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Opis ebooka Lieberman's Folly - Stuart M. Kaminsky

A pair of cops hunt the killer of the most beautiful hooker on Chicago's North Side. On a blistering Chicago afternoon, the Cubs are winning and Abe Lieberman is waiting to meet a prostitute. This mild-mannered old police detective still has a few tricks up his sleeves - and one of them is named Estralda Valdez. One of the city's loveliest women of the night, she is Lieberman's most prized confidential informant, and she needs help with a psychotic john. Though they suspect she's only paranoid, Lieberman and his partner, Bill Hanrahan, agree to watch Valdez's back. But Hanrahan's weakness for drinking will sabotage their plans. Hanrahan gets soused watching Valdez's front door, and by the time he realizes she is in danger, it's already too late. To save the partnership and find the hooker's killer, Lieberman and Hanrahan will have to make a journey into the darkest heart of the Windy City. About the Author: Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema - two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life's work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood's Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life. Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as "the anti-Philip Marlowe." In 1981's Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009. Review quote: "Beautifully rendered. . . . Kaminsky is extraordinarily attuned to the domestic minutiae of his detectives' lives." - Chicago Tribune. "Kaminksy's books just keep getting better. . . . An outstanding story." - Booklist. "A standout performance. . . . Nobody writing today can mix taut suspense with a sense of creeping mortality as shatteringly as Kaminsky." - Kirkus Reviews. "For anyone with a taste for old Hollywood B-movie mysteries, Edgar winner Kaminsky offers plenty of nostalgic fun . . . The tone is light, the pace brisk, the tongue firmly in cheek." - Publishers Weekly. "Marvelously entertaining." - Newsday. "Makes the totally wacky possible . . . Peters [is] an unblemished delight." - Washington Post. "The Ed McBain of Mother Russia." - Kirkus Reviews.

Opinie o ebooku Lieberman's Folly - Stuart M. Kaminsky

Fragment ebooka Lieberman's Folly - Stuart M. Kaminsky

Contents

Cover

About the Book

About the Author

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Prologue

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Epilogue

Looking for more suspense?

Cover

Begin Reading

About the Book

A pair of cops hunt the killer of the most beautiful hooker on Chicago’s North Side.

On a blistering Chicago afternoon, the Cubs are winning and Abe Lieberman is waiting to meet a prostitute. This mild-mannered old police detective still has a few tricks up his sleeves - and one of them is named Estralda Valdez. One of the city’s loveliest women of the night, she is Lieberman’s most prized confidential informant, and she needs help with a psychotic john. Though they suspect she’s only paranoid, Lieberman and his partner, Bill Hanrahan, agree to watch Valdez’s back. But Hanrahan’s weakness for drinking will sabotage their plans.

Hanrahan gets soused watching Valdez’s front door, and by the time he realizes she is in danger, it’s already too late. To save the partnership and find the hooker’s killer, Lieberman and Hanrahan will have to make a journey into the darkest heart of the Windy City.

About the Author

Stuart M. Kaminsky (1934-2009) was one of the most prolific crime fiction authors of the last four decades. Born in Chicago, he spent his youth immersed in pulp fiction and classic cinema - two forms of popular entertainment which he would make his life’s work. After college and a stint in the army, Kaminsky wrote film criticism and biographies of the great actors and directors of Hollywood’s Golden Age. In 1977, when a planned biography of Charlton Heston fell through, Kaminsky wrote Bullet for a Star, his first Toby Peters novel, beginning a fiction career that would last the rest of his life.

Kaminsky penned twenty-four novels starring the detective, whom he described as “the anti-Philip Marlowe.” In 1981’s Death of a Dissident, Kaminsky debuted Moscow police detective Porfiry Rostnikov, whose stories were praised for their accurate depiction of Soviet life. His other two series starred Abe Lieberman, a hardened Chicago cop, and Lew Fonseca, a process server. In all, Kaminsky wrote more than sixty novels. He died in St. Louis in 2009.

