The End Game

The End Game

4.5 6
by Gerrie Ferris Finger
     
 

Moriah Dru’s weekend off with her lover, Lieutenant Richard Lake, is interrupted when Atlanta juvenile court judge Portia Devon hires Dru to find two sisters who’ve gone missing after their foster parents’ house burns down.

An ex-cop, Dru established Child Trace, Inc., after leaving the force. Judge Devon sees to it that Lake is assigned to

Overview

Moriah Dru’s weekend off with her lover, Lieutenant Richard Lake, is interrupted when Atlanta juvenile court judge Portia Devon hires Dru to find two sisters who’ve gone missing after their foster parents’ house burns down.

An ex-cop, Dru established Child Trace, Inc., after leaving the force. Judge Devon sees to it that Lake is assigned to head the police investigation, because Dru and Lake together have a habit of solving cases.

After questioning the neighbors, the couple decide that the abduction of the girls looks like more than an ordinary kidnapping. Dru learns that in the past eight years two other foster children from the area have gone missing. The investigation turns up a snitch who tells Dru he’s heard that a secret sex organization, with members named after chess pieces, is bound for Costa Rica with two girls. The chase is on to stop the kidnappers before they escape the country.

The latest winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, The End Game features a strong new heroine in a vivid Southern setting. Gerrie Ferris Finger puts a new spin on the classic mystery novel.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A hunt for two young sisters propels Finger's compelling if at times sobering debut, which won the 2009 Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. When Jessie and Dottie Rose vanish after their foster parents, Ed and Wanda Barnes, die in a fire that destroys their home in Atlanta's Cabbagetown neighborhood, Portia Devon, a juvenile judge, turns for help to Moriah Dru, a former cop who runs Child Trace Inc. Dru and her detective boyfriend, Lt. Richard Lake, who's officially assigned to the case, conclude that Wanda and a neighbor friend of hers, Millicent Goddard, may have known the predator who took the Rose sisters—and other girls in the area over the years. Millicent's murder and a tip that a child prostitution ring is involved raise the stakes. A well-researched plot and snappy dialogue—plus some fine rail-yard K-9 detecting by Buddy, a German shepherd, and Jed, a Labrador retriever—keep the action moving. (May)
Sacramento Book Review

The 2009 winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, The End Game debuts a winning heroine – ex-cop Mariah Dru, now dedicated to finding lost children through her agency Child Trace, Inc. Two sisters are missing after their foster parents die in a suspicious fire. The Cabbagetown neighborhood in gentrified downtown Atlanta offer suspects galore with lowlife deadbeats, violent parents, sex criminals, and even a creepy bureaucrat from the Child Protection Agency is under suspicion. After Dru discovers two other foster girls from the area have gone missing in the last eight years, she uncovers an international sex organization that kidnaps American children and ships them around the world for the sex trade. With the Amber Alert sounded and the child traffickers unable to get the two children out of the country, they might kill them, making it look like serial murder – the End Game.
With little introspection, mostly describing events, Dru trails the kidnappers. “Little girls who come from low-life, become low-life” is the rationale that the “Rook” – the head kidnapper – makes to justify pedophilia. The relentless action and snappy terse dialogue, fairly hard-boiled with short staccato sentences between Dru and Lieutenant Richard Lake, Dru’s lover and former partner on the Atlanta police force, with the Southern setting, final action in an Atlanta train yard, it’s a runaway ride to the end.

— Phil Semler

From the Publisher
“Like a runaway freight train, this novel is all about narrative drive….The depth [Finger] brings to the story telling is unusually accomplished; it stays with you when you’re finished, it’s not just a thriller read for the thrill. The Atlanta setting is used well also, something that bodes well for future installments. All I can say is, welcome to the mystery community, Ms. Finger.  It feels like you’ve moved right in.”—Robin Agnew, Aunt Agatha's

 

"Punchy dialogue and sly humor keep things moving, and an 'eenie meenie miney moe' of neighborhood witnesses...come across as all the shadier for being unlikely suspects. Dru is a strong narrator."—

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

"A fast-paced and totally gripping story. It's also a darker mystery that will appeal to readers across the mystery genre."—BookBitch.com

