Speak of the Devil

Speak of the Devil

by Richard Hawke

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781588365132
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/10/2006
Series: Fritz Malone , #1
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 619,604
File size: 560 KB

About the Author

Richard Hawke lives in New York City. This is his first novel. Visit his website at www.RHawke.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

Read an Excerpt


If she had known she would be dead in another five minutes, maybe she wouldn’t have swatted her son so hard. That’s just my guess. His balloon had been drifting into my face, that was the problem. It wasn’t bugging me, but it was bugging his mother. He was a towheaded kid with a round pink face. The balloon was larger than his head. I couldn’t say one way or the other if the kid was having fun, but Mom clearly wasn’t.

“Ezra, if I have to tell you one more time.”

She seemed to be wound awfully tight for nine-thirty in the morning. But I’ve never been a parent, so I’m hardly the person to judge. Maybe the kid was an absolute handful and his actions drained his mother daily of her reservoir of patience. Maybe the reservoir wasn’t terribly deep to begin with. Or maybe the two were running late that morning and Mom hadn’t gotten her caffeine jangle for the day.

Maybe this, maybe that. Maybes all over the place. Cheaper than a dime donut, as my father used to growl.

It was a Thursday. Thanksgiving is always a Thursday, so that part is easy. Fall was playing out nice and slow. The trees in Central Park were more yellow and red than I’d seen them in years. A high, bright sun was sending down just about zero warmth through the bracingly crisp air. What they used to call apple-cider weather.

I was standing at the corner of Seventy-second and Central Park West. I wasn’t supposed to be standing there. I was supposed to be making my way up five flights of stairs in a turn-of-the-century brownstone halfway down Seventy-first, swinging my bag of bagels and whistling a happy tune. I had fetched the bagels (three poppy, three sesame) from a place on Columbus that makes them on the premises, but instead of trotting directly back to Margo’s like a good dog, I had drifted up the street, lured by the sound of crashing cymbals, and was standing on the corner dodging a white balloon and watching Mother Goose roll by. Big pointy hat. Oversize smile.

Mother Goose, that is. Not me. I was hatless. And I wasn’t smiling. When I see a gun being drawn in a crowd and it’s not attached to a cop or to someone I know and trust, generally speaking, I don’t smile.

Central Park West runs north–south. The parade runs south. Been that way since the late twenties. Back then they used to release the big balloon figures at the end of the parade. There were only a few of them, so it wasn’t as if the skies of Manhattan suddenly darkened with a flotilla of giant balloons. You couldn’t do it today. You’d have scrambled F-16 fighter jets intercepting the balloons faster than you could blink.

I was standing on the west side of the street, directly in front of the Dakota, when I saw the gun being drawn. If you’ve seen the movie Rosemary’s Baby, you’ve seen the Dakota, although they called it something different in the movie. In the book, too. Richard Nixon tried to get his suitcase in the door of the Dakota not long after he was bounced from the White House, but the residents there would have none of it. It’s that kind of place. When I think of that story, it’s actually Nixon’s wife I imagine. Poor beleaguered Pat. I imagine her standing on the sidewalk with her skinny arms crossed over her skinny chest, one of her dull practical pumps tapping irritably against the pavement. Well, Mr. I-am-not-a-crook . . . what next?

The gun was a Beretta 92F. That’s nine-millimeter. Eight and a half inches long, a fraction over two pounds. Magazine capacity of fifteen bullets. The Beretta is one of the most popular pistols these days with both police and military shooters. The guy holding this one was neither. And though it’s a good-looking gun, I didn’t suspect he was pulling it out simply so he could admire it in the morning sun.

I instinctively slapped at my left shoulder. My gun is a simple .38. Short-barreled snubbie. A simple workhorse. No fancy history. I use it in my line of work, which is private investigation. Margo calls it my associate, a little joke she picked up from her father, from when he was a private investigator and he used to call his gun his associate. This was before he took on a real associate. A junior partner. Which was me. Green, eager, fearless and, at the time, extremely pissed off.

Nothing came between my slap and my shoulder. My associate was back at Margo’s, in its holster, up on the dresser. Safety on. Facing the wall.

