Monday, August 17, 2015

SABOTAGE by Dale Wiley Giveaway


Dale Wiley

on Tour August 2015



Every hour explosions rock America. There is no rhyme or reason to where they appear: big cities, small towns, even rural backroads. The sinister message that suddenly appears on America's computer screens is clear: No one is safe:

  • Not disgraced FBI agent Grant, awaiting his call back to the big time;
  • Not rapper Pal Joey, an international sensation;
  • Not savvy, stunning beauty Caitlin, the ultimate Sin City party girl;
  • Not even Naseem, the would-be martyr who helped plan the attacks and now finds himself double-crossed.
  • As an unhinged mastermind paralyzes a nation, these unlikely heroes must put aside their pasts and work together to stop him before more hours bring more disasters.

    All roads lead to Las Vegas, where the plan begins to unravel. Can four people, united only by their hatred of this singular villain, finally stop Sabotage?

    Book Details:

    Genre: Thriller
    Published by: Smashwords
    Publication Date: August 2 for Apple | August 3 everywhere else
    Number of Pages: 220
    ISBN: 9781310917455
    Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Amazon Goodreads


    Read an excerpt:

    The money, all forty thousand dollars, was lined up all out on the counter when Seth got there.

    It might as well have been a million to Seth. He had been involved in big deals before, but that was when the economy was good and people threw money around for fun. He did that too, back then. Then everything changed and the people who had money, even in Vegas, went into their holes and stopped sharing. This was important and different and better. And it came at the right time, too.

    The deal worked like this: He got to leave with half the cash right then. Twenty thousand dollars. He had already rented a safe deposit box to keep it in; that was the first time he had been in a bank in years. Yes, what he was doing was risky, but he got to leave with that unthinkable amount of money. This morning. He would spend one hour on a plane, and then he was done. Pretty much, anyway. And the rest of the money? His before nightfall.

    He was on the 34th floor of the Trump Tower, one of the newer and more impressive addresses in Las Vegas. It was seven a.m. The sky was a warm yellow and promised heat, like almost every day in Vegas. But he didn’t get to see it much, not like this anyway. He couldn't remember when he had last been awake at this hour of the morning. Check that: When he had woken up at this time. In a town like Vegas, you often went down when the sun came up. Normally he was either rolling in about now, or sleeping off the after-effects of a long night. But an early morning was what the job required, and Seth desperately needed this.

    He had been to this apartment several times before. He had initially been wary of his benefactor’s strange behavior, aloof and put-on, far from the passionate pawing of his other suitors, but he was beginning to understand. He felt sure that he was hired because he looked so much like the man who paid him so well to come and visit. It was uncanny. His own skin was a shade darker than his doppelganger, but both men were handsome, around six feet tall, dark complexion and dark hair. Both men had light eyes. Twice on his visits the doorman had smiled at him as if he were the building’s resident. It took some getting used to, to sit across from yourself and talk, but Seth got used to things very quickly.

    Seth was an escort, a plaything. He liked his job most of the time, but it led him into odd circumstances. Men paying you to suck his toes. Men wanting to cut his hair. He still wasn’t fully sure what to make of the quiet man who brought him here, to his apartment. Most other men desired Seth’s body, wanted to devour him, to come out of the closet in Vegas before stepping back in and heading home, or to add him to their strange Vegas menagerie. Not Yankee. He told him he just wanted companionship, conversation, just like the ad on Seth’s website said. No sex, no toe-sucking. Seth wondered if Yankee liked the idea of talking to himself, given their similarity in appearance.

