Exclusive Excerpt: The Next One Will Kill You by Neil S Plakcy

Blurb:

If Angus Green is going to make it to a second case, he’s needs to survive the first one.

Angus wants more adventure than a boring accounting job, so after graduating with his master’s degree he signs up with the FBI. He’s assigned to the Miami field office, where the caseload includes smugglers, drug runners, and gangs, but he starts out stuck behind a desk, an accountant with a badge and gun.

Struggling to raise money for his little brother’s college tuition, he enters a strip trivia contest at a local bar. But when he’s caught with his pants down by a couple of fellow agents, he worries that his extracurricular activities and his status as the only openly gay agent will crash his career. Instead, to his surprise, he’s added to an anti-terrorism task force and directed to find a missing informant.

It’s his first real case: a desperate chase to catch a gang of criminals with their tentacles in everything from medical fraud to drugs to jewel theft. With every corner in this case—from Fort Lauderdale’s gay bars to the morgue—turning to mayhem, Angus quickly learns that the only way to face a challenge is to assume that he’ll survive this one—it’s the next one that will kill him.

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Next One Will Kill You Excerpt 1

Angus Green is a newly-minted FBI agent in the Miami office, and in the opening scene of The Next One Will Kill You he’s competing in a gay strip trivia contest at his local gay bar, Lazy Dick’s, when he spots two straight agents from his office in the audience. In this scene at the office on Monday, he talks with the agents he met.

When my alarm went off at seven I didn’t feel like I’d slept at all. I was at my desk reviewing weekend surveillance reports when Roly came to my office door. “Conference room,” he said. “Now.”

Roly was a Cuban-American guy who’d been in the Miami office for a dozen years, turning down promotions to stay near his family. He was a snazzy dresser, always wearing tailored suits. He’d brought a machine into the office to make Cuban coffee and he often brought tiny cups of it he called cortaditos to meetings.

My adrenaline level shot up as I followed him down the hall. And it went through the roof when I saw the SAC in the conference room. He sat at the oval table, talking to Vito, who sat across from him.

Had the SAC vetoed my chance to help Vito and Roly when he discovered I’d taken my clothes off in order to win a measly thousand bucks?

Vito was Italian-American, a career FBI guy who had moved around the country, getting a promotion each time. Like every male agent, he wore a dark suit to work, though he often switched the standard white shirt for a pale blue or green one. He was heftier and taller than Roly, but they were both the kind of guys whose looks screamed “federal agent.”

I hadn’t mastered the FBI look yet. I bought my suits at a warehouse store and my white shirts at Sawgrass Mills, the big outlet mall. When I looked in the mirror after getting dressed, sometimes I felt like a little kid wearing an adult costume. And walking into that conference room was like being summoned to the principal’s office.

I hesitated in the doorway as Roly slid into a chair next to the SAC, a middle-aged guy, neatly trimmed hair, ordinary suit. “Come in, Agent Green. Sit down,” the SAC said, motioning to a chair next to Vito. He looked like any attorney or accountant you’d run into on the commuter trains in the northeast. “You’re working on the armored car detail, aren’t you?”

“Yes, sir,” I said as I sat.

“I’ve heard you’re doing good work there. They’re going to be sorry to lose you.”

My mouth dropped open. “You can’t fire me for taking my clothes off. I wasn’t even naked.”

The SAC’s eyebrows rose. “Nobody’s firing you,” he said. “Though you should be careful where you’ve been taking your clothes off. Roly and Vito have asked to have you transferred to a case they’re working. Any problems with that?”

I shook my head, my stomach churning and my head spinning. “No, sir.”

“Good.” He stood up. “Young agents need good mentors. You’ve got two of the best here. I expect you to learn from them.”

“Yes sir.” I waited until he had left the room to turn to Roly and Vito and say, “Now will one of you please tell me what the fuck is going on?”

“What’s going on is that you got yourself right in the middle of a tip that came in,” Vito said, leaning back in his chair so far that I worried the buttons on his white shirt might burst over his stomach.

“An interesting one that has come to a dead end,” Roly said. “We’re hoping you can use your unique talents to give us a jump start.”

I slumped back in my chair. “I thought I was getting fired.”

“Yeah, that was kind of fun to watch,” Vito said.

I glared at him. “You’re going to mentor me, you might try being nicer.”

“Niceness is not Vito’s specialty,” Roly said. “There’s a wholesale jewelry show coming up in Miami Beach in mid-October. Week from now. It’s one of the biggest in the country, and attracts buyers and sellers from around the world. Over a hundred million dollars in precious gems there.”

