Winner of the Shamus Award for Best Novel
Working late-night surveillance at a luxury condominium development, Chicago private investigator Joe Kozmarski encounters a burglary crew. Two of the crew members show up in a police cruiser dressed in uniform. In the chaos that follows, Kozmarski shoots and kills one of the thieves, who, like the rest of the crew, is one of Chicago's Finest. And just like that Kozmarski finds he’s in for many a bad night’s sleep.
Kozmarski joins the burglary crew, working as an inside agent for his old friend Lieutenant Bill Gubman. Facing dangerous suspicions from both the criminal gang and the uncorrupted ranks of the police department, uncertain about who wishes to help him stay alive and who wishes to kill him, Kozmarski takes his wildest ride yet. A Bad Night's Sleep pushes full throttle through the streets of Chicago to a stunning conclusion.
About the Author
Michael Wiley is a Shamus Award winner. He lives with his family in northeast Florida. This is his third novel.
Read an Excerpt
THE SOUTHSHORE CORPORATION OWNED a seven-block chunk of land on the south side of Chicago. If they’d let it sit for twenty years, it would have turned back into the prairie that had stood there a couple of centuries ago. Thirty years and you could’ve put on a coonskin hat and gone deer hunting. But the Southshore Corporation hadn’t let the land sit. Two weeks after the owners signed the final contracts, workers had poured the foundations for a mix of single-unit houses and condo blocks that the corporation was advertising as Southshore Village. The corporation promised to build a small town in the middle of the city. The brochures included a picture of kids playing baseball on a cul-de-sac and another of a middle-aged man and woman sitting on a porch swing. The faces were black, white, brown, and yellow. It was a pretty dream and the Southshore Corporation had the money to make it come true.
I sat in my car on the construction site on a cold November night. The street was packed dirt and clay. Bare bulbs hung from wires strung from poles but the place was mostly dark. Ripped plastic sheets blew through the open windows on the buildings. Three A.M. had come and gone. I cranked the heater and the warm air made me sleepy. I flipped the heater off. Above, the moon shined dully through a thin layer of clouds.
The thefts had started right after the Southshore Corporation began putting up buildings. Tools and building materials disappeared first, then appliances and construction equipment. The corporation had strung a wire-link fence around the site, put up security cameras, and paid for extra police patrols, but the thefts had continued. One night the thieves stole the security cameras. Another, they took thirty thousand dollars’ worth of copper wire from a storage trailer.
Jen Horlarche, the corporate vice president in charge of development, had hired me to camp out at the site and stop the thefts. I figured I would do no better than the security cameras and police patrols and I told her so. I also said, “I don’t do security, not even glamorized.”
She said, “There’s nothing glamorous about this job.”
I looked at her eyes and her smile and said, “I find that hard to believe. Besides, I’ve seen the Southshore brochure.”
“You don’t get to spend time with me,” she said, “and the place won’t look like the brochure for another fourteen months—longer if the thefts don’t stop.”
I said, “I’ve got a seventeen-year-old Buick Skylark with a heater that still works. If that interests you.”
Her smile fell but her eyes still made me think I would like to get to know her better, so I let her write me a check and I put it in the bank and now I sat alone in my cold Skylark, waiting and watching.
When I started to drift to sleep, I shifted into drive and bounced over the dirt until I found an almost completed house with an open garage on a street that dead-ended into three storage trailers. I backed my car into the garage and peered into the night like an animal snug in its burrow. I closed my eyes. Opened them. Closed them.
A car engine woke me, and tires grinding over the dirt and clay. It was still dark. The car neared and I slid low in my seat, wondering if my Skylark was visible from outside. The car slowed and stopped next to the storage trailers.
I laughed. It was a police cruiser making its rounds.
Two cops sat in the car. The driver got out and went to the trailers, rattled the padlocked doors. They were secure. He walked back to the cruiser, pulled out a cell phone, and talked into it for awhile. He hung up and got into the car. The cops sat some more. The night was quiet. They were in no rush.
The other cop got out and went to the trunk, opened it. He removed a pair of bolt cutters and looked up and down the street. He went to the closest trailer.
“Don’t do it,” I mumbled.
He did it. The lock fell to the ground and he swung the trailer door open. Then he went to the other trailers.
His partner got out of the car with a flashlight. He shined it everywhere but at me. He went to the first trailer and looked inside.
More engines approached. More tires rolled over the dirt and clay. Three dark vans pulled behind the patrol car and guys in jeans and jackets climbed out of each. They shook hands with the cops and went to the first trailer. They rolled large spools of wire out of the first and loaded them into the vans.
I fished my cell phone from my jacket. I punched in the number Jen Horlarche gave me when she hired me. Her home number. “Just in case,” she’d said with that smile. It was 3:30 in the morning but this was a just-in-case moment.
