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Lovable everyman Lew Fonesca, the Man Who Makes Things Work in Sarasota, is once again faced with cases that try his patience and test his sanity. A local curmudgeon who has been campaigning to end state-sponsored school funding is brutally killed. A recent graduate of a public high school for the gifted is arrested for the crime and turns to Lew for help. A semiretired and much beloved singer of children's songs is being anonymously pushed to leave Sarasota, threatened with exposure as a sexual predator. It is up to Lew to uncover the blackmailer and determine whether there is any truth to the accusation. Lew has decided that life is worth more than just going through the motions. But will the good life that Lew so richly deserves elude him as he uncovers some very sad truths? His final choice: do the right thing and see his happiness evaporate ... or betray a trust and stay happy....
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Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. He penned twenty-four novels starring the detective whom he described as "the anti-Philip Marlowe." In 1981's Death of a Dissident, he debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonesca, a process server. In all, he wrote more than sixty novels.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Wychovski looked at Pryor, and said, “I’m sure. One year ago. This day. That jewelry store. It’s in my book.”
Pryor was short, thin, nervous. Dustin Hoffman on some kind of speed produced by his own body. His face was flat, scarred from too many losses in the ring for too many years. He was stupid. Born that way. Punches to the head hadn’t made his IQ rise. But Pryor did what he was told, and Wychovski liked telling Pryor what to do. Talking to Pryor was like thinking out loud.
“One year ago. In your book,” Pryor said, looking at the jewelry store through the car window.
“In my book,” Wychovski said, patting the right pocket of his black zipper jacket.
“And this is ... ? I mean, where are we?”
“Northbrook. It’s a suburb of Chicago,” said Wychovski patiently. “North of Chicago.”
Pryor nodded as if he understood. He didn’t really, but if Wychovski said so, it must be so. He looked at Wychovski, who sat behind the wheel, his eyes fixed on the door of the jewelry store. Wychovski was broad-shouldered, well built from three years with the weights in Stateville and keeping it up when he was outside. He was nearing fifty, blue eyes, short, short haircut, gray-black hair. He looked like a linebacker, a short linebacker. Wychovski had never played football. He had robbed two Cincinnati Bengals once outside a bar, but that was the closest he got to the real thing. Didn’t watch sports on the tube. In prison he had read, wore glasses. Classics. For over a year. Dickens, Poe, Hemingway. Steinbeck. Shakespeare. Freud. Shaw, Irwin and George Bernard. Ibsen, Remarque. Memorized passages. Fell asleep remembering them when the lights went out. Then two years to the day he started, Wychovski stopped reading. Wychovski kept track of time.
Now, Wychovski liked to keep moving. Buy clothes, eat well, stay in classy hotels when he could. Wychovski was putting the cash away for the day he’d feel like retiring. He couldn’t imagine that day.
“Tell me again why we’re hitting it exactly a year after we hit it before,” Pryor said.
Wychovski checked his watch. Dusk. Almost closing time. The couple who owned and ran the place were always the last ones in the mall besides the Chinese restaurant to close. On one side of the jewelry store, Gortman’s Jewelry and Fine Watches, was a storefront insurance office. State Farm. Frederick White the agent. He had locked up and gone home. On the other side, Himmell’s Gifts. Stuff that looked like it would break if you touched it in the window. Glassy-looking birds and horses. Glassy not classy. Wychovski liked touching real class, like really thin glass wineglasses. If he settled down, he’d buy a few, have a drink every night, run his finger around the rim and make that ringing sound. He didn’t know how to do that. He’d learn.
“Why are we here again?” Pryor asked.
“Anniversary. Our first big score. Good luck. Maybe. It just feels right.”
“What did we get last time?”
The small strip mall was almost empty now. Maybe four cars if you didn’t count the eight parked all the way down at the end by the Chinese restaurant. Wychovski could take or leave Chinese food, but he liked the buffet idea. Thai food. That was his choice. Tonight they’d have Thai. Tomorrow they’d take the watches, bracelets, rings to Walter on Polk Street. Walter would look everything over, make an offer. Wychovski would take it. Thai food. That was the ticket.
“We got six thousand last time,” Wychovski said. “Five minutes’ work. Six thousand dollars. More than a thousand a minute.”
“More than a thousand a minute,” Pryor echoed.
“Celebration,” said Wychovski. “This is a celebration. Back where our good luck started.”
“Back light went out,” Pryor said, looking at the jewelry store.
“We’re moving,” Wychovski answered, getting quickly out of the car.
They moved right toward the door. Wychovski had a Glock. His treasure. Read about it in a spy story in a magazine. Had to have it. Pryor had a piece of crap street gun with tape on the handle. Revolver. Six or seven shots. Piece of crap, but a bullet from it would hurt going in and might never come out. People didn’t care. You put a gun in their face, they didn’t care if it was precision or zip. They knew it could blow out their lights.
