Sunday, September 30, 2012

Monday - Networking time

Sheila over at Book Journey has an incentive for networking so go over and have fun while continuing to add to your 2012 Wishlist.

I am so pleased with my Netgalley choices and review requests I have accepted this year, great works of writing, it makes me excited as a blogger.

I am currently reading a review request and I am loving it.  I have a giveaway going on for it here.

I completed Lisa Genova's third book, she is an amazing writer, a favourite of mine.  Review here.

This one seemed to get the most attention from last weeks post, so I will read it next.
I saw this post over at Michelle's blog That's What She Reads.  Hannibal (Red Dragon) vs Bateman (American Psycho), whooooooo.  I have only read Silence of the Lambs, so i'm for Hannibal.  Both books are on my Wishlist.  I am going to try.  Who would you vote for?
Image: Dueling Monsters 2012 Button
So what is required? Nothing more than reading, listening to, or watching American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis and/or Red Dragon by Thomas Harris and writing up your thoughts on either or both selection to leave on the site by October 29th.
Have a great week

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Review - Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Book Summary from Amazon

Olivia Donatelli’s dream of a “normal” life shattered when her son, Anthony, was diagnosed with autism at age three. Understanding the world from his perspective felt bewildering, nearly impossible. He didn’t speak. He hated to be touched. He almost never made eye contact. And just as Olivia was starting to realize that happiness and autism could coexist, Anthony died. Beth Ellis’s entire life changed with a simple note: “I’m sleeping with Jimmy.” Fourteen years of marriage. Three beautiful daughters. Yet even before her husband’s affair, she had never felt so alone. Heartbroken, she finds the pieces of the vivacious, creative person she used to be packed away in a box in her attic. For the first time in years, she uncaps her pen, takes a deep breath, and begins to write. The young but exuberant voice that emerges onto the page is a balm to the turmoil within her, a new beginning, and an astonishing bridge back to herself. In a piercing story about motherhood, autism, and love, New York Times bestselling author Lisa Genova offers us two unforgettable women on the verge of change and the irrepressible young boy whose unique wisdom helps them both find the courage to move on.

My Review 3 1/2

Lisa Genova's first book, Still Alice is in my all time top 3 favourite books.  Her second Left Neglected I really enjoyed also with a 4 1/2.  Lisa writes a passion in an educational but joyful way.  This book is more than learning something about autism but loving unconditionally and what  that means to you.

The chapters are a pattern of Beth then Olivia slowly involving where they come together and then a coincidence.  There is the quote, there are no mistakes, no coincidences.  All events are blessings given to us to learn from.  By Elizabeth Kubler-Ross.  Some will not like the coincidence, I found it believable but felt the name should have been different at least.  Beth and Olivia coming together was a blessing in disguise for sure.

Anyone that personally had dealt with Alzheimer's I thought should read Still Alice, in Love Anthony I am unsure if I would recommend for those who have an autistic child.  I think it could be wonderful, but also heartbreaking, scary, just a little to emotional and close to home especially if you hadn't found peace.

Beth separates from her husband and lives life asking many questions.  Should she trust again, who is she, what has she gave up and how to start again.  She remembers wonderful parts of her life packed away in the attic and takes them down to start her adventure of writing again.  The library scenes and book club moments with her friends were a delight to read.

Olivia just lost her son and was grieving alone, also separated from her husband.  The emotional turmoil on not knowing how to move on and what the point of Anthony's life was is her journey.  She also gave up photography and found her way back to it.

Their found again talents and a book bring these two together and enlighten them on life and how to move forward.  The epilogue and how it was created etc was just beautiful, I can see reading that over and over.

I enjoyed it but didn't love it as much as her others.  I do think she is an amazing writer, definitely one of my favourites, I will always pick up her newest.  I highly recommend you read all of her books.  Emotional but you always learn and have that fulfilled feeling at the end. 

I consider Love Anthony to be in the category of Jodi Picoult and Kristin Hannah books.

My Review of Left Neglected

I read Still Alice before blogging but give it a 5+

Personal Story on this book

My blogging friend Michelle from red headed book child reviewed this here.  I was so excited, I had Jan for this book to come out so was happy and jealous she had it already :-).  She sent an email asking if I received a surprise, I hadn't.  Maybe a week later I received the ARC, yaaaaaay.  I was doing a happy dance.  It officially was released this week.

