Penns River Book 1
Penns River rarely sees two homicides in a year. Two in little over a week is almost too much for the police force to handle. The assigned detectives—Ben Dougherty, a former MP and Penns River native, and retired Pittsburgh cop Willie Grabek—find links to bind the two cases, but their investigation is complicated by the involvement of private investigator Daniel Rollison, a retired spy on a suspect’s payroll who is really working for himself.
Pittsburgh mob boss Mike Mannarino also lives in Penns River and has more than a passing interest in the case. The two cops’ savvy competes with the limitations of their small town’s resources and the interference of Rollison and Mannarino in a story that shows identifying a killer and proving it are separate things.
Praise for Worst Enemies
“I finished reading this book on a gurney in an Emergency Room with crying kids, a car accident victim and a loud drunk keeping me company, and barely noticed them. If that’s not a recommendation, I don’t know what is!”
—New Mystery Reader
“Possibly the best book I’ve read this year. Over 300 pages long and as soon as I was done, I was tempted to flick to the front and start again.”
—Col’s Criminal Library
Tom Widmer needed to pay attention. It’s not every night someone tells you how to kill his wife.
Hard enough to hear in Tease as it was, the tekno/disco/hip-hop cranked to Volume Eleven, so loud the pulsing in his eardrums ruined the floor’s foot massage. Chastity’s nipple in his ear didn’t help. She had the rest of her tit wrapped against his cheek like she was about to go off shift in fifteen minutes and needed to get him into the VIP Room now, which she was and did. This was her go-to move when time got short: sit on the arm of his chair, slip the teddy or camisole or whatever they call that thing she wore off-stage out of the way, then ease it in. Usually he didn’t mind. Usually it cost him an extra fifty for a trip to the VIP Room. Not tonight.
Tom turned his head and Chastity gave him a mouthful. He couldn’t resist a quick lick before he pulled away. “I’m sorry, baby. Marty and I gotta talk. Maybe later.”
Chastity pulled a pout. “I go off shift in fifteen minutes, Tommy. Can’t it wait?”
Tom looked at Marty and saw no, it couldn’t wait. “Sorry, babe. Next time.”
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“You’re just a tease.” The smile that never reached her eyes didn’t hide the irritation in her voice. Fifteen minutes wasted. She made a show of tucking the nipple away and ran her tongue around his ear. Bit the lobe for good measure. “Next time. You’ll be sorry you passed.”
Marty waited for her to get out of hearing range, about three feet. “Can I have your attention now, or do I have to wait for your dick to get soft again?”
“You’re sure it has to be tomorrow?” Tom swallowed the bottom half of his gin and tonic, looked for the waitress.
Marty put his hand over Tom’s and forced the empty glass onto the table. “Pay attention. This has to be done before Monday. She hired a lawyer. You understand me? She already hired a fucking lawyer. Once they serve me with papers, there’s no way anyone will believe a burglar killed her. Thursday’s my regular night out and we have this thing with her family over the weekend. It has to be tomorrow.”
“That’s not a lot of time to plan.”
“Fucking A, and I got tired of waiting for you to do it. Everything you need’s in the car.”
“No, dumbass, in my car. How the fuck would I get it into your car?”
Tom really wanted that gin; the tonic had become optional. He’d had fun the past few months, basking in young pussy while he and Marty talked about killing each other’s wives, a couple of lap dances for the road. He figured his divorce was almost as close as Marty’s, and Marian would get half of what was already only half as much as it had been, the market’s death by a thousand cuts bleeding him every day. The sun would shine brighter in a world without Marian.
Now Marty was good to go. Carol had a lawyer and Tom didn’t know for a fact that Marian didn’t. Marty was right: once papers were filed, neither wife could catch cold without her husband falling under suspicion. Of course, wife killing was much more entertaining as an abstraction, and Tom had never killed anything more evolved than an insect in his life. Buried the whole cage when the kids’ pet hamster died so he wouldn’t have to touch Fluffy. Still, it was now or never. Kill her or face the idea of living like an intern again, running the copier for guys whose cufflinks cost more than his car.