Big Bull Benson, the hotel and bar owner who first appeared in Spurlark's novel GOOD GIRLS DON'T GET MURDERED, returns in a brand-new novella.
Mob boss Troy Calini doesn't exactly have the best reputation in Chicago, but when his own daughter suspects him of killing her boyfriend Calini is determined to prove to her that his hands are clean.
Enter Big Bull Benson. Although Bull and Calini haven't always seen eye-to-eye, Calini is convinced that Benson can use his skills and connections to find out who really committed the crime.
Benson isn't too thrilled at the prospect of investigating the case. He'd much rather be back at the hotel he won in a poker game. Still, it's not a smart idea to say no to a crime boss. Before you can say "whacked," Benson finds himself on the streets and following clues.
It isn't long before Benson realizes that this isn't just a typical carjacking (as the police suspect) or even a mob hit. Instead, the case will take him to suburbia where he soon discovers that every family hides a dark secret. And, sometimes, those secrets can be deadly.
BIG BULL BENSON noticed the black sedan as he pulled into the parking lot behind his hotel. There were two reasons the sedan got his attention, one he couldn’t recall having seen it before, and two it was in his reserved parking space.
It was after four in the morning, he’d dropped a bundle at Trixie’s Friday night poker game, and now someone had taken his parking space. Not the worst thing in the world he’d ever encountered, but right now it irritated the hell out of him. He parked his Caddy two spaces to the left of the sedan, his irritation changing to caution as he noticed someone behind the wheel. He couldn’t think of anyone of late who had an axe to grind with him, but that was no reason not to be careful. At night he kept the back parking area lit pretty well. But the way the lights were bouncing off the sedan’s windows, he couldn’t make out who or how many were in there.
As he got out of his Caddy he noticed the drivers side window of the sedan glide silently down. He tensed. Stay in a crouch, try to get back into the Caddy, make a dash for the hotel’s back entrance, were some of the options that ran through his mind.
“Mr. Benson. Mr. Calini would like to see you.”
He straightened, closed the Caddy’s door and watched the white guy get out of the sedan. Dark suit, light tie, slicked-back hair, pinky ring. Maybe there’s a catalogue for mob lackeys out there somewhere, Bull thought.
The guy came around to Bull’s side of the Caddy. He was a good head shorter than Bull, maybe a pound of pomade in his slicked-back hair, but the thickness of his jacket didn’t come from shoulder padding.
“What does Calini want with me?”
“He didn’t say. He just said to extend the invitation.”
“And if I don’t feel like paying Mr. Calini a visit right now?”
The guy shifted his weight a might to his left. “He said to ask you nice, but he also said for me notta come back without you.”
Decisions, decisions. Was it worth going toe to toe with this go-fer? Bull knew he stood a good chance of coming out on top, or at least there being enough noise made that some of his people from the hotel would hit the back parking lot to check things out. What the hell did mob boss Troy Calini want with him anyway? The last time they’d gotten together, which was more than three years ago now, Calini had been a step away from killing him.
“How about it, Benson? You coming, or have we gotta dance?”
Bull couldn’t think of anything he’d done recently that would cause Calini any concern. And regardless of how their last meeting had started out, they’d parted on reasonable good terms.
“You got a name?” Bull asked.
“Well, Maxey, at least you could’ve said, please.”
Maxey hunched his shoulders again, this time a crooked smile ripped across his thin lips. “Please.”
* * *
The last time Bull was on Calini’s west suburban estate, he’d woke up in the barn with his hands tied behind his back. He was greeted by Calini, several of his soldiers, and an ice pick passed down from his grandfather, Rick the Pick, that Calini was more than willing to use to avenge his grandfather’s murder. With some fast thinking and even faster talking, Bull had helped point out who was really responsible for the Pick’s death. Calini hadn’t verbally thanked him, Bull recalled, a nod and a ride back to town was as close as it had gotten.
There were two guards stationed at the ten-foot-high wrought-iron gate that blocked the paved driveway leading to the main house. Maxey had used his cell to call ahead and the gate, anchored by concrete pillars on each side, silently swung open as they approached and the guards waved them through.
Behind them, the sun was just beginning to make itself known. Burnt orange streaked the windows of the sprawling, two-story mansion, shifting position on the window panes as they drove the winding path to the house. The building itself was white with blue-gray roofing and matching shutters, fronted by a half-acre of well manicured lawn. Just lawn, no shrubs or trees. Bull couldn’t see the back of the house, but from the front, approaching the place unnoticed wouldn’t be an easy task.
There were two other guards waiting for them as Maxey parked. Like the guards at the gate, they were all wearing suits and ties with noticeable bulges under their suit jackets.
One of the guards opened the car door for him. “Mr. Benson, Mr. Calini is waiting for you, sir.”