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Sneak Peek: Read Chapter Four from “Wet Work”

Chapter Four

Like a magician’s sleight-of-hand illusion, the glass of vodka seemed to materialize on top of the bar when Douglas wasn’t looking. He hadn’t seen the woman sidle up on his left and slip the drink in front of him. That was unlike him. Not paying attention in his line of work was dangerous, if not deadly. But all his bad thoughts—of priests and sanctions—were far from his consciousness on this given evening. He was on vacation.

The woman tapped him on the shoulder. Startled, he reacted too quickly, his instincts kicking in, and he whirled on his bar stool, his toes on the floor ready to support a spring and a bare-handed attack.

“Hey! Easy there, big fella. I’ve been waiting two days for you to buy me a drink,” she said with a mischievous grin. “Finally I decided to buy you one.”

He’d seen her the evening before in the crowded hotel bar. Hard not to notice someone with beautiful eyes the color of the sky just before dusk turns into night—hard not to notice her noticing him, smiling in an openly flirtatious way.

He’d barely smiled back. He didn’t play those games—bar games. Not since he’d been twentysomething, just out of Youngstown State University and full of high spirits, and crazy about a woman he’d known since they’d been small children in the same Italian neighborhood, Brier Hill, from which most men walked down the path and crossed the bridge to the steel mill to make their living. Continue reading

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Sneak Peek: Read Chapter Three from “Wet Work”

Chapter Three: Og

The obese, balding little man frowned deeply. After spraying both the mouthpiece and the earpiece of his phone with Lysol—even though it was his phone in his private at-home office that no one else ever used—he squirted some alcohol on his hands and rubbed them together to kill any germs he wasn’t aware of. Then he sank back into his throne-like executive chair, staring across the vast expanse of the desk, made for him from the thick trunk of a sequoia tree. With as much money and power as he had, there were ways of getting a sequoia chopped down—ways, actually, of doing whatever the hell he wanted, and screw what anyone else thought. It was unnecessary for the über-rich to follow any preconceived rules. Rules were made for ordinary people—not for him.

Little people. Poor people.

Unimportant people, like Douglas, who was useful enough, in a limited way. But in the great scheme of things he was an unimportant man as disposable as a used Kleenex or an empty milk carton.

Was Douglas feeling pangs of conscience? That was arrogant on his part, and troubling to Og. If he began to think and reason and question, he would become an instant liability. Continue reading

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Sneak Peek: Read Chapter Two from “Wet Work”

Chapter Two

Most people return from a stressful business trip with a certain relief, believing home is the best place there is, eager to be embraced and surrounded by the environment they created for themselves. But since Douglas didn’t really consider the airy, modern apartment on Massachusetts Avenue near Lockerbie Square and close to downtown Indianapolis his home, he experienced no infusion of good feelings or sudden rush of warmth or safety. Since he’d left Youngstown after college, gone to Vietnam, relocated to Chicago, and then gone on the move, he’d had no conception of home—just a series of dull apartments in cities to which his heart held no emotional ties.

The complex where he currently lived catered largely to the newly divorced, so he’d been able to rent the place fully furnished. The few personal objects scattered about—a year’s worth of hardcover books and some cassette tapes of classical music—were temporary; he’d chosen them with no thought of permanence. He could leave them tomorrow without a pang. He’d done it before, several times. Like the nomads of the desert, relocation was his way of life.

Douglas could afford no excess baggage, emotional or otherwise. He’d lived in six different places during the past five years, and when it came time to move to the next location—never his decision but always made for him—he left each city without so much as a backward glance or a twinge of nostalgia. They were all as one to Douglas—interchangeable movie multiplexes, interchangeable shopping malls, and interchangeable television news and weather personalities with sprayed hair and forced, insincere smiles.

The new names and identities, the new credit cards and passports and driver’s licenses, were mysteriously provided for him each time—and he didn’t ask questions. Questions were not part of the deal.

He was a temporary man. Continue reading

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Sneak Peek: Read Chapter One from “Wet Work”

Chapter One

Eight o’clock mass on a gray, cold morning.

It was only early November, but the threat of snow hung above the muddy river and threatened the air outside St. Catherine’s Catholic Church, making the chilly worshippers wonder what had happened to autumn.

The blue-collar guys on their way to work, the construction laborers and warehousemen carrying their lunch pails, had already come to pray and then gone again. On weekdays they hit the early mass, the six o’clock. In the winter they’d arrive even before the sun was up. The eight o’clock service, traditionally less well attended, was perceived to be for the office workers, walking up the front steps of the church more briskly and with more confidence than the blue-collar crew, because they knew that whatever perils they’d face in the corridors of their workplaces that day, at least they wouldn’t fall off a steel I-beam ten stories up or have a three-ton crane drop on them.

The stay-at-home moms and older neighborhood widows clad in solemn black took advantage of the eight o’clock mass, too. The faithful didn’t quite fill one third of the old, dark church this Monday morning. That was why the tall man in the nondescript gray suit and topcoat had no problem fitting in without being noticed. Continue reading

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Sneak Peek: “Win, Place, or Die”

Sample Contents Prologue Chapter One Chapter Two Prologue Milan “And they’re off and racing!” That’s how the track announcer always begins the race at Northcoast Downs in a suburb south of Cleveland. I’d never heard it before that particular evening,… Continue reading

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Sneak Peek: “Whiskey Island” Chapter One

Chapter One Milan Waiting for a new client who’s half an hour late arriving for his first appointment gets on my last nerve. That’s because the wait-ee believes he’s a hell of a lot more important than everyone else and… Continue reading

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Whiskey Island Prologue

Prologue Milan I think I’ve lived long enough to figure it out: Everybody is in one way or another corrupt. Maybe they got a little too much change back from a supermarket cashier and quietly pocketed it without comment. Maybe… Continue reading

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Read a free sample from “The Cleveland Creep”

Excerpt: When a child goes missing, there is nothing more frightening, tragic, or terror-inducing for the distraught parent. Most never give up hoping. That’s how it was for my new client, Savannah Dacey—even though her “child” was a grown man… Continue reading

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