Sacramento Book Review - Phil Semler
The 2009 winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, The End Game debuts a winning heroine - ex-cop Mariah Dru, now dedicated to finding lost children through her agency Child Trace, Inc. Two sisters are missing after their foster parents die in a suspicious fire. The Cabbagetown neighborhood in gentrified downtown Atlanta offer suspects galore with lowlife deadbeats, violent parents, sex criminals, and even a creepy bureaucrat from the Child Protection Agency is under suspicion. After Dru discovers two other foster girls from the area have gone missing in the last eight years, she uncovers an international sex organization that kidnaps American children and ships them around the world for the sex trade. With the Amber Alert sounded and the child traffickers unable to get the two children out of the country, they might kill them, making it look like serial murder - the End Game.With little introspection, mostly describing events, Dru trails the kidna

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780312611552
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
04/27/2010
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
8.54(w) x 5.90(h) x 1.12(d)

Read an Excerpt

ONE

SATURDAY MORNING IN APRIL

Satisfied, Lake and I lay apart on the king bed. The breeze through the window flitted across my skin, fine-tuning the pleasure of cooling down. In a little while, we’d get up, throw on sweats, and run the 10-K to Piedmont Park. We’d drop onto a bleacher to watch a pickup softball game—maybe join in if idle gloves lay nearby. Right now, though, an après snooze was the plan.

Not to be. A train horn moaned into my nap. The bedside clock said the seven A.M. from Birmingham was smack on time, the chug-rumble growing louder by the wheel turn. It’s a miracle how the bricks and mortar of this old cotton warehouse—now lofts—withstand the shakes and have for more than a century. Lake lives on the third floor, and whenever our schedules give us a weekend together, we alternate between the burbs, where I live, and this place, which I adore.

I also adore train squalling. This behemoth’s air horn warbled loud and long like an off-key contralto. I lifted a finger and tapped Lake’s broad back. “Engineer Number Two.” My brain’s chock-full of useless knowledge, like knowing the signature sounds of seven air horn maestros.

Lake rolled his shoulder toward me. “Your cell.”

“Huh?”

“It’s playing your song.”

I got up, impressed again at his ability to hear my cell phone tinkling out Mozart with the train screaming by. My cell lay on the windowsill. I hoped it was a wrong number, but the display said otherwise. “ ’Lo, Porsh.”

Portia Devon yelled in my ear, “You in a tornado?”

Cranking the industrial window, I yelled back, “Train. Hang on.” The chill in the room was no match for the cold lump of apprehension beating along with my heart. Last night, Portia and I closed a runaway girl case. It had taken me three days to trace the sixteen-year-old to San Francisco. Within an hour, I got the call she was a DOA. Portia and I salved our failure with a drink in her chamber. We said our good nights, and she told me to rest up, we’d talk Monday. “What’s got you up so early?” I asked.

“You and Lake need to put your clothes on. Guess you haven’t been watching the television.”

“No,” I said, looking at Lake, who’d raised himself on his elbows. “We haven’t been watching television.”

Lake grinned about the same time his landline rang. He listened for a few seconds, then his face lost its soft edge. He grabbed the TV clicker.

Portia said, “The fire’s in Cabbagetown.” Her voice crackled like the flames leaping on the screen, a replay of the fire that occurred earlier. “Two people dead. Man and wife. Foster parents. Two girls gone. Sisters.”

“Gone?”

“They weren’t in the house, dead or alive.”

“How old?”

I watched Lake slam his phone receiver and head for the bathroom.

Portia said, “One’s nine, one’s seven. The seven-year-old is deaf. You’re hired.”

Portia is a juvenile judge, and I own Child Trace, Inc. I search for missing kids, and my main client is the Search and Rescue Division of the Juvenile Court System. “On my way. Which street?”

“Cotton—by the old converted mill. I’ll catch you there with details and bring photographs.”

“Lake’s on the case, too?”

“I talked to the Major Crimes commander. Thought you’d like that.”

“Yeah, thanks.”

Pressing END, I went for my backpack, slid the cell in, and thought about my poor overworked lover. A big-city detective lieutenant couldn’t count on two whole days to himself unless he escaped to a desert island and changed his name. Neither, it seemed this morning, could an ex-policewoman turned child finder.

I pulled clothes from a wardrobe while I watched the tragedy on the tube. A helicopter hovered above the scene. Video caught firemen tromping through a gutted house and horrified people clinging to each other. The chopper ranged the neighborhood where searchers darted like fire ants. Closer to the ground, the lens tightened on a Search and Rescue dog pulling its handler along an overflowing ditch. Another SAR dog zigzagged across a playground with swings and seesaws.

Lake came from the bathroom toweling his chest. We exchanged glances. I said, “It was really nice while it lasted.”

