Tug Wyler is embroiled in the mysterious medical malady of a sexy stripper who slipped on a banana peel during her signature act Cookie, an angel in stiletto heels, is by far the most popular performer at Jingles Dance Bonanza. To her devoted audience, she’s a friend, therapist, and shoulder to cry on, all rolled into one. While meeting an old pal at the club, Tug doesn’t expect to pick up a new client but quickly realizes the gallant Cookie—dancing in a neck brace, each leg kick potentially her last—is in need of a committed champion. Righting wrongs is never a simple task for Tug, a sharp-witted and unorthodox trial lawyer who repeatedly finds himself in the middle of unusual cases and causes. But that doesn’t stop him from trying. Believing that Cookie is the victim of a spine surgeon with a sloppy touch, Tug takes her case. But as he seeks both medical remedy and a fair shake for Cookie, he realizes—a tad too late—that sinister sights are now trained on him. In Cookie’s Case , this offbeat attorney will go farther for justice than he ever has before.
About the Author
Andy Siegel is a personal injury and medical malpractice attorney in New York City. A graduate of Tulane University and Brooklyn Law, he grew up on Long Island and now lives in Westchester County. In 2008 he was elected to the board of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association. Cookie’s Case (2015) is the second novel in the Tug Wyler series. The first, Suzy’s Case , was published in 2012 and selected as a Poisoned Pen Bookstore 2012 Best Debut Novel and a Suspense Magazine Best Book of 2012 . In 2013 it was named a People.com Best Beach Read.
Read an Excerpt
A Tug Wyler Mystery
By Andy Siegel
MysteriousPress.comCopyright © 2015 Andy Siegel
All rights reserved.
Major watches Cookie prepare. She's getting out her bag, the one in which she packs her special outfits before heading to the club. Tonight, she's planning to appear onstage garbed as a saucy police officer. It's intended as a tribute to the men in blue.
The whip she'll be cracking is her extra touch. It goes in first.
To every costume she wears, Cookie adds an offbeat accessory—for the surprise value. It's her trademark. Machine gun–toting nurse, ax-wielding librarian, banana-eating buccaneer; she likes to keep her fans guessing.
However, she's retired the banana, ever since what became known as "The Fall." Just about all the guys who frequent Manhattan's gentlemen's clubs know and love Cookie. They're aware of what went down one night as she was exiting the stage. What went down was Cookie.
Now checking that her Sergeant Sexy name tag is securely attached to her dark blue shirt, Cookie smoothes out a wrinkle with her hand, then neatly folds and tucks the authentic NYPD uniform into her bag. She'd received it, tag included, as a gift from a loyal customer, a veteran cop. She'd had it altered to suit her professional needs so she could tear it off mid-dance without missing a step.
"Watch out!" Major yells from the living room. Cookie has been kneeling and now starts to rise. Bang! Too late. Her head contraption has struck the side of the closet's doorframe, rendering her a tad unsteady.
"Whoops!" she says, laughing it off as she extends her arms with the grace of a ballerina to recapture her balance. Taking two shaky steps forward, she puts her bag down at the front door. Then, gingerly, she turns and walks back toward the living room, one careful step at a time.
Major takes note of her gait pattern.
Entering, she carefully maneuvers herself down onto the couch. He watches as she takes a few deep breaths to collect herself.
"Whew," she says and smiles at him. What he's doing is studying her. Suddenly her smile begins to fade. Major can tell it's time. She's displaying her distinctive grimace, the one she tries to suppress as long as possible. It's not just any frown but rather a look that sends a critical message.
For his part, he'd never ask. This Major has his own MO. His way is to play things out until the last moment. Nonetheless, thoughts of his reward start infiltrating his mind—and his loins. Although he won't initiate what's about to happen, dropping a subtle hint is completely acceptable when it comes to Major's little game of needing her to need him. He's become expert at finding clever ways to spark the cycle of mutual reciprocation.
Cookie, on the other hand, has issues asking any person to do anything. Girls from Sheepshead Bay are raised to be self-reliant. It's a Brooklyn thing. The fact that she actively resists dependence makes their relationship all the more difficult for outsiders to understand. And that's over and above the age difference of forty-two years and their unmatched levels of attractiveness.
Major is a gray-haired, well-groomed, retired doctor. He's the type who belongs in Boca, practicing putting. You might trust him instinctively, but you'd never look at him twice. Cookie, on the other hand, is a tall, slender, extremely pretty exotic dancer. A hot cookie indeed, she's also as sincere and genuine as they come, entirely confounding the stereotype of her chosen profession. Major could easily be mistaken for her father or grandfather.
