Authorized Personnel Only

Authorized Personnel Only

by Barbara D'Amato

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For Chicago cop Suze Figueroa, home is a sanctuary, a quiet refuge from the crime, corruption, and tragedy she encounters everyday on the job. The creaky old Victorian house she shares with her little boy, her invalid sister, and her sister's family seems far removed from the threats and dangers of the mean city streets.. . . or so she believes.

The truth is

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For Chicago cop Suze Figueroa, home is a sanctuary, a quiet refuge from the crime, corruption, and tragedy she encounters everyday on the job. The creaky old Victorian house she shares with her little boy, her invalid sister, and her sister's family seems far removed from the threats and dangers of the mean city streets.. . . or so she believes.

The truth is far more terrifying, for, unknown to Suze, a stranger has moved into the house: an intruder who waits in the attic by day and prowls her home at night, spying on both the unsuspecting adults and the defenseless children. While Suze spends her work day tracking down an elusive serial killer, she has no idea that a much more personal danger lives under her own roof, eating her food, handling her gun, and watching her loved ones....

Strips of yellow tape may keep curious bystanders away from crimes scenes, but nothing so simple can protect Suze and her family from the menace that has invaded the privacy--and the safety--of their own home.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
HDon't read this book with your back to the cellar door! Although this third in the Suze Figueroa series starts out as a Chicago police procedural, the mood grows eerie as the pages fly by. Officer Figueroa and her partner, Norm Bennis, are handling their usual pickpockets and burglars when a sizable number of the force's detectives are incapacitated by a bout of food poisoning after a banquet. Temporarily promoted to detective, Suze and Norm must quickly track down a serial killer and a child molester before each has a chance to strike again. The murderer targets the homeless, getting them drunk and suffocating each by a different method. Undetected, the child molester secrets himself in Figueroa's large house to revenge her interruption of an earlier crime. He prefers preteen females, gleefully finding two of them, Figueroa's nieces, in the house. The policewoman's son, J.J., is just trying to survive preadolescence with a mother who must be gone more and more as the murders multiply. Police profiler Jody Huffington and a Northwestern University psychiatrist, Dr. Ho, help the temporary detectives to understand the minds of serial killers and child molesters. The denouement cuts close to the cops' lives and is written in such terrifying terms readers will find it easyDno, mandatoryDto stay up all night to finish the book. (Dec. 7) Forecast: Anthony and Agatha Award-winner D'Amato, Mystery Writers of America president for 1999-2000, handles a tired theme, the psychopathic killer, more tastefully than most. If booksellers emphasize this to prospective buyers, the title could attract readers who love suspense but not gore. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A mean outbreak of E.coli has thinned the ranks of the Chicago Police Department so ruthlessly that Officers Suze Figueroa and Norm Bennis, along with all their other colleagues who aren't in the hospital or the morgue, are doing double duty. Besides looking for a thief who's been picking the pockets of upscale shoppers while they watch noontime cosmetics demonstrations at the city's most exclusive stores, they've been appointed acting detectives in a series of killings of homeless alcoholics. Smarting under the constraints of time and money—the department won't approve the pricey forensics tests she's convinced would narrow the field of suspects dramatically—Suze prepares to comb the city for the perp. Stretched to the limit by her caseload and the lack of support she's getting from her superiors, she doesn't realize that she ought to start by searching the attic of the home she's sharing with her brother-in-law, Robert Birch, where she's helping to nurse her brain-injured sister Sheryl back to health. A dangerous lowlife has gone to earth in Robert's house, prowled the bedrooms in the family's absence, eavesdropped on their conversations, eaten their food, worn their clothes, and is now waiting for one of Suze's late nights at work so that he can have some real fun with aphasic, partially paralyzed Sheryl and her two daughters. Despite a perfunctory windup of the multiple felonies, the meatiest and most straightforward of Suze's three procedurals (Good Cop, Bad Cop, 1998, etc.) to date. D'Amato's headline sleuth, Second City journalist Cat Marsala, had better watch her back.

From the Publisher

“Don't read this book with your back to the cellar door!” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“D'Amato keeps her characters and readers constantly on their toes . . . . The suspense comes in waiting for the mysterious intruder to pounce, and guessing which member of Figueroa's clan will be targeted, and why. It's a strategy that rewards fans of both mysteries and thrillers.” —Chicago Tribune

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
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Suze Figueroa Series , #4
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Authorized Personnel Only



Monday, 1:30 P·M·

"WE LOST SIGHT of them in traffic, squad," the voice on the radio said.

"Get a plate?"

"Never got close enough." It was 3-32, a car from the Third District talking. The Third was well south of the Loop.

