What if a man with the talent and patience to create perfect, undetectable copies of US hundred bills carries out his plan? Has a crime even been committed? What if he never spent a dime of the money on himself?
The last person social worker Mitch Adams wants to hear from is St. Louis Homicide Detective JoJo Baker, a man with whom Mitch shares a tangled past. Baker wants Mitch to see Lonnie Washington, a disabled African-American arrested for counterfeiting and armed robbery, believed to be suicidal while he sits in jail awaiting trial. The evidence points to an open and shut case, but Baker insists it’s not so black and white. Reluctantly, Mitch agrees and discovers there is more to the story–more than enough to get them both killed. At first Lonnie won’t cooperate, but as he begins to open up, Mitch comes to believe that the true criminal may not be the man behind bars, but the prosecutor who put him there–a man with far-reaching political ambitions, the approval of the public, and his very own Secret Service detail. With millions in perfect fake $100 bills up for grabs, Mitch’s life hinges on the word of a counterfeiter, the greed of a prosecutor, and his refusal to go down without a fight.
Bio: A licensed clinical social worker, Scott L. Miller earned his Master’s in Social Work from St. Louis University and has worked with adults, children and the elderly in state and private hospitals in St. Louis city and county. Long fascinated by the workings of the human brain, he quit writing exceptionally bad poetry and studied fiction writing under the late John Gardner and later at Washington University. His first Mitch Adams novel, The Interrogation Chair, was self-published in May 2011, has been rewritten and is due for re-release by Blank Slate Press in October 2014 under the title Interrogation. Counterfeit is the second in this series, but is a stand-alone work. Counterfeit recently took third place in the Walter Williams major work award contest at the 99th Missouri Writer’s Guild workshop for Missouri’s published authors. Miller is currently working on his third Mitch Adams novel, working title The Virtual Suicide Machine, which is slated for release in 2015 by Blank Slate Press.
Counterfeit: Scott Miller
The benefactor was John Beresford Tipton, Jr. His goal was to change someone’s life by handing them a cashier’s check for one million dollars. A man named Michael Anthony, his executive secretary, delivered the check whose job it was to give the check to the intended recipient. The Millionaire was a series where Tipton’s beneficiaries received one million dollars as if they came from Anthony’s case files. Each of the shows started with Anthony sitting behind his desk staring directly at the camera or audience and speaking the following words: “ My name is Michael Anthony, until his death just a few years ago, I was the executive secretary to the late John Beresford Tipton, Jr.” Tipton Jr. was very rich and had many hobbies such as giving away one million dollars, tax-free; each week to someone he never met. What if there was someone in the present that tried to do the same for people now? What if someone tried to emulate Mr. Anthony by giving away money to help create trust funds for children, pay off mortgages and be a benefactor to those in need? The only stipulation was the person never knew who gave them the money and they could not tell anyone they received it. The person signed a legal statement stating they would never reveal the source of the money except to a spouse. If single and should you marry under penalty of forfeit if they revealed this to anyone.
Lonnie Washington was a modern day Anthony but not quite in the same way. He accrued his wealth by creating his own money. He was a professional counterfeiter. Mitch Adams is a social worker that gets roped into helping Lonnie who is in jail by his good old friend Homicide Detective JoJo Baker. Mitch does not want to become involved with this disabled young African American who was arrested for counterfeiting, armed robbery and attempted murder. But, when Mitch comes face to face with Lonnie at first nothing is said, Lonnie is silent and then the silence is broken. Trust comes hard to this young man and he and Mitch begin to bond as he leads him in many different directions, asks him to help protect and watch over his mother and finds himself in the middle of a conspiracy that goes way up in the criminal justice chain.
Mitch is convinced that Lonnie is innocent of everything but counterfeiting and works hard to protect him from what his jailers are inflicting on him. Beaten up, hidden bugs in the visitors room, a prosecutor that is relentless, guards that are corrupt and a Secret Service detail on the take, Lonnie faces more than just a downhill battle.
Meet his mother and the people that have taken her in to keep her safe. LaKeesha is mentally challenged and at 15 she became a parent who could do little to care for herself. Lonnie sent to many foster homes at 18 he finally went out on his own. Born with a clubfoot and a pronounced limb, this highly intelligence, brilliant young man had to fight his way in order to survive. Drawing was his forte and begin denied the tools to create what he knew how to do hardened him.