"Are you sure you should be dancing tonight?" he worries aloud. "You know what your doctor said."
"What does she know?" Cookie snaps back in a rare moment of exasperation. "I wouldn't be wearing this thing around my head if these doctors really knew anything. What am I going to do? Hurt myself?" She giggles, then gives him one of her rare, utterly serious looks. He understands she's only venting. He's aware few others could handle such a situation with so much courage, grace, and reserve. It's been three long, hard years of pain and suffering since the surgery that changed her life.
"I've had three neck procedures," she points out, although it's hardly news to him. "So what's a little dancing going to do to me? Besides, it's been seven weeks since the last one, and I'm just itching to get back in there. I can't sit around here anymore." It was as close to a complaint as she'd ever express. "You know I don't like to disappoint my regulars. My dancing's like going to therapy for them, and they depend on my advice. I've saved twenty-three marriages," she proudly states. "And counting. Besides, I don't want Ruby trying to snap up my guys for the wrong reason, making them feel special just to pinch their hard-earned cash."
"I'm simply questioning whether it's a good idea, Cookie. You know you have a tendency to overdo it. And it's not as if you need the money." Instantly, he realized his mistake. But it was too late.
"I appreciate all the wonderful things you've surrounded me with for the last three years." Cookie's tone manages to be both earnest and severe. "But I told you before I moved in with you that I'm always going to want to feel independent and productive. Dancing for my clients satisfies my needs, and theirs."
Her sincerity is evident, and so is her resolve. Then a cloud passes over her face.
Continuing to watch her closely, he understands that the pressure is building. He knows the signs. Her composure, therefore, is remarkable.
"I'm sorry," he says. "You know I'm supportive of everything you do. It's only that I don't want to see you compromise your recovery by going back to work too soon. It's unfortunate but true that too much activity can cause headaches in your condition."
There it is. The hint has been dropped—at just the perfect moment. Major waits. Then Cookie crumbles. She looks at him in a summoning way, a needing way. It's the most she'll allow herself when it comes to requesting anything from anyone else. Major responds now, in accordance with their routine.
"Come on, Cookie, it's time for tap."
"Yes ... I think it is."
She shimmies her bottom to the edge of the couch and gets up slowly. As she walks into the kitchen, she pretends she's on a balance beam, placing one foot in front of the other, heel to toe, with arms spread wide. Going over to her junk drawer, she takes out a pair of Ray-Bans—the classic gold-tone aviators. She holds them up to the light for inspection. Bright light magnifies the intensity of the pounding in her head. The medical term for this sensitivity is photophobia.
She buffs the lenses, then slides on the sunglasses. Although they hide her dark chocolate eyes, the shades bring her other features into relief. The high cheekbones with dimples underneath, the regal nose and pointed chin, the latter with a cleft so deep you could do a shot of vodka out of it.
But, in fact, she's wearing the Ray-Bans for Major's benefit. Cookie knows he loves the way she looks in them—topless, that is. He'd told her this once on a trip to Santorini, before her condition made travel ill-advised.
Now she's heading toward the dining room, falling off her pretend beam three times as she does so. The medical term is disequilibrium. Once she's reached the heavy wooden table, she readies herself for the procedure. As she begins to unbutton her shirt, she's a little clumsy. The pressure inside her head is compromising her fine motor skills, and she knows it.
Her breasts, once she's removed the shirt, jut out from the openings in the custom-fitted plastic medical vest she has to wear. It serves as an anchor for the contraption affixed to her head. She stops for a moment, then pulls out one of the hand-carved high-backed chairs and turns it around. Sitting down backward on the red velvet cushion, she straddles it with her long, shapely legs. Then she leans forward and hugs the back of the chair.
"All set!" she calls out. At this point, anguish can be heard in her voice. Her statement of readiness more resembles a plea for help. She's in pain, real pain. Once the pressure inside her skull begins, it will soon turn overwhelming. Without immediate medical attention, inevitably it will result in a seizure that will send her into a coma. Within a matter of minutes, she'll die from brain stem compression, brain herniation, or both.
Major has played the role of spectator up to this point, watching from his Eames lounge chair like a pervert at a peep show of the surgically disabled. And who could blame him? She's beautiful, even in all her pain. He stands and, in his movements, reveals himself as old.
