Hell's Kitchen Homicide (Conor Bard Series #1) [NOOK Book]



Charles Kipps introduces Conor Bard, NYPD homicide detective and wanna-be rock star, in his suspense-packed debut novel.

Hell’s Kitchen: The Manhattan neighborhood with a long history of cold-blooded crimes now witnesses one more—the ...
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Hell's Kitchen Homicide (Conor Bard Series #1)

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Charles Kipps introduces Conor Bard, NYPD homicide detective and wanna-be rock star, in his suspense-packed debut novel.

Hell’s Kitchen: The Manhattan neighborhood with a long history of cold-blooded crimes now witnesses one more—the murder of a hugely successful criminal defense lawyer with rumored Mafia ties, whose corpse is found on the banks of the Hudson River. Conor Bard’s investigation begins with a sexy, unfaithful widow who stands to inherit millions . . . and leads him to cross paths with a sorrowful, intriguing Albanian woman he can’t resist. Young enough to chase down bad guys, smart enough to know time’s ticking on his dreams of making it in the music business and finding the right woman, Conor will discover that time is more precious than even he may realize . . . as a tightening web of secrets, lies, and seduction may cut his own life short.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A must read...from a remarkable talent." — David Black, producer/writer, Hill Street Blues, Miami Vice, CSI: Miami, Law & Order

"Charles Kipps brings something fresh to the police procedural. Hell's Kitchen Homicide is a sled ride through the black snow of New York City crime, with great characters and hot action. And Kipps knows what he's talking about." — Stuart Woods, bestselling author of Loitering with Intent

"Charles Kipps is a master at writing cops for the screen. Now, with Detective Conor Bard, he creates a memorable character on the page. Hell's Kitchen Homicide is required reading for anybody who's a fan of New York City police drama and all that it implies." — Chris Noth, actor, Law & Order (Detective Mike Logan), Sex and the City (Mr. Big)

"Charles Kipps has captured uniquely and brilliantly the inner thoughts, emotions, and conflicts of a law enforcement officer." — Mark Rossini, former FBI agent

"Having spent over nineteen years in Hell's Kitchen precinct Midtown North, I can say Charles Kipps is right on target. Reading Hell's Kitchen Homicide made me feel like I was working the case. Conor Bard is a character who could be my partner on the job and a friend for life." — Detective Kevin Schroeder, Midtown North Squad, NYPD

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781439141151
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 9/15/2009
  • Series: Conor Bard Series , #1
  • Sold by: SIMON & SCHUSTER
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 905,748
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Charles Kipps
Screenwriter/Producer/Author Charles Kipps has won an Emmy, a Peabody, and an Edgar Award. His early career as a journalist, included a stint as Features Editor for Variety.  He is the author of two non-fiction books, Out of Focus and Cop Without A Badge (recently reissued) and the novels Hell's Kitchen Homicide and Crystal Death (coming September 2010).   
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Rhythm Bar was a brick barnacle clinging to the underbelly of Hell’s Kitchen on Manhattan’s West Side. You wouldn’t want to be caught dead there, although a lot of people had been.

At least the Rhythm Bar had live music. And it wasn’t like Conor Bard could afford to be picky. So here he was, onstage with a drummer, a bass player, and a guy with a beat-up electric piano. A white boy singing rhythm and blues.

“Papa was a rolling stone …”

Conor slid his hand along the neck of his Fender Stratocaster. His fingertips pinned the steel strings against the well-worn frets, coaxing a shriek from the vintage guitar.

“Wherever he laid his hat was his home …”

Conor looked up and found himself staring into a mirrored wall at his own image. He didn’t like what he saw. The soft facial features molded from the clay of his Scotch-Irish heritage were more like craggy rock now. The brown hair falling just over his collar was more gray now. In fact, everything about him seemed more something now. Or was it less something? When did this happen? Hell, I’m only forty-two.

In one swift motion, Conor whipped the leather guitar strap off his shoulder, dropped the Stratocaster, crouched down, yanked a .38-caliber pistol from an ankle holster, and rose into a shooting stance.

“Police! Freeze!”

The man in Conor’s sights was around fifty years old. White. A slight build. A tortured face. A hopeless expression.

Conor held his gun high, but even from the elevated stage he was having trouble getting a clear shot. If the man stood and ran, Conor would have to let him go.

After a collective moment of fear and confusion, patrons stampeded out the door. Conor now had a direct, unobstructed view of his target.

“On the floor!” Conor yelled. “Facedown!”

The man obeyed.

Conor jumped from the stage, rammed a knee in the guy’s back, then clamped a pair of cuffs on his wrists.

The man twisted his neck around and looked up at Conor. “Not a bad voice,” he said. “For a cop.”

Conor led the cuffed man out of the club and handed him off to two uniformed cops.

“You coming?” one asked. “Gotta get my guitar,” Conor said. “I’ll meet you there.”

As Conor started back toward the bar, an unmarked vehicle, lights flashing and siren blaring, skidded to a stop a few feet away. An NYPD captain emerged from the car. He looked to be in his late forties, his military posture signaling he was as comfortable giving orders as taking them. He charged toward Conor.

“Are you Detective Bard? Conor Bard?” The captain’s face was flushed and he was out of breath.

Conor was surprised to see a captain at a routine collar. “Hey, Cap. Yeah, I’m Conor Bard. But what are you doing here? I thought you guys only showed up when someone got killed.”

“Well it’s a goddam miracle no one did get killed.”

Frank Reynolds wasn’t happy. It was his turn to be the duty captain, a revolving assignment shared among all the captains in the department. Reynolds was covering the lower half of Manhattan, which meant he had to make an appearance at the scene if anyone was found dead south of Central Park. It could keep you running all night.

“According to what I just heard over the radio, you felt it necessary to draw your weapon in a crowd situation.” Reynolds narrowed his eyes. “Is that correct? Or did I misunderstand the transmission?”

“I couldn’t let him walk,” Conor explained. “Right. Better to risk the lives of innocent people.”

“Trust me. They’re not so innocent in there.”

“So who the hell was this guy?” Reynolds demanded. “You know how most people carry pictures of their kids in their wallet?” Conor began. “Well, my partner, Ralph Kurtz, carries old mug shots in his wallet. So every time we have a drink he pulls out these mug shots. And I always say, ‘Ralph, can’t we ever just have a drink without these scumbags?’ And Ralph always says, ‘Just look at the mug shots. Maybe one day you’ll see somebody.’ Tonight I saw somebody.”

“That’s touching,” Reynolds managed. “Now, one more time, who was this guy?”

“Name is Robert Willis. Ten years ago, he was convicted of raping a sixteen-year-old girl, but then some hotshot lawyer got the conviction overturned. When Willis walked out of prison, the first thing he did was chop up his girlfriend. Seems she didn’t wait for him like a good woman should.”

“No excuse.”

“I agree. He should’ve just dumped the bitch.”

Conor and Reynolds squared off silently for a moment.

“Anyway,” Conor continued, “after he butchered his girlfriend, Willis disappeared. Until tonight. Hadn’t been for Kurtz and his mug shots …”

Reynolds was unimpressed. “I’m gonna have to write this up.” Conor shrugged. “Hey, do what you have to.”

Conor drove to the One Eight, his precinct on West Fifty-fourth Street. He began the tedious process of filling out a DD5 form documenting the events that led to the apprehension of Robert Willis. As he filled in each line, Conor began to wish he had just finished his set at the Rhythm Bar and left Willis alone.

“Nice collar,” Sergeant Amanda Pitts said as she sat on a chair next to Conor’s desk.

Amanda Pitts was a fourth-generation cop. Thirty-seven years old. Not very pretty, but then again, she didn’t try. She hardly wore makeup and when she wasn’t in a uniform she dressed in loose-fitting, unflattering outfits. Amanda had been on the job twelve years and had distinguished herself as a detective. She took the sergeant’s exam as soon as she was eligible, just as her former-cop father and former-cop grandfather had done.

Conor never opted for sergeant. Never intended to. Although it was a promotion in rank, only one out of five detectives apply for sergeant even with its higher base pay. The job was entirely different from detective: more administrative, less investigative. Conor liked the street. The precinct gave him cabin fever.

Amanda, on the other hand, relished her duties as sergeant so much that she didn’t even care what shift she worked. Morning, noon, night; Saturday, Sunday, holiday—didn’t matter to her. Put her on the schedule, she’d show up. Which created the illusion that Amanda was always at the precinct. Take tonight, for example. Sunday. Late. There she was.

“Pulling a gun in a packed bar?” Amanda said. “Wasn’t the smartest thing you ever did.”

“Wasn’t the dumbest either.”

“Captain Reynolds called me. Citing regulations.” Conor frowned. “Why is he so bent out of shape?”

“Maybe it’s something personal,” Amanda suggested. “Can’t be. I never met the guy before tonight.”

“He’s bucking for deputy inspector. Guess he wants to make it look like he plays everything by the book. Goes on record with me so if anything ever comes up he can say he reported the incident. That way he’s clean.”

“What about you?” Conor asked. “How are you going to handle this?”

“Me? I’ll just write a letter for your file saying, ‘Don’t pull guns anymore in the middle of a set. It pisses off the paying customers.’”

Conor scribbled something on the form.

“Anyway,” Amanda said, “Kurtz will be happy. Him and those damned mug shots.”

Conor pushed the DD5 across the desk to Amanda.

“Schroeder in Cold Case was working on this guy,” Amanda said. “I’ll dump this piece of garbage on him if that’s all right with you.”

“Please,” Conor said, happy to be off the hook.

A uniformed cop walked up to Amanda. “We’ve got a body over by the Hudson River.”

“Where’s Colaneri and Doherty?”

“On a job.”

“What about Tomkins?”

“Out sick.”

“Who’s available?”

“Jenkins and Francelli.”

Amanda made a face. “The rubber-gun squad? Forget it.” She turned and looked at Conor. “How much you had to drink?”

“Look. Sarge. Please. I’m off today.”

But Conor wasn’t going home anytime soon.

It had gotten cold. Conor was shivering as he stood in the muddy, empty lot on the banks of the Hudson River. And it didn’t warm him any to be looking down at a body. Male. Mid-fifties. Wearing a thousand-dollar suit.

Brian Cobb from the Crime Scene Unit walked up to Conor. Brian was forty-five years old. Six feet four at least. A graduate of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which was part of the City University of New York. Born and bred in Manhattan, no one would ever mistake him for a suburbanite.

“Shot six times,” Brian said, delivering the information with no inflection. Brian’s tone and expression never changed, regardless of the situation. He could tell you he’d won the lottery without any hint of excitement.

“White male. Age fifty-four,” Brian added.

“How do you know how old he is?”

“Wallet, watch, cash, all still on his person.”

Conor nodded. Either robbery wasn’t the motive or the killer had been interrupted before he could take anything.

“Body temperature’s ninety-six degrees,” Brian continued. “I’d guess he bought it in the last hour, two hours at the most.”

Conor checked his watch. It was almost midnight. Shooting likely occurred sometime after ten.

“Who found him?” Conor asked. “Some guy walking his dog.”

“Anybody take a statement?”

“Rossini.” Brian pointed at various footprints in the mud that fanned out around the body. “Got a parade of shoe impressions. We’re making casts.”

Frank Reynolds appeared out of nowhere. “You again?”

“Yeah, I love the overtime.”

“You smell like booze.”

“What can I tell you? Some jerk in the bar spilled a drink on me.” Reynolds gave Conor a look of disdain then walked away. “You two have some kind of problem?” Brian asked. “Don’t know what his problem is, but I’ve got no problem.” Conor turned his attention to the body again. Something about the face was familiar. “Is that who I think it is?”

“If you’re thinking that’s Walter Lawton,” Brian said, “you’re right.”

Walter Lawton was one of New York’s most successful criminal defense attorneys. You could kill somebody in Times Square on New Year’s Eve in front of a million people and Lawton could still get you off.

Brian stared down at Lawton’s body then turned toward Conor. “Looks like you caught yourself a big case, Detective.”

© 2009 Charles Kipps

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 4, 2010

    get this book!!!!

    never really write any reviews but this book definitely deserves a review. I found it very easy to read and very suspenseful. the whole time your reading you think you know who the killer but you have no idea. as i was reading i really pictured everything in mind, I felt like Conor (i am a female by the way) but way that's how amazing it was. i cant wait for the next book.... really looking forward to it. by the way i couldn't stop reading, i finished it in a day... yea that's how amazing it was

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 24, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Make this book into a t.v. show

    If you like Law & Order you will like this book

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 28, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller as the streets of Manhattan seem dirtier than usual.

    The corpse is found in Hell's Kitchen overlooking the Hudson. NYPD Detectives Conor Bard and Ralph Kurtz have the lead though the latter is retiring in a week. The corpse is criminal defense attorney Walter Lawton with mob ties, who has freed many obvious felons from incarceration.

    The obvious prime suspect is the victim's wife Holly who will inherit millions. The cops learn her lover is a professional hit man running a Brooklyn kennel Salvatore Zeffel and they fish the murder weapon a 22 out of the river; Sal's choice of guns. The case takes several spins with almost all having an Albanian connection, but none quite making sense. Adding to Bard's confusion is four women in his life: his boss who never leaves the station; his former lover who is seeing jealous Captain Reynolds; Holly who calls him all the time, and Albanian visitor Monica who he calls. He is attracted to the latter two while he wants Reynolds off his back as the case seems to go nowhere.

    This is a terrific New York police procedural as nothing is quite what it seems. The banter between the partners is fun and Conor's female problems add depth to him, but it is the whodunit that makes this an entertaining tale. Every clue leads to the Albanian community in the Bronx, but every step forward also leads to a seemingly dead end. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this fast-paced thriller as the streets of Manhattan seem dirtier than usual.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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