    Yankee’s apartment, where they always met, was big and somewhat bland, looking and feeling more like a nice big hotel suite than a real place where someone lived. Most of the men who lived in Vegas and invited him to their place generally had expansive and well-decorated homes, with Rothkos and Hockneys and other tasteful artists. The rest had festive and overdone palaces straight out of a Fellini film. Yankee’s place felt like the junior suite at the nicest hotel in town, but nothing more. It had maid service and a kitchen that looked like no one had ever cooked there. Seth walked by the kitchen every time he walked in, and he always took a longing look inside. Seth, who was a good and thoughtful cook, hated to see such a wonderful space wasted by someone who didn’t appreciate or have time for it. He wondered how much time Yankee actually spent here.

    After the third visit, when Yankee said he knew him well enough, he asked Seth if he would be interested in a big job. Not just a thousand dollars here and there, but a score. Yankee had said he had looked into his background (or what he thought he knew of it), and felt that he could be trusted. He also knew from his profession that he had long ago lost his tendency to gag.

    Yankee looked at him seriously. Are you interested? I understand if you’re not. But of course Seth was interested. He occasionally made good money, but there were all of the craps tables and party drugs to think about. Seth wanted to have a nest egg. He nodded, and waited for what Yankee would say.

    Just swallow three condoms, filled with drugs. Take a one hour flight. Take some laxatives and release. Make twenty thousand upon swallowing, twenty thousand upon releasing the packages back to the owners. Some chance of death, some chance of prison. But, as he saw it, Seth dealt with those risks every day he sold himself in Las Vegas, and for a much smaller return.

    He was nervous. He sat on the stiff leather couch, which it seemed like no one ever sat on, knowing that Yankee would appear after what seemed like an eternity. This was his way. Seth sat and looked at the money.

    He thought about just taking the money, grabbing the first elevator and praying for ground, but he looked around and once again had the sensation he was being watched. He knew there was another entrance to this apartment, and he didn’t know whether Yankee was already here or coming through that entrance. But he knew enough to be sure he didn’t want to cross this man. Despite his kindness, Seth knew Yankee could be cruel, all without losing his quiet demeanor. There was always a chance that a condom would rupture in his stomach during his flight, or that he would get caught by officers waiting in Los Angeles, but that risk was nothing compared to dashing away with the money. He assumed that indiscretion would assure an all-but-certain death. And though he might say in a fit of boy-induced drama that sometimes he wished he would die, he really didn’t. He wanted this to go well, and he wanted to pocket the rewards.

    Seth wondered if you could see his thoughts on the surveillance screen. He didn’t want to give anything away. He didn’t want to risk Yankee pulling back. He went back to thinking like a mule. That was what this job required. And if he got paid this well, he would think like a mule, act like a mule, be a mule.

    Finally, some fifteen minutes later, give or take, in came Yankee. He kissed Seth gently on the cheek as he always did. This was their only physical contact.

    “Big day!” said Yankee in an overly fey manner. Seth knew he wasn’t gay. “Are you ready?”

    “I’m ready,” said Seth, who had been anticipating this for weeks.

    “Well, they’re in the fridge.” Yankee went and opened the refrigerator and took out a plate with three pink condoms on it. “I put some strawberry jam on them,” Yankee said. “I knew that was your fave.”

    The condoms were filled with a gelatinous substance. They were the size of small bananas, but not difficult to get down. At the last visit, they had practiced swallowing some condoms close to this size with a similar liquid. They timed how long it took them to come out: two and a half hours. Yankee paid him double for that session.

    Yankee assured him that these were double-bagged. Seth smiled, and said, Down the hatch.” He opened up the back of his throat and swallowed the three packages easily, followed by lots of water.

    “Lie down. Like last time,” Yankee said, a little hurried. “Then I’ll take you to the airport.”

    Seth did. This place made him sleepy anyway. He moved to the couch, took off his shoes, and laid down. He closed his eyes and relaxed.

    Yankee went to the kitchen. He opened the knife drawer, and took out the H&K pistol that was hidden in the back. The silencer was already on.

    Seth started to drift. And then it hit him. Why would Yankee want someone who looked like him to make this run? Why wouldn’t he want someone completely different? Why would he want connections?

