Dead Air: Cliff Protzman
Radio broadcasts should not have any down time or Dead Air the music, commercials or ads should flow throughout the airtime of the station or program. Glenn Beckert is the owner of Blue Water Security who provides security for this station owned by his friend Richie. Open Air is the name of the show and Zrock the company. Finding his friend deceased and being called by one of his managers to the crime scene places him in the crossfire of a police detective that he’s worked with before but is at odds with at times. Hoping to get involved in the murder investigation he becomes embroiled in it because of Gerry Zito, Richie’s wife who’s looking like a prime suspect and whose marital faithfulness is questionable. Getting to know her and listening to her during the interview with her lawyer Michael Sullivan, you learn of her many extramarital affairs plus those of her late husband. It seems that neither one cared if the other had a few separate flings but Gerry claims that it was changing nor they were working things out. Was that true? Richie wanted out of the radio station but the other owners did not and since the pending sale of the station created dissention within the company and the shareholders, is it possible that since some of them, especially his brother Ron, did not want to sell and eliminating him would solve the problem of keeping the station and programs on air.
As Beck meets with Coleman, Ron, Gerry and his investigator Irene, we learn more about the company that Coleman owns, his alliance and affiliation with Gerry and that somehow there is more going on that might involved money laundering, drugs or even arms. Funds are being funneled to offshore accounts and Gerry seems to be the primary person that deals with the money. Just how innocent is the widow and what role will she play now that Richie is gone? The encrypted file on Richie Zito’s laptop might tell the story about the funds but so far no one can decrypt them.
All signs point to Richie having something to do with the money laundering and his brother Ron arrested for his murder as the trail of money gets wider and longer and what is in the final is revealed. Money laundering is explained in full by the author as he takes readers line by line using the accounts that Richie and others had in order to filter out funds but what role did HDRA have? What about Coleman and who did he hired to take Beck out?
Gerry had affairs with so many people you would need a phone directory to list them all. Her affiliation with HDRA, doing the books, bookkeeping and access to the financials of her many businesses might point the finger of guilt to her. There are many who wanted Richie offed because with him out of the way the sale of the station might not take place but with Gerry’s affairs, Richie’s affairs and even Susan Turner’s affairs you need a scorecard to keep track of who’s with whom and what role they play and the end result of where they might stand.
The road leads in many places as the suspects are piling up and the money laundering leads directly to HDRA. Lieutenant Paglironi although he and Beck have no love lost between them become an unusual team that finds themselves working together, hoping to be honest and reveal what they both learn yet Beck often defends Gerry and tries to hide her guilt. Dealing with her he finds himself the target of some dangerous and powerful men who belong to Coleman and someone hiding in plain sight. Threats are real, bodies pile up and someone close to HDRA is the next one taken out. But, who is behind it and just where are Gerry’s loyalties. When Irene uncovers what is in the file and the truth behind the money laundering and where the money is going is revealed the many avenues still need to be bottled up, thugs come after both Irene and Beck and lives could be snuffed out before all is said and done.
Richie learned about the corruption, he realized that his wife was in up to her eyeballs, he realized that his brother knew about the money, corruption and more and events come about that he doesn’t know who to trust, who is the mastermind and when all is revealed you just won’t believe how this plays out.
Joseph Flynn is the DA for Allegheny county and Beck’s next visit. Pags and Beck became somewhat of a team and the file viewed showed that one liaison, namely Coleman might have sparked her to kill her husband. Coleman seems to be a major player. The money trail is what might convict her or someone else. Susan Turner was next and she would make a pass at nothing that was male/female or suited her needs. The conversation focused on potential buyers for Z-Rock. Z-Rock had a huge following and many potential buyers but there were some that did not want to sell and perhaps that’s why Richie was killed. The DA, Flynn wants to focus to be on the sale of the station and Richie’s personal life. But, what is the money trail between the HDRA and Vince Coleman? If Richie was aware about it, would that have been the prime reason to kill him? Is the DA involved? How did the police find the money trail?
Talking with Pags about the case Beck realizes that it might not be a two way street and that Gerry Zito might be up to her ears in guilt but what about murder?
Dealing with this investigation other questions came up such as the source of the money, where did HDRA get the money to make the deposits? Other names came up and several would haunt Beck as he would now become a target. When someone close to HDRA is the next murder things heat up and even more Beck’s neck might be next. Talking to someone else Beck does not realize that this one person might be the hidden source to the murders. Revealing what he knows would prove almost deadly. Just whom can he trust and which side was everyone on?
Charlton Finch was the son of Paul Finch and his father’s link to Coleman would set off another chain of events that would indict more people. Sometimes innocent dealings turn into illegal activities. With the help of one of his men named Eric, Beck hoped to learn more about what really happened and you won’t believe how what this killer referenced.
Someone close to the company in question was forced to do the murders but just who will pay for the crimes? Did Ron kill his brother? What role did Gerry play and just how innocent or guilty is she? Revelations are made but will the real orchestrator be charged or will that be left for another day and the next case for Beck to solve? Will he and Irene finally connect? Issues of money laundering, betrayals, greed, sexual favors, revenge, power and family loyalties or disloyalties are all of what author Cliff Protzman and Beck bring out in this novel. For those of us that do radio the most deadly thing that can happen during a broadcast, as you will learn in more ways than one after reading this novel is DEAD AIR!
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine