The Yankee Club Reviewers

It’s always humbling when someone purchases one of my books and even more so when I see that someone’s taken the time to read and review my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads or various blogs. Here’s just a few snippets of reviews from The Yankee Club.

“Jump on the incredible page turner set in 1933 in the middle of the Great Depression – you won’t regret it.” Reviewer Bill Baker

“This is a highly entertaining novel, very skillfully written. Murphy has done a great job of creating a story that reads like it could have been written by one of the greats of noir fiction. I highly recommend it.” Goodreads reviewer Scott Parsons

“The Yankee Club was a fantastic mystery read!! Shady characters, corruption, romance, mystery and suspense and not once did any of these factors overthrow the plot.” Bookish Wanderlove Blog

“The Yankee Club by Michael Murphy is a hard-boiled historical romp that is inspired genius, peppered with great characters.” Looking for a Good Book Blog.

“The Yankee Club is a compelling mystery, meticulously crafted, and filled with humor and witty dialogue.” Author Peg Glover

“The Yankee Club is a fun read from start to finish.” Blogger Peter Faur

Thanks to everyone who’s read and reviewed The Yankee Club.

 

 

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Thanks to Everyone for my book release

A book release is an exciting time for an author and it was for me when The Yankee Club was released Tuesday, August 12. I have so many people to thank for helping me launch the book. First off, thank you to my agent Dawn Dowdle and to my fellow authors at Blue Ridge Literary Agency, for offering support, encouragement, and suggestions to spread the word.

I’ll always be grateful to Dana, Kimberly, April, Heidi, Katie and so many others at Random House Alibi who helped edit, produce a dynamite cover and brought their expertise to the effort to release The Yankee Club and to offer such a terrific special price reduction.

And thanks to all of you who’ve downloaded the book at The Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble Nook Store, Google Play, which is a great place to download ebooks on any android devices, or any of the other sites where ebooks are sold.

Thanks to everyone who’s downloaded the book and a special thanks to those who’ve taken the time to post reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Your time and effort to post a review is especially appreciated.

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

January 6, the second in the Jake and Laura series will be released. You’ll probably want to read The Yankee Club first so you can find out why Jake and Laura travel to Hollywood during Tinseltown’s naughtiest, bawdiest year to date.

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Another Jake and Laura mystery

 

 

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The Yankee Club is here!

Today marks the official release of The Yankee Club by Random House Alibi. I have so many people to thank for making this day possible; my agent, Dawn Dowdle, the editors at Alibi and my critique group, Toby Heathcotte, Beth Blake and Cherie Lee.

Now you can order the ebook for just $2.99!

Amazon Kindle    Barnes & Noble Nook

Books-A-Million   eBooks.com   Google Play Store

iBooks   Kobo

The Yankee Club is already generating a buzz. Here’s what some of the best book bloggers around are saying:

The Bookbinder’s Daughter book blog.

Bibliotica book blog because books are portable magic.

Reading Reality blog by Marlene Harris.

The Incredible Librarian Book Blog

Michelle’s Bookshelf by Michelle Mallette

Brandon Sears’s Read Everything Blog

Savage Reads book blog

The Sweetest Place is Home book blog

Mustard Seeds blog

If you’re still not sure The Yankee Club is the book for you, here’s a brief synopsis:

In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.
 
In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.
 
Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.

I hope you enjoy The Yankee Club. The best way to let me know  what you think is to post a review of your own on Goodreads. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or where ever you ordered the ebook.

Michael Murphy

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

Inspired by The Thin Man movies

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One more excerpt from The Yankee Club

Yankee Club with the rose crop 4The Yankee Club will be released on August 12, so here’s one more excerpt. Still in the hospital, Jake is visited by two cops, his editor, Mildred and the owner of The Yankee Club, Gino, who thinks it’s time for Jake to leave. 

The Yankee Club

Chapter 3 (continued)

I made it back down the hallway on the crutches. I nodded to the cop outside my door and entered the room. The nurses had changed more than the sheets. The drab hospital room resembled a cheery hotel suite.

The new bed had a thick wide mattress with crisp ironed sheets whiter than snow and a soft-looking pillow. In the corner they’d placed a chair and desk with an Underwood typewriter, a stack of paper, and a crystal vase with yellow carnations. The nurse smiled and held out a thick blue robe.

Except for the typewriter, I hadn’t asked for any of this. “You shouldn’t have gone to all this trouble.”

“Any friend of Spencer Dalrymple’s—”

“He’s not my friend.”

The nurse smirked and laid the robe on the bed. “I see.”

Maybe she’d seen something between Laura and me. For Laura’s sake I had to do a better job of hiding my feelings about her.

I propped the crutches against the side of the bed. Balancing on one leg, I slipped into the robe and cinched it around my waist.

“Jake Donovan.” A broad-shouldered man in a three-piece suit and polished shoes entered and removed his hat. “Apparently you’re well enough . . . and comfortable enough to tell us what happened last night. I’m Detective Hawkins, and this is Inspector Stone.”

His partner stood behind him, and both men flashed NYPD badges. I recognized Stone’s hawklike nose and perpetual scowl. Officer Stone had walked a beat with Mickey for two years. He never liked me, and things got worse when Mickey quit the force and we opened our detective agency.

Stone shook his head in disgust and gestured toward the pillow. “Where’s the mint?”

When the nurse left, Stone looked me straight in the eye like I was a suspect, not a victim. “Four years ago I got plugged in the shoulder. I was in the hospital for two weeks. They stuck me in a ward with a dozen guys who had serious intestinal problems, if you know what I mean.”

I sat on the edge of the bed. “I’m quite well, Inspector. Thanks for asking.”

Hawkins gave his partner a look and set his hat on the coatrack. He took out a small notebook and pencil from his suit coat pocket. “Why don’t you start with when you left The Yankee Club.”

Stone dropped his hat beside the typewriter, plopped down at the desk, and drummed his fingers on the paper.

I told them about the visit to Mickey’s office with Frankie Malzone. I left out meeting Belle Starr. I didn’t want these guys to give her the business until I’d talked to her. In my gumshoe days streetwalkers often spilled information to me they kept from cops.

While Hawkins made notes, Stone grabbed a sheet of typing paper and rolled it into the Underwood. He began to type as I spoke.

The man needed a sock in the nose. I would’ve obliged if I wasn’t such a nice guy and hadn’t taken a bullet to the leg.

I described the black sedan, the shooting, and Frankie blasting out the car’s rear window. I left out Mickey’s last words about the key in the ashtray. For now, Belle and the key were mine.

Hawkins studied his notes. “How soon after Frankie lit the cigarette did the car approach through the fog?”

The question smacked me in the gut. Was there a connection? “You think Frankie sent some kind of signal?”

“Naah.” Hawkins stuffed the notebook into his pocket. “Seems pretty cut and dried to me. We find the black sedan with the windshield shot out, we find Jimmy Vales.”

“That’s your theory?”

“An hour after Vales threatened to kill you in The Yankee Club—we got a dozen witnesses—you and Mickey O’Brien were gunned down. You think that’s just a coincidence?”

Hawkins might have been right, but I intended to find out. “We’re finished.” I gestured toward the door.

“For now.”

Stone ripped the paper from the typewriter. “There once was a man from Nantucket—”

“That’s enough,” Hawkins shouted.

Stone laid the crude limerick beside the typewriter. He grabbed his hat and left the room.

Hawkins set his hat on his head. “I know you were a gumshoe and Mickey was a friend of yours, but I don’t want you nosing around like this is some chapter in one of your novels. You get in our way, you’ll be typing from a jail cell.” He turned on his heel and left the room.

I rubbed my throbbing leg and pictured Frankie lighting the cigarette and Belle Starr disappearing into the fog. I needed to discover why Mickey was hesitant to discuss the case he was working. I had to check every angle to see whether Mickey had been the target.

Inspector Stone returned and pointed a finger at me. “Mickey’s dead ’cause of you. He’d still be on the force if you hadn’t talked him into becoming a dick.”

“Mickey came to me about becoming a detective.”

Spit flew from his mouth. “You breeze into the city and three hours later Mickey shows up on a slab in the morgue with a tag on his toe. I hope you can sleep nights.”

I wasn’t going to take his crap any longer. I climbed out of bed to take a sock at the bum. A jolt of pain shot through my injured leg, and I crumpled to the floor.

Stone barked a satisfied chuckle and left.

I winced, pulled myself up, and leaned against the bed. I couldn’t imagine Hawkins and Stone finding Mickey’s killer. I just hoped they didn’t get in my way when I left the hospital to investigate.

I didn’t have bourbon to take my mind off Laura and Mickey, but I had my typewriter. Grabbing a crutch, I made it to the table. I dropped into the chair and rolled a sheet of paper into the Underwood and began to type the rewrite of my final chapter.

Halfway through the rewrite an aide delivered dinner—bland-looking rice and a slimy fish fillet. I ignored the meal and finished typing an hour later, satisfied Mildred would be pleased. Now I could focus on more important matters.

I left the chapter beside the typewriter and returned to the bed. It wasn’t long until the doctor entered and removed the bandage from my leg. He examined the wound and nodded approval. No infection. If I didn’t have any complications in the next twenty-four hours, he’d discharge me. Okay, he said a day or two, but I was a quick healer, especially when I had something important to do.

After he left, I closed my eyes and drifted to sleep. I dreamed about standing on a street corner in my old neighborhood. A white ambulance drove past, and the driver shot at me. I dropped to the sidewalk as he sped away. I checked myself over, but the shooter had missed. Sweat slid down my face as I lay on my back on the cement. I was all right but couldn’t escape the impression of someone watching me.

I awoke and stared into the green eyes of Mildred, less than a foot from my face.

“Holy crap!” My editor stumbled backward and fell into the chair beside the bed. She patted her chest. “I thought . . . I thought you were . . . never mind what I thought. I never should’ve hired that driver!”

