More by Ross Thomas
From Edgar Award-winning author Ross Thomas comes Briarpatch, a thrilling mystery of one man’s personal mission to find justice for his family. Now, the basis for the USA Network television series executive produced by Sam Esmail, creator of Mr. Robot.
A long-distance call from his small Texas hometown on his birthday gives Benjamin Dill the news that his sister Felicity—born on the same day exactly ten years apart—has died in a car bomb explosion. She was a homicide detective who had perhaps made one enemy too many over the course of her career.
Unwilling to let local law enforcement handle the investigation, Dill arrives in town that night to begin his dogged search for his sister’s killer. What he finds is no surprise to him as he begins to unravel town secrets, because Benjamin Dill is never surprised at what awful things people will do.
Featuring an Introduction by New York Times bestselling author Lawrence Block
Edgar Award Winner for Best Novel
Ross Thomas chose the quotation from Huckleberry Finn as the text of his post World War II story as well as for the title. When Lucifer Dye is released from three months in a Hong Kong prison, debriefed, handed a false passport, a new wardrobe and a $20,000 check, his haughty control makes it clear that Dye's career with his country has been permanently terminated. But a good agent is always in demand, and just a few hours later Dye is being interviewed for a highly ingenious position. Victor Orcutt, although a not very good imitation of a British pre-war gent, has creative talents of his own. He has his sights a small southern city, with the ordinary run-of-the-mill corruption one would expect in such a place. The canny Orcott knows there's no profit in that . His creed is "To get better, it must be much worse." He and his two associates have looked up Dye's history, and he now offers the ex-spy's a mission. For two and a half times the government's bounty, Dye is to thoroughly corrupt the town. And the sly Dye takes the offer.
In Twilight at Mac's Place, the quiet death of an aged spy triggers a desperate race to control his memoirs, which threaten to reveal Cold War secrets many would prefer stayed secrets. When the spy's estranged son receives the then dizzying sum of $100,000 for all rights to the work, he is properly dizzied. He is also smart enough to seek the help of veteran Cold Warriors McCorkle and Padillo, owners of a D.C. bar called Mac's Place that is both a capital landmark and a nest of intrigue.
The twins who walk into Mac McCorkle’s bar look identical, despite their differing genders. Their names are Wanda and Walter Gothar, and from the steel in their eyes it’s apparent that their business isn’t the friendly kind. They’ve come seeking help from Mac and his partner, Padilla, an ex-CIA agent who has skulked in the world’s darkest corners. Anxious for a big payday, the twins took an assignment out of their depth, working as bodyguards for a Saudi prince who came to Washington to sign an oil deal. The job fell apart, and now the twins are being pursued by the world’s two finest killers—who take out Walter without breaking a sweat. Now Mac and Padilla are faced with a choice: Save Wanda, or join her in the grave.
Nicolae Polscaru, a three-and-a-half-foot-tall dwarf, is tossed into a Hollywood swimming pool by four drunken screenwriters, who take bets on how long he can tread water. Minor Jackson, his OSS training still fresh a year after World War II’s end, beats the bullies senseless and pulls Nicolae from the water. A friendship is born. Jackson is broke, his spying days over, and Nicolae offers him a job. A former spy himself, the globetrotting Romanian has a commission to find Kurt Oppenheimer, an expert assassin of high-ranking Nazis. Kurt won’t stop killing, no matter what the bloodshed will do to the fragile world peace, and the Soviets, the British, and the remains of the Nazi High Command all want his head. Jackson will beat them all to finding Kurt—unless his new friend betrays him first.
There are few jobs that Harvey Longmire hasn’t had. He’s been a crime reporter, Louisiana state legislator, foreign correspondent, and—briefly—a decoy for the CIA. But he made his name as campaign trail fixer, an expert in the art of exploiting an enemy’s secrets. For nearly a decade, Harvey was the sharpest man in the Beltway, but he quit in 1972, trading political dirty work for a quiet life on a farm. Now two old friends want him back in the game. A millionaire named Vullo has started a foundation to investigate conspiracies, and Harvey happens to be the expert on the most prominent case: the infamous disappearance of a man named Arch Mix. The trail is not as cold as Harvey thought. Soon he’ll either find Mix—or suffer a disappearance of his own.
