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Resurrection Mall

Resurrection Mall

by Dana King


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As if things aren’t bad enough in Penns River, development and funding of a new religious-themed mall grinds to a halt when heavily-armed assassins cut down five leaders of the town’s fledgling drug trade while eating lunch in the food court. The television minister behind the mall has associates not normally associated with a ministry, outside drug gangs may be muscling into town, and the local mob boss could have an angle of his own. The cops have this and all the usual local activity to contend with in a story that extends beyond the borders of Penns River.


“Dana King’s Resurrection Mall is a patchwork of desperation from a depressed river town written with genuine style and grit.” ›Reed Farrel Coleman, New York Times bestselling author of What You Break

“Another thoughtful, taut, suspense filled novel from one of America’s best new writers, the great Dana King.” ›Adrian McKinty, author of the Sean Duffy trilogies

Resurrection Mall is a brilliant crime novel that deserves to win every award in sight. One of the best of the year.” ›Tim Hallinan, author of the Poke Rafferty, Junior Bender, and Simeon Grist mystery series

“Dana King’s Resurrection Mall draws you in from the beginning, like sipping a fine single malt that opens wonderfully in the glass and you have to keep sipping until the end. King has a skillful grasp on character and dialogue, and that, along with his rock-solid police procedure, makes for a gripping, authentic read. I am a big fan of the Penn River series, and I want more.” ›David Swinson, author of The Second Girl

“Along with Worst Enemies and Grind Joint, Resurrection Mall elevates Dana King’s masterful Penns River crime series into the best hard-nosed police procedural since TV’s The Wire. Fun, gripping and thought-provoking, this third entry firmly plants ace Detective Ben ’Doc’ Dougherty in the ring with heavyweight crime-stoppers Elvis Cole, Alex Cross and Jack Reacher. All of King’s characters burst with no-nonsense, rural Pennsylvania life, but the author dives deepest into the most realistic and engaging crew of municipal cops I’ve encountered since Joseph Wambaugh. Don’t miss it!” ›Jack Getze, author and Fiction Editor for Spinetingler Magazine

“Complex characters, smooth dialogue and a hell of a plot make this one a winner. Rest easy, Ross Macdonald. The torch has been passed.” ›Terrence McCauley, author of Sympathy for the Devil and A Murder of Crows

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781943402656
Publisher: Down & Out Books II, LLC
Publication date: 04/17/2017
Pages: 396
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.88(d)

Read an Excerpt

Resurrection Mall

A Penns River Crime Novel

By Dana King

Down & Out Books

Copyright © 2017 Dana King
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-943402-65-6


A lot colder at midnight than when Greg Twardzik pulled into the Allegheny Casino lot at a quarter to eight. Greg shoved his hands into his coat pockets and hoped his gloves were in the car. The breeze drilled a small hole dead center of his forehead, the hairs in his nose freezing together. It smelled cold, like when he re-stocked the ice cream freezer at Giant Eagle.

Tonight Greg's monthly run to the Allegheny. A true grind joint: slots and a bar, shitty restaurant. The unofficial slogan: Give us your money and get the fuck out. Greg saved his spare change each month the way geezers saved stale bread, except Greg fed the slots instead of pigeons. "Spare change" had an expansive definition in Greg's mind. Stop at Sooki's for a beer; beer cost two and a quarter; pay with a five. Tip Frankie a quarter, the other two-fifty is spare change. Next beer, another five. Take the kids to McDonald's on his weekend with them, pay for twelve bucks worth of food with a twenty: eight bucks spare change. Saved up ninety-two seventy-five in January, rounded to a hundred.

He'd come out the wrong door. Again. All the exits looked alike to Greg from inside. He'd get turned around looking for a promising slot, lose track of where he came in by the second scotch. He at least remembered parking his Pontiac looking straight across Leechburg Road at Wendy's. Came out on the Rabbit's Foot side, by the big fences with ivy or kudzu or whatever growing on them, a barrier between the casino and the residential neighborhood butting up against it. He should have taken the Horseshoe exit. Now he had to walk halfway around the building to get there.