“Frankie?”

“Don’t worry, I fired him.”

I had my doubts about Frankie, but I wouldn’t share them with Mildred. “Frankie Malzone probably saved my life when he tied his belt around my leg.”

“I should’ve met you at the train. Instead I hire some hoodlum and you end up drinking at a speakeasy and getting shot. I’ll never forgive myself.” She offered no condolences over the loss of a friend. Mildred paced the room and continued to rant as I’d seen her do dozens of times.

When she finally took a breath, I pointed to the twenty pages. “I finished the chapter.”

Mildred stopped pacing and grinned. “You’re the cat’s meow!” She picked up a sheet of paper beside the typewriter. “There once was a man from Nantucket. Jake Donovan!”

“No, the stack of papers on the other side of the typewriter.”

She grabbed the pages and plopped down in the chair. Ten minutes later, a smile swept across her face. “Perfect.”

“Unless you’re Blackie Doyle.”

She clutched the chapter to her chest and approached the bed. “Some people aren’t meant to be married.” Her face reddened, and she covered her mouth with one hand. “I’m so sorry. That was a terrible thing to say.”

“It’s okay.”

Mildred flashed a sheepish smile and grabbed her purse. “I’d like to stay and chat . . . ”

“You don’t chat. You talk. People listen.”

“Was that nice? You’ve got a few more days at the Carlyle Hotel to heal up before you head back to Tampa. You could use a vacation.”

I had no intention of holing up in a hotel. “That would be swell, especially since Empire Press is footing the bill.” I’d developed a knack of smiling with sincerity when I lied.

She kissed my cheek. “Call me when you get out of here. We can talk about your next book over lunch.”

After she left, the nurse came in with a sleeping pill. I welcomed the medication and soon fell asleep. This time: no dreams.

Early the next morning, a hand shook me awake. “Up and at ’em, sunshine. It’s Gino.”

I ran a hand over my face and checked the wall clock. “Seven. Visiting hours aren’t until—”

“I don’t pay attention to stuff like visiting hours.” He pointed to the empty chair outside the open door. “I figured they’d stick a cop outside your door.”

“Guess the detectives I talked to don’t think I need protecting now that they’re on the case.”

Gino checked out the room and nodded approval. “Very nice. Remind me if I get shot to come here.” He glanced around as if someone might be watching then handed me something wrapped in white paper. “Ma baked you a calzone.”

“Thanks.” I unwrapped the prize I remembered as a kid and offered Gino a bite.

“Too early for breakfast.” He slipped a flask from his suit coat and took a sip.

While I ate, Gino grew serious. “Too bad about, Mickey. Funeral is Monday at St. Tim’s.”

“What day is this?”

“You kidding me? It’s Friday . . . May fifth. Sheesh, we need to get you out of here before you go crazy. Anyways, I’m taking care of the arrangements. Mickey didn’t have nobody, except you and me.”

“And Laura.”

He cocked his head. “I don’t like that look on your mug when you said Laura. You’ll probably give me a sock in the jaw, but I gotta say it. You was always too protective of her.”

What? Of course I wanted to protect her. I’d started with keeping her safe from her old man. “You’re right. I should sock you in the jaw, but I still love her.”

“Let’s talk about something else besides feelings, okay, nancy?” He pulled up a chair. “Me and Danny done some snooping around. No one’s seen Jimmy Vales. The cops think he might’ve taken a crack at you, but I don’t know. Jimmy’s no brain surgeon, but he’s not so stupid as to threaten someone in front of a hundred witnesses then plug ’em an hour later. Am I right?”

“You’re preaching to the choir.” I finished the calzone and brushed crumbs from my gown.

“What do you say? Let’s spring you from this joint, choir boy.”

Now? “The doctor didn’t say when I could leave.”

Gino held out both hands. “You waiting for a permission slip? You’re old enough to not have to follow stupid rules. Come on. It’s your leg. You look good. How you feeling?”

“I’m a little stiff.”

“Happens to me every morning.” Gino snorted. “Let’s go. Unless you like the food and lying in bed watching your leg heal.” He set an overnight bag on the bed. “I took the liberty of stopping by your hotel and picking up some of your stuff. Frankie got you checked in.”

“How’d you get in the room?”

“I know the front desk girl . . . intimately.”

Most solved murders were cracked within forty-eight hours. After that, memories faded, clues vanished, and trails grew cold. “I wouldn’t want the hospital to think I skipped out of paying my bill.”

“So you leave ’em a note.” He held up a black lacquered cane with a silver handle in the shape of a bloodhound. “I got you something else. Check this out.” He twisted the handle and pulled. Attached to the handle was an eight-inch dagger that fit into the hollow opening of the cane. “I saw something like this in a movie once. I heard you got shot in the leg and thought you should be gimping around in style. Try it.”

I slid the dagger into the cane. I turned the handle and locked the blade inside. “Nice.”

“So we gonna do this or what?”

Before I could change my mind, I changed into slacks and a sweater. I left a note on the desk to send the bill to the Carlyle.

Gino poked his head out the door. “Coast is clear.”

I kept weight off my leg with the cane and followed him to the elevator, hoping we wouldn’t run into my doc.

Gino stabbed the down button and clapped me on the back. “Relax. You look like we just knocked off a bank.”

The elevator creaked to the lobby. In the morning haze, Gino hailed a cab while I leaned against the cane. I made a mental list of places to check and people to talk to.

Gino held the door open while I climbed into the back of the cab. Yesterday I was just a hack writer finishing a novel. To solve Mickey O’Brien’s murder I’d have to become what I’d been most of my so-called adult life. My fist tightened around the cane’s silver handle. Until I found Mickey’s killer, I was a detective.

Pre-order now and The Yankee Club will download August 12

Amazon Kindle    Barnes & Nobel Nook  

Books-A-Million    eBooks.com    Google Play

iBooks    Kobo

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All That Glitters

While the first Jake and Laura mystery is less than two weeks away, the cover for the second in the series, All That Glitters has just been revealed. Thought you might want to be one of the first to see it.

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Another Jake and Laura mystery

Here’s what Random House Alibi says about the novel:

“In Michael Murphy’s rollicking new Jake & Laura mystery, the hard-boiled writer and the aspiring movie star head for sun-drenched Los Angeles, where a cold-blooded murderer lurks behind the scenes.
 
Just arrived from New York, Broadway actress Laura Wilson is slated to star in Hollywood’s newest screwball comedy. At her side, of course, is Jake Donovan, under pressure to write his next mystery novel. But peace and quiet are not to be had when an all-too-real murder plot intrudes: After a glitzy party, the son of a studio honcho is discovered dead from a gunshot wound. And since Jake exchanged words with the hothead just hours before his death, the bestselling author becomes the LAPD’s prime suspect.
 
In 1930s Tinseltown, anything goes. Proving his innocence won’t be easy in a town where sex, seduction, and naked power run rampant. With gossip columnist Louella Parsons dead-set on publicizing the charges against him, Jake has no choice but to do what everyone else does in the City of Angels: act like someone else. Blackie Doyle, the tough-talking, fist-swinging, womanizing hero from Jake’s novels wouldn’t pull any punches until he exposed the real killer—nor will Jake, to keep the role of a lifetime from being his last.”

All That Glitters will be released January 6. If you pre-order The Yankee Club now, it will download August 12.  Pre-order from:

Amazon Kindle    Barnes & Noble Nook

Books-A-Million    eBooks.com    Google Play

iBooks    Kobo


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The Yankee Club Excerpt Week 3

Less than 24 hours after arriving in Queens, Jake finds himself in a hospital bed with a bullet wound in his thigh and Laura in his arms.

The Yankee Club

Chapter 3

A Detective Again

Holding Laura in my arms again after two years, I set aside my guilt over Mickey’s death for a moment. To me we weren’t in some hospital bed. We were holding each other in our comfy Queens apartment, and I’d never left.

We gazed at each other like we always had, as if I never forced the issue about marriage and children. Her soft face and supple lips were inches from mine. I kissed her.

Laura welcomed the embrace then gently pushed me away. With a wistful expression, she sat on the edge of the bed and stared into the distance. The last two years had happened. I had forced the issue. I’d left. Laura was engaged to another man, and I had no one to blame but myself.

The cop rose from his chair outside the room. He closed the door and left us alone. Apparently he’d been in love before.

At least Laura had come alone. Maybe we could talk about things the way we should have before I left. Besides, I didn’t feel up to meeting the man who’d stolen her heart.

She touched the bandage on my forehead. Even with melancholy, tear-filled eyes she looked more beautiful than her billboard picture—short black hair, Grecian nose that hadn’t changed since we were kids, dark haunting eyes that always saw through me.

“I found out you were shot, and I . . . I pictured life without you.” She tilted her head, appearing to search for the right words or hoping to avoid the wrong ones that might make us both uncomfortable. “Then I realized you weren’t in my life, haven’t been for two years.”

The pain on her face made me accept I hadn’t moved to Florida to focus on my career. I’d run away from Laura. When had I become a full-time coward?

She held a handkerchief balled in her fist and dabbed her eyes. “Mickey’s dead?”

I nodded.

Laura retrieved a chair from the corner. She set it beside the bed and held my hand. Her fingers intertwined with mine, as soft and comfortable now as back in the day when she was Becky Thatcher and I was Tom Sawyer.

While I caressed her cheek with my hand, she pressed her face against my palm and closed her eyes. “I didn’t even know you’d come back.”

I swallowed a lump in my throat over what might have been and took my hand away. “I’m not back. I’m on . . . it started as a business trip.”

Laura stiffened in the chair. “Did you plan to see me, or were you going to take care of business and run back to Florida?”

“I just got in a few hours ago.”

She let go of my hand. “That’s not an answer.”

It was a better answer than the truth. I hadn’t gotten over the shock of her photo in the paper. “Congratulations on your engagement.” Immediately I regretted the words.