The dispatcher said, "Where you at?"

"Eighteen hundred south on Michigan. Breaking off."

"All units in the eighteen hundred south Michigan area, we're looking for a two-door green Ford containing two male whites, approximately twenty, twenty-five years old. Heading northbound. These two gentlemen held up a currency exchange on Jeffrey and are armed. Repeat, they are armed"

"In broad daylight," Suze Figueroa said.

Bennis said, "Yeah. What's the world coming to?"

Officers Norm Bennis and Suze Figueroa were rolling east in their squad car on Roosevelt Road heading toward Lake Michigan, minding their own business, which basically meant minding the business of the law-abiding or not-so law-abiding public out there. They had both front windows down for air. Chicago squad cars don't have air-conditioning. Figueroa was driving. Bennis wanted to drive all the time, but Figueroa loved squad cars, loved the lights and siren, and reminded him of department rules. In a two-man car, the manual said each man should drive four hours. Even if one of them is a female.

"Hang a right on Michigan," Bennis said.

"Aye-aye, Captain."

"Now mosey into the right lane and slow down."

"Jeez, why don't you just drive and be done with it?"

"Told you I would."

"Never mind."

Bennis was thirty-six years old, a black man who was medium height and built like a wedge, wide shoulders, narrow waist and hips, fairly skinny legs but a great runner. Figueroa was twenty-six years old, Irish and Hispanic. Bennis had been on the job ten years longer. That made him the boss. He thought.

"Comin' up in the rearview," Bennis said.



"Your basic two-door green Ford with two extremely basic male whites."

"I hate it when you're right."

The Ford passed them, going slower than it had coming up behind. It moved sedately into the right lane ahead of them. Obviously the driver didn't want to be pulled over by a cop car for some minor violation. This was fine with Bennis and Figueroa, though. It put the Ford right where they wanted it. Figueroa hit the lights and siren. Bennis was on the radio.

"One-twenty-eight. We got them on view, squad," he said reading off the Ford's license plate.

And at that moment, the Ford took off like a bat.

"Shit! Move it!" he said.

"Like I couldn't guess." Figueroa floored the accelerator. They flew past Eleventh, Ninth, and Eighth Streets—there was no Tenth—all of which came in from the left and dead-ended at Michigan Avenue. The Ford screamed around three or four cars, then cut into the right lane again, just barely clipping the front bumper of a Toyota Celica. The Celica's driver jammed on his brakes—a poorly considered move that caused him to lose control and swerve onto the sidewalk, where, thank God,there were no nearby pedestrians—and Figueroa swore at him under her breath, fighting the wheel to pass him on the left, then swing back into the right lane.

Ahead the brake lights of the Ford went on, just for a split second, but giving Figueroa some advance warning. It swung sharply right, fishtailing as it turned onto Balbo.

The Ford's driver was heading straight toward the lights at Balbo and Lake Shore Drive. Ahead of him was Lake Michigan. His choices were only left or right, unless he planned to sleep with the fishes.

Bennis said, "Eastbound on Balbo," to the radio.

"Ten-four, twenty-eight."

"Not anymore," Figueroa said.

The Ford shot through the intersection with the light against it, screeching sharply left. A blue pickup got out of its way too fast, sideswiping a Jeep.

"Nobody knows how to drive anymore," Figueroa said.

At one-thirty in the afternoon, Lake Shore was busy but not as full of cars as it would be at three when the rush hour started to build. The Ford sped up, going forty, then fifty, then sixty, cutting back and forth around cars, one lane to another. Buckingham Fountain flew by on their left.

Most of the traffic saw the light bar on their squad car and some even pulled over to the right, giving the Ford a free lane and more space for more speed.

"Don't lose him!" Bennis yelled.

"Good thinking, boss."

"Northbound on LSD," he yelled at the radio.

At seventy miles an hour they passed everything on the road. The Ford was weaving, dodging traffic, sliding around the stopped cars at the Jackson intersection, then the Monroe crossing. Speeding up, with the yacht club on the right, it was running too fast into the curve at the north end of Grant Park.

"Oh, shit! There he goes!" Bennis said.

The Ford slewed sideways into the center guardrail, flattening a section, and then spun out across the southbound lanes, miraculously missing six southbound cars, and up the embankment onto the golf course Mayor Daley was so proud of. A golf course in the middle of the city.

Figueroa piloted the squad car bumpily over the flattened rail more carefully than the Ford, and then she cut across the southbound lanes in a gap in traffic.

Ahead of them, the Ford churned into the soft earth of the golf course, the driver still trying to get away from the cops. Golfers ran for the trees, scattering clubs and bags and hats.

