Murder Season

Murder Season

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by Robert Ellis

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Detective Lena Gamble knows how to handle the hottest cases--do it fast and keep her head down. Because if it all goes south, the department won't hesitate to make a scapegoat out of her. So when she gets called to the scene of a double murder at Club 3 AM, the latest A-list hangout for Hollywood celebs, she knows the fun is only beginning.

And she's not

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Detective Lena Gamble knows how to handle the hottest cases--do it fast and keep her head down. Because if it all goes south, the department won't hesitate to make a scapegoat out of her. So when she gets called to the scene of a double murder at Club 3 AM, the latest A-list hangout for Hollywood celebs, she knows the fun is only beginning.

And she's not wrong. It's just much worse than she imagined. As expected, one of the victims is club owner Johnny Bosco, one of the most well-connected men in Hollywood politics. But the shocker comes when Lena sees the other victim: twenty-five-year-old Jacob Gant, acquitted just days ago of murdering his sixteen-year-old neighbor, after L.A.'s latest trial-of-the-century.

But are these victims of a father's righteous anger or is something bigger at play?

Robert Ellis delivers all the twists and turns fans have come to expect in this bestselling series with plenty to spare in Murder Season, his most outstanding white-knuckled thriller yet.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the outset of Ellis’s moody, fast-paced third mystery featuring LAPD detective Lena Gamble (after 2009’s The Lost Witness), Lena rushes to Club 3 AM, an elite Hollywood nightspot, where two men, both shot to death, have been found: Johnny Bosco, the club’s politically well-connected owner, and 25-year-old Jacob Gant, who was recently acquitted of the rape and murder of his 16-year-old neighbor, Lily Hight. Police bungling, including misplaced blood samples, ensured Gant’s release. Faced with the unpopular task of pursuing charges against Lily’s father, the chief suspect in the double homicide, Lena discovers additional cracks in the case against Gant. As Lena clashes with ambitious district attorney Jimmy J. Higgins and unstable Dan Cobb, the lead detective in the first murder case, she grows closer to deputy DA Greg Vaughan. The suspense builds as Ellis turns a spotlight on the justice system’s flaws, though the final twist is unlikely to stump seasoned crime fans.(Dec.)

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St. Martin's Press
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Lena Gamble Series , #3
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She could smell it in the pillow as she pulled it closer. On the sheets as she rolled over in the darkness and searched out cool spots that were not there.
Murder season.
She was floating, drifting. Cruising through an open seam between sleep and consciousness.
She glanced at the clock radio but didn’t really see it, then fell back into the stream and let go. It was somewhere after midnight, sometime before dawn. Early spring, and the air inside the house was already deadened from the oppressive heat. A steep, lifeless desert wave had swelled over Los Angeles two days ago, pushing the marine layer and the cool breezes out over the ocean where they could be burned up and erased without a witness.
The city that was left behind felt dusty and canned in. Vacuum-packed. The air perfumed with spent diesel fuel and gasoline.
Murder season would come early this year. It would roll in with the heat like they were best friends. Lovers.
She reached across the bed, probing gently for a warm body but finding only emptiness. Only her dreams. A smile worked its way through her body. The one that came with her dreams. She could feel it in her chest and between her legs. She could feel it spreading across her face and blistering through her skin before it rose up and faded away.
She had spent the night on the terrace drinking ice-cold Irish reds with Stan Rhodes and Tito Sanchez. Sanchez had brought over a flank steak, marinating the meat, and working the grill with mesquite the way his grandmother had taught him. After dinner they sat on the stone wall and gazed down the hill, the lights of the city caught in the dust and glowing like cotton balls from downtown all the way across the basin to the Pacific. They laughed and told stories in the eerie light, opened fresh bottles, and talked shop. Rhodes and Sanchez were deep in on a new murder case and had worked the last forty-eight hours straight out. Both detectives needed to regroup and get some sleep. Lena had tomorrow off and could afford to relax, maybe even get buzzed. When they left around ten, she popped open the last bottle of ale, stripped off her clothes, and slipped into the pool.
Murder season. Trouble ahead. When the streets get hot, business burns.
She rolled onto her back, her mind cutting a jagged path to the surface. She could hear something going on in the house—something in the background behind her thoughts. A noise pulsing through the still air. She tried to ignore it, fight it. Tried to pretend that it wasn’t real. After a while, she wondered if it wasn’t part of her dream, a noise in the darkness breaking up her sleep.
Until she finally realized that it was her cell.
She opened her eyes and saw the light glowing from her phone. She grabbed it, recognized the caller, and slid open the lock on the touch screen. It was her supervisor, Lt. Frank Barrera, Robbery-Homicide Division. She didn’t need to guess what he wanted. She checked the clock and read it this time: 2:54 a.m.
Murder season. The train was rolling in.
“You cool, Lena?” he said. “I know it’s your day off, so I’m asking if everything’s cool.”
“I’m good. What’s up? What’s that noise in the background?”
She turned and looked out the window. Sirens. She could hear them in the distance, and she could hear them over the phone. She made the match—Barrera was close. He was in the neighborhood. She tried to look down the hill and thought she could see flashing lights. Something was going on just west of the Capitol Records Building.
“We’re in deep shit, Lena. Real deep shit.”
His voice broke. Barrera’s usual demeanor—steady as she goes—had become tainted with fear.
“Tell me what you want me to do,” she said.
“We’ve got two dead bodies in Hollywood. That’s all I can say over the phone.”
His voice cut off like he needed to catch his breath. Most homicides in Los Angeles were handled by investigators at the local level. For a murder to bounce up to RHD, the crime had to involve a high profile victim or be particularly horrific. For a Homicide Special detective to get the call with a crime scene still open, it had to be more than that. Some unlucky combination of the two.
Lena switched on the light, feeling the rush of adrenaline eat up whatever alcohol remained in her blood. She still didn’t have a partner and wouldn’t until the fall.
“Why me?” she asked.
“Orders from Deputy Chief Ramsey. You’ll know why when you get here.”
Ramsey was one of the few members of the old guard who had survived the department’s reorganization. He reported directly to Chief Logan, and had become his trusted right hand. His fixer. She knew that Chief Logan had left the city on a ten-day recruiting tour for the Scientific Investigation Division. With the success of the CSI franchise on television, the line of students wanting to become the real thing was a long one. Logan was offering better than decent money and the chance to move to L.A. He knew that he would have his pick of the best and brightest. He also knew that SID had taken a big hit recently and the division needed the fire that came with new blood.
“Where?” she asked.
“You ever hear of a place in Hollywood called Club 3 AM?”
Lena glanced at her .45 on the night table as Barrera gave her the address. She didn’t bother writing it down. Everyone in L.A. knew about Club 3 AM. It had become a celebrity hangout. A private nightclub catering to the A-list.
“Who’s dead?” she asked.
“Can’t do it, Lena. Not over the phone. Get here as soon as you can.”
Barrera’s cell punched out. Lena lowered her phone.
Murder season. It had come early this year.

