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The Blacklist releases first novel

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Though viewers will have to wait until January for The Blacklist to return, fans of the NBC drama can get their fix later this month when the show’s first novel is released — and EW has an exclusive excerpt.

While The Blacklist has already come to life in graphic novel form, The Blacklist: The Beekeeper No. 159 is the show’s first original novel and will be released on Nov. 29.

Based on the show, The Beekeeper finds Raymond Reddington bringing Elizabeth Keen a new Blacklister: the Bodysnatcher, an unnamed, unknown figure who has turned kidnapping into an art form. But when Lizzie and the team move to intercept the Bodysnatcher, Reddington reveals that he is not their real target. Their real target is much more sinister and it will take all their strength and dedication to resist him — and to discover what Reddington is really after.

“We are so excited to have Steven Piziks tackle our first novel,” executive producer John Eisendrath tells EW. “We’ve always thought The Blacklist would make a fantastic read and we’re so excited to build out the world of the show in this new format.”

Read an excerpt from The Beekeeper below:

When she reached the trees, wood cracked and a warm line of blood scored her cheek. Keen dropped to her stomach and crawled into the undergrowth. After a moment, she realized Stuart Ivy was nowhere to be seen. Damn it, damn it, damn it! Where was he? And where was Reddington? The bushes were thick and they blocked her view. The gunfire and screams continued. Another bullet smacked into a tree less than a foot above her.

Sweat ran down Keen’s back. A big part of her wanted to rush to the aid of her fellow agents, but another part of her pointed out that she was outnumbered, outgunned, and outmaneuvered. She needed to keep moving, find Reddington, find Stuart Ivy. Her jaw clenched.

Keen crawled deeper into the brush, then cautiously raised herself up a little higher so she could run in a crouch. She took a moment to fumble for her cell phone, but it had no signal. Of course.

The shooting stopped. Keen halted, confused. Where was she? Greenery surrounded her on all sides, and the escape had disoriented her. The canopy obscured the sun, so she couldn’t even use that as a reference point. Mouth dry, she circled around to her left a little, hoping to flank the group at the road, but she didn’t dare move faster for fear of drawing attention to her presence.

“Elizabeth!”

The harsh whisper snapped her head around. Dembe was peering around a large tree and gesturing at her. She duck-walked over to him, adrenaline touching every vein and muscle. Behind the tree was Reddington, looking as angry as she ever saw him.

“Are you all right, Lizzie?” he asked, calling her by the nickname she allowed no one but Reddington to use.

“I’m not hurt,” she said.

“What’s this, then?” He put out a finger and didn’t quite touch her cheek. She had forgotten about the cut, but now that he had brought it to her attention, she felt the sting.

“It’s nothing,” she said. “Where’s Stuart?”

“I have no idea,” Reddington said. “I was hoping he was with you. Have you seen Donald?”

She tightened her jaw again. Ressler had covered her and Stuart while they ran for the trees. She had left him behind. It had been the right thing to do, absolutely by the FBI’s extensive book, but that didn’t stop the sharp pang of guilt and wave of worry. She thought of him sprawled on the ground beside Gillford, his sightless blue eyes staring up at the equally blue sky, scarlet blood pouring out of his chest. No. He wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be dead.

“I don’t know what happened to him,” she admitted.

“And the Bodysnatcher?” Dembe said.

“I didn’t even see him,” Keen replied, peering around the tree. “Are we worried about him?”

“Not overly,” Reddington said. “Neither of us can get a cell phone signal out here. I don’t suppose…?”

“No,” Keen said.

“It’s either the mountains or the Beekeeper, or both,” Reddington said.

“Take this.” Dembe handed Keen a pistol. “It’s my extra.”

A motor coughed to life in the distance, followed by a second. Voices shouted, doors slammed. The motors faded away. Reddington and Dembe exchanged looks.

“I will go see,” Dembe said.

“I’ll come with you,” Keen said, but was halted by Reddington’s firm grip on her elbow.

“You need to stay here with me, Lizzie.” His voice was calm but firm, a father speaking to a daughter.

“It’s my job, Reddington,” she said, torn between exasperation at him and worry for Ressler. Hell, she was even a little worried about Stuart Ivy, and she had only just met him.

“And my job is to keep you safe,” Reddington countered. “There’s nothing you can add to Dembe’s woodcraft anyway. See? He’s already gone and you won’t catch up with him.”

He was, too. Keen sighed heavily and bit back a sharp retort. Instead, she said, “You know I work with the FBI, and danger is part of the career description. When you try to shield me, it looks like I can’t do my job.”

Reddington looked truly surprised. “When have I ever been concerned with what anything looks like?”

“An interesting question from someone who makes a living deceiving other people,” Keen couldn’t help saying.

Reddington turned his hat in his hand. Jesus, he still had his hat.

“Lizzie, you’ve examined human psychology carefully, and I’m in genuine awe of your skill. I’m sure that all your training and instincts tell you that human beings are never completely consistent. No matter how many claims they make to the contrary, inconsistencies eventually show themselves. The politician who defends family values visits prostitutes. The man who keeps a spotless home drives a car filled with trash. The police officer who tickets others breaks the speed limit on his way home from work.”

“Are we really having this conversation right after a gun fight?” Keen asked.

Reddington ignored her. “But I’ll tell you that human beings are marvelously consistent. Underneath, at the base, they always—always —act the same. Their surface behaviors may change, but underneath, we all stay the same. Even I. When I look at you, I can’t see the FBI. I see the daughter of my best friend in her Hello, Kitty pajamas and I see a promise I made. So I do what I need to keep you safe. I’m perfectly consistent that way.”

Keen shook her head. He made sense, sure, but…

“You’re also stalling me so I won’t go after Dembe.”

“See? Consistent,” he said, shaking a finger. “And here’s Dembe back again.”

Dembe emerged from the bushes, not bothering to hide his movements, which told Keen a great deal all by itself.

“Is he dead?” she blurted. “Ressler?”

Dembe spread his hands.

“I do not believe so. All the cars are gone. So are the bodies. I had a look at the tracks, and I saw no blood near the place where Mr. Ressler was standing. If he was shot, he shed no blood.”

Keen’s knees weakened a little, and she let herself lean against the tree.

“What else?”

“I did not find Mr. Ivy anywhere. I believe he was captured. The other agents were killed and their bodies dragged into the van.”

A heavy wave of grief came over Keen, and she closed her eyes beneath it. She hadn’t known Gillford long, but it had been long enough. Now she wished she had paid more attention during their conversation.

“I’m sorry, Bethany,” she whispered, and she wasn’t sure whether she was talking to Gillford’s daughter or to her own memories of loss.

“We need to keep moving,” Reddington said. “The Beekeeper will be looking for us.” He reached into his jacket pocket. “He and his people will be watching us, probably expecting us to follow the road and try to locate a cell signal, and they know this area.”

“We can’t leave Ressler and Stuart Ivy with the Beekeeper,” Keen said.

“Hold on,” Reddington said and he produced from his pocket a folded piece of paper the size of a mailing envelope. It took Keen a moment to understand what it was. As if they were in a French café instead of a forest surrounded by an army of armed madmen, Reddington unfolded the paper to the size of a poster, studied it, and turned to check his orientation against the road far behind them.

“A map?” Keen peered over his shoulder.

“The current generation is too dependent on technology, Lizzie.” He looked at the map again, then uphill at the low mountain ahead of them. “This way.”

He strode off into the woods.

Preorder The Blacklist: The Beekeeper No. 159 here.