The Raymond Mackey Mysteries, Books 1 and 2
By Owen Thomas
Book 1: MESSAGE IN A BULLET
Raymond Mackey is a struggling crime writer. His friends call him Mack. But friends are in short supply these days. Mack’s thirty years as a homicide detective came to the kind of abrupt, ignominious end that tends to make friends dry up and blow away. It matters little that Mack was never actually a mole working for a shadowy, seemingly omnipresent mob boss. Somehow, the evidence was there anyway and the scandal ended everything for him overnight. Lucky to stay out of prison, Mack lives in a netherworld of forced retirement, spinning his memories of old homicide cases into pulp fiction and working part time as a shopping mall cop. His wife Marlo, the greatest criminal investigator Mack has ever known, has been dead of pancreatic cancer for nearly five years. That leaves his ancient Smith-Corona Corsair, a pack of Camels, a bottle of Old Forester, and Marlo’s bourbon-loving cat, Phil, as Mack’s only company.
When one of Mack’s old informants goes missing and Mack’s face turns up in a dead man’s camera, his past comes roaring painfully back to life. Now the police want him for questioning, the mob want him dead and it’s increasingly difficult to tell who, exactly, is working for whom. As a mercilessly hot Chicago summer finally breaks and it starts to rain bodies, Mack finds himself past his prime for this kind of action. Retirement has added weight and subtracted agility. He hasn’t fired a weapon in years. His antiquated cell phone will not stop ringing with a mysteriously blocked number. In the end, as Mack watches himself from above, it is razor-sharp instinct, cheap consumer electronics and his dead wife that offer his only hope.
Book 2: THE RUSSIAN DOLL
A bone-chilling Chicago winter. Marlo is still dead, Phil the cat still purrs for Old Forester bourbon, and Mack still watches himself from above. But nothing else is as it seems. Mystery nests within mystery. Villainy secrets itself, burrowed within the corrupted hollows of polite society, biding its time. The Chandler Illinois Police Department pays him enough to help take the retirement squeeze off the booze and cigarettes. The downside is the department rule against smoking and drinking. That, and everybody with a badge hates Mack as much as ever.
A welcome diversion shows up in the form of Nadia King, an alluring single mother who asks Mack for some off-the-books help recovering a missing heirloom. It might just be the easiest assignment he’s ever had. Until it isn’t. The hand-carved Russian nesting doll is one hundred seventy-four years old. Open her up and she’s full of secrets. But first he has to find her. Then he has to stay alive long enough to understand that smile on her face.
Mack’s road to enlightenment is fraught with danger and littered with cautionary tales. A casino manager brutally beaten into the afterlife by his own employees. A decorated cop shot to death in his mother’s home as she listens, bound and gagged, from the kitchen. A dope dealer on trial for allegedly murdering a successful restauranteur in a robbery gone bad. A criminal defense lawyer with pointy boots, a ponytail, and a bottomless retainer. An ex-felon pornographer accusing a cop of running a protection racket. A quiet girl in a yellow coat who knows too much for her own good. And a giant, brick building of a guy named Hell with a broken poker chip in his pocket and Mack on his mind. It doesn’t help that trust is in such short supply, or that Big Man is watching him from every corner of the city. Marlo is dead and gone. The only one who can watch over Mack… is Mack.
Book Length: Epic Novel – 650+ Pages
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