Dale is a crooked cop. It started slow, but grew like a cancer and now he can’t get out from under the thumb of Tat, a would-be kingpin in every vice he can turn a profit with.
And now Dale’s number is up—the top brass knows. But instead of getting busted, Dale gets an offer. The mayor’s daughter is being held by Tat in his fortress built from an abandoned office tower. They want her back but if they storm the gates, Lauren is as good as dead. So they’re sending Dale on what could very likely be a suicide mission: infiltrate Tat’s fortress and bring her out alive.
If the Mayor even really wants her alive…
Floor by floor Dale and Lauren have to fight off an increasingly difficult and dangerous set of obstacles.
Meanwhile, Dale’s wife has her own troubles and some of the drug kingpin’s goons are only adding to an already rough day.
The clock is ticking down along with the floors of the building and escape is looking less and less likely. But to save her, and to save himself, he must make it all the way down.
Praise for ALL THE WAY DOWN:
“Last chances, double crosses, and a cop who has to shoot his way out of a fortified skyscraper—what’s not to love? All The Way Down rips. It’s fast and fierce, like a guitar solo that hits all the sharpest notes.” —Meg Gardiner, author of Into the Black Nowhere
“Eric Beetner’s All the Way Down is everything a reader could want from an action thriller—fast, suspenseful, and the right kind of outrageous. The stakes ratchet up with each harrowing surprise for crooked cop Dale and reporter Lauren, as they work together to escape the urban fortress of the city’s maniacal kingpin. If every suicide mission was this much fun, we’d all sign on.” —Glen Erik Hamilton, author of the Van Shaw thrillers
“Beetner’s Dale Burnett is a dirty cop trying to rescue someone from the clutches of the ruthless criminal he’s been accepting money from...and fifteen floors of non-stop action follows! Beetner is a master at throwing more and more trouble at his heroes, and in All the Way Down, Dale gets hit with everything imaginable. No, check that—you will not have imagined what happens on a couple of these floors. This book is an absolute blast.” —Frank Zafiro, creator and editor of A Grifter’s Song
“Relentless.” —Rob Hart, author of the Ash McKenna series
|Publisher:||Down & Out Books II, LLC|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.62(d)|
Read an Excerpt
As Dale rode up in the elevator he thought, This is it, they know everything. I'm fired and then off to jail.
He wiped damp palms down the front of his pants as the elevator doors dinged and opened. The pebbled glass door faced him, stenciled writing in an arch announcing this was the office of the chief of police. Dale went inside and spoke to the secretary.
"Dale Burnett to see the chief."
She gave him an expressionless look. "Yes, he's expecting you, Detective. Have a seat."
Dale moved to the row of four chrome and leather chairs, no magazines on the shin-busting low coffee table. Behind him the secretary pressed a button on the intercom. "Detective Burnett to see you."
Whatever answer she got Dale couldn't hear through the headset she wore, but he wasn't invited immediately in. He sat.
Fifteen years on the force. Seven since he left the beat to become a detective. All about to be thrown out the window because he'd been so goddamn stupid. A dirty cop. How the hell did that happen?
He'd seen it over the years. You can't be on the force and not catch a glimpse in the periphery, hiding in the shadows, creeping up the back stairs. But he'd resisted. At least he'd convinced himself he had. In truth, no one had made him an offer. And when they did ...
Dale was still small time, as far as the greased palm set goes. But his stock had risen in the past year when two other cops on the same payroll to the same kingpin had died, and died badly. Two bullets in the head for one of them, the other went missing for eight weeks until his body was found in the trunks of three different cars. Dale had gotten a promotion from the kingpin to the number one seat and it didn't sit well on him. He felt the pressure, saw how it ended for most dirty cops. He wanted out. On the days an envelope of cash didn't settle in his hand, anyway. But easier said than done. And with money flowing in, breaking free always got pushed off until next month.
And now this.
He looked up and caught the secretary watching him with upturned eyes, her neck tilted down to her computer screen pretending to type. Dale felt the bottom drop out. His stomach roiled. The descent started before he was ready. Shit. No time to cover up, obscure his tracks. Probably too many to do much about anyway.