Once upright, though, his pace quickens. He's heading for the surgical pouch kept on the kitchen's center island. As he reaches it, Cookie says, "Oh, I forgot."
Major looks over.
She sits up and takes a red hair scrunchie off of her wrist. She reaches behind her head and, despite the obstacle presented by the bars of the obtrusive metal device, executes a ponytail. Then she reassumes the position, with her lower back angled at forty-five degrees so Major won't have to bend too much.
He walks over carrying the already prepared pouch and places it on the table. Once it's opened, he returns to the kitchen where, at the sink, he carefully performs a hand scrub. After rinsing, he uses the inside of his left elbow to push the hot water control into the off position, all the while keeping his hands face up to ensure their continued sterility. He'd changed the faucet himself, for just this purpose. Major does all the maintenance in his luxury apartment, with its spectacular East River views, himself. He's very private.
Peering inside the pouch, he looks up and says, "More gauze is needed." Cookie winces. She knows the journey to get it from the other room will take approximately thirty seconds for the round trip.
"Um, just use a paper towel if you need to. The pressure is getting bad. Hurry, please." Her resistance to making any complaints is breaking down.
"Will do," he responds. He moves behind her using the upper aspect of her sacrum as his anatomical landmark. Counting the notches between her individual vertebrae he makes his way up. "L5, L4, L3 ... perfect. Right here."
"Hurry. Please," she says again.
"Soon, my dear, soon." Major hadn't needed to identify his entry point, knowing it to be the intervertebral space just above a birthmark shaped like the isle of Ios. But he counts each time anyway, as a matter of medical procedure and precaution.
Now wearing disposable latex gloves, he first wipes her back with an antiseptic pad, then puts iodine onto the last piece of gauze, making sure not to spill any on the antique Persian rug.
"Hurry!" she reiterates.
From the pouch, he now removes a small plastic syringe. It's for the local anesthetic. He addresses her lower back at the predetermined mark. "A little sting," he says, just as he always does.
"Sting, sting ... sting, sting," she responds. His jabs are fast and skillful, but it helps Cookie to comment like this. It is, after all, happening to her.
Next he prepares a different sort of syringe—a bigger, metal one. It has a built-in spinal-fluid pressure gauge and a glass collection tube running through its center. A large spinal needle is attached to one end, with three circular finger rings on the other. Clearly, it's designed for the withdrawal of fluid. He sterilizes the needle, at last ready to get down to business.
"Just a pinch," he tells her. "That's all." Nonetheless, Cookie squeezes the back of the chair. She's well aware what's next.
Major inserts the hollowed needle point into her spine, where it meets with resistance. "Slow, slow, slow," Cookie says as he pushes forward steadily.
"Easy, Cookie. Easy, girl," he soothes her. He applies a little more force. Suddenly, the resistance lets up.
"We're in." Cookie sighs with relief. Major looks at the gauge. "Hmm, I've never seen your fluid pressure so high. And you weren't due for a tap today—that's why you chose tonight to go to the club in the first place. You just can't accurately predict this, as we've learned."
He now inserts his three middle fingers through the rings, curling them, then slowly pulls on the plunger, filling the barrel of the collecting tube with Cookie's cerebral spinal fluid.
"Yeah, that's it, baby," she says, exhaling. "I can feel the relief already. Keep going. That's it. That's how I like it."
Major smiles. He relishes the foreplay surrounding the tap, even as he's aware of its peculiarity. "We're done. And your fluid's nice and clear. Hold still now." He withdraws the spinal needle and immediately applies direct pressure over the access site with the iodine-soaked gauze.
After a minute more of compression, he inspects the area. "You're good to go."
"Hey, I feel great! Ready to dance, dance, dance. Gee, I hope this thing on my head doesn't get in the way too much." She rolls her eyes drolly at the thought. "I need a tall glass of cranberry and Red Bull. The usual." He follows her into their kitchen, where he puts away his medical supplies. Peeling off the gloves, he discards them along with the rest of the medical refuse into a special container. Major then puts away his treasured spinal syringe, knowing it'll be needed again.
"Go sit in your chair," she instructs him. "I'll tend to you in a minute."
Obeying her command, he stares at Cookie, thinking how sexy she looks. He whispers under his breath, "She's mine, all mine."
Then he waits.
Cookie finishes her drink and heads over. Major feels his excitement build as she approaches. Stopping in front of him, she places the tip of her finger on her bottom lip, then slowly inserts it into her mouth, giving it a sensual suck.