Copyright © 2011 by Robert Ellis

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Meet the Author

ROBERT ELLIS, a Los Angeles Times bestselling author, has written four previous novels, most recently The Lost Witness. A former filmmaker and political media consultant, he splits his time between Los Angeles and Connecticut.

Robert Ellis is a former filmmaker and political media consultant from Los Angeles. He is the author of three bestselling crime novels, Access to Power, The Dead Room, and the critically acclaimed City of Fire, which also garnered praise from authors as diverse as Michael Connelly and Janet Evanovich.

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Murder Season 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had a hard time getting into this book. However, all of a sudden it gets REALLY exciting! Then I couldn't read fast enough!
gloriafeit More than 1 year ago
It is just the beginning of spring in Los Angeles, but the heat has come in early this year, with temps reaching 117 degrees, and with it the murder season. Homicide detective Lena Gamble is called in the middle of the night to the scene of a shooting at a celebrity hangout, where the owner of the club and a patron are found dead. The patron is 25-year-old Jacob Gant, acquitted just days before in a very high-profile and volatile case involving the rape and killing of a 16-year-old girl. Think George Zimmerman in Florida, a recent case analogous only in its bare facts: a young and seemingly innocent person killed by an older one for no apparent reason. Another notorious case is brought up here as well: OJ’s murder trial, where someone thought by the public to be guilty is freed by an LA jury. As in that case, there is outrage as to the way the case has been handled, or mishandled, by the LAPD and its forensics lab. There is strong feeling that the girl’s grief-stricken father is responsible, and much evidence to support that theory. The public of course sees it as completely justifiable. Under the spotlight from the public and the media, Lena and others believe she is the designated scapegoat for the police department. There are twists and turns galore, with many a red herring. The reader will be in doubt as to who did what, as are the police, until the very end. Not all of the plot was credible to this reader, nor were some of the scenes depicting one male character after another nearly breaking down with tears and near collapse one minute and filled with homicidal rage the next. But as the author says, “humanity can be shed as easily as clothing. Everything you know about someone can change in the blink of an eye.” Fair enough. A good and suspenseful read, the book is recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
KenCady More than 1 year ago
Robert Ellis tells an interesting story about murders involving the high and mighty, but sometimes his writing gets high and flighty. The book begins: "She could smell it on the pillow...murder season....Murder season would come early this year. It would roll in with the heat like they were best friends." And it goes on: "Murder season. trouble ahead. When the streets get hot, business burns." Fortunately this cheesy writing then hides itself behind Ellis' editors, and the story gets underway. Layers of new evidence are unpeeled, and then, when we finally think we know who the killer is, the man who lives for murder season, Ellis decides to throw caution to the wind and end his story with a conclusion that takes first place in cheesy endings.