    Checking one more time to make sure Seth’s eyes were closed, Yankee emerged from the kitchen. He strode stiffly across the room. Yankee bent over Seth and held his breath.

    Seth felt the weight on top of his chest and opened his eyes in terror. He realized what was happening. He tried to push Yankee away but he had no leverage. He started to yell “No” but it was too late. Yankee put the gun up to Seth’s left eye and pulled the trigger. All that was heard was a sound no louder than a handclap. Seth slumped. Yankee started to shoot again, but saw it was unnecessary. Seth the greedy escort was no more.

    Yankee flipped his body off the couch and onto the floor, where he landed face-down. Exactly as planned. Blood rolled down the leather couch where Seth’s head had been. He took the coffee table and flipped it on top of the body, enough to cause papers to scatter, but not enough to make much of a sound. He eased it on top of the remote-operated bomb that now was Seth The Escort. Yankee looked down and saw that he had gotten some blood on himself, which was not surprising. The room, normally so neat, was now oh-such-a-mess. Yankee laughed. He was still playing the fake fairy.

    It didn’t matter. Yankee was never coming back. He took off his clothes and placed them in a black garbage bag. Then, just like the condoms filled with plastic explosives that now rested in Seth’s belly, he double-bagged it. Before he got into the shower, he turned the thermostat all the way down. He wanted it to feel like a meat locker in the apartment. Then he got in the heat and the steam and took his time. Lather, rinse, repeat. Stay calm and think. He breathed deeply and fully, slowing his heart rate as best he could, and made sure he had his plan ready. He came out of the shower, put on his delivery man get-up, replete with white coveralls and a red cap, put the trash bag in one hand and a clipboard in the other, and found the service elevator. He keyed in the code and rode down, happy that no one shared the ride. He made it to the ground floor and tossed the trash bag into the back of the trash truck, which had just backed into the bay, nodding at a couple of workers as he headed for the parking lot. He walked to the other side, got in his ride, and was on his way.

    Yankee enjoyed his last minutes of anonymity, driving a red Ford pickup into history. Soon he was going to be the most hated man in America. Or at least the character he had created was.

    Author Bio:

    Dale Wiley is a Missouri attorney who has had a character named after him on CSI, owned a record label, been interviewed by Bob Edwards on NPR's Morning Edition and made motorcycles for Merle Haggard and John Paul DeJoria. He has three awesome kids and spends his days working as a lawyer fighting the big banks.

    Catch Up:

    Tour Giveaway:

    This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Dale Wiley. There will be THREE U.S. winners of an ebook copy of either Sabotage, Kissing Persuasive Lips or both books by Dale Wiley. The giveaway is open to US residents only. The giveaway begins on August 1st, 2015 and runs through September 31st, 2015. a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Tour Participants:



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    Saturday, August 15, 2015


    Flesh and Blood

    Patricia Cornwell

    on Tour August 2015



    It’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta’s birthday, and she’s about to head to Miami for a vacation with Benton Wesley, her FBI profiler husband, when she notices seven pennies on a wall behind their Cambridge house. Is this a kids’ game? If so, why are all of the coins dated 1981 and so shiny they could be newly minted? Her cellphone rings, and Detective Pete Marino tells her there’s been a homicide five minutes away. A high school music teacher has been shot with uncanny precision as he unloaded groceries from his car. No one has heard or seen a thing.

    In this 22nd Scarpetta novel, the master forensic sleuth finds herself in the unsettling pursuit of a serial sniper who leaves no incriminating evidence except fragments of copper. The shots seem impossible, yet they are so perfect they cause instant death. The victims appear to have had nothing in common, and there is no pattern to indicate where the killer will strike next. First New Jersey, then Massachusetts, and then the murky depths off the coast of South Florida, where Scarpetta investigates a shipwreck, looking for answers that only she can discover and analyze. And it is there that she comes face to face with shocking evidence that implicates her techno genius niece, Lucy, Scarpetta’s own flesh and blood.

