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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Reign of the Kingfisher

The Reign of the Kingfisher

A Novel

T. J. Martinson

Flatiron Books


30 years ago a superhero tried to save Chicago. Now the city is again under siege, in this gritty, suspenseful, and beautifully written novel from award-winning debut author T.J. Martinson

Somewhere in Chicago, a roomful of people have been taken hostage. The hostages will be killed one by one, the masked gunman says on-screen, unless the police will admit that they faked the death of the legendary superhero called the Kingfisher and helped him to give up his defense of the city thirty years ago.

Retired reporter Marcus Waters made his name as a journalist covering the enigmatic superhero’s five years of cleaning up Chicago’s streets. Then the Kingfisher died, Chicago resumed its violent turmoil, and Marcus slid back into obscurity.

But did the Kingfisher really die? And who would take hostages connected to the Kingfisher's past attempts to clean up the streets? With the help of disgraced police officer Lucinda Tillman and a young hacktivist named Wren, Marcus will explore the city's violence, corruption, and chaos to figure out if the vigilante hero died tragically, or gave up hope and abandoned the city—and for the hostages, the clock is ticking.


MARCUS WATERS WOKE SLOWLY to the tinny ringing of his cell phone—a digitized marimba that erupted into the room. The emerald numbers on his nightstand clock read 5:04 A.M. and a crosswind entered the cracked...

Praise for The Reign of the Kingfisher

"The Reign of the Kingfisher is an extraordinary novel. Martinson's prose is so stunning, and his characters so indelible, that I'd suggest you read it even if you don't read comic books and have little interest in superheroes; this is a book for people who like reading really, really good books. It's an exciting debut, and a story that will stay with you for a long time." —Emily St. John Mandel, NYT bestselling author of Station Eleven

“Fans of superhero tales will relish Martinson’s energetic debut…Martinson ratchets up the tension and keeps the suspense high to the end. Readers will eagerly await his next novel.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

“Debut novelist Martinson provides great storytelling…A linguistically nimble and narratively taut fiction that skews closer to Jeffrey Deaver or Don Winslow than tales of costumed capers. A solid crime novel about people just trying to do the right thing in a bad old world.”

“This genre-bending book has plenty for suspense fiction aficionados to revel in.”

“Martinson’s debut novel is set in a Chicago that used to have a superhero. It’s one of those books that plays with genre in an interesting way: the prologue reads like a graphic novel, and the entire book reads like literary detective fiction. With a superhero in it.”
The Millions

Reviews from Goodreads

T. J. Martinson

T.J. Martinson grew up just outside Chicago. He received his MA in literary studies from Eastern Illinois University and is currently working toward a Ph.D. at Indiana University Bloomington. The Reign of the Kingfisher is his debut novel.


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