Have to love bloggers and publishers that are willing to share the love.  Thanks Michelle.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thrill Week Poll - Book/Author choice for Q&A Readalong

All can participate in poll if you want to join us, a date of convenience will be discussed, most likely early next year. 

From Thrill Week I asked participants........

Recommend a book you would like to discuss with others and possibly the author? Note – I will do a poll with participant’s choices at the end of Thrill Week and then we can agree on a date for Q&A. I will try and arrange the chosen author to participate.

Choices are below.  Poll is on sidebar.  I will do a 2nd Poll for the top 5 choices out of the 14.

Click on titles for summary from Amazon or Authors name for website.

Psychos: Serial Killers, Depraved Madmen, and the Criminally Insane

Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk - Haunted is a novel made up of twenty-three horrifying, hilarious, and stomach-churning stories. They’re told by people who have answered an ad for a writer’s retreat and unwittingly joined a “Survivor”-like scenario where the host withholds heat, power, and food..........

Murder Takes Time by Giacomo Giammatteo - A string of brutal murders has bodies piling up in Brooklyn, and Detective Frankie Donovan knows what is going on. Clues left at the crime scenes point to someone from the old neighborhood, and that isn't good..............

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon -  Christopher John Francis Boone knows all the countries of the world and their capitals and every prime number up to 7,057. He relates well to animals but has no understanding of human emotions. He cannot stand to be touched. And he detests the color yellow..........

Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time cover

The Devil of Nanking aka Tokyo by Mo Hayder - The solitary Englishwoman Grey comes to Japan looking for a rare piece of footage that is said to document a particularly monstrous episode of the 1937 Nanking Massacre. Her quest will take her to a reclusive scholar and a wheelchair-bound gangster who clings to life with the aid of a mysterious elixir, and to a handsome American whose interest in Grey may be more sinister than romantic. The result is a work of spine-chilling suspense, masterful historical detail, and otherworldly beauty.

Книгу Mo Hayder The Devil of Nanking aka Tokyo скачать бесплатно,

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong...........

Sandra Brown (Chill Factor or Ricochet)

Sandra Brown

Picture from DoubleDay Book site

Bloodman by Robert Pobi - FBI contractor Jake Cole deciphers the language of murderers by reconstructing three-dimensional crime scene models in his head, a talent that has left his nerves frayed and his psyche fragile..............

Criminal by Karen Slaughter - Karin Slaughter’s new novel is an epic tale of love, loyalty, and murder that encompasses forty years, two chillingly similar murder cases, and a good man’s deepest secrets........

Criminal (Will Trent, #7)

Voices of the Dead by Peter Leonard - In Voices of the Dead, Peter Leonard has created a gripping story of mystery and intrigue built on a framework of fate, coincidence and sheer happenstance. The incredible story of Harry Levin, his daughter, a Nazi SS officer and the confluence of events that brings them together on a full scale collision course thirty years after its beginning would have not been credible in the hands of a less gifted storyteller.

The White Devil by Justin Evans - Set in a four-hundred-year-old boys' boarding school in London, a chilling gothic thriller by the author of the critically acclaimed A Good and Happy Child . . .
A fierce and jealous ghost . . .
A young man's fight for his life . . .

The White Devil

Lisa Unger - Official website

David Baldacci - Official website

   Photo from Hachette Book Group

Laura Lippman - Her website

Laura Lippman

Photo from VJ Books

The Poll is not working, will try to get it up tonight, sorry.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Another Monday, Reading great books

Sheila over at Book Journey has an incentive for networking so go over and have fun while continuing to add to your 2012 Wishlist.

How is everyone doing with their challenges?  I have just been reading not concentrating on my challenges, I need to see if I can make them priority within the next 2 months.

I completed - my review

I'm currently reading

I am considering up next, one of these.


I watched Hunger Games, I enjoyed the movie more than the book.

Movie review here.

Have a great week.


Movie Review - Hunger Games

My Book Review - 3 1/2 (I wasn't a fan but understood the hype, dystopian isn't for me)

My Movie Review - 5

I thought Hunger Games was fantastic.  The main issue I had with the book Hunger Games is I was bored at different parts and as part of the game the Capital spiced things up.  Well in the movie you see the manipulation which added appeal for me.

