A Hard Day's Death

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Overview

Rock star Peter Flame is found dead. It looked like he hanged himself, but the coroner ruled it a homicide. Now it's up to Spike Berenger and Rockin' Security to find out who killed Flame . . . and why. Was it his ex-wife? A former bandmate? A religious cult that had become Flame's groupies? A member of one of the mysterious rock 'n' roll gangs terrorizing New York?
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Overview

Rock star Peter Flame is found dead. It looked like he hanged himself, but the coroner ruled it a homicide. Now it's up to Spike Berenger and Rockin' Security to find out who killed Flame . . . and why. Was it his ex-wife? A former bandmate? A religious cult that had become Flame's groupies? A member of one of the mysterious rock 'n' roll gangs terrorizing New York?
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Editorial Reviews

J. A. Konrath
"A HARD DAY'S DEATH is the most fun you'll have reading a book this year. An exciting, compelling and often funny mystery, written by an industry insider."
Jeffery Deaver
"A sizzling story full of classic twists, humor, and a dead-on look at the music business. A HARD DAY'S DEATH is number one with a bullet."
Midwest Book Review
"It is a fast paced novel full of rock tunes that will amuse and keep the interest intact of all rock lovers. The innovative part is that the chapters of the story are song titles. The author addresses religion and cult issues that are very interesting to read. The plot is well crafted and tight enough to grab the readers' interest, and the characters are realistic and well described. The dialogue sounds truthful and the language style is clear and simple. It caters to mystery and crime lovers."
Neal Alhadeff
"Don’t miss this paperback original. Get in on the ground floor of this exciting new series. A Hard Day’s Death is highly recommended."
Paul Allen
"...mystery fans who are also aficionados of classic rock will find the story line as evocative as it is entertaining. Benson's savvy use of musical icons (including David Bowie and John Lennon) as peripheral characters, as well as his use of songs and performers as chapter subtitles, make this an appealing read. With a core cast of realistic, well-developed and endearing characters, this budding series has a good shot at attracting and keeping a devoted reading audience."
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Raymond Benson is the highly acclaimed author of six original James Bond 007 novels, three film novelizations, three short stories, and two anthologies on Bond. He is a sought-after lecturer on film genres and history. Writing as David Michaels, Benson is a New York Times best-selling author, an Edgar Alan Poe Award nominee, and a Readers' Choice Award winner.
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Read an Excerpt

A Hard Day's Death

By Raymond Benson
Dorchester Publishing
Copyright © 2008 Raymond Benson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-8439-6063-1



Chapter One
Rock 'n' Roll Suicide (performed by David Bowie)

There was death in the air.

It was a comment that Gina Tipton had made before the show and Kenny Franklin had thought nothing of it. "Gina the Gypsy," as she used to be called back in her hippie days, had a reputation for making spooky predictions. A day later Franklin would remember Gina's words and what they portended, but he currently had other things on his mind.

Franklin, who held the all-important job of acting as Flame's tour manager, signed off on the union time cards and sent the crew home. The stage was clean and the tour was done. The show had been a success, such as it was, and the meet and greet had gone smoothly, more or less. Flame, of course, had gotten into volatile arguments with no less than three different individuals before and after the show. But all things considered, the tour ended on an upbeat note.

"Hey Kenny," called Louis, the band's monitor and guitar tech. He held up a bank money bag. "What do I do with this?"

Franklin frowned. "Oh shit, didn't Al take that with him?"

Louis shrugged. "I guess he didn't. I have it."

"Damn." Franklin took the heavy bag from his assistant. The bag held the night's receipts and concession money. "I'm flying to Nashville tomorrow morning. I don't want to be stuck with this. Can you take it to Flame's office tomorrow?"

Louis shook his head. "I'm driving out to my folks' place in Jersey as soon as I get out of here. I'm on vacation now."

Franklin cursed. "That means I have to drop it by there tonight. All right, Louis, see you next time. Stay out of trouble."

"You too, Kenny."

Franklin held on to the bag and turned the theater over to the venue's stage manager to lock up. He went out the stage door and walked toward Broadway, where he hoped to catch a cab. It was nearly two in the morning but surely there would be some taxis on such a major thoroughfare. New York City never slept.

He waited only two minutes. He flagged down a cab heading north and got in the backseat.