Lieberman’s Folly

An Abe Lieberman Mystery

Stuart M. Kaminsky

 

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 © 1991 by Stuart Kaminsky

 

Project management: Lori Herber

Cover adaptation: Christin Wilhelm, www.grafic4u.de

Cover design by Jim Tierney

 

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

 

ISBN 978-3-95859-476-0

 

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.

To Joe Perll

Prologue

November 3, 1979

THE TAVERN WAS CALLED Babe O’Brien’s. No one named O’Brien had ever, in its twenty years of business, owned the place. In fact, no one even remotely Irish had ever owned Babe O’Brien’s. The name had been chosen by Juan Hernandez De Barcelona, who had never been to Barcelona and whose ancestors had almost certainly never been to either Ireland or Spain.

Juan Hernandez De Barcelona was a black man about the size and shape of a two-door refrigerator. He had earned his money by working on the docks of Port au Prince. As a boy he had loaded and unloaded ships. As a young man he had loaded and unloaded drunken sailors. And as a man he had unloaded pistols more than once into the bellies of people who annoyed the Baron Duvivier, a colonel in the Tonton Macute who sometimes found it expedient to employ the services of an outside broken-bottle man like Juan rather than one of his own troops.

It was the Baron, whose business was not always that of the country, who advised Juan Hernandez to add the “De Barcelona” to his name. Although Juan would one day kill the Baron with his bare hands and steal the money the Baron wore in a money belt under his brown uniform, Juan Hernandez always respected the memory of his mentor and the advice he had been given.

When he reached New Orleans after taking the place of a black American sailor named Jerris Simms who had had an unfortunate encounter with a machete, Juan Hernandez considered investing the deceased Baron Duvivier’s money in a whorehouse, but the competition in New Orleans was more than Juan was yet ready to deal with. Instead, he moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, because he liked the name, and put his capital in a tavern formerly named the Blue Ridge. It was in a neighborhood changing from poor redneck to poor Mexican and a smattering of blacks—mostly Jamaicans and Haitians.

Juan Hernandez named the place Babe O’Brien’s because he wanted to be an American success and in a movie he had seen the name over a tavern owned by a short fat character played by an actor whose name he didn’t recognize.

Juan Hernandez was a killer but he was also a romantic: He believed in the American dream. The bar was not even the beginning.

The real business of Juan Hernandez was women. The bar, Juan told potential employees, was just a front, like the front of the house in Gone with the Wind. To his disappointment, one of the Mexican whores had told him that the house in the movie was just a big flat painted lie propped up by boards.

But beyond the end of the bar was a door behind which was the real business of Babe O’Brien’s. Here Juan himself sat night after night drinking slowly and passing judgment on those who wanted to enter that door. Behind that door, the flesh was fresh, young, and reasonably well paid. The women and girls were black, white, brown, and yellow. They were Indians, Chinese, Mexicans, Creoles, French, Haitians, Jamaicans, and even one Russian or, at least, one blonde with an accent who claimed that her name was Ludmilla and that she was from Leningrad.

Juan Hernandez dealt only in cash and he kept no books except behind the bar, for the drinks. The only tax paid was on the bar and, strangely enough, the bar turned out to be profitable, not the kind of profit that Juan Hernandez felt was sufficient, but profitable still. For twenty years, Juan had suffered little inconvenience at the door at the rear of Babe O’Brien’s. In his third year of business, that entrance had acquired the name Heaven’s Portal. It had been so named by a skinny drunk who had come only once. The drunk had paused and sang to Juan Hernandez De Barcelona, “You are my lucky star.” And moments later he added, “You opened heaven’s portal here on earth for this poor mortal.”

In the next seventeen years there had been three robbery attempts in Babe O’Brien’s, one by a trio of brothers named Valenciana who were gunned down by Zetch the bartender before they got near Heaven’s Portal. Juan Hernandez De Barcelona had sat watching the event unemotionally.

