Rita Galloway is leaving a puppet show when a stranger sprints up to her and snatches her son, Bobby, from her arms. She screams for help, and Bobby is able to wriggle out of the man’s grip, but the would-be kidnapper escapes without a trace. It would be just another ordinary Manhattan street crime if it weren’t for Rita’s estranged husband, heir to one of the wealthiest corporations in New York City. Rita’s convinced he paid to have his son kidnapped and will stop at nothing until he has the boy.
When NYPD lieutenant Marian Larch is assigned to keep an eye on Bobby, she’s not surprised when the conflict turns bloody. And when people connected with the case begin dying, she finds herself dragged into the spotlight—and worries she may be the next victim.
Full Frontal Murder is the 7th book in the Marian Larch Mysteries, but you may enjoy reading the series in any order.
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Full Frontal Murder
A Marian Larch Mystery
By Barbara Paul
MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated MediaCopyright © 1997 Barbara Paul
All rights reserved.
Marian Larch looked at the brightly wrapped box that had just been placed in her lap. "But you're the one going away," she protested. "Shouldn't I be giving you a present?"
"Open it," Kelly commanded.
The bow was lopsided; Kelly had wrapped it herself. Marian pulled off the ribbon and opened the box to find a fanny pack wrapped in silver tissue. Lovely brushed gray leather, reeking of money, so soft to the touch as to be sensuous. Three zippered pockets, not one of them deep enough to hold a gun.
"It's beautiful, Kelly," Marian said, awed. "Where did you get it?"
"Siena." Kelly Ingram had flown there to make a quickie TV movie before heading to California to make a real movie. They were sitting in TWA's VIP lounge at Kennedy, waiting for the Los Angeles flight to be announced. "Leather shops all over the place there," Kelly said, meaning Siena. "I wanted to get one of those fanny packs for myself, but they cost too much," she added straight-faced.
Marian laughed; Kelly probably had three. She was going to miss her friend. Kelly had left Hollywood seven years earlier as a former starlet going nowhere. A television series shot in New York had made her a name, and a successful Broadway play had made her an actor. Now she was headed back to La La Land in triumph to make the movie version of The Apostrophe Thief, the play that had given her stature.
"I'll probably have an entourage by the time I get back," Kelly said glumly. "It's a capital offense in Hollywood to go anywhere alone."
That was a joke Kelly was making. "What would you do with an entourage?" Marian asked, amused.
"Oh, I don't know. Pay 'em to stand around and look impressive, I guess. Isn't that what entourages are for?"
"You're asking me? I thought they were to provide moral support."
"Oh, that." Kelly dismissed the notion with a wave of her hand. Other passengers in the VIP lounge kept glancing at Kelly out of the corners of their eyes, trying not to appear impressed by the presence of this particular celebrity among them. Kelly was dressed for traveling in faded jeans, a white T-shirt, and what appeared to be a fisherman's vest. She looked like a million bucks.
"Ms Ingram?" An airline official had appeared by Kelly's armchair. "Would you like to board now?"
"Yes, thanks." Kelly and Marian both stood up. "Time for me to go, Toots."
"Don't stay any longer than you have to," Marian said.
"Don't worry about that." They followed the airlines official through a door leading to the boarding ramp. Kelly paused and said, "And I hope you catch your bad guy."
Marian sighed. "Which one?"
Kelly winked. "Whichever one you're thinking about right now." She turned and headed up the ramp.
Good exit, Marian thought. She raised her hand in response to Kelly's wave just before her friend disappeared into the connecting tunnel.
Dammit. Marian missed her already.
Kelly knew her pretty well, Marian mused as she made the drive back into Manhattan. Never completely out of her mind was whatever crime-of-the-moment was taking up most of her working hours, spending the taxpayers' money, plaguing her sleep. But at the moment she was more concerned with the gap Kelly's absence would leave in her life.