My favourite characters in the movie were Katniss, Gale, Rue and the coach, played by Woody and the Designer, Lennox.  I enjoyed Peeta in the book but I wasn't impressed at all in the movie.  I am totally Team Gale.

The idea of children killing children didn't affect me in the book, I actually wanted more violence or descriptive scenes.  Well it was shocking in the movie, holy smokes, I'm shocked so many loved this.  Katniss sister and Rue are far to young to have been considered, the Capital should be ashamed.

Favourite scenes was the fire entrance, Peeta's camouflage technique, Rue with Katniss, the costumes in the Capital and of course everything Gale.

The best feeling was when I finished the movie, I actually want to read Mockingjay now.  I had no interest in continuing when I read the book in 2010.

I will have to go read the summary of Mockingjay.


Friday, September 21, 2012

Review - Greco's Game by James Houston Turner

Book Summary

Colonel Aleksandr Talanov — the “ice man” — is married to a woman he wishes he could love. But he can’t, and it’s an ugly consequence of his training with the KGB. Even so, no one should have to experience what Talanov experiences: the brutal murder of his wife in front of his eyes.
Wracked with guilt and suspected of plotting her death, Talanov spirals downward on a path of self-destruction. He should have been killed, not her. He was the one whose violent past would not leave them alone. Months tick by and Talanov hits rock bottom on the mean streets of Los Angeles, where he meets a hooker named Larisa, who drugs and robs him.
But in the seedy world of prostitution and human trafficking ruled by the Russian mafia, this hooker made the big mistake of stealing the ice man’s wallet. In it was Talanov’s sole possession of value: his wedding photo. Talanov tracks Larisa down to get that photo because it reminds him of everything that should have been but never was, and never would be because an assassin’s bullet had mistakenly killed his wife. Or was it a mistake?
The answer lies in Greco’s Game, a chess match played in 1619 that is famous for its Queen sacrifice and checkmate in only eight moves. In an unusual alliance, Talanov and Larisa team up to begin unraveling the mystery of what Talanov’s old KGB chess instructor regarded as the most brilliant example of how to trap and kill an opponent. The question is: who was the target?

My Review - 4 stars

The ultimate strategic plan to kill, checkmate.  Now this is a thrilling read, food for the brain.  I loved the first in this series, Department Thirteen and the leading character Talanov.  I was able to get my fill of Talanov addiction again but I was able to see him in a new light. 

Talanov is grieving and trying to move on when he gets information that starts the edge of seat thrill.  What is Talanov's motivation to continue to kill, with logic or will his emotion take over and mistakes happen that can cost him his life and others he cares for.  As an ex assassin he was taught to exploit people, love and emotions were a weakness.  The amazing talent Talanov has is reading people, I enjoyed these parts immensely, expressions do not lie and those that have worked with him know the words they say mean nothing.   These moments were intense, adding dramatic appeal to me.

Organized crime, human trafficking, life decisions and Bourne Identity/Ultimatum scenes make this an exciting read, perfect for men and women readers.

There was a suspense storyline about a rifle, brought with Talanov's credit card but not by Talanov.  Using the chess game strategies we follow until we get towards a climax ending with all sorts of twists and turns, who is the King, the Queen, distractions, check mate or not, this was all a brilliant execution on James Houston Turner's part.  The whole chess game that created this story is known as Greco's Game.

I am wow'd again, a favourite in the Thriller genre for sure. 

Talanov was taken in a new direction that I enjoyed but did miss the edge.  Overall it gave us a full picture of who Talanov is and in the end of course he is still the hard nosed amazing guy you would want on your side.

I can't wait for the next Dragon Head, out in 2013.

James visited Tea Time with Marce during Thrill Week, go here to read.  You can also enter my giveaway of the first in the series, Department Thirteen.  Ending Friday at midnight. 

James, thank you for the opportunity to read and continue Talanov's journey. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Teasers for Tuesday - Favourite thriller

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along!

Just do the following and go here to participate: Teaser Tuesday

Grab your current read
Open to a random page
Share two (2) 'teaser' sentences from somewhere on that page
Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I am reading the 2nd in this Thrilling series.  I will give you a teaser from each book.

Death is something a person never quite gets ready for, even if that person thinks life is not worth living.  And Talanov didn't.

But as he turned the corner and sped toward the light, he did not notice the red Mitsubishi turning toward the restaurant.  Inside were assassins Three and Four.