Guilt swept across her face. “Jake, I . . . I planned to write and explain. I didn’t want you to read about it in the papers. Who told you?”

I waited a beat. “The New York Times.”

She winced and stared at her hands a moment then gathered her composure. “Spencer’s waiting in the lobby. He wanted to give me time alone with you. That’s the kind of guy he is. I think you’d—”

“Don’t.” I clamped my eyes shut. “Don’t say you think I’d like him, that you could picture us as friends.”

“I wasn’t going to say those things. Honest I wasn’t.” Her eyes glistened. She blinked away the tears.

“But you’re going to marry him.”

She clamped her eyes shut a moment then held my hand again. “Jake, do you love me?”

Why did she ask that?

The door opened, and Laura dropped my hand. Spencer Dalrymple III entered the room like he owned the place. With his dough and influence, he probably did.

Laura’s loving expression vanished, replaced by nurselike concern. The transformation smooth and seamless. She was an actress after all, and a damn good one. I couldn’t tell whether the act was for him, or me.

The man wore a tailored double-breasted gray silk suit, matching fedora, and Italian shoes. He cast an adoring smile at Laura that would leave a permanent scar on my heart.

He hung his hat on a coatrack beside the door and shook my hand like I was a returning war hero. “Jake Donovan. Laura’s told me so much about you. I really should tackle one of your novels, but I rarely have time for fiction these days.”

I couldn’t look Laura in the eye. I’m sure she hadn’t told him everything about me, about us. “Ordinarily I’d say it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Dalrymple, but under the circumstances . . . ”

“Call me Spencer. I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend. What was his name, darling?” He turned to Laura.

“Mickey O’Brien.” Laura smiled, but her eyes failed to hide her discomfort in the presence of her fiancé.

Dalrymple smoothed his thin mustache and sat at the foot of the bed like we were family. “How morbidly ironic for a man who writes about murder to be shot a few hours after setting foot in my city. Perhaps President Roosevelt will put a stop to the organized crime that’s gotten completely out of hand.”

“It wasn’t an organized-crime hit, Spencer,” Laura said.

“Yes, darling, of course.” He gazed around the room as if conducting an inspection for his bank. “I’m on the board of this hospital. I’ll make sure you have everything you need during your stay. Hopefully your visit to our institution will be brief.”

“The wound isn’t serious. I hope to be out in a couple of days.”

“Splendid! Saturday is Laura’s closing of Night Whispers. Afterward, I’m hosting the cast party at the estate. We’d love for you to come, wouldn’t we, darling?”

One more darling and I’d grab the crutches from the corner and smack him upside the head.

Laura’s face brightened. “Oh, do come, Jake. Many of your writer friends will be at the party, Dashiell and Lillian.”

I’d enjoy seeing my two best writer friends. I chuckled. “Make sure you order plenty of booze.”

She laughed and rattled off several other names while I tried to understand the change in her. Although she liked Dash and Lillian, she hated society parties, at least she used to.

I couldn’t think of a gracious way out. “Of course I’ll be there.”

“Splendid.” Spencer clapped his hands together.

“Congratulations on your engagement.”

A proud smile swept across his face. “I’m a lucky man.”

“Yes you are.”

After an awkward silence, a nurse came in with a stern look. She started to speak; then her face blanched. “Mr. Dalrymple.”

He grabbed his hat. “I bet the nurse needs to stick you with a needle. Perhaps we should let her tend to her business.” Spencer held his hand toward Laura. “Darling, I’m sure your friend needs his rest.”

Friend. I’d become Laura’s friend,and she’d become Dalrymple’s darling.

Laura patted my hand like my sisters used to. “I look forward to seeing you again at the party so we can get caught up.”

Maybe it was the tone of her voice or the tilt of her head when she asked if I still loved her. Maybe I wanted to read something into what wasn’t there, but I suspected she wanted to talk about something important—alone.

Her fiancé didn’t appear to notice, or he chose to ignore it. He held out a ten-dollar bill to the nurse. “Make sure Mr. Donovan gets anything he needs.”

The nurse stared at the sawbuck. “We . . . I can’t . . . a tip?”

“Of course you can.” Displaying his power more than his generosity, he added another sawbuck and stuffed the bills into her hand.

Laura managed an uncomfortable smile at the gesture. At the door her fiancé placed a possessive hand in the center of her back. Then they were gone.

I blew out a long breath and tried to erase the vision of his hand on her back.

The nurse glanced at the wall clock and wrote in my chart. Beside me, she checked my pulse. “Your heart rate is a bit rapid.”

Imagine that.

She wrote in my chart. “Anything I can get you?”

I had a lot to accomplish in the next few days—finalize my chapter to Mildred’s approval, dig into what Mickey had uncovered in his investigation, and now I had a fancy society party to attend. Like my father taught me, one thing at a time. “A typewriter and a shot of bourbon.” We compromised. She’d find me a typewriter.

Sleep came in bits and pieces. In the morning, my mind raced between guilt over Mickey’s death and what I could do about it and images of Laura and her fiancé. Drugs dulled the ache from the wound in my leg. They couldn’t give me anything for the painful thoughts of seeing Laura again, meeting her fiancé, and my regret over running away from a problem instead of facing it like a man.

After breakfast, the nurse handed me the crutches. I staggered around the bed without falling. She led me outside the room and pointed down a long hallway and asked me to give her a half hour while she and another nurse changed the sheets.

The cop outside the door set the newspaper beside the chair and rose.

“Finish your paper.” I made sure I cinched the hospital gown in the back and took a few hesitant steps down the hall. Pain shot through my wounded leg with each step. The rubber crutch tips slipped across the tile, but I soon got the hang of it and made it to the end of the corridor.

I balanced on the crutches and peered through the second-story window at the busy morning rush below. A young couple sat on a bench in a park across the street, holding hands. The man brushed a shock of hair from the girl’s eyes like I’d done when Laura and I dated.

Laura came to school one early spring day with her hair brushed over half her face. She avoided me all morning. At lunch I sat across from her and tried to make her laugh by making a goofy face. She wouldn’t look at me.

I leaned over the table and brushed her hair aside, revealing a fist-sized bruise on the side of her cheek. “What happened?”

She still didn’t look me in the eye. “I tripped and fell.”

I didn’t believe her explanation for a minute. “Was that before or after your old man smacked you?”

Tears welled in her eyes. She brushed the hair over the bruise. “He was drunk.”

What an idiot I’d been. I thought about other bruises I’d seen in the four years I’d known her. Falls she’d laughed off, and I’d chalked up to her tomboy behavior.

The truth she’d kept from me couldn’t hide behind a wisp of hair. Laura’s father beat her, and he hit hard.

Anger stewed all afternoon. I wanted to kill her old man, but teaching him a lesson would be better for Laura. By the final bell, I had a plan.

Gino, Danny, and I waited until after dark, a block from Laura’s, in front of a house with a porch light on. Her old man turned the corner as he came home from work. I stepped forward and blocked his path.

The drunken bully outweighed me by a hundred pounds, but most of it was fat around his belly. I could take him. I learned to fight from boxing lessons my father gave me.

Laura’s old man’s face twisted into a sneer. “You got a problem, pretty boy?”

You have the problem. I’m going to kick your ass.”

A bead of sweat trickled down his face. It wasn’t a hot night. He let out a ragged laugh. “If this is about Laura, she doesn’t listen when I’m talking, like her mama didn’t. She had it coming.”

“No woman has it coming.” He needed to feel pain like he inflicted on Laura. I clenched both fists.

“I want first crack at him,” Gino said behind me.

I shook my head. “Wait your turn.”

“You’re just kids.” Laura’s old man laughed but cast a wary eye at Danny who pounded his fist into his hand.

I faked a kick to the man’s crotch and threw a sharp left jab that cracked against his chin.

He rubbed his jaw. Anger turned his brown eyes even darker. “If that’s the way you want it.” He swung.

I took a slide step, slipped the punch, and smashed a left-right to his face. He stumbled backward, and I smacked him again.

Gino and Danny cheered me on as I circled to my left. I kept my distance and peppered his fleshy face with stiff jabs and bone-jarring hooks. He tired quickly. The few punches he threw missed.

The screen door squeaked open and a woman’s voice called, “What’s going on?”

Laura’s father swung and landed a lucky punch above my right eye, slicing my brow.

Gino stepped toward the house. “Go back inside, Mrs. Goldstein. This don’t concern you.”

The screen door shut. The porch light blinked off.

I wiped blood from my brow and regained my composure. I bloodied his nose with a left hook. Minutes later, I finished him off. He crumpled to the sidewalk, bleeding from his mouth, nose, and one eye. My buddies never got their turns.

My breathing returned to normal as I stood over him. Blood dripped from the cut above my eye and landed on the man’s shirt.

I waited until his eyes focused and I knew he could understand my words. I pointed my finger like the barrel of a gun, my voice calm. “If you ever touch Laura again, I’ll let my friends have their turn. They’re tougher than me. You understand?”

“And we don’t fight fair.” Gino pumped his fist while Danny grinned in silence.

When Laura’s old man didn’t answer, Gino kicked him in the ribs. “Answer the question, lard-ass.”

Laura’s father gulped and nodded.

Laura and I never spoke about what happened, but her life got better from that day forward. At lunch the next day I hid my bruised knuckles and wore a bandage over the cut on my eyebrow. I told her I’d received it playing football.

She never questioned the bandage or asked about the origin of the scar left from the lucky blow. She told me her father came home after getting into a barroom brawl and apologized for striking her. He even gave her money to see a movie.

Laura and I went on our first date a few days later to the Grand Theatre and watched The Birth of a Nation,courtesy of her old man’s dough. Through most of the movie she held my arm and rested her head on my shoulder. I walked her home. On her doorstep, we kissed for the first time since our Tom Sawyer play.

