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Kansas City detective Joe Johnson is a passionate family man, and a loving husband and father. But on the streets, he can go toe-to-toe with the toughest gangsters. Joe is also fiercely loyal to his fellow officers; so when FBI agent Cheryl Chase makes a distressed late-night call, he's ready to respond without hesitation. Cheryl's working undercover, trying to bring down a ring of dirty cops who've found murder a great way to handle business. But Joe's partner and wife are strongly against him getting ...
Kansas City detective Joe Johnson is a passionate family man, and a loving husband and father. But on the streets, he can go toe-to-toe with the toughest gangsters. Joe is also fiercely loyal to his fellow officers; so when FBI agent Cheryl Chase makes a distressed late-night call, he's ready to respond without hesitation. Cheryl's working undercover, trying to bring down a ring of dirty cops who've found murder a great way to handle business. But Joe's partner and wife are strongly against him getting involved—especially with a woman who nearly cost him his marriage before.
Now Joe's got to face his most dangerous case yet, and it will take every skill he has to infiltrate, outwit and bring down the psychopathic ringleader if he and Cheryl are to stay alive and make it back home.
The steam is still rising off my cup of coffee and, appreciatively, I take a sip. With my free hand, I rifle through the pile of papers on my desk for the telephone number of a recent informant, but I can't find it. I glance over at Vernon's desk, which sits directly across from me and see several piles of neatly stacked papers. Vernon Brown has been my partner for fifteen years here at the homicide department of the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department.
"Vernon, did you take the number for that informant, Marlon Jackson off my desk?"
Vernon looks up from the morning paper and raises one eyebrow as though I'm bothering him. "Joe, yesterday you asked me to call that guy to make an appointment for this morning. Well, I did it like you asked. I told him we'd meet him around nine-thirty at the crime scene where he helped us nab that bastardBarry Franklin for killing his kid and burying him in the back of the house."
"Great. We also have to make sure we pay him for the information, so we need to get five thousand bucks from the commissioner to pay him for coming forward. He's expecting his money today."
"All taken care of."
"Wow, you mean, you finally did something I asked before I had to nag you about it? Go figure," I say, jokingly.
"I took care of the money yesterday. I got it right here in this envelope." He retrieved the envelope from his desk drawer.
"Terrific. His testimony will seal that creep's fate for life. I can't believe he buried his own son in the backyard of his house. We're just lucky that Mr. Jackson was squatting in the abandoned house behind Barry's and saw the whole thing," I explain.
"It also was luck that he called us and spilled the beans about what he saw," Vernon states.
"Let's hold back on the sainthood for this guy, because he did ask for the reward money before he told us anything," I remind him. "Joe, the guy was not a drug addict or anything. He just fell on hard times. You can't blame him for wanting his due. This money can change his life a little. It might even get him on the right track."
"I hope it does. I know without him, we would have never closed this one so quickly." It also helped that the commissioner made this case a high priority. The district attorney wanted us to come out to Barry Franklin's house and meet the crime-scene guys to do a walkthrough. This would ensure we had nailed all the details.
"It's important that this is an airtight case before it gets to the court system," I remind my older partner.
Vernon gives a nod of his graying head and throws up his hand to stop any further conversation so he can enjoy his morning coffee and paper. Vernon is a stickler for being aware of what's going on in the news. Every morning he reads our town's three daily newspapers.
I still find it hard to shake the details of the case from my mind. In all my years on the force, I never understood why people hurt kids. I have kids of my own and even on a bad day they make me smile and laugh. I can't see how a kid could push a parent to kill them. It couldn't possibly be the child's fault. The fact is, there's some sick-ass people in the world.
over to Vernon's desk and snatch the paper from him, just to piss him off. "Vernon, my kids asked if you and Gertrude would like to go to the circus with us tonight."
Vernon frowns and raises his eyebrows in a warning manner. "Why you got to play so damn much, Joe? I can't tonight, but you tell the kids Gertrude and I will take them for ice cream on Sunday. We'll pick them up around one or two after church. Now, if you don't mind, can you please give me back my paper before I have to taser your ass?"
"Vernon, why are you always threatening me with violence when you know I can whip you with my eyes closed? Anyway, this is not just any circus, it's the Univer-Soul Circus. Run by black people. It's always a great show," I explain as I hand him back his paper.
"I know who they are. I caught their commercial on television. Gertrude's parents are coming over for dinner tonight, so we're booked for the evening, and her parents always look forward to our dinners. So my hands are tied and your eyes would be closed if I wasn't in a good mood because I could have knocked you out," he says, laughing as he opens his paper and puts his cigar in his mouth.
