Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn Blue

Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn Blue

by Barbara Paul

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A human lie detector sets off in search of a revolution

There are 1,500 hand grenades in Alabama’s Styx River, and none of them work. Rebels are attacking UN peacekeeping forces in Burma and Honduras, but just when the battle gets started, they find their guns don’t fire. Someone is selling defective weaponry to violent men around the globe, and the United Nations needs to find him. In a world where even the good men are liars, it will take Shelby Kent to see the truth.

Shelby is the world’s only human lie detector, a psychic who sees a buzzing red aura around anyone—including her husband—who tells a lie. Shelby is happy to use her unique powers for the sake of world peace, but she’ll find that unthinkable evil lies behind this strange scheme, and clairvoyance is no protection against a madman with a gun.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504032384
Publisher: Road
Publication date: 03/15/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 188
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Barbara Paul is the author of numerous short stories and novels in both the detective and science fiction genres. Born in Maysville, Kentucky, she went on to attend Bowling Green State University and the University of Pittsburgh, earning a PhD in theater history and criticism. She has been nominated for the Shamus Award for Best PI Short Story, and two of her novels, In-Laws and Outlaws and Kill Fee, have been adapted into television movies. After teaching at the University of Pittsburgh for a number of years, she retired to write full-time. Paul currently resides in Sacramento.

Read an Excerpt

Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn Blue

By Barbara Paul Road Integrated Media

Copyright © 1980 Barbara Paul
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5040-3238-4



Eau de prison: jailhouse disinfectant, high on the we-recognize-it-but-wish-we-didn't scent parade. The room was hot, dark, stuffy, crowded. All that was needed was bars on the windows. And windows.

Splintery chair legs. "Should have worn trousers," Shelby muttered.

"Whassay, Miz Kent?"

"Nothing. Talking to myself."

One of the other men in the room threw her an uh-huh look. The man who'd spoken was Lieutenant Nicolosi — bushy head, beer belly, Certs breath. He'd hastily introduced the others crowded into the small room — "Shelby Kent, this here's mumble-mumble-mumble-Smith-and-mumble."

Smith and one of the mumbles had made little effort to hide their skepticism. Shelby shrugged mentally and dismissed them. She'd been to Pittsburgh at Nicolosi's request before; he knew what she could do.

"Okay, we're gonna bring 'im in now," Nicolosi said, and left.

Shelby and the five police investigators looked through the one-way glass into the interrogation room. The door opened and Nicolosi and an officer Shelby didn't know entered the room with a small, swaggering man — who, Shelby's now-practiced eye told her, was terrified. Drifter and grifter, incurably self-unemployed — the type was familiar. Pale, in his forties, trying to bluster his way out of a tight spot. The police thought he knew something about the death of a Pittsburgh-based jazz musician.

Nicolosi told the pale man to sit down and then stood directly behind him, literally breathing down his neck. The other officer sat across the table and started the questioning. "All right, Loser, tell us about Tuesday night. From the beginning."

It sounded like bully-language but wasn't. The pale man's name was Loos, so of course everyone called him Loser. So of course he was. "I already toldja." Loser couldn't decide whether to snarl or whine.

"Tell us again. What time did you see Wee Willie Bascomb on Tuesday?" (Shelby had seen photos of Wee Willie Bascomb; he'd weighed three hundred pounds if he weighed an ounce.)

"I toldja — around eight o'clock, at the Oyster House. His gig at the High Tone didn't start 'til ten."

"What were you doing at the Oyster House, Loser?"

"Same thing as Wee Willie. Eatin'."

"So you sat down at the table with him. Then what?"

"Then nothin'. We ate oysters."

"How long were you there?"

"I dunno. Half hour, mebbe more."

"Where was Willie when you left?"

"In the can."

"So you skipped out and left him to pay your bill. What did Willie talk about, Loser?"

"This, that. I don't remember."

Lieutenant Nicolosi spoke for the first time. "Remember."

Loser shot a nervous glance over his shoulder at Nicolosi. "Well, he was mouthin' off about that guy runnin' the High Tone. Said he wouldn't pay to have Willie's box tuned. Willie was gonna have to foot the bill himself, and he was shit-mad about it. That's the one you oughta be talkin' to — that guy what runs the High Tone. Willie sure was mad at him."