I currently have a Giveaway going on for Department Thirteen with an Interview with James, go here.

I look forward to your teasers.  Have a great week.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday's - Books and Networking

Sheila over at Book Journey has an incentive for networking so go over and have fun while continuing to add to your 2012 Wishlist.

I am so busy with life that I am not reading as much, sigh.  I need to stop blogging and get to reading.  hahahahahaha  Blogging is no fun without the networking part so I just have to find the balance.

I'm currently reading Greco's Game.  I currently have a giveaway of the 1st book, go here.

I just completed reading more of the crazy psychopath Gretchen, lol

I am thinking I will read this next for RIP and my Serial Killer challenge


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Review - Sweetheart by Chelsea Cain

Summary from Amazon

I recommend you read Heartsick first

When the body of a young woman is discovered in Portland’s Forest Park, Archie is reminded of the last time they found a body there, more than a decade ago: it turned out to be the Beauty Killer’s first victim, and Archie’s first case. This body can't be one of Gretchen's—she’s in prison—but after help from reporter Susan Ward uncovers the dead woman's identity, it turns into another big case. Trouble is, Archie can't focus on the new investigation because the Beauty Killer case has exploded: Gretchen Lowell has escaped from prison.

Archie hadn't seen her in two months; he'd moved back in with his family and sworn off visiting her. Though it should feel like progress, he actually feels worse. The news of her escape spreads like wildfire, but secretly, he's relieved. He knows he's the only one who can catch her, and in fact, he has a plan to get out from under her thumb once and for all.

My Review - 4 1/2  Great to the last Drop

This is the book that got my attention but I wanted to start from the beginning.  The first was good but I enjoyed this one more.  I prefer a stand alone but what makes a great series is the characters, and this series has two amazing ones.  Gretchen, the strong manipulative female serial killer and Archie, the Detective.  They are the foundation characters but the supporting characters are just as engaging, especially the journalist Susan.

The unique spin which for some would be unbelievable but for me took it to another level of being speechless and brilliant.  Archie and Gretchen are obsessed with each other in every unhealthy possibility there is.  Archie pretended to live, thinking these made others around him happy but others knew he was slowly killing himself as he wasn't able to feed his addition with more time with Gretchen. 

In order to get the names of Gretchen's victims she only wanted Archie to meet with her, this was agreed as an Identification project but didn't realise the stress and power this gave Gretchen over him.  When they took this away from him Archie became preoccupied in a dangerous way on how to catch Gretchen again.  Simply idiotic, his ex wife whom he lives with should find a way to kill them both.

This is a sick and twisted gory thriller.  I love that the serial killer is female, takes it to another level of feminine psychosis manipulation, it is brilliant. 

Here is a quote from Gretchen talking to Archie.

"I think about that,"  Gretchen said dreamily.  "Having my hands inside you.. You were so warm and sticky.  I can still smell you, your blood.  Do you remember?"

Sick and twisted, no doubt, but she is also beautiful, in a get what she wants powerful way.

The journalist, Susan, who also has a crush on Archie is one step ahead of the police without realising she is putting herself in danger.  Archie is investigating a political crime and I enjoyed how this was traced through the Gretchen story and came together in the end, very anti climatic.   I was not impressed with the Gretchen part of the ending but the political part was great.

I look forward to continuing this series more now then I did 2 years ago.

Paula from Tomes Devotee had Chelsea Cain over to her blog last week for Thrill Week, go here to read.  Paula also review the 1st three in one post, go here.

My review of the 1st Heartsick.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Read an excerpt from John Verdon's newest

Have you read any of his books?  They are on my Wishlist, but now that I have received an excerpt to share I must start this series.

Due to being on hurricane watch this weekend I didn't get a chance to post for Thrill Week.


 leave a comment on your favourite teaser sentence from the excerpt
leave your email address

Let the Devil Sleep by John Verdon

--Copyright 2012 by John Verdon

--Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York


Excerpt (pp. 67-74) 2,623 words


Forty minutes later, with two large coffees in the car, Gurney was driving up the twisty dirt road that led from Abelard’s General Store in Dillweed to an even twistier dirt road, hardly a road at all—more like an abandoned cattle path—at the end of which Jack Hardwick lived in a small rented farmhouse. Gurney parked next to Hardwick’s attitude car—a partially restored red 1970 Pontiac GTO.

