Investigating the murder of the owner of a sportswear factory in Queens, New York, Detective Terry Stans determines that the victim knew his assailant. The dead man's workers and bereaved family are all suspects. June Replyn, a reporter covering the business side of the fashion world, is assigned to write how a small company survives the death of its inspirational leader. During interviews at the factory June is slipped a note from someone claiming to know the identify of the murderer.
The reporter meets the detective. Stans is stuck. The case is going nowhere, and he believes the fashion writer has a better view inside the company. Terry encourages June to share information with him, hoping fresh eyes will see something he hasn't. But she doesn't tell him about the note.
In the midst of his investigating and her reporting they start dating. Their relationship raises questions about confidentiality, loyalty to one's employer, professional ethics. Both of their bosses caution them about the dangers to their careers raised by this situation. And there they are, in bed.
The tale is designed to intrigue the reader with two intertwining stories, the mystery of the murders and the unexpected love affair. During the course of the novel the reader visits the worlds of police investigations, newspapers and their editorial policies, drug smuggling, and the Cambodian experience in America.
|Publisher:||Global Authors Publications|
|Product dimensions:||5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.44(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
Read an Excerpt
Daroeung Chan found the body. Although early, before the workers were due to clock in, the overhead lights, large bulbs in shiny, half-globe aluminum reflectors, were all on. As soon as she realized what she was looking at Daroeung stopped twenty feet away and screamed a high, almost melodic scream that seemed not to break for breathing. Only three people at work that early, one was Amy, and she followed the screams that led her to her father, Victor Pritkin, face down on the cement floor of the loading dock, dead with a sharp-pointed tin snips stuck deep in his skull, the handles sticking up.
It was a terrible moment for Amy, a terrible morning for the entire staff. Within half an hour the factory was full of police, not just uniforms but a detective in a suit, a photographer, and two people in jump suits wearing latex gloves stretched tight over their hands who covered her father with what looked like an army blanket, thick and dark green, but not until after the photographer had taken numerous pictures. Amy called her brothers. Tony was just about to walk out the door, meaning he would be there, be in his office next to Amy's, in half an hour. She told him to drive carefully, don't speed, there was no reason to hurry. She called Peter and reached him on a pier in Hoboken, the cranes and trucks making it hard for him to hear.
He said he'd be right there, and Amy gave him the same message; don't speed, no reason to hurry. The police kept working, the staff milled around uncertain what to do, whether to stay or leave.
Detective Terry Stans stopped another detective, a forensics expert.
"Jean, what have we got?"
"Tin snips shoved right into the brain, probably one strong blow, just bam! into the head. Probably dead before he hit the floor. Coupla other same tools sitting around, so maybe the killer just grabbed a handy one. No sign of a struggle, so sneaked up or was walking behind, looks like one or t'other. Preliminary guess death around six o'clock, so he was found real close to the time he was killed, we got the call little after six."
Amy sat at her desk, her hands trembling a bit, trying to screw her thoughts down tight, trying to make some decisions. "Send the staff home till tomorrow ... no, Monday" she decided, and started to get up. At that moment the detective walked into her offi ce and she relaxed, somewhat plopped back into her chair.
"Amy is fine, I'm sorry ... detective ...?"
"Stans. Terry Stans. Can we talk a few minutes? Not long ... how do you feel?"
"Weird. Scared. Heartbroken. Yes, we can talk, but I've got to decide what to do about the staff, they don't look like they'd be much good today, guess I'll tell them to go home. Maybe take tomorrow off too. ... start again Monday. Start again without Dad." She was crying, wiping away the tears as she spoke. "Who would kill my dear sweet Daddy?"
Gently, Terry continued "You didn't find him, right? Not the one who discovered the ... who discovered him."
"No, it was Daro, Daroeung Chan, our sewing supervisor. She hasn't stopped crying for a minute, don't think she's ready for an interview." He frowned a bit, still speaking in a soft voice. "I really need to talk to her as soon as possible, while everything is fresh in her mind. Time works against us, gives whoever did this time to start covering up."