We finish our coffee and head out of the downtownprecinct office and take Paseo Avenue up to Forty-Third Street. We hit Paseo and pass 18th and Vine where the Negro League Baseball and Jazz Museums are, along with the historic Gem Theater. This area was bustling with black businesses from the thirties through the late fifties. Many famous people—Satchel Paige, Louis Armstrong, Sonny Liston, Ella Fitzgerald, Hank Aaron, and other entertainers and sports figures—came to have a good time and be welcomed with open arms during a time of segregation in Kansas City. Even though many years have passed, truth be told, some parts of Kansas City still are segregated.
We make it over to the crime scene and meet up with our informant. It's a quick exchange. We get Marlon to sign for the money and Vernon hands him the envelope.
We touch base with forensics as they finish their business at the Franklin house. Barry Franklin will get the death penalty for this. The former city Water Department employee complained that his son was crying too much and he couldn't take it anymore, so he took a hammer and did him in. The coroner found that the kid had a simple case of food poisoning and that caused his discomfort. The kid was killed for eating a bad chicken sandwich. What a waste of two lives.
After the district attorney arrives and we discuss details, Vernon drops me off at the office and I go home to spend time with my children and wife.
As the crisp night air flows through the crack in my window, I look at my family asleep in the van and am grateful for the life with which God has blessed me.
I love working for the Kansas City Homicide Department. I am able to give a voice to victims of violent crimes and bring the perpetrators to justice. Being able to take up for the weak and abused gives me a sense of pride. My partner, Vernon, and I have received two promotions in the last two years, and my former captain has been made Commissioner of Police. We recently elected a Black mayor, and our city government is probably as diverse and progressive for African-Americans as any in the United States.
The commissioner, Vernon and I all moved up the ranks together, and we earned our promotions. Our department has one of the highest solved-case files in the Midwest Region, which allows me to spend more time with my family, and I take advantage of all the time I can.
The soft light of the moon caresses the lovely features of my wife, Sierra. The mellow beams dance across her deep cleavage and I can't wait to put the kids to bed and let the romance of the full moon capture Sierra and me seductively in its grip.
Our two-year-old twins, Vernie, named after my partner and best friend, and my namesake, Joe Junior, are strapped in their car seats. Their heads slump forward, each hand gripping circus balloons. We were blessed to have a girl and a boy as twins.
Nia, now four years old and as beautiful as ever, sits between them. Her pink-and-blue cotton candy, secure in a plastic bag, lies on her lap, with remnants of the sugary treat coating her cherubic face. I smile and breathe a heavy sigh as I turn onto our block and pull into the driveway.
We had such fun at the Univer-Soul Circus. We laughed, cheered and were awed by the magnificent show, full of great acts and African history told by the Ringmaster. His sidekick, Zeke the Midget, stole the show with his humor, antics and dancing. We felt as if we were part of the act with the participation and great music. Life doesn't get any better than this.
After putting the children to bed and taking my shower, I slip into my pajama pants and walk over to the bed where Sierra lies, wearing one of my oversized Rockhurst College T-shirts.
She is, however, fast asleep. I smile, say goodbye to my erection, brush her hair to the side and kiss her softly on the forehead. I promise myself I'll wake up early, before the kids, to say good-morning to my wife the Big Daddy way.
In an attempt to calm the disappointment of romance on hold, I go downstairs and into the kitchen to satisfy my other weakness. I work out every morning to keep in shape. I have to be able to run down the bad guys. I love the feeling of working up a good sweat exercising. It became a habit after I'd played football and basketball in high school and college. My rigid workout habit allows me to continue my one true sin, eating ice cream.
I put a couple of scoops of Neapolitan into a cup and head into the living room happy and humming the words, "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream." I left my cell phone at home this evening so I could have some undisturbed time with my family. I notice it flashing in the darkness. I sit in the plush chair next to the table the cell phone sits on and check my messages.
My heart flutters and my gut tightens at the anxiety and fear in FBI Agent Cheryl Chase's voice. She has to be in desperate trouble to call me. She graduated at the top of her class at the FBI Training Academy, and with her prodigious IQ, common sense and a black belt in karate, she's more than capable of handling herself.
I knew she was going undercover, but she didn't inform me about the particulars of the case. Chase is a friend of the family. We've worked together on a serialkiller assignment and a couple of drug cases that ended up on my desk because they were homicides.
There had been a mandate on law-enforcement cooperation due to an increase in organized crime, so Vernon and I were chosen to cross-train at Quantico, Virginia, at the FBI training academy. This special task-force assignment and training allows us to work some special FBI cases, as well as those with our local authorities. We have credentials for both organizations. It has its perks, but it can be a pain in the butt when we get taken off a local case that we are close to solving.