         The sparse, intermittent snowflakes had been replaced by a pin-pricky mist. As Gurney stepped up onto the creaking porch, one coffee container in each hand, the door swung open to reveal Hardwick in a T-shirt and cutoff sweatpants, his shaggy gray crew cut uncombed. They’d seen each other face-to-face only once since Gurney’s hospitalization six months earlier, at a state-police inquiry into the shooting, but Hardwick’s opening line was characteristic.

         “So tell me—how the fuck do you know little Kimmy?”

         Gurney extended one of the coffees. “Through her mother. You want this?”

         Hardwick took it, opened the flap on the lid, tasted it. “Is the mom as hot as the kid?”

         “For Christ’s sake, Jack . . .”

         “That a yes or a no?” Hardwick stepped back to let Gurney in.

         The outer doorway led directly into a large front room that Gurney would have expected to be furnished as a living room, but it was hardly furnished at all. The pair of leather armchairs with a stack of books between them on a bare pine floor looked more like things about to be moved than a planned seating arrangement.

         Hardwick was watching him. “Marcy and I broke up,” he said, as if explaining the emptiness of the place.

         “Sorry to hear that. Who’s Marcy?”

         “Good question. Thought I knew. Apparently not.” He took a longer sip of his coffee. “I must have a big blind spot when it comes to evaluating loony women with nice tits.” Another sip, even longer. “But so what? We’ve all got our blind spots, right, Davey?”

         Gurney had figured out long ago that the part of Hardwick that went through him like a needle was the part that reminded him of his father—this despite the fact that Gurney was currently forty-eight and Hardwick, although gray-haired and roughly weathered, was not quite forty.

         Every so often Hardwick would hit the precise note of cynicism, the perfect echo, that would transport Gurney back into the apartment from whose high window he’d shot that inexplicable arrow, the apartment from which his first marriage had provided an escape.

         The image that came to him now: He was standing in their cramped apartment’s living room, his father dispensing drunken wisdom, telling him his mother was loony, telling him all women were loony, couldn’t be trusted. Best not to tell them anything. “You and I are men, Davey, we understand each other. Your mother’s a little . . . a little off, you know what I mean? No need for her to know I was drinking today, right? Only cause trouble. We’re men. We can talk to each other.” Gurney was eight years old.

         The forty-eight-year-old Gurney made an effort to return to Hard- wick’s living room, to the moment at hand.

         “She helped herself to half the shit in the house,” said Hardwick. He took another sip, sat in one of the armchairs, waved Gurney toward the other one. “What can I do for you?”

         Gurney lowered himself into the chair. “Kim’s mother is a journalist I know from years ago on the job. She asked me for a favor—‘Look over Kim’s shoulder’ is the way she put it. Now I’m trying to find out what I’m involved in, thought maybe you could help. Like I said on the phone, Kim listed you as a source.”

         Hardwick stared at his coffee container as if it were a perplexing artifact. “Who else is on her list?”

         “FBI guy by the name of Trout. And Max Clinter, the cop who fucked up the pursuit of the shooter.”

         Hardwick let out a harsh bray that turned into a fit of coughing. “Wow! The uptight prick of the century and a psycho drunk. I’m in hot-shit company.”

         Gurney took a long swallow from his coffee container. “When do we get to the colorful, significant tidbits?”

Hardwick extended his scarred, muscular legs and leaned far back in his chair. “Stuff the press never got hold of?”


         “I guess one thing would be the little animals. You didn’t know about those, did you?”

         “Little animals?”

         “Little plastic replicas. Part of a set. An elephant. A lion. A giraffe. A zebra. A monkey. A sixth one I can’t remember.”

         “And how were these—”

         “One was found at the scene of each attack.”


         “In the general vicinity of the victim’s car.”

         “General vicinity?”

         “Yeah, like they’d been tossed there from the shooter’s car.”

         “Lab work on these little animals lead anywhere?”

         “No prints, nothing like that.”


         “But they were part of a kid’s play set. Something called Noah’s World. Like one of those diorama things. The kid builds a model of Noah’s Ark, then he puts the animals in it.”

         “Any distribution angle, stores, factory variables, ways of tracing that particular set?”

         “Dead end. Very popular toy. A Walmart staple. They sold like seventy-eight thousand of them. All identical, all made in one factory in Hung Dick.”