The second attempt fifteen years later was better planned. It was conducted by a pair of black men from Alabama who had heard about Babe O’Brien’s. One of the black men was named Lowell Caldwell. The other had only one name that anyone knew, Toggle. Toggle was even bigger than Juan Hernandez De Barcelona. He and Lowell approached Heaven’s Portal about 3:00 A.M. on a Tuesday when business was dead slow. Toggle and Caldwell had grinned at Juan Hernandez De Barcelona, who at that time wore a trim little goatee and his hair slicked back. Lowell pulled out a small gun and shot Juan. Toggle got behind Juan and put his arm around his neck before he could rise. Zetch the barman hesitated but Juan did not. He was simply moving slow. He grabbed Toggle’s hand, grunted, and pulled down, snapping the giant’s right arm. Lowell, who was murmuring “No, no, no,” took another shot at Juan. The bullet entered his stomach just above the navel. Juan took enough time to turn and smash Toggle’s head against the concrete pillar near the door. Ten seconds later Lowell Caldwell had died in a manner that even Zetch, who had been an homicide investigator with the Cleveland police before he lost his left leg, did not like remembering.

Juan Hernandez De Barcelona had not spent even a night in the hospital as a result of this incident. A doctor who was well paid to keep the incident quiet removed the two bullets on a bed recently vacated by Ludmilla the Russian. Juan was back at his table near the Portal the next night, bandaged, playing solitaire, and pocketing cash. What was left of Toggle and Lowell Caldwell was dumped in front of City Hall. The story was all over the newspapers and on TV. Juan Hernandez De Barcelona had become a local legend.

No one had bothered Babe O’Brien’s again until a year previously, and then it was only by mistake. Two rednecks with accents so thick that Juan could not understand them found Juan funny. It could have been the bottle of cheap bourbon they had shared or their inbred bigotry fueled by each other’s prodding, but the men, Cal and C.C., decided that they were going through Heaven’s Portal and that they would pay only when they came out and only if they were satisfied and no “Buddha Nigger was gonna tell them ought else.”

“Hell,” said C.C. “You should pay us for coming in here.”

“Yeah,” said Cal, who had a scruffy white beard. “Why not? How about you pay us?”

Cal pulled out a fairly large handgun and C.C. said, “Hot damn if you ain’t one mean gator.” And C.C pulled out an even larger handgun.

Having learned from his last encounter with Toggle and Lowell, Juan Hernandez De Barcelona had rigged a surprise under his table. The shotgun was bolted to the table facing the space between Heaven’s Portal and the bar. It was also rigged so that it did not require a pull of the trigger, only a sudden upward thrust of Juan’s knee.

As pellets rained across the intruding duo, both Cal and C.C.’s guns fired. One bullet took off Juan’s right ear. The other killed Zetch. At almost the same instant, both C.C.’s head and Cal’s gut were torn apart by Juan’s shotgun blast. The cleanup had been swift and the police well paid. Juan had not bothered to go to a doctor for his ear. He put ice on it, let Ludmilla bandage it, got slightly drunk, and came back the next day to look for a new bartender.

Juan considered these attempts on his life and property a reasonable part of the risks involved in running a business. In truth, Juan Hernandez De Barcelona, who by 1979 was forty-three years old, had saved close to one million dollars. He could have quit and lived comfortably for the rest of his life, but two things stopped him. First, while Juan had always wanted to be an American success, he had no thoughts at all about what he would do when he was successful. He liked sitting in the bar and watching the customers. He liked talking to the girls, hiring new ones, breaking them in, firing the old ones and giving them nice bonuses. He liked watching old movies on television. There was nothing else he wanted to do. Besides, he would not consider himself a success until he had an even one million dollars in the cans in his house on Buena Grande Street.

And so, in a way, it was the American dream that killed Juan Hernandez De Barcelona, just as it had killed many another ambitious immigrant.

