Dead Is Dead

Dead Is Dead

by John Lansing

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501143564
Publisher: Gallery Books/Karen Hunter Publishing
Publication date: 05/30/2016
Series: The Jack Bertolino Series , #3
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 143,040
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

John Lansing is the author of four thrillers featuring Jack Bertolino—The Devil’s Necktie, Blond Cargo, Dead Is Dead, and The Fourth Gunman—as well as the true-crime non-fiction book Good Cop Bad Money, written with former NYPD Inspector Glen Morisano. He has been a writer and producer on Walker, Texas Ranger, and the co-executive producer of the ABC series Scoundrels. A native of Long Island, John now resides in Los Angeles. Find out more on and follow him on Twitter @jelansing.

Read an Excerpt

Dead is Dead


Day One

Toby Dirk snugged the smooth wooden stock of his Ruger .22 semiautomatic rifle tight against his shoulder. He sighted in on the small Mediterranean stucco house directly across the street. It was one of many vacation bungalows built in the 1950s on narrow lots. Faded pink paint, overgrown shrubs, and tufts of green grass littering the burnt lawn shouted neglect, or poverty, or renters.

In this case it was poverty. The house was clean, but the home’s decline had outpaced the Sanchezes’ bank account. Toby had known the family for years—solid people, Hispanic, ­struggling to put food on the table. He had no issues with their youngest boy, Juan, dealing dope.

Juan wasn’t his target.

Venice Beach these days was an eclectic mix of million-dollar designer digs and old-school bungalows from a time when rents were low and the neighborhoods were inhabited by immigrants, blue-collar workers, street gangs, and artists. Gentrification was crowding out many of the longtime residents, but the gangs were ingrained. Their members would have to be jailed or hauled out in pine boxes to make way for the upscale clientele looking for a “teardown.”

Toby listened for signs of life in the house he was using as cover, but the precaution was just reflexive. He knew Mrs. ­Montenegro wouldn’t return home from her deli until after dark. Through her rangy bamboo hedge he had a clear shot of Juan’s driveway and front door.

Now all he needed was a target.

Tomas Vegas would be dropping off a bag of dope to his newest dealer in less than five minutes. Vegas ran his drug business with precision, just like his iron fist. You could set a clock by his daily rounds.

Unfortunately for Vegas, he’d set up Toby’s girlfriend, Eva Perez, for a nine-month stretch on trumped-up drug and ­weapons charges. She’d been out on parole for three months now, but she was changed. Damaged. Not the same free spirit. It broke Toby’s heart, and it fueled his rage.

Two men in love with the same woman. She had chosen Toby. Gotten his name tattooed on her shoulder in neat calligraphy. Had been pregnant with his child. Toby was head over heels, crazy in love.

Jealousy’s a bitch, he thought, and Vegas was about to pay the ultimate price. Three shots max, to make sure Vegas wouldn’t get up again. If all went according to plan, Toby would soon be paddling out into the Pacific, catching the late-afternoon swells at Sunset Beach.

Toby, twenty-three, had thick, unruly strands of shoulder­length sandy hair held off his face with a black watch cap. A faint shadow of freckles dusted his high cheekbones, set in a chiseled, angular face. His lean body was sinewy with the long ropy ­muscles of a surfer. His blue eyes were steady and intelligent. He had tested in the top two percentile in the standardized IQ tests at Venice High, and he had been offered a scholastic scholarship to UC Berkeley. He turned it down. All he was interested in was smoking righteous bud and being an outlaw.

He and his two brothers were doing just fine in that regard. If you played by the rules, you were a sucker. It had killed his father, and he wasn’t going down that dusty trail. He didn’t buy into the old saw that life was a bitch and then you die. Toby was sure of one thing and it guided his life choices.

Dead is dead. There was nothing else. No great beyond. No nothing. You created your own heaven and hell in the only lifetime you’d ever know, so grab life with two fists while you were young enough to enjoy it, fuck it, eat it, drink it, or smoke it.

Juan Sanchez peered out of his bedroom door and then silently closed and locked it. He could hear his mother working at the kitchen stove, banging her long wooden spoon against the alum­inum pot, filled with enough black beans, garlic, onions, and rice to feed the family for three days.

Juan stooped down beside the only piece of furniture in his room besides his bed, a scarred wooden four-drawer dresser. He pulled out the tall bottom drawer and set it aside on his threadbare rug. On his hands and knees he strained reaching in, and pulled out a tightly banded roll of greenbacks he had taped to the back panel of the dresser. He slid the money into his pocket, then pushed the drawer back onto its chipped plastic runners until it closed.