         “China. Who the fuck knows? It doesn’t matter. The sets are all the same.”

         “Any theories regarding the significance of those individual animals?”

         “Lots of them. All bullshit.”

         Gurney made a mental note to readdress that issue later. When later? What the hell was he thinking? The plan was to look over Kim’s shoulder. Not volunteer for a job no one had asked him to do.

         “Interesting,” said Gurney. “Any other little oddities that weren’t released for public consumption?”

         “I suppose you could call the gun an oddity.”

         “My recollection is that the news reports just referred to a large-caliber handgun.”

         “It was a Desert Eagle.”

         “The .50-caliber monster?”

         “The very one.”

         “The profilers must have zeroed in on that.”

         “Oh, yeah, big-time. But the oddity wasn’t just the size of the weapon. Out of the six shootings, we retrieved two bullets in good enough shape for reliable ballistics and a third that would be marginal for courtroom use but definitely suggestive.”

         “Suggestive of what?”

         “The three bullets came from three different Desert Eagles.”


         “That was the reaction everyone had.”

         “Did that ever lead to a multiple-shooter hypothesis?”

         “For about ten minutes. Arlo Blatt came up with one of his dumber-than-dumb ideas: that the shootings might be some kind of gang-initiation ritual and every gang member had his own Desert Eagle. Of course, that left the little problem of the manifesto, which read like it was written by a college professor, and your average gang member can barely spell the word ‘gang.’ Some other people had less stupid ideas, but ultimately the single-shooter concept won out. Especially after it was blessed by the Behavioral Unit geniuses at the FBI. The attack scenes were essentially identical. The approach, shooting, and escape reconstructions were identical. And after a little psychological tweaking of their model, it made as much sense to the profilers for this guy to be using six Desert Eagles as it made for him to be using one.”

         Gurney responded only with a pained expression. He’d had mixed experiences with profilers over the years and tended to regard their achievements as no more than the achievements of common sense and their failures as proof of the vacuity of their profession. The problem with most profilers, especially those with a streak of FBI arrogance in their DNA, was that they thought they actually knew something and that their speculations were scientific.

         “In other words,” said Gurney, “using six outrageous guns is no more outrageous than using one outrageous gun, because outrageous is outrageous.”

         Hardwick grinned. “There’s one final oddity. All of the victims’ cars were black.”

“A popular Mercedes color, isn’t it?”

         “Basic black accounted for about thirty percent of the total production runs of the models involved, plus maybe another three percent for a metallic variant of black. So a third—thirty-three percent. The odds, then, would be that two of the six vehicles attacked would have been black—unless the color black were part of the shooter’s selection criteria.”

         “Why would color be a factor?”

         Hardwick shrugged, tilting his coffee container and draining the last of it into his mouth. “Another good question.”

         They sat quietly for a minute. Gurney was trying to connect the “oddities” in some way that might explain them all, then gave up, realizing he would need to know a lot more before such random details could be arranged into a pattern.

         “Tell me what you know about Max Clinter.”

         “Maxie is a special kind of guy. A mixed blessing.”

         “How mixed?”

         “He’s got a history.” Hardwick looked thoughtful, then let out a

grating laugh. “I’d love to see you guys get together. Sherlock the Logical Genius meets Ahab the Whale Chaser.”

         “The whale in question being . . . ?”

“The whale being the Good Shepherd. Maxie always had a tendency to sink his teeth into something and not let go, but after the little mishap that ended his career, he became a walking definition of demented determination. Catching the Good Shepherd was not the main purpose of his life, it was the only purpose. Made a lot people back away.” Hardwick gave Gurney a sideways look, accompanied by another rough laugh. “Be fun to see you and Ahab shoot the shit.”

         “Jack, anybody ever tell you your laugh sounds like someone flush- ing a toilet?”

         “Not anybody who was asking me for a favor.” Hardwick rose from his chair, brandishing his empty coffee container. “It’s a miracle how fast the human body converts this stuff into piss.” He headed out of the room.

         He returned a couple of minutes later and perched on the arm of his chair, speaking as though there’d been no interruption. “If you want to know about Maxie, best place to start would be the famous Buffalo mob incident.”


         “Famous in our little upstate world. Important Big Apple dicks like you probably never even heard about it.”

         “What happened?”