    Book Details:

    Genre: Women Sleuths | Crime | Suspense
    Published by: William Morrow
    Publication Date: 06/30/2015
    Number of Pages: 512
    ISBN: 9780062325358
    Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    Author Bio:

    Patricia CornwellPatricia Cornwell is recognized as one of the world’s top bestselling crime authors with novels translated into thirty-six languages in more than 120 countries. Her novels have won numerous prestigious awards including the Edgar, the Creasey, the Anthony, the Macavity, and the Prix du Roman d’Aventure. Beyond the Scarpetta series, she has written a definitive book about Jack the Ripper, a biography, and two more fiction series. Cornwell, a licensed helicopter pilot and scuba diver, actively researches the cutting-edge forensic technologies that inform her work. She was born in Miami, grew up in Montreat, North Carolina, and now lives and works in Boston.

    Catch Up with Patricia Cornwell:
    Patricia Cornwell's website Patricia Cornwell's twitter Patricia Cornwell's facebook

    Tour Participants:


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      My thoughts...

    Love Patricia Cornwell's books, this one is such a good, suspenseful, crime drama. Love the idea of a tweet announcing someone's murder before it actually happens. From there you need to hold on for an intriguing ride to the finish. A sniper is loose and Dr. Kay Scarpetta is brought into the game right before her scheduled vacation. As the case goes forward she and Detective Marino realize this is more than they realized.

    Really enjoyed this fast moving novel, definitely a great summer read.

    I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Thursday, August 13, 2015


    Annabelle Aster doesn't bow to convention-not even that of space and time-which makes the 1890s Kansas wheat field that has appeared in her modern-day San Francisco garden easy to accept. Even more peculiar is Elsbeth, the truculent schoolmarm who sends Annie letters through the mysterious brass mailbox perched on the picket fence that now divides their two worlds.

    Annie and Elsbeth's search for an explanation to the hiccup in the universe linking their homes leads to an unsettling discovery-and potential disaster for both of them. Together they must solve the mystery of what connects them before one of them is convicted of a murder that has yet to happen...and yet somehow already did.

    My thoughts...

    Beautifully written novel with wonderful characters and a fascinating plot. Delightfully entertaining. Leaves you feeling good and wanting more magic from this author.

    I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Wednesday, August 12, 2015


    Fifteen years ago, seventeen-year-old Vanessa Moran fell in love and lost her virginity but not to the same boy. Pregnant, desperate, and humiliated, she fled friends and family and Whisper Beach, New Jersey, never breathing a word about her secret to anyone. She hasn’t been back since. Now a professional Manhattan organizer, she returns to the funeral of her best friend’s husband. She intends on just paying her respects and leaving—though she can’t deny she also wants the town to see how far she’s come as a successful business woman. But her plans to make this a short visit fall by the wayside when her girlfriends have other ideas.

    Dorie, the owner of the pier’s Blue Crab Restaurant where Van and her friends worked as teenagers, needs help. Dorie’s roving husband spends every penny they make and now their restaurant is failing.

    Joe, the boy Van left behind without an explanation, has never stopped loving her. While he’s wary of getting hurt again, he also can’t help wondering what would happen if they took up where they left off.

    As the summer progresses and the restaurant takes on a new look, trouble comes from unexpected sources. For Van, this summer will test the meaning of friendship and trust—and how far love can bend before it breaks.

    My thoughts...

    If you like reading about small town life, interesting life loving characters, and friendships that never die this is the book for you. Loved Dorie, a woman who opened her home to anyone in need of a safe place. Going back "home" doesn't work for some people, Vanessa returns for a funeral and is touched by how differently she sees things now. Secrets are brought to the surface and she is blown away at the revelations.

    This is a really good book, enjoyed every page, every problem, every laugh...everything about it.