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The Yankee Club Excerpt Chapter 2

In Michael Murphy’s action packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City-uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.

The Yankee Club

Chapter 2

The Lone Ranger

While Bridgette sang another jazzy number, Danny returned to our table and straightened his suit. “I gave Jimmy the bum’s rush, right on his can.” He studied my face until his lip curled in a sneer. “Now I remember you. You’re Jake, from school. You stole my bike.”

Gino chuckled. “That was a long time ago.”

“We gave it back.” I nodded toward Gino. “Besides, it was his idea.”

Danny’s face puffed up like an overripe tomato. His eyes turned into BBs as he glared at Gino. “That right?”

“I’ll buy you a new one.” Gino grabbed the scotch. He filled a glass and held it out to Danny. “I’ll throw in a bell.”

Danny tossed an empty chair against the wall and stomped off.

“Thanks a lot.” Gino downed the scotch and crushed out his cigarette. “Muscle I can trust don’t grow on trees, you know.”

I finished my drink and got up to leave. “Sorry I disturbed your guests.”

“No trouble. It happens.” Gino gave me a hug and walked Frankie and me toward the front door. “Don’t go back to Florida without stopping by. I’ll have the chef fix you a good Italian dinner.”

“You have a chef?”

“Hey, this ain’t no clip joint. If they repeal Prohibition like the scuttlebutt says, I’ll reopen The Yankee Club as an Italian restaurant with the best cook anywhere. Probably have to change the name to something Italian.”

“How about Gino’s?”

“Gino’s. Sure.”

He pulled me aside and lowered his voice. “I didn’t want to say nothin’ before, but Jimmy’s been in before talking about how he’ll take care of you if you ever show your face. Be careful while you’re in town.”

I nodded toward Frankie who smiled. “I got Frankie. Besides, I don’t plan to get into any trouble.”

“Any more trouble.” Gino shrugged. “Watch your back is all I’m saying.”

Outside The Yankee Club a soft evening fog had settled over the streets. Frankie surveyed the block and lit a cigarette. The glow from his match illuminated his worried brow. “It wouldn’t hurt to be careful the next few days.”

Frankie had consumed a couple more scotches than a driver should, so I suggested a walk. I checked my watch. We were two blocks from Mickey’s office, and knowing him, he’d probably be asleep on the couch.

I straightened my hat, and we headed down the sidewalk. Frankie took a deep breath and let out a retching cough. “Nothing like the air in Queens.”

“Nice move carrying a gun inside The Yankee Club. I could have sworn I saw you stuff the piece under the front seat.”

“You did.” He stuck a toothpick in his mouth. “I always carry two.”

“Where’d you learn that trick?” I stepped around the feet of a man sleeping beneath a sidewalk bench.

“I spent a couple months as a . . . security guard.”

Sure you did. I had to find out more about Frankie before I could trust him. “What’s with the toothpicks?”

“Edith’s been nagging me to quit smoking. Helps me cut down, you know?”

The fog thickened as we made our way down the sidewalk. Our footsteps echoed along the nearly deserted path. A dog barked in the distance, a siren wailed from a couple blocks over, and a man yelled at his wife through the open window of a nearby house. My neighborhood hadn’t changed at all. Had I?

Less than a block from Mickey’s office, Frankie and I stood on the corner and waited for the streetlight to change. A flashy young woman stepped from an apartment building wearing the fog like an overcoat draped around her shoulders. She wore a tight-fitting, low-cut satin dress in a shade of red that matched her full lips. Smoke curled from a cigarette that dangled from one hand. “Frankie? Frankie Malzone?”

Her Jean Harlow–like platinum hair shimmered beneath the streetlight. She smacked his chest with one hand. “It is you, Snuggle Pup. Whatcha doin’ this side of town?”

Snuggle pup? Frankie?

“Belle.” Frankie ran a finger around the collar of his shirt. “Long time.”

“Too long.” She kissed his cheek then gave me the once-over. “Who’s your tall, good-looking friend?”

“Jake Donovan.” He nudged me with his elbow. “You’ve probably heard of him. He’s a famous novelist.”

Belle took a drag on her cigarette and blew a puff of smoke into the fog. “Sorry. I ain’t never heard the name. I’m behind in my book reading.” She ran a hand along the lapel of my suit. “Hey, Daddy, you’re kind of cute.”

“Hands off the merchandise, Belle. Jake here’s a regular Joe.”

“Oh and I guess I’m a regular stinker.”

“I’m just saying . . . ”

I always felt compassion toward women when desperation drove them to work the streets. Everyone had a right to make a living. In her twenties and attractive, this doll had a well-built chassis her customers no doubt appreciated.

Belle dropped her lipstick-smeared cigarette butt in front of Frankie. “You still tied down to Edith?”

Like a dance step in a movie, Frankie crushed her cigarette. “Last time I checked.”

“Then quit checking.” She patted his cheek. “Call me when you wise up, baby. You always were my favorite.”

“Sure I was.” Frankie shot me a look and flicked his cigarette into the gutter.

Her cheek dimpled as she flashed me a playful smile. “We ain’t been properly introduced. I’m Belle. Belle Starr.”

I chuckled. “Like the Wild West outlaw who hung out with Jesse James and the Younger brothers?”

“Yeah.” Belle grinned proudly. “My kind of gal.”

Frankie let out a bark of laughter. “Your parents named you after an outlaw?”

“Naah. Before we met I heard the name in a movie. I liked it better than the one my old lady hung on me.”

Frankie scratched the side of his head. “So what’s your real name?”

She rolled her eyes. “It’s Belle Starr, now clam up about it.”

I made a slight bow. “A pleasure to meet you, Miss Starr.”

“Charmed.”

Down the block a sedan parked along the curb, its engine running. Belle squinted into the haze. “Since you two look like you’re going somewheres, I think I’ve spotted a customer. Give me a jingle sometime, Frankie.” She winked at me. “Nice meeting you.” Her shapely hips swayed as she crossed the street and disappeared into the fog.

Frankie followed me toward Mickey’s office building. “Me and Belle go way back, before Edith.”

“No need to explain.” I couldn’t help but smile. “You’re her favorite, Snuggle Pup.”

We reached the familiar four-story brownstone office building. Across the street a tin can clattered down the foggy alley next to the Reed Hotel.

Frankie drew his pistol from the back of his trousers, spun, and aimed the barrel toward the sound.

“Nice quick draw.” Would make the real Belle Starr proud.

“Like I said before, this neighborhood gives me the heebie-jeebies.” Frankie stuffed the gun behind his back. “One can’t be too careful around these parts, Mr. Donovan.”

“Jake.”

We climbed the stairs to the second floor. In the darkened corridor I inhaled the familiar odor of cigarette smoke, old carpet, and desperate lives.

We stopped in front of the familiar office with O’Brien Detective Agency etched into the frosted glass door. Muffled voices came from inside.

I tried the door. Locked. I slid my hand along the top of the dusty door frame and grabbed the key.

I unlocked the door and entered the dark outer office. From a radio on the secretary’s desk came the announcer’s fervent voice: “A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty—” I clicked off the radio.

“Hi-yo, Silver. The Lone Ranger. I love that show.” Frankie’s gaze swept the room lit only by the dim corridor light. “No one’s home, kemo sabe.”

Mickey wouldn’t go off and leave the radio on. I flipped on a desk lamp, and the phone rang. It rang a second time. I answered, “O’Brien Detective Agency.”

No one spoke. Only shallow breathing.

“O’Brien Detective Agency.”

“Who’s this?” An unfamiliar man’s voice, but I noticed a faint Boston accent.

“Jake Donovan.” Did I detect a note of surprise in the man’s voice that Mickey hadn’t answered, or was I being overly suspicious?

The line went dead.

I hung up the receiver and opened the door to Mickey’s office. The room was dark except for when the red neon Reed Hotel sign across the street blinked through the partially open blinds.

Mickey sat slumped over on the wooden desk. Except for his face flat against the green desk blotter, the desktop was organized as usual, a notepad beside the phone, a bottle of Canadian whiskey, an empty glass, and a brass ashtray overflowing with Lucky Strike butts.

Even in a wrinkled gray suit and in need of a shave, with his slicked-back black hair, he resembled the actor Lyle Talbot. Although not quite the ladies’ man he professed to be, my former partner was tough, resourceful, and fearless. Only Mickey knew he was the inspiration for Blackie Doyle, a fact that would no doubt surprise the fan I met on the train, Dorothy Greenwoody.

Mickey had changed the office: one desk instead of two. He wasn’t as tidy as I’d been. File folders and tattered telephone books from a dozen cities lay scattered on a corner table. A four-bladed fan on a metal filing cabinet stirred the office air, lifting the corner of The New York Times scattered at Mickey’s feet.

Frankie peered over my shoulder into the room. “Maybe he’s dead.”

Dead drunk. I flipped on the light, walked to the desk, and shook Mickey’s shoulder.

The newspaper lay open to the society page. A photo of Laura caught my eye. I snatched the paper off the floor and read the caption.

Engagement? The word leaped from the page and socked me in the gut like a Jack Dempsey punch. I slumped down in a chair in front of Mickey’s desk too stunned to get angry.

Laura stood arm in arm with some fancy Dan with a pencil-thin mustache and narrow birdlike eyes. The caption made me question everything I knew about her. How could this be? I loosened the tie around my neck and sucked in a gulp of air.

“You okay?” Frankie turned the fan toward me.

I reached across the desk and shook Mickey again.

“What . . . what’s going on?” Mickey sat up and nearly toppled from the chair. He braced himself and gave Frankie the once-over. “Who are you?”

“A friend of a friend.” Frankie pointed to me.

Mickey ran a hand over his face and focused bloodshot eyes. “Jake?”

I slapped the Times in front of him. “When did this happen?”

“Nice to see you again, too.”

“Laura’s engaged!”