Cops rarely had friends who were not also cops. Street cops especially had trouble talking to outsiders; only other cops understood what it was like. Marian Larch had put in her time as a street cop, living with the constant tension, never knowing whether the next door she pounded on would be opened by a frightened citizen or a crazy with a shotgun. Afraid that her fear might paralyze her at the very moment she needed to act fast to save her own life. Just wearing the uniform had made her a target in some of the neighborhoods she'd had to go into. How did you explain living that kind of life without sounding like a lunatic with a death wish?
After Marian had earned her gold shield, those moments of intense fear had not disappeared — but they had become spaced further apart. As a detective, she had breathing room she'd not had as a street cop. But then a new kind of intensity had appeared, an incessant pressure to get it right. Again, it was something only other police detectives understood.
That was one reason Kelly Ingram's friendship was so precious to Marian. Kelly and her extravagant, funny, somewhat nutty world of show business had given Marian's life a perspective it had never had before. It was an odd pairing, the grimly real world of crime and the world that made make-believe enchanting and necessary. Kelly had opened a door for Marian; she'd become friendly with both Kelly's co-star and the woman who'd written the play they were filming. Now all three of them would be in California for months, and Marian's contacts with other people would all be in the field of law enforcement.
She parked in one of the diagonal spaces in front of the Midtown South Precinct stationhouse. "Morning, Lieutenant," the desk sergeant greeted her when she walked in. She went through the good-morning ritual with everyone she passed on the way to her office, knowing the respect shown her was only mouth-honor from those men who still resented taking orders from a woman. Their problem.
Dowd looked up from his desk right outside her office door. "Captain wants to see you. Toot sweet, he says."
She nodded. "And I'll want to see Buchanan and Campos when I get back." She locked her shoulder bag in the bottom drawer of her desk and headed toward Captain Murtaugh's office.
The captain was looking worried, but then he always looked worried. He'd put on a little weight over the winter that he hadn't gotten rid of yet, but he still appeared long and lanky even when sitting behind a desk. Marian knocked on the open door to get his attention.
"Ah, Marian — have a seat. Something I want you to do."
"Sure." She shut the door and sat down.
He took a swallow of coffee from the oversized mug he kept close at hand all day long. "The Galloway case. The attempted kidnapping."
Marian did a quick mental run-through of her detectives' case assignments. "Yeah, O'Toole caught that one. Little boy snatched away from his mother on the street. Mother convinced the father was behind it even though she didn't know the guy who grabbed the kid. Beat cop saw it happening and intervened. Kid safe, perp long gone."
"I want you take that one on yourself."
She was surprised. "Okay, but O'Toole can handle it."
"He could if it were an ordinary domestic squabble. But this one may have a little more involved. I just got a call from the kid's grandfather, Walter Galloway." He paused. "Galloway Industries. The Galloway Foundation. Galloway Charitable Trust."
Oh. That Galloway. "So there's more than just parental feeling involved."
"Walter Galloway thinks so. He thinks it was an attempted kidnapping for ransom. Did O'Toole turn up the connection to Galloway Industries?"
Marian frowned. "I don't know, I'll have to check. But he would in time — this just happened yesterday."
"That's the problem," the captain said. "If someone is trying to snatch the boy, we don't have a whole lot of time. Old man Galloway has hired a bodyguard for the kid, but the mother is screaming harassment and won't let the bodyguard into the house. She says the hired muscle is just a cover-up, that the boy's father is the one they have to be afraid of. It's a mess."
"And the poor little rich boy is caught square in the middle. How much money are we talking about here?"
"Enough to buy the Lower East Side out of pocket change. I want you to find out who's really behind that attempted kidnapping and forestall the next attempt, if you can. If the father checks out okay, talk Mrs. Galloway into accepting the bodyguard. But for now, put a police officer in that house."
"Right. Seventy-two hours max?" The standard period of police protection.
"Let's see what you turn up first."
Marian left in a hurry; if the grandfather was right and the child was still in danger, there was no time to waste. As she passed O'Toole's desk, she tapped the young detective on the shoulder and said, "Bring the Galloway case file into my office. Right now." He grabbed a folder and followed her.