    I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Monday, August 10, 2015

    CFBA presents HOPE HARBOR

    This week, the
    Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
    is introducing
    Hope Harbor
    Revell (July 7, 2015)
    Irene Hannon


    Irene Hannon is a bestselling, award-winning author who took the publishing world by storm at the tender age of 10 with a sparkling piece of fiction that received national attention.

    Okay…maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. But she was one of the honorees in a complete-the-story contest conducted by a national children’s magazine. And she likes to think of that as her “official” fiction-writing debut!

    Since then, she has written more than 45 romantic suspense and contemporary romance/women’s fiction novels. She is a seven-time finalist and three-time winner of the RITA award—the “Oscar” of romantic fiction—and a member of Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame. Her books have also won a Daphne du Maurier award, a Carol award, three HOLT Medallions, a National Readers’ Choice award, a Retailers Choice award, two Booksellers’ Best awards and two Reviewers’ Choice awards from RT Book Reviews magazine. One of her novels was also named by Booklist as a top 10 inspirational fiction books of 2011. In addition, she is a two-time Christy award finalist.

    Irene, who holds a B.A. in psychology and an M.A. in journalism, juggled two careers for many years until she gave up her executive corporate communications position with a Fortune 500 company to write full. She is happy to say she has no regrets!

    In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, gardening and singing. A trained vocalist, she has sung the leading role in numerous musicals, including “South Pacific,” “Brigadoon,” “Oklahoma” “The King and I” and “Anything Goes.” She is also a soloist at her church.

    When not otherwise occupied, Irene and her husband enjoy traveling, Saturday mornings at their favorite coffee shop and spending time with family. They make their home in Missouri.


    Tracy Campbell never wanted to leave Hope Harbor, Oregon, or the idyllic three-generation cranberry farm where she grew up. But life--and love--altered her plans. When tragedy strikes and changes her plans yet again, she finds herself back in her hometown with a floundering farm to run and a heartbreaking secret. Romance is not on her agenda. Nor is it on Michael Hunter's. The visitor from Chicago has daunting secrets of his own. But when Tracy recruits him to help save a struggling charitable organization, the winds of change begin to sweep through Hope Harbor, bringing healing, hope, and love to countless lives--including their own.

    Fan favorite Irene Hannon brings a whole new cast of characters to life in a charming Oregon seaside village. Emotional and heartwarming, this story invites readers to come home to Hope Harbor, where love and hope bloom--and hearts heal.

    If you would like to read the first chapter of Hope Harbor, go HERE. My thoughts...

    It's been a while since I've read one of Hannon's books and as I read this one I realized just how much I've missed her stories, she's so good at painting a picture of a wonderful romance in action with all the extra goodies that you want to keep reading page after page. There's enough drama, romance, and intrigue to make a wonderful summer read.

    I received a copy of this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

    Tuesday, August 4, 2015

    COLD REVENGE by Jo A Heistand Giveaway

    Cold Revenge

    by Jo A Hiestand

    August 4 Book Blast



    One year ago, Marta Hughes won a purse-choking sum of money at a local casino. She never returned home. Her body was discovered in a ditch twelve miles from her home; her car was back in her driveway. Linnet Isherwood cannot let her friend's unsolved murder rest. She convinces ex-cop Michael McLaren to return to the work he loves. He sifts through a confusing web of lies, misconceptions and veiled motives. Are anonymous late-night phone calls, a vanished hitchhiker, and a stalker wielding empty beer bottles somehow related to the case? Or maybe the woman he broke off with is seeking revenge.

    Book Details:

    Genre: British Mystery
    Published by: The Wild Rose Press, Inc.
    Publication Date: March 20th 2015
    Number of Pages: 360
    ISBN: 978-1628308907
    Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    He brought the photo closer so he could stare at the woman. She appeared to be in her mid-forties, a brunette with hazel eyes that looked amusingly at the photographer. She came up to her husband’s chin. The husband was a graying brunet and while her son had inherited her eye color, he was blond. McLaren had no time to comment on this.

