Triple Shot: Charles Salzburg, Ross Klavan. Tim O’ Hara
Three stories in this anthology different yet the same in many respects. The first is Thump Gun Hitched focusing on two task force detective. There are two distinct personalities in this segment. Bobby Dane and Haran. Bobby is not an honest cop and he is passing information to someone named Tonjay and selling out the unit. His goal is to sell them out to a group of gun smugglers but since he’s a dirty cop he’s can’t be trusted. Things take a dark turn when Bobby falls into a situation where he has to consider the end result. Haran is the second detective and Bobby was supposed to be the top man on the team as they get set for the raid. A murder or was it an accident or an accidental death that Bobby takes the fall for and refuses to allow the real killer to take the blame. With his girlfriend Kira in the dark she knows nothing about his sellout and about Tonjay and the money claiming he needed the cash. A simple act at a party and one man goes down. Hendricks is drunk and waving a gun and eyeballs Bobby Dane. He says “ Now you can say he saved your life twice,” and spins the guns around and then they grapple for the gun and when the final shots are fired it is Bobby holding the gun. Things take on a different turn as Haran leaves the force we hear someone named Baker who is now with Bobby because he refused to say it was an accident and is now in prison, as this man says killing a cop is a plus but being one a minus. Would he survive in prison and what will his relationship be with this man and why? For infractions he winds up in prison and his party Haran spends time moving around the country and finds himself in the desert near the Mexican Border. But, Bobby cannot be trusted and prison brings strange bedfellows as the head of the smuggling ring comes front and center with him. But, his star has yet to dull when he leaves prison he is given a job in Mexico in a place where there are dangerous people and once you are there you cannot leave. Loyalties are tested and friendships are broken yet Haran thinks by offering him this job he is helping him but in reality when it appears Dane is missing he is really living in this town of thugs, gun smugglers and outlaws learning that his fate might bring him money but in the long run he cannot leave. Anyone that has tried failed and winds up dead. The ending is quite starling and the final outcome of where they all wind up will surprise readers as someone goes after Kira, As Bobby ponders the past just where does Tonjay wind up and Baker. A story of deceit, lies, distrust and one man who would do anything to get what he wants at any cost. Author Ross Klavan makes readers think: Does crime really pay and how far will you go to cover up what someone else did and how far will you go for money?
Smoked: Tim O’Mara
Alliances are sometimes dangerous and retribution can cause you to become vulnerable in this second story where a drug dealer decides to break into the house of his former wife to get the hidden stash of meth, money and alcohol. Thinking the house is empty and he will go in fast and come out unnoticed little does he know that someone is there and his life is about to change and probably not for the better. Breaking into the house was his first mistake getting caught the second. Coming face to face with his former wife’s new partner who is home sick and catches him in the act and decides to want in on his business. Imagine becoming a business partner with this sleazy guy as he tried to get back the meth for a drug dealer and new business partner and now he has another. Starting with drug dealing and a heist that requires more than one person and the end result would be financial gain, but longer houses, our narrator is about to go on a roller coaster ride of his life. But, when the buyer is raided and dealing with drugs falls short and he needs a second job to pay off his suppliers things get dicey. He now has to run weapons or guns and illegal cigarettes. Mickey and Elmore along with our narrator have to face a shooter who decides their fate. Murder, dead bodies, shipments that have to be paid for and our narrator hoping to get into another business with a man named Robert. But, things get totally out of control and someone winds up dead and our narrator has to help with the dead body but not before checking that he gets paid and there is cash in the envelope. Someone rats them out and makes a deal with the feds and what someone else learns that his daughter is living with a snitch and is this the right way to earn a living and make money. Everywhere they turn things go wrong, bodies fall and something goes out of whack. His little girl named Brooklyn is the one that might suffer and his former wife knows about his drug business but does she know her new partner is one of them too? Double crosses, lies, murder, deceit and lessons that might or might not be learned as the author creates an ending that is open ended and you won’t know just where everyone winds up as things get misty and you too might get Smoked. Author Tim O’Hara is the author of the Raymond Donne series about an ex-cop turned educator who solves murders. Some of my favorite books that I have reviewed as he is the author of Sacrifice Fly and Dead Red.
Twist of Fate: Charles Salzburg
News anchor people love a good juicy story and they will go to lengths to find it at any cost to the person they are pursuing in order to get the information and air it on the news. Anchor newswoman Trish Sullivan is about to get the story of her life and might find herself in the middle of tenuous situation that will have deciding what is the truth and what is planned fiction. Ambitious, pretentious, persistent and determined to stay on the top at any cost she wants to move up in the world and looks for her big story that would be better than just doing local news. Meg Montgomery is in prison for six years so far and claims she is innocent of killing her husband and two daughters. Information comes to her and a letter from the prisoner asking her to come and talk to her about the crime hoping she will get freed. As Trish begins to investigate she comes across witnesses that held back information and a sheriff that is out to prove that what she is doing is wrong. Sheriff Knightly does not like Trish and the more she probes into the murder and talks to key people the angrier he gets and things she is trying to free a guilty woman who has tricked her. Thinking that the woman in prison has been wrongfully accused and that at the time of the murder she was somewhere else, he rationalizes that she had enough time to commit the crime and that her alibi is not really solid. The crime scene revisited, the witness in place and as she starts to put it all together she is able to convince the D.A. to give her another trial. As the trial proceeds and the witnesses come forward Meg Montgomery is freed and goes back to living with her in-laws and a good life with these rich people. But, something triggers Trish’s memory and a fact comes to light and she begins to reassess the situation and thinks she has been tricked and duped by a smart con artist who had help in planning the murder. As Meg becomes news and a national celebrity and the nation wants her to know that she is their new hero and so glad she is out Trish decides to delve further into the case and the ending finds someone’s deceptions found out, lies and betrayals and judgments are questioned and a Sheriff that won’t let it go as Trish comes under fire but why you won’t believe. An ending that leaves you wondering if the author is going to write a sequel as the major twist at the end will surprise readers letting you know that sometimes justice is served but not in the way you think. Author Charles Salzburg once again delivers a five star story and a five star punch with surprises, and intricate plot and a character that is outspoken, tenacious, and strong and definitely no one you want to cross.
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ Magazine