Sergeants Campos and Buchanan were waiting for her. Buchanan, the seasoned veteran, seated facing her desk; and Campos, the angry young Latino, lounging against a file cabinet. She held a finger up. "One phone call." Marian called the Chief of Patrol's office and arranged for around-the-clock protection for the Galloway boy. She read the address out of the folder O'Toole handed her.
"What's up, Lieutenant?" Sergeant Campos asked. He'd assigned the Galloway case to O'Toole.
"A complication. O'Toole, did you know these Galloways are the Galloway Industries people?"
He cleared his throat. "I'm still running a background check."
Campos made the connection. "Ransom."
"It's a possibility," Marian said. "O'Toole, I'm going to be running the case but you're still on it."
O'Toole said, "Hey, Lieutenant, I woulda found it!"
She flapped a hand at him. "I know. But our time schedule has just been goosed up."
Sergeant Buchanan shifted his weight. "Somebody wanna fill me in?"
Campos gave him a quick run-down. "Looked like a straight domestic snatch when it came in. Husband and wife separated, both want the kid."
"Have we ruled out the husband?" Marian asked.
"Not yet," O'Toole answered. "Mrs. Galloway didn't know the perp, but the husband coulda hired himself some talent."
He shook his head. "She couldn't ID anyone. I got an APB out."
"Where's the husband staying ... oh, you've got it here. Sutton Place?"
"His father's place."
"Walter Galloway. O'Toole, I want to talk to all these Galloways. Set up appointments — the sooner the better."
"Right." He left to start phoning.
Marian turned to Buchanan. "Is Perlmutter working on anything you can't assign to someone else?"
He squinted his eyes, thinking. "Naw. You can have him."
"Good." Marian shifted mental gears and looked at the two sergeants. "You know why I called you in. The Sergeants Exam." Buchanan grunted, Campos nodded.
The Midtown South Precinct had been working one sergeant short for over a year. As lieutenant, Marian was supposed to oversee three squads of seven or eight detectives each, each one headed by a sergeant. But Campos and Buchanan had been shouldering the load by themselves, with Marian picking up as much of the overflow as she could. To add to the difficulties, Buchanan was scheduled for retirement at the end of the year. They needed not one new sergeant but two.
So when a new Sergeants Exam was announced for October, Marian had called Buchanan and Campos in and ordered them to find volunteers to take the test. "Well? Got any names for me?"
"Perlmutter," said Buchanan. "And he'll ace it."
"Good." Marian was pleased. "Who else?"
Campos grinned. "O'Toole volunteered." Buchanan grunted while Marian shook her head. O'Toole was still too green.
Buchanan scratched the side of his nose. "Dowd says he'll take the test but he won't study for it."
"Then forget Dowd." No way anyone could pass that test without studying. "Any others?"
They had three others — all three of whom had taken the test before and failed. "Perlmutter's our best bet," Campos said.
"Which still leaves us one sergeant short."
"What about your buddy down in the Ninth, Lieutenant?" Buchanan asked. "Gloria Sanchez? Is she still dead set on not taking the test?"
Marian sighed. "Don't know — I haven't bugged her about it for a while. I'll give her a call. Okay, then. Keep trying." She shooed them out.
She was at a loss to understand the reluctance of so many detectives to take the Sergeants Exam. The exam wasn't given all that often, and it was a detective's only chance for advancement. Captain Murtaugh once suggested that police detectives didn't need another failure to carry around with them; and if they didn't take the test, they couldn't fail.
And it was true, the exam did have a high failure rate. But still. Marian herself had jumped at the chance, taking the test the first time it was offered after she made detective. And passing it. She was concerned that the seeming lack of ambition in the Midtown South detectives might be a sign of early burnout.
She pulled the Galloway case file toward her and started reading, grateful for all these distractions that kept her from brooding over the fact that her closest friend was on an airplane headed away from New York.CHAPTER 2
Rita Fairchild Galloway had taken her four-year-old son Bobby to a puppet show for preschoolers at the Little Church around the Corner on Twenty-ninth. They came out around three o'clock, planning to stop somewhere for ice cream and then take a cab home. Outside the church, Mrs. Galloway had let go of Bobby's hand long enough to bend down and tie one of her shoelaces that had come undone. At that moment a man appeared "out of nowhere," snatched Bobby up under one arm, and ran.
