Title: The Violin Case
Author: Nora Quick
ISBN or ASIN: B00ANW5W6W
Page count: 241
Price (Print and Ebook): $3.99 eBook
Nora Quick lives in Chicago, IL with her faithful companion Nikolai Tesla Quick, a Siberian Husky who is, in her opinion, the best dog that has ever lived. She wrote her first novel at age 12, a crime drama set in her hometown of Detroit, MI and is a self-admitted graphomaniac who compulsively writes daily. She has worked a wide variety of jobs sampling much of life from high finance to short order cooking and is related to half the CPD. She writes crime, mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and erotica. You can find some of her writing on Literotica.com where she writes as madam_noe or at eRedSage.com where her erotic romances are published. She is hard at work on her next book. You can connect with Nora at noraquick.yolasite.com where you will find links to her Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
Tell us about your book:
The Coldest Case Come to Chicago’s Hottest P.I. in the Second Marly Jackson Mystery.
Marly Jackson is the toughest P.I. around. Tasked by her ex-lover Finn with finding a rare violin, the case explodes. From back-alley deals in the slums to the halls of academia, it seems everyone wants a piece of the violin, and everyone is willing to kill to get it.
Doomed from the beginning Marly walks alone. A rich boy, a fence, a pimp, an arms dealer, a host of grifters, and a crazed West Coast P.I. are all involved in the theft which threatens to bring war between the strongest crime family in town and another with a price on her head. When a sniper begins cleaning up loose ends, it’s a race against time.
As the mystery stretches back further and further into the past Marly must find not only the violin, but its secrets. But when dead bodies begin piling up and the players go to ground it’s down to the wire. When revenge, passion, greed, and cold-blooded betrayal dance deadly around her, can Marly stay alive long enough to get to the truth and discover what is real and what is smoke and mirrors in The Violin Case?
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I sincerely hope fans enjoy the second installment of the series. It’s a bit longer and more complex than 2011’s Case of the Missing Millionaire but you do not need to read the first to enjoy The Violin Case.
I write with love for the greats of hardboiled detective stories, film noir, and Joss Whedon girls. I’m enjoying the development of Marly Jackson into a femme fatale and the beleaguered detective in one, and if you love complexity, high action, dark passion, and intrigue you’ll delight in this story too.
Once you step into the dark alleys of Chicago where crooked cops, snitches, and mobsters roam, and when the rich and powerful take a walk on the wild side and Marly Jackson is all that stands between them and doom, you’ll be hooked.
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Excerpt from book:
James “Jim” Jeffries was like every other North Shore kid. Gramps lived in a giant house along Lake Michigan in Kenilworth, mom and dad had slightly smaller house in Winnetka just next door. Jim had a premium dorm at the University of Chicago, and from my research I knew it was gramps’ name on a building that got him in, not grades.
He drove a Mazda Miata, probably an attempt to not appear as rich as he was, and he drove like a maniac. My ancient Cutlass could barely keep up with him as he left his evening pre-law class.
I expected to tail him to some apartment, motel, or one of the gay clubs on the north side, but he drove past them into Wicker Park, past the major intersection with all the bars and clubs into the residential area.
I had to hang back and nearly lost him, but as he circled for parking I knew he was going into Danny’s. The bar wasn’t in any way hostile to homosexuals, but it was blue collar, a working man’s bar, where the old residents went to avoid the clubs growing more popular with the suburban refugees. I hadn’t been there but once it had been an ex-boyfriend’s old haunt and from what I knew I didn’t think Jim Jeffries would fit in.
I found parking where it wasn’t legal, knowing I still had enough connections from my days as a cop to beat any ticket. Danny’s was small but I wasn’t worried about being spotted. Jim didn’t know me from Adam, and until he figured out I was following him getting close was safe.
The bar was on a corner and as I approached I saw Jim, a fairly good looking boy of average height, slim and full of smarmy promise, standing next to a stout, gruff looking man thirty years his senior, with dark hair and a small scar beneath his eye. The brunette smoked his cigarette down to the filter and tossed it, and then they headed inside.
I hung back so as not to be too obvious, lighting my own cigarette. One hazard of my profession was being a solid judge of character, and instinct told me the brunette was no lover. Not a blackmailer either, that brand of scum liked to keep their distance and work remotely. But why was a rich kid at a dive bar with what appeared to be a Teamster?
The door swung open and out stepped a mountain.
Once upon a time, Max Trenton had been a heavyweight prize fighter, an up and comer destined to take the title from Tyson. He’d been a brawler for the Crips, a small arms dealer, pulled into a better life by a pimp named Alabaster we both had history with. But Trenton had killed too many men in the ring and nearly killed too many women in bed.
Gone was the big house, the contracts, the flashy life, and he was back to dealing in small arms and beating up Alabaster’s whores. If you wanted a gun, didn’t have a gang connection, and didn’t want to buy legal, crazy Max Trenton was your only avenue, and the vacant-eyed brawler was the road less traveled.
“Jackson,” he said, giving me his unnerving stare. Some fight had blinded him in one eye and he refused to wear sunglasses or an eye patch, so one milky white orb stared blankly out, matched by a disturbingly pretty green eye, courtesy a white mother who’d lost the war in skin pigmentation.
“Hey, Trenton. I’m not here to hassle you. I’m here for somebody else.”
“Bullshit. This here my turf. I don’t want no cops sniffin’ around.”