Figueroa drove the squad car across the grass, following the Ford.

"Hey! You're messing up the green," Bennis said.

"It's a rough."

"It's a rough now, that's for sure. At least stay in his tracks. The mayor's gonna kill us."

"They're getting out!"

Figueroa shoved the gearshift into park. Bennis was already out of his side, running. The two men jumped from the Ford and ran. The one from the passenger seat turned. He was holding an automatic weapon.

"Bennis! Look out!"

Bennis was chasing the driver. The first guy took a one-handed Rambo stance, feet spread wide, automatic weapon held in his right hand only, and fired at Bennis. He missed, and Figueroa thought, Thank God. Figueroa didn't have time to pull her sidearm and she didn't need to. By the time he fired she was on him, just plain jumped him with all her weight, which wasn't much, but if a hundred and ten pounds hits you dead-flat-on, you notice it. She grabbed the gun. Her momentum carried the guy backward with her on top of him and then she rose up and let herself drop on him hard, one knee right in themiddle of his abdomen. The air went out of him with a sound like a popped balloon and so did all the fight.

When she looked up, Bennis and the other guy were disappearing over the hill toward Randolph Street and half a dozen squad cars with their light bars flashing were coming up Lake Shore Drive.

Monday, 3:30 P·M·

"I'M SAYING THAT Gentleman Bandit guy had to have the IQ of a rutabaga," said Corky Corcoran, leaning heavily on the bar from his side.

"But handsome I heard," Sandi said from the customer side of the bar.

Suze Figueroa said, "Well, see, that's the thing. When they're handsome they think they can get away with all kinds of stuff."

"Who?" said Kim Duk O'Hara. There were nine of them, just off second watch, all unwinding in the Furlough Bar.

"This armed robber," Corky said. "Weren't you listening?"

"No," said Kim Duk.

Corky laughed. "See, this happened on my next-to-last day, just before I pulled the pin." A former cop, Corky had left the department two years earlier. "Got in all the papers, too. What a send-off! The robber—they called him the Gentleman Bandit—specialized in convenience stores," Corky said.

Mileski said, "Those places! Just banks by another name. Cash withdrawal by Smith & Wesson, twenty-four-seven. Have some cigarettes and Twinkies while you're at it."

"No, that's 7-Eleven," the Flying None said.

"Twenty-four-seven means twenty-four hours a day seven days a week," Corky said, waving his arms hugely and smiling. Mort groaned deeply. Corky and Mort co-owned and ran the bar, Corky having bought a half interest just two years back. Mort was also a former cop, but unlike Corky, didn't talk much.He was irritable and crabby, which didn't seem to bother his customers. Figueroa believed that cops took a perverse delight in crabby bartenders. Still, most of the cops who hung out here thought Mort had driven his first partner away with his bitching and moaning. The partner had sold out to Corky. Corky was the perfect foil for Mort; he just laughed when Mort snarled.

He said, "So what I'm sayin' is in he goes. I mean, he's done maybe fifteen, eighteen stores we know of by that time, and he's gotta know we're looking for him, but he goes in anyway."

"Yeah, well, he also got away with it fifteen, eighteen times," Kim Duk said, making a not-bad point.

Corky merely beamed on Kim Duk. "It was the media called him the Gentleman Bandit because he's polite, see? Sheesh. Make him a hero, right? So anyway he goes into this convenience store on Kedzie. He's swaggering; he's cool; he's handsome. And he's got a thirty-eight. Goes behind the counter and tells the sweet young thing to please give him all the money out of the cash register and all the cigarette packages she can stuff in this big brown bag. And she does."

"I would too," said Kim Duk.

"Says stuff like 'if you don't mind,' and 'thank ya kindly, honey.' Then he's ready to go. But he wants an efficient getaway. Now, his other masterful jobs have been in Ravenswood, South Shore, Old Town, Back of the Yards, I mean all over the city, but not right here in the middle of the Loop where there's a hell of a lot of one-way streets, so he asks her, 'Say, honey, what's the best road to the Kennedy Expressway?' Being sweet, see? She says, 'Take Randolph Street.'"

"You're kidding me."

"Never. So he says thanks and good-bye, and I'm here to tell you he actually gives her a quick kiss on the cheek, and he quick-steps out of there. Soon as he's out the door, she dials 911 and informs Dispatch about the robbery and says, 'He'sgonna be taking Lake Street to the Kennedy.' Naturally, the 911 operator asks how she's so sure, and she tells him. And we get the word. So my partner Jimmy-Jones Sharpe and I are out there on Madison, scream a couple of blocks over, and pick him up. It's easier than netting minnows in August."