The night started well. Hit for about fifty bucks half an hour in. The plan had been to put the fifty in his pocket and play until the hundred he came with was gone; go home with the winnings. A loser's mentality so early in the night. A jackpot that fast, there had to be more. There were two. Eight bucks within half an hour — big night brewing — then sixteen at eleven o'clock, about the time he started to wonder how much he had left. Hit the cash machine on his way to get the third drink and took out fifty — no, a hundred; still had twenty in his pocket. So he came with one hundred dollars, won seventy-four he should have stashed away. Lost the original hundred plus eighty from the ATM to go down one-eighty, not counting the seventy-four of house money he'd blown, which shouldn't count, it not being his money. At least he had a good time.

He found the aisle facing Wendy's, started walking. His car should be on the right, about three-quarters of the way back. Halfway there he still didn't see it. Probably blocked by the Ford Expedition he'd had to squeeze past, left wheels dead on the line. It wasn't.

Must be the wrong row, but how many of those big goddamn Expeditions could there be in this part of the lot? Greg turned his back on the Ford to face perpendicular to the line running from the casino to Wendy's, capture his bearings. Pointed at Wendy's and blinked his eyes. He'd nibbled the fourth drink, hearing rumors the local cops were cracking down on drunk driving. Coffee not a bad idea, once he found the car. He turned with great care and pointed at the Horseshoe entrance. It occurred to him the Expedition he'd parked next to might have left, and he was looking at a different one. He'd been careful to line himself up on Wendy's and the casino entrance, could be off a little after five drinks.

Tried a row to his left, then a row to his right. Freezing his ass off, he recalled something else he'd heard standing at the bar waiting for the sixth drink, one for the road. Paid attention to the barmaid who told him to be careful about the DUIs — paying attention to her tits more than what she said — a guy to his right bitching about cars stolen out of the casino lot. Greg almost asked, thought why would the guy still come if he thought cars were being stolen?

Focused now, expanding his search with each circuit. Trying the aisle he thought, then one on either side, then two on either side until he realized the guy at the bar wasn't some jagov blowing smoke. Cars were being stolen out of the Allegheny Casino lot, and Greg's was one of them.


Ben Dougherty pushed back from the kitchen table. "Enough. Mom, that was great."

Ellen Dougherty smiled. "There's plenty to take home. I'll pack you a bum bag when I clean up in here."

Some things never changed. Doc — only his family called him Ben, or Benny — in his late thirties, still came home for Sunday dinner. Sat in the same place as when he'd lived there. Ellen sat closest to the sink and stove, ready to spring into action if anyone looked like they might be thinking about wanting anything. Tom sat across from her, turned his head one-eighty to see the television in the living room, like he'd done for almost forty years.

"Bum bags" an echo of Ellen's mother, who never let her grandchildren go home without a poke containing at least a couple of apples and a Hershey bar. A phrase coined during the Depression, when she'd given bum bags to people worse off than her. At least she did until her husband lost his job at Scaife's and it became all they could do to keep from asking other families for handouts.

"What else can I get you?" Ellen still cleared the table like the waitress she'd been. Tom pulled a half-empty dish of cucumbers and sour cream closer to his plate. He'd miscalculated and not finished before Ellen started cleaning. The rest of his meal would be a competition.

"I haven't even started digesting what I just ate, Mom. I have no idea what I want next. A nap, maybe."

"I heard Dickie Laverty had his house broke into this week." Tom stabbed the last two slices of cucumber, pushed the dish into Ellen's sphere of influence. Wrapped a finger along the edge of his dinner plate, where scraps of roast beef and mashed potatoes remained.

"His shed," Doc said. "Took his lawn mower, snow blower, leaf blower, chain saw. All the outdoor power tools." Doc knew, being a Penns River police detective.

"Anything you can do about it?"

"We took the report. Poked around." Tom looked up from his plate, piece of roast hanging from his fork. Doc said, "What would you like us to do? Someone takes his stuff out of town and sells it? Hell, someone sells it in town. Even if he recognizes it, can he prove it's his?"

"He knows what his riding mower looks like. He just bought it last spring."

"Did he write down the serial number? He can't take us up to some guy's house, point to a mower and say, 'that's mine,' and expect us to take it back and haul the other guy off to jail."

Tom chewed, unsatisfied. "You can do something. People shouldn't have to worry about having their things taken like that."

"I'm open to suggestions. I'm one of the guys who has to tell these people there's nothing we can do for them except write an insurance report. Town this size, half the people who've been robbed know a cop. We still can't help them. Doesn't mean we like it."

