TITLE: The Clown House
When his younger brother is murdered in Phoenix but the police don't investigate, wealthy lawyer Roger Steele returns home and draws on a network of powerful old friends to conduct his own investigation, only to discover his brother was a player in the deadly world of Mexican drug cartels. But when Roger uncovers a network of Arizona officials who protect and profit from the cartels, one of his "friends" orders Roger killed and he has to rely on a member of his brother's cartel for protection.
I assume my pals are going to kill me, but so long as they don't get creative, I can live with that.
Back in town, they duct-taped me to a two-by-four, wrapped a wool blanket around me, snug as a bug, and topped everything with a coarse burlap hood that smells of sweat, sweet onions and jalapenos. Now I'm in the desert, a six-foot-two totem pole leaning against the sliding door of their old Chevy van.
I don't blame them. Business is business. Still, when the best you can hope for is your old friends finishing you off quickly, the numb resignation that conceals your raw panic is like gift-wrap on a frisky puppy--pathetically inadequate.
To my surprise, Carlos removes the hood. I shake my head like I'm exiting the shower, urging my follicles to release a few hairs to drift over to the shag carpet in the back of the van. For Debbie's sake, I want to leave behind as much DNA as possible. But Carlos thumps me upside the head with his gloved hand and says, "You want I put the hood back?"
My captors know a thing or two about evidence.
When it comes to evidence, blood beats hair, but they haven't cut me yet, so I bite my tongue hard and let the salty fluid accumulate in my cheek. The moment they remove the tape from my mouth, I'll turn and spit into the van.
Bloodsplatter--the victim's last retribution, the resourceful detective's best friend.