Duke City Split

Duke City Split

by Max Austin

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A cool, calm, and collected bank robber—with two kids at home—heads a fascinating cast of characters in Duke City Split, the first in a trilogy of white-knuckle thrillers from Max Austin, for fans of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
Bud Knox isn’t your average bank robber. He’s happiest fixing a nice lunch for his wife on her lunch break or watching his two young daughters play soccer. He leaves the boldness and brawn to his partner, Mick Wyman. In the past fourteen years, they’ve hit nearly thirty banks all over the West—everywhere but “Duke City,” their hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico.
So when Mick calls him about the perfect job, Bud is less than convinced, because the target is on their own turf. But with the potential to haul in millions, Bud simply can’t say no. If they do this job right, Bud may never have to work again.
As it turns out, the heist is the easy part. Holding onto the money while evading everyone from the FBI to the Mafia to the low-life criminals who want a cut will be the hardest thing Bud Knox has ever done—and it might just cost him his life.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780553390308
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/08/2014
Series: Lawbreakers , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 251,078
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Max Austin is the pseudonym of writer Steve Brewer. He lives in Duke City (Albuquerque), New Mexico.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Bud Knox relaxed on a park bench, basking in the April sunshine, his windbreaker zipped to his chin. A placid man with thinning brown hair, Bud looked nothing at all like a bank robber.

He looked like somebody’s dad, which in fact he was. He’d brought his two daughters to this very park before, though it was miles from their home in Albuquerque’s northeastern sprawl. The girls liked the sandy playground, with its squeaky swings and plastic climbing castle. Bud enjoyed the way the old elms whispered over the cavorting children.

A shadow fell across his face, and Bud opened his eyes. Mick Wyman stood over him, backlit, much of his craggy face hidden behind wraparound sunglasses and his drooping mustache. He wore no jacket, and his denim sleeves were rolled to his elbows, exposing thick, tanned forearms.

Now this guy, Bud thought, looks like he could rob banks for a living.

Mick was a bruiser with shaggy black hair, and he could freeze a sputtering bank guard with his icy blue stare. He was thirty-nine years old now, five years younger than Bud, and they made a good team: Mick supplying the brawn, the boldness, Bud the cautious family man. Mick thrived on thrills. Bud was perfectly content to hang around the house, poring through his ever-growing library and plunking at his computer and cooking for his wife and worrying about his receding hairline. His daughters’ soccer games were all the excitement he needed.
Economic necessity regularly prodded him into action, however, and it usually was Bud who scouted the banks they robbed. This time was different. It was Mick who’d called this meeting in the park.

“Hey,” Mick said as he joined him on the slatted wooden bench. “How you been?”

“Good. You?”

“Still flush, but nothing much going on. Kinda bored, to tell you the truth.”

Mick scanned the kids squealing around the playground, their watchful parents guarding the perimeter.

“You didn’t bring the girls?” he said.

“Nah. Linda took ’em shopping at the mall.”


“Yeah, it’s the beginning of the end. Pretty soon, they’re teenagers and they want shoes that cost two hundred bucks.”

“Sounds like you’ll need extra cash.”

“Always,” Bud said. “Got a plan to get some?”

“Maybe. You’re not gonna like it, though. It’s close to home.”

“How close?”

“Right here in Duke City.”

“You know better than that, Mick. You don’t mess in your own nest.”

“I know. I was ready to turn it down right away because of that. But wait until you hear the details. I met this kid last night at Silvio’s Bar—”

“Silvio’s? I thought nobody went there but felons and freeloaders.”

Mick arched a black eyebrow above the sunglasses.

“I stop by there occasionally. Take a neon bath. Listen to the jungle drums.”

Bud snorted.

“I’d agreed to meet this kid Johnny there,” Mick said. “I know it’s him soon as he comes in the door. Spiky blond hair. Skinny jeans and loafers. They don’t get a lot of hipsters in Silvio’s.”

“Where were you?”

“At a corner table, my back to the wall. I had one of my Army .45s in my lap, in case it’s some kind of trap.”

“You mean cops?”

“Cops, somebody playing cute, I don’t know. It’s an introduction. I’m being careful. But not this kid. He sits down and spills everything right away.”

A red-haired girl chased a purple ball to within twenty feet of the men on the bench. They sat silent until she ran back toward her plump mommy.

