Murder is afoot in the tropical climes of the Florida Keys--Peter Falconer, the son of wealthy parents who stands to gain a fortune in inheritance on his 30th birthday, is missing and presumed dead. Ex-Army investigator Daniel Shaw, who is currently studying law and preparing for the Bar exam, is summoned by the devious--and incredibly witty--attorney Tom Petrie to find Peter and rescue the inheritance money. The pursuit leads Daniel from the Keys to Jamaica to South America, where he tangles with the larger-than-life criminal Raven Ahriman and his partner, Charles Angleton, Peter's childhood friend who ultimately orchestrated Peter's disappearance in connection with some dubious dealings in snuff films and the death of two young girls who participated in the filming. With the assistance of Tom; Peter's sister, Susan, who is devastated to learn of her brother's shady interests; and Daniel's hired loose-cannon "bodyguard" Leroy, Daniel tracks Raven through the Mosquito Keys and onto the high seas, where the small group is left for dead on a ship. But after the discovery of Peter Falconer and a heroic escape, Daniel must ultimately face Raven in a battle for his life in this superbly crafted novel by thriller-writer Faust.?
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
Ron Faust is a former baseball player and journalist. He is the author of Forest of the Night, When She Was Bad, Fugitive Moon, and Lord of the Dark Lake. He lives in Wisconsin.?Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Coils of cigarette smoke hung like spiral nebulae in the dimness.
Near the door, an old man was talking about a cat that he claimed had walked twelve hundred miles to return to its home. Yes sir, from Chicago to Bell Harbor in six months. The cat's name was Bucky.
The yeasty-smelling room was narrow and deep: A black mahogany bar ran two-thirds the length of one wall, with booths and tables opposite, and in the rear section there were pool tables and electronic games and a massive, ticking jukebox.
I walked to the end of the bar and ordered a beer from a fat man in a dirty apron.
"Hot," the man said.
"Very," I said, although it was cool in the bar.
A few stools away, a slattern in pink slacks was loudly saying, "Sure, I believe in fair trials for the innocent. But why waste all that time and money giving fair trials to the guilty?"
On a shelf behind the bar, there were jars containing Polish sausages and jalape-o peppers and hard-boiled eggs. And on the wall were some trophies: lacquered game fish, a marble-eyed deer head, a bearskin, and a dusty raptor--hawk or small eagle, I couldn't tell.
"Burn them in Old Sparky," said the woman who championed fair trials for the innocent.
Two young men were playing pool in the back section. "You hold that cue stick like a nun," one of them said. In this light the speaker's tightly kinked mass of dull red hair looked like a sponge.
I ordered another draft beer and two of the sausages. The bartender removed the sausages with his fingertips and served them on a paper napkin.
The pool players moved in and out of the cone of light, absorbing and losing color and definition; then the straight white thrust of a cue stick and the clicking, swiftly changing geometry of the balls. The patterns reminded me of broken molecular models.
"Where'd you learn to play pool?" the redhead asked his opponent. "In the convent?"
The sausages were too vinegary, but I ordered another and a hard-boiled egg.
"We got pizza," the bartender said.
"Oh, God, don't eat the pizza here," the woman in the pink slacks said.
"Irene," the fat bartender said. "Irene--"
"The pizza here'd gag a vulture." She was drinking shots with beer back. Her lipsticked mouth was twice as big as her natural one.
I walked over to the pool table and put two quarters in the slots. "Play the winner?"
"Sure, Fish," the cocky redhead replied. He was about twenty-five, not tall but powerfully built. He wore jogging shoes without socks, cutoff jeans, and a fishnet shirt. I could see tattoos beneath the shirt.
"Frank makes his pizza out of cardboard and vomit."
"Shut up, Irene," the bartender said. "Shut up or get out."
"I was only joking the man."
"This is a business."
"Sure, Frank. I'm sorry. I like your pizza."
The redhead called his pocket and sank the eight ball on a fine table-length bank. "Rack 'em, Fish," he told me.
His opponent wandered into the bar section. I racked the balls tightly, hung my suit jacket on a hook, loosened my tie, and selected a reasonably straight stick. "I break," the redhead said. "Eight ball. Call your shot and pocket." He leaned over the table for a moment and then straightened. "Oh, do you want to play for something?"
"Sure. Let's play for a beer."
"Can you afford it? Look, let's make it for five bucks a game."
"Otherwise it's a drag, you know?" He had a redhead's complexion, and his eyebrows and lashes were so pale as to be hardly visible. The membranes rimming his eyes were inflamed.