Chase and I had been paired up on a few cases. We were attracted to each other and had almost been intimate three years ago, but, after a few moments of weakness, we came to our senses. The circumstances of this encounter were innocent enough: we were in Jefferson City when we found the state governor's daughter dead. We were exhausted after traveling and working on the case all day. For our safety, we decided not to get on the road, and instead sought a hotel room. There was a convention in town and there was only one room available at the hotel. It had one bed and one lounge chair. We flipped a coin for the bed and Chase lost. I dozed in the bed next to me. We kissed and fondled each other, but I could not go all the way with her. I knew there was an attraction, she's a beautiful woman. But I love my family and it was too high a price to pay. I could not bring myself to break my vows to my wife. She respected my feelings for my family, and knew I would never leave my wife.
On another case about a year after that, Chase saved my life. We were assigned to track down two escaped convicts. Deep in the mountains I came across one of the escaped killers getting water from a spring. As I confronted the convict at gunpoint, disarmed him and put him in cuffs, a shot rang out. Chase had shot the other escapee, who had been silently sneaking up behind me with an ax held over his shoulder.
Chase's shot hit him in the shoulder and the ax dropped inches from my foot. We were able to disarm the bad guys and get the situation back under control. As we waited for assistance to take them into custody, I hugged her for saving my life.
I've always felt the energy between us, but have always been able to control it. I keep things in perspective; if I weren't married, Chase would have been the woman in my life, but since that's not the case, we continue as friends.
That event defined our true friendship. I remember the conversation we had after cuffing the suspects together and waiting for the ambulance and the rest of the search team to extract the killers.
The area by the spring was really beautiful. The trees, wildflowers and thick grass were quite enchanting in spite of the circumstances. We listened to the water bubbling and churning as it rolled to the waterfall eight feet to our left. Chase sat on a boulder as we guarded our suspects.
"Chase, you saved my life. I didn't have a clue that guy was behind me with the ax."
Chase looked at me with big brown caring eyes, "Joe, we got into this business to serve and protect. Not a lot of people can appreciate what we do. If anything had happened to you, then I'd be up here alone with these two thugs, and I couldn't let that happen." She winked at me.
I took a seat next to her and tried to ease the nervousness running through me from being so close to death.
"We did become part of a brotherhood when we took our law-enforcement oaths. You're right, we're bonded no matter what agency we work for. Chase, we always have to have each other's backs, no matter what. We put our lives on the line every day, and we have to be able
Chase nodded in agreement. "And God knows we're outnumbered and outgunned by the bad guys."
I reached over and took her hand. "Thanks for looking out for me. I owe you my life. I can't thank you enough. I guess I'm so used to havingVernon watch my back, that I didn't take time to check the area around me."
"Joe, you were busy with the other suspect, he was struggling and you can't be everywhere at the same time. I was here for a reason and I know you'd have done the same for me. Don't worry about it." She punched me in the shoulder. "I'm always there for you. I know the eerie feelings you're having. I had them, too. Get over it and move on. The reality is we live to see another day and do some good. We caught the bad guys and they'll be off the street. That's a good thing." Chase kissed me on the cheek as we heard the helicopter and sirens approached.
At that moment I knew that if it weren't for my wife and family, Chase would have been one hell of a woman to have in my life. I felt the natural attraction that we had for each other, the kind that stirs your emotions. I shook the feelings and jumped off the big rock.
"C'mon Chase, let's get these scumbags down the hill so we can get out of this heat. These mosquitoes are starting to eat me alive."
Chase slid down the rock and stood next to me. I said, "Chase, I'll never forget the friendship we have. I trust you and I got your back for life." She nodded in agreement and punched me in the shoulder. We got the bad guys to their feet and marched them through the thick woods to the dirt road over the hill.
I put down the ice cream-filled spoon and immediately dial the number of the one person who can explain the project Chase is working. It's after midnight and a queasiness of fear builds in my gut. I don't like what I am feeling. I'm fearing the unknown, feeling that circumstances are about to be out of my control, that dues are about to be paid, but it is a call I must make.
