Last Chance for Glory - Stephen Solomita - ebook

Last Chance for Glory ebook

Stephen Solomita

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A broke PI attempts to prove the innocence of a wrongly convicted homeless man. Late at night by posh Gramercy Park, a woman peers into the backseat of a parked car. She's never seen a dead body before, but there's enough blood that she has no doubt what she's looking at. She remembers seeing a strange man nearby, and the police use her fuzzy identification and a few other bits of tenuous evidence to finger Billy Sowell, an alcoholic bum with limited intelligence and a patchy memory, as the killer. Who cares if he's guilty? Billy's an easy conviction, and his case is forgotten until years later, when it falls in the lap of PI Marty Blake. Blake will take anything as he tries to rebuild his practice after a year's suspension for illegal surveillance, and he attempts to clear Billy's name using his expertise at computerized investigation. But when it comes to proving the New York Police Department wrong, virtual sleuthing will not be enough. For this computer expert, it's time to play tough.

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Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Part One

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Part Two

Prologue

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

Twelve

Thirteen

Fourteen

Fifteen

Sixteen

Seventeen

Eighteen

Nineteen

Twenty

Twenty-One

Twenty-Two

Twenty-Three

Twenty-Four

Twenty-Five

Twenty-Six

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

A broke PI attempts to prove the innocence of a wrongly convicted homeless man.

Late at night by posh Gramercy Park, a woman peers into the backseat of a parked car. She’s never seen a dead body before, but there’s enough blood that she has no doubt what she’s looking at. She remembers seeing a strange man nearby, and the police use her fuzzy identification and a few other bits of tenuous evidence to finger Billy Sowell, an alcoholic bum with limited intelligence and a patchy memory, as the killer. Who cares if he’s guilty? Billy’s an easy conviction, and his case is forgotten until years later, when it falls in the lap of PI Marty Blake.

Blake will take anything as he tries to rebuild his practice after a year’s suspension for illegal surveillance, and he attempts to clear Billy’s name using his expertise at computerized investigation. But when it comes to proving the New York Police Department wrong, virtual sleuthing will not be enough. For this computer expert, it’s time to play tough.

About the Author

Stephen Solomita (b. 1943) is a prolific author of thrillers. Born in Bayside, Queens, he worked as a cab driver before becoming a novelist in the late 1980s. His first novel, A Twist of the Knife (1988), won acclaim for its intimate depiction of New York’s rough patches, its gritty style, and its dark vision of urban terrorism. This debut introduced Stanley Moodrow, a disaffected New York Police Department detective.Solomita wrote six more novels starring Moodrow, moving the character into a PI practice, and concluded the series with Damaged Goods (1996).

Last Chance for Glory

Stephen Solomita

 

BASTEI ENTERTAINMENT

 

Bastei Entertainment is an imprint of Bastei Lübbe AG

 

Copyright © 2015 by Bastei Lübbe AG, Schanzenstraße 6-20, 51063 Cologne, Germany

 

For the original edition:

Copyright © 2013 by The Mysterious Press, LLC, 58 Warren Street, New York, NY. U.S.A.

 

Copyright © 1994 by Stephen Solomita

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Erin Fitzsimmons

 

E-book production: Jouve Germany GmbH & Co. KG

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-445-6

 

www.bastei-entertainment.com

 

All rights reserved, including without limitation the right to reproduce this e-book or any portion thereof in any form or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, now known or hereinafter invented, without the express written permission of the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

I need to thank an old friend of mine here, Dr. Alan Bindiger. Thinking back, I can’t recall finishing a single book without consulting him at some point. I inevitably found him patient, knowledgeable, and curious. From my point of view, that’s an unbeatable combination.

PART ONE

PROLOGUE

November 27: 2:48 AM

THE HOWL BEGINS AS a single note in the upper range of a polished contralto. It holds steady for a moment, then slowly rises through the octaves, finally disappearing somewhere beyond the range of the human ear. Melody Mitchell, asleep in her bed, tries to incorporate the howl into her dream, hears it as a distant siren on a deserted city street. She visualizes the headlights of an ambulance rushing to an emergency, sees wet roads, red and blue reflections on rain-slick asphalt.