She answered the phone on the second ring. A light sleeper. “Yeah?”
I told her who was calling, explained the situation, and asked, “What do you want me to do?”
“Call the police.” Like it was obvious.
“The police are already here.”
“Call the other police,” she said.
“With cops involved on both sides, it’ll be messy,” I said. “No one will be happy about this coming into the open.”
She thought about that for a moment. “Call them,” she said.
I dialed 911. The operator sounded doubtful when I told him what was happening. His supervisor sounded doubtful when I explained again. “No sirens or lights,” I said, “and if you put this on the radio, they’ll be gone before you get here.”
The supervisor said, “You’re telling me to send officers into a situation without radio contact?”
I knew she was worried I was setting up a trap. “Yeah,” I said. “You use the radio and they’ll hear you.”
She asked for my name and identification.
“They’re moving to the second trailer,” I said. They were unloading more spools of wire. Southshore Village was going to go without electricity.
“Name and ID,” she said, like we had all the time in the world.
“Joe Kozmarski,” I said and gave her the nine digits on my private detective’s license.
She never told me if the police were coming without radio but eight minutes later four squad cars rolled around the corner onto the dead-end street. The two lead cars flipped on spotlights and the cold night went brilliant.
The men at the trailer froze.
The four squad cars stopped. A car-mounted bullhorn told the men to raise their hands and step forward into the light.
The uniformed patrolman who’d snipped the locks off the trailers took five steps toward the squad cars, his hands in the air. He moved slow, like he was walking into a fire, but he did as he was told.
The others stayed frozen. Four of them. That meant three more, including the other patrolman, were hiding in the trailers.
The squad cars rolled closer. The bullhorn crackled and told the men again to raise their hands. The amplified voice sounded frightened.
Two of the thieves ran, one onto the dirt lot behind the trailers, one toward a van. The others stayed where they were.
The officers jumped out of their cars, drew their weapons, yelled at the thieves to stop.
The one on the dirt lot kept running. The one who’d run to the van climbed in and started the engine. The one in uniform who’d stepped forward when he was told to lowered his hands and took his service pistol from its holster. A gunshot exploded—not from his gun. Everyone froze, even the thief on the dirt lot. All was silent except for the hum of car engines.
I switched the dome light all the way off in my Skylark, took my Glock from its holster, opened the door, and slipped out into the garage.
A tall cop, who seemed to be in charge, yelled at the thieves, “Put your guns down!”
The one in uniform stooped and laid his gun on the dirt, stood with his hands in the air. He was shaking.
Another gunshot exploded and the tall cop went down. A cop screamed, “Fuck!” and opened fire. Then everyone was shooting. The uniformed thief who’d just laid his gun on the ground took a bullet in his head, flew back, and landed in the dirt. The thief on the dirt lot sprinted toward a Dumpster. Some of the others followed him. The van spun its tires in the dirt and headed toward the police. A gunshot from a crouching officer blasted its windshield. The van slid, turned, headed back toward the trailers, and bounced over the open lot. Then it slowed, the passenger door opened, and the thieves who’d run onto the lot climbed in.
The three men who were still hiding in trailers—the other uniformed thief and his friends—poured out and ran. The one in uniform ran to a van and hid behind it. He was twenty yards from me, no more. His friends ran to another van, got in through the back, started it, cut a hard circle. A hand holding a pistol stuck out of the passenger-side window. The pistol aimed at an officer who was shouting into a handheld radio and fired. The officer stopped shouting and fell face forward into the dirt. The van bounced away over the open lot.
The only thief who remained was the patrolman hiding behind the van. He must’ve known there was no way out. Bullets had blown out the tires under his patrol car and shattered the lights on top. His partner had a slug in his head. He couldn’t drive away in the van and pretend he hadn’t been on the scene. He was already worse than dead. At most, he could delay the officers and help his partners get away.
He raised his gun over the hood of the van.
The cops huddling behind their squad cars fired at him—fifty shots, a hundred, more, a wall of noise. He ducked back and the shots sank into the dirt and into the side of the van.
I aimed my Glock at him. It was an easy shot. But I couldn’t take it. I’d been a cop until my bad habits had gotten me fired. My dad had been a cop. A good one.
Everything got quiet.
The officer who’d gotten shot while shouting into his radio pushed himself onto his elbows and crawled toward the squad cars. The other officers saw him. One of them ran to help.
The man hiding behind the van raised his gun over the hood and aimed at them. I shook my head, sadder than I’d ever been before. I squeezed the trigger and felt my Glock bolt against my palm as it fired.
I heard nothing.
I saw nothing.
I knew that I’d shot a thief who was aiming his gun at two officers, but I also knew that the thief was wearing a police uniform. I stumbled back to my Skylark, sat in the front seat, and closed my eyes.