Nicolosi: "What was Willie pushing, Loser?"

Behind the one-way glass, Shelby Kent leaned forward in her chair.

"How do I know?" Loser said nervously. "I ain't seen Willie more'n two, three times since last summer. He coulda been clean, for all I know."

Shelby sat back in her chair. The policemen in the room were all looking at her, but she kept her face blank.

"Was it H, Loser?" Nicolosi persisted. "Coke?"

"I dunno, I tell ya!" The pale little man's voice went up a key. "I don't know what Wee Willie's been into!"

"Where'd he get the stuff? And don't tell me you don't know — you were Willie's beater back in the seventies." A beater was an errand-runner, a gofer. "You were dealing for him then and you're dealing for him now."

"You're crazy!" Loser shouted. "Back in the seventies — that was marijuana, man! Thassall! I don't know nothin' about the hard stuff!"

Both Nicolosi and the other officer snorted. Nicolosi decided to let it go for the time being. "What else did you talk about, Loser? Willie didn't sit there yakking about piano tuning for half an hour."

"Uh, uh, we talked about the oysters."

"What did Willie have to say about the oysters?"

"Uh, he liked 'em, uh."

"He liked 'em."

"Yeah, he liked 'em a lot." Loser warmed to his story. "He liked 'em so much he ordered another dozen."

"Was that before or after he slipped you the dope?" the other officer asked quickly.

Loser's face became even paler. "He didn't slip me no dope!"

"Then you slipped it to him. Which way was it?"

Loser swallowed noisily. "You're crazy. Nobody slipped nothin' to nobody."

"Sure, sure. Whose little beater are you now, Loser? Who sent you to meet Willie Tuesday night?"

"Nobody sent me! I met him by accident! I didn't know he was gonna be there."

Hmm, thought Shelby Kent.

Nicolosi was leaning against the wall, his eyes half shut, listening to the other officer hammering away at the Loser. When the little man was telling his story for the third time, Nicolosi straightened up and left the interrogation room.

Inside the observation room, Nicolosi closed the door behind him and said, "Well?"

Shelby cleared her throat. "He's telling the truth when he says he doesn't know anything about any drug operation. But he was lying when he said nothing changed hands at the Oyster House. And he lied when he said no one sent him to meet Willie Tuesday night."

"Aha," grinned Nicolosi. "Something was passed — I knew it! But it wasn't dope?"

"No," said Shelby.

Nicolosi nodded. "First thing you think of with musicians, I guess." He left and went back to the interrogation room.

The other officer was taking the Loser through his story a fourth time. Nicolosi listened a few minutes and then interrupted. "Loser," he said softly, "I'd like to believe you. I really would. I'd like to believe you aren't pushing the hard stuff."

"Swear to God, Lieutenant."

"But if we're going to believe you, you're going to have to tell us what did pass between you and Wee Willie."

"Nothin'! Nothin' passed!"

"Loser, we got two eyewitnesses willing to swear in court they saw something change hands at that table. Now don't tell me you and Willie was tradin' jelly beans. What passed?"


"Two witnesses, Loser." The policeman was a better liar than his suspect.

The Loser was sweating now; his mouth worked soundlessly. "I don't know what it was. A package. Just a package."

"What was in the package?"

"I don't know! Swear to God! This guy, he give me twenty to —"

"What guy?"

"I don't know who he was — I never seen 'im before. He just come up to me and told me to take the package —"

"He just came up to you? Where?"

"On the street, man. Yeah, uh, Market Square."

"So this total stranger walks up to you on the street and hands you twenty dollars — to deliver a valuable package to Wee Willie Bascomb at the Oyster House."

"It wasn't like that — this guy knew I used to beat for Willie and —"

"Loser, Loser!" Nicolosi shook his head sadly and sat down next to the little man. "Don't you understand? You have to tell us the truth. All of it. What if there was PCP in that package? That means you're the one who'll be up on a narcotics charge."