On this day, as he sat at his table drinking a Coke and watching his new night bartender serve the drinks and fill the till, he heard a scream beyond Heaven’s Portal. Screams seldom penetrated that thick door. About five years earlier he had had to fire a tiny Korean girl named Tina for screaming in mock ecstasy loud enough to be heard in the tavern. Occasionally, a client would go a little too far and a girl would let out a cry of pain. More often it was the clients themselves who would scream, but this was different.

Juan Hernandez got up from his table, waved at the new bartender, and caught the rifle the man threw him. Juan had seen someone throw a rifle to John Wayne like this and had waited for this moment. He went through Heaven’s Portal, rifle in one hand like the Duke or the Rifleman, and moved toward the scream. He didn’t bother to open doors on the way. He knew which ones were occupied and which girls were working. The sound had come from one of the Mexican girls, the Madera sisters. They were a duo, special price. They had worked at Babe O’Brien’s longer than any other girls.

As he strode down the corridor like an improperly armed samurai in a baggy gray suit and no tie, Juan decided that he would give the girls a big bonus and fire them. They were too smart. Smart girls were trouble. These girls were good for business, but they were, like right now, trouble.

He kicked open the door and aimed the rifle at the bed. A naked man lay there. Juan remembered him. Juan never forgot the face of a client and he had not read trouble on this one. Even now he did not read trouble. He saw fear. And where were the girls? The man’s head did not turn but his eyes looked behind the door through which Juan had come.

Before Juan could turn, he was shot in the neck. Even shot and choking on his own blood Juan spun and faced the two naked young women who stood together, each holding a pistol. They fired together and Juan Hernandez De Barcelona died thinking that America had been a goddamn mistake.

Girls were screaming in all the rooms now.

The man on the bed was named James “Skettle” Harte, who claimed to be a grandson of Bret Harte. Skettle had told the Madera sisters that he had a record and had done hard time in both Alabama and Illinois. Skettle also claimed to be wealthy and influential. The Madera sisters had not bought that part of his story. For them, Skettle was just the client the girls had been waiting for. One of the girls, Estralda, had placed the barrel of her pistol in his ear and ordered him to scream. When he hesitated, the other sister pushed him on his side and inserted the barrel of her weapon into another orifice. Skettle screamed.

Now James “Skettle” Harte watched as the two women, their breasts bouncing and erect, moved quickly. The older one, Guadalupe, pried the rifle from the late Juan Hernandez’s hands. The younger one threw her gun to Skettle, who caught it in confusion as he was shot by the rifle Juan had brought into the room. Skettle was writhing in mortal pain with no idea what had happened to him or why.

Footsteps were coming. The sisters said not a word. The younger one picked up her sister’s gun and stuffed it under the mattress; the other girl dropped the rifle on Juan’s chest. The two of them had just managed to turn Juan’s body back toward Skettle and the bed when the first innocent bystander filled the door. He was in his sixties, naked, thin with a big belly.

“Lord shit,” he said. “I’m gettin’ out of here.”

Frank the bartender bulled his way in, looked at the dead men and the frightened sisters hugging each other and said, “You got someplace to go?”

“Sí,” the older sister said. “Yes.”

“Then go there,” he said, kneeling over to unbutton Juan’s jacket and remove the money belt.

People were scrambling all over the place, grabbing for clothes, climbing through windows. The sisters put on their clothes quickly and went along the hallway Juan had come down less than two minutes before. They went through Heaven’s Portal and past a pair of drunks in the corner who didn’t seem to know anything out of the ordinary was going on.

Seven minutes and five blocks later the Madera sisters entered the home of the late Juan Hernandez De Barcelona.

They moved quickly, searching for the money they knew must be there. They did not fear the bartender or any of the other girls, none of whom had any reason to think Juan had his money in buckets at home. The older sister, Guadalupe, knew. She had heard him talk in his fevered sleep about the buckets on the night Doc Totaro had pulled the bullet from his gut and left him on Ludmilla’s bed. Guadalupe had heard him and remembered and from that day the sisters had taken turns watching Juan when he went home in the morning and came to Babe O’Brien’s the next afternoon. They watched him for months. They never saw him going to a bank. And then they had begun planning.