Juan glanced nervously toward the door, averting his gaze from the wooden crucifix nailed to the wall over his neatly made bed. He stood sentry at his window, waiting for the pounding of his heart to settle and his dealer to arrive.

The sound of Tomas Vegas’s baffled mufflers preceded his ­arrival in front of the house.

Juan hurried quietly down the hallway, unnoticed by his mother in the kitchen, and into the living room, where his six-year-old sister, Maria, was struggling to pull a sweater over her Barbie’s head. The bright-eyed girl looked up at her brother with such love and admiration, it washed over Juan like a bucket of guilt. He grabbed the doll from his baby sister, yanked the ­sweater’s hole over the mop of long blonde hair, and handed it back to Maria. “Gracias, Juan,” she said with an angelic smile. Juan returned a tight grin, nervously tapped the roll of bills in his pocket, and steeled his nerve.

“C’mon, be a man,” he mumbled as he headed out the door.

Toby adjusted the rifle’s sight, mindful of the half-inch play in the gun’s trajectory. He had chosen his .22 because it was quiet and, from this distance, deadly as a viper. The bullets would rattle around in his target’s chest, kill him dead, but he wouldn’t have to worry about collateral damage.

Toby started a silent mantra . . . and slowed his breathing.

As he visualized a tight cluster tearing into Tomas Vegas, an antique electric-blue Ford Fairlane glided to a stop across the street.

Young Juan Sanchez ran out of the house and reached the curb before the screen door slammed behind him.

Vegas slid out of his car with a studied cool and sauntered up to his newest recruit. With icy cool he checked out the houses ­behind Juan, up and then down Fourth Street toward Rose. He was preening like a fucking peacock, Toby thought.

The young men fist-bumped, exchanged a few words, and Vegas popped the trunk and pulled out a fat brown grocery bag.

Juan nervously dug in his pocket for the roll of cash, and as Vegas thrust the high-grade weed toward his newest dealer, Toby let out an even breath. Now. Yet just as he squeezed off a round, a car sped by, blocking the play.

He jerked the gun at the last second. The high-velocity .22 LR load flew wide, shattering a front window. Toby instantly readjusted, fired, and then again.

Vegas’s face registered surprise as he dropped the bag, ripped open his shirt, stared down at two tight holes in his chest.

Screaming, Juan dove behind the safety of the Ford.

Loose buds of marijuana spilled onto the street.

Tomas Vegas fell to his knees and keeled forward face-first, stone-dead, in the gutter.

Toby Dirk madly grabbed for the spent shells, palming two from the thick grass. Where was the third one? A primal wail drifted from the target house and chilled him for a beat. Why the hell would anyone shed tears for Tomas Vegas? he wondered as he army-crawled toward the back of the Montenegro house. He had to get out of there before the shit hit the fan. When he was hidden from view, he jumped to his feet and leapt the chain-link fence.

Toby dropped the butt of the rifle into a Whole Foods bag he had stationed in the rear for that purpose. He held the warm barrel discreetly under his arm, close to his body, looking like he’d just gone shopping. He walked swiftly up the hill, being careful not to run, but flying with adrenaline. He tossed the bagged rifle into the rear compartment of his matte-black ragtop Jeep, covered it with a spare wetsuit, jumped in and fired up the engine.

The sound of a distant siren could be heard, along with the plaintive screams of a woman. Still puzzled by this reaction—who would cry for a drug dealer?—Toby Dirk sucked in a lungful of air, clicked on Bob Marley, cranked up the volume, and powered away from the scene of his crime.