As the saying goes, you can’t pick your friends. If you could, Mac McCorkle would disown Padilla. They owned a bar together in Bonn, the West German capital, and stayed partners even after Padilla’s sideline as a CIA operative got the bar blown up. Padilla was thought to be dead and erased from the CIA’s files—but now he’s back on the agency’s turf. Mac moved to Washington, DC, after the trouble in Bonn to get married and open his bar anew. His new bride is beautiful, the bar is a success, and Padilla’s reappearance threatens everything. A group of African terrorists want Padilla to assassinate the prime minister of their small sub-Saharan republic—and they’ve kidnapped Mac’s wife to use as leverage.
Philip St. Ives is the kind of man who can convince a vice cop and a paroled mobster to sit down to a hand of poker. Once he was a reporter with a daily column, a fat Rolodex, and a reputation for indifference to criminal behavior. Now he is a go-between, a professional mediator between thieves and the people they rip off. For arranging the recovery of a stolen necklace, painting, or child, St. Ives takes ten percent of the ransom. His work takes him across the globe, but more importantly, it pays his alimony. An African warrior’s shield has come to Washington, where a gang of art-minded burglars pluck it from the museum. They demand $250,000 for the return of the priceless artifact, and request that St. Ives make the hand-off. But when he goes to deliver the cash, he finds himself playing a more deadly game than five-card draw.
Philip St. Ives has no love for New York’s drafty, broken-down Adelphi Hotel, but he is in no mood to be evicted from it. His cash dwindling, he is happy to learn about a job that calls for his specific talents as a mediator between thieves and their victims. It sounds like the set-up to a bad joke: A thief, an insurance salesman, and the Library of Congress call Philip’s lawyer to ask about a stolen copy of Pliny’s Historia Naturalis. To find it, Philip will risk becoming history himself. The book was stolen on its way from the Library of Congress to California, and the detective guarding it vanished as well. Mired in snow-choked Washington, DC, St. Ives must arrange for a pair of ransoms to avoid becoming a victim of book collectors who value a nice first edition over an investigator’s life.
It’s three in the morning, and Philip St. Ives has come to the all-night Laundromat to meet a thief. His laundry bag isn’t carrying dirty clothing—it’s stuffed with $90,000 cash. But he finds his contact, Bobby Boykins, in no state to talk. Bobby has been beaten, strangled, and stuffed behind a washing machine; Philip is inspecting the corpse when the police find him. Standing in a Laundromat with a dead body and a sack full of cash, Philip learns, is a good way to get arrested. St. Ives is a go-between—a mediator between thieves and their victims—and he came to meet Bobby for the sake of a rich man who has lost his diary. If Philip can escape the Tenth Precinct, Bobby’s killer will come for him next.
American agents abduct a high-profile terrorist in broad daylight on the streets of London, subduing him with a tranquilizer. He dies a few hours later on a flight back to Washington, DC, and the body is dropped into the ocean. Hours later, the President’s brother—a political powerhouse in his own right—boards a plane to Las Vegas that doesn’t land in Nevada. Libyan radicals are at the controls, and he is their prisoner. The only man who can save him is Chubb Dunjee. A former United Nations operative with skills in every aspect of political negotiation, Chubb became famous for solving problems with well-placed bribes. Saving the President’s brother should be no trouble for him. But the Libyans don’t want a bribe. They want blood.
Two pirates do battle on an old junk ship in Singapore Harbor. They leap nimbly from deck to rigging, crossing swords like fencing masters. And then one surprises the other, slicing a rope and sending the unfortunate pirate tumbling into the bay. This is how stuntman Angelo Sacchetti dies. Edward Cauthorne was his opponent, a fellow stuntman whose career died along with Sacchetti. He’s selling used cars when two thugs approach him. They’re emissaries from Sacchetti’s godfather, a Mafia don. Sacchetti is alive after all—alive enough to be blackmailing the don—and they firmly request that Cauthorne find him. The search takes Cauthorne back to Singapore, to risk his own life for the sake of the man he thought he’d killed.
