by Michael Walsh
All Detective Matt Conley ever wanted was to raise a family in Ocean Park with his stunning and ambitious wife Lisa. When a corpse is found in his church, Matt begins a journey that reveals corruption and decay in his city and deceit in his marriage. As he searches for the murderer of a local businessman, a gang war erupts for control of the city’s drug trade, and the body count rises. With his reluctant new partner, Detective Lloyd Kendricks, Matt weaves his way through the puzzling connections between street gangs, politicians, bikers, and a private kink club.
Will their unlikely alliance be enough to return Matt's beloved hometown to its halcyon days? And will he find the faith he needs to rebuild his crumbling marriage?
GENRE: Mystery, with minor romance
Three curved steps extended from a windowless building like an open hand, a building that matched Sage’s sketch. A dull aluminum rail split the stairway and led to a door covered with riveted metal plates. The front of the place was a sheer wall, a red-brick cliff. No street number on the door. No sign. Just a curved coil of green tubing over the entrance that led to a plain fixture with a stingy bulb.
The alley was quiet, a dead-end valley surrounded by man-made mountains of mortar and clay. Conley stepped on the first stair and the building seemed to hum a slow rush, a dull heartbeat.
“You sure this is the Paladin?” Thompson asked.
“Looks like it.” It has to be. “Ready?” He clasped the frigid rail.
She gave him an arch look and walked past him to the door. Determined. Fearless.
“Wait,” he said, and pulled a wad of paper from his pocket, unfolded it on his open hand, and smoothed it with the other. “Take a last look at Carrie.”
She stood next to him, shoulders touching, and they studied the drawing. Carrie’s chin tilted down and her lifeless hair framed a frightened face. Eyes peered from under furrowed brows. Her name was written at the bottom of the page in flowing letters. Funny how a name under a picture gave it soul.
“We talk to Carrie and no one else,” he said. “Sage says to trust her.”
He stared at the portrait and kept smoothing the page even after it was flat. When he saw Carrie, he’d know, and not just from high cheekbones and a delicate chin. Sage had captured abject hopelessness in the woman's eyes.
He looked up. The hum grew loud. Music blared.
Thompson had opened the door and was stepping inside with one long-legged stride, one stilettoed step.
He pocketed the drawing, climbed the steps, grasped the round knob, held the door.
Abandon hope, all ye who enter.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Michael Walsh attended Boston University, where he became a staffer for the Daily Free Press and earned a degree in journalism. His first professional job was at a public relations and advertising firm, writing press releases that appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and New England Journal of Engineering. He later became a technical writer, writing and editing jet engine manuals for General Electric Aircraft Engines. GE relocated him to Cincinnati and Florida, where he currently resides. He’s written and studied fiction for years at BU, the University of Cincinnati, and now Jacksonville, where he won the First Coast Writers Festival short story contest and had work published in the UK’s Twisted Tongue and Askew Reviews. He’s an active member of the Bard Society, Florida’s longest-running writers’ workshop.
His five novels and dozens of short stories, most of them richly-layered mysteries, take place in New England. Mike and his wife Jean live in Florida with their three sons.