Excerpted from Black Rain by Vincent Alexandria Copyright © 2007 by Vincent Alexandria. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted October 15, 2010
I accidently stumbled across this book...... Wow what a fantastic read! This is a well written detective story with a little bit of romance and a lot humor. There were scenes in this book that I couldn't stop laughing. Anyway, if you like mystery and suspense you will enjoy this book. This is my first book by this author and I am looking forward to reading more of his work.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This book was so suspenseful! Couldn't put it down.finished it in 2 days! The author created detective Joe, the main character, to be warm, intelligent and funny. Not without problems, but the relationship he has with his wife Sierra is strong and loving. He and his partner Vernon are tapped into each other, as most best friends are, and his old buddies are very amusing. His mission to help Agent Cheryl Chase goes beyond the call of duty and provides for interesting reading to keep you engrossed and entertained. Look out for Agent Epiphany Duvall. This smart and sassy character, although having the smallest part in the book, was my favorite! I'm hoping that maybe we will see more of her later in Mr. Alexandria's books. Overall, I thought the story line was great and easy to follow. Like every good author, Mr. A. wrote each compelling chapter to keep you from putting the book down. Down to the smallest details, he is very articulate and a passionate writer. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series of this exceptional author.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 19, 2008
Vincent Alexandria, author of Black Rain, describes his novel in three words - passion, murder and deceit. He made an accurate description because Black Rain is filled with all three, respectfully. Now, I have never been the one to pick up a novel about the world of police work, but this one may make me thing twice about it next time. Alexandria made police work, corruption, and sting operations interesting. With his vivid characters and precise description of each scene it allowed me to really get into the action. From chapter to chapter you learn more about each character and how they play a significant role in the storyline. The lies and deceit kept me reading even when some scenes got a little wordy. The anxiety to know what was going to happen next made me remain engaged in the story. The obstacles and moral dilemma were definitely realistic and believable allowing for a good read. Joe, the main character, had internal struggles with what he knew he had to do and what he knew was the right thing to do. Staying true to himself and the ones he loved allowed the storyline to progress smoothly. This made Black Rain a relatable novel. Even though I am not a police officer or know anyone personally who is, Alexandria made it easy for me to understand the life of an officer. Underneath the story of corruption there is a story of loyalty and love. Perfect for us hopeless romantics who love a great ending. <BR/><BR/><BR/><BR/>T. Nicole Robinson <BR/>AAMBC Book ReviewerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 29, 2007
Detective novels true to the genre of mystery and intrigue are such that character development, timing and place are definitive of `who done it¿ and tried to get away with it syndrome. Now comes author Vincent Alexandria 'again!' with the third installment detailing the exploits of Detective Joe Johnson, passionate and concerned for those closest to him embellishing the idea. The new saga, BLACK RAIN deals with dirty cops killing drug dealers for money. Betrayal, self-indulgence, and deceit color the landscape as Jackson is drafted into the fray when FBI agent Cheryl Chase makes a distressed late-night call and he responds without hesitation. Flash back and realize that Cheryl Chase is not an ordinary player in his life. We find out that they are attracted to one another but matrimonial responsibility is the only entity keeping their relationship platonic. Suffice it to say, Ms Chase saved his life in the past, and because of that, the Detective feels an obligatory responsibility that precludes doubt that others feel with him accepting the case. The storyline is average at best, and certainly not new to detective fiction lore, but the author¿s style of writing manages to keep it moving at a moderate pace. One would readily get the feeling that the characters for this story were only meant for adjunct colorization for the canvas, as Joe Johnson and Chase are the catalysts. As such, I wonder how it would have changed the backdrop had more intricate involvement in the plot to add more riveting value. Alas, that would be second-guessing the author and shouldn¿t take away from this fine effort. As the story unfolds, Chase goes undercover at the behest of her superiors and find herself in too deep at the expense of having her cover blown, hence the late night call to Joe. Can Chase keep her cool and infiltrate deeper enough to expose the culprits? The author gives a good account of keeping readers on page-turning anticipation wondering whether Chase will return safely, and reveal who indeed is the mastermind behind rampart killings and a massive distortion ring. The story has a few poignant moments where the contrast of yea and nay serves a moment for the detective to ponder the merits against the advice of wife and longtime partner. It¿s his most dangerous case, and once again Joe Johnson through the pen of Mr. Alexandria, gives reason for the next novel to be just as good or better! I would strongly suggest that readers explore this author¿s writing by picking up erstwhile books If Walls Could Talk and Postal Blues. It¿s always refreshing to know that the African-American detective mystery writing has another credible writer to add to the list. Black Rain is real and a good story. The best part in my opinion is the unexpected ending ¿ one that the author HAD to include for it to truly add the intrigue for extra-added value. Vincent Alexandria will be heard from again, trust me¿but grab this book to whet your appetite for more Joe Johnson exploits in the future! I rated this book 4 out of 5 star rating system, and would vouch that this author has arrived!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.