Deception: A Drew Patrick Crime Thriller
It started as a simple case. . .then the bodies started piling up.
Elizabeth Barlow hires private investigator Drew Patrick to gather evidence of her husband’s affair. But the truth is even more devastating. Nevin Barlow is entangled with some of Boston’s most dangerous figures, and Drew’s investigation leads deep into a shadowy world of money-laundering and murder.
When an informant is run down in the streets of Boston, Drew realizes just how far Nevin Barlow and his associates will go to keep their secrets from coming to light. But in a world of lies and deception, nothing stays secret forever. As Drew closes in on the truth he finds himself on the wrong side of both the FBI and Boston mobsters. A surprise twist will either prove his case or get him killed.
Witty and tough hard-boiled detective Drew Patrick returns in this gripping crime thriller novel that keeps the pages turning.
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Reader Praise for Deception . . .
“Edge of your seat writing.” – JoBear
“[…] action packed! Highly entertaining.” – Teresa
“Hold on to your seat! Excellent mystery.” – ShereeK
“A must read.” – Karin W.
Brody waited for his target like a hunter in a blind. Despite his six foot frame, he was a master at blending in. He could have been any tourist crowding America’s capital city. As Brody stood on the busy sidewalk he wiped perspiration from his brow. It was a futile effort in the swampy air that was Washington, D.C. in July.
The temperature had reached ninety degrees Fahrenheit and humidity draped the city like a hot, moist blanket. When he had exited the air conditioned hotel it was like stepping into a sauna. His shirt was drenched in sweat before he reached the Metro station less than a block away. How do people live like this?, he thought to himself.
But Brody didn’t dwell on the thought for long. He wasn’t philosophical about how people lived. His job was to think about how people would die. More to the point, how he would kill them. He preferred a single tap to the back of the head. For this job there would be no weapon, other than his hands. They were the size of catcher’s mitts and could be quite lethal wrapped around a person’s neck. It’s what the client wanted. And his client was paying a handsome sum of money.
Brody took a final drag on a cigarette and flicked it onto the ground. He was a pack a day smoker. Camels. The unfiltered strength of the tobacco was more satisfying. He knew smoking was destroying his lungs, but guys in his profession tended not to have long lifespans. Brody figured he would die in a shootout with police, the mob, or gangbangers long before lung cancer got him.
He looked at his watch. The target should be along soon. Brody glanced at the image on his phone. Phillip Swanson was a tall, pencil-necked guy. He worked as a paralegal at the Washington law offices of Barlow, Hughes, and Waterford. Why he had a contract out on him was a mystery to Brody. Not that it mattered. He was paid to kill people. So that is what he did. The why didn’t matter. Only the who, when, and how were pertinent to Brody.
Shit it is hot, he thought. Wasn’t the nation’s capital built on filled-in swamp land? Brody was certain that didn’t help. A double-whammy of it’s latitude and sitting atop old swamp land. Brody again wiped sweat from his brow.
People exited the office building where Barlow, Hughes, and Waterford leased space on the tenth floor. Brody scanned the faces of the men in the crowd. He spotted Swanson coming through the revolving door, cell phone stuck to his ear. Swanson waited at the light with others. He crossed with the herd at the walk signal. People splintered off in different directions once across.
Swanson turned right and headed toward Dupont Circle, the cell phone still glued to his ear. The poor sap wouldn’t even hear Brody come up behind him. Brody started down the street about twenty yards behind Swanson. Patience was required in his line of work. Brody needed to wait until the right moment to strike.
Dupont Circle was teeming with people in every direction. Brody would wait until they reached Swanson’s apartment building. It was just before Embassy Row. Brody had mapped it out earlier. He knew exactly how many steps it would take to close the distance. He knew how many seconds it would take to grab Swanson, choke the life out of him, and walk away.
The crowds thinned as they neared Swanson’s block. When he turned toward his apartment building, it was just Swanson and Brody on the quiet little side street. Brody took quick and large strides. Five seconds to close the distance. Swanson held his phone in his left hand as he reached into his pocket with his right. His hand emerged with apartment keys. Swanson opened the door and stepped inside.
The hit man was on Swanson’s heels and in the apartment’s small entry before the target realized he was not alone. As Swanson turned to close the door, Brody saw the flash of fear in the young man’s eyes. The hit man’s long arms extended and he grabbed at Swanson’s throat. His hands were vice grips around Swanson’s thin neck.