Wychovski glanced at Pryor keeping pace at his side. Pryor had dressed up for the job. He had gone through his bag at the motel, asked Wychovski what he should wear. Always asked Wychovski. Asked him if he should brush his teeth. Well, maybe not quite, but asked him almost everything. The distance to the moon. Could eating Equal really give you cancer. Wychovski always had an answer. Quick, ready. Right or wrong. He had an answer.
Pryor was wearing blue slacks and a Tommy Hilfiger blue pullover short-sleeved shirt. He had brushed his hair, polished his shoes. He was ready. Ugly and ready.
Just as the couple inside turned off their light, Wychovski opened the door and pulled out his gun. Pryor did the same. They didn’t wear masks, only hit smaller marks that lacked surveillance cameras, like this Dick and Jane little jewelry store. Artists’ sketches were for shit. Ski masks itched. Sometimes Wychovski wore dark glasses. That’s if they were working the day. Sometimes he had a Band-Aid on his cheek. Let them remember that or the fake mole he got from Gibson’s Magic Shop in Paris, Texas. That was a bad hit. No more magic shops. He had scooped up a shopping bag of tricks and practical jokes. Fake dog shit. Fake snot you could hang from your nose. Threw it all away. Kept the mole. Didn’t have it on now.
“Don’t move,” he said.
The couple didn’t move. The man was younger than Wychovski by a decade. Average height. He had grown a beard in the last year. Looked older. Wearing a zipper jacket. Blue. Wychovski’s was black. Wychovski’s favorite colors were black and white.
The woman was blonde, somewhere in her thirties, sort of pretty, too thin for Wychovski’s tastes. Pryor remembered the women. He never touched them, but he remembered and talked about them at night in the hotels or motels. Stealing from good-looking women was a high for Pryor. That and good kosher hot dogs. Chicago was always good for hot dogs if you knew where to go. Wychovski knew. On the way back, they’d stop at a place he knew on Dempster in Chicago. Make Pryor happy. Sit and eat a big kosher or two, lots of fries, ketchup, onions, hot peppers. Let Pryor talk about the woman.
She looked different. She was wearing a green dress. She was pregnant. That was it.
“No,” she said.
“Yes,” said Wychovski. “You know what to do. Stand quiet. No alarms. No crying. Nothing stupid. Boy or a girl?”
Pryor was behind the glass counters, opening them quickly, shoveling, clinking, into the Barnes & Noble bag he had taken from his back pocket. There was a picture of Sigmund Freud on the bag. Sigmund Freud was watching Wychovski. Wychovski wondered what Freud was thinking.
“Boy or girl?” Wychovski repeated. “You know if it’s going to be a boy or a girl?”
“Girl,” said the man.
“You got a name picked out?”
“Jessica,” said the woman.
Wychovski shook his head no and said, “Too ... I don’t know ... too what everybody else is doing. Something simple. Joan. Molly. Agnes. The simple is different. Hurry it up,” he called to Pryor.
“Hurry it up, right,” Pryor answered, moving faster, the B&N bag bulging. Freud looking a little plump and not so serious now.
“We’ll think about it,” the man said.
Wychovski didn’t think so.
“Why us?” the woman said. Anger. Tears were coming. “Why do you keep coming back to us?”
“Only the second time,” said Wychovski. “Anniversary. One year ago today. Did you forget?”
“I remembered,” said the man, moving to his wife and putting his arm around her.
“We won’t be back,” Wychovski said, as Pryor moved across the carpeting to the second showcase.
“It doesn’t matter,” said the man. “After this we won’t be able to get insurance.”
“Sorry,” said Wychovski. “How’s business been?”
“Slow,” said the man, with a shrug. The pregnant woman’s eyes were closed.
“You make any of this stuff?” Wychovski asked, looking around. “Last time there were some gold things, little animals, shapes, birds, fish, bears. Little.”
“I made those,” the man said.
“See any little animals, gold?” Wychovski called to Pryor.
“Don’t know,” said Pryor. “Just scooping. Wait. Yeah, I see some. A whole bunch.”
Wychovski looked at his watch. He remembered where he got it. Right here. One year ago. He held up the watch to show the man and woman.
“Recognize it,” he said.
The man nodded.
“Keeps great time,” said Wychovski. “Class.”
“You have good taste,” the man said sarcastically.
“Thanks,” said Wychovski, ignoring the sarcasm. The man had a right. He was being robbed. He was going out of business. This was a going-out-of-business nonsale. The man wasn’t old. He could start again, work for someone else. He made nice little gold animals. He was going to be a father. The watch told Wychovski that they had been here four minutes.
“Let’s go,” he called to Pryor.
“One more minute. Two more. Should I look in the back?”
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Book Description Sound Library, 2009. AudioCD. Condition: Good. 7 AUDIO CDs, polished for your satisfaction for a worthwhile set, withdrawn from the library collection. Library sticker and marking to the case and the CDs. The AUDIO CDs are in individual slots, protected and clear sounding. Enjoy this AUDIO CD performance!. Audio Book. Seller Inventory # 002012109120200