    Linnet said, “The others…” She leaned forward, her left arm bent and supporting her, and tapped each photo as she mentioned their names. “The group shot is Marta, her boss, and the vet for the shelter. This…” She skipped over the others in the photograph and pointed to the woman to the extreme left. “That’s Verity Dwyer.”

    “The wrongly suspected coworker.” The woman in the photo had auburn hair that shone in the sunlight; her blue eyes smiled at him. Linnet nodded. “Yes. Suspected of killing Marta, though that wasn’t proved. But she was convicted of stealing money from the shelter. She’s three months into her sentence. She was… Oh, it’s extremely involved.”

    “I’ve got more time than money. Tell me.”


    Author Bio:

    authorA true Anglophile, Jo Hiestand wanted to capture the traditional flavor of a detective crime novel and the intimate atmosphere of a British cozy. The result is the McLaren Case mystery series featuring ex-police detective Michael McLaren who now investigates cold cases on his own. Jo has combined her love of writing, board games and music by co-inventing P.I.R.A.T.E.S., the mystery-solving game that uses maps, graphics, song lyrics, and other clues to lead the players to the lost treasure. In 2001 she graduated from Webster University with a BA degree in English and departmental honors. Peter Lovesey, author of the Sergeant Cribb and Peter Diamond series, praises Jo’s writing: “Immaculate research, attention to detail and an elegant style are the hallmarks of Jo Hiestand’s writing. (Horns of a Dilemma is) an atmospheric novel.” Jo founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America.

    Catch Up:
    author's website author's twitter author's facebook

    Tour Participants:



    This is a giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jo A Hiestand. To win you must be a US resident and be able to provide a US mailing address within 24 hours of receiving an emailing notification of winning. The giveaway begins on Aug 3rd, 2015 and runs through Aug 15th, 2015. a Rafflecopter giveaway

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    Monday, August 3, 2015

    PEERLESS DETECTIVE by Michael Raleigh Giveaway!

    Peerless Detective

    by Michael Raleigh

    August 3, 2015 Book Blast



    Once Billy Fox starts looking for trouble, he discovers that—in Chicago—trouble's under every footstep.

    Home from the war, Billy Fox leaves Michigan for Chicago, hoping to find his ex-girlfriend, Rita—now another man’s wife. Chicago isn’t a town that takes kindly to strangers, and Billy finds himself barely scraping by, working odd jobs and living in squalor among convicts and other men that the city hasn’t spit out just yet.

    A chance encounter lands him a job with Harry Strummer, the streetwise owner of the Peerless Detective Agency. At Harry's oddball agency, Billy hones his skills, learning how to stake out a mark, find a bug, and spot a tail. Odd life lessons and unexpected romance come his way. But as he searches for Rita, an even bigger mystery comes along, one that puts Harry, and Billy with him, in the crosshairs.

    This punchy, spellbinding noir spins a web that will catch readers and hold them captive to the final page, when we learn that Billy’s Chicago is a town where nothing is ever truly left up to chance.

    Book Details:

    Genre: Hard-Boiled PI
    Published by: Diversion Books
    Publication Date: August 4th 2015
    Number of Pages: 301
    ISBN: 1626817804 (ISBN13: 9781626817807)
    Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble iTunes Goodreads

    Read an excerpt:

    Billy Fox stood on the corner of Division and Clark waiting for a sign, at the end of his second endless week in Chicago,. Not from God, necessarily, for he was not yet convinced there was one. Just a sign that this was where he was supposed to be. And if not here, then where? He was beginning to believe the answer to that question might be nowhere. More than once in the past year he’d woken in a strange place, unable to remember for a moment where he was – just one more hot dark room on a street he didn’t know. Different rooms but the same smells of sweaty sheets and cigarettes, same panic squeezing his heart in a cold fist.

    A cop car went by and the red-faced one riding shotgun gave him the look.