The young man kicked and twisted trying to escape the hit man’s grip. He didn’t resist long. Brody let Swanson’s lifeless body slump onto the floor. He glanced around the tiny studio apartment. For effect, he tipped a couple of lamps over and rifled through some drawers. Then he lifted the wallet from Swanson’s pocket and removed the cash. He dropped the wallet on the floor and left.
Brody pocketed the cash and walked back through Dupont Circle. He got on the Metro and rode in the cool subway car to Metro Center. There he met the representative for his client. He was fat with a bulbous nose which had been broken several times.
“Is it done?” the fat man said.
“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t,” Brody said.
The man handed Brody an envelope. “Here’s the other half,” he said.
Brody put the envelope in his pocket.
“Aren’t you going to count it?”
“You wouldn’t be stupid enough to short me,” Brody said.
The fat man nodded. Then he said, “You are to go to Boston and await further instructions.”
Brody liked Boston. Maybe he would have time to take in the Freedom Trail.
The air conditioning in my office hummed as Boston was in the middle of a heatwave which stretched from D.C. to Maine. I was on the couch reading Dan Shaughnessy’s column in The Boston Globe. My beagle-mix Dash was curled up on the opposite end of the couch with his head resting on my lower legs. His snoring had a rhythmic quality which nearly lulled me to sleep. Ah, the self-employed life of being an ace private detective.
I resisted a nap to finish the article. Dan’s take was that the defending World Series Champion Red Sox wouldn’t even make the playoffs this season. Regrettably, I agreed. The New York Yankees had a double-digit lead in the American League East and the Sox were in third place for a Wild Card spot. Mildly depressed that there seemed little point to baseball so soon after the All-Star break, started me thinking about the opening of Patriots training camp. I glanced at an article on Tom Brady’s contract extension, which discussed how it wasn’t really a contract extension. It was too much to take in for the day.
I folded the Globe and placed it on my lap. I tipped back my head and allowed Dash’s snoring to take over. The room soon grew dark as my eyelids drifted shut.
“Hello. Mr. Patrick.”
A female voice echoed in the distance. There were no visions of my love Jessica Casey, so I realized I wasn’t dreaming. I opened my eyes and sat up.
An elegantly dressed woman in her late fifties or early sixties stood at my office door. She was no Jessica Casey, but none could compare.
“Drew Patrick,” I said.
The woman considered my hand a moment. Then she took it and we shook. Her hand felt like a wet noodle.
“Elizabeth Barlow,” she said like it should impress me. Perhaps I should have been and didn’t know any better.
“How might I help you, Mrs. Barlow?” I said, optimistic she was bringing a big case my way.
“I am seeking the services of a private detective. Despite your not appearing particularly busy, you came highly recommended.”
I never knew what to do with an insult followed by a compliment.
“The bad guys don’t like the heat,” I said.
Mrs. Barlow frowned. Perhaps she was reconsidering the value of those recommendations.
“You seem like a charming man, in your own way.”
“I only know one way to be charming.”
I gave Elizabeth Barlow a full wattage smile. She neither swooned nor fanned herself. She sat down in one of the chairs I had in front of my desk for clients. I walked around my desk and sat down in what the office furniture website called the Deluxe Executive Chair. I was ready to impress Elizabeth Barlow as the CEO, President, and all-star detective of Drew Patrick, Private Investigations.
“You certainly have stellar credentials,” Elizabeth Barlow said as she stared at me from across my desk. “I just need to know that I can trust you with a very delicate matter.”
“I give you my word,” I replied sincerely.
“Very well, then. I want you to bring me evidence that my husband is having an affair.”
“What can you tell me about your husband?”
“Besides the fact that he is cheating on me?”
“Are you positive that he is cheating on you, or is that something I need to establish?”
Elizabeth Barlow sighed, then said, “Mr. Patrick are you married?”
“Well, let me just say that if you ever do get married, I would hope that you will be a much better husband than my husband has been to me.”
After pausing a moment, she continued, “Yes, I am positive that he is cheating on me. Since the day we married there have been a string of mistresses. I suspect he was unfaithful to me even before our wedding.”
“Okay. I’m sorry. Do you have any idea who the other woman is?”
“No,” she replied.