“Really nice?” he mocked, flinging boxers and socks from a drawer onto the bed. “You say better things about my wardrobe.”

He’s a tall, broad-shouldered man, but it’s his face that captivates—all angles and irregularities merging to make him beautiful. Then my brain’s devil-voice said, you’re not the only woman in Atlanta who thinks so. I didn’t have the time to dwell on my jealous side and whirled for the shower. I said over my shoulder, “It appears you’re on loan to me.”

“Isn’t owning me enough?”

If only I did. “Portia made sure you got the gig.”

“Lovely Portia.”

As I washed hair and scrubbed body, I said goodbye to an amorous weekend and set my mind on the reality of what lay ahead. Kids going missing after their house burns down. Foster kids. Troubled kids. My kind of kids.

Out of the bathroom, dark hair dripping, I snatched up pants, shoved into them, and reached for my shirt. While I zipped and buttoned, Lake strapped on his cop gear, cell, radio, guns—his police issue in a shoulder holster and his personal Glock in a paddle holster at the back of his waist. He stuck his arms into his blue jacket, strung badges around his neck, and clamped on his trademark panama—a navy straw now it was spring. All the while, his eyes were riveted on the TV screen. “Those wooden houses are tinderboxes,” he said, shaking his head. “A spark is all it needed.” He flicked off the remote, and I slipped on my backpack—a compact leather thing with enough room to carry my mini-laptop, PDA, cell phone, and wallet. I’m licensed to carry, but my gun’s at my house, not that I thought I’d need it.

Our footsteps on the wooden planks resounded like thunder through the hall and down the narrow steps. Apologies to the neighbors later. We bolted across the street to a security fence. Lake flashed his palm across the scanner, the gate opened, and we dashed to the unmarked police car.

As Lake raced through downtown, my heart beat to the pulsating blue teardrop lights mounted on the dashboard. This wasn’t the weekend we’d planned, but I was ecstatic to be working with him again.

As if he’d read my mind, he reached to squeeze my hand. “Me, too, Dru.”

My name is Moriah Dru, and except for old friends I’m called Dru, thanks to my cop days and M DRU etched on my metal name tag. I met Richard Lake when we were assigned to patrol the Atlanta Police Department’s Zone Two. Within three weeks, we’d become lovers. When he got promoted to the Homicide Unit, I couldn’t adjust to another partner, mainly because each man assumed he was taking Lake’s place in my bed. After two lothario-type sidekicks, against whom I could have brought harassment charges, I quit and started Child Trace, something Portia had been pestering me to do since my maternal instincts (ha!) led me to my first lost child.

 

Excerpted from The End Game by .

Copyright  2010 by Gerrie Ferris Finger.

Published in May 2010 by St. Martin’s Press.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

Meet the Author

Gerrie Ferris Finger is a winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition. She lives on the coast of Georgia with her husband and standard poodle, Bogey.

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The End Game 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
grumpydan More than 1 year ago
The End Game is the story of two young girls who disappear after their foster parents are killed and their house burned down. They may have been possibly abducted. Moriah Dru, a former cop, now an investigator specializing in finding missing children is hired. He soon learns that they may have victims of child abductors and other children have disappeared in the past. This story gets more passionate as Dru and Lt. Lake (the officer assigned to the case) get closer and closer to the answer. I enjoyed reading this novel as the characters were interesting and the action not too deep. It a quick read and although the subject matter is disturbing, Gerrie Ferris Finger has written a mystery that kept me involved.
NoraJean More than 1 year ago
This is a fast-paced tale centering on the kidnapping of two young sisters and the main character (Dru's) efforts to retrieve them. Finger has a very comfortable style; she introduces us to her characters, settings and plot in a way that is simple and effective without being condescending. Her dialog (Lanny is endearing) is spot-on and not overbearing, and her characters are very real. Lake and Dru are well-drawn and interesting, yet the sidebars into each characterization do not detract from the pace of the story. Finger's train jargon is interesting - I wish I knew enough to say it is accurate, but it feels real! Being that I live near Atlanta her use of Cabbagetown and it's environs gave the story added dimension for me. Several bits and pieces tossed out in the course of the tale (like the origins of the Bentley)) lead me to believe this is the first of a planned series of stories about Dru and her Child Trace organization. I will be among the first in line for the next installment. Well done!
StacksVickie More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of mysteries and "The End Game" was great! The characters were interesting and well developed. The story had enough twists and turns to keep it interesting. This is a great read and would recommend it to everyone.