He sighs in pleasure.
"You like that, you dirty old man?" she teases. Then she asks, "Are you a good doctor or an evil doctor?" Her naughty-girl voice is adorable.
"I'm a good doctor and an evil doctor."
Cookie laughs. "You don't have an evil bone in your body. Even the one growing between your legs has good intentions."
Kneeling now, she gently maneuvers down his pants, sliding one leg out, exactly as she has so many times before. "You just sit back and relax. I'm not a doctor, and I don't have a fancy medical pouch," she says with a giggle, "but I have just the right treatment plan to release your mounting pressure."
He smiles. Cookie is beautiful, funny, smart, caring, and attentive. What she's doing is no easy job given the device she's wearing. But she's determined. Several minutes of hard work produce a few satisfying grunts.
Major says, "That was nice. Thank you, dear."
"No. Thank you for being there for me every time. For giving me the help that only you can give." The truth in her statement gratifies him. "Now, though, I need a few moments to myself," she adds.
She gets up and walks to her room, closing the door. Major had insisted on separate quarters when he convinced her to move in. "It will help you maintain your independence," he'd explained.
As she passes the exotic plants he bought for her, she takes in the scent of a rare desert flower and admires the antique iron plant stand—another gift from him—on which they're displayed. She fingers the dusty soil of a few, checking their moisture level. She takes great care maintaining them, the same way she intuitively takes care of those around her.
Entering her bathroom, Cookie studies her reflection. She rests her hands flush on the black marble to give support to her upper body. Having to wear the device takes its toll, interfering, as it does, with her sleep, and more.
She continues to stare at herself for the next several minutes, deep in thought. Suddenly, tears erupt uncontrollably. Their ritual has been unchanging for the last two and a half years. The only difference now is the addition of her headgear.
Cookie looks intently, thinking about her loss of freedom and her relationship with Major. Before this happened, life was limitless. Now she's condemned to an existence of bondage and quiet suffering, despite his good nature and her gratitude to him.
She takes a deep breath and lets it out. She doesn't want to worry him. "A banana peel," she says aloud. "Who would've thought?" She takes a second deep breath. On the exhale, she whispers to her reflection.
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, why did I have to slip and fall?"
Excerpted from Cookie's Case by Andy Siegel. Copyright © 2015 Andy Siegel. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review. I have found myself enjoying more and more of this genre of books. You have a witty main character who ends up finding himself in trouble just by the case he has ended up picking up. Tug is a lawyer who takes on the cases of accidents and medical malpractices and when he gets a case that involves a stripper that is when he finds himself in trouble. Tug also has normal family issues, but his family bothered me to no extend. I am not sure if Tug's wife has always been the way she is or not but I wanted to smack her on more than one occasion. She seems to be very disrespectful to Tug. Not only that Tug bothered me the way he kept saying his goal in life was to keep his daughter who I am assuming is below ten off the pole. Who says that? Cookie is a stripper who once had surgery and because of that has ended up wearing a halo. She misses her freedom and wants to dance. And this is the case that Tug takes. But it isn't just a cut and dry case there is something shady going on and Tug plans to uncover it. We get a lot of medical information that I thought was pretty cool, and very descriptive. It seems to me the author did his research. What Tug ends up figuring out could be too late for him. Now the other case Tug takes on is Robert Killroy who didn't kill nobody name Roy. I thought it was funny that this character Robert would say that but I understood why. Though it did get a bit bothersome every time it was mentioned when Robert would call Tug. The way Tug got this case was different, it pretty much fell into his lap. Robert called him collect an unpaid debt that he owes a cleaner. Which I didn't understand why Tug just didn't talk to the owner and let him know he was not going to be him but whatever. Robert had his foot ran over and has a lot of foot pain, but he doesn't let that stop him from trying to take care of himself because his granny wants him too. And hence a case that Tug takes because he believes that he can win the case and help Robert and his grandmother out. Some things within the story became repetitive and it really annoyed me to no end and that dropped my rating down. You have this shady character who comes into play and kept saying "seeeeeee." This was just the way that he would take. You have Tug who as I mentioned before repeated I believe three times his goal was to keep his daughter off the pole. This was in reference to Cookie being a stripper. Robert constantly saying his name was Robert Killroy but he didn't kill nobody named Roy that is just his name. I did enjoy this book and the character Tug. I will be looking into more of this author's work and more of the Tug Wyler's mysteries if there is any.