“Can you provide me some basic information about your husband? His name, where he works, places he goes, the kind of car he drives?”
She answered, “My husband’s name is Nevin Barlow.” Then she looked down at her well-manicured hands. I waited. Elizabeth Barlow let out a sigh.
“Mr. Patrick, I am a very private person. Understand that it is extremely difficult just coming to you. I will share what I must, but I prefer to keep as much of my life, and his, as private as possible.” She then looked back up and there was determination and anger in her eyes.
“I have worked long and hard to get the life that I have,” she said. “I will not allow that man to humiliate me. Discretion in this investigation is very important.”
“I understand, Mrs. Barlow, but it would be helpful to have more than just your husband’s name.”
I waited for her to decide what she was going to share. I learned a long time ago that you need a lot of patience when you are a detective. It can take time to gather information. Normally it isn’t this hard to get information from my own clients; assuming she actually hired me.
After a few moments she said, “He is a partner at Barlow, Hughes, and Waterford. We are members at the Oak Country Club. Nevin plays a round of golf there nearly every morning. He is driven in a black Mercedes.”
“I wrote down the information on a legal pad in front of me.”
Elizabeth Barlow must have been impressed. She asked me my daily rate. I told her. She didn’t protest. Frankly, it was probably pocket money to her. “Plus expenses,” I added.
“Certainly,” she replied without hesitation as she reached into her French boutique purse. She withdrew a checkbook, wrote a check, and handed it to me. “This will cover your first day. You may invoice me for expenses and any additional days required.”
She gathered her purse and stood. I stood and walked around my desk.
“Now, I have answered all that you requested of me. You should have sufficient information to begin your investigation,” she stated rather emphatically.
“Yes, I suppose that is enough for me to get started.”
“Very well, then.”
She removed a piece of note paper and handed it to me.
“Here is my address and phone number,” she said. “I expect you to report back to me as soon as possible.”
“Yes. Thank you. I will be in touch as soon as I know something,” I said, taking the note paper. I could feel that it was a fine parchment. Elizabeth Barlow had the finest of everything. Except, it seemed, in a husband.
“I trust that you will get to work on my case right away.” It was more of a statement than a question.
“Yes, Ma’am,” I said. “I have moved you to the front of the line.”
Nevin Barlow was a squat man with a spare tire for a belly. He had slicked-back dark hair. The color seemed too dark to be natural. His spray-on tan gave him a light orange hue. I’m not sure if that’s the look he was going for or simply a horrible mistake in the tanning booth.
He wore checkered golf pants and a bright yellow golf shirt. The shirt clashed with the spray-on tan. It was nearly blinding to look at him. Fortunately, I was wearing my aviator sunglasses. So beyond looking like a taller version of Tom Cruise in Top Gun, my eyes were adequately protected from Nevin Barlow’s fashion faux pas.
I sat drinking iced tea while Nevin set off in a foursome for a round of golf. I thought I recognized one of the other men, but I couldn’t be sure from where I was sitting on the club’s restaurant patio.
“Another iced tea, sir,” the waiter asked me.
“Let’s switch it up,” I said. “Sam Adams Summer Ale, please.”
“Right away, sir.”
The waiter retreated to the bar, and I took in the expansive greens of Oak Country Club. While a private club, I knew the head security guard. We bartered my access in exchange for two tickets to a Celtics game at TD Garden when basketball season started. His assessment was that Nevin Barlow was a horse’s patootie–only he used more colorful language.
The waiter returned and placed my Sam Adams Summer Ale on the table. I thanked him.
“My pleasure, sir.”
I took a sip of the summer ale and watched groups of overweight, middle-aged, white rich guys go past in golf carts. More overweight, middle-aged, white rich guys congregated at the bar. Women in expensive sundresses sipped fruity cocktails and Long Island iced teas.
“Drew Patrick,” I heard a man say behind me. The voice of a man I knew. I turned and looked over my shoulder.
“Mark,” I said. “They let you in here?”
Mark Sumners was a special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation out of their Boston office. We had shared several cases together when I had been with the Bureau.
“I could ask the same of you,” he said. “Tell me, did you jump the back fence or has the Oak Country Club lowered their admission standards?”
Sumners sat at the table across from me. He wore navy blue golf pants and a white golf shirt with a black Nike swoosh on the sleeve.
