against twenty, and she hadn’t been doing too badly until a rifle butt brought her down. According to the woman’s lawyer, Ari, her mediocre application to Mossad had been messed with. It was going to be interesting to find out if that was indeed the case, because if she had half the skills he claimed she did, this little kitten was someone he needed to bring in.

Turning away from the window, he faced Ari. “Set up the interview,” he said. “I want to verify your claims.”

“Yes.” Ari gave a brisk nod. “Maya says her superior was sexually harassing her, and that he tampered with her application. She speaks six languages, is highly intelligent, and has at least ten kills under her belt. You need someone like her.”

Six languages meant a brain that was uniquely plastic, wired to learn language easily. Amos remembered another woman like that, also named Weiss—a tall, willowy girl with golden-brown eyes and black hair. He didn’t think he’d ever forget the linguistic and neurology doctoral student he’d had in one of his psychology classes before he began screening and profiling for Mossad full time.

He glanced back at the figure on the bed. Even curled up, he could see that Maya was a petite one and a half meters. He had her file tucked under his arm and in the photo inside, Maya, with her Asian features and green eyes, looked nothing like the Lila Weiss he remembered. The name and linguistic aptitude had to be a coincidence.

He itched for a cigarette. He brushed the wrinkled fabric of the charcoal-gray suit he’d been wearing for more than a day. It didn’t look like that day was going to be over any time soon.

“The truth about her will come out in the testing and interviews.” Amos turned and lengthened his stride as he walked down the echoing corridor, so that Ari had to jog to keep up. “I hope Maya’s half what you say she is.”

About Nightbird

What if Jet had a sister?

Lila Weiss, full time neurobiologist and part time ballerina, has been searching for the little sister she lost through divorce and death. She finds Maya in prison—and a whole lot more, in the brooding presence of a psychological profiler codenamed “Benjamin.” Benjamin sees Lila’s potential value to Israel’s interests and recruits her as an asset for Mossad, giving her a crash course in spycraft, destruction and love that has international repercussions.

“This story has legs.” — Russell Blake

About the author

Toby-thoughtful1Award-winning author Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. A social worker turned author, she says, “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.”

Toby credits her counseling background in adding depth to her characters, from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous and vulnerable heroine in her mysteries.

Over a million copies of Lei Crime Series are in circulation, and her books have won multiple awards.

Toby loves life in Hawaii with her family and dogs.

About Amazon Kindle Worlds

Kindle Worlds is an Amazon initiative that allows authors to publish stories set in another author’s fictional universe. The Jet Kindle World is based on the character Jet, created by bestselling author Russell Blake.


About the Author