Dale clutched his gut.
"Excuse me." He stood and sure as shit, whacked his leg on the table as he made for the door and the long sprint down the hall to the bathroom. Chief Schuster's private commode wouldn't do for this mess.
He kept it together long enough to kick open a stall, then dry heaved three times into the bowl. Nothing came up but long strings of spit and whatever dignity he had left.
Empty. Gutless. That was Dale. He spit a few more times, thought about jamming his finger down his throat to make it happen, hoping for the sweet relief he felt when he had the flu and finally vomited. But he knew the feeling would be fleeting. The disease remained.
He rinsed his mouth and returned through the pebbled door. The secretary gave her best sorority girl judgmental look.
"He'll see you now."
Dale wiped his palms again and did a quick exhale, then went into the chief's office to take his punishment like a man.
Chief Schuster wasn't alone. Three men flanked him, one in uniform and two in expensive suits. Schuster waved Dale forward. "Detective, join us."
Dale tried to pick out if one of the guys was his lawyer, maybe a fed. He figured they knew about some, but never all, of what he'd done. Maybe they knew more than he thought.
The only place to sit was a couch on the far side of the room from the chief's desk, so Dale stood in the center of the rug, ready for inspection by the intimidating group of men.
He kept his focus on the chief. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
He'd met the chief before, but he wouldn't call them friends. Dale generally steered clear of the higher-ups in recent years. Since he'd crossed the line from cop to criminal.
Schuster didn't seem especially angry. The other men all looked concerned, but their worry was not aimed at Dale. The chief set down a piece of paper he'd been reading. "Dale, you might think you know why you're here?"
"I'm not sure, sir." When in doubt, play dumb.
"It's a lot to unpack and it all stays in this room. Is that understood?" Schuster steepled his fingers waiting for Dale's response.
"Good." Schuster turned in his chair to one of the suits. "You see, Dale, something's happened."
The younger of the two men in suits explained. "The mayor's daughter has been kidnapped."
Schuster waved a hand at the man in the suit, spoke of him like he was a son-in-law he hated. "Dale, this is Lewis Workman, chief of staff to the mayor."
Lewis nodded. Dale immediately forgot his name, mind still reeling. Wasn't this a bust? Didn't they know all about him?
"It's about who's got her." Schuster eyeballed him directly. "It's Tat."
And there it was. Busted. Tautolu Losopo, a.k.a. Tat, was a crime kingpin. The big man in town. Untouchable by the law, mainly because he had guys like Dale and a dozen others like him on the payroll. Not to mention people in the mayor's office, the city council, the unions. He ran a sprawling conglomerate of criminal enterprise and operated with immunity.
And he paid really well. Three years now since Dale had become one of his go-to men on the force. Tat spoke, Dale acted. And the envelopes of cash kept coming in. Until now.
Dale wished he'd sat down and feared doing so right there on the rug. He locked his knees in place and stood firm to take his medicine.
The grey-haired man in uniform looked from the chief, back to Dale. His polished brass badge read Bardsley. "We need your help, Detective."
The statement almost didn't register. Dale had been daydreaming about his first day in prison already. Christ, he'd heard the stories of what they did to cops when they end up behind bars. His sphincter tightened just thinking about it. Then Bardsley's words sank in.
Lewis crossed his arms across his chest. "We didn't get to square one on negotiations to free Lauren. Tat won't budge." All three men looked at him like disappointed dads.
"We know about you. We know an awful lot about you." Chief Schuster waited for a response, but Dale remained silent. "We need your relationship with Mr. Losopo to help us gain access to him. So, we've got a little assignment for you."
"An assignment?" Dale couldn't hide his surprise. Where were the handcuffs? The leg irons? The Miranda rights?
Bardsley came around the desk and moved closer to Dale on the rug. Dale recognized him. A high-ranking cop who was trotted out for ceremonies and press conferences. Hadn't done any day-to-day police work in decades. Apparently still in the know, though.
"You're going in to get her. You can get access. You may be the only one. But make no mistake, Burnett, you still belong to us."
Dale swallowed the rock in his throat.