The guy with the Beretta was up on the low stone wall that borders the park. It was a fluke that I had a clear view of him. There was a gap between the Mother Goose float and the marching band in front of it, a high-stepping troupe of teenagers from Berlin, Maryland, and I happened to be standing where I could see right through the gap. The man was about five-eight or so. He was wearing a green windbreaker, khaki pants, sunglasses and a baseball cap. I saw him unzip his windbreaker and pull the Beretta from his belt, then take a step backward and drop off the wall, out of sight.

The white balloon drifted into my face again. The mother slapped the boy on his small arm. Very hard.

“Ezra, for the last time.”

I heard the boy begin to cry as I took off running.

As I hit the street, the shooter’s head reappeared above the stone wall. He planted his elbows on the wall and took aim. His target was clear. The easiest of all. Mother Goose.

“Get down!”

I threw my bag of bagels at the float. It hit the float just below the platform where Mother Goose was standing. I yelled again.

“Get down! Gun!”

I got her attention. The pointed hat dipped my way, a look of irritation replacing her waving-at-the-crowd smile. I saw the spark from the Beretta across the street and heard the shot a half-instant behind. Mother Goose dropped to her knees . . . and all hell broke loose.

I was still running. A chunky policeman who had been stationed on the corner not twenty feet from the shooter reacted simultaneously to the gunshot and to the sight of a loony—me—racing from the curb into the parade route, yelling and shouting. He started for me. I cried out, “Gun! Gun! Gun!” and pointed toward the wall, but the cop wasn’t hearing. He was going for his own gun. Behind him, the shooter rose calmly to his full height, swung the Beretta to the street level and fired again.

I swerved, crashing into a copper-skinned teenager holding a bass drum. More shots rang out as the drummer and I tumbled to the street. The shots continued. The drum head ripped as another of the marching band troupe—a tiny girl with a shiny alto sax—planted her foot on it. Blood was pumping onto the white bib of her uniform. Nothing had even registered yet on her face.

I got to my feet. People were scrambling for cover, though here and there were pockets of onlookers who remained frozen, unable to process. The chunky policeman was on the ground, not moving. The Mother Goose float had halted, its Styrofoam wings still flapping mechanically. The shooter might as well have been standing at a carnival shooting gallery. He was pointing and shooting, pointing and shooting, pointing and shooting. To my left, a skinny guy in a Macy’s T-shirt lifted off the ground with the force of the bullets slamming into his chest. Pop! Pop! Pop!

Hunched over, I scuttled across the pavement to the policeman. He was lying on his right side. I knelt down and shoved him onto his back. A piece of skull the size of a doorknob was gone from the right side of his head. Ignoring the gore, I unsnapped his holster and pulled out his service revolver, then ran to the near side of the float, putting it between me and the shooter. I ran along the float, flipping off the gun’s safety, and came around the rear with the gun in both hands, aimed at the stone wall.

He was gone. A squirrel was perched on the wall almost exactly where the shooter had been. Tail high. Head high. Tense and alert. I suppressed a roaring urge to blow it to bits.

I took off running. Holding the pistol down next to my leg, I crossed the street and started up the paved path that leads into the park. Some hundred or so feet in from the street, the path opens to a small plaza. There’s a decorative stone circle embedded in the walkway. The word imagine is inscribed in mosaic on the circle. The city did this after John Lennon was murdered in 1980 outside the Dakota, which was where he lived. Him they let in.

Compared to what had just transpired on the street, the plaza was eerily quiet. As usual, several kids were seated on the periphery of the imagine circle, strumming guitars and softly singing “All You Need Is Love.” A girl in an oversize army coat was arranging flowers on the pavement.

The paved path continues past the memorial into the park. Benches and bushes line the path for another thirty feet, until it comes to a small clearing.

That was where the shooter came from.

He dashed from the clearing onto the path and raced farther into the park, in the direction of the Bethesda Fountain. I chased. He turned to look back and saw me charging after him. His arms pumped even harder, and he reached the small bridge overlooking the fountain plaza. He veered left and started down the stone steps. As I approached the bridge, two police cars sped past on the roadway, their sirens shrieking out of synch. I reached the bridge and started down the steps.