    Yeah, you made me for a drifter.

    What was the word now? A transient. The cop squinted his way and Billy met his eyes. If they spoke, Billy knew exactly how the conversation would play out.

    I’m looking for work, Officer, he’d say.

    But the cop lost interest, bored and hot, and they drove on.

    Up the street he saw a hot dog joint. He’d told himself he wouldn’t eat until he knew where his next buck was going to come from – he was down to just a few bucks – but here was food, hot food, and he could smell the onions and the dogs and Polish sweating on the grill, and he shook his head. Almost time to stand on corners again. Hardest thing of all, you were either cut out for it or not, the ability to buttonhole strangers and feed them a line of crap: Hey, buddy, help a guy get back on his feet? Hey, man, I’m trying to get to (fill in the blank here but first you needed to know the names of places a guy on foot might be trying to get to). Hey, Miss, I just need to get a sandwich.

    No, I don’t want to do that again, Billy thought. I’ll shovel shit somewhere in this place first.

    Billy looked at the hotdog stand and began moving that way. He was just a few feet from the doorway of the hotdog stand when he saw the man in the suit – a white suit, an ice cream suit, his mother would have said, rumpled but a white suit nonetheless, and then the hat, a porkpie with the brim turned up all the way around, like something out of a gangster movie. A small man, but this man in the white suit moved up Division Street toward Billy in a rolling walk, what might have been his tough-guy strut, deep in thought, so deep, Billy thought, that he was nearly talking to himself. He could see the man’s jaw moving. The man looked up, seemed for the first time to notice the hot dog stand and stopped, jingling his change in his pockets in that way that Billy’s father had, as though reminding himself he wasn’t broke yet.

    The man in the suit never saw the two kids step out from a doorway behind him. Two of them, one white and one black and Billy knew the look and what was about to go down. The white kid bumped the man off balance and the black one gave him a push and he went down. The white kid reached down with a practiced move and came up with a wallet. Then they were off. They’d gone only a few steps when a cab driver in a turban came running toward them, a big brown-skinned man with a black beard, and the kids took one look, stopped on a dime and went back the other way. The man in the suit was still on the sidewalk, he seemed stunned or injured. Then, as the kids ran past him, Billy saw a bony leg shoot out and the white kid went down, dropping the wallet as he hit the pavement. He scrambled for the wallet but the man in the white suit was on him like a cat. For a moment they were both reaching for it, even as they grappled with each other, and then Billy saw the wallet go flying off the curb. A passing pickup truck rolled over it. Billy walked over and picked it up. Then he turned in time to see the kid get to his feet.

    They faced each other, a wiry middle-aged man in a white suit and a tall, thin street kid in a sleeveless t-shirt, and if asked Billy would have said the kid had already made his second mistake – there was no reason to turn this into a fight with witnesses – no, an audience. A few yards up the street, the second thief had stopped at the corner, started to come back and then had second thoughts: the small street action had drawn a crowd – four or five passersby, three of the cabdrivers parked beside the hotdog stand, a woman with a dog. The second kid shook his head in irritation and took off.

    Billy hefted the wallet in his hand and told himself he was probably quick enough to take off without fear of pursuit, he’d have money. As though he’d heard the thought, the man in the white suit looked his way for the briefest moment in time, then turned his attention to the problem at hand.

    The fighters circled in that old minuet of the street, the kid with his hands hung low, they all fought that way now – Muhammad Ali had ruined an entire generation of street fighters who all thought they could box with their hands down around their waists while they bounced and boogied. And as Billy watched, the kid began dancing and bobbing and moving his head, and looked startled when the man in the suit cracked him in the mouth with a stiff left. The kid licked his lip, glared and waded in throwing wild punches, and one grazed the small man along the side of his face but the others caught nothing but the air. The man in the suit moved steadily to his left, and just when the kid adjusted his stance to this movement, the man shifted his feet and began circling to the right. He threw the jab again, and another one, and then the right hand, which caught the kid on the cheek. The kid threw another roundhouse and took a punch in his eye, a perfect straight right, and the eye starting swelling immediately. The kid shook his head as though this might make the swelling go away. The man came inside then, moved inside the kid’s reach, the kid threw a half-hearted punch at the air, took a fist in the mouth and then bolted. A heavy-set bystander gave chase but stopped after a few paces, panting and grinning.

