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In a desolate part of Brooklyn, a retired history professor plots mass murderThe withered old man speaks into a tape recorder. This is not a confession, he explains, but a presentation. He is Charles Witter Kirwan, a former academic who has lived his whole life in the same house and watched his childhood neighborhood turn from white to black. Now, stricken with terminal cancer, Kirwan has decided to fight back against his neighbors. His may be the ravings of a lunatic racist, but the dynamite in his basement is real. He is going to blow up the apartment building next door--and take some sixty African Americans with it. Private investigator John Milano is on the trail of a stolen painting when he catches wind of Kirwan's mad plan. He has forty-eight hours to stop the bombing, and to keep those innocents from following this twisted, hateful man into death.
His father humiliated, a teenage boy vows bloody revengeEvery sports fan in New York knows Al Judge, the hard-bitten reporter whose column is the scourge of gamblers, gangsters, and corrupt players across the city. Sixteen-year-old George LaMain is Judge's biggest fan--right up until the night he decides the writer has to die. George is in his father's saloon, waiting for his dad to give him his birthday present: a trip to the fights at Madison Square Garden. They are about to leave when Judge demands George's father strip and lie down on the barroom floor. George doesn't know why, but his old man does it--and Judge beats him senseless in front of the whole bar. When he's finished crying, George takes his father's gun and sets out into the night. To avenge his disgraced father, he plans to gun Al Judge down. But before he can become a killer, this birthday boy will have to grow into a man.
Investigating a crooked cop, a private detective gets too close to the caseThe investigators of the Conmy-Kirk detective agency don't work in trench coats, drink on the job, or carry pistols. They are researchers who comb newspapers and government records in search of the tiny details that could make or break their clients' fortunes. It is painstaking and unromantic, but as co-owner Murray Kirk is about to learn, those details can mean the difference between life and death. The district attorney is cracking down on corruption in the NYPD, and the search is spreading like wildfire, forcing hundreds of policemen to resign in disgrace. When Conmy-Kirk is hired to clear the name of one of the accused, Kirk finds himself falling for his client's daughter, a moral infraction that draws him deeper into the city's underworld than he ever wanted to slip. This work isn't like it is in the movies--if Murray Kirk catches a bullet, he'll stay dead.
Hired as a tutor for a madwoman's son, an American expatriate scraps to stay aliveA washed-up heavyweight with dreams of becoming a writer, Reno Davis is down to his last franc when he lands a job as a bouncer at a sprawling Paris discotheque. His first night, he saves a slumming beauty from a pair of café toughs, and she rewards him with a well-paid job tutoring her darling son. But what she really wants is a bodyguard to keep her precious baby safe from terrors real and imagined. Reno's new boss is a mental case, paranoid and delusional, whose lovers have a bad habit of dying violent deaths. But in this case, her paranoia may be justified. Protecting the boy draws Reno into an international conspiracy that stretches from Paris to Rome to the killing fields of northern Algeria. When the bullets start to fly, this ex-fighter begins to fear that he may be punching above his weight.
A grisly murder reveals the hateful secrets that lie beneath a small town's surfaceThe locals call her the Ballou. An illustrator for a high-fashion magazine, she has been the talk of the upstate town of Sutton ever since she first appeared, paying cash for one of the finest houses on Nicholas Street. Daring, gaudy, and grand, she inspires envy in the women and lust in the men. And in one member of this quiet town, she is about to inspire murder. The trouble starts when her rakish New York lover moves in full time, scandalizing the prudish Ayers family next door. When the Ayers' maid pays a social call to the Ballou, she finds her lying dead at the foot of a staircase--gray, cold, and fabulous no more. Suspicion falls on the Ayerses, whose starched exterior hides a wealth of ugly secrets. From this interlocking narrative told from the perspectives of the citizens of Sutton comes a reminder that no town is too small for murder.
I had been warned about an incipient ulcer. Right there, the insurance doctor had said, tapping me right there. Duodenal. Tensions work on it like sand-paper. Ease up.
In a quaint old restaurant, a chef relies on a devilish secret ingredient In Sbirro's restaurant, there is no electric lighting, no music, and no menu. The only sound is the contented sighs of the regulars, who come every night in hopes that Sbirro will treat them to his signature dish, the famed lamb Amirstan, which comes from a beast so rare, only Sbirro knows how to obtain it. Tonight, two diners at this spectacular relic of a forgotten age will find that lamb Amirstan costs more than they are willing to pay. "The Specialty of the House" was the first story published by Stanley Ellin, who would go on to become one of the great short fiction authors of the twentieth century. From crime to horror to grim tragedy, every story in this collection is as delectable as a cut of meat prepared by Sbirro himself.
Four desperate ex-cons attempt an audacious kidnappingJames Flood and his three partners get out of jail with a single number on their minds: $1 million, in cash, for each of them. To get it, they have a simple plan, a mixture of home invasion and kidnapping, with a brilliant twist: Their target is a wealthy family whose religion means they can't possibly fight back. Armed with enough guns and ammunition to take on an army, Flood and his men storm the house of Marcus Hayworth, the leader of a small Quaker community in upstate New York. Though the police advise Hayworth to pay whatever it takes to set his family free, he plans to retaliate using nonviolent methods. But his commitment to pacifism slips just a bit with every minute that his family remains in the sights of James Flood's gun.
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