The shooter was already standing at the bottom of the steps. In a wide stance. Facing me. Aiming the Beretta. Behind him, the wings of the angel in the fountain stretched majestically against the blue sky. I dropped as the gun barked, getting off three shots myself before I hit the steps. One of them took the shooter in the right shoulder, near the collarbone. The Beretta fell to the bricks as the shooter staggered backward.

I lunged, knowing the instant I did that it was the wrong thing to do. I was half running, half falling down the steps. Somewhere in the tumbling, I lost my grip on the policeman’s service revolver. Below me, the shooter was hugging his bad arm with his good, taking Frankenstein steps toward his gun. He’d reach it years before I could.

A body went flying past me down the stone steps. It was a cop. Gun drawn and shouting. A second cop grabbed me from behind and stopped my tumbling descent. It was a good strong grip.

“Fucking move, you’re fucking dead! Just freeze!”

I did. Below me, the other cop reached the wounded shooter. With a nifty sweep of a foot, he brought the shooter to the ground. Ignoring the wounded shoulder, the cop jerked the guy’s hands behind him and cuffed him. I was cuffed, too. I offered no resistance and no explanations. My cop was a tall, fierce-looking black man. His heartbeat was probably nearing two hundred blows a minute. Mine sure as hell was. Way too many engines running way too high. I relaxed into custody. There would be time to talk.

The shooter was dragged back up the steps and shoved into the back of a patrol car. My cop was joined by another one, his partner. Squatty guy shaped like a gumdrop. The gumdrop patted me down for weapons, then shoved me into the back of a second patrol car. I was separated from the front seat by a cage. The black guy got behind the wheel. Gumdrop took shotgun.

They did the next part without sirens, which surprised me. It also surprised me that they didn’t take the eastern exit out of the park, or the exit to the south. Either would have taken us away from the parade mess. Instead, the two cars rolled west to Central Park West, where at least a dozen more police cars and several ambulances were already crisscrossing the street, lights whirling. The screaming had ceased. Now it was time for the crying. The crying and the wailing. People hugging people. People staggering in a daze. Faces registering disbelief, horror, shock. Gumdrop muttered, “Jesus goddamn Christ,” as we inched our way forward.

The parade was in tatters. Band instruments were strewn all over the place. I spotted the Pink Panther far to the south, near Columbus Circle, hovering precariously above the street. The wind had kicked up, and the huge figure looked like it was being uppity, bucking and shifting against its ropes.

As we crossed Central Park West at a walker’s pace, I spotted a second balloon. This one was much smaller. A white balloon. The towheaded kid was still clutching the string. As the stretcher bearing the boy’s mother was being slid into the back of an ambulance, one of the EMS workers gathered the boy up into her arms, and the balloon drifted lightly against her face.

Ezra, for the last time . . .

The little boy released the string.


We hit Broadway and went left. I figured I was being taken to the Midtown North station on Fifty-fourth, a five-minute drive, tops, with the cherry spinning and the siren clearing the way. But the accessories remained undeployed, and as we drifted past Fifty-third, I leaned forward in the seat. “Boys. You missed the turn.”

The driver said nothing. Gumdrop half turned in his seat. “Shaddup.”

The radio crackled, and a female voice spit out a series of numbers and letters. Gumdrop glanced curiously at his partner, who nodded tersely. Gumdrop fished a headset from the glove compartment and put it on, glancing at me briefly as he leaned forward to plug it into the radio, which suddenly went silent. I placed both the cops somewhere in their early thirties, which meant I was the senior man in the car. The driver looked up in his mirror and saw that I was still leaning forward.

“Sit back.”

“Just so you know,” I said, “I’m the good guy here.”

“Sit. Back.”

I sat back. We crossed to Ninth Avenue and passed a restaurant called Zen Palate. Margo loves that place. There are three of them in the city, the closest one to her being the one on Broadway in the mid-Seventies. She’s dragged me there a couple times. I like half the stuff I’ve tried there with her. The other half tastes like cardboard.


From the Hardcover edition.

