Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Smokeout of Blackjack

By DB Dakota
Mystery/Crime, 339 pages
Cover art by Pat Evans

Author of the tell-all about polls has a thing about their MO. Shanghaied, hidden from a blackmailer, all he has to do is write another blockbuster to undo the first book that trashed pollsters. He’s also safe from the blackmailer, trying to nail him for a murder. The top cop claims a renegade cop did it. But the street cop suspects the top badge himself whitewashed it.

The PI plays on the writer’s psyche, moving him to rat on the blackmailer, a relative, swearing, the top gun is the killer—who won’t confess. Media and props from the murder scene roll in to torment him. He can’t stand it and befriends a terrorist bomb. The end.

“Something else is going on and you’re not telling me about it,” Nadra mumbled, stiffening her arms.
Thornburgh straightened up, clipped the mike back on, smoothed down her shirt front, crossed her legs like a man to finger a piece of gravel out of a sneaker. She cleared her throat and asked, “What is it worth to you to find Blackjack?”

“What! Blackjack? You mean…?” Nadra bolted up out of her seat. “You know about Mom’s death!” Furious, she bowed her neck. “You say you’re a coordinator—Who are you? Who is he!” She pointed to Jorge and sat down.

“Yes, I know about the Brett murder case,” said Thornburgh, the orchestrator of the fake carjack. “It was a hideous crime. In all the papers. And in a few other places as well. In one place in particular, and Jorge was there. He was at the crime scene, investigating.”

“Sort of,” he snorted, hunching his shoulders, glancing in the rear view mirror.

Thornburgh sighed and shook her head. “Jorge used to be a Wenden cop. He wants to get back on the force and needs you to help him. That’s why you’re sitting there. Nadra, you’ve got to help us.”

Nadra cocked her head sideways. “Are you an investigator?”

“Me, a detective? Damn right.”

“How come you drive a Mercedes?”

“It belongs to a client.” Thornburgh rubbed the back of her head. “I borrowed it to make an impression on Cletus. What I’m doing now is a special assignment to help Jorge collar Blackjack.”

“You do sound confident.” Nadra puffed, looked aside and stroked her face with an icy hand.

“That we’ll take him down? Listen, we’re not doing it like—oh, shut my pie hole. Jorge was on your mother’s case. He found her town car at Gold Diggers restaurant where her attacker had abandoned it. Jorge got disgusted with police bungling, as you called it, exactly as you called it, and quit. He works for a surveillance and security outfit now.”

Nadra covered her burning face with both hands for a moment and stated, “We could never get anything out of those cops. Mom wasn’t anybody important, just a real estate saleswoman, and the family, well, we didn’t have any pull.”

“That was over two years ago.”

“June ninety-three. Long time ago, Mack, but it hurts so bad it seems like last night. She had taken over this apartment house on Lafasing at Eleventh near Chero Park and was converting the place into condos. Doing a lot of the work herself.”

“All by herself that evening.” Thornburgh shook her head slowly.

“So uninformed, I guess you’d say.” Nadra nodded and stared at the floor. “She was sure that was a safe neighborhood. Yes, she was all alone. With nobody to help her, not a soul.”

“And this brute, this ogre sneaked up and beat her…” Thornburgh choked up, hacked and didn’t finish the sentence.

“She wasn’t robbed or raped or anything.”

“He bludgeoned her. Beat her to death.”

“You do know about it!” Nadra gasped and rubbed her eyes. “So awful. She had no enemies, Mack, not a single one. It was somebody who saw the lights on, I guess.”

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