Customer Reviews

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Dead Is Dead 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
ElKaye More than 1 year ago
As with the other books in the Jack Bertolino series, this one was a real page-turner. Lansing has a knack for creating interesting and complex characters and keeping you guessing what will happen until the very end, giving satisfying conclusions to very intense and exciting situations. This series is a must for crime thriller fans!
Kshell More than 1 year ago
Loved this Book! Grabs you from the first chapter. A smart, well written thriller. A real page turner. If you know the Jack Bertolini series you will love it, but if it's your first introduction, you will love it just as much....and will want to read the previous books! Can't wait for the next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
<p>'R.I.P. Cedric Bringham.' Is on a plaque on a coffin with a dead body inside of it. One side of the coffin is open showing him from the torso up wearing a tuxido and a ring with a skull on it on his left ring finger. His eyes and mouth are closed and his face is pale and lifless.
Laureth More than 1 year ago
After reading Dead is Dead, I was struck by the feeling that everything else John Lansing has written has lead up to this moment, this characters, these Jack Bertolino novels. With "Dead is Dead", the third book in the series, John has hit his stride as an incredible fiction writer, and can proudly take his place among the greats; Patterson, Connolly, Jance, et al. We can start any review of his work here, with this understanding. There is no doubt, John Lansing's an entertaining writer, with more than just these books to entertain the reader, and he always manages to breathe new life into the genre. Somehow, the character of the 'tough, charismatic, ex-cop turned PI' story becomes entertaining once again. Lansing's deft creation of supporting characters that one either loves or hates helps set these books apart from the usual one might expect of this genre. In "Dead is Dead" more than a couple questions about Jack's past are answered, while the main story unfolds, the information doesn't feel forced or unnatural, even for a moment. When I read "Dead is Dead", I really got lost in the story, mainly because Jack is a fascinating subject of study to me. Part of the appeal of this series to me, is the enjoyment of how Jack is changed or prompted to grow and change in each book of the series. Having been a long time fan of this kinds of suspense stories, I have long realize how hard it is for a retired cop to stay retired, and Jack is as human as any of this his peers.Stay retired and take simple PI cases? He can try. In a tradition dating from before Marlowe, the loner detective with a heart of gold, has taken on the case he probably shouldn't have. Jack is no exception. His sympathies touched, Jack goes on the hunt for the killer of a small child. His diligent search for the truth turns into a 'stay up way too late but couldn't stop reading' thrill ride. Meanwhile, in Jack's personal life, he make a large step towards resolving his long standing family conflicts and his love life sizzles as usual, as he's surrounded interesting female characters and not the stereotypical femme fatales, spunky ingénue and loyal secretary with a crush that pepper many a private investigator story. Not that I don't expect the occasional stereotype to turn up, but even those "walk on" characters, have a sense of fully developed characters. Read the series through if you can, but 'Dead is Dead' is also a great stand alone novel, as are the others in the Jack Bertolino series. You won't regret the time spent reading this series.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dead is Dead is a great read! Lansings' colorful characters once again come to life and pull on your heart strings. Bertolino engages the readers in suspense, intrigue, Hollywood glam, sex, drug wars and family drama. This book leaves you wanting more. I can't wait for the next adventure!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't wait to read about Jack Bertolino's next adventure. Loved it!
cosimo More than 1 year ago
The latest installment in the Jack Bertolino series does not disappoint. Through intricate, criss-crossing story lines, you will discover a vivid look into the drug trade and the greed that it inspires as well as the human collateral left in its wake; get a glimpse into the world of Hollywood and the dark secret one particular actress is trying to hide and see how far the depth of one family's loyalty can be tested. Jack's entanglements with each of these worlds collides into a heart-pounding adventure.
JerseyGirlBookReviews More than 1 year ago
Dead Is Dead is the third book in the Jack Bertolino Series, that transports the reader back into the seedy underworld of crime as they follow private investigator Jack Bertolino on his latest investigative adventure. Author John Lansing weaves a fast-paced crime thriller set in Los Angeles, and written in the third person narrative, that follows the dangerous quest of retired NYPD narcotics detective now private investigator Jack Bertolino as he serves as a technical advisor on a movie set, and in particular as a bodyguard for up-and-coming actress Susan Blake, who has a stalker after her. Jack is also asked to investigate the gang hit on known drug dealer Tomas Vegas, that also mistakenly took the life of six year old Maria Sanchez. Jack's investigation leads him into the seedy underworld of drug cartels and gangs in Ventura and Hollywood, where he finds himself caught up in a dangerous and deadly world that he thought he had left behind. Dead Is Dead is a riveting and realistic story that is full of intrigue, action, drama, suspense, murder, and dark humor. Jack's latest investigative adventure easily draws the reader in and keeps them captivated and turning the pages. As the reader follows Jack into the shady world of drug cartels and gangs, the multitude of plot twists and turns will keep them guessing what will happen next. Jack takes the reader on a wild ride when his dangerous adventure takes him into the upscale areas and seedy neighborhoods of various California locales. It is a seedy and gritty world of drugs, gangs, and murder ... all in the pursuit of bringing justice for the murder of an innocent little girl, while also keeping actress Susan Blake safe from a psycho cyber-stalker. With a multidimensional cast of characters who leap off the pages; gritty dialogue and vivid interactions; richly detailed description of various California locales; and a no-holds-barred storyline that keeps the reader sitting on the edge of their seats and holding their breath as the chilling trail of stalkers, gang crimes, drugs, and murders leads up to an explosive climax; Dead Is Dead is one hell of a thrilling story that you won't be able to put down, and it will leave you wanting more! Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author / publisher in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a great read...suspenseful, easy to follow, descriptive. I'm hooked on Jack and company... Please don't stop writing!
CMash More than 1 year ago
WOW!!!! I literally could not put this book down, having read it in a 24 hour period. I became a fan of John Lansing after reading Blond Cargo and The Test and Dead Is Dead did not disappoint. Matter of fact, it was exceptional!!!! Dead Is Dead is non stop, palpable, nail biting action! A definite page turner! Intriguing, thrilling, conpelling! Mr. Lansing's writing style is so descriptive that it allowed this reader to create vivid imagery. I found only one negative with this book, which is, I now have to patiently wait for Mr. Lansing's next novel. I highly recommend this read, however, plan to read it in one sitting as you won't be able to put it down!!! Bravo John Lansing!!! You did it again!!!
Deal_Sharing_Aunt More than 1 year ago
A young girl is dead! One minute she is happy playing with her doll and then she is shot and killed in her own house. Why? Just because someone has to have drugs? Jack Bertolino is a Retired Inspector who is going to find out how and why this happened. He has to try to keep everyone safe while he is trying to catch the killer or killers. This novel is full of action and suspense. You will not be able to put it down until you get to the end. I give this book a 5/5. I was given this book for a review by Partners in Crime Tours and this is my opinion.
JohnPaine More than 1 year ago
This is the third book I've read in this thriller series. Jack Bertolino, the hero, is an ex-NYC cop relocated to Los Angeles. This time he gets involved with a vicious ring of brothers and a Hollywood starlet with a twisted past. Really terrific stuff.
E. Van Lowe More than 1 year ago
Jack Bertolino is back and better than ever. Dead Is Dead is a deftly plotted page-turner of a thriller that puts author John Lansing’s Bertolino at the top of my thriller detective list along with Lee Child’s, Jack Reacher, and James Patterson’s, Alex Cross. In this, the third book in the series, Bertolino is plying his trade as a private security guard for beautiful actress, Susan Blake, the new “It Girl” in Hollywood. Susan needs private security on and off the set because of a stalker that’s followed her from New York to LA. Jack and Susan soon become an item, and as the story progresses, Bertolino discovers the stalker is also the keeper of a dark secret that could harm Susan in many ways. As intriguing as this story is, it isn’t the main story. That has been reserved for the Dirk brothers: Toby, Sean, and the charming mastermind of the bunch, Terrence. These boys are as dirty as they come, and despite their Country Club veneer, present Jack with his most cunning and murderous opponents yet. Lansing does his typical masterful work in blending together several storylines--one involving Jack’s son, Chris, and ex-wife Jeannine. This is a charming storyline that furthers the beautiful relationship between Jack and his son while giving us a fun does of Jack’s ex, who shows up at his door totally unexpected. Jack’s hands are already full with Susan’s stalker, finding a child-killer, missing drugs, and the murderous Dirk boys. The last thing he needs is an ex who just might be pushing for a reconciliation Jack doesn’t want. I won’t spoil it for you by telling any more. All I will say is map out a chunk of time for this juicy read. Once you begin, you will not want to put it down.
VicG More than 1 year ago
John Lansing in his new book, “Dead Is Dead” Book Three in the Jack Bertolino series published by Gallery Books gives us another adventure with Jack Bertolino. From the back cover: Retired Inspector Jack Bertolino gets his first taste of the erratic nature of Hollywood when A-list producer, George Litton, options one of Jack’s recent cases for a film. Jack is engaged as the film’s technical advisor, which stars It Girl Susan Blake. But more importantly, he’s on hand to keep a protective eye on Susan, who’s being harassed by a disturbing cyber-stalker. But that’s not all that starts to turn Jack’s world upside-down. When a five-year-old girl is shot dead in her family’s living room, just blocks from where the movie is being filmed, Jack realizes there are threads connecting the movie, the murder, a brutal gang of brothers, and a terrifying body count. Will Jack be able to find justice for the young girl and keep Susan safe? Or will this be his last and fatal trip to Hollywood? John Lansing has done it again which means get ready for a nail-biting, page-turning thriller which Mr. Lansing knows how to write very well. Jack is out in Hollywood for the filming of one of his cases but he gets involved with cyber-stalkers, murder and cold-blooded killers. “Dead Is Dead” is well crafted suspense. Mr. Lansing creates characters are so real that you are drawn to all of them. “Dead Is Dead” is great fun to read. I am already looking forward to the next adventure with Jack Bertolino. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Gallery Books. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"I am going to bring you back to life" she states