Mickey reached for the bottle. “Guess I thought you knew. It’s not a secret if it’s in the papers.”

“The news didn’t reach Florida.” I crumpled the newspaper and tossed it in the corner. “You should’ve called me.”

Mickey poured a shot and gulped it down. “So you could do what?”

“I don’t know.” So I could blame myself for walking out on her.

For a moment, the only sound in the room was a slight wobble of the fan. Finally, Mickey nodded toward Frankie. “Who’s your pal?”

Frankie held out his hand to Mickey. “Frankie Malzone. If you don’t mind me saying so, you don’t look so good.”

Mickey shook Frankie’s hand. “I feel worse.”

Trying to keep my guts from boiling over, I walked to the window and peered through the blinds. Cars drove slowly through the fog. Headlights illuminated two people standing beside a black sedan parked in front of the hotel. A man leaned against the car. His hat hid his face from view as he negotiated with Belle Starr.

I clamped my eyes shut, picturing Laura marrying some guy I’d never met. Life had a way of kicking my teeth in when I least expected it, like my father getting sick before I made it big.

My need to finish the novel seemed unimportant now. Writing made-up stories about a fictional detective never felt so insignificant. I faced Mickey. “You want to tell me about Laura?”

“What’s to tell?” Mickey poured himself another drink.

The office walls closed in. “I’m thinking we could both use some fresh air.”

“Let me wash my hands.” Mickey swallowed the whiskey, pushed the chair back, and went into the bathroom off the office.

Frankie retrieved the crumpled newspaper and smoothed it out. He studied the photo that caught my eye. “This Laura you two talked about is the dame on the billboard?”

I shouted, “She’s no dame.”

Frankie dropped the newspaper. “No offense, Jake.”

I grabbed the bottle and poured myself a drink. I threw down the whiskey in one gulp. Laura had a temper, focused on her acting more than her real life at times, but she was never a dame.

Frankie studied the framed photographs on the wall across from Mickey’s desk. The first—Mickey and I in our uniforms at a sidewalk café in France during the Great War. I’d snapped the next picture, Mickey proudly grinning in his NYPD uniform when he became a patrol officer. Laura took the third photo eight years ago, Mickey and I smiling in front of the office building the day we opened Donovan and O’Brien Detective Agency.

Where was the fourth picture, the one of Laura? The perfectly lit publicity photo had always been Mickey’s favorite, because it displayed her soft skin, dark eyes, and flawless features. The quiet, gap-toothed tomboy I knew in school had blossomed into one of New York’s most beautiful women.

Why didn’t Mickey have his favorite photo on the wall?

“All set.” Mickey grabbed his hat from the coatrack. He unlocked a small cabinet in the closet. He retrieved a revolver and slipped it into a holster inside his suit coat. “Can’t be too careful.”

Outside, the fog had thinned enough to see across the street. Mickey almost looked like his old self, but I hadn’t recovered from finding out about Laura’s engagement. I’d spent more than half my life wanting what was best for Laura. I could take the gut punch of her marrying this guy if it made her happy, but it still hurt.

“Where’s Laura’s photo?” I asked Mickey.

Frankie nodded toward a bench across the street. “Maybe I should go have a smoke while you two catch up.” He crossed the street into the misty fog.

Mickey lit a cigarette and tossed the match into the gutter. “I guess I moved on like you. Laura has a new life. Maybe it’s best we both let her go.”

“I had to let her go. You didn’t. Christ, she was the sister you never had.”

“Life changes.” Mickey took a long puff. “What brings you back?”

I explained about Mildred talking me into returning to finalize the novel. The news about Laura had resolved one of my problems, my novel’s ending. Blackie didn’t need to live happily ever after.

Across the street Frankie lit a cigarette and sat on the bench staring at his shoes.

“What do you know about this guy?” Mickey nodded toward Frankie.

“We met when I stepped off the train. Mildred hired him.”

“You’re too trusting. Always were.”

“I trust Mildred. Besides, he helped when I tussled with Jimmy Vales at The Yankee Club earlier.”

“Jimmy’s out? That ain’t good.”

For a moment, neither of us spoke while Mickey smoked, his expression a million miles away.

“Laura’s found some big cheese?”

“Name’s Spencer Dalrymple. The third. You know, the Long Island Dalrymples. Old money. He produced Laura’s last two plays.”

The Laura I knew used to make fun of stuffed shirts like Dalrymple. The family went back more than a hundred years—powerful bankers and influential politicians. Nothing happened in New York without them opposing or backing a project.

I felt better thinking maybe Laura might be marrying this schmuck for money, but that didn’t sound like her either. “That all you know about him?”

“There’s more, but what’s the point?” He stared at his cigarette. “You should talk to Laura. I can’t say anything else.”

Mickey’s face hid something about her engagement. “Can’t, or won’t? This is Jake Donovan you’re talking to.”

“I thought maybe that’s why you came into town, to talk her out of marrying the guy.”

“She never listened when I talked marriage before, why would she now?”

“She listened.” Mickey ran a hand over the stubble on his chin. “But when you moved out of the apartment and ran off to Florida—’’

“I didn’t run off.”

“Sure you didn’t. Anyways, what was Laura supposed to do, become a nun?”

I managed to smile. “That was my hope.”

Mickey laughed and clapped a hand on my shoulder. “My advice? Return to Tampa and let this thing with Dalrymple play out.”

Play out? “What are you saying?”

Mickey blew a soft plume of smoke into the night air. “Nothing, Jake. Nothing.”

I couldn’t talk about Laura anymore. I had to make sure Mickey wasn’t in some kind of trouble. “Gino says you haven’t been in for a while. You haven’t written me in months.”

Mickey raised an eyebrow. “What are you getting at?”

“Heard you’re working on a big case.”

He dropped his cigarette and crushed the butt beneath his shoe. “It’s . . . confidential.”

“Even to me?”

He kept important things to himself, first about Laura, now a case. That wasn’t like the man I’d gone to war with, my partner for eight years.

Mickey scuffed the sole of his shoe against the sidewalk. “You ain’t a dick anymore.”

“I’m still your friend. If you need anything—”

“I don’t need your help. Go back to Florida.”

Why did Mickey want to get rid of me?

Through the haze, a car skidded around the corner. I glanced over Mickey’s shoulder. A gun barrel stuck out the passenger window of the black sedan bearing down on us. “Get down.” I shoved him to the sidewalk.

The rat-a-tat of a tommy gun sprayed bullets. I hit the ground. Searing pain shot through my thigh. A burning sting hit my forehead.

As if in slow motion, Mickey rolled to his side. He drew his revolver. Before he squeezed off a shot, another hail of bullets. His body jerked as bullets slammed into his chest.

“No!” I tried to crawl to help, dragging my throbbing leg. I made it to his side.

Blood dribbled from his mouth. His eyes glazed over. I’d seen men shot before, and Mickey was hurt bad.

Across the street, Frankie crouched behind the bench. Images returned to normal speed as he fired at the fleeing car. Three shots hit the trunk of the sedan. The rear windshield shattered. Tires squealed as the car turned the corner and sped away into the fog.

Mickey moaned and clutched his chest. His hand touched my face and his lips moved, but I couldn’t hear the words.

I edged closer, wincing from the pain in my leg.

He spoke in a whisper. “Ashtray . . . the key.”

“What?” I leaned close to Mickey.

“The key. The key . . . it’s . . . in the ashtray.”

“The key to what, Mickey?”

Frankie dashed from across the street and skidded to a stop.

Mickey didn’t answer. His eyes stared vacantly, and his head fell to the side.

“Jesus, he’s dead.” Frankie knelt beside me and covered his mouth. “I’m gonna be sick.”

He couldn’t be gone. Not Mickey. He was the toughest guy I’d ever met. I shook his shoulder, but his blank stare didn’t change. I put my ear to his mouth. He wasn’t breathing.

“He’s gone.” I wiped my blood out of my eyes.

Frankie dry-retched into the gutter. He took a deep breath and pulled a handkerchief from his pocket. He wiped blood from my face. “You’re hurt. Jesus, your leg.” His hands shook as he removed his belt and cinched it around my thigh. He eased me onto my back.

I felt light-headed as a siren wailed in the distance. “Did you recognize anyone in the car?”

“Didn’t get a good look, just the shattered back windshield as they drove away.” Frankie mumbled something as a wave of dizziness swept over me.

I clamped my eyes shut to keep from passing out. “What did you say?”

“I said, I wonder who they was gunning for, you or Mickey.”

I had to focus before I blacked out. Me or Mickey. Was the shooter Jimmy Vales or someone wanting to silence Mickey?

I opened my eyes. Movement across the street caught my attention. My vision blurred then refocused on the platinum hair of Belle Starr as she emerged from the foggy alley, ran in the opposite direction, and disappeared. “She must’ve seen something.”

“Who?”

I tried to point, but my arm felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. Before I could speculate whether Belle could finger the gunmen in the sedan, I blacked out.

I forced my heavy eyelids open. A young doctor in white stood at the foot of the bed, writing on a chart.

He glanced up and smiled. “Mr. Donovan, how are you doing?”

“How am I doing, Doc?” I touched a bandage on my left leg, so thick beneath the sheet it looked as if someone had wrapped an inner tube around my thigh.

“A bullet passed through your left leg.”

“How bad is it?”

“Fortunately it missed your femur, but you lost a lot of blood. There’s considerable muscle damage that will take a few weeks to heal.” He touched a bandage above my eyebrow. “The wound to the forehead came from a bullet chipping the sidewalk. A half-dozen stitches might leave a slight scar, but an inch lower and you would have lost your eye. You’re a lucky man.”

Lucky? The night’s events crept into view. I was lucky. Mickey was dead.

Crutches leaned against the wall in the corner. “I won’t be able to walk without help?”

“We don’t want you to put weight on that leg for a day or two, but you’ll be able to get around on crutches then a cane for a few days. Definitely no driving.”