He sank a solid on the break and then ran three more before deliberately missing an easy shot. I ran five stripes before scratching on the nine.
"Tough," he said. He sank the six, but then blew an easy bank on the ten. "Bitch," he said to the ball.
He let me win the first game. I figured that he had shot about half as well as he was able. He passed me a crumpled five-dollar bill.
I stuffed the five into my shirt pocket and offered my hand. "Daniel Shaw," I said.
He looked skeptically at my hand and then finally clasped it with an I'm-boss power grip. "Gary."
"Nice meeting you, Gary."
"Yeah," he said. "Break, Fish."
I went over to the bar and got another beer. The fat bartender and the few customers at that end of the bar regarded me with the blandly sincere expressions that are meant to conceal pity and contempt.
"You shoot pool real good, honey," Irene said dryly.
I returned to the table and chalked my cue stick. "You a salesman?" Gary asked.
"In a way."
I won that game fairly easily and he said, "Look, you got ten bucks of mine. What say we play a game for fifty?"
"No, fifty matchsticks."
"Well, I don't know."
"You shoot pool lots better than me, but maybe I'll get lucky. The most you can lose is forty bucks." He moved close to me, a not very subtle act of intimidation. I could smell his sour sweat and cheap aftershave. The pupils of his eyes were dilated to half the circumference of the irises. It was dim in the room, but not that dim.
"I guess so," I said.
"Money up front." He withdrew a crisp fifty from his wallet and placed it on the rim of the table. I matched it with two twenties and a ten.
"We'll flip a coin for break."
"It's my break, Gary. I won the last game."
"This here's a new game and it's for fifty dollars. It's only fair. The guy what breaks has got the advantage. We'll flip a coin."
"Put two quarters in the slots and stand back."
I put my weight behind the stick, drove it hard through the cue ball. There was a loud click and the triangle of colored balls burst apart, rebounding off the rails, kissing, deflecting. Three went into pockets, two solids and a stripe. I studied the layout for a while (Gary impatiently tapping his stick on the floor and hissing through his teeth), calculating the order and difficulty of the shots. If I didn't run out, he would.
I chose the solids, ran four of them, had a difficult shot on the ten--a very delicate cut--made that, and left the cue ball in good position for the eight.
"That's a natural scratch," he said, trying for a cheap psych-out.
"Eight in the corner," I said.
Gary moved close to me again, almost touching my right arm, and he bumped me lightly on the stroke, but the ball went in.
I picked up the money, returned my stick to the rack, and put on my suit jacket.
"Where do you think you're going?"
"Your landlady said you might be here, Gary. I have something for you." I withdrew the long envelope from my inside jacket pocket and held it out to him. There was an impressive gold seal on the front.
"It's a court summons for Gary Tolliver."
"Yeah? Well, you take it and stuff it, pal."
I dropped the envelope on the pool table. "It's yours."
"No, it ain't, man, it's yours. Take it with you when you go."
"The subpoena has been served in front of witnesses. The rest is up to you. But I advise you to make your court date."
"I done nothing wrong."
"Good for you."
"What does that thing mean? What did I do?"
"You know that better than I, Gary."
"No, I don't, man."
"Read the subpoena. You can read, can't you?"
"This is unconstitutional," he said.
"It isn't an indictment, you aren't going to trial. Yet. You're just ordered to appear before a grand jury that is investigating certain crimes."
"It's about dope, Gary."
"I don't know nothing about dope."
"Then maybe you'll learn something." I started to leave.
"Take that with you. I don't want it. I never saw it."
"Hire a lawyer, kid."
"You son of a bitch," he said softly, furiously. His face was flushed and appeared swollen around the eyes and mouth. He held his arms away from his sides. "Are you a cop?"
"I'm considered an officer of the court while doing this job."
"Does that mean you're a cop?"
I had been warned about Gary Tolliver's background of violence. Assault, assault and battery, assault with a deadly weapon, felonious assault . . .
"Be careful," I said. I thought about hitting him before he hit me; I could lie about it later, through all of my teeth.
But then he seemed to deflate. Probably he thought I was a cop or a lawyer from the prosecutor's office.
"I ought to knock your fucking head off," he said, but the moment had passed and he was only saving face.
On the way out I dropped a twenty-dollar bill on the bar. "Drinks on me, Frank. Take good care of my friends." Behind me I could hear Irene crow, "Who was that masked man?" And then she burst into siren wails of laughter.
The swampy heat was brutal after I'd spent forty-five minutes in the air-conditioned bar. Sour beer ...
"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.
Book Description Dell, 2004. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110553586556
Book Description Dell, 2004. Mass Market Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0553586556