Grind Joint

Penns River Book 2

A new casino is opening in the rural town of Penns River, Pennsylvania but just where the money is coming from no one really knows. Is it Daniel Hecker, bringing hope to a mill town after years of plant closings? Or is the town’s salvation really an opening for Mike “The Hook” Mannarino’s Pittsburgh mob to move part of their action up the river? Or could it be someone even worse?

When the body of a drug dealer is dumped on the casino steps shortly before its grand opening, Detectives Ben “Doc” Dougherty and Willie Grabek have to survive their department’s own inner turmoil and figure out not only who’s behind the murder, but what it means to whoever is behind the operation itself. Between the cops, the mob, and the ex-spook in charge of casino security (Daniel Rollison, a man with more secrets than anyone will ever know), Grind Joint is a mix of betrayal, police action, small town politics, sudden violence and the lives of the people of a town just trying to look after itself.

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Praise for Grind Joint


The building used to be a mini-mall. Penney’s on one end, Monkey Ward’s on the other, with a handful of little local shops in between. Nail salon, barber, wing joint, liquor store. They closed years ago, boarded up the windows. The Blockbuster in an outbuilding went tits up last summer. The toy store next door saw half a dozen re-inventions before it managed to scrape by as one of those operations where everything was five bucks or less. That and the bank were all that were left. Kenny Czarniak would have thought it ironic, how only the bank and the discount store survived amid the shells of failure, but any sense of irony had left him long ago.

He parked fifty yards from the service door in back. Room for at least a thousand cars in the lot. Constructions crews didn’t need ten percent of the spaces, but casino management wanted the employees to get used to parking away from the entrances so customers could have the good spaces when the doors opened next week. Pulled his gloves on with his teeth and fished the casino keys out of his jacket pocket.

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Some assholes had left bags of trash by the door again. Not everyone loved the idea of a casino in town. Some thought it hilarious to pull teenage harassments like dumping garbage or a flattened road kill in front of the doors. Never bothered to think the only person they inconvenienced was Kenny, who was just like them and didn’t give a shit whether Penns River had a casino or not so long as he had a place to work.

He looked down to find the key and when he looked up he saw the pile of trash was actually a bum sleeping one off. They didn’t often come this far from the old business district. Too spread out here, a five mile walk to the shelter where some of them took a bus into Pittsburgh to bum quarters off shoppers. Kenny’d nudge him awake and tell him to keep moving, point him west on Leechburg Road, town’s that way.

Eight feet away and Kenny noticed the guy’s face had an odd color. Leaned over for a closer look and realized the discoloration was ice crystals. Then he saw the bullet holes, one over each eye, and dropped the keys grabbing the cell out of his pocket.

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The Penns River Series