I had a driver.

He hung the chart at the end of the bed. “Now get some rest. The police said they want to take a statement in the morning about what happened.”

What could I tell the cops? I had no idea whether the shooter was gunning for Mickey or me. If Jimmy Vales shot Mickey, intending to plug me, I’d never forgive myself.

The doctor opened the door to leave and turned off the light. As he left, I spotted a cop seated on a chair outside my room reading a newspaper.

I wanted to spill my guts about my guilt over Mickey’s death, but who could I tell? My father died of TB six years earlier. My mother in the plague of ’08 when I was just a kid. I’d lost touch with my sisters after they married twins who talked them into moving to Canada. And I’d yet to recover from the most painful loss when Laura dropped out of my life. Okay, maybe I gave her a nudge. Now Mickey was gone.

Mickey had survived trench warfare in France and the tough New York streets as a beat cop then a gumshoe, but he hadn’t survived my brief return to the city.

I gritted my teeth. I could feel sorry for myself, or I could find out what happened, why Mickey died and who was responsible. I reflected on my last image of Belle Starr. From the desperate way she fled the scene of the shooting, she’d seen something. I had to find out what, and a bullet in the leg wouldn’t stop me.

I struggled to concentrate against the drugs they’d given me. Mickey had been evasive about Laura and his current case. We’d never kept secrets from each other. I tried to remember his last words to me. Something about a key in an ashtray. Key to what?

The door eased open. A sliver of light slid across the tile floor. A woman stood in the doorway, her face hidden in the shadows. The door opened wider. This was no nurse.

In the doorway, her white chiffon dress was backlit by the bright lights above the nurse’s station. I recognized her long shapely legs even before her face came into focus and she muttered, “Oh, Jake . . . ”

Fighting the drugs and the pain in my thigh, I struggled to sit up. She entered the room and turned on the light, and my throat went dry. I couldn’t speak. Even if I could, I wouldn’t know what to say. She took two hesitant steps into the room.

I held out my arms, and she rushed to me. I touched the soft skin of her cheek and wiped away a tear. Hoping this wasn’t a dream, I managed to whisper, “Laura.”

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The Yankee Club Excerpt

In Michael Murphy’s action packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City-uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.

The Yankee Club

New York City, 1933. Bootleg alcohol fuels the spread of organized crime. After thirteen years, the country finally accepts Prohibition as a noble but failed experiment. The Great Depression isn’t measured just by the twelve million out of work or the eleven thousand failed banks, but by the crushed hopes and shattered dreams of countless Americans. Less than a hundred days into the new administration, opposition mounts to President Roosevelt’s radical New Deal solutions. Those who cling to their wealth and power will do anything to keep from losing both.

Chapter 1

The Return of Blackie Doyle

As my train drew closer to New York City, the dining car’s rhythmic sway offered no comfort to the painful memories I left behind two years earlier. I ignored the blank sheet of paper in front of me. Rain spattered against the window, and lightning streaked above the countryside. The train didn’t slow as we headed into a torrential storm.

“Sir?” The waiter carried a carafe of coffee to the table, smiling like a vaudeville tap dancer.

“Yes?”

He cocked his head. “You been tapping your pen on the coffee cup.”

I was? I slid the cup closer to him. “I’ll have a little more coffee, please.”

He filled the cup and moved to the next table where two men argued about the proper size of their wager over the prospect Prohibition would be repealed before 1933 came to a close.

I tried to tune them out and focus on revising to my publisher’s satisfaction the last chapter of my latest mystery. Since departing Tampa, I’d tossed out half the paper I brought with me. I had nothing and Mildred, my editor, wouldn’t be happy.

The dining car hissed open. A middle-aged woman with a fox stole curled around her neck entered smiling, as if she expected a round of applause. To my surprise she carried my latest novel, The Return of Blackie Doyle.

The sight of one of my readers never failed to lift my spirits. Writing spared me the financial calamity suffocating the economy. Judging by the woman’s fur, her flowered silk dress, and her diamond necklace, she wasn’t hurting either.

Beside her stood a bored-looking blonde in her early twenties, wearing a lemon-colored dress and a pearl necklace. Tight curls poked from beneath a chamois hat. Matching gloves completed the Garbo look. The only accessory out of place was the round black-rimmed glasses the actor Harold Lloyd would’ve envied.

They parked themselves beside my table. “I told you, Dorothy. It is Jake Donovan.” The woman set the novel in front of me. “My daughter would love you to sign your novel.”

“It would be a pleasure.” I gave them the polished smile Mildred helped me perfect, but I couldn’t avoid staring at the beady dark eyes of the dead fox around the woman’s neck. “Won’t you have a seat?”

The mother eased into the chair closest to the window. She set a beige handbag on the table and signaled the waiter. Instantly I regretted the invitation since she looked as if she’d settled in for the remainder of the trip.

The Prohibition debaters at the next table stared at the woman’s timid and stunning daughter. She perched across from me, on the edge of her chair, as if she might get up and leave any minute. Her blue eyes avoided contact while she adjusted the perfectly placed silverware in front of her.

The waiter filled the two women’s cups and retreated. The mother pulled a silver flask from her handbag and stirred a splash of booze into her cup. “I’m Peggy Greenwoody.” She took a gulp like an ironworker at an all-night diner. “Call me Peggy.”

 Her last name clawed a memory from a recent conversation with my Florida poker buddies. “Greenwoody. Any relation to Oliver Greenwoody, the war hero?”

“My husband.” Her face lit with prideful glee. “Oliver can’t get away to the country so we’re visiting him for a few days. Saturday he’s taking Dorothy and me to a Broadway play. It’s the final weekend of Night Whispers with William Maddow and—”

“Laura Wilson.” My Laura. The burning dread returned. I glanced through the rain-swept window. My thoughts drifted back two years to Penn Station when I stepped onto the train with a final glance back, still hopeful Laura would come to see me off—hoping she’d come to talk me out of leaving.

Glancing at me for the first time, Dorothy stirred her coffee like it was the best Joe ever. “I hear she’s marvelous.”

“What takes you to New York?” Peggy asked me. “You on your way home?”

Home? I hardly knew the meaning of the word anymore. “Business.” I signed the title page Dorothy, Blackie Doyle hopes you enjoy his story. Best wishes, Jake Donovan.

Mrs. Greenwoody snatched the book, flipped to the last page and read a moment. She pointed to a line below my photograph. “Says you currently live in Tampa, Florida, but grew up in New York City.” She glanced down at the book as her daughter stared at me. “You were an amateur boxer!”

“My father boxed a little to put food on the table when my sisters and I were kids. I never boxed, but I grew up in a tough neighborhood. The bio is my publicist’s way of explaining all those fights I got into as a kid.” I pointed to a small scar above my right eyebrow, courtesy of Laura’s old man.

Mrs. Greenwoody read aloud, “After serving his country during the Great War, Jake Donovan joined the Pinkerton Detective Agency. He opened his own detective agency in 1927—”

“The year the Babe socked sixty,” I said.

Confusion flickered across Mrs. Greenwoody’s face. “The Babe?”

“Babe Ruth, Mother. George Herman.”

I couldn’t help but smile at the young woman. “The Bambino.”

Dorothy grinned. “The Sultan of Swat.”

Her mother’s life was obviously so full she didn’t have room for the Babe. She ignored our baseball banter and picked up where she left off in the bio.“In 1927. Two years later Donovan began a mystery series about fictional detective, Blackie Doyle.”

A surprising tease danced in Dorothy’s blue eyes. “Are you a two-fisted ladies’ man like Blackie Doyle?”

Behind her large black glasses hid an attractive, intelligent woman with a sharp sense of humor. I chuckled. “If I behaved like Blackie, I’d get slapped by women a lot.”

“Oh, I don’t know.” She leaned forward and removed her glasses. “You were a white rose in your lapel, like Blackie.”

I chuckled. “That’s our only similarity, let me assure you.”

Her flirtatious smile would’ve curled most men’s toes, but I could use another complication in my life like I could use an ulcer. I preferred the shy Dorothy Greenwoody who hid behind large black glasses. This Dorothy was beautiful and trouble. “If you ladies will excuse me, I should return to my room and get to work finalizing my next book. My editor doesn’t think Blackie should settle down with one woman.”

“I most certainly agree.” Dorothy’s manicured nails toyed with her pearl necklace. “He’d lose his roguish charm with just one woman.”

“Unless it’s with the right woman.” Mrs. Greenwoody held my gaze then gave a quick nod toward her daughter. “We’re staying at the Plaza for a few days. Perhaps you’d join us for a drink.”

“I’m not sure how long I’ll be in town, but thank you for the gracious invitation.”

“You never married, Mr. Donovan.” Mrs. Greenwoody closed the book.

The young woman’s face flushed. “Mother, please.”

With Dorothy’s looks, she hardly needed her mother to play matchmaker. At least the two women helped place my sense of dread over my return to the city on hold.

Mrs. Greenwoody finished her coffee. “Dorothy, if I’d waited around for your father to ask me to dance, I probably would’ve married someone far less interesting. Probably Christian Chandler.” She gazed through the window.

It didn’t take a writer’s imagination to assume she pictured a young, dashing Mr. Chandler, a man with less dough and fame than Oliver Greenwoody, but one who curled her toes years ago.

I winked at Dorothy. “So you’re interested in me romantically, is that what I’m hearing, Mrs. Greenwoody?”

Peggy bellowed laughter and slapped the table. A dozen passengers gave her disapproving stares. If she noticed, she didn’t show it. “I might be too much woman for you, son, but my daughter here . . . ”

I signaled the waiter for the check.

Dorothy slid a foot up the side of my leg. She hid a playful smirk from her mother.

Despite my detective past, I’d completely misjudged this young woman. I scooted the chair back a ways, but her foot continued its caress beneath the tablecloth.

