Rico Stays is a new crime thriller by Ed Duncan. It was released in May 2020, published by Next Chapter. Genre: Crime / Fiction / Thriller
After enforcer Richard “Rico” Sanders stepped in to protect his girlfriend from a local mob boss’s hot-headed nephew, all hell broke loose.
When the smoke cleared, the nephew had vanished, but three goons who had tried to help him lay dying where they’d stood. Fighting for his life, Rico was alive but gravely wounded.
Out of the hospital but not fully recovered, he needed a place to crash – a place where he wouldn’t be found by men who surely would be looking. A place like the cabin owned by lawyer Paul Elliott, whose life Rico had saved more than once. Trouble was, Paul’s girlfriend hadn’t forgotten Rico’s dark history. Or Paul’s fascination with him.
Using Rico’s girlfriend as bait, vengeful killers soon would be coming for him. The only question was whether he would face them alone or with help from Paul.
Cosgrove, however, hadn’t finished venting and didn’t appreciate Koblentz’s gesture. “You want some of this, old man?”
“I was just –”
Cosgrove interrupted him with a vicious slap to the mouth that drew blood. Koblentz fell to one knee, head bowed, and was silent.
“You bastard!” Jean yelled. She glanced at Rico, who was still in his car in front of her some ten yards away. She wasn’t sure how much he’d seen because his expression, as usual, was utterly inscrutable behind his aviators. She sprinted to Koblentz’s side and knelt beside him. “Are you okay?”
Cosgrove glared at her, then a cruel smile lifted his mouth. She was a mouth-wateringly gorgeous woman and his mouth watered. Taunting her, he pressed one foot against Koblentz’s back and slowly forced him to the ground. Jean’s eyes flashed and she straightened up and slapped him hard enough to make his head turn. At once surprised and enraged, he immediately drew his arm back to retaliate. Jean closed her eyes and flinched in anticipation. Cosgrove reached far behind him to increase the momentum of his blow and then he launched his open hand toward her as hard as he could, creating a swoosh of air as his hand traveled forward to meet Jean’s face.
But it never reached its target.
Rico had appeared seemingly out of nowhere and, with one hand, had grabbed Cosgrove’s wrist from behind, stopping his hand mere inches from Jean’s face. Now he stood behind Cosgrove holding his wrist in a vice-like grip from which there was no hope of escape. Slender and soft, Cosgrove was around five feet ten inches tall and weighed about one hundred and seventy-five pounds. Rico stood six feet two, weighed over two hundred pounds, and was solid muscle.
He was a killer, but not your run-of-the mill killer. He was exceptional at what he did, but he was not only that. He was also a killer with a conscience. He didn’t kill kids, he killed women only as a last resort, and he only killed people who “had it coming.” Or at least that was what he told himself, because sometimes it was a close call. But at least he tried. And that made him unique, as nobody else in his business gave a hit a second thought.
Cosgrove tried to turn to face him, but with just one hand holding his wrist, Rico prevented him from even budging. After Cosgrove stopped squirming, Rico twisted the man’s arm behind his back and wrenched it upward until he yelped in pain. Then he thrust his free forearm under Cosgrove’s chin and applied just enough pressure so that Cosgrove, with some effort, could still breathe and talk. Just.
Cosgrove squealed, “What the –”
“Shut up,” Rico said and turned to Jean who was helping Koblentz to his feet. “You all right?”
“Fine.” Her worried eyes met Koblentz’s. She smiled. “Are you okay?”
Gingerly wiping the blood from his face, he nodded and smiled back.
“Wait in the car,” Rico said.
“What are you gonna do with him?” Jean asked, a little apprehensively.
“Wait in the car.”
Jean started to press him but by now she knew the drill. She collected her shopping cart and she and Koblentz headed for the car. The boy, still on his back resting on his elbows, scrambled to his feet and stood staring at Rico in awe. Rico said, “Kid, get outta here.” Dejected, the boy slowly started to walk away. Raising his voice an octave, Rico said to the other gawkers, “That goes for everybody else, too.”
The edge in his voice did the trick. No one objected and no one lingered. Except the boy. He turned around after he’d taken a few steps and, in a voice just above a whisper, said, “Thanks, mister.”
The slightest hint of a smile appeared on Rico’s face. “Nice catch, kid.” That brought a grin to the boy’s face. He pounded the ball in his glove and hurried away.
Rico scanned the area in a 360-degree arc and, seeing no one besides the steadily retreating onlookers, released the choke hold on Cosgrove’s neck but maintained his grip on his wrist. Then he placed his free hand on the back of Cosgrove’s neck and, mimicking what Cosgrove had done to Koblentz moments earlier, he slowly guided him to the ground, face down. Rico knelt beside him.
Cosgrove coughed and drew in several sweet breaths of air now that the pressure on his windpipe had been relieved. “Your ass is mine, motherfucker,” he hissed under his breath.
“I don’t think so,” Rico said as he patted Cosgrove down. “I’m pretty attached to it.”
The pat down yielded a Smith and Wesson Model 10 .38 revolver in Cosgrove’s belt under his jacket. Searching him had been a basic precaution, yet Rico hadn’t expected to find a gun and when he did, he immediately regretted leaving his own in his apartment.
“Shit,” he said out loud, but it was in the same tone of voice he might have used if he’d walked down three flights of stairs only to find that he’d left his cell phone upstairs in his apartment. In other words, he was irritated but not alarmed – yet. After all, this was only one guy with a .38 – no, one guy who used to have a .38. And so far, there was no evidence that he had company.
But there was no evidence that he was alone, either.
Rico tucked the gun in his own belt next to his belly, and with his free hand he reached down and turned Cosgrove’s face toward him. He had a question. He knew he couldn’t trust Cosgrove’s answer but the inflexion in his voice might give him a clue. “You alone, smart ass?”
Cosgrove said nothing.
Rico increased the upward pressure on Cosgrove’s arm which was still pinned behind his back. Cosgrove gritted his teeth. Rico increased the pressure again until Cosgrove could stand it no longer. He yelled, “Help!”
Maybe it was just a primal cry to the heavens, but Rico thought it was directed toward someone. Maybe more than one person. Who knew? He relaxed the pressure on Cosgrove’s arm but continued to hold his wrist in a vice-like grip. With his other hand he checked the .38, engaging the cylinder release, snapping the cylinder free, spinning it with his thumb, then snapping it back in place. It was fully loaded. Six rounds. A picture of his Sig Sauer with its twelve-round capacity magazine flashed across his mind. This will have to do.
About the Author:
Ed Duncan lives outside of Cleveland, OH. He is a graduate of Oberlin College and Northwestern University Law School. He was a partner at a national law firm in Cleveland, Ohio for many years.
Ed Duncan is the author of the Pigeon-Blood Red trilogy. The first book in the series Pigeon Blood Red was released in September 2016, followed by The Last Straw, the second book in the series, released in December 2017. The third book in the series Rico Stays was released in May 2020, published by Next Chapter. Each book in the series can be read as a standalone.
“It’s always been said that you should write what you know. I am a lawyer – as is a pivotal character in the novel who is being pursued by a hit man – and I’m excited to be able to use my legal training creatively as well as professionally,” says Duncan.
Praise for the Pigeon Blood Red Trilogy:
“…It rips along like a .45 bullet rushing past your head….a crime novel in a style you don’t … see too often… a juggernaut of a story that just won’t quit.” – Monkey’s Book Review
“A fast-paced read with complex and morally ambiguous characters that leaves you on the edge of your seat!” – AllieReads.com
“Readers in search of a tight, well-written…crime/action/adventure will find…an engrossing story that will keep them involved to the end. And like me, they will find themselves eagerly awaiting the next installment.” – Mike Siedschlag’s Review
“This charming, classically-told crime thriller is a must for noir fans…refreshingly old-school pulp, inhabited by a familiar cast of gamblers, con men and hustlers found in Dennis Lehane and Elmore Leonard novels” – 5 Stars, Best Thrillers
“This Chicago set thriller is a pacy read, written with an edge and style… Ed Duncan’s series will sweep up fans as it goes along.” – Crime Thriller Hound
“With danger looming in every chapter… Duncan skillfully draws the reader into a complex web of characters… A few key twists within the storyline keep the reader intrigued… an outstanding crime thriller…” – 5 Stars, Red City Review
“…suspense from start to finish… a fast-paced read… Entertaining, Gritty and Nailbiting.” – The Bibliovert
For further information or to request a review copy, please contact Kelsey Butts at Book Publicity Services at Kelsey@BookPublicityServices.com.
Root Cause by Steven Laine is a suspenseful wine thriller. It was released in February 2019, published by Turner Publishing.
Can you imagine a world without wine?
Corvina Guerra is a flying winemaker who dreams of one day settling down in her native Italy on her family’s vineyard. On a visit to a vineyard in Italy, Corvina makes a startling discovery: Phylloxera, a menacing plant louse that devastated vineyards in Europe more than a hundred years ago, has infested the vines.
After reporting her findings to her company, Universal Wines, Corvina is charged with investigating the spread of the bug. Nicknamed Philomena by the media, the aphid is soon discovered in vineyards around the world. To aid in her investigation, Corvina recruits a wine expert in London, Bryan Lawless. In pursuit of its origins, Corvina and Bryan embark on a thrilling globetrot on which they uncover that Philomena is being intentionally spread.
The deeper Corvina and Bryan search, the more they become convinced that Universal Wines holds the answer to everything, and the harder they pursue their investigation the more surprises pile up.
In spite of devastating consequences, Corvina and Bryan vow to continue their investigation and do what they can to contain the spread of the infestation – but time is running short and they always seem to be a step behind. Unless they can find a way to stop the Philomena – vineyards around the world will be ruined for decades; potentially causing the collapse of the wine industry. Can Corvina and Bryan get to the root cause and save the international wine industry from ruin?