"No," Loser squeaked. "He said it wasn't no drags."

"Who said?"

"The guy that give me the package."

"Which guy is this? Who was he, Loser? Don't you see — there's only two people know what was in that package. Wee Willie and the guy that sent you to the Oyster House. And Willie's dead, Loser. He can't help you. Somebody's going inside — and it'll have to be either you or the other guy. Now who was he, Loser?"

Loser made a strangling sound and then gasped, "Mick Colley. It was Mick Colley give me the package."

The five policemen in the observation room were all staring at Shelby Kent. Shelby returned their look coolly. First you thought I was a fake, she thought, and now you think I'm a freak. Up yours.

Whoever Mick Colley was, he was well-known to the Pittsburgh police. In the flurry of activity that followed the Loser's announcement, Lieutenant Nicolosi managed to thank Shelby for her help and find a patrolman to drive her to the Greater Pittsburgh Airport.

Where, after stopping to buy a newspaper, the world's only living lie detector boarded a plane for New York.



One, two, buckle my shoo;
Three, jour, je t'adore;
Five, six, pick up Styx;
Seven, eight, Latham Strait;
Nine, ten, whoyoucallingafathen?

Pittsburgh Press, front page:

TEGUCIGALPA (AP) — Fighting broke out yesterday near the remote village of San Pedro, Honduras, between armed insurrectionists and a contingent of United Nations peacekeeping forces stationed in Honduras.

Troops from the 44th UN Militia, stationed in Tegucigalpa under the command of Colonel Jean-Pierre Lefebvre, advanced to San Pedro in response to intelligence reports that arms and ammunition were being shipped secretly to the San Pedro area.

The fighting was intense but short-lived. After exchanging fire with UN forces for less than an hour, the surviving insurrectionists scattered throughout the jungle areas north and east of San Pedro. Casualty figures are not yet available.

Colonel Lefebvre said an investigation is being made to determine the source of the illegal arms shipments.

Editorial, page 8:

Honduras: No Hotbed of Rebellion

Yesterday's outburst of violence in the remote Central American village of San Pedro will be seen by many as a cause for alarm. Illegal arms and ammunition provided by unknown suppliers were turned against United Nations peacekeeping forces stationed in Honduras. Concerned persons may see a connection between yesterday's violence and a similar incident in Burma two months ago.

We have not had an international militia long enough for the peoples of this planet to feel full confidence in their newly formed global army. Its strength and stability have yet to be tested. Perhaps we are undergoing our first test now.

Not a test of military strength, but of moral courage. Uncertainty about an international military force can easily develop into paranoia if we allow ourselves to believe that opposition to the UN Militia is worldwide, organized, and dangerous.

This simply is not the case. There will always be pockets of political discontent in the world; this is a fact of human nature we have to live with. There will always be some who love rebellion for its own sake rather than for any social good it might ultimately accomplish — not to mention the personal gratifications rebels find in acts of defiance. Satan, remember, rebelled against God not because he thought the divine order was wrong but because he wanted to be Numero Uno.

What happened in Honduras was a knee-jerk reaction. And in Burma — two isolated incidents of nastiness. The danger lies not so much in the military threat such mini-uprisings pose, but in the psychological damage they can inflict.

Any big action provokes a reaction. The uniting of the world's military resources is one of the biggest single actions mankind has ever taken. We should have expected what happened in Honduras. And we shouldn't be too surprised if it happens again, in some other place at some other time.

Page 28:

MOBILE (AP) — Fifteen hundred defective World War II hand grenades were recently dumped into the Styx River in Alabama, according to Baldwin County Sheriff James Comer.

Recovery operations near the little town of Seminole, Alabama, began when two boys reported seeing a truck pull up to the bank of the Styx about midnight March 15. Sammy Turner and Billy Joe Welch said they were night fishing when four men began to unload large wooden crates from the truck and dump them into the river.

All the grenades examined were fitted with defective firing pins and were of the "pineapple" type issued by the U. S. Army during the Second World War. "Didn't know any of those were still around," Sheriff Comer commented.

