Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

a relentless thrill ride - Deadly Lullaby: A Thriller by Robert McClure

For readers of Harlan Coben and Robert Crais, Robert McClure’s rollicking crime novel of family and felony takes readers on a relentless thrill ride through the L.A. underworld.


For readers of Harlan Coben and Robert Crais, Robert McClure’s rollicking crime novel of family and felony takes readers on a relentless thrill ride through the L.A. underworld.

Fresh off a nine-year stint in San Quentin, career hitman Babe Crucci plans to finally go straight and enjoy all life has to offer—after he pulls one or two more jobs to shore up his retirement fund. More than anything, Babe is dead set on making up for lost time with his estranged son, Leo, who just so happens to be a rising star in the LAPD.

The road to reconciliation starts with tickets to a Dodgers game. But first, Leo needs a little help settling a beef over some gambling debts owed to a local mobster. This kind of thing is child’s play for Babe–until a sudden twist in the negotiations leads to a string of corpses and a titanic power shift in gangland politics. With the sins of his father piling up and dragging him down, Leo throws himself into the investigation of a young prostitute’s murder, a case that makes him some unlikely friends—and some brutally unpredictable enemies.

Caught up in a clash of crime lords, weaving past thugs with flamethrowers who expend lives like pocket change, Babe and Leo have one last chance to face the ghosts of their past—if they want to live long enough to see their future.


He exits his car and flops behind the wheel of my new Caddy. I tell him to skip the expressway and take the scenic route through the heart of Boyle Heights, Cesar Chavez Avenue, a street called Brooklyn Avenue when I grew up there. I say I want to enjoy the sights—the crazy murals painted on buildings, the street vendors, the new businesses that have sprung up here and there, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

He does what I say but does not like it.

I do not care what he likes.

Even after enjoying a week of it at full throttle, freedom still makes me so giddy that nothing much bothers me, not even a mute son I have not seen in nine years. The things I notice out the window are a punk boutique, a tattoo joint, and two chink babes I know are streetwalkers, and I savor the fact that I can patronize any of these conveniences at my whim, permission needed from no one.

My son ignores my comments to that effect, seems somehow put off by them, so in a further effort to break the ice I say, “Well, uh, you look great, kid, really great.”

This is a true statement.

He says nothing, though, and here I sit, vainly expecting a return compliment.

For laughs, I slap his thigh, and he jerks as if I had spanked his dick.

My son, you see, never adjusted to the touch of other human beings. Even fought his mother when she fed him, and would let her hold him just long enough to suck his bottle dry. I picture her in the rocking chair by his crib with her arms crossed, returning my son’s stare and saying, “It’s unnatural for him to cry every time I hold him. It’s too fucking strange to contemplate.”

“Well, look at that,” I say to him, pointing to my left, “La Parrilla is still open after all these years. Say, how ’bout we pull in and order up some burritos for a late breakfast? You still like steak burritos for breakfast, right?”

He looks at his watch, maintaining his usual hard exterior, but the nerve endings popping and crackling just underneath his skin. “We don’t have time. Macky’ll get pissed if we’re late.”

I smile. “I will handle Macky. How many times do I have to tell you I will handle him, huh? How many?” I have repeated this fact to him often over the last two days, probably more often than I have ever said any one thing to him.

He looks relieved in a hesitant way; like the only time I ever took him to the doctor, the time I told him the penicillin shot would hurt just a second, then make him feel brand new.

“I really want to get this over with,” he says. “Let’s eat after we meet with Macky.”

For an instant I forget all about that lump of shit, Macky, am jubilant to the point of almost wetting my shorts. It is shameful, I know, to get so excited just because my son agreed to eat a simple meal with me. It is nonetheless a heartfelt reaction that, in fact, makes my heart race, and I actually feel it pound against the tickets tucked in my breast pocket. I almost ask if he wants to catch the Dodgers game this afternoon, then decide to save the invitation for breakfast.

My smile gets bigger. After all these years, sometimes I actually know when not to push my fucking luck.

About the author:
Robert McClure read pulp fiction as a kid when he should have been studying, but ultimately cracked down enough to obtain a bachelor's in criminology from Murray State University and a law degree from the University of Louisville.

He is now an attorney and crime fiction writer who lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky. His story "My Son" appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories, and he has had other works published in MudRock: Stories & Tales, Hardboiled, Thug Lit, and Plots with Guns.

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