by Michael Walsh
GENRE: Mystery, with minor romance
All Detective Matt Conley ever wanted was to raise a family in Ocean Park with his stunning and ambitious wife Lisa. When a corpse is found in his church, Matt begins a journey that reveals corruption and decay in his city and deceit in his marriage. As he searches for the murderer of a local businessman, a gang war erupts for control of the city’s drug trade, and the body count rises. With his reluctant new partner, Detective Lloyd Kendricks, Matt weaves his way through the puzzling connections between street gangs, politicians, bikers, and a private kink club.
Will their unlikely alliance be enough to return Matt's beloved hometown to its halcyon days? And will he find the faith he needs to rebuild his crumbling marriage?
His wife’s campaign headquarters reminded Conley of an after-prom party. Staffers, mostly kids, nailed posters of Lisa to the wall, slouched behind flimsy tables in folding chairs, and talked on phones in happy, sing-song voices.
He sat in a metal chair and waited near a picture window that framed the snarled traffic in City Hall Square. Car exhaust swelled from the cold and billowed like clouds that had fallen to earth. A pretty young blonde named Mandy kept smiling at him and asking if he wanted coffee. Three cups later, his face hurt from smiling back and the caffeine rush was making the hair on his arms tingle.
Lisa snuck up behind him and whispered, “Jail bait, Detective Conley.”
His wife hugged him and he hugged back, smelling the lavender shampoo heʼd bought her last Christmas.
“But she gives such great coffee,” he said.
Lisa strode to her office, a jerry-built structure with temporary walls and a window to the busy staff area. He was close behind, drinking in the scent of good perfume and savoring the sight of his wife’s magnificent glutes.
God bless Stairmaster machines.
She sank into the black leather office chair and he sat on the corner of the desk near the window. Her strawberry hair fanned the top of the chair, looking richer than the dark leather. She stretched her legs in front of him and he saw lean muscles tense. Lisa was Sicilian, blessed with mocha-colored skin. Her legs were as smooth as her campaign speech, with nary a freckle or blemish.
Mandy stuck her head in the open doorway. “More coffee Mr. Conley? Mrs. Conley?”
“We’re good, Mandy. Matt’s beautiful blue eyes are turning brown.”
Mandy giggled and trotted back to her desk, blonde ponytail flashing.
Lisa picked up a rubber band and twirled it on her long index finger. “Mandy has a crush on you.”
They laughed together. He couldn’t remember the last time that happened. When the baby died, their marriage started to die too, and the memory of the infant struggling in its incubator became a recurring nightmare.
Brandon. He had a name—Brandon.
A name neither of them spoke during two years of emptiness and paralysis. But he still craved Lisa’s presence, her touch, her voice, a primeval ache that never stopped. If only he could make her feel the same.
Today was their one-month separation anniversary. Other than quick, tense phone calls, the only time they communicated now was during their bizarre marriage counseling sessions with Dr. Larkin. The doctor was convinced marriage problems were caused by one-word virtues and vices, and finding the right ones was the key to fixing relationships. The word jumble was driving Conley crazy.
Sex, Dr. Larkin? That surely isn’t the trouble with our marriage. If anything, sex was the glue.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Michael Walsh attended Boston University, where he became a staffer for the Daily Free Press and earned a degree in journalism. His first professional job was at a public relations and advertising firm, writing press releases that appeared in the Boston Globe, Boston Herald, and New England Journal of Engineering. He later became a technical writer, writing and editing jet engine manuals for General Electric Aircraft Engines. GE relocated him to Cincinnati and Florida, where he currently resides. He’s written and studied fiction for years at BU, the University of Cincinnati, and now Jacksonville, where he won the First Coast Writers Festival short story contest and had work published in the UK’s Twisted Tongue and Askew Reviews. He’s an active member of the Bard Society, Florida’s longest-running writers’ workshop.
His five novels and dozens of short stories, most of them richly-layered mysteries, take place in New England. Mike and his wife Jean live in Florida with their three sons.
Amazon link to Ocean Park - http://amzn.to/1LEDxxg
Barnes and Noble link to Ocean Park - http://bit.ly/1KmExbw
Michael will be awarding a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour, and a $25 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn host.