"If they were all brain surgeons," Norm said, "we'd never catch 'em."

"I would," said Mileski.

"Jeez. Mort," Corky said, swabbing the bar surface with a rag, "do you have to leave beer goo all over the counter?"

"Keeps the yuppies away," Mort said.

"No yuppies is one thing," Corky said. "But how about basic sanitation?"

Mort snarled and leaned against the ice maker. They were the odd couple, Corky cleaning and Mort bitching.

"So, Susie," Corky said, changing subjects while he scrubbed the counter, "I hear you're a hero." The bar behind him was the only thing close to trendy in the place. Five tiers of wall-length glass shelves totally filled with bottles spread before a not-too-clean mirror. The mirror was a source of constant wrangling between Mort and Corky. Mort believed that washing it would destroy the ambience, though he would never have used the word "ambience." Even the word "character" wasn't one he admitted to knowing in this context. He said, "You ain't gonna hookerize my bar."

The Furlough was a typical cop hangout, dark, no ferns, small windows that hadn't been washed since Eisenhower was president, and every kind of booze known to humankind. God forbid the district commander should stop in and ask for something they didn't have.

"Don't call me Susie. It's Suze."

Norm said, "Rhymes with booze."

"Or coo—" Mileski began.

"Do not go there!" Figueroa said.

"So you're a hero," Corky repeated.

"Please! I'm not."

"Tackled a guy with an automatic weapon. Saved Bennis's ass. What I hear."

"Guy thought he was Rambo," Figueroa said. "Shooting one-handed. Those pieces rise when you fire them, which is why you gotta hold them two-handed, but the idiot didn't know that. He was firing way over Bennis's head."

"Still," Mileski said, "that wasn't bad action."

Figueroa said, "You know what I was thinking when I decided to tackle him?"

"You're going to tell me. I know that much."

"That it would take way less time and agony to tackle him 'by hand' so to speak than to spend the rest of the day and evening sitting in front of a round table inquiry explaining why I 'discharged a firearm.'"

"You got that right," Corky said fervently.

"Sad but true," said Mileski.

"And the hell of it is," Bennis said, "that the asshole I was chasing got away. Ran down the slope to Randolph. I mean, I was right on his tail, but when he got where there were pedestrians, he took a bunch of cash out of his pocket, paper money from the currency exchange, and threw it up in the air."

"No shit?"

"Yeah, and people just fell all over it. I couldn't get through. My guess is when he got to Michigan Avenue he grabbed a cab."

Figueroa said, "Some of the money from the currency exchange—a whole lot of money—was in the car, but I guess he'd stuffed his pockets with whatever he could grab."

"Say, you know what," Mileski said. "At least that guy wasn't so stupid."

"Yeah. I bet he was smart enough to keep some, too," Figueroa said.

"It's a funny old world," said Corky, setting up more glasses.

Speaking of the world, there was nothing on earth, Figueroa reflected, as satisfying as letting your guard down after work, coming in and having a beer to unwind. Especially among others of your kind, who understood your problems. You need it. Non-cops just don't understand. Other professions unwind after work too, but she believed cops were different.

She had always secretly kind of liked being the only woman in the Furlough after the tour. It gave her a sense of being one of the guys. But they had a new female officer these days.

Sandi Didrickson, the Flying None, was bellied up to the bar. The gang called her the Flying None for a couple of reasons, partly because she came in after the tour, drank three beers, the first two fast, and then after the third glided out, flying on wings of hops.

Figueroa was a-one-beer-and-I'm-outta-here kind of person. For one thing, she needed to get home to the kids and Sheryl. The nurse was supposed to leave at five o'clock.

"But why didn't they let you through?" the Flying None said. Of course this was the other reason for her nickname. Sandi wasn't the sharpest knife in the drawer.

"They wanted to pick up the money."

"But they could see you were a police officer."

Bennis said, "And I'm sure that was a huge deterrent, Sandi."

Figueroa stood up. "Bye, guys," she said.

Everybody mumbled something or other. But as she pulled on her jacket, Bennis caught her eye and mouthed, "Thanks."

Copyright © 2000 by Barbara D'Amato

Meet the Author

Barbara D'Amato is the author of Authorized Personnel Only, which recently won the first Mary Higgins Clark Award, and Good Cop, Bad Cop, which won the Carl Sandburg Award for Excellence in Fiction. She has received high praise for her many novels and a non-fiction book. She lives in Chicago with her husband.

Winner of the Mary Higgins Clark Award winner, Barbara D'Amato is the past president of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime International, winner of the Carl Sandburg Award for Excellence in Fiction and other major awards for crime fiction. She is the author of Foolproof and Other Eyes.

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