“With a fifty thousand dollar joining fee, I wouldn’t be a member even if they did lower the standards,” I said.
“And you don’t play golf,” Sumners said.
“But they have tennis and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Not to mention numerous soirees throughout the year.”
The waiter approached and asked if Sumners wanted anything.
“What are you drinking?” he asked me.
“Sam Adams Summer Ale,” I said. “It has a crisp, spicy flavor and body of malted wheat, lemon zest, and grains of paradise.”
“Grains of paradise?” Sumners said.
“A rare pepper from Africa,” the waiter chimed in. “First used in the thirteenth century.”
“Sounds interesting,” Sumners said. “I’ll have one of those.”
“And you can bring me another,” I said, holding up my nearly empty bottle.
“Well,” I said after the waiter left, “I know you aren’t the country club type, so what’s the case?”
“You first,” Sumners said.
“As much as it pains me to say it, I am looking for evidence of an extra-marital affair.”
“What, the ace detective is not above taking cheating spouse cases?”
“The summer is my slow season,” I said.
“And it is a paying case,” Sumners added.
“Probably no more than a day or two in billable hours, but I get to expense the beer.”
The waiter returned with our summer ales, placed the bottles on the table, and then left to attend to a group of women wanting to order lunch.
“So what does Alvarez have you working on?” I said.
Juan Alvarez was the Special Agent in Charge of the Boston FBI office.
“We suspect, but can’t yet prove, that Leonardo Mancini is laundering drug money for several Boston gangs.”
“The Mancini crime family?” I said.
“The same. Old man Mancini is about to retire, so junior is taking the reins.”
“That is why he looked familiar,” I said.
Sumners took a sip of his beer and waited for me to elaborate.
“One of the men playing golf with the guy I am following looked like a younger version of Angelo Mancini.”
“So Leo Mancini is playing golf with the guy you are following? The cheating husband?”
“I haven’t proven he is cheating yet. But, yes, it would make sense that it is Leo Mancini with him. Certainly looks like Angelo Mancini’s kid.”
“Small world,” Sumners said. “Who’s your guy?”
“Name is Nevin Barlow. Partner in Barlow, Hughes, and Waterford.”
“It’s a very small world,” Sumners said. “Barlow is the Mancini family attorney.”
My cheating husband case was getting a little more interesting. Elizabeth Barlow hadn’t bothered to mention that her husband is the lawyer to one of Boston’s oldest crime families. Perhaps she isn’t aware, or didn’t think it was relevant. It’s also possible she didn’t want me to know.
“Is Barlow part of your investigation?” I said.
Sumners shook his head. “Not at present. So far his legal work for the Mancini’s seems all above board. Family wills, trusts, and business filings for their legal enterprises. But I have my suspicions.”
I took a swig of my beer. It was cool and refreshing. I could go for a third, but I was on the clock.
“I hear Nevin Barlow is a real horse’s patootie,” I said. “And that is a direct quote. So it might not be much of a stretch for him to also represent their organized crime interests.”
“Not at all,” Sumners said. “And it is hard to imagine he is not aware of their underworld dealings.”
“So if I should come across anything in the course of my investigation…”
“We would appreciate you passing it along.”
“Happy to help my friendly neighborhood G-Man.”
“Not that long ago we would have been officially working this case together.”
“Long ago enough,” I said.
Sumners shook his head and said, “You were among the best the Bureau had. But it didn’t surprise me all that much when you walked away.”
I nodded and drained the rest of my summer ale.
“You ever miss it?”
I shrugged. “I enjoy being a private investigator.”
“The two don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” Sumners said. “You can like what you do now and miss being a special agent.”
“True,” I said. “But I prefer the life I have now. It suits me better.”
Barlow and his golf group returned to the clubhouse. Sumners confirmed Leo Mancini was part of the foursome. They had a round of drinks at the bar, then went in separate directions.
“I’ll let you know if I discover anything of interest,” I said.
“Thanks,” Sumners said. “Don’t be a stranger.”
Sumners followed Leo. I continued in my pursuit of evidence that Nevin Barlow was cheating on his wife.
Book 3 in Drew Patrick Private Investigator Series
Crime Thriller, Hard-Boiled Detective, Private Investigator, Crime Fiction.
Published: September 2019
Wheelhouse Publishers, LLC
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