Bud said, “They don’t mind you waving guns around at Silvio’s?”

“It was under the table. Hell, at Silvio’s, everybody’s got a gun. Except for Johnny, this talkative kid with the zits on his chin.”

“What’s his story?”

“Johnny lives near that big brown Indian casino north of town. You know which one I mean.”

Bud nodded. The Tewa Casino and Hotel was one of the biggest in New Mexico, a multilevel mud monstrosity that marked its territory in the Sandia Mountain foothills with a giant sign in glowing yellow.

“Johnny noticed that an armored truck comes down the hill from the casino every morning. He started following them.”

“They didn’t spot him?”

“He used different vehicles borrowed from this car stereo place where he works. He followed them for a couple of weeks. The armored truck takes different routes, but it always goes to the same little branch bank. A pushover.”
Bud knew better than that. Some banks were easier than others, but none were pushovers.

“Johnny says there’s only one guard on duty. The usual cameras and things, but we know how to handle those.”
“Come on, Mick—”

“Think how much cash moves through a casino on a given weekend. Think how much the truck delivers to that bank on a Monday morning.”

“They must take extra precautions,” Bud said.

“The kid says no. He says they’re hiding in plain sight. Who would move a fortune through a little bank in a strip mall?”

“He saw the delivery?”

“Several times. They keep the cash in some kind of Lucite lockbox with wheels. The guards roll it off the truck and right into the vault. The tellers count the money and put it in bags. Sometime in the afternoon, it gets picked up by the bank’s regular armored transport and taken downtown. But the vault stands open all day, tellers going in and out.”

“And there’s just one guard?”

“Three on the armored car, of course, but we’d wait for them to leave. Only one guard in the bank, staring at the ceiling, thinking how much his feet hurt.”

“This kid told you all that?”

“Everything except the name of the bank.”

“Wouldn’t be too hard to figure out,” Bud said. “What’s to keep us from following the trucks and finding the bank on our own?”

“Well, Johnny would know we did it, for one thing,” Mick said. “And he’s seen my face.”

“How did he even get on to you?”

“Bartender at Silvio’s. Bald biker named Sid Harris. Used to be in the game, till he got caught outside a bank in Santa Fe, covered in pink dye from one of those exploding money packs. He pulled ten years at Leavenworth.”
Bud coughed. Prison was his greatest fear. He’d never done time, never even been arrested. He couldn’t stand the idea of being separated from his family.

“That was years ago,” Mick said. “He’s clean now, but he keeps his ears open. The kid approached him about finding a crew. Sid mentioned it to me.”

Bud didn’t like this kind of exposure. He always insisted on banks in other states, far from their everyday lives, far from any Albuquerque lowlifes who might rat them out to cut a deal with police. It sometimes meant weeks away from home on “business trips,” living in motels, staking out banks, but he considered the distance a safety cushion.

A little boy ran past, shrieking, his arms extended like the wings of a plane. Mick hunched his shoulders against the noise. Bud, veteran parent, didn’t even flinch.

As the child dashed away, Bud said, “So if we pulled the job ourselves, Johnny would run to the cops?”

“He didn’t say that, but it would be a risk.”

“What does he want for the information? A percentage?”

“He wants an even split,” Mick said.

“A third?”

“And get this: He wants to go along on the heist. He’s never done it before, and he’s hot to lose his cherry.”

Bud frowned. He and Mick never worked with others. They had a successful system, just the two of them.

“We might need a third man this time around.” Mick grinned. “To help us carry all that cash.”

