‘Let me paint you a theatrical picture, McCall,’ Logan said, ‘so your half-baked, off-off-off-off-Broadway brain can somehow wrap itself around these particular, fucked-up fences that you yourself have no doubt constructed.’
Buckle up boys and girls, for the full-on non-stop wild ride that is Emboozlement – the new wise-cracking crime caper which is just perfect for fans of Janet Evanovich.
Meet sassy private eye Kate McCall in this super-exclusive preview – the novel goes on sale on Friday 15 September, but you can savour the flavour of author Rich Leder’s rapid-fire writing right now.
Grab a coffee, sit back and brace yourself…
If you turned to crusty, son-of-a-bitch cop in the dictionary, Logan’s mug would be looking back at you. He was in his late fifties and had been a homicide detective for three decades. He was five foot ten and fit for a man his age or ten years younger. My acting career annoyed him almost as much as my PI career, though plenty of other things annoyed him too, so in some ways I was just another name on his shit list. I’d been on that list since the first day we’d met. I’d slipped off it a couple of times, but had always found my way back. Now that I had committed to being a PI, I was on the list for good.
My permanent position was secured by the fact I had promised him I was ‘all done investigating any damn thing in New York’ and then kept right on investigating damn things in New York. I’d meant the promise when I’d made it, but as Jimmy had said to me more than once, ‘Some promises you can’t keep until later.’
This was one of those promises.
‘The curtain opens as I arrive at Lowry Lowe,’ Logan said, ‘and tell the partners someone in their dipshit divorce factory is going to get murdered at the end of the week by a serial corporate killer for hire whose calling card is he shoots your goddamn eyes out after he murders you. How am I doing so far?’
‘The partners ask me how in the hell I know this information, as in what gives me the right to scare the crap out of everyone in sight, meaning right at the top of the first act is where the play runs off the rails. See where I’m going?’
‘Page one rewrite.’
‘I tell the partners I heard it from an actor who thinks she’s a private investigator because she inherited her father’s PI business after he was murdered and shot in the eyes ten whole fucking weeks ago. Half the time, I tell the partners, the actor can’t tell her ass from her elbow, and the other half I’m arresting her for idiocy beyond the pale.’
‘I can tell my ass from my elbow two-thirds of the time at least.’
He’d reminded me of my father more than once, Logan had, including right then. Jimmy had spent a good deal of his life frustrated by my life. Frustration that sounded like, ‘Jesus Christ, Katie, does your brain not work at all?’ which is a question he’d asked me daily since I was sixteen. Truth be told, I’d asked myself the same question a ton of times too.
But Jimmy had never given up on me, even when he probably should have, and he’d listened to me more than he’d ever admit, even when he probably shouldn’t have.
The same was true of Logan.
‘‘How does the actor know this?’, the partners ask me,’ Logan said. ‘And I reply, ‘Voodoo, the eclipse of the moon, and the wind in the willows.’’
‘Yes, the last one, tell them that, the wind in the willows.’
He sat back, shook his head in disbelief like Jimmy used to do, gestured at his desk, and said, ‘Can you see my mountain of paperwork?’
‘They can see your mountain from the Mount Airy Lodge.’
Logan’s desk would one day be in the Smithsonian or maybe Ripley’s. Every kind of paper possible was scribbled with names and addresses and phone numbers and chicken-scratch notes and was haphazardly piled higher and higher until it looked like the Poconos, with valleys that exposed a corner of his phone here, the edge of his old-school Royal typewriter there. He had multiple Rolodexes so jam-packed the cards randomly popped off the rolls in futile attempts to escape suffocation. Logan would grab the offenders and shove them back in place without a second thought.
I was like one of those cards.
‘These are homicides ranging in temperature from hot to cold, ranging in age from four o’fucking clock this morning to a lifetime ago,’ Logan said. ‘The reason they remain on my desk instead of in some faraway file cabinet is that they—each and every one—have a source, a justification for me to insert myself in the downward-spiraling circumstances. Without a source, I cannot walk into a law firm that chews married people to pieces and spits out divorcees and announce that murder is on their menu.’
‘I’m your source.’
‘You are not my source. You are my painful reminder that morons make law enforcement harder than it has to be. The laws of logic prohibit me from opening an investigation based on the premonition of a reckless actor who I have arrested on multiple occasions. ‘The sky is falling’ is not how NYPD Homicide conducts business. How do you know Lowry Lowe is the next name on the list?’
This is where the private investigator thing got tricky for me. How much of the truth is too much? I thought. And how soon do you put it in play?
‘Someone told me,’ I said, deciding that amount of truth at that moment was plenty for now.
‘I don’t know him.’ It was mostly true. I knew it was the killer, but I had no idea who the killer was. ‘An anonymous source.’
‘So an anonymous source you don’t know called you out of thin air and said, ‘I was going through my address book and came across your name and thought you might like to know the next pair of eyes going to be shot to shit.’’
‘He texted me.’
Logan narrowed his eyes. Three decades of investigating murders in Manhattan had imbued him with radar that could read the dimmest light of truth in a pitch-black tunnel of bullshit and vice versa. I had not lied to him about Harriman, I had not lied to him about the Industrial Douchebag, and I was not lying now. I wasn’t telling him the whole truth, but we were only dating. We weren’t married or anything.
‘Did you text the anonymous source back?’ Logan said.
‘Yes, I did.’
‘What did you say?’
‘I told him I was going to the police.’ Total lie, I admit. But I had kept part of my word, which was better than keeping none of it. The point is the ball was in Logan’s court now.
‘You’re not going to tell me his number, are you?’ Logan said.
‘He’s my source, Logan, and he’s kind of jumpy. If you start messaging him, he’ll stop talking to me. I’m your best bet here,’ I said, and I pushed back from Harriman’s desk and stood up.
‘I don’t want you anywhere near Lowry Lowe. Do you understand what I’m saying?’
‘You don’t want me anywhere near Lowry Lowe.’
‘And I want every text he sends you and every reply you send him. Every one.’
He opened a desk drawer and removed my father’s Colt—my Colt.
‘I retrieved your gun from the Weehawken Police Department, and I am returning it to you,’ Logan said, placing it on top of the chaos that covered his desk. ‘I am not doing this because we are friends.’
‘We’re not friends?’ I said. I didn’t reach for the gun because his hand was still on it, meaning he was giving it to me, yes, but not quite yet.
‘Not even during my nightmares, in which you are often the star. I’m doing this because you will not listen to a word I’ve said. You will instead continue to investigate your father’s murder, putting your life at grave risk. If something were to happen to you—dismemberment, for instance, or death, more likely—and it was intimated that having your gun might have somehow saved your sorry ass, then I would be plagued by your absence, though your absence is what I hope for on a daily basis.’
He handed me the Colt, and I could hear, not see, the smallest smile in his voice, and I thought, Just like Jimmy.
Loving it so far? Come back later this week for a brilliant giveaway – and more – or in the meanwhile you can bounce over to Amazon and check out the earlier adventures of private eye Kate McCall. Perfect for people who can’t get enough of Stephanie Plum…