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Carve the Heart

Carve the Heart

The Jack Palace Series
also available: eBook
tagged : crime, noir, urban life
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Mahoney's Camaro

Mahoney's Camaro

A Crime Novel
also available: Paperback
tagged : crime, hard-boiled
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“Base to 36, base to 36. What’s your twenty, over.”

Mahoney picked up the microphone and clicked. “McPhillips and Stardust, Dolores. Just grabbing the breakfast of champions, over.” The voice at the other end of the transmission laughed and coughed at the same time, a damp smoker’s cough. “That cat food is gonna stop your heart cold one of these days, over.”

“And four packs a day won’t? Over.”

“Fig you, Baloney, and your little dog too, over.” As raw as the off-air conversation could get at the Hook Me Up office, Mahoney knew that the on-air banter for the two-way had to be kept PG, thanks to a few complaints that had made their way to the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission. Someone was always listening, even if it was a fat kid in a basement with a Radio Shack scanner and virgin ears. Even he could complain — to his Mom anyway.

“Whaddya got, Dolores? It better not be some drunk rich kid’s Trans Am at Night Moves, cause I’m nowhere near it, over.” Mahoney waited for the dispatcher to chastise him for his insolence with a few figs, maybe an offer to go multiply himself repeatedly. Instead, there was a pause. Dolores always paused when it was a bad one. Mahoney knew that the timing was right for a bad one. High school graduation season was in full swing throughout the city. Many schools were still trying to push the designated driver concept, though the reality was that at least two teens would die that weekend in closed-casket crashes.

“It’s a cop call,” said Dolores. “North Main Street boat launch, got a car in the water. Did you get that fiddling cable fixed on the fiddling winch yet? Over.”

“It’s as strong as your breath. Ever heard of a fiddling Tic-Tac? Over.”

Dolores coughed. “Ever heard of a ritual killing? Over.”

“Got it Dolores. 36 over and out.” Mahoney hung up the mic. He steered with his knees while he ate.

It took Mahoney about fifteen minutes to get to the North Main Red River boat launch. It would have taken less than ten, if it wasn’t for the media blockade. They’d been monitoring the police band on their respective scanners. Mahoney had attended to numerous calls where the media was first on the scene. Listening in was illegal, though the police had never followed through on enforcing it. As much as the media could bring a world of hurt to an ongoing investigation, it could also assist in locating a missing person, or a person of interest. Mahoney knew, like most Winnipeggers, that the city’s police department was still feeling the sting of negative publicity from a few high-profile cases in the last few years.

The third trial for Thomas Sophonow was underway, with many citizens quietly convinced that he had been railroaded into the role of the Cowboy Killer, that had strangled Barbara Stoppel in the bathroom of the Ideal Donut Shop. Candace Derksen had been found in January, hog-tied and left to die in a shed within walking distance of her family home. Paul Clear had been murdered by two of Winnipeg’s not-so-finest in the summer of ’81. The pair was convinced that he had snitched on them for their on-duty burglary hobby. One of the cops was Clear’s brother-in-law.

At the entrance to the boat launch, a skinny rookie was keeping the reporters at bay. He signaled to Mahoney to head through as the respective news outlets snapped their pictures and filled their Betacams with the barricaded scene. The CKND van tried to follow Mahoney in, stopping quickly when the driver locked eyes with the rookie’s icy glare. The rookie motioned to another officer in an idling cruiser who quickly got the hint, blocking the gravel access road with two tons of black-and-white Ford LTD.

Mahoney looked ahead to the riverside activity. The road was thick with black-and-whites and unmarked detective units. An ambulance passed him on the left, looking to be in anything but a hurry, its emergency lights dark. Mahoney saw why as he started the decline to the Red River. The meat wagon. It was a non-descript, windowless black Ford Econoline, usually seen in the grainy crime-page pictures of the local papers. Mahoney could see the Harbor Master runabout in the water. The boat’s driver was talking to a police diver, who nodded his goggled head attentively before heading back down to the watery crime scene. The stage had plenty of backlighting, thanks to the side-mounted floodlights of the MS Paddlewheel Queen. The riverboat had practically been at its berth near the Northgate Copa dinner hall when one of the passengers noticed the red lights in the water. The previously-upbeat River East Collegiate Class of 1985 had quieted down considerably. The deck was lined with boys in rented tuxedos, and girls in what would most likely be the second-most expensive dress of their lives. They watched in stunned silence. Some of the girls were crying. Mahoney figured that going all the way tonight for any of these grads had about as much chance of happening as the waterlogged car below starting its engine and driving away.

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