Ellen scraped and rinsed. Doc snatched a stray piece of Syrian bread from a plate destined for sterilization. Tom chewed and drank ice tea, said, "Seems to me there's a hell of a lot more of it than there used to be."

"I don't know if there's a hell of a lot more." Doc munched the bread without anything on it. "Be honest. You only care because Dickie lives practically across the street."

"There's a hell of a lot more around here," Tom said. "This used to be a quiet neighborhood. I can't remember the last time we had a break-in. Now we've had three in the past few months. I don't mean to pick on you. Someone has to do something, and you're the police."

"Three in three months after none in — what? — five years? That's only three in the past five years," Doc said.

"I'm making a point," Tom said. "Don't cover it up with statistics."

"You're right," Doc said. "I shouldn't've done that. Still, three in three months? What you call a neighborhood runs down past the ball fields and up over the hill where the dairy farm used to be. That covers a lot of territory. They get that many in three weeks down the Flats. Twice that downtown."

"Yeah, but — I don't know — this has never been that kind of neighborhood."

"And it probably still isn't. Three in three months might be the law of averages catching up. Might be five more years till the next one."

"You think so?"

"No. Not unless we catch the guy."

"So what's the answer?" Tom said. "I got a lot of stuff in my shed. Most of it's old, which means I can't replace it with what insurance will pay."

"You really worried?"

"Shouldn't I be?"

The answer required diplomacy. "I can't say you should. Can't say you shouldn't, either." Tom's valuable equipment stored either in the garage attached to the house or in a shed thirty feet away. A motion-sensitive light on the house illuminated the shed's entrance. Neighbors knew Tom kept a .22 carbine handy to shoot coons and other varmints rifling his trash can. On the other hand, Doc did not want to face his father if he said not to worry and anything happened. "If you want, I know a guy can fix you up with a little siren, car alarm sort of thing. We can wire it into the shed door for you."

"No one should have to do all that." Ellen lingered on the periphery of all conversations, commented when she felt the need. "People aren't safe anymore."

"Don't get carried away," Doc said.

"Property crime is up. Things get stolen. It's not like people aren't safe in their homes.

"We don't know that," Tom said. "Not with people's houses getting broken into."

"You know," Doc said. "I just told you. I'm kind of an authority on crime in Penns River. All the break-ins have either been outbuildings, or when no one's home."

"So what's Stush doing about it?"

"What he can." Stanley "Stush" Napierkowski the chief of police and a Dougherty family friend since before Doc's existence. The only person not a blood relative who could call him "Benny" and get away with it. Part of the reason Doc came back to The River after nine years as an MP was to work with his "Uncle Stush." "Christ, Dad, you've lived here all your life. If we put every cop on the force on duty, we'd have about one per square mile. That spreads a zone defense pretty thin. What would you like us to do?"

Tom didn't have an answer. Doc knew he wouldn't and didn't like throwing down gauntlets. He also didn't like defending the indefensible when it wasn't his fault.

Tom said, "Well, then we need more cops."

Getting serious now. Complaining about the number and expense of government employees Tom's favorite topic, in a virtual tie with the Steelers' running game and the government in Washington. Doc couldn't help himself. "Cops are city employees, you know. It'll cost you."

"Why the hell should it cost me? We only have this crime because of the casino, and we only got the goddamn thing so it would cut our taxes."

"If it makes you feel any better, the casino's not crazy about us, either."

"Why not?"

"They got two or three cars a week going missing from their lot."

Tom brought his right hand into its "making a point" position, index finger extended. Pulled it back. "You're telling me the casino can't get good police service, either? Where's all the money going they're supposed to bring into town?"

"Ask the mayor next time you have a zoning meeting," Doc said. "Let me know what he says."

"Aw, hell. I did. Last time. About why we can't get this street plowed and salted like we used to."

"What'd he say?"

Tom took a beat. "I got the runaround. He talked for five minutes and it all made sense until I got in the car and couldn't remember what the hell he said."

"The mayor's good like that.'

"He's up against it. Town's not set up for what's happened the last ten years. He's doing the best he can."

"He sure did the best he could to get Danny Hecker the green light to build the casino."

"You can't fault him. Everyone wanted it. Town needs the money."