Special Prosecutor Maynard was out to prove his case at all cost. Hearing a conversation in the bathroom at the DMV would start a chain of events that would send Mitch into the heart of St. Louis and the dangerous areas in order to prove Lonnie’s innocence. As the media decides to air what they think really happened one reporter for Channel Four seems to have the ear of the Special Prosecutor as he weaves his tale of lies, tells the public what he thinks they want to hear and explains how they seized the master plates, the printing press, other counterfeiting equipment and a huge amount of illegal weapons. They also managed to confiscate large amounts of crack and cocaine. But, the police had Lonnie in custody and they use strong-arming him, making him watch the news and hopefully threatening him enough to give up his accomplices. Earl Mooney and Benny Blades were the other two involved and although the press had photos of each man it was up to Lonnie that felt to tell them their whereabouts. Desperate to get some help for Lonnie, his detective friend pleads with him until he relents.
As we get inside the jail, hear the guards, understand their movements and motives we realize that men like Lonnie that are physically weak cannot survive. The beatings, turning a blind eye, the supervisor that is definitely corrupt, the guards that did anything but protect him as we learn more about the money the police hopes to recoup. Those that receive special packages from Lonnie and the tragic ending that would create more than just another story in the news.
Mitch Adams had his own sources and would stop at nothing to help Lonnie. Meeting with his mother, promising to watch over Lonnie and her, his life became uncertainties and the country jails his frequent place to visit.
Bullied, beaten and unloved, Lonnie could barely handle life no less feeling alone. When Mitch faces him in the jail he is told he is suicidal, asks for him to be closely watched but the officials have something else in store for him as we get an up close picture of what happens in some jails when law enforcement does nothing to protect those within the walls of our prison system. With the help of his friend Tony, Mitch was able to start piecing the puzzle together. What was Maynard’s real motive for wanting Lonnie out of the way? As we hear Lonnie’s final visit with his mother, which will not only endear you to him even more but might bring tears to your eyes too we begin to wonder just when the system will be overhauled to protect those within its walls.
Lonnie did not trust anyone but he did Mitch and the truth about his connection to Earl Mooney would come out and the end result would change things for everyone. As someone was listening in and information was passed around lives were lost. Remembering the words he overheard in the bathroom: Cutting off the head: a transmitter used for privileged conversations, police reports change, Lonnie assaulted, his car damaged and vandalized and missing perfect duplicates of millions of dollars.
When Baker arrives at an odd hour what Mitch learns will tear him apart as he comes face to face with Lonnie but not in person but in the morgue. Someone wanted him out of the way and what happened to him was deadly. Just why Baker wanted Mitch to take the case comes out as we learn more about him, Skinny and Earl. Every step of the way Mitch reflects on Kris, her murder and how his life changed. But, a single letter written by Lonnie would reveal it all. Several envelopes that contained instructions, money and who was supposed to be the recipient and what was in one black one that might bring down the house as Mitch had to find someone to trust and places to hide what might bring the it all down.
The research the author did into counterfeiting, the legal system and his own expertise as a psychologist comes through. Explaining why things often go sour for inmates, how Lonnie was able to replicate the bills and what paper he used and more, readers get a first hand look at why the government places so many guidelines and obstacles they hope in the way of counterfeiters. But, Lonnie was more. He was a humanitarian who was concerned with helping those less fortunate. Race did not matter. Chapter 24 is quite compelling as all of the pieces fit together and Mitch needs to find a way to take down those that were behind what happened to Lonnie and why. Lonnie gave away his six and half million dollars leaving 18 million for anyone to take. Someone wanted the money and with the police killing Benny, where did the money go? One secret service man would prove to be on his side and the ending will not only surprise readers but the creative way it was constructed by the author was unique and quite insightful. Will Maynard have his day in court? Will he bail himself out? What about Dodd? Who killed Dan Quinn? Who wanted the forgeries to finance a project and why?
An interview that would reveal only what he wanted the public to know. A Locker opened that would change the world for so many. Lonnie Washington put his talent to good use and what they found when they opened Locker 10 you just won’t believe. A grandmother with health and financial problems, a mother whose home might be taken away, a man who ran a program for underprivileged teens and a special anonymous bequest that would change it all.
A young man who could have been bitter, angry and mean who just wanted to help those that helped others. Denied jobs, not allowed to pursue his passion to restore art that needed to be repaired, Lonnie Washington decided to repair the lives of other people in his own way by giving others hope.
Counterfeit: imitation to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively as genuine. Interesting definition with many different interpretations. A public official whose life and career were passed off as genuine but in a sense was forged. A young man who created fake bills but was able to pass them off as real and a system filled with counterfeit employees passing them off as lawyers, jailers and politicians. A close likeness or portrait: whose countenance was real or whose was counterfeit? Lonnie or Maynard! Let the reader decide!
Thanks so much for sharing such a detailed and thoughtful review of this crime thriller. Sounds like a very good read.