Third Degree: 3 Authors, 3 Novellas, One Virtual Book Tour.
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Third Degree by Ross Klavan, Tim O’Mara & Charles Salzberg
Cut Loose All Those Who Drag You Down
A crooked reporter who fronts for the mob and who’s been married eight times gets a visit from his oldest friend, a disgraced and defrocked shrink. The man is in deep trouble and it’s clear somebody is going to pay with his life.
After smuggling cigarettes, maple syrup, and coffee, Aggie discovers a much more sinister plot to exploit what some consider a precious commodity: the trafficking of under-aged children for the purposes of sex.
The Fifth Column
Months after America’s entry into World War II, a young reporter uncovers that the recently disbanded German-American Bund might still be active and is planning a number of dangerous actions on American soil.
Book Details: Third Degree
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: October 5, 2020
Number of Pages: 320
To buy Third Degree, click on any of the following links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Excerpts from Third Degree
“The Fifth Column” by Charles Salzberg
I met with the managing editor, Bob Sheldon, and then he handed me over to Jack Sanders, the chief of the metro desk. Both nice guys. Both came from the same mold that gave us Dave Barrett and Bob Doering, my Litchfield bosses. I walked out of there thinking I’d done pretty good. As much as I hated to admit it, I think they were impressed with my having gradu- ated from Yale. “We don’t get many Ivy Leaguers wanting to work here,” the managing editor said. “I’d be happy to be the first,” I replied. And that was true.
That afternoon, it was the Herald Tribune’s turn and I didn’t think went quite as well. I could tell they were looking for someone a little older, a little more experienced. And I was sure my nerves showed, not especially what you want when you’re trying to impress someone and convince them you’re the right man for the job.
That morning, as I was leaving for my interviews, my aunt asked what I’d like for dinner. “I’m sure you could use a home- cooked meal,” she said, then started to probe me for my favor- ite foods.
“No, no, no,” I said. “I’m taking you out for dinner…”
“I appreciate it, Jakey, but you really don’t have to do that.” “Are you kidding? I want to do it. And believe it or not, they actually pay me for what I do at the paper. So, I’ve got money burning a hole in my pocket and what better way to spend it than taking my favorite aunt out to dinner. Just think about where you’d like to go. And do not, under any circumstances, make it one of the local luncheonettes. If I report back to my mom that that’s where I took you, she’d disown me.”
“You choose, Jakey. After all, you’re the guest.”
I got back to my aunt’s around 3:30. She was out, so I decided to catch a quick nap. I was beat, having been up before five that morning, meaning I got maybe three fitful hours of sleep. And even the excitement of being back in the big city didn’t keep my eyelids from drooping. And I had no trouble falling asleep, despite the sound of traffic outside the window.
I was awakened by the sound of Aunt Sonia unlocking the door. I looked at the clock. It was 5:30 p.m. I got up, straightened myself out, and staggered into the living room just as she was headed to the kitchen carrying two large paper bags filled with groceries.
“Remember,” I said, “we’re going out for dinner.”
“Are you sure, Jakey,” she said as I followed close at her heels into the kitchen.
“One-hundred percent sure. Here, let me help you put those things away.” She smiled. “You won’t know where to put them,” she said as she placed both bags down on the kitchen table.
“You think with all the time I spent here as a kid I don’t know where the milk, eggs, bread, flour, and everything else goes? And even if I didn’t, I’m a reporter, remember? I think I can figure it out.”
“I’m sorry, Jakey. I guess I can’t get the little kid out of my mind. I’ll put this bag away, you put away the other.”
“So, what’s new around here, Aunt Sonia?” I asked as I ferried eggs and milk to the icebox.
“I mean, it’s not the same old Yorkville, is it?”
“I’m not sure what you mean, Jakey.”
“You do read the papers, don’t you? We’re at war with Germany, Italy, and Japan. This is Yorkville. It’s crawling with German-Americans, right?”