They moved quickly because they knew the police would come. They didn’t know when, but the police would be here. Guadalupe guessed that it would take the cops at least an hour to figure out where Juan had lived and even then they might have no reason to come here. The situation, they hoped, was clear. Juan had been killed by and had killed a berserk john who the police would find had a record.

The sisters searched. The house was a mess. Piles of junk. Old lamps, broken radios, furniture. After about twenty minutes, the younger one found a can of bills inside a gutted television set. The older one found the next bucket on a shelf in the attic.

“The hijode puta has hidden them all over the place,” she cried in frustration. “It will take us all night.”

But they didn’t have all night. In two hours they had found four buckets of money. They were dirty, frightened, and panting when they heard the siren. They threw the cans into a sheet and went out the back door, the younger sister, Estralda, carrying the sheet over her shoulder like a sack of laundry.

The siren wasn’t heading their way, but they had no way of knowing this. Theirs was not the only felony in Corpus Christi that night. A woman named Phoebe Floyd had stabbed her husband Frazier in the neck with a barbecue fork when he changed the television channel on her while she was watching The Sound of Music. These sirens were for Phoebe. The sisters left the house and got out of town, never learning that more than forty cans of bills would be found by a sixty-five-year-old black cleaning woman named Clarise Rogers who was hired two weeks later by the Southern Pride Realty Company to clean the house of the deceased owner of Babe O’Brien’s so it could be sold.

Clarise had quietly taken the cans home in her husband’s truck at night and three weeks later moved just as quietly to Stockton, California. There she rented six very large safety deposit boxes, which she visited about once a month.

The Madera sisters discovered that they had cleared a total of $54,674. They split it evenly and began to worry about fingerprints, rumors, Frank the bartender, and what the other girls beyond Heaven’s Portal might put together about what had happened.

It was agreed that they should part and not see each other again. They should part and go as far from Texas as they could get and they should not tell each other where they were going.

And so it was that Guadalupe took a bus to San Diego where she invested her money in an all-night diner. The diner didn’t flop but it didn’t flourish either. It just ate up the profits a nickel at a time. When the money ran out, she sold the diner and moved north to St. Louis where she went back into the business and met a man on vacation who said he loved her. He took her back to Chicago with him and she was happy to go.

Meanwhile, Estralda went to Miami, where she had no trouble finding work when her money was spent. From Miami she went to Phoenix and from there to Las Vegas and from there to Chicago, where she prospered and planned and dreamed of a new future in which she would someday own a business rather like Babe O’Brien’s. And for almost ten years it seemed as if her dream would come true.

But the gods had very different plans.

Chapter 1

August 1990

“LIEBERMAN?” THE WOMAN SAID over the sound of the Cubs game from a radio.

When she had entered the T & L Delicatessen a few seconds earlier, the customers, six old men known to each other as the Alter Cockers, looked up and stopped talking.

Women of any kind were rare inside Maish’s T & L Deli between the hours of ten and five, and it wasn’t even two in the afternoon. And women like this just didn’t happen into the place. They didn’t even happen into this neighborhood. Oh yes, there were a few women who came before nine in the morning. Melody Rosen, Herschel’s daughter, who clerked at Bass’s Children’s Shop down the street, often stopped for a toasted bagel and coffee. And Gert Bloombach, a sack of a woman who worked in a law office downtown, came by every Tuesday and Thursday at eight for a cup of tea and a lox omelette. And there was Howie Chen’s granddaughter, Sylvie, a nice-looking girl with thick glasses, who came in once in a while, never ordering the same thing twice. They stopped on their way to work for coffee and a “What’s new?” along with the neighborhood storekeepers, cab drivers, and an occasional cop.

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