"We debated a major action like SWAT or some other tactical team, but it would put Mayor O'Brien's daughter in jeopardy. You know that building he's in. It's a goddamn fortress. Storming the castle just isn't an option on this one. We want you to go in and get him to release her."
"What makes you think I can do that?"
"We don't know if you can. If it fails, we break in with heavy firepower. But in this case, we're going with plan B first."
"If it fails, then I'm dead."
Chief Schuster was the only man to meet Dale's eye. "Son, as it is, you're looking at a few decades of prison time. That's if none of your fellow officers takes you down before that, once they find out your record." He held up a thick file on his desk, let it drop. "This is an opportunity to make a damn good impression on whatever judge you end up in front of."
Lewis piped in. "And to have an endorsement of good faith from the mayor himself for rescuing his only daughter."
Dale scanned the eyes of each man in the room. He hadn't expected a second chance. As second chances go, this one was somewhere between suicide mission and lost cause. Fortress was a good description of Tat's place. One guarded by a private army of very loyal soldiers.
But, as Dale saw it, "I don't have much choice here, do I?"
Schuster drew his hands into fists on his desk, awaiting Dale's answer. "No, you have a choice. We're not forcing you. But I know what I'd do."
"Not fuck up in the first place?" Dale smiled alone in the room. He let the grin slip off his face."Okay. Let me give it a shot. But, um, can it wait an hour? I've got to go bury a dog."CHAPTER 2
They gave him his hour and didn't ask questions. Dale didn't offer any explanation. How his marriage had dissolved and ended up with a dead dog as its mascot was too much to recount on his way out the door.
Dale got the basic information about the mayor's daughter. Name: Lauren. Age: twenty-four. Worked as a reporter for an online news site.
Schuster waved Dale onto the elevator before following him in. "I'll let her boss fill you in on the rest, but she went there of her own accord for a story on her dad's new drug task force and crackdown. I guess Tat didn't much care for the mayor's new policy."
"Yeah, I guess he wouldn't." The door closed, sealing them inside the cube, alone. "Seems like a dumb move to go there, even as a journal —"
Schuster grabbed Dale by the shirt and slammed his back against the wall of the elevator. He reached out a hand and punched the red emergency stop button.
"I want to make myself clear, you piece of shit. If you weren't useful to me right now, I'd have your ass in a sling and you'd be behind bars already. When IA brought me that file, I nearly went out and killed you myself."
Dale had no retreat. This level of anger was more what he expected when he went to see Schuster in the first place, but he hadn't expected it here.
"Assholes like you give the whole department a black eye. Greedy, childish punks who can't pass up a few bucks passed to you under the table. Who the fuck do you think you are?" Schuster pounded Dale's back against the wall again for emphasis on the rhetorical question.
"I never put anyone's life in jeopardy, I swear it."
"The only people who got hurt were the dirtbags. The fuck-ups."
"You're the fuck-up, Burnett. When this is all over you will face the people you've wronged, including your brothers on the force. I'll see to it."
Schuster's face had gone heart attack red, strands of his silvery hair came undone and stuck to the perspiration on his forehead. Dale didn't try to defend himself, didn't try to make excuses. He knew this was the easy part of what was to come.
When Schuster seemed to realize there would be no fight coming from Dale, he pulled the red emergency knob back out and the elevator started moving again. Schuster straightened his tie, smoothed his hair, and ignored Dale for the rest of the ride down.
Dale tried to avoid slipping into the deep self-loathing he'd been capable of in recent weeks. Years of disappointing himself had taken their toll. He knew he deserved it — every insult the boys in the precinct were bound to hurl at him, every gob of spit coming his way.
His chance at a small redemption wasn't lost on him.
Schuster continued to ignore him.
"I know I fucked up. I won't say I can make it right, but I'm ready for what you've got for me. I'm gonna do this job and try to do it right. Then I'll stand up and take what you've got. You're right. I deserve it."
Schuster didn't acknowledge him, but Dale saw his body loosen a little. He figured it was all he was going to get. He told himself to remember that little speech for his wife. That would take some explaining.