“I really don’t see much of a difference,” she said, stowing away the last of the groceries in the cabinet next to the stove. I got the feeling this was a subject she was not interested in dis- cussing, which made it all the more appealing to me. Maybe that accounts for my going into journalism.
“There’s got to be a little tension, doesn’t there? I mean, wasn’t there that big Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden a few years ago?”
“I don’t really pay much attention to the news, Jakey. Of course, I read everything your mother sends me that you wrote. But the news, well, it’s very upsetting.” She shook her head back and forth slowly.
“That’s putting it mildly,” I said as I pulled out a chair and sat down at the kitchen table.
“Have you decided where we’re going?” Aunt Sonia said. I could see she was still uncomfortable talking about anything having to do with the war. And then it hit me. Her son, my cousin Bobby, who was several years older than me, pushing thirty, in fact, recently enlisted and was now somewhere in Eu- rope. No wonder she was reluctant to talk about it.
“I thought the Heidelberg might be fun. I remember you taking me there as a kid. It was like one big party. I remember someone was at the piano playing these songs I’d never heard before. And this very strange music…”
She smiled. “Oom-pah music. And you were so cute. You got up and started swaying back and forth.”
My face got warm. “I don’t remember anything of the sort,” I said, embarrassed at the thought of doing something so attention-grabbing.
“You can ask your mother if you don’t believe me. But just let me change and freshen up and we’ll get going.”
“Cut Loose All Those Who Drag You Down” by Ross Klavan
There are people who don’t like to hear that I’ve been married eight times, but for myself, I don’t trust anyone who’s only been married once.
Ex-Doctor Solly had only gone to the altar a single time, but he made up for it by having an obsession with hookers and by sleeping with at least three of his patients, which is a very bad thing to do especially for a shrink, hence the “ex” in ex-doctor. Women either can’t get enough of him or they immediately sense they’re standing beside Satan and they take off. But Ex-Doctor Solly has been married this one time and that was to the last woman that I’d married and why she agreed to that, frankly, to this day, I’ve never figured out.
They’d even had a kid together. She’d never wanted kids, not with me. And Ex-Doctor Solly? To him, having a child sort of balanced out with finding a tumor who wanted toys. Maybe she had the kid to get at me. Maybe she married him to get at me. Maybe it had nothing to do with me. But here’s Ex-Doctor Solly, heaving for breath with his skinny ass in my chair and graced by the holy light of Netflix flashing across his face.
“Jesus, gimme a fucking drink already, what are you waiting for, the Messiah?”
“I only have some…”
“Fine. Wait. Hold on, wait a minute.” What’s left of my Denver edible pops open his saucer eyes; he’s turning it round and round and round. “Where’d you get this?”
“Tanya brought it back for me from…”
“Good, great, OK, easy to get more,” as the rest of the cookie is crushed into his
mouth, mercilessly, fingertips pushing, shoving. It all disappears. “ButIstill- needadrinkgivemeanythingyouhave,” he says.
“I can’t understand you, schmuck, your mouth’s so full that…”
“A DRINK!” like he’s chewing on stinging bees, forcing a swallow. “Dick! What kind of friend are you, don’t you see? This is as bad as it gets.”
I come back with his drink, fit it into his hand, and Ex-Doctor Solly then slumps and slouches and leans forward, and if he could have X-rayed the floor, he would have.
“It’s bad, Dick, really, really bad,” he says. “Not bad like all those bads before. This is, like, bad whether we say so or not.”
“I’m not lending you money.”
“Dick. I’ve killed someone.”
“NO! Wait! Did I say ‘killed someone?’ Don’t listen to me, I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’m in a manic state…”
A small plastic box of meds makes rattling sounds in his hand, and he pops two of
something, I don’t know what. Swallows with the scotch, leans back, and blows a breath like he’s doing his own, personal nor’easter. Let me also tell you this: he’s looking worse than lousy. Even worse now that he’s actually stepped into the room. Everything’s settled on him, all of it, settled on him like in his mind he’s sliding awake and open-eyed into the back of an empty hearse—and a cheap one at that.