Born to a steelworker but harboring theatrical aspirations, Donald Cubbin grew up tempted by two careers. A Hollywood scout finally notices him, but Cubbin has already taken a job with the local union boss. He’s always regretted that decision—especially now. After decades climbing the ranks, Cubbin runs the show as the union’s president. An election looms, and his opponent proves to be a dangerously loose cannon. Cubbin made dozens of enemies over the years, and one has just engaged a hired killer. The fight for Cubbin’s job starts with muckraking but could end in murder.
Clinton Shartelle doesn’t seem like a good choice to run a political campaign in Albertia. For one thing, he’s American, and Albertia is a small coastal republic in Africa, about to be cut loose from the English Crown. For another, Shartelle is Southern and fiercely proud of it, and his ideas about racial politics veer unpredictably from progressive to rigidly old-fashioned. But Shartelle is the best, and the political future of Albertia is too important to be left to anyone else. If history is any indication, this first fair election will probably be the country’s last. Rich natural resources make it attractive to businessmen on both sides of the Atlantic, opening Albertia up to political corruption. For his part, Shartelle is hired to make sure that a British industrialist’s favored candidate wins the presidency. But the opposition is backed by the CIA, for whom murder is just another political tool.
Philip St. Ives loses his first job in journalism as soon as he realizes he hates the man who gave it to him. Chicago Post editor Amfred Killingsworth is a pompous blowhard, and fires his newest reporter for failing to fawn over him. St. Ives goes to New York, where he lands a daily column and the close friendship of an assortment of crooks. Killingsworth goes in a less respectable direction, becoming the US ambassador to Yugoslavia. By the time the ambassador gets himself kidnapped, the only man who can save him is his former cub reporter. The kidnappers demand the release of a Slavic poet in exchange for the ambassador, and St. Ives goes behind the Iron Curtain to arrange the hand-off. To protect a trove of ugly Washington secrets, he’ll have to save the life of a universally disliked man.
Philip St. Ives has only been in the pub a few minutes before he realizes his whiskey is drugged. Instantly sick, he’s vomiting on the sidewalk when the muggers appear. He fights as best he can in his drugged state, and only when he feels the handcuffs does he realize his assailants aren’t muggers—they’re cops. He wakes in a dingy cell to the knowledge that English Eddie Apex has pulled a fast one on him. English Eddie is not English, but talks with a British accent that once made him New York’s most refined con artist. In retirement and living in London, he had hired St. Ives—a professional mediator between crooks and their marks—to come to England to help him recover a stolen painting. The drugged whiskey won’t be the last surprise St. Ives gets in Blighty, and the police won’t be the only ones who try to cause him pain.
This is a must-read for anyone who wants to expand their understanding of spiritual warfare and catch the enthusiasm of the author in taking up their cross to follow Jesus. Great story!
I loved it!
Melissa Geno, Kingdom Warriors
I find Bob Ross Thomass book, The Two Minute Warning, a timely warning to the Church in America to truly walk in repentance and humility. From his evangelistic travels to the prophetic dreams given to him by God, I truly believe he is a watchman and must blow the trumpet of warning.
Gene Schmidt, exec vice president,
Hand pf Help Ministries
The New Testament does not give us much background on the people involved in some of the familiar stories. This book brings those characters to life by letting the reader imagine what their life might have been like.
Consider Joseph as a man wondering how he got himself into a situation where he and his pregnant wife were traveling to Bethlehem. What happened at the birth of Jesus from the perspective of another guest in the Inn? Did the jailer in Philippi have a son? If he did, how might he have viewed the events that happened while Paul was a prisoner? A Centurion had a servant who was ill. What was the relationship between the Centurion and the servant? How did the Centurion happen to get sent to Galilee?
These stories take New Testament stories as a starting place and consider a different possibility. They will challenge you to think again about the people who might have met Jesus in person.