An innocent teen becomes a hostage stuck in the middle of a dangerous drug-fueled feud in this third book in the chilling Simon True series.
On Sunday, August 6, 2000, fifteen-year-old Nick Markowitz was grabbed off the street on the orders of a local drug dealer named Jesse James Hollywood. Nick was taken as collateral because his brother Ben owed Jesse money. He was an innocent victim who became a pawn in an increasingly high-stakes feud between the two that ended with Nick’s brutal murder.
A dozen or more people saw Nick over the course of the next fifty-nine hours, but no one stepped forward to say anything. No one thought to report the crime to the police. Some of them were scared of Hollywood, while others simply didn’t want to get involved.
When the news of Nick’s murder finally broke, they all had to confront what they’d done—or hadn’t done. As for Hollywood, he ordered the hit, but he wasn’t actually there when the murder took place. And once the story came to light, he immediately disappeared and remained a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted List for nearly six years before his eventual capture.
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AUGUST 9 HAS BEEN A memorable date throughout history.
In 1936 American track star Jesse Owens would add to his hundred-meter, two-hundred-meter, and long-jump gold medal performances by capturing his fourth gold medal as part of the United States 4 x 100 meter relay team at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin, where a failed-painter-turned-Führer named Adolf Hitler was in attendance.
In 1945 American forces would drop a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki in Japan.
In 1969 five individuals, including actress Sharon Tate, who was eight and a half months pregnant, would be found murdered in the wealthy suburb of Benedict Canyon in Los Angeles. Cult leader Charles Manson, who was not present during the slaughter, and several of his followers were later convicted of the killings.
And on August 9, 2000? While South African president Thabo Mbeki unveiled a Women’s Monument commemorating the role of women in the antiapartheid struggle, Ryan Hoyt, at the command of Jesse James Hollywood, would shoot fifteen-year-old Nicholas Markowitz with a gun converted from semi to fully automatic. The official report: Nicholas was kidnapped a little after one p.m. on August 6, 2000. He was murdered sometime after midnight on August 9 of the same year.
There would be an August 10. Yet it would not be until August 14 that several men in dark suits arrived at the home of Susan and Jeff Markowitz to inform them that they had found their son’s body. “It was bullet riddled.”
Just like history, there was not a single event that led to this one, but an accumulation, no—an accretion of willful negligence, parental misguidance, CYA or cover-your-ass perspective, and drug-hazed choices that crystallized the chaos. And because of that, August 9 became another memorable day in history for all the wrong and preventable reasons.
Table of Contents
Who's Who ix
Prologue: Lizard's Mouth 1
Chapter 1 Insurmountable 5
Chapter 2 The Abducted 7
Chapter 3 Origin: Jesse James Hollywood 11
Chapter 4 The Feud 14
Chapter 5 A Brother's Influence 19
Chapter 6 911 26
Chapter 7 Panic at Home 32
Chapter 8 Onward to Fiesta (for All but One) 36
Chapter 9 More Confusion 43
Chapter 10 Buying Time 51
Chapter 11 Witnesses 57
Chapter 12 The Mentor 64
Chapter 13 Seeking Advice 70
Chapter 14 Where Is Hollywood? 73
Chapter 15 The Order 76
Chapter 16 No Going Back 81
Chapter 17 Escape Plans 86
Chapter 18 A Gruesome Discovery 90
Chapter 19 Breaking News 93
Chapter 20 The Roundup 96
Chapter 21 Burial 100
Chapter 22 An Old Friend 102
Chapter 23 The Hunt Is On 106
Chapter 24 A Break in the Case 115
Chapter 25 Go Time 122
Chapter 26 The "Red Condor" Returns 129
Chapter 27 Nine Years 132
Chapter 28 Finally Here 135
Chapter 29 Cross-Examination 152
Chapter 30 A Mother Remembers 165
Chapter 31 Closing Arguments 168
Chapter 32 Verdict 180
Chapter 33 Finding Strength 185
Epilogue: Life After 189