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Duke City Split 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
jayfwms More than 1 year ago
A thrill on every page as Murphy's Law works on a huge bank robbery. Greedy bystanders keep coming out of the woodwork to try for a share of the loot. You develop a certain sympathy for the pair of professional bank robbers as they are forced to deal with other criminals, a mob hit man, a greedy bank guard, an amateur partner, a lazy casino security manager, and a growing garden of corpses. It is a thrill-a-minute as the action continues in and around the City of Albuquerque. I highly recommend this book for the colorful characters, the vivid descriptions and the imaginative plot wrinkles.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the dialog and settings. I was immersed in the settings and felt like I was watching it. Enjoyed the characters' internal motives being shared and thought the predicaments were realistic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm glad it was free.Read 20 pages and quit,boring.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An overall good book.  Kept your interest.
thebookwormNJ More than 1 year ago
Duke City Split is a gritty, fast paced story about a bank heist. Main characters, and best friends, Bud and Mick have been successfully robbing banks for fourteen years. Bud is happily married, with two young daughters. His real-estate agent wife knows all about his bank robbing lifestyle and is fine with it. Bud remains a "work at home" father as a cover, robbing a banks every so often to bring in the cash. Mick is more on the gruff side, he's single and unattached. Enter a kid named Johnny Muller, who sells stereo systems for a living and is looking for a get rich quick scheme. Johnny tells these bank robbers about a job he wants to do with them. This bank has alot of cash because it holds the casino money. Mick and Bud aren't too sure at first because they always rob banks far from home to stay safe. This one is in their hometown of hometown of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The thought of millions in cash is too tempting and they pull off the heist. What to do with the money though? They are close to home and have over 3 million dollars to hide. The story then goes into how these guys can successfully not get identified over the bank robbery since it was so close to home. It takes a few more twists and turns as blackmail, the mafia, detectives and murder, all play a part. all kinds of trouble follow these three bank robbers. Agents Pam Willis and Hector Aragon are detectives trying to break the case. Guard Diego Ramirez and his wife Dolores want a cut of the cash and try blackmail to get it. The mafia gets involved because the casino money was mob related and now the mafia doesn't want people thinking they can steal from them and get away with it. Luck only lasts so long, and Bud and Mick have a slew of people after them after robbing this bank. I enjoyed Duke City Split is a quick read, this is a dialogue-driven story. Funny enough, as the story flowed and I saw what Bud and Mick were doing, I still wanted them to get away. There's a few shocking scenes here as people get killed off. ...He felt sick to his stomach. Killing had never been part of the equation before. This was murder, no two ways about it.... p.143, Duke City Split by Max Austin I did find the characters to be a bit cliched, but that didn't deter me from enjoying the story. For example, Diego Ramirez and his wife Dolores with her fake long green nails and her tacky outfits. If this book is ever made into a film, Rosie Perez all the way for that role. I like this cover, it's pretty bad-a$$ and matches the storyline well. The ending wraps everything up, but it also leaves it open for a second book as this is the first in a trilogy. Overall, Duke City Split is a good story about bank robbers and just how tangled the mess they can get themselves into can be. disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any type of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. While I receive free books from publishers and authors, such as this one, I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received my free review copy of Duke City Split courtesy of TLC Book Tours in exchange for my honest opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read!
quibecca More than 1 year ago
This book was so good. I was sucked in right at the very beginning. When Bud and his buddy Mick decide to add a "third" person to their heist in their hometown, things only go wrong. Which reminded them why they never hit in the place they lived. It was interesting to see how things connected. It was great. Bud I liked from the very beginning. Yes, he is a bank robber, but he's a nice bank robber..hehe. He seems to be a nice guy (aside from being a thief). It's so hard to like a guy you know is doing the wrong things, but he is a pretty likable guy :). His friend Mick on the other hand was such a tool. He made me so mad the whole time. None of them would be in the mess they were in if Bud had the balls to stand up to Mick. Their "third" person Johnny was dumber than dumb can be, and only caused problems. So frustrating to read. I guess that is part of what kept me reading.  When the heist is done that is when life gets really exciting for these three men. More thugs are introduced and its interesting to see how they all connect. There were times when I was like "whaaat". I love it when a book does that to me. I don't want to give anything away, but this is a great read. It's interesting, exciting, and action packed. When you get involved with robbing banks, and Casinos, the whole world gets interesting. This book brings real meaning to "don't poop where you eat"..hehe. sorry for the description..hehehe.  There are so many great characters in this book. The author did a great job of making me "feel" what was going on in the book. I found myself holding my breath at a few points in the book. I kind of laugh at myself when that happens. My husband always tells me "it's just a book". Ya, well when a book can do that to me it makes me happy. I really enjoyed the writing. Content: There is language in this book. I have a hard time saying that sometimes, because what I think is a lot of language is very different from what other people think. Source: I received this book from Random House Publishing-Alibi and Netgalley in return for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way for this review. These are my own PERSONAL thoughts on the book.(less)