The waiter set the check beside my cup. “Thank you, sir.” I hurriedly signed and slid the chair back. I shook Mrs. Greenwoody’s offered hand.

Her eyes locked on mine. “A pleasure.”

Dorothy shook my hand and winked. “Enjoy your visit, Mr. Donovan. Don’t get slapped.”

An hour later, just after dark, the train pulled into Penn Station. I stepped off in the city I hadn’t expected to see for years. Yet, here I was.

Hopefully it would only take a couple of days of pounding on a typewriter and sweet-talking Mildred into a compromise ending. Two days were enough to visit the old neighborhood, as long as I didn’t run into Laura.

I tipped the porter who retrieved my bags. Before I could step outside and hail a cab, a man called, “Mr. Donovan. Jake Donovan?”

I nodded toward a thin man in a brown suit and scuffed shoes. Chewing on a toothpick, he flashed a gap-toothed smile.

He spit out the toothpick and shook my hand, revealing the frayed cuffs, calluses and chipped nails of a hardworking man. He tipped his hat and grabbed my bags. “Mildred sent me. I’m your driver until you’re safely on the train back to Florida.”

My editor, a stickler for details. I needed someone to drive me around New York City like Shirley Temple needed more dimples. The man’s frayed cuffs said he could use the job, so I swallowed my pride.

Outside I breathed in the thick, damp air. The man sidestepped rain puddles and led me to a green Model A coupé double parked beside an empty cab. He opened the rear door. “Mildred says I should get you checked into the hotel.”

climbed in the backseat. “Nice car.”

“Ain’t she a beaut? Mildred rented it. Says you should ride in style.”

“She thinks of everything.” The man set the bags beside him in the front seat. He stuck a fresh toothpick in his mouth and started the car. We sped from the station. “Never met her, just by phone. She a looker?”

Mildred? I’d never thought of her in that way. Forty, stylish, and totally devoted to her work and her authors. “She’s very businesslike.”

“Businesslike.” He winked at me in the mirror. “I get the picture.”

I didn’t want to give him the wrong impression of the person most responsible for my success. Without her, I’d still be a gumshoe sharing a cramped office, across from a seedy hotel, with Mickey O’Brien. “She’s sophisticated, attractive in a—”

“Sure she is.” He displayed the skills of a New York cabbie as he swerved around a slow-moving car and splashed two men setting up a ladder in front of a hardware store.

I braced my feet on the floor. “I didn’t catch your name.”

“Didn’t toss it yet. Name’s Frankie. Frankie Malzone.”

“You have a card?”

Frankie pushed out a laugh. “A card. That’s rich. Naah. I’m one of the country’s twelve million without a real job. I hang out at The Diamond House, pick up jobs from time to time, like this one. Enough to keep the old lady from smacking me across the head about earning a living. You been to The Diamond House? It ain’t no gin joint.”

I dropped in once or twice with Laura back when we were . . . what were we before I moved to Florida? A couple, an occasional gossip item in the newspaper. Nothing more.

I made polite conversation to take my mind off the man’s driving. “You have kids?”

“No kids. Edith ain’t exactly my wife.” Frankie blew through an intersection bringing an angry blast from a cab’s horn. “You’re staying at the Carlyle. Fancy, schmancy. Guess you’re pretty important.”

“Not to anyone I know.”

Frankie laughed and slapped the dash. “Excuse me for saying, but you’re not what I expected.”

“What’d you expect?”

He shrugged. “Tailored suit, silk tie, expensive shoes, sure, but behind all that you seem like a regular Joe. Anyways, she says—Mildred—I should look out for you, fix you up with whatever you need.” He glanced at me over his shoulder. “You interested in a broad? I know some classy dames . . . and some not so sophisticated.”

“Thank you, but I don’t think I’ll have time for romance.”

“Romance. Good one.” Frankie snorted. “How ’bout a nightcap? The Diamond House’s got some smooth booze . . . and broads.”

I checked my watch. Still early enough to drop by and see Gino and Mickey. The Yankee Club was a couple blocks from my old office, now Mickey’s—O’Brien Detective Agency.

“A nightcap won’t hurt, but take me to The Yankee Club in Queens.”

Frankie studied me in the rearview mirror. “You’re serious? A hundred thousand speakeasies in the city and you gotta pick that dive? That place gives me the heebie-jeebies. It’s not in the best of neighborhoods.”

“I grew up in that neighborhood.”

“You did good to get out. No offense.”

“None taken.”

Frankie continued to weave his way through the crowded streets that grew increasingly familiar. Not much had changed, except for a few more boarded-up shops.

I closed my eyes as he continued to yap about the city I knew so well. For a moment I dozed off. I gripped the edge of the seat as he swerved in front of a convertible, bringing another blast of a horn. “You in a hurry?”

“Naah. We’re here.” Frankie parked across the street from what looked like a boarding house. An unlabeled door hid the speakeasy. I leaned forward as he reached beneath the seat.

Frankie pulled out a pistol and stuck it in his jacket.

“Leave the gun.”

“It’s mostly for show.” Flashing innocence, he stuffed the piece beneath the seat.

I climbed from the car and locked eyes with a billboard touting the final week of Night Whispers at the Longacre Theatre. Large photographs of the two leads gazed from the billboard. I saw only Laura, not the image of the famous Broadway actress she’d become.

I came to know Laura in her first play at school, a thirteen-year-old Becky Thatcher with painted-on freckles. I played Tom Sawyer. Our first kiss came on stage during rehearsal in front of our teacher and a dozen classmates including Gino and Mickey. Memories of our second kiss still gave me goose bumps. I pictured the girl in high school who hid the truth about her old man smacking her around—until I took care of the problem.

Frankie followed my gaze. “You wanna take in a show, ’cause I can get tickets. I know a guy.”

shook my head and pulled a couple of bills from my pocket.

Frankie stared at my hand. “A tip? Don’t insult me.”

“Buy Edith some roses.”

He flashed a sheepish expression and stuffed the money in his trouser pocket. “Last time I brought home flowers my old lady accused me of cheating on her.”

“Were you?”

“Yeah, but that’s not the point. I’ll buy her some chocolates. When I bring her candy, I never get no questions.”

We crossed the street dodging puddles. I rapped on the front door.

A panel in the door slid open. A familiar granite face gave us the once-over. “You got a membership card?”

“Hello, Danny.” Danny Kowalski didn’t appear to remember me. Good thing because Gino and I stole his bike when we were in fourth grade and Danny was in sixth. Though the three of us palled around through high school, Danny never got over the prank.

I thumbed through my wallet and found the dog-eared card I thought I’d tossed a long time ago. I slipped it through the opening.

The door opened enough to reveal Danny had gained about thirty pounds of muscle and a tough-guy sneer I hadn’t seen before. Wearing the biggest tuxedo I’d ever seen, he stuffed the card into my hand and let us inside.

A framed photograph of Gino and Babe Ruth hung alongside the door. Ruth had scribbled Cheers,Gino. Babe #3.

 I held out my hands and faced the main room crammed with a couple dozen packed tables on a black-and-white checkerboard floor. On a stage beside the dance floor a familiar-looking blonde in a white backless dress performed a bluesy rendition of “Body and Soul” backed by a three-piece jazz band.

“I’m a friend of Gino’s.”

“If you say so.” Danny patted me down and did the same to Frankie. He led us to a table in the center of the smoke-filled room. Frankie and I wedged our way into black lacquered chairs.

Frankie surveyed the crowded room. His uneasy expression told me he would’ve preferred to have the piece with him. Several sets of eyes took note of my arrival. A few cops, former cops and a couple of gangsters I helped put away.

Gino Santoro sat at the bar. Thirty-four, like me, he still retained the boyish face I remembered. He wore a pin-striped three-piece suit and black-and-white brogue shoes like Fred Astaire. One hand rested on the knee of a redhead in a tight-fitting red satin dress with a slit up the side. My friend hadn’t changed much in appearance or his appreciation of flashy women.

Danny nodded toward the bar. “You want I should tell Gino you’re here?”

“Tell him it’s Jake Donovan.”

Danny paused a moment, as if searching his memory, then made his way through the crowded tables. He spoke to Gino and pointed to our table.

Gino jumped to his feet and grabbed his hat off the bar. He left Danny and the redhead and hurried toward us. “Welcome home, Jake!”

Home, that four-letter word again. I accepted the embrace.

After the hug, Gino kissed my cheek. “You ain’t staying at this crappy table wedged in like fuckin’ sardines.” He pointed to a corner table near the dance floor where two men, bank-teller types with glasses, made eyes at the singer.

Frankie and I followed Gino. One of the men glanced up from the table.

“Gino.”

“Beat it.”

“But, Mr. Santoro—”

Gino grabbed the man by the collar and tossed him against the next table, spilling drinks on a man who barely noticed.

The bank tellers retreated to the table we’d vacated, glaring like I was some hotshot who ruined their evening. Others glanced my way, including a fat red-jowled thug in a gray suit who gave me the evil eye from a table near the front door.

“Have a seat.” Gino looked at Frankie, as if seeing him for the first time. “I know you?”

“Frankie Malzone.”

“Yeah.” Gino’s eyes narrowed. “Weren’t you mixed up in the mess at the mayor’s office last year?”

Frankie held out both hands. “How was I to know his secretary was an embezzler? I never knew a dame could stuff so much dough into a brassiere. I shoulda searched her.”

“He a friend of yours?” Concern creased Gino’s brow.

I liked Frankie, in spite of his driving habits. “From way back.”

“I’m from way back, since what, we was like six?”

Gino dropped his hat on the table and sat between Frankie and me. He gazed around at three busy cocktail waitresses then signaled a cigarette girl wearing black fishnet stockings. “Doll, bring me three glasses and a bottle of scotch . . . the good stuff.”

“I ain’t your doll, Gino. Not no more.” She spoke in a high–pitched, squeaky voice. “Besides, I ain’t no cocktail waitress floozy. I’m a cigarette girl and, in case you didn’t notice, I work for tips.”