    Billy waited as the short man patted and smoothed his now-abused costume, put the hat back on and gave it a little pat. He straightened his tie, tucked at his shirt cuffs, brushed dirt from his white trousers. He missed the place where his knee had hit the pavement.

    The turbaned cabdriver said, “Are you all right, sir?” and the man in the suit held up a hand and nodded.

    “No problem. And thanks.”

    “You did good,” the cabdriver said, and the man shrugged.

    The man in the suit looked around for the wallet – no, he knew exactly where the wallet was. He looked for Billy. Billy held up the wallet and stepped forward.

    “Here you go.”

    The man glanced at his wallet and then looked Billy in the eye. Then he grinned but Billy had caught the look that preceded the grin. It had passed in the merest fragment of a second but Billy knew this one, a measuring look, as though by looking Billy in the eye this man in the unlikely suit could tell if he’d taken anything out of the wallet.

    “Thanks.” He took the wallet and made a show of wiping it off.

    “A truck rolled over it. If you got credit cards in there…”

    “Nah, no plastic for me. I’m a guy that pays cash.” Now he looked in the wallet, held it up. “Doesn’t look like they got anything.”

    “Good,” Billy said and turned to leave.

    “Hey,” the man called to him. “Thanks.”

    He was holding out his hand. Billy shook it and the man came up with a small vinyl packet from which he extracted a business card.

    “Here, take this. I’m just around the corner on Wells. My, ah, place of business, I mean. I’m Harry Strummer. If I can do anything for you – ” He squinted as though to get a better look at Billy. “You looking for work? If you’re looking for work I could make some calls.”

    For the first time Billy Fox was embarrassed.

    To hide his embarrassment he looked at the card. It said “H.A. Strummer, President.” Below this was the name “Peerless Detective Services,” and just below, as though it explained the name of the firm, the card promised “Discretion, Professionalism, Persistence. Licensed in three states.”

    Billy bit back a sudden impulse to ask which three states. Instead he just nodded and said, “Okay. Thanks. I’ve got a couple things going right now –”

    “Oh, sure, sure. Maybe sometime down the road, you’re looking for something, give me a jingle, I’ll get on the horn. Smart guy like you, there’s a lot out there.”

    Billy heard that note in the voice, that Good-time-Charlie salesman’s note that said he was bullshitting and they both knew it, and the question came out as if of its own volition, “How do you know I’m smart?”

    “Your eyes,” Harry Strummer said, as though this was obvious, and Harry Strummer’s own eyes said he was serious.

    Billy stopped himself from asking what else Harry Strummer could see there.

    “Okay, thanks,” he said, and left. At the next corner he stopped to wait for the light and shot a quick glance over his shoulder. The short fellow in the ice cream suit was walking toward Wells Street, hands in his pockets, looking at the traffic. But he hadn’t gone very far. He’d stood for a while and watched Billy.


    Author Bio:

    authorMichael Raleigh is the author of five mysteries set in Chicago and featuring detective Paul Whelan, as well as three other novels. He is Professor Emeritus of the City Colleges, where he taught Composition, Literature, and Chicago History. He currently teaches in the First Year Writing and Honors Programs at DePaul University. His novel THE RIVERVIEW MURDERS won the Eugene Izzi Award for best crime novel by a Chicago Writer, and he has been the recipient of four Illinois Arts Council awards for fiction. He is married with three children, and lives not far from the setting of the five Paul Whelan novels.

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