At the start of the pseudonymous Andrews's intelligent page-turner, his third Justin Westwood thriller (after Midas), Westwood, the police chief of the quiet Long Island community of East End Harbor, has just begun a torrid affair with Abigail Harmon, the stunning wife of a wealthy investor, when a late-night phone call informs him that her husband has been found brutally murdered. Placed in the uncomfortable position of being the widow's alibi as well as the prime suspect in the eyes of an ambitious local prosecutor angling for an eventual gubernatorial race, Westwood has a personal stake in tracking down the killer. The twisty plot provides the appealing Westwood with plenty of challenges, though his heroics sometimes border on the implausible (especially when he's battling a lethal team of Asian assassins). Under his actual name, Peter Gethers, Andrews is the author of several bestselling nonfiction books, including The Cat Who Went to Paris. (Mar.)Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Hadesby Russell Andrews
Police Chief Justin Westwood is content to escape his big-city past in sleepy East End Harbor, but the brutal murder of a Wall Street shark is about to change all thatnot least because Westwood was in bed with the victim's wife at the time.National bestselling author Russell Andrews returns with an intricately layered novel of suspense, as Justin… See more details below
Police Chief Justin Westwood is content to escape his big-city past in sleepy East End Harbor, but the brutal murder of a Wall Street shark is about to change all thatnot least because Westwood was in bed with the victim's wife at the time.National bestselling author Russell Andrews returns with an intricately layered novel of suspense, as Justin Westwood tries to clear himself of involvement in murder while a multinational financial conspiracy brings destruction in its wake. Westwood is willing to do whatever it takes to solve this crime, even if it means teaming up with an FBI agent who once broke his heart. A trail of dead bodies draws him back home to Providence, RI, where he must deal with his own personal demons as well as reconnect with troubling memories of the past. Here he will discover a complex corporate scam with unimaginably murky depths, and at the heart of it an evil, scheming intelligence and a deadly temptress whose greatest joy lies in human suffering and death. HADES is a dark and atmospheric tale of obscene wealth and sadistic violence, opposed by one flawed but honorable man.
- Grand Central Publishing
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- 4.12(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.00(d)
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By Russell Andrews
WARNER BOOKSCopyright © 2007 Peter Gethers
All right reserved.
Chapter OneJustin Westwood was experiencing a combination of emotions he was not particularly used to, and he wasn't sure exactly how he felt about it. For one thing, he was relaxed. For another, at least for the moment, he was content. If push came to shove, he realized, he might even describe himself as happy. He was well aware this was not his normal state of mind, and he couldn't help but wonder what the hell was going on.
The good feelings came partly from the very cold Ketel One vodka martini he was sipping, his second in the past half hour, each with two spicy jalapeño-stuffed olives filling up the bottom of the glass. He'd also indulged in a few hits of a superb joint. He wondered what would happen if one of East End Harbor's young police officers happened to walk into his house sometime to find him happily getting stoned. Probably nothing, he thought. It was one of the few advantages of being the chief of police.
Things had been quiet in the small Long Island resort town for nearly a year now. And quiet was good. Teenagers had gotten drunk and turned over a few garbage cans. Three houses had been broken into: someone had stolen food out of one refrigerator; another master thief had broken a window to climb into a bedroom and had cut himself so badly he called the hospital to send an ambulance; and the third break-in was an ex-boyfriend trying to get a piece of jewelry back, an earring. It turned out the earring had cost all of forty-seven bucks-not quite the expensive diamond that had been promised in happier times-so the victim was more than willing to let it go and forget about pressing charges. And even more determined to keep the "ex" in any references to the would-be burglar.
Justin was getting used to the peace and calm. He had had enough turmoil to last several lifetimes. One of the things that had helped him put the turmoil in the past was the naked woman on the bed next to him. She was lying on her right side, propped up on her elbow, also sipping her second martini. Justin would have settled for straight vodka-he probably wouldn't have even bothered with the ice-but she had insisted on bartending. She'd shown up with the dry vermouth and the olives and even supplied the martini glasses, divining that his kitchen cabinet stock went only as deep as four or five Kmart water glasses, if that. She'd also shown up with two thick sirloin steaks, saying that if she had to settle one more time for pizza or the dreadful East End take-out Chinese food he usually ordered, she wouldn't be held responsible for her actions. She also made it clear that she provided groceries when needed, but she hadn't actually cooked anything since she was twelve years old and had no intention of starting now. Justin had looked through his cupboard and asked if spaghetti with garlic and oil and hot red pepper flakes would satisfy her as a side dish, and she had said absolutely, as long as they got to do certain things close up before the garlic took over. He was happy to oblige. They didn't make it halfway through the first martini before her clothes were off and he was putting Sticky Fingers in his CD player-he was really in the mood for the driving beat of "Moonlight Mile" and the sweaty feel of "Can't You Hear Me Knocking"-and she was pulling him onto his bed, and they were making love about as well as love could be made. No, not exactly accurate, he thought. What they had really done so far that night was screw their brains out. And that was definitely satisfactory.