         “There was a mob guy in Buffalo by the name of Frankie Benno, who had organized the resurgence of heroin in western New York. Everyone knew this, but Frankie was smart and careful and protected by a handful of scumbag politicians. The situation started to obsess Maxie. He was determined to bring Frankie in for questioning, even though he couldn’t find anything specific to charge him with. He decided to bring things to a head by ‘harassing the fucker into making a mistake’—that was the last thing Maxie said to his wife before he went to a restaurant that was a known hangout for Frankie’s people, in a building that Frankie owned.”

         Gurney’s first thought was that “harassing the fucker into making a mistake” was a tricky objective. His second thought was that he’d done it often enough himself, except he called it “putting the suspect under pressure to observe his reactions.”

         Hardwick went on. “Maxie goes into the restaurant dressed and acting like a thug. He goes straight into the back room where Frankie’s crew hung out when they weren’t busy cracking heads. There’s two wiseguys in the room, sucking up linguine in clam sauce. Maxie walks over to them, pulls out a gun and a little disposable camera. He tells the wiseguys they have a choice: They can have their picture taken with their brains blown out or they can have it taken giving each other blow jobs. Up to them. Their choice. They have ten seconds to decide. They can grab each other’s cocks or their brains are on the wall. Ten . . .”

         Hardwick leaned toward Gurney, eyes sparkling, seemingly enthralled by the events he was recounting. “But Maxie is standing kinda close to them—too close—and one of the wiseguys reaches out and grabs the gun away from him. Maxie backs away and falls on his ass. The wiseguys are about to stomp the shit out of him, but Maxie suddenly drops the thug routine and starts screaming that he’s not what he was pretending to be, he’s really just an actor. He says somebody put him up to it, and nobody would have gotten hurt anyway, because the gun isn’t even real, it’s a stage prop. He’s practically crying. The wiseguys check the gun. Sure enough, it’s a fake. So now they want to know what the fuck’s going on, who put him up to it, et cetera. Maxie claims he doesn’t know, but that he’s supposed to meet the guy the next day to give him back the camera with the blow-job pictures and get five grand for his trouble. One of the wiseguys goes out to a pay phone on the street—this is before everybody had cell phones. When he comes back in, he tells Maxie they’re going to take him upstairs because Mr. Benno is upset. Maxie looks like he’s about to shit in his pants, begs them please just let him go. But they take him upstairs. Upstairs there’s a fortified office. Steel doors, locks, cameras. Major security. Frankie Benno is up there with two other wiseguys. When they bring Maxie into the inner sanctum, Frankie gives him a long, hard look. Then a nasty smile—like a great idea has just dawned on him. He says, ‘Take off your clothes.’ Maxie starts to whine like a baby. Frankie says, ‘Take off your fucking clothes and give me the fucking camera.’ Maxie gives him the camera, backs up against the wall like he’s trying to get as far away from these guys as he can. He takes off his jacket and shirt, then drops his pants. But his shoes are still on. So he sits down on the floor and starts pushing his pants down, but they’re caught up in a bunch around his ankles. Frankie tells him to hurry up. Frankie’s four wiseguys are grinning. Suddenly Maxie’s hands come up from the pants around his ankles, and in each hand he’s got a neat little SIG .38 pistol.” Hardwick paused dramatically. “What do you think of that?”

         The first thing he thought about was his own concealed Beretta.

         Then he thought about Clinter. Although the man was definitely a gambler and probably a little nuts, he knew how to create a layered narrative and how to manage it under pressure. He knew how to manipulate vicious and impulsive people, how to make them reach the conclusions he wanted them to reach. For an undercover cop—or a magician—there was no set of skills more valuable than that. But Gurney could sense something lurking in the arc of the story—something that foretold an ugly ending.

         Hardwick continued. “Exactly what happened next was the subject of an extensive Bureau investigation. But in the final analysis all they really had was Max’s word for it. He said simply that he’d believed his life was in immediate danger and he’d acted accordingly, with force appropriate to the circumstances. Bottom line, he left five dead mob- sters in that office and walked away without a scratch on him. From that day until the night five years later when he flushed it all down the toilet, Max Clinter had an aura of invincibility.”

         “Do you know what he’s doing now, how he supports himself?”

         Hardwick grinned. “Yeah. He’s a gun dealer. Unusual guns. Collectibles. Crazy military shit. Maybe even Desert Eagles.”