"Last I heard we don't get much more in property tax than when we had a deserted building there, and most of the people who work there don't live here. It wasn't supposed to be that way, but Hecker drives a hard bargain and Chet Hensarling isn't exactly a master negotiator." The most charitable explanation Doc had, not wanting to discuss what else might have been involved to get the casino in Penns River and not some other town as bad off. "A lot of this always comes along with an operation like a casino. Gamblers aren't model citizens."

"It's regular people going in there, not gamblers. All they have are slot machines."

"You been in there?"

"Hell, no. You know I don't gamble."

Doc let that sit, not so long it would stink. "Sixty-something year-old women in there grabbing two-four-six slot machines in a row, dropping quarters in them like Martians are in Natrona. I saw a guy didn't know his way around sit at one while some old biddy collected at the other end of the line. I almost had to drag the bitch off him. These people drink too much, they're more inclined to use recreational drugs, and there are always things like loan businesses and hookers around them."

"No one said anything about that."

"Some people did." The conversation sinking fast and Doc didn't want to go home with a bad taste in anyone's mouth. "It is what it is. We'll get a handle on it."

He turned to his mother without coming up for air. "Hey, Mom. I saw the other day Golden Dawn has chipped ham on sale, I think through Wednesday or Thursday. Isn't that where you like how they slice it best?"

"Oh, yeah. They cut it just right. It's out of the way to go there —" three miles, not in the same direction as her other shopping —"but it's worth a trip if it's on sale. You want some?"

"I got some. I would've got a couple pounds for you, but I didn't know how much you had and I know you don't like to let it sit too long in the freezer."

"If you see it again, call and I'll tell you if we need any."

"I did. You weren't home. Probably out cruising one of your doctors."

"You leave a message?" Tom always worried the message machine didn't work. His greeting sounded like someone held a gun to his head, told him to act natural.

"No. You never call me back, anyway. I knew I'd be over."

Tom breathed like he might say something, let it out. He didn't often call back. Not out of a lack of consideration. He'd forget to look at the machine. Part of Doc's Sunday routine included checking for calls since his last visit.

"Hey," Tom said, "you know anything about what's going into the old shopping center by the bridge downtown?" "Downtown" a relative and nostalgic term in Penns River, ninety percent of the businesses vacant. "What are they calling it? Resurrection Mall?"

"They asked what we can do to keep some of the vagrants and druggies away while they get renovated and open for business. They seem all right. Why do you ask?"

"No reason. Just wondering."

"I wish they'd put it someplace else," Ellen said.

"How come?" Doc said.

"I don't want all those holy rollers right here in town. I hear they're going to put one of those TV churches in. Make the whole town a big joke."

"That mall could put more locals to work than the casino."

"Let's hope you're right about doing some good," Tom said. "I wonder about the kind of people it will attract, is all."

Compared to what? Doc thought, held it. He'd dodged the first bullet, saw no need to double back into the line of fire. Let the conversation drift to less controversial topics. Tom noted snow in the forecast for Tuesday night or Wednesday morning. Ellen said they'd better get to Golden Dawn early on Tuesday. Tom expressed his belief — again — about how the Steelers needed to address their offensive line in the draft, over two months away. Doc went home with half a pound of roast beef and sufficient mashed potatoes and creamed peas for two meals. A typical Sunday at the Doughertys.


Christian Love — birth name Alfonsus Tate — would have appreciated Doc's defense of him and his plans for Resurrection Mall. He'd broadcast services on cable access in Pittsburgh almost ten years, with outlets as far west as Wheeling and south to Morgantown. Time to grow, and Love's Resurrection Bible Church lacked the resources to expand in place.

Enter Allegheny Casino.

Self-defined real estate tycoon Daniel Hecker finagled a casino license from the crumbs left over after the Commonwealth gave priority to people who knew what they were doing. He needed a location outside of Pittsburgh; Penns River was perfect. Less than twenty miles up the Allegheny, begging for someone to take over the shell of an abandoned shopping center. Hecker cut himself a better deal than casinos expected, even in depressed areas. Didn't recognize the smell of Russian mob on one of his partners. Hard to fault Hecker; the Gaming Commission missed it, too. The opening got more publicity than Hecker dreamed of when bodies started dropping: a drug dealer, a small-time crook and informant, four Russian mobsters, and almost the Dougherty family.


Excerpted from Resurrection Mall by Dana King. Copyright © 2017 Dana King. Excerpted by permission of Down & Out Books.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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