Justin smiled at the memory of what had transpired maybe twenty minutes ago, realized she thought he was smiling at her, and then he was smiling at her. She was something to smile at.
He'd met Abby Harmon four months ago. In Duffy's, not a bar where you'd expect to meet someone like Abby. She confessed later that she'd come in looking for him. She knew it was where he went to drink, and she'd heard so much about him she decided she had to see the real deal for herself. For a stretch of quite a few months, she couldn't go to a party where people weren't talking about Justin Westwood. His background. His aloofness. His lack of interest in just about everything that everybody at those parties was interested in. She wanted to see him for herself, see what made him tick. So she pulled her Mercedes CLK550 convertible up to the old-fashioned blue-collar hangout at ten-thirty at night, walked in, and ordered a glass of their best red Bordeaux. Their best red Bordeaux was six months old, from the North Fork of Long Island, and cost three-fifty a glass, so she went instead for a Sam Adams on draft. Donnie, the bartender, nodded in silent approval when she'd switched her order. A much better choice.
Justin had recognized her as soon as she'd walked in, of course. It was not hard to recognize Abigail Harmon. There were plenty of rich women coming in and out of East End Harbor. And there were plenty of sexy women. But there wasn't anyone who was quite as rich and sexy as Abigail. Certainly no one who also had her kind of reputation.
Justin knew a horse trainer, a fairly placid guy, who'd done work at the stable where Abigail kept her two horses. "The meanest bitch I've ever met," is the way he had described her. Justin had seen her once, striding out of the mayor of East End Harbor's office. When Justin walked in, the mayor, Leona Krill, looked as if she'd gone ten rounds with the young Mike Tyson; when he'd asked her if she was okay, Leona had said, "Jay, I feel like I've just been bitten by a rattlesnake."
But he also knew that Deena, his ex-girlfriend, gave Abigail Harmon private yoga lessons. Deena went up to the Harmon mansion-the only way to describe it-three times a week. She was very well paid, but she wouldn't go there just for the money. Deena would never do anything just for the money. She liked Abigail Harmon. She told Jay, during their once-every-three-or-four-months lunch date, that Abby-it was the first time Justin had heard anyone refer to her as "Abby"-was "incredibly smart and really comfortable in her own skin and about the only person I teach around here who doesn't treat me either as the help or as if I'm some kind of kook. And she's incredibly nice to Kenny." Kenny was really Kendall, who was Deena's now twelve-year-old daughter. Justin was once the love of Kendall's life. Of course, she'd been nine years old then. Now he was almost but not quite yet just a grown-up to be tolerated. He took Kendall out to lunch every three months or so, too. And every so often out to dinner. He figured he had until she was fourteen for the dinners. Then she'd dump him for some pimply-faced teenager who, sooner or later, Justin would have to talk to about getting drunk in public and knocking over garbage cans.
That night at Duffy's, Justin had been drinking with Gary Jenkins and Mike Haversham, two of the young cops who worked for him. When Abby walked in, Gary and Mike stared in awe and disbelief. When she sauntered over to their table and asked if she could join them, they looked as if they might faint. After a few sips of her beer, she leaned over in the direction of both young men and said softly, in that voice of hers that somehow managed to be both fire and ice, "Could I ask you guys a real favor?" When they nodded, she said, "What I really want to do is have a drink with your boss. Would you mind giving us some privacy?"
The two cops practically fell over themselves to comply with her wishes, and suddenly Justin felt as if he and she were the only two people in Duffy's wood-paneled room.
She didn't say anything for a fairly long while and neither did he. Not speaking was one of Justin's better things. He was comfortable with silence. More comfortable than he usually was with conversation. He'd seen something once, when he was a kid, still in college and traveling for the summer in Europe. It was some ancient aphorism-his memory told him it was Turkish-and it said, "With language began all lies." He had liked the thought then, and now that he was grown-up and a cop, he liked it even more. So he was in no rush to interfere with the quiet that settled in over the table at Duffy's. Finally, Abby just introduced herself. And smiled. He thought he'd never seen anything quite as perfect as her white, sparkling teeth. Unless it was her shoulders, which he could see because she was wearing a sleeveless shirt; and they were tan and perfectly round and so smooth he thought someone must have oiled and polished them before she stepped out. Her eyes weren't too shabby either, he had to admit. They were big and almond shaped, brown with tiny specks of yellow. It was the floating specks that were so hypnotic, and they made him think of a song lyric he'd heard long ago, when he was a teenager and his parents had taken him to Manhattan to see Bobby Short sing at the Carlyle. He didn't remember all the songs he'd heard that night, but he did remember Short crooning about a woman whose eyes were open windows and when you looked in, there was a party going on inside.
Sitting at the table with her, he decided he wouldn't mind an invitation to the party that was going on inside Abigail Harmon.
"Is there something in particular you wanted to talk to me about?" he asked.
She shook her head. Her straight brown hair moved in sync with the motion, rolled left and right, then settled back easily, still and soft and glistening. Her hair was pretty damn perfect, too.