"Sure. I understand."
"Will you help me, please?"
"Of course, but what about the rest?"
"Do you know who came after he was found? Is that possible?"
"Almost everyone; there were only three of us here when I heard her screaming. And screaming. What a sound. I'll never forget it."
"Three besides your father?"
"Me, Daro of course, and our bookkeeper, Rose Mabris."
"If you're sure, then all the others can go, but I want to talk to her, to Rose Mabris, and Daro. Sooner the better."
Amy got up from her desk. He followed her as they walked down a brick wall corridor and through an open area and back to a large room the employees called the loading dock. Daroeung Chan, a woman in her early thirties with a gently rounding face and body was in a corner, sitting against the wall in a tight ball as if trying to use up as little space as possible. She was crying and talking to herself in occasional bursts of rapid speech.
"What language is that?"
"She's from Cambodia, as are about half the girls in the sewing shop."
"How's her English? Do I need an interpreter?"
"It's rough, but no, you won't, she does fine."
"Ask her if she can talk to me, please. Tell her it's important if we're going to catch whoever did this to her boss."
Amy squatted down next to the crying woman, held her hands, talked softly to her. The crying lessened, then Terry saw her lift her head slightly and glance at him over Amy's shoulder, look back at Amy, nod and start to stand. The two women stood up together, holding hands, then hugged briefly.
"Detective Stans, this is Daroeung Chan. She goes by Daro. You can use my office if you like."
He nodded thanks, then motioned to Daro to go first. She looked puzzled, so he said "We go" complete with finger and thumb pointing and indicating gestures.
"Sure Mr. Police," but when she still didn't move he realized she was waiting for him to go first. He did so, and they went to the front of the small, crowded factory, back to Amy's office. He didn't shut the door. The detective pointed to the one chair in front of the desk and she sat carefully, gingerly on it. She was, besides distraught, obviously terrified, although he didn't know if it was fear of the murder and lurking murderer or fear of him, or both. He looked around, paused for a moment, but realized he needed to sit behind the desk, sit in Amy's chair, or else hover over the woman in the small, crowded office. That wouldn't work; he didn't want to intimidate her, he wanted her to relax and remember, so he sat in Amy's chair on the other side of the desk. He got out his notepad.
"Please tell me how to spell your name."
"Is better maybe me think I write you page. I learn make me name" she said, holding out her hand.
"Sure, thanks." He waited while she carefully printed DAROEUNGCHAN and handed his notepad and ballpoint back.
"Thank you. Now, please tell me what happened, what you saw."
She paused a moment. "Me need know have enough white make white shirts, no got too many no make white, make blue, plenty blue maybe wait more days white come on truck."
Terry Stans nodded emphatically. "Please tell me if I understand you.
You wanted to know it you had enough material, cloth, to make white shirts, or else make blue ones."
She smiled a little. "So good."
He returned the smile. "Thank you. Please go on, tell me everything you remember."
"Box material be all over place, some here, some there, got to go see, maybe someday get new place, boss say maybe someday new place this small make problems, now boss dead." She cried a moment, took some tissues from a box on the desk, wiped her face. "Sorry, talk more. Me OK."
"I understand, you don't have to be sorry. So your boss, Mr. Pritkin say ... said that there might be a new factory someday because this one's too small. And you were looking for some white material....."
"Be many boxes some here some there, you know?" she said, her hands moving, pointing with small, delicate gestures.
"So where white? Go loading dock, look before sewing crew here, he on floor. All" she said, shrugging.
"Did you touch him?"
"No, stay away, maybe. ..." she shrugged again. "Stay away many."
"You saw him, you stayed away ... did you call for help? Run for help?"
"I shout ... no. ... so loud ... what word? Like" she tilted her head back and said "Eeeeeeeeee" with her eyes wide.
"So good. Scream many. All come. Amy Come. Rose come."
"Do you know who was in the building first?"
"Rose. No, maybe him. Mr. Vic."
"Do you know why Rose was here so early?"