“It’s not exactly that I killed someone,” Ex-Doctor Solly says. “It’s that I was around someone who was killed. I was with somebody who died. Some people think I’m responsible for this death. Even if I’m not, they’re gonna make me responsible. Do you see what I’m getting at?”
“No,” I say.
“Do you have any more dope?”
In the kitchen, I stare at my one surviving edible lying peacefully in the drawer, and I now hide that away after a weak moment, which means I was toying with the stupid idea of playing “good host.”
I call to Ex-Doctor Solly, “Nothing left, I’ll get you another drink.”
By the time I’m back to the ex-doctor, he’s shivering enough to make the ice in his scotch glass clatter.
“You’re not gonna puke, are you?”
“Probably later,” he says. “I’m mixing scotch with THC and two anti-anxiety medications. OK. I’m all right for…” he looks at his watch, takes his own pulse, nods professionally, and finishes, “…maybe the next three hours and 17 minutes. That’s my educated guess.”
The Authors of Third Degree
Ross Klavan has published two other noir novellas with Down and Out: “I Take Care Of Myself In Dreamland” and “Thumpgun Hitched” both in collections with Charles Salzberg and Tim O’Mara. His darkly comic novel “Schmuck” was published by Greenpoint Press in 2014. Klavan’s screenplay for the film Tigerland was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and was directed by Joel Schumacher, starring Colin Farrell.
He’s written screenplays for InterMedia, Walden Media, Miramax, Paramount, A&E and TNT. As a performer, Klavan’s voice has been heard in dozens of feature films including “Revolutionary Road,” “Sometimes in April,” “Casino,” “In and Out,” and “You Can Count On Me” as well as in numerous TV and radio commercials. In other lives, he was a reporter and anchorman for WINS Radio, RKO Network and LBC (London, England) and a member of the NYC alternative art group Four Walls. He lives in New York City.
Charles Salzberg, a former magazine journalist and nonfiction book writer, has been nominated for two Shamus Awards, for Swann’s Last Song and Second Story Man. He is the author of 5 Henry Swann novels, Devil in the Hole, called one of the best crime novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine, Second Story Man, winner of the Beverly Hills Book Award, and his novellas Twist of Fate and The Maybrick Affair, appeared in Triple Shot and Three Strikes.
His short stories have appeared in Long Island Noir (Akashic), Mystery Tribune and the crime anthology Down to the River (edited by Tim O’Mara).
He is a Founding Member of New York Writers Workshop and is on the board of MWA-NY, and PrisonWrites.
Catch Up With Charles Salzberg On: CharlesSalzberg.com, Goodreads, BookBub, Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook!
Tim O’Mara is the Barry-nominated (he didn’t win) author of the Raymond Donne mystery novels.
He’s also the editor of the short crime story anthology Down to the River, published by Down & Out Books.
Along with Smoked and Jammed, Beaned completes the Aggie Trilogy.
Catch Up With Tim O’Mara On: TimOMara.net, Goodreads, BookBub, Twitter, & Facebook!
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10/03 Showcase @ Sylv. net
10/04 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
10/04 Review @ Tome Tender
10/05 Guest post @ BooksChatter
10/07 Showcase @ The Pulp and Mystery Shelf
10/08 Showcase @ Reading A Page Turner
10/12 Showcase @ nanasbookreviews
10/15 Interview @ Blog Talk Radio
10/15 Review @ Just Reviews
10/20 Interview @ A Blue Million Books
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10/26 Review @ Quirky Cats Fat Stacks
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11/16 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
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11/30 Review @ eBook Addicts
Elena Taylor is the author of All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio book format at all your favorite on-line retailers. And don’t forget many independent bookstores can order books for you and have them shipped to your home or for curbside pickup.
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