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Speak of the Devil 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This may be Richard Hawke's first book but he really scores with it. I was engrossed from the beginning to the surprise ending. Everyone should buy this book, they will not be dissapointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL holds your attention from the first paragraph through the last one. The characters are all bold and vivid. Fritz Malone, the main character has a sense of humor displayed throughout the novel. All this makes for an excellent read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading Speak of the Devil, it's already on my list of favorites for 2006. I still can't believe this is Richard Hawke's first novel! This is a great mystery with a great character. Can't wait to read more from Richard Hawke.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Are you tired of reading heavily hyped thrillers that promise much but in the end, fail to deliver? It seems that every year major publishers release a number of thrillers that are heavily promoted, have an eye-catching cover, are backed by a 'significant' marketing budget, include blurbs from famous authors, and have tons of buzz. Unfortunately, most of them fail due to bad writing, bad plotting, bad characterization, or bad dialogue. In fact, I recently read one that failed on all four counts! Richard Hawke¿s 'Speak of the Devil' is like a breath of fresh air. It has it all: great writing, a clever plot, interesting three-dimensional characters, and great dialogue. Best of all, it also has a wonderful sense of humor, something most thrillers today sorely lack. The writing is taught and the story races along to a surprising ¿ and yet perfectly in keeping with the story ¿ ending you won¿t see coming. The characters are all well drawn and interesting, especially Fritz Malone, the novel¿s protagonist. He¿s both a guy you¿d want to hang out with and the man you¿d want to hire if you were ever in need of a private investigator. If you¿re a fan of Michael Connelly, Harlan Coben, Robert Crais, Dennis Lehane, or Robert B. Parker, you¿ll love Richard Hawke¿s 'Speak of the Devil.'
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Way too many characters, titles, employment positions - so confusing I quit reading it after the first half of the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
1dachsmom More than 1 year ago
HIGHLY RECOMMEND; This author had me hooked from the 1st page. Love the main character. Looking forward to reading more of his books. Don't miss this one!!!!
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MikeS More than 1 year ago
A new mystery writer formula: Robert B. Parker + Michael Connelly = Richard Hawke. This is his first work and it has some of the intricate plot twists of Michael Connelly. The character has a humorous, sarcastic side ala Robert B. Parker. Put them together and you get an enjoyable read about a private investigator working with the NYPD to unravel a mass shooting while sorting out a cast of characters more diverse than in most novels. It didn't earn five stars in my opinion because the plot line, while entertaining, made too many jumps at the end. It seemed the author wanted to write this work in under 325 pages when using 50 more to flesh out the ending would have helped. But for a first work this was a killer of a book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the start this book grabs the reader and keeps his attention through the first several chapters. Conflicted private investigator Fritz Malone is the eyewitness to a sniper's attack on the New York City Thanksgiving Day Parade. Running on adrenaline and instincts, Malone (out for a coffee and bagels stroll without his gun) takes off after the killer into Central Park, grabbing a dead cop's gun on the way. After managing to wound the sniper (who is caught by the cops), Malone is unceremoniously arrested, thrown into the back of a patrol car with a bag placed over his head then driven to a clandestine meeting with the police commissioner and mayor. Narrating this tale in the best traditions of Sam Spade and the Continental Operative, author Richard Hawke uses Fritz Malone to paint a graphic yet droll picture of the underside of New York City law and politics. This is a fun, gripping read that would have earned five stars if not for a bit of a rushed to the end type feel for the last 30 pages. I look forward to Hawke's next venture.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Move over guys, there's a new thriller writer on the block, and he's very, very good. 'If she had known she would be dead in another five minutes maybe she wouldn't have swatted her son so hard....' How's that for an opening line grabber? That's what Hawke does, he pulls you in from the first sentence, and doesn't let go until he's good and ready. Everyone loves a parade, especially the crazy shooter at New York City's annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. Why shouldn't he love it, it's just like a shooting gallery, as Hawke notes. The maniac can pop off Mother Goose on her float, shoot a young girl marching with her band, drop a kid in a Macy's T-shirt, and do in a harried mother who has just reprimanded her son. All this until there's blood and carnage all over the place. Fritz Malone, a private investigator, is the first to spot trouble. He catches sight of a shiny black Beretta across the street. He can see clearly through a gap in the crowd - the shooter wears a green windbreaker, and Fritz sees him pull the gun from his belt. Unfortunately, Fritz's gun is at home. So, he quickly grabs the service revolver of a dead policeman and takes off after the killer. Not a very good idea. Before he knows it, police who haven't been far behind are manhandling Fritz and carting him off to the Commissioner's office. Once there he learns that someone calling himself 'Nightmare' has been threatening an attack on innocent people, and now it has happened - a parade of terror it's called. However, according to 'Nightmare' that's only the beginning - there's much worse to come unless demands are met. Officials feel they need an outsider to track this nutcase and Fritz is nominated for the job. Now, the race is on, and it's a race to the finish. Stage, screen and television actor Paul Michael gives a high voltage reading to this tale of mayhem in Manhattan. He sustains suspense with an intense yet highly listenable narrative voice that perfectly captures the chaos and the chase. - Gail Cooke
Guest More than 1 year ago
Richard Hawke's debut novel, Speak of the Devil, is a definite winner. Fans of detective series will welcome new PI, Fritz Malone, to the genre. He is witty, savvy, and so real you will wish you could meet him. The cast is chock full of interesting characters that promise great things to come. Mr. Hawke's writing flows and at the same time speaks to the reader with intelligent language. I am an avid mystery/detective reader and can't say enough about the quality of this book. I can't wait until the next one is released.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Smart-mouthed, street smart PI Fritz Malone chases a sniper after the killer opened fire on the crowd at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. When the police accidentally involve him, the Commissioner realizes Fritz knows too much, and he includes him in the secrets the city is trying to hide from the media. But, Fritz has been around long enough not to trust anyone but his own friends, including his girlfriend, Margo, and her father, the detective who trained Fritz. As Fritz digs in, his clues seem to blow up in his face. This first novel debuts a series to watch for. Speak of the Devil is an exciting, fast-paced thriller. Fans of Nero Wolfe and Robert B. Parker will enjoy the action-packed book featuring Fritz Malone.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Manhattan private detective Fritz Malone enjoys the Thanksgiving Day parade near Central Park in spite of the balloon from some kid constantly hitting him. However, his enjoyment ends when he sees some guy with a Beretta looking closely at the Mother Goose float. He warns Rebecca Gilprin who is Mother Goose in time, but the shooter turns towards Fritz firing at him and the crowd. Seven including the mother of the balloon kid and a cop are dead.------------- Police take a handcuffed bag on his head Fritz to the Municipal Building treating him like he is the killer. However, they have no choice but to release him. In spite of the media blaring ¿Parade of Terror¿ the NYPD Police Commissioner Tommy Carroll and Mayor Leavitt want to hide the truth behind the mass murder using the idea that Fritz and Rebecca are an item. They begin by warning Fritz to work with them and further inform him that he does not get credit for shooting the culprit. Fritz investigates what is going on only to learn that body parts of the deputy mayor being held prisoner is being delivered to Tommy.---------------- Speak of a fantastic detective story! Readers will fully appreciate this excellent Manhattan murder mystery. The action-packed story line never slows down from the moment that Fritz goes for a bagel and a parade until the final altercation. Fritz is a terrific protagonist who seems part hard-boiled and part sensitive soul. The support cast especially his pal Margo add depth to a great tale. Though a January release SPEAK OF THE DEVIL will be on everyone¿s short list for mystery of the year.---------- Harriet Klausner
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some readers might like to know that 'Richard Hawke' is a pseudonym for Tim Cockey, author of the popular Hitchcock Sewell mysteries. He's trying something new here, but it's *not* a debut...
Guest More than 1 year ago
Richard Hawke's debut novel, Speak of the Devil, is a definite winner. Fans of detective series will welcome new PI, Fritz Malone, to the genre. He is witty, savvy, and so real you will wish you could meet him. The cast is chock full of interesting characters that promise great things to come. Mr. Hawke's writing flows and at the same time speaks to the reader with intelligent language. I am an avid mystery/detective reader and can't say enough about the quality of this book. I can't wait until the next one is released.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Speak of the Devil draws you in with the first sentence and never lets you go until the last word is read. The character development is amazing and the story moves you along while making sure you stay in step. The characters history is clearly explained and you never tire of his daily struggle with the task of just staying alive and maintaining a semblance of life. The twist at the end was a great work of literary art and really threw me off! I wish there were more of Richard Hawke's books on the market because just one is not enough to display the author's enormous talents!