Gino waved her closer. “Here’s a tip. Bring me and my pals a good bottle of scotch and three glasses or you’ll be selling matches on a street corner this time tomorrow.”

She set both hands on her hips. “You’re still sore about the other night. It happens.”

Gino’s face flushed. He reached into the tray hanging from a strap around her neck, grabbed a one-dollar cigar and stuffed it into his suit coat pocket. He tossed a five-dollar bill onto the tray.

“A Lincoln. Thanks, Gino.” She headed for the bar.

“She’s got a nice caboose, but she don’t seem to realize we’re in the middle of a depression here.” Gino ruffled my hair. “You come to your senses and moving back or just paying a visit?”

“Business.”

“Book-writing business.” Gino smirked.

I considered explaining the content issues with my editor that couldn’t be fixed over the phone, but he and Frankie didn’t seem too interested in publishing problems.

Gino slipped a silver case from his suit coat pocket and offered me a cigarette.

I shook my head, and he nodded. “That’s right. You never was a smoker. You never drank too much or chased dames, except for Laura. Remind me again why we’re friends.”

Frankie removed a Camel and lit it with a match then held the flame for Gino.

Gino lit a cigarette, took a deep drag and blew out a long cloud of smoke. “So, Jake, how’s life in Tampa playing shuffleboard with all the old folks?”

I laughed and explained how Tampa was everything I hoped it would be. Mildred was right. The city gave me a fresh start and allowed me to focus on writing. I described the apartment that overlooked the ocean, small but functional for a man who spent half his days in front of a typewriter.

Gino flicked cigarette ash into the ashtray. “You made it big, you lucky bastard.”

The cigarette girl returned with a bottle of scotch and three glasses. She set them on the table then turned on her heel and flirted with a customer a couple of tables over.

Gino’s flicker of irritation told me the girl meant something to him. He filled the glasses half full and raised one in a toast. “To lucky bastards.”

The three of us drank; then Gino asked the question I knew he’d get around to asking. “You seen Laura?”

“On a billboard outside.”

“Wise ass.” Gino shook his head. “It’s a shame. I always thought you two were destined to be together forever. You know, like Romeo and Juliet or something.”

“They ended up dead.”

“You sure?” Gino ran a hand over his slick black hair. “That’s right. Now I remember. You paid attention in class while I was out schooling the ladies.”

At the table in front, the fat man glared. He looked familiar, but I couldn’t place him.

I didn’t want to talk about Laura. “How’s Mickey? He wrote and bragged about the success of his one-man detective agency and asked if I missed the line of work. I always wrote back, but the letters trailed off the last few months.”

Gino blew a puff of smoke in my direction. “How come you write Mickey and not me?”

I sipped the scotch. “Mickey can read.”

Gino pointed to Frankie. “Anyone else talks to me like that, he gets a fist sandwich. I ain’t seen Mickey for a month, maybe two. Come on. He’s right down the block, you know? Of course you do.”

Didn’t sound like Mickey. First his letters stopped. Now Gino hadn’t seen him. Something stunk, and I had to find out what. “You think he’s okay?”

Gino shrugged. “Maybe he got himself a new dish.”

Frankie polished off his scotch and refilled the glass. “I heard he’s working some big case.”

Gino raised an eyebrow. “You know Mickey O’Brien?”

Frankie crushed his cigarette into the ashtray. “Everybody knows Mickey.”

While the jazz band continued to play, the blonde singer crossed the dance floor and set one hand on my shoulder. “You probably don’t remember me. I wasn’t a blonde last time you were in.”

“Bridgette?”

“You remember!” She kissed me on the cheek. Her perfume reminded me of blueberries and cut through the room’s cigarette smell.

Over her shoulder, the fat thug downed a shot of booze. He slid his chair back and bulled his way through the tables, his beady eyes darting between Gino and me. “I thought it was you.”

Bridgette retreated behind my chair. Gino started to get up, but I grabbed his arm. I didn’t want any trouble. He sat down and signaled to Danny at the front door.

The fat man stopped at our table and pounded a fist into one hand. “Jake Donovan.”

“That’s me.” I studied his face that reminded me of a mug shot I’d seen. This guy was a two-bit thug. “Jimmy Vales, right?”

“I figured you’d remember, since it was you who sent me up the river for bank fraud.”

“The police did that. I just did the legwork for the bank that hired me.”

Jimmy grabbed the half full bottle of scotch and cocked his arm like he’d shatter the bottle against my head.

Gino jumped to his feet. “Not my good stuff.”

The jazz band stopped playing, and the room grew quiet.

Jimmy set the bottle on the table. “I spent three years in the clink ’cause of you, Donovan!”

“I thought the judge gave you five.”

He cleared his throat and hawked a load of spit next to my shoe. “Good behavior.”

“Of course.”

“Wise guy.” Jimmy clenched his fists. “Get up.”

“Take a powder.” Gino dismissed him with a wave.

“This don’t concern you, Gino. And get away from Jake, Bridgette, you tramp.”

I’d had enough. He could insult me because we had a history, but I couldn’t let him give Gino the business and offend a swell girl like Bridgette. I rose from my chair and gestured toward the fat man’s fly. “I have no respect for a man who walks across a place like this with his zipper at half-mast.”

When Jimmy glanced at his fly, I socked him in the kisser, a right cross that would’ve made Blackie Doyle proud. Two jabs to his face split his lip. Blood gushed from his mouth.

Jimmy stumbled backward. Frankie tripped him, and the fat man fell against a table. Gino slammed Jimmy’s face on the table, spilling our drinks and leaving a trail of blood. He fell on his back and cracked his head on the floor, writhing in pain. Like a Florida sea turtle trying to right itself, he thrashed and pawed at the blood flowing down his face.

Frankie stood and reached behind his back. He drew a pistol and aimed it at Jimmy. The same gun I saw him stuff beneath the car’s front seat? Danny’d even frisked him. I’d underestimated Frankie. He was good.

Danny slid to a stop and yanked the beaten man to his feet.

Shaking off Danny’s grip, Jimmy wiped blood from his face with the edge of his hand. As Danny led him away, he pointed a thick index finger my way. “I’ll kill you, you son of a bitch. I mean it. I’ll kill you!”

Frankie’s mouth dropped. “Whoa!” He stuffed the gun in his suit.

“Don’t sweat it. Jimmy rarely follows through on death threats.” Gino clapped me on the shoulder.

I hadn’t returned to the city to replay old times. As a detective, trouble had a way of finding me no matter how carefully I planned things, but I wasn’t a detective. I wrote mysteries, had a novel to finish, and, in spite of Gino’s reassurance, a vengeful thug wanted me dead.

“It’s like you never left, goombah.” Gino refilled my glass. “What a night. Booze, broads, and a barroom brawl.”

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Will Farrell and Raymond Chandler

Will Farrell, Raymond Chandler and thirteen others will receive stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame in 2015.

Chandler joins just a handful of writers to be honored this way, Ogden Nash, Ray Bradbury, Dr. Seuss and Adela Rogers St. Johns.  The creator of Philip Marlowe, Chandler had one of the most distinctive voices in fiction. Could anyone else have written these lines?

She gave me a smile I could feel in my hip pocket.” Farewell My Lovely.

“I’m an occasional drinker, the kind of guy who goes out for a beer and wakes up in Singapore with a full beard.” Philip Marlowe’s Guide to Life.

“She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theater curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air.” The Big Sleep. 

Chandler was noted primarily as a novelist for works that included, The Big Sleep, Farewell My Lovely, The Long Goodbye, The Lady in the Lake, The Little Sister and The High Window.

However, he was also a successful screenwriter. Two of his most successful films were, Strangers on a Train, directed by Alfred Hitchcock and Double Indemnity.

Chandler was and is deserving of a star on the Walk of Fame. He influenced a generation of writers, more of them more noteworthy than me.

I always keep another quote of his in mind when working on a novel. “Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered potholder.”

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Try and Catch the Wind…Evil in Plain Sight

The Beginning of my Writer’s Journey

I don’t often blog about my writing, preferring to focus on classic mysteries and authors who have influenced me through the years.

My journey as a writer began fifteen years ago when I started my first novel, Class of ’68. I became serious about my writing when I began my second novel, Try and Catch the Wind, focusing my writing on the kind of mysteries that I enjoy reading, suspense, humor and a touch of romance.

Try and Catch the Wind, follows former NYPD homicide detective, Casey Bannister, who’s adjusting to the loss of his wife Rachel from cancer and to life in a small town in upstate New York in a house Rachel had picked out for their retirement.

He’s used to being in the line of fire. But his wife’s death has left former New York City police detective Casey Bannister shattered by memories. And the small upstate town where he’s taken refuge proves no safe place when a young woman’s body is found in the wood chipper. Casey is finding one unnerving clue after another that a ruthless serial killer is at work and growing more uncatchable by the minute…

His reluctant investigation puts him at odds with the local sheriff–and brings him closer to a woman he never forgot, state investigator Shannon Danzinger. As suspects multiply and sinister secrets roil the close-knit town, a predator is fueled by obsession can’t wait for Casey to follow a carefully laid trail into a horrifying past–and become the ultimate prey.

Of all my novels to date, I receive the most positive praise about my character Casey Bannister, tough, sensitive, sarcastic and devoted to doing what’s right.

The re-release of Try and Catch the Wind

Try and Catch the Wind was first published by Wings ePress in 2007, followed by two books in the series that many of you have read. I’m excited the novel is being reissued by Harlequin and is available now!

Take a quick peek at the novel and read a free excerpt. Let me know what you think.

It’s a busy time for me. In August, Random House Alibi will release my latest mystery, The Yankee Club, a Prohibition-era novel, the first in a four-book series that will be published over the next two years.Yankee Club with the rose crop 4

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