Shit. Way Alabaster told it Max didn’t have that many IQ points before he lost the remaining ones in the ring. I put my hands up in a surrender motion. “I’m no cop. Fact, I hate them too. You know how the force fucked up my life.”
“You were. Once. You here for me? Who you been talkin’ to? Alabaster?” He came down the steps and I backed away in equal measure.
There were ghosts in that head flinging their fists at his face. People now napping in the dirt forgot that and got close enough that when Trenton swung back, a new ghost joined the collective howling.
“I haven’t seen Alabaster in months. I didn’t even know you were working out of Danny’s.”
That green eye sharpened for a moment. “That fence always on about you, Finn?”
I laughed. Figured people in our world thought Finn and I were an item, but I was indifferent at best, and waiting to blow his brains out at worst. “Hell no. Look, I’m just tailing a cheating spouse.”
He sniffed the air, that eye searching the darkening sky. “Somethin’ in the wind, dick. Big Bad coming down the pipe. Dicks should stay in their pants.”
“Amen to that,” I grumbled. Shit, he knew something about the business Marcus was on about, and if I pressed I was stupid, but if I didn’t I might be dead. “I got a line on something big. Just a warning. Wise guys getting involved. I want no piece of it. I just want to know if anybody’s gunning for me.”
He stared at me for so long I began to feel like he was calculating which punch would kill me the fastest.
“Ain’t no hits on you, dick,” he said at last. “Nobody cares about you. Nobody will, as long as you stay off my turf. You hear me? Right here and now I’m the Big Bad.” He took a step towards me with a glare that ricocheted off the brick wall.
I backed up further. “Yes, sir.” It was only half an answer but all I could expect to get.
In all likelihood Jim was there to buy a gun. Most people being blackmailed looked for forms of protection, but last thing I wanted to know was the shitheel kid had a gun from the lowest and worst dealer in town.
If Jim wanted to pack heat the blackmail had turned dangerous. I backed up until Trenton finally turned around and went back in, but I had to stay close. If he was buying a gun something bad could go down, and I couldn’t afford to lose Jim, not with eight grand coming my way.
I retreated around the block away from my car in case Trenton shadowed me, but he didn’t. Probably had a bag of Uzis in the bar, some stupid buyer coming up, and was afraid I’d blab. Being a P.I. meant walking in the shadow of cops, dipping into the underworld. I knew enough about Trenton to know he’d get his ticket punched someday, and frankly it couldn’t be soon enough.
Back in my car I moved it so I had a line of sight on Jim’s and pulled out my cellphone, flipping it open. Alabaster was a preset number. The pimp had once been a classmate in high school, never a friend but an associate, hell; we’d even worked a summer job together as kids. I went on to graduate, and he went from selling the heroin that gave him his nickname to hustling broads.
He was smart and dealt in information as much as women. Alabaster had a protégé named Jonesie who was the facilitator who knew everyone and everything. Jonesie had the line on the gangs and Eddie Harwood, a north side club owner, knew what was going down with the mob. If I wanted answers Eddie was the better choice but with Trenton’s cryptic warning I was betting Jonesie knew the score, but to get to Jonesie you had to go through Alabaster.
He was far from the worst pimp, not close to the best, and he owed me. I got his voicemail and told him to call me. If he knew what this phantom job was, I’d consider it even.
I sang through two Zeppelin songs before Jim emerged, alone. There was no tell-tale gun bump under his black short-sleeve t-shirt, but his baggy shorts could probably hide an assault rifle. Kids, today, I grumbled and turned over my engine.
This time he drove maniacally towards Boystown, the gay district. I cursed, merely because parking there was only for the criminally determined and the congenitally insane.
I really hoped he wasn’t going to one of the clubs like Berlin. I’d traded my ugly glasses for the contacts my uncle nagged me into wearing, but I still favored hiking boots. Granted, with my old, worn green tank and khaki shorts I looked like a rumpled Lara Croft, or so I assured myself. I’d seen the movie when it came out last June and enjoyed it. Still, rumpled was the operative word. I’d fit in at a NRA meeting, but not in the gay clubs with all the flash.
To my relief he turned onto School Street and went a few blocks east. He slowed at one three story walk-up but had to circle for parking. I slid in front of a hydrant and waited.
Fifteen minutes later he jogged back to the front door, fished keys from his giant shorts, and let himself in. Hopping out, I made my way up onto the sidewalk to get a better view of the windows. It wasn’t terribly late, just half past ten, but the first floor was dark, the second floor lit up, and the top floor just had one light on. I waited a house down, craning my neck over the fence. Another light popped on the third floor. Bingo.
The yard was gated but the front walk was not. I jogged up to the buzzer and saw the first two floors had names, both couples, but the top floor buzzer was blank. New tenant.
I pulled out my steno pad from one of my pockets and wrote down the address and the management information from the tiny plaque on the fence.
Surprise, surprise, rich boy wasn’t smart. Cruising would be better, but this made it appear he had a boyfriend, and a steady boy toy was like an engraved invitation to an enterprising blackmailer. The lights went out and he was probably in for the night.
Snapping my pad shut I walked back to my car, lit another cigarette and waited but nothing changed. I’d soon have the lover’s name for Mrs. Jeffries; all that was left was the blackmailer.
And if this were a movie, they’d be one in the same. Knowing my luck they weren’t, and the blackmailer was Max Trenton. And no amount of money behind me could run him out of town.
Hell, maybe I should let Jim get that gun and kill Trenton. That would solve a lot of problems for a lot of people. Disturbingly, I thought I could sleep like a baby if that happened.