So they started talking about the town. She told him about her dealings with some of the younger cops, one of whom-she thought maybe it was Mike-had once tried to give her a speeding ticket.
"What do you mean 'tried'?" he asked.
She waved her hand, as if brushing aside a gnat. "Oh, I talked him out of it."
"How fast were you going?"
"And what was the speed limit?"
"Jesus Christ." He rolled his eyes. "What the hell did you say to him?"
But she just smiled and shook her head. "Sorry," she told him. "I might have to try it on you if you ever give me a ticket."
Then they spoke about the Hamptons and a little bit about Rhode Island, which is where Justin was from. Abby had spent time there. In college she'd dated someone who went to the Rhode Island School of Design. The fact is, he didn't really remember much of what they'd talked about. It wasn't her words that were so beguiling. It was her voice and her manner and her legs, which kept crossing and uncrossing, and looked so muscular and firm and inviting. And it was definitely her eyes, which hinted at all sorts of pleasures and an equal number of dangerous things. And which were vulnerable. And even a little bit sad.
They talked until he looked around and realized that almost everyone else in Duffy's was gone. There was one drunk regular, who had passed out at a table and was left to fend for himself, and Donnie, who was busy wiping the scarred wood bar down with a damp cloth.
"Look-" Justin said, not exactly sure where the rest of the sentence was going, but it didn't matter much because Abby cut him off.
"I know," she said. He wasn't sure how she managed to interrupt him. She didn't speak loudly and her words weren't rushed. Somehow, though, when she spoke, the right thing to do seemed to be quiet. "I know about your wife and I'm sorry. I know about Deena, too. Well, enough to know that there's something inside you that frightens her, which is why she broke it off, and she feels as bad as a person could feel about that. And I know about that woman police officer who was here last year. I don't know what happened-I've just heard rumors-I figure it was bad and complicated and now she's gone. All I want to say is what happened to your wife happened a long time ago, and maybe one of these days you'll let go-or maybe you won't. But, just so you know, I don't frighten so easily. And I don't want any complications in my life. And, best of all, I'm not gone. I'm right here. So you wanna go someplace a little nicer than this and have a real drink?"
Justin hesitated just a split second before he nodded. He didn't know why he hesitated. He was never going to say anything but okay. "Got somewhere in mind?"
"How about your place?"
"The bad news," he said, "is that my place isn't any nicer than here."
"What's the good news?"
"There isn't any good news."
"Let's go," she said, "sweet talker." And it was the "sweet talker" that did it. He saw her sense of humor and her toughness and her soft spot at exactly the same moment.
That first night was sensational. He wasn't at all surprised at how sexy she was, how uninhibited and demanding she was in bed. He was surprised at her tenderness and the way, after sex, she kind of rolled into him, collapsing, drained, as if it wasn't just about the pleasure and the physical relief but also about getting rid of anger and shaking off the outside world and all sorts of things that didn't have anything to do with him or what they'd just experienced together.
After that, they began seeing each other. Not constantly. Sometimes once or twice a week. Occasionally even three times. They'd have dinner, usually in his small, Victorian house on Division Street at the end of East End Harbor's historical district. They watched a few DVDs, mostly old movies. They drove into Manhattan one night, had dinner at Barbuto, way west down in the West Village, and spent the night at the Soho Grand Hotel.
And now here they were sitting on his bed, eating the steaks and pasta he'd cooked up, finishing off their martinis. He didn't even mind that he knew one of the reasons she was smiling and shaking her head affectionately was because she was enjoying the fact that he was a clumsy oaf.
He'd come back into the bedroom with the food and a pained expression on his face, and as soon as he'd set the plates down, he began looking at his right hand with his eyes narrowed. She didn't have to say a word, just gave him that look, that cocked head, and he said, "I have those stupid electric burners on my stove. You can't tell if they're on or off-"
She'd interrupted him, saying, "You mean you can't."
He gave her a mock scowl and said, "Okay, I can't." And then he said, "But what I can do is burn myself every damn time I go near the stove because I can't even remember to turn the thing off."
She'd laughed-laughing at the big tough guy who couldn't handle a small burn-and she'd taken his hand and softly kissed the blister that was forming, letting her tongue linger and gently lick the heel of his hand until he didn't really care about the minor burn.
Yes, it was safe to say that right now, right this minute, in this woman's presence, Justin Westwood was reasonably happy.
When they were done eating, Abby picked up both plates from the bed, saying, "Nobody'd believe it, me clearing the table." Then she said, "I'll be right back," and wearing only his light cotton summer robe, she made her way down the stairs, dropped the plates in the kitchen sink, then half walked, half ran to her car, which wasn't in his driveway but parked about a quarter of a block away on the street. She was back in his bedroom in less than a minute and in her hand was a red cardboard box. She handed it to him.
"Open it," she said.
Justin cocked his head a bit to the left, looked at her curiously, and did as he'd been told. He pulled out a small, perfectly round cake. With one candle sticking up in the middle.
Excerpted from Hades by Russell Andrews Copyright © 2007 by Peter Gethers. Excerpted by permission.
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