Since we’re now a week out from the release of “Possession” (Detective Jimmy Delaney #8), it’s time to feature it on Fractured Fragment Friday.
So, where did Jimmy come from?
It started with an off-hand comment, someone wishing they could just plug a flash drive into their head and get the knowledge and skills they needed without all that work. I’d also seen a lot of articles on what’s coming in brain research, especially reading, memory, and control, and my thoughts tend to gravitate and revolve around mind control. And the idea of an implant to transfer skills into a person’s mind also led to the possibility of being hacked or controlled.
I didn’t intend to write a detective story, let alone a series. Sure, I like to have a little mystery, misdirection and reveal in my fiction, but I write speculative fiction (sci-fi, fantasy, and horror), not police and detective who-dun-its. But that’s where the story wanted to go.
In “In a Flash”, Jimmy Delaney was a police detective, a decent one, but changing times, attitudes, and his own aging put him in a position where he felt he needed extra help to keep up with the needed skills for his job. He made the mistake of getting an implant to help him keep his job, and things went wrong from there.
I identify with Jimmy more strongly than most of the characters I’ve written (No, I didn’t get my own implant), and after that first story Jimmy just wouldn’t go away.
So here he is in his eighth story, but now a paranormal aspect may be creeping into his life.
Here’s the Blurb
Jimmy’s relationship with Diana has never been better, but then she gets control of the Southside Endowment. Jimmy starts to feel like just another possession, until a seeming ghost from the past gives him something to investigate. Possession may be nine-tenths of the law, but exactly what kind of possession are we talking about here?
“Possession” is a soft-boiled detective novella with some sci-fi and fantasy elements, sort of a The Rockford Files meets The Avengers (the old BBC series, not the superheroes.) It’s eighth in the Detective Jimmy Delaney series.
Here’s This Week’s Excerpt
Diana was sitting at a long table in the midst of more drop cloths and scaffolding. Her long blond hair flowed onto the shoulders of the conservative blue business suit that was her usual uniform since she took on the persona of Misty Devereaux. The skirt was modest, but still did nothing to conceal her killer legs.
Diana glanced his way as he entered, and the smile that played across her bright blue eyes and full red lips froze him like a deer in the headlights. He would have said something about how hot she looked, but she wasn’t alone. Seated around the table with her were Raymond Lewis’ three grown children.
James Lewis, the eldest, was in his late thirties, and always projected a calm but deadly serious manner. His Burberry suit, and the black Burberry trench coat resting on the chair next to his emphasized his stature as the head of the Lewis’ conglomerate.
Patricia Lewis-Waldren was in her mid-thirties, but her nose looked like she’d been holding it up in the air for far longer than that. The socialite spent much of her time making sure that the society pages knew that she was the glue that held two of Barnstow’s founding families together.
Andrew Lewis – in his early thirties – was a bespectacled sort, content to let his older brother and sister hog the limelight and the responsibility while he happily lived off the proceeds of their father’s estate . He shared his brother’s taste in clothiers, although the trench coat he sat bundled in against the cold was mauve.
Seated at the head of the table in a conservative Gucci suit was the venerable Walter Prescott, the Lewis’ family attorney. Prescott was in his seventies, but possessed of a vibrant shock of blonde hair and piercing blue eyes that belied his dour face and cadaver-like body. He represented at least half of Barnstow’s prominent citizenry, and often rubbed elbows with the upper crust of Barnstow society.
“I don’t see why we have to meet in this icebox.” Patricia shivered as Jimmy entered the room, her voice’s shakiness emphasized as it echoed about the space.
“Patty, I’m sure it was because this was the centerpiece of Father’s dream,” Andrew said.
“This meeting place was set forth in a provision of Raymond Lewis’ will,” Mr. Prescott said.
“That doesn’t explain why she’s here,” Patricia said.
“I was invited, but I don’t know why anymore than you do,” Diana said.
“That is also set forth in the will. All will become clear,” Prescott said.
“And Mr. Delaney’s presence as well?” James asked.
“That I cannot explain,” Prescott said. “Would you care to enlighten us, Mr. Delaney?”
“I’m just here for D -” he began, almost forgetting to use Diana’s public persona. “Ms. Devereaux.”
“I take it that you are not a member of the bar?” Prescott said.
“No, not me.”
“Then this is no place for you. If you would please close the door on your way out, we shall begin.”
Jimmy shrugged and did as he was asked. He considered standing by the door and listening in, but it was none of his business, and besides, the door was too snug for him to hear their voices when he tried, especially with the echoes, so he decided to walk about.
He climbed the marble stairway to the second floor. The stairs to the third floor were wood. They had been rebuilt following the fire, but Jimmy wasn’t sure he wanted to test them out to see whether they were truly completed. He stayed on the second floor and walked to the door-less office at the end of the hallway. The door that had once been there was back on his office in Kaczmarek’s.
The fire damage had been repaired, including the hole in the ceiling that had exposed the office above Jimmