13 Million Dollar Pop (Frank Behr Series #3)by David Levien
Frank Behr is on an executive protection detail of Bernard Kolodnik, a hard-driving business mogul on the verge of making a move into big-time politics. Behr is working for the Caro Group, an uneasy fit both philosophically and literally. Working for someone else rubs him the wrong way - but with his girlfriend nine months pregnant, Behr is doing what he has to. An… See more details below
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Frank Behr is on an executive protection detail of Bernard Kolodnik, a hard-driving business mogul on the verge of making a move into big-time politics. Behr is working for the Caro Group, an uneasy fit both philosophically and literally. Working for someone else rubs him the wrong way - but with his girlfriend nine months pregnant, Behr is doing what he has to. An attempt is made on the client, and Behr manages to protect him and repel the attackers, getting them both to safety. Behr is celebrated for his heroism and moved to a different assignment, but he can't help but investigate what happened in that garage - and why the cops are either making no headway, or burying the incident.
"Crime fiction at its finest."Christopher Reich
"Relentless Suspense.”—Harlan Coben
"Top shelf-writing . . . [imagined] with icy . . . precision."Entertainment Weekly
"[As] real as it gets." – The New York Times Book Review
"The new must-read thriller writer." Lee Child
“Stunning crime fiction” —Dayton Daily News
"Levien has an ear for dialog that many of us don't often hear. . . Gripping."Indianapolis Star
“David Levien is a marvel. His dialogue is straight-up, so street that it’s a wonder the pages aren’t coated with grit.”—Bookreporter
"Overflowing with intrigue."The Free-lance Star
Indianapolis ex-cop Frank Behr (Where the Dead Lay, 2009, etc.) gets dropped into the middle of a case that promises to end his days as a bodyguard as well.
Frank never thought he was cut out for executive protection. The work is servile, and the Caro Group doesn't pay him well enough to compensate for his issues with authority. But one problem with guarding local developer (and now Senator-designate) Bernard Kolodnik never occurred to him: He might get shot at. The attack comes in a parking garage, and although Behr saves Bernie Cool's life and earns his gratitude, his efforts on behalf of his agency and their client don't get him any traction when he tries to find out who fired the shots and why. In fact, both Karl Potempa, the head of Caro's Indianapolis office, and Shugie Saunders, Bernie's political consultant, are actively thwarting the investigation he's running in defiance of Potempa's command (backed up by Lt. Gary Breslau of the Indianapolis police) to lay off. As Frank staggers along on his own, the forces who wanted Bernie dead bring in Welsh cleanup hitter Wadsworth Dwyer, who in turn calls on Rickie Powell, a good man with an axe, to cauterize the loose ends before Behr can trace them to the top. But even after Caro fires him, Behr turns out to have reinforcements of his own, especially after a horrifying call on Susan Durrant, his pregnant girlfriend, drags Indianapolis cop Eddie Decker, an ex–USMC sniper, into the fray.
A professional-grade actioner that offers compelling evidence for Rickie's dictum: "When pros lock up, everyone gets hurt."
Read an Excerpt
Frank Behr walked two steps ahead of the principal toward the blacked-out Chevy Suburban. The winter had cracked a few weeks earlier, and the night air swirling around them had lost its bite. The report of their hard shoes on concrete reverberated off the walls of the underground parking garage of the Pierson Street ofﬁce building. The principal was half a foot shorter than he was, so looking back, Behr had a clean view of the amber-lit geometric rows, now mostly devoid of cars due to the late hour, that spread out around them.
“Yeah . . . yes,” the principal said into his cell phone, “it’s going to happen. Tomorrow morning, tomorrow afternoon latest. Shugie’s just getting the press conference together.”
The principal was Bernard Kolodnik, a prominent businessman with a real estate and property development background who was so smooth and successful in his dealings that he was admiringly known around greater Indianapolis, and throughout the Midwest, as “Bernie Cool.” Fit at ﬁfty, Kolodnik had a strong jaw, blue-gray eyes, and hair the color of steel-cut wheat.
“What? What?” Kolodnik said, ﬁghting reception that was growing choppy as they got farther underground. “You’re crapping out on me, Ted . . . Ted?” He clicked off the call.
“Damn things,” Kolodnik muttered to himself of the cell phone, and began walking more quickly. Behr, in turn, stepped up his pace.
Executive protection. It wasn’t an area in which Behr was expert. He was pinch-hitting for Pat Teague, who had approached his desk at 6:15, when he’d been about done for the day, and asked him to ﬁll in. Teague was an involved father apparently, and had a few kids playing several sports or vice versa. Either way, there were a lot of games for him to go to, as Behr had gotten similar requests a few other times over the past six months he’d been at the Caro Group, the private investigation and security company that was as close as it got to a white-shoe ﬁrm in the ﬁeld.
The job was an uneasy ﬁt for Behr. Working for someone else—along with the starched collars, the suits and ties, and the stiff and shiny black Florsheim wingtips he was required to wear—rubbed him the wrong way. In fact, the outﬁt chafed his feet and neck raw for the ﬁrst couple of weeks. But with Susan near nine months pregnant he found himself doing what he had to to earn a living, and trying to make his peace with it.
Behr had been reluctant about ﬁlling in for Teague the ﬁrst time he was asked, not being professionally trained as a body man. But Teague assured him he was up to it without any advance preparation, that Kolodnik was a low-maintenance client who just wanted someone to organize his table at restaurants and to keep away “wakeboppers”—his term for business aspirants hoping to make contact and gain by the association. There was nothing against the switch in company policy, so Behr had asked a few questions, read some tactical guidance in the archives, and gone ahead in order to collect the extra money. He soon learned he was basically meant to be a hybrid of chauffeur and babysitter.
All sound besides their footsteps dropped away as they neared the P3 level. The elevator wouldn’t take them lower than P1. It was broken, or perhaps they needed a key card this late in the evening. Though Behr wasn’t an experienced bodyguard, even he could see that this should have been a two-man detail, minimum, had they been going by the book: one man to accompany the client to his meeting and a driver to stay with the vehicle and pull up to a rear or side entrance of the building when it was done. Three men, with a backup for the walk, would’ve been even better. But in the current economic climate the “book” was out the window, and no one who earned his own money, even a guy like Kolodnik, was springing for multiman teams unless there was real reason. That was Behr’s guess anyway.
So when Kolodnik had asked him to come inside, to wait while he took his meeting, and to help him carry some stuff out, Behr had done so. He’d parked the Suburban on a low ﬂoor in the visitor spaces because the garage had been full at that time, rode the elevator upstairs with Kolodnik, and waited outside the glass-walled conference room while a nearly three-hour meeting took place between Kolodnik, a redheaded woman, and a pair of gray-haired men, all dressed in sober blue business suits. Now Behr toted two bankers’ boxes full of ﬁles back to the vehicle.
They turned the corner and reached the head of the row where the Suburban and a few other cars were parked, when Behr felt a blip on his mental radar. He transferred the boxes to one hand and was ﬁshing in his pocket for the Suburban’s key fob when it caught his eye. There was an aberration in the lighting pattern. A black gap, like a missing tooth, in the otherwise uniform yellow light grid of the garage, and then it was too late.
The gunshots punched through the air in a broken chain of crackle and thunder. A stripe of rounds tore into a Toyota Camry near them as Behr dropped the bankers’ boxes and jammed Kolodnik to the ground beneath him. The air went out of Kolodnik upon impact. A breathless “fuck” was all Behr heard before more rounds wanged off the concrete behind them and started getting closer.
Behr had never been ﬁred upon by an automatic weapon before, and he instantly found he was not a fan. The buzz-saw sound scrambled his mind, and he felt the urge to make his six and a half feet and two hundred forty pounds as small as he possibly could, but that urge competed with the instinct to cover Kolodnik. He stayed over the businessman and scramble-crawled them toward the Suburban, shredding the knees of his suit pants as he went.
He scanned the darkness for a target, but between bursts, the area the gunman ﬁred from was pitch-black. Another stripe of rounds ripped past them on the ground, and Behr was sure he was killed as he pressed the key fob. The Suburban unlocked with a chirping sound that joined the ringing in his ears. The fob tumbled from his hand and fell to the pavement as he reached up and jerked the door open between them and the shooter. There was little chance they’d be driving out anyway, as the shooter let off another burst.
Dead, Behr thought, with just a piece of ﬂimsy Detroit steel between him and what were undoubtedly full-metal-jacketed .223 or 7.65mm shells coming their way.
The door shuddered with the impact, and Behr expected he and Kolodnik to be covered with shattered glass and worse. But there was merely spalling, and the window held. The door shook and absorbed the live rounds with a dull whump.
Armored. The realization echoed in Behr’s head. But getting the principal up and inside the vehicle would be more dangerous than leaving him down right now.
“Oh, Jesus,” he heard Kolodnik grunt from behind him, and Behr realized this wasn’t going to end on its own.
Return ﬁre, Behr exhorted himself. His hand, slick with sweat, found the holstered Glock 22 .40 caliber that Caro required him to carry on his hip. He didn’t generally favor the gun, the squared look and plastic feel of it, but he loved it at the moment.
When ﬁring in low-light or no-light conditions, the idea is to keep the shots within an imagined two-foot box, centered on the opponent’s muzzle ﬂash. Another burst erupted at them. There was some muted ﬂare coming from the weapon across the garage, but not the three-foot stream of ﬂame he expected.
Flash suppressor. Nice information but not that helpful at the moment. Behr sprawled out beneath the bottom edge of the door and put the tritium dot of his front sight where he’d last seen a muzzle burst, hoping the shooter didn’t know enough to ﬁre and move, and emptied a mag. Ten rounds pitched worthlessly into the darkness. Behr tried to determine if he’d made any hits as he dropped the clip and reloaded. At least he’d stopped the incoming ﬁre for a moment. Then Behr’s desperation to survive fed him an idea. He rolled onto his back, accidentally kicking Kolodnik along the side of the head as he did, and shot out all the nearby lights along the ceiling. Plastic and glass sprinkled down on them along with a thick blanket of darkness.
Behr had gone through his reserve mag now, but he hadn’t quite shot himself empty. He grabbed at his ankle where he wore his Bulldog .44 as a backup gun, strictly against company policy. He had the ﬁve rounds in it and then they’d be done.
He tried to listen as he held ﬁre, but there was only a hollowed-out buzzing in his ears after all the shooting. Behr perceived Kolodnik’s racked and panicked breathing nearby. Then he got the impression there were footsteps across the way in the dark. There was a broken rhythm to them, perhaps a limping gait, and Behr wondered if the shooter was actually hit, or if he was coming toward them. But then the steps grew fainter. Behr’s heart surged at the idea he was giving up and leaving. There was the sound of a car engine, just around the corner; that came through clear enough.
Get up after him, Behr urged himself. But he didn’t move an inch.
What People are saying about this
“If you take heart medicine, you'll want to consult with a doctor before reading this pulse-quickening thriller from David Levien….With his machete-sharp wit, Levien paints a vivid picture of what happens when power lands in the hands of the wrong people. Not surprisingly, his characters are alive with energy, and his rapid-fire plot is hunkered in realism. All in all, [13 Million Dollar Pop] is a thunderous book that shines a light on dirty politics and the repercussions of getting caught in the crossfire. Bullet for bullet, this is one explosive read.” Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star
PRAISE FOR DAVID LEVIEN:
“The truth of the characters—and the intensity of their pain—is as unbearably real as it gets.” —New York Times Book Review
“Levien is the new must-read thriller writer.” —Lee Child
Meet the Author
David Levien is the author of Where the Dead Lay and City of the Sun. He also co-wrote the screenplays for Ocean's Thirteen, Runaway Jury, Rounders, Knockaround Guys and several other major films. Levien is a director and film producer (with partner Brian Koppelman) of Solitary Man starring Michael Douglas and Susan Sarandon, and The Girlfriend Experience (directed by Steven Soderbergh). He lives in Connecticut.
Paul Boehmer has appeared on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and Off-Off-Broadway, and regionally across the country. He has also worked in film and television, including The Thomas Crown Affair, three Star Trek movies, and Frasier. Paul is most proud of his award-winning unabridged recording of Moby Dick. He holds a BFA in acting from Southern Methodist University and an MFA in acting from the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Delaware.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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The best in the series, so far. Interesting characters. Good story line.
Levien's style is like Ellroy's abbreviated communications. Lots of twists and turns, moves quickly, an enjoyable read.
Very bad indeed.
Very well written. More violence than I want to real and it is written in a techical style which names the moves. I assume that this would especially appeal to those who follow fighting--either as a profession or as a sport. This is not a book for optimists or for those who want a reason to go on, but it is a good read.
Definetly not as dark as his first two novels.. but still a decent read. Just not as suspensful and the storyline didnt really grab me like his first two books
This new mystery novel by David Levien is not for the faint of heart. The scenes are emotional and heart-rending, and are filled with definite "in your face" realism. The main character, Frank Behr, is an ex-cop who has found himself in hot water before. Now, as he is about to become a father, he takes a job working for a Protective Agency, and is following a client through an Indianapolis underground parking structure. Frank is on an executive protection detail, taking the place of a co-worker who couldn't work that night. This protection detail is for Bernard "Bernie Cool" Kolodnik, a business owner who is on his way to the Senate in Washington, DC. The company Frank is working for, The Caro Group, is a private protection and security company where most of the employees are ex-FBI. Frank is very uncomfortable in his job situation, especially when the sound of automatic weapons fire rings out loud and clear, and an attempt is made on Frank's very prominent client. Frank manages to protect him and send the attackers on their way. Although Frank is lauded for his heroism under attack, he tries to investigate the attack on his own and runs into many secrets and lies told by the client and also his employers. The Indianapolis Police Department also seem to be in on helping to bury the whole situation and pretend it never happened. There are many good people - and bad - who never make it through this story as it shows the realism of a man trying to settle into a job he really doesn't like all that much in order to protect his lady and his child. A very good character protrayal that readers will be looking forward to as the author takes us through Frank's life. Quill Says: Levien writes a crime story that is full of real people and energy that centers around the brooding Frank Behr. A compelling read which will have all readers waiting impatiently for the next Frank Behr mystery to arrive.
Review based on ARC from Doubleday: What a pleasant surprise this book was. I was familiar with David Levien due to his movie work, screenplays etc., but not as a novel writer. 13 Million Dollar Pop was well written, well crafted/plotted. It's not often you get to read crime/cop fiction that doesn't go over the top, but Leviene did it. This book was an absolute joy to read and I have now found a new hero to root for in Frank Behr. This being the 3rd book in the Frank Behr series, I now have to go back and read the previous 2. 5 out of 5 stars, read this book folks, you will not be disappointed.