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NEW: Deadly Thrillers Series, Book 1

When Venus Rules

Is it a serial killer the FBI is hunting, a deadly and twisted blackmail plot, or something more sinister at work? Murder is never simple.

A rash of suicides among the wealthy elite in Manhattan goes unnoticed until a private investigator who was looking into one of the suicides ends up dead. Convinced there is something criminal going on, Detective Mike Stanton begins digging into the deaths and finds a mysterious young woman at the center of it all.

Without the NYPD to help him, Mike must figure it out on his own before he himself is ensnared.

When Venus Rules is a compelling, dark tale that explores obsession and the harrowing depths to which men fall when under its spell.

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PROLOGUE

The holiday season had been a bad one for the police in New York City. The crime rates had already been rising thanks to several policies that hamstrung the police, and now there was a rash of high profile suicides among upper class men in Manhattan making headlines. A new series of attacks on members of the Jewish community had been especially shocking. So much for a time of peace and goodwill toward all men. To make matters worse, an ambitious reporter with a friend somewhere in the police department was penning editorials blaming the police for failing to protect the public. Community leaders were calling for action, while the police felt like their hands were tied.

The police chief was on the rampage to shut down the leak, but so far had no luck. The word had come down from 1PP to the ranks that response times were to be immediately cut by a full one third and that no 9-1-1 calls were to be overlooked. It was a herculean task for a force of thirty-five thousand officers serving a city of eight million people.

So far it was a relatively quiet Saturday night, but everyone was on edge. When the call hit the 9-1-1 switchboard at the Midtown North Precinct, the comm tech immediately patched it into the emergency service unit for response.

“Please repeat that, sir.”

“There’s a man with a gun. I just saw him drag a woman into his apartment. I heard a scream.” The caller paused, knowing what came next. “It’s the Mayfair Building, Apartment 4C. The address is 342 West 49th Street. He is armed and dangerous. He was waving the gun around. Hurry, he’s crazy.”

“What is your name, sir? Sir?”

With that, Jake Collander ended the call and gently set the cell phone down on the varnished wood table in front of him next to a pack of Marlboro reds, a large ashtray filled with spent butts, and a shiny stainless steel revolver. He had gotten it out of the lock box he kept in the closet. He had bought it on a whim at a gun show. It was much bigger than the one he usually carried, but he wanted there to be no mistakes in this, his final act. He exhaled loudly as if he had been holding his breath, opened his laptop, and continued to type. After a few minutes he stopped. It was done. Nodding and feeling satisfied, Collander closed the laptop and sat back, waiting for the final events of the evening. While he waited, he pulled out another cigarette, seeing it was his last. Time to quit, he thought. These things could kill you. He smiled at the irony.

He opened the thin worn leather wallet that sat next to his gun. The identification card inside the plastic window read Jake Collander, Private Investigator. The prominent gold star in the top flap had been cut out of a Guns and Ammo magazine featuring sheriffs and their preferred weapons. He tried to remember which sheriff’s badge he had used, but couldn’t. No matter, it had served its purpose.

Collander had gotten the nickname Jake years ago when his police captain treated the homicide squad to a double feature of the movies Chinatown and The Two Jakes. It was right after they closed a tough case. Jake was no Jack Nicholson, but he was flattered by the comparison, and the name had stuck.

Although Jake had imagined what would soon happen with great detail and clarity, he had not written anything down because it was yet to happen. He had never been a superstitious man, but in this case he was taking no chances. This nightmare must end for him, and he didn’t want to jinx it. He struck a match and tried to be casual in lighting the cigarette, but his hand was visibly shaking. Inhaling deeply, he blew the smoke slowly out through his nose, commanding his body to relax. This would all be over soon and he would finally be free. Four puffs in, a loud rap at the door interrupted the peaceful scene.

“Police! Open up!” shouted a commanding voice behind the door.

“Door’s open. Come on in,” said Collander. He spoke quietly, not caring whether or not they could hear him. He calmly picked up the revolver lying on the table and noticed how heavy it felt in his hand, like he held the weight of the world. The long barrel Smith and Wesson 357 Magnum was an imposing weapon, just the prop he needed. When the outer door slammed open, two heavily armed SWAT officers stepped quickly inside, each sliding to one side. Their eyes stayed locked down the barrels of their weapons as they cleared the room. Once cleared they were followed by two more policemen, both with handguns drawn. “I’m in the kitchen,” said the voice from an adjoining room. All four policemen advanced, weapons ready, stopping when they saw Collander holding the revolver. He seemed to be inspecting the weapon and paid no particular attention to the policemen now entering the room.

One of the men spoke forcefully. “Drop the weapon.”

Collander looked up and smiled, realizing he had pictured the end quite accurately. He now regretted he hadn’t written it down. It was the perfect end to an unholy nightmare.

“Where’s the hostage?” said the officer.

“Oh, yeah. There is none. I lied.”

“Put down the gun,” said the officer, hoping that varying his command would get a better result. “You don’t want to do this.”

“Oh, but I do,” said Collander. He imagined how Jack Nicholson would have played the scene, and laughed hysterically. Nicholson would have made a powerful speech that would no doubt earn him another Oscar.

Collander pulled back the hammer and lifted the barrel toward the policemen. Like a well drilled marching band, the four officers unleashed the thunderous sound of hell fire.

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