On the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs. Convinced he's stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York's major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim--in a watery grave. Book 3 of the Coleridge Taylor Mystery series.
About the Author
Rich Zahradnik has been a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine, and wire services. He lives with his wife, Sheri, and son, Patrick, in Pelham, New York, where he teaches kids how to publish online and print newspapers. For more information, go to richzahradnik.com.
Read an Excerpt
Almost out of gas, he huffed up the steps and walked through the big doorway. The cathedral was a long, soaring tunnel of rose light framed by two rows of identical pillars climbing to the ceiling--or maybe the sky. The light brightened to the white of daylight at the far end, where the high altar looked to be about a mile away. The sightlines were spectacular--which meant they were terrible for Taylor. He doubted heroin dealers respected the idea of sanctuary. Did anyone anymore? Inhaling through his nose and exhaling through his mouth to make as little noise as possible, he walked along the left aisle and slid down behind a pillar near the altar. He grimaced. His whole right side ached.
Stone against his back, Taylor tried to get his bearings. He felt small. And alien. The cathedral was another world from the Greek Orthodox churches his mother had taken him and his brother to as kids. Even the large ones were dark, foreboding, their walls crowded with icons of flat-faced saints. Those churches always had the mystical wall separating the worshippers from the altar and the priest in his beard and long robes. Here there were no dividers. You could see everything. What would his mother have thought of this place? He couldn't remember if she'd ever been. All these years and he still missed her, saddened by all she'd missed of his life.
He waited and listened.
St. John's was the biggest cathedral in the world. Or so he'd been told. New York specialized in the biggest, and as with all its citizens, the memory of all those giant things might as well have been planted at birth. He wouldn't change his mind about the cathedral until he got real proof. He was stubborn that way.
Was it stubbornness put him in this situation? Or plain stupidity? When the Chinese guys had showed up, it'd looked like confirmation of what he'd heard had appeared right in front of his nose. He couldn't believe it. He'd needed to get close enough to make sure something big really was happening in the heroin trade--something no one was talking about. So what had he done? Stared like a tourist at the foot of the Empire State Building.
Amateur hour. The result: a colossal mess.
Had the driver of the garbage truck been shot? Why else would the truck have veered? Then there was Mary. She was in serious shit now. If only she'd left when he told her. Reggie knew she'd fingered him. The tong members knew. Junkies, the most disposable human beings in the city, disappeared when they snitched. No one went looking for them.
Feeling stupid was too much like feeling sorry for himself. He didn't have time for that. Better to focus on his next move before some other bad thing happened. He had to find Mary before they did. As much as he hated the thought, he'd also have to go in to the local precinct and report what he'd seen. This added more urgency. He needed to get to Mary before he dealt with the local cops, who could tie him up for hours.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The year is 1976 and Coleridge Taylor is bored...and seasick. Used to covering exciting, and dangerous, crime stories for his beloved, and sadly defunct, Messenger-Telegram newspaper, he's now stuck covering an utterly dull story. Taylor is reporting on Operation Sail, a Bicentennial celebration taking place in the New York Harbor. Taylor can't wait to get back on solid land, write up his story and move on to something more interesting. How could he know that something far more interesting was about to float his way? As a police reporter, Taylor has connections within the police force and is riding in an NYPD boat to view the celebration. When the call comes in for a "possible drop" (someone dumped something in the water), Mott, an NYPD scuba diver, goes in the water to see if he can find anything. Expecting to find drugs, he, and the whole crew, are quite surprised to find a body. And not just any body but the body of a woman with several bags of heroin wrapped around her waist. Must be a drug war related murder, they all guess. Perhaps a new gang moving in and someone is sending them a message to get out. Could it be that simple? Taylor was going to find out. Now working for the City News Bureau (a news wire service), Taylor reports on the body in the harbor to his boss and gets the okay to dig around - but not before he finishes that story on the majestic ships. Taylor's first clue that the dead woman may not be associated with two rival drug gangs that are known to the police is that mobsters never involve wives and children in their killings. Perhaps it's an Asian gang... When the body is finally ID'd as Bridget Collucci, Taylor heads out to Dobbs Ferry to interview the woman's husband. Carl Collucci is willing to talk to Taylor because he is desperate to find out who killed his wife. The local police have been no help and Carl doesn't know where to turn. Carl assures Taylor that he has disassociated himself from his father's mob dealings and is on the straight and narrow. But then, during their conversation, Carl's "public relations consultant" walks in the room, and the guy just oozes mobster. To add to the weird situation, Collucci's father-in-law arrives, along with the man's son, and it looks like war is about to break out in the room. Someone knows something but they're certainly not going to tell Taylor. This is the third book in the Coleridge Taylor series and the second one that I've read and I have to say I enjoyed it as much as the first one I read (Drop Dead Punk). Taylor is a very likeable protagonist, with all his faults and hang-ups, and I was happy to see that Samantha Callahan (who we met in Drop Dead Punk) as well as Mason the dog, were back to soften up Taylor's gruff exterior. Because the stories take place in the 1970s, the author obviously did a fair amount of research to bring the era to life from the Bicentennial celebration to cars of the time (remember the Pacer?). Solving the murder of Bridget Collucci required a fair amount of sleuthing on Taylor's part and will keep readers guessing until almost the last page. If you love a good murder mystery, check out this series - I promise you'll be hooked in no time flat. Quill says: Another winner in the Coleridge Taylor mystery series. When is the next one coming out???!!!