The combined screams of mother and son had attracted the attention of a patrol car cruising the street. The cops chased the kidnapper down to Madison Square Park, where one officer jumped out of the patrol car and tackled the perp. The two men were struggling for possession of the screaming boy when the second police officer came running up. The kidnapper relinquished his hold on Bobby and fled. The second officer took off in pursuit but lost him in the crowd. Young Bobby Galloway suffered nothing worse than a scraped elbow.
But his mother was in hysterics. Rita Galloway immediately accused her estranged husband of staging the kidnap attempt and demanded that he be arrested. She said he was a ruthless man who'd stop at nothing to get what he wanted, and what he wanted was Bobby.
Mother and son had been driven to the Midtown South stationhouse, where Bobby's scraped elbow was disinfected and adorned with a Mickey Mouse Band-Aid. Rita Galloway had looked through mug shots but recognized no one. Detective O'Toole called the number Mrs. Galloway had given him and spoke to her estranged husband.
Hugh Galloway had come to the stationhouse immediately, demanding to see for himself that Bobby was all right. His wife accused him to his face of engineering the kidnapping, and the two almost came to blows. A police officer drove Rita and Bobby home.
Even though he'd looked as if he wanted to punch someone out, Hugh Galloway had stayed to answer O'Toole's questions. He denied all knowledge of the kidnapping. O'Toole had added the comment that Mr. Galloway appeared sincerely outraged by what had happened.
And that's where it rested until Hugh's father, Walter Galloway, had called Captain Murtaugh that morning. If Hugh hadn't tried to kidnap Bobby, then someone else had.
Of course Walter Galloway would not think his son capable of kidnapping, Marian mused. And of course a bitter, estranged wife would. Poor Bobby, caught in such an ugly tug-of-war; all too common a picture, unfortunately. If Hugh Galloway was indeed innocent, and if O'Toole's APB didn't bring in the wannabe kidnapper — then this one was headed straight for the dead file. Can't let that happen.
Marian put O'Toole to work finding out as much about Hugh Galloway as he could and took Detective Perlmutter with her on her interviews. Rita Galloway and Bobby lived in a four-story town house on East Seventy-fifth, until recently also the home of Hugh Galloway. A lifelong apartment dweller, Marian always felt a twinge of envy when calling on people who had an entire house to themselves. But her nesting instinct had never been strong enough to make her do anything about it.
"Money," Perlmutter said as Marian parked by a fire hydrant, the only space left on the street. "I'm going to feel like a bum again."
"Hazard of the profession." They got out of the car and started toward the building. "What do you want to bet they have a place on Long Island as well?"
"Tuxedo Park. Snootier."
"Not that we prejudge people."
"Naw, we never do that."
"Well, well — look over there." Directly across the street from the Galloway house was a parked car with a man inside busily taking pictures of them. Marian and Perlmutter strolled over to him.
She held up her badge. "Lieutenant Larch. Will you identify yourself, please?"
Excerpted from Full Frontal Murder by Barbara Paul. Copyright © 1997 Barbara Paul. Excerpted by permission of MysteriousPress.com/Open Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
The attempted abduction of a child of wealthy estranged parents becomes an urgent case for New York City police lieutenant Marian Larch when several people associated with the case turn up dead. Marian must lead the murder investigation while still watching over the child, who may still be in danger. At the same time, I have Marian exploring her relationship with her lover, Holland. Then Holland becomes a player in the case, suffering pain and humiliation -- and perhaps worse -- at the hands of a sadistic killer. Marian is forever changed by the realization of what she faces and what she might lose as she searches for the crimes' solutions. The collision of my main character's personal and professional lives makes this novel a study of a woman in a position of authority as well as a thriller.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I think it's a good book. I liked Marian Larch's peronality and attitude. I'd like to read more mysteries with her in them.