The old-style metal casing of the pineapple grenade was scored to break into forty chunks of iron on detonation. After World War II the pineapple was replaced by the M-26 hand grenade, designed to throw hundreds of tiny fragments of wire.

Both types of hand-thrown fragmentation grenades are now obsolete. UN Militiamen are equipped with chemical grenades (incendiary and tear gas) and rifle-launched antitank grenades.

The Styx River where the grenades were found is named after the mythological stream said to flow through Hades. This small southern river at one point marks the boundary between Alabama and Florida, leading to much local humor about which side of the river is supposed to be the netherworld.



Q: What's nu?

A: Energy divided by Planck's constant.

"How did it go?" Eric asked. "Did you catch the bad guys?"

"I don't know," Shelby said tiredly as she dropped to the sofa. "They hustled me out once the suspect named a name they all wanted to hear."

"So it was a wasted trip?"

Shelby shot an irritated glance at her husband. "No, I didn't say that. I told the police when their suspect was lying, and from that they were able to get their lead. I earned my fee."

The corners of Eric's mouth lifted slightly. "I'm sure you did, dear."

Shelby pressed her lips together and said nothing. Eric was one of those people who could make a term of endearment sound patronizing — his way of reminding her he wasn't exactly delighted with her growing reputation among the various police forces of the nation. Over and over he'd urged her to use her special gift with discretion. But whenever she'd tried to pin him down as to what he meant by "discretion," he'd ended up hinting she should keep her lie-detecting abilities secret altogether.

"Did Tee call?" she asked.

"I don't know, I just got in myself."

Shelby thought about calling her sister but couldn't summon up the energy. Why should one quick trip to Pittsburgh make her so tired? Eric was on the phone anyway, calling the neighborhood deli; Shelby was vaguely glad he'd taken the initiative. "Kosher okay?" he asked.

"Of course," she answered.

When he'd hung up, he started out of the room but abruptly turned back. He bent over the sofa and kissed her lightly. "I can see you're tired," he said in his nice-Eric voice. "Put your feet up and take it easy. I'm going to take a shower." He switched on the television for her before he left.

A singing commercial urged Shelby to be sure to take all her income tax deductions. "Dew it for the wahhns yew luh-huv," the singers intoned. "Go awn — dew it."

The adenoidal singers gave way to a newscaster who acted beautifully his role of well-informed and deeply concerned Purveyor of Truth. He gazed sincerely into the camera lens as he explained the American government's latest inflationary counter-spiral program. Shelby drifted in and out of sleep.

And came fully awake. The newscaster was saying:

... that the Honduran uprising failed because virtually all the weapons carried by the rebels were defective. The Hondurans were armed with lightweight .30 caliber carbines. These carbines are shortened infantry rifles first introduced by the U. S. Army during World War II and which have long since been superseded by more effective weapons such as the M-16 rifles. Almost all the carbines recovered from the Honduran insurrectionists had faulty spring mechanisms that prevented the rifles from firing. UN Intelligence is currently attempting to trace the source of these obsolete weapons.

In Washington today ...

Something teased at Shelby's memory as Eric came back in from his shower. Then she remembered. "Eric, that's the second time today — hm, you smell good — that there's been something in the news about defective weapons. Somebody dumped a bunch of useless grenades in some little southern river just a few days ago."

"Oh, really?" Not interested.

"But the strange thing is that both times the weapons were obsolete. Dating from the Second World War. Where have they been all this time? Why would anyone hold on to defective old weapons?"

"Who knows? Life is just full of little mysteries."


Excerpted from Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn Blue by Barbara Paul. Copyright © 1980 Barbara Paul. Excerpted by permission of 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.

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Liars and Tyrants and People Who Turn Blue 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
readinggeek451 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Shelby Kent is a human lie detector. Although it causes problems in her personal life, she is of great service to the police. When a United Nations task force recruits her to aid in hearings, her life gets even more complicated.Loads of fun.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She reads blue auras when people are lying. Working with the Police has made her skill known and her husband leaves her , changes jobs and moves to the west coast because his co-workers made fun of him. She then becomes involved in an investigation at the United Nations, becomes more well known, and is almost killed.