He shot back the cuffs on his immaculately tailored black suit and rested his forearms on the conference room table. “We had a tip that there’s a major theft in the works. Source was supposed to meet us Saturday night at that bar but he never showed.”

He slid a manila folder across the table to me. I opened it and saw a single sheet of paper inside, the contact form we filled out each time we spoke with an informant or did any investigation. “Paco?” I asked. “All you got was Paco? Isn’t that a common Spanish nickname?”

“Read the material, rookie,” Vito said.

Paco, whoever he was, had called our tip line from a number that couldn’t be traced and said that he had information on a possible breach of homeland security.

Well, he hadn’t said it in those words, but the operator had figured that out and routed his call to Roly as a member of the JTTF—the Joint Terrorism Task Force, one of nine FBI squads under the broad umbrella of counter-terrorism. The JTTF included thirty-eight participating agencies with over a hundred and fifty personnel, many of them from local law enforcement agencies detailed to work with us full-time on domestic terrorism.

Roly had taken careful notes on his conversation with Paco, who had worked for a food vendor at the Miami Beach Convention Center and knew all the back entrances and where security was stationed. He gave specific examples. “These true?” I asked, looking up.

“Would we have been waiting around at a gay bar if it wasn’t?” Vito asked.

I was still pissed about the way I’d been tricked. “I don’t know anything about your personal life.”

Vito scowled. “Watch it.”

“Boys. Play nice,” Roly warned, but there was a hint of a smile on his face.

I was being invited into a case that might be a lot more interesting than sitting behind my computer analyzing data. Time to stop acting like a child and be professional.

I continued to read. Someone had paid Paco a thousand bucks to draw a diagram of the convention center and identify all the security breaches he knew about. He didn’t know what was being planned, but he was worried they were going to do something to hurt people. That was why he had come to the FBI.

Roly had asked him a series of questions, and the end result was that it didn’t look like terrorism, but a plan to rob some of the jewelry wholesalers at the trade show. That was why Vito was involved; he worked in the Violent Crimes Unit, which handled a whole range of criminal activities, from those on the high seas—cruise ships and container ships—to theft of art, jewelry, or other high-priced items. Pretty much anything that was a violation of the Hobbes Act, which governed interstate commerce. Since the wholesalers were coming to Miami Beach from lots of different places in the US and abroad, any theft that occurred there could technically be considered a Hobbes Act case, giving the FBI jurisdiction.

“Did Paco pick Lazy Dick’s, or did you?” I asked, when I finished reading.

“He did,” Roly said. “He said he was a busboy there, and that he’d slip us the information when he was clearing our table. But after a while with no contact, we asked our waiter if Paco was there. He said Paco hadn’t showed up for work.”

“Running into you was our only piece of luck,” Vito said. “We didn’t know it was a gay bar or we would have sent you in the first place.”

So they knew I was gay, even when they hardly knew me. I hadn’t been hiding my orientation since coming to Miami, but I hadn’t been bragging about it either.

“Seriously?” I asked. “A bar in Wilton Manors. Called Lazy Dick’s. You guys had no clue the clientele would be gay? Doesn’t say much for your intelligence-gathering abilities.”

“I live in Miami,” Roly said, as if that explained it. “You tell me a bar on South Beach, sure, I wonder if it’s one of the gay ones. Vito here is the Fort Lauderdale expert.”

“I know there are gay guys in Wilton Manors,” Vito said defensively. “But I didn’t realize the bars were so, you know, segregated. We have a gay couple lives across the street from us in Cooper City. They go to the same restaurants and stores we do.”

“Be that as it may,” Roly said. “We figure if you’re a regular there, you can find out more about Paco and what’s going on than we could. You saw the way Vito and I stood out in that bar. Nobody was going to talk to us. You, though, they’ll talk to. Find Paco, and find out what he knows. Then come back and tell us, and we’ll figure out how to proceed.”

“You want me to go in there and start asking about a jewelry heist?”

“No, rookie,” Vito said, adjusting the shoulders of his plus-sized suit. “We want you to go in there and be your charming self. Chat guys up. See if Paco comes back to work, and if not, find out who he hung around with, what he might have known. And remember, intelligence is like milk. It goes sour after a couple of days.”

“When does this jewelry show take place?” I asked.

“Starts a week from Thursday,” Roly said. “So you’d better get moving. When you find anything, run it past me or Vito. We’ll be around, but this case is yours from now on. Capisce?”

“You’re not working it with me?”

“You pull us in when you need resources.”

I nearly tripped over my feet in my eagerness to get back to my desk.

 

Neil’s website:

http://www.mahubooks.com/

 

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