Copyright © 2011 by Michael Wiley
What People are Saying About This
Jacksonville author Michael Wiley mixes two mainstays of the hard boiled novel the cynical hero and a gritty plot with an invigorating plot in his latest novel. In Wiley's hands, the ex-alcoholic, former cop-turned-private detective seems like a fresh idea. That's because Wiley refuses to allow any predictable plot twists to mar A Bad Night's Sleep and makes sure his Chicago investigator Joe Kozmarski barely has time to take a deep breath. Joe is hired to do the late-night surveillance at a luxury condo development that has been overrun by thieves making off with tools, appliances and construction materials. But these thieves aren't what Joe expected. While he watches, the burglary crew arrives in a police cruiser. Two of the thieves are even in uniform. During a chaotic shootout, Joe kills a cop who is part of the burglar's team. Although the man he killed was moonlighting as a thief, Joe is still branded a cop killer, and the police are more than willing to blame him for the sh
"Jacksonville author Michael Wiley mixes two mainstays of the hard boiled novel — the cynical hero and a gritty plot — with an invigorating plot in his latest novel....A Bad Night’s Sleep briskly moves through diverse Chicago neighborhoods that are far from the familiar Michigan Avenue."Oline H. Cogdill, Sun Sentinel
“Fans of gritty PI novels will relish Shamus-finalist Wiley's third mystery featuring Chicago detective Joe Kozmarski. Kozmarski, a well-developed flawed hero, would be right at home in a Chandler or Hammett novel. The relentless pacing makes the pages fly by, and the hard-edged prose is bracing.”— Publishers Weekly (starred revew)
"Fast, furious and fun. Readers who like them hard-boiled will love this 22-minute egg.”— Kirkus Reviews
“In Michael Wiley’s dark-souled detective, his cynical cops, his convincing story, we get a gripping classic PI novel, with this enormous bonus: this guy can WRITE. Clean, sharp, breathtaking prose.”—S.J. Rozan, Edgar Award-winning author of On the Line "A Bad Night's Sleep is a terrific read that will indeed cost readers some sleep. Michael Wiley pulls you into the action on page one and doesn't let up until the last satisfying chapter."Alafair Burke, author of Long Gone “This is top-notch P.I. reading. Wiley knows how to keep the fires stoked.”—New York Times bestselling author John Lutz “A slick and suspenseful tale of corruption and redemption from a terrific PI writer at the top of his game. A Bad Night’s Sleep is a great night’s read.”Kelli Stanley, author of City of Dragons
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
When you think 'private detective', you think of a divorced and alcoholic ex-cop, with a plain and unrefined office a few floors up in an old building that drives a beat up car. Well, Joe Kozmarski is no exception. In Wiley's latest mystery, the Chicago detective takes on both the Windy City's finest.and worst. This is an excellent reminder of why we've loved gritty P.I. stories since Spade and Marlowe first hit the mean streets. Kozmarski is hired to play security guard at a new housing construction site that is experiencing its share of burglaries. When the thieves arrive, they turn out to be.cops. After shooting and killing one, Kozmarski is thrown in jail. A buddy on the force-who works as liaison to a civilian based ethical board-then recruits him to infiltrate the gang of thieves to destroy it from the inside. Kozmarski, who is trying to reconcile a relationship with his ex and fighting the temptations of alcohol, drugs and a sexy partner, soon runs afoul of the FBI agent who also want a piece of the action. Who can Joe trust and just who's playing who in the bigger scheme of things? This is a quick read, but thoroughly enjoyable. It contains all the expected elements: bad cop power plays, street gangs, a high priced sex club, a tour of Chicago, the obligatory shoot 'em up car chase and a few plot twists to keep you guessing. You'll sleep well knowing you've read another fine story to be put on the shelf in the private eye wing of your collection. Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, author of "Beta" for Suspense Magazine
In Chicago the Southshore Corporation Vice President Jen Horlache hires detective Joe Kozmarski to stake out their construction site where thefts of materials and equipment has been costly in terms of time and money. Kozmarski notices a gang loading spools of copper wire when a police cruiser stops. Two cops in blue join the loading line. Kozmarski calls 911 and police quickly arrive. A gunfight erupts and the private detective kills one of the thieves, who like his burglar companions, turns out to be a cop. CPD Lieutenant Bill Gubman enlists his former police officer who was kicked off the force to go undercover and join the gang. However, Kozmarski soon finds the thieves and the honest cops distrust him, but not all of them want him dead; only some do. The latest Chicago private investigative Kozmarski Noir (see The Last Striptease and The Bad Kitty Lounge) is a terrific gritty thriller that grips the audience with the opening shootout and never takes a respite as the beleaguered hero struggles to survive on the mean streets. Kozmarski trusts no one as cops and robbers have placed the Scarlet Letter of D for dead on his head. Readers will have A Bad Night's Sleep as this exciting tale is difficult to put down. Harriet Klausner