"Turn her around, we gotta go to Greenwich Village," he told the driver. Without a word the driver slapped the meter and took off. At the light he made an illegal U-turn and drove south on Broadway. The going was smooth until the cab reached Columbus Circle, where several NYPD patrol cars sat with lights flashing. An officer slowly waved cars through a roadblock and prevented any from turning east on Fifty-seventh Street.

"What's going on?" the cabdriver asked the officer as he moved past him.

"The Jimmys pulled another show at the bottom of Central Park. Keep moving, sir."

The cab moved on and continued south.

"Those lunatics," the driver said. "Them and those nutty Cuzzins oughta be shot on sight."

Franklin came close to agreeing. The Jimmys and the Cuzzins were relatively new phenomena in New York City. Technically they were mysterious, ruthless, and violent rival gangs that vied for control of the illegal drug trade in the metropolitan area. And, like most gangs, they had their share of responsibility for thefts, vandalism, and murders. On the other hand, they were rock bands that kept their identities secret. The Jimmys were punks that made the Sex Pistols look like the Partridge Family. They wore grotesque masks supposedly made from the skin of corpses-patterned after the "Leatherface" character from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies. The Cuzzins fashioned themselves after the black leatherlook of the Hamburg-era Beatles. Beneath their greasy, slicked-back hair, the Cuzzins wore black face masks, and specialized in 1950s rock 'n' roll. Both bands occasionally held impromptu "guerrilla" concerts around the city, using stolen portable equipment that they destroyed and left behind when the police arrived. These happenings attracted a rough crowd and a riot almost always ensued during and after one of these bands' so-called performances. They frequently started fires and damaged public property. Sometimes there were deaths. Thus the bands' sets were never very long. By the time the Jimmys or Cuzzins had played three songs, the police were already on the way. The gangs then enjoyed leading the cops on wild and reckless chases through the city streets, usually on motorcycles. To date none of the major players in either group had ever been caught, and no one knew who the leaders were. Any arrests made were usually of street soldiers who were bailed out quickly by high-powered attorneys-just like in the old days of the mafias.

Franklin forgot about the Jimmys and the Cuzzins as soon as the cab entered Greenwich Village. Flame lived in a three-story town house on Charles Street between Seventh Avenue and Bleecker Street. The bottom floor was the office of Flame Productions and it had a separate entrance from the living quarters on the top two floors. It was one of Flame's three homes. Franklin had spent some time at the mansion in Hollywood but had never been to the flat in London. He considered the huge place in Hollywood to be a waste. Flame was rarely there. For some reason the rock star preferred Manhattan to L.A. and when he wasn't on tour he stayed on the East Coast. There had been talk of selling the Hollywood home and buying a large estate near New Rochelle.

Traffic was light at that time of night and the streets in the Village were dark and empty. But as the cab pulled onto Charles Street, a figure darted in front of the vehicle from out of the shadows, causing the driver to brake hard and startle his passenger.

"Damn!" Franklin blurted. The pedestrian, caught in the glare of the headlights, stared wide-eyed into the cab.

It was Flame's son from his first marriage. Adrian Duncan.

"What the ... hey, wait a second," Franklin said. Duncan started to run as Franklin rolled down the window.

"Adrian?" he shouted, but the figure was already around the corner.

"You know that guy?" the driver asked.

"Yeah. Never mind, just go on."

That was odd, Franklin thought. What was Adrian doing down in his father's neck of the woods? Franklin remembered seeing Adrian with his mother, Gina Tipton, at the venue before and after the concert. Adrian had appeared very upset with his father, but that was nothing new. Adrian Duncan and Flame never got along and apparently there had been some unpleasantness between them in Flame's dressing room before the show.

"The town house is up there on the right." Franklin had the cabdriver park in front of the building and wait. "We're going back to midtown after I drop something inside," he said. "Keep the meter running."

Franklin got out of the car and used his key to open the door marked FP INC. As soon as he was inside, he shut the door and turned on the lights.

He immediately felt a chill run up his spine.

The office was a mess. Papers had been flung all over the room and the frames holding Flame's gold records had been smashed. Broken glass lay everywhere. A bottle of Jack Daniel's was overturned on top of the mahogany desk, its contents spilled in a large puddle, dripping onto the wood floor.

"Flame?" he called. The door that led to the private quarters upstairs was wide open. Lights were on in the stairway. Franklin poked his head through and called again toward the second floor. "Flame, are you there?"

Then he heard it. Music, coming from above. The song was vaguely familiar. Franklin slowly moved up the stairs, the money bag still clutched in his hand. As he reached the second floor, he recognized the music. It was Flame's big hit, "Forever Hot," only it was skipping, over and over. Flame must have put the old vinyl LP on a turntable but the record was scratched. The music drifted down from the bedroom on the third floor.

"Flame? It's me, Kenny!" he called again.

This time he went up the stairs at a brisker pace. He hoped nothing was wrong-it could be that Flame had just gotten drunk, broke up his office and gone to bed. Franklin was slightly concerned that he might walk in on Flame and his weird girlfriend, Brenda, doing the nasty. That would be truly embarrassing.

When he got to the third-floor landing Franklin saw that the bedroom door was ajar. The skipping record was getting on his nerves, the chorus not quite resolving-

"You make me forever hot baaa by yeah, don't y- You make me forever hot baaa by yeah, don't y- You make me forever hot baaa by yeah, don't y-"

Franklin knocked loudly on the door. "Flame, what's going on in there?" The door swung open and Franklin's heart nearly failed.

An overturned stepladder lay on the carpet beneath a pair of dangling feet that belonged to Peter Flame, his face purple and bloated and his head cocked at a freakish angle by a noose. He hung like a rag doll from a rope that had been tied to a light fixture in the ceiling.

Forever dead.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from A Hard Day's Death by Raymond Benson Copyright © 2008 by Raymond Benson. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2008

    Sex, Drugs, Rock n Roll...and Religion

    ¿A Hard Day¿s Death,¿ takes you on a thrilling adventure. The main character, Spike Berenger is the owner of Rockin¿ Security. Spike got his formal investigation training while he was a criminal investigations special agent in the military. Needless to say, he is used to excitement and adventure. Things really heat up for Spike when he agrees to take on a case involving the death of a middle aged rocker and cult member named Flame. Unfortunately, the main suspect is the victim¿s estranged son. It is up to Spike to discover who really killed him. The list of possibilities is extensive and as Spike gets closer to the truth, his own life and the lives of those around him become endangered. Raymond Benson has also penned James Bond adventures. Spike Berenger¿s character is the antithesis of James Bond in the sense that he relies on his muscle and his gun to be a hero. There are no fancy, high tech gadgets, and he doesn¿t wear a tuxedo. He seems more gritty and real. The author certainly demonstrates his creative talent in ¿A Hard Day¿s Death.¿ He provides the reader with hours of entertainment. He has gifts for developing a compelling plot, creating unique characters and describing his scenes in vivid detail. Benson¿s incorporation of humor into the tale is the icing on the cake. I also have to admit enjoying his inclusion of many of my favorite musicians. As a person who grew up watching MTV when they still had music videos, it was refreshing to step into the world of musician¿s whose heydays were in the 70¿s through possibly the 90¿s. If you appreciate a good mystery, with a lot of action, you will love ¿A Hard Day¿s Death.¿ It will also make a great gift for fans of good old rock n roll. I highly recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2008

    ¿A Spike Berenger Rock `n¿ Roll Hit¿

    Raymond Benson ISBN: 978-0-8439-6063-1 Leisure Books, 200 5 Stars ¿A Spike Berenger Rock `n¿ Roll Hit¿ Rock star Peter Flame is dead. Someone arranged the body to look like suicide. Raymond Benson has penned several James Bond novels. Rock `n¿ Roll is the backdrop for Benson¿s first book in his Spike Berenger series. Rock fans will love the ¿guest appearances¿ of real musicians and the title of the chapters. Benson has a talent for bringing his characters to life. The plot is interesting and keeps the readers turning pages. Fans of murder mysteries will not want to miss A Hard Day¿s Death.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 1, 2008

    Painfully Slow!

    I found it difficult to slog through this book. It starts out well as a famous rock star (Peter Flame) is found mysteriously hanged in what appears to be a suicide. The police then conclude he was actually murdered and blame his estranged son. This was about 50 pages into the book. From there on I lost the storyline and found myself re-reading parts to remember what was going on. The author names his chapters by famous song titles and I thought maybe what would happen in the chapter would could be summed up in the song title but could find very little correlation. I gave up with this book after little more than 120 pages and I usually read a book to the end whether I like it or not.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2011

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