"Expect the unexpected...in an action-walloping award-winner of harrowing twists and turns..."
--Gordon Hauptfleisch - Seattle Post Intelligencer and BlogCritics.org
Release Date: May 21st, 2018
P.I. Duke Rogers finds himself in a combustible situation in this racially charged thriller. His case might have to wait…
The immediate problem: getting out of South Central Los Angeles in one piece during the 1992 “Rodney King” riots and that’s just the beginning of his problems.
Duke finds an old “friend” for a client. The client’s “friend,” an up and coming African-American actress, ends up dead. Duke knows his client did it. Feeling guilty that he inadvertently helped the killer find the victim, he wants to track down the client/killer. He starts his mission by going to the dead actress’ family in South Central L.A.—and while there the “Rodney King” riots ignite.
While Duke searches for the killer he must also deal with the racism of his partner, Jack, and from Warren, the murder victim’s brother, who is a mirror image of Jack in that department. He must also confront his own possible latent racism—even as he’s in an interracial relationship with the dead woman’s sister.
We came to Florence and Normandie. Half a block away the cops were regrouping. Or retreating. Or hiding out. It was hard to tell. There was a swarm of them, but they weren’t doing much of anything. People were looting, throwing rocks, bottles and the like right under their noses. As we left the intersection, I glanced back. A large semi was pulling into the intersection. We continued away from the intersection. Later I learned that this was where Reginald Denny, the driver of the semi, was pulled from the truck. Beaten within an inch of his life. We were gone before it happened. But I still have pangs of guilt for having been so close and having done so little. Now I know how lucky we were.
In a sense it was a quid pro quo situation. Tiny’s black face was my passport among his people. My white face was his insurance that the cops might just leave him alone—if they knew he was with me. That might have been why he wanted to help me out. Protection. But it wasn’t an uneasy truce. I felt comfortable with him. Like we’d known each other all our lives. Maybe we had. The last thirty minutes had been a lifetime.
We crouched behind a low wall at a service station, surveying the situation. He watched two sides. I watched the other two, covering each other’s backs. We were both armed; neither of us wanted to use our guns.
Noise barked from every direction. Sirens. Shouts. Choppers hovering. Shots. Too many shots. It all blended into a cacophony of confusion. The din was ear-shattering and lifeless, inert, all at the same time.
“Why’re you helping me?” I asked Tiny as we scoped the street out. He never answered my question, though I asked several more times.
There was an explosion in the distance, then the shock wave. A new column of black smoke appeared every few minutes. Slow-motion funnel clouds.
“Man, don’t they know they’re tearing down their own goddamn neighborhoods,” he said, scanning the horizon. “Where’re they gonna get food and clothes when all this burns to the ground?
About the author:
Paul D. Marks is the author of the Shamus Award-Winning mystery-thriller White Heat. Publishers Weekly calls White Heat a “taut crime yarn.” His story Ghosts of Bunker Hill was voted #1 in the 2016 Ellery Queen Readers Poll. Howling at the Moon (EQMM 11/14) was short-listed for both the 2015 Anthony and Macavity Awards. Midwest Review calls his novella Vortex “…a nonstop staccato action noir.” Marks’ story Windward, from the Coast to Coast: Private Eyes from Sea to Shining Sea anthology, has been selected for the 2018 Best American Mystery Stories (fall 2018), edited by Louise Penny & Otto Penzler.
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