It doesn’t help, though. It never does. The howl begins again, proceeding from the same note to the same emptiness, then drops to a soft moan as the covers begin to slide across her back.

Even half-asleep, still pulled by the fading edges of her dream, Melody Mitchell is not shocked by the liquid brown eyes that meet hers when she lifts her head from the pillow.

“You’re gonna be the death of me, Roscoe. The absolute death,” she mutters.

Roscoe, undaunted, does a little dance, the moan now transformed into a series of sharp barks.

My fate, Melody thinks. Other middle-aged women have husbands and children; I have a geriatric Doberman with a weak bladder.

She shrugs into a long, goose-down coat, jams her feet into fleece-lined boots, snaps the leash onto Roscoe’s collar.

“Roscoe,” she repeats, “you’re gonna be the death of me. No doubt about it. And don’t give me that look. What I should do is swap you for a girl dog. At least they pee all at one time. They don’t have to wet every hubcap on the block.”

She steps out of the elevator to find Petya already holding the door. The rumor, among the residents of 551 Gramercy Park North, is that Petya, instead of protecting the shareholders from New York predators, sleeps the night away. If that’s the case, Melody has yet to catch him at it.

“Is late, Miss Mitchell. I am thinking for once dog waits till morning.”

“No such luck, Petya. What’s it like out there?”

“Is cold. Winter begins.”

Petya arranges the crags and crevices of his battered, Russian face into what Melody can only see as a look of resigned martyrdom. The saint tied to the stake, already smelling the acrid stink of smoldering pine.

“Great.”

Urged along by a now-desperate Roscoe, Melody heads directly for the curb. A stiff wind brings tears to her eyes.

“Please, Roscoe, don’t take all night with this. It’s awful cold out here.”

Roscoe lifts his leg obligingly, then freezes in place. A low growl rumbles deep in his chest. Melody looks down for a moment, then follows the dog’s eyes to the middle of the block. She sees a man in a dark overcoat standing next to a polished Mercedes. The man turns and looks at her for a moment, then walks away.

“Hush, Roscoe. It’s nothing. A man parking the car.”

Roscoe, in apparent agreement, lets go, drenching the bumper of a rusting Toyota.

They make their way along the row of parked cars, Roscoe pausing every few yards to sniff the pavement. Melody, now thoroughly awake, grows more and more impatient. Her feet are freezing.

“One more chance,” she warns as they come abreast of the Mercedes, “and back you go.” She looks through the window, wondering, as New Yorkers will, if the man she saw was a thief.

Not likely, she thinks. He was too well dressed to be after a radio. Or even the whole car.

The street lamps throw a light somewhere between amber and beige. The tone efficiently filters the sharp urban edges, blending light and shadow into a smooth continuum. Nevertheless, even without looking twice, Melody is certain that what she sees lying on the backseat is the blood-soaked body of a naked woman.

4:53 AM

Melody Mitchell is sitting in front of the TV, her eyes propped open. A mug of useless coffee rests on the end table. She is watching a C-Span re-telecast of the prior day’s proceedings at the House Ways and Means Committee. She doesn’t comprehend a word, wishes only for her bed.

When the buzzer finally sounds in her apartment, she is angry enough to say, “It’s about time.” That’s not her style. It’s not the style for a forty-eight-year-old, Barnard-educated WASP. On the other hand, it isn’t every day that a bull-necked cop in a cheap suit orders you to remain awake.

“I got a few more questions, but I wanna get a look at the body before the ME takes it away.”

That from a flat-faced detective with a huge nose and hair so fine that even cut within an inch of his broad, square skull, it lies flat against his scalp. Detective Kosinski.

“I’ve already spoken to Detective Brannigan. I don’t believe I have anything to add,” she’d quite properly responded.

“Let me be the judge of that, Ms. …” He’d looked down at his notebook. “Mitchell. This here is a homicide. You know? Like a person dead from murder. You do wanna help, right?”

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