Steven Laine has paired his experience in the wine industry with his passion for writing and world travel to create a mysterious international thriller that will have wine lovers on the edge of their seat.
Praise for Root Cause:
“An entertaining, wine-soaked mystery.” – Kirkus
“Root Cause is a pithy, pitch-perfect story about the sort of madness that can ensue when one of humankind’s favorite vices comes under fire. What’s remarkable about this novel is that it illustrates just how far the wine industry stretches, reaching to all corners of the globe in a self-sustaining system—much like a vineyard’s very roots. It’s always great to see an author taking the age-old adage “write what you know” to heart, and never has a saying been more fitting than with Root Cause. Having traveled to over one hundred vineyards and wineries, and after many years of working in the wine industry, it’s safe to say that Laine knows his grapes. Root Cause is the perfect application of Laine’s extensive knowledge of vineyards, and is, to boot, a thoroughly researched story that will both educate and entertain readers.” –★★★★★, Red City Review
“This cleverly titled novel is a very compelling mystery through and through with a twist that you’ll never see coming. The plot is one complex enough to keep you on your toes yet easy enough not to oversaturate the reader, creating an exciting and page-turning story… Laine’s own expertise in the field of winemaking is apparent as he carefully interlaces details within the story. He gives the readers a small glimpse into the world of wine, showing the complexity and intricacies that it takes in the field but without indulging in too much explanation. Everything is explained in just the right manner and helps to wrap up the narrative neatly.” – The US Review
“This book will appeal to wine lovers and mystery enthusiasts alike. There is a wealth of information about the growing of grapes and winemaking. However that is not a distraction from the search for the culprit or culprits.” – Reviewed by Jo Dervan for Goodreads
Excerpt from Chapter 1:
…Corvina followed Marco between the vines. He stopped halfway down a row and held out some off-colored leaves. “I think some of the vines have been infected with something,” Marco said.
Corvina pulled her silk scarf tight and donned a pair of latex gloves—which she carried with her on all her winery visits—before reaching out to examine the leaves. She noted the cluster of vines around her all had the same dry, copper-colored leaves. Their undersides were covered in pale-yellow pustules. The pustules burst silently in her hand, coating her fingers with a fine, musty dust.
She crouched to inspect the leaves closer to the ground. They looked and felt the same. She dug her fingers into the dirt surrounding the base of one of the vines until a long, bare section of rootstock was exposed. She brushed off as much dirt as she could and studied the rootstock and surrounding dirt with great care to confirm her suspicions.
The insect matter on the leaves made her suspect Marco’s vines had aphids, but seeing their tiny yellow bodies writhing in the soil and crawling along the roots left no room for doubt.
“When did you first notice the infestation?” she asked Marco, wiping the dust and dirt from her gloves.
“You think it’s an infestation? Not an infection?” Marco asked.
“Definitely an infestation,” she replied.
“What do you think it is?”
“It’s not what I think it is—it’s what I know it is.” Corvina stood. “Marco, you have aphids.”
“But I use pesticides, and my vines are grafted. How can I have aphids?” he asked. His voice had risen two full octaves. He looked around the vineyard as if seeking an explanation.
“Not just any aphids, but it looks like some variety of phylloxera.” But how was that possible? The vineyard was in the heart of Italy, and Marco’s vines were grafted, the best means of resisting phylloxera. She had to get back to Barcelona as soon as possible to tell her boss. If she was right, Marco had bigger concerns than a bad winemaker—and wineries all over the country might be in jeopardy.
“Oh no, oh no, oh no.” Marco was shaking his head from side to side. He appeared to be in shock.
“Marco, how old are your oldest and youngest vines?” she asked.
“The oldest are twenty-five years—those are the cabernet sauvignons. The youngest are the pinot grigios. I just planted them last year.” Her father’s friend looked crestfallen. He covered his forehead with one hand, and his eyes went wide. “What’s going to happen to them now?”
“They’re going to die. All of them,” Corvina said. She removed her gloves by turning them inside out, keeping her hands clean in the process. She wished she could just as easily unsee what she had seen among the roots. Phylloxera was a winemaker’s worst nightmare. She stared out over the vineyard and shuddered to think how far the aphid might have already spread…
About the Author:
Steven Laine was raised in Ontario, Canada and has dual Canadian and British citizenship. He has travelled the world working in luxury hotels for international brands including The Ritz, Hilton, Starwood, Marriott, Jumeirah and Pan Pacific. When he was Beverage Manager of a five star hotel in London, he learned all about wine and has since visited over one hundred vineyards and wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland, Lebanon, Australia and South Africa. As the only North American ever invited to be a Member of the Champagne Academy, he had the privilege to visit and learn from the major Champagne Houses in France. His circle of friends is made up of winemakers, Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, restaurant managers, and wine distributors from all over the globe.
Steven lives in Singapore and is now working on his next novel.
To learn more, go to http://www.stevenlaine.com/
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