"All time make here early. Make lock. Go home maybe three."
"You're being so helpful. Thank you. Just a little more. You said 'make lock'....?"
Daro pantomimed turning a key in a lock, back an forth. "Me word. ... word. ... what you do thing make lock. ... little...." Again she pantomimed poking then turning.
"The key? Keys?"
Daro clapped her hands together in a gesture of frustration. "Make key lock. Rose make key lock be here early all time, go home three." This time she held up three fingers.
"Last question, but I really need you to think hard on this one." She took in a deep breath and let it out slowly.
"Do you remember anything just before you found him, anything unusual? A sound, a voice, a strange noise, or something out of place, something different, strange. ... you understand?" Softly. "Yes."
"Take a moment. Think.."
She sat unmoving except her eyes, darting about, searching her brain.
"Sorry, sorry. All make same."
"And no sound or voice."
"Sorry sorry sorry."
"No, don't be. If the killer was quiet and careful that makes our job harder, but you can only tell us what you know. Please don't feel bad. You've been very helpful."
Daroeung Chan sat, waiting.
"That's all for now. Thank you."
She nodded shyly, sighed a bit, rose and left the office. It occurred to Terry that if she were telling the truth, then the killer knew the building, knew how to get in and out without being seen or heard. Or hid in the building overnight? Or, of course, had been let in by one of the three ... no, four people in the building, the fourth being the victim himself.
Rose Mabris, the company bookkeeper was at her desk, working. Terry approached her, sat down on a wooden chair with spindle legs. It was black, but in a few places where the paint had chipped a light yellow showed through. Somebody's old kitchen chair. Rose was in her late forties or early fifties, her hair a mixture of reds and browns as though the same coloring was never used twice. She wore a large, forgiving flowered dress with a surprise of feminine lace at the cuffs and neck.
"Can I talk to you now?"
"Sure, just keepin' busy, waiting to talk wit' you, see what happens, ya know?"
"Did you open the doors, unlock the front door this morning?"
"No, da boss was here. Somedays I getshere foits, somedays he does. Used to be always him, before me, last year or maybe two it back and forth who's here first. Today him first. Then he gets killed. Miserable, ain't it?"
"Is there an alarm system?"
"Sure, right over there." She pointed to a keypad next to the door.
"So whoever is here first shuts off the alarm."
"How about the lock? Does the first person leave the door unlocked?"
"No, not that early. Kinda what we do is shut off the alarm but leave the door locked until time for the crew, ya know, sewers, the cutter n' helper, ya know when people start showing up we unlock it, leave it that way rest of da day."
"Take a moment, please be sure. Was the door locked when you got here?"
"You're sure because...."
Rose Mabris bent to her left, opened a bottom drawer in her desk and pulled out a large cloth purse, beige, with a print of deep red roses in the fabric. She opened it and took out a single key on one end of a bright yellow, florescent plastic key-chain with a silver dollar encased in plastic at the other end. "Gotit in Vegas. Keep my other keys on this" she said, taking out another, similar ring with car and house keys on it. "So this way I've got da key ready when I get outta my car, put my car keys in my purse, take out this key, close my purse, get outta the car, ya know? Always the same way, move fast. Never been a robbery, holdup, thank goodness, knock wood" she said, doing so firmly with her free hand on top of her desk, "guess da punks don't want to get up so early to purse snatch, ya know, grab this old thing. ... so I open the door. If I'm first I close the door, turn off the alarm. If second just open the door, come in, close. So if the door was unlocked I'd know soon's I turned the key in the lock, wouldn't click, ya know? That ever wasta happen I'd stop right there, go get a cop. No, it clicked, door locked like always."
"So turning the key doesn't. ... it unlocks it for the person with the key, but when it's shut it is still locked, right?"
"Right. You gotta push a button on the side, when the door's open, ya know?"
"Yes, and someone would push that button when it was time for the rest of the workers to show up."
"Usually me or Amy, sometimes Mr. Vic."
"And the alarm was off."
"Yep. Green light, like now. Red when it's on. Green light, I figure the boss got here first, like he does sometimes."
"The rest of the workers don't get here until seven, right?"
"Seven-thirty. They get half-hour lunch, we don't pay, two breaks, should be fifteen minutes but you can guess how that is." She glanced at Terry, looking for some understanding, some recognition of the abuse of break times, but he sat impassively, waiting. "So start seven-thirty, half hour unpaid, half hour paid breaks, in the building, ya know, eight and a half hours, paid eight. Ya know?"
"Does whoever gets here first ... no, let me start over. Are all the lights turned on by you, or Mr. Pritkin, whoever gets here first. ... does that person turn on all of the lights or only some of them?"
"Why d'ya ask?"
Terry smiled a bit. "You first."
"Depends who gets here first, ya know?"
"Me first, I just turn on the front, just the front, the desks, offices, but the boss he likes to wander, see it all, ya know, so he comes in and bang! all the lights, walks through the place lighting it up. He doesn't have an office like his children, coulda, he's the boss, no, he likes. ... gone, ain't he. Shit. Sorry. Well, what I was saying is he liked being out there" she pointed vaguely towards the production area "kept a ratty old desk, army surplus, old metal thing must weight five hunerd pounds, ya know? But he liked it, it's out there near the loading dock, telephone, papers, everything whizzing around him, people comin goin, he liked it just that way." She paused. "A good man. A really good man. This makes no sense. I sure hope you find the guy what did this. I'm gonna miss that boss of mine, ya know?" A few tears, a wan smile.
"Yes, I think I do. So he got here ahead of you today."
"Like I told ya, but now you sound sure. How come?"
"All the lights were on."
"Mr. Detective" she said, tipping her head in salute.
"Did you see him, talk to him?"
"No, but that's the usual, ya know? Like if I come in first and I'm here he'd sure say hello, chat a minute, but just a minute, go back into the shop, turn all the lights on, mess with stuff, look in boxes, get tickets and shipping stuff ready, like that. So he don't bother me, I don't bother him. So if he's first I see all the lights on, what I'm gonna do, go find him say hello? We see each other lots of times every day. So if he gets here first, I see lights on, I just sit down, start working, ya know? Once everybody gets here it can be nuts, plain nuts. Phones, people in and out, everybody needs Amy, ask me where she is like I'm a mind reader, people callin' can't speak English, gotta go get someone talk to them, nuts. So before seven thirty is best time for me, get lots a'stuff done. I told them they want stuff done on time best deal is I come in early quit early. Deal. So I get here six to six-thirty, not hard, go home around three, take a nap, can still play canasta with my friends later on."
"All right, let me walk through this one more time. Tell me if I've got it. You or Mr. Pritkin, one of you, is the first person here in the morning every day."
"Maybe four, five times a year Amy, but otherwise, yes."
"You, Amy, Mr. Pritkin, have a key. Who else?"
"Just Tony. He's a son, other one Pete, Peter but most call him Pete ... Tony works here. Peter's in trucking, shipping, we're one of his customers."
"I'm sorry – Peter does or doesn't have a key?"
She shrugged. "He started out here, probably did, but he has his own business now, wouldn't need it."
"So you four, Mr. Pritkin, Amy, Tony, you, not counting Peter, the ones we know for sure have keys, also know the alarm code, right?" "Yes."
"Anyone else know it?"
She shrugged, a large gesture. "Alarm company, a'course. I think at's all."
"And this morning you were second or third?"
"You mean Amy ahead of me? No, she ... she was fourth. Counting the boss."
"Mr. Pritkin, then you, then Daro, then Amy, right?"
"Yeah, but Amy like one, two minutes behind Daro, at's all."
"How did Daro get in?"
"I opened the door. Not unusual she gets here early, set up the sewing. Conscientious girl, does a great job."
"Can you remember how long after Daro got here she started screaming?"
Rose paused. "Maybe five minutes, most, no more."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Story of Bad"
Copyright © 2007 Edward M. Krauss.
Excerpted by permission of Global Authors Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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