Dahlia Burnett hung up the phone after making the appointment. Their marriage had been rocky for a while and a child wasn't the solution. She refused to be one of those people who had a kid in hopes of bringing them closer together with a spouse they practically hated.
Hate was too strong. Didn't know anymore was more like it.
And now with something going on at work, something Dale only described as "complicated" before he left for the station this morning, a baby would make things exponentially worse.
Dahlia lay a hand over her belly. She tried not to get attached to the idea of a life growing in there, especially since she'd just made an appointment to terminate that life. But she couldn't ignore it. She had to allow herself to mourn — the thing she hadn't let herself do for her marriage.
She never expected things to go downhill once her husband made it off the beat, but that's when Dale started changing. Hardening. She used to love how he was the most un-cop-like cop she'd ever met. Now he was closed off, secretive, grumpy. Like living with a teenage version of herself.
Well, Dahlia could keep a secret, too. Like the baby Dale didn't know he had, and after today, never would.
Lewis returned to Mayor O'Brien's office with more bad news.
"There's another video."
The mayor let out an exasperated sigh. "Do I want to see it?" "It's more of the same." Lewis pressed play on his laptop and a shaky cell phone video began playing. Tat was behind the camera, talking to Mayor O'Brien, but the image was of Lauren, his daughter.
She wasn't bound or gagged, wasn't bloodied. She didn't look kidnapped at all, just annoyed. Her brief detention would make her news story all the more attention-worthy — and Pulitzer-worthy.
Lewis talked over Tat's ramblings. Nothing he and the mayor hadn't heard before since the first video the night prior. Direct messages to the mayor criticizing the new drug crackdown. Veiled threats of what would happen if he didn't back off.
"Chief Schuster has a man on it."
"A man? Singular?"
"They decided it was best to try inserting someone they think can get her out without a big gunfight."
"They still don't want to go to the press with this. I told them I'd give them four hours."
O'Brien pushed his chair back from his desk. "Why the hell would we want press in on this at all? Now or four hours from now?"
"Because it makes you look sympathetic, which we could really use right now. Do you need me to recite more poll numbers for you?"
"No. I know how shitty the polls are. I thought that's why we did this whole drug war thing."
"It is." Lewis walked the floor of the mayor's office like he owned it and Mayor O'Brien was only renting space. "That made you look tough on crime. This makes you look vulnerable. The worried father. You yourself a victim of these evil drug kingpins after your vow to take them down."
"I am a worried father. You know what Tat is capable of."
Lewis maintained his calm. "It's a show. He's made no ransom, just the idiotic call to repeal the new crackdown. Well, gimmie a fucking break. He's busting your balls and we might as well use this because this could be the only thing that might swing this election for you. We could get a ten-point bump from a missing daughter, come on."
"Jesus, Lewis. You're talking about my only child."
"I'm talking about your job. Lauren will be fine. Let's not squander the opportunity that just fell in our laps."
O'Brien rubbed the bridge of his nose. His all-American face had been carved through with lines during his first term. The golden boy mayor of last election was gone. He needed more makeup now when appearing on TV. He'd started to dye his hair. The entitled, silver-spoon-fed pretty boy was what people saw these days, sucking on the teat of special interests.
And they were right.
Mayor O'Brien stared at his subordinate. This brash kid from Yale who did everything by the manual for political assholes. But Lewis had steered him into the mayor's office and he was handling this latest downturn in public opinion. Lewis could be trusted. O'Brien studied the young man and hoped like hell it was true.
"Okay, what do you want? A press conference?"
"We'll work that out when we're closer. Let's see how this guy does first."
"And who is he again? Some kind of special forces or something?" Lewis turned to leave, exercising his control over the conversation. "Some crooked cop. They've got him by the balls so he has to do whatever they say."
"What the ...? Is that really the best guy to go and get my daughter back?"
Lewis shrugged. "He's the guy they picked, so he's the guy we've got."
Lewis ducked out, leaving O'Brien alone thinking about hair dyes for when he stood in front of the press to announce his daughter had been saved. Or to tell them she was dead.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "All The Way Down"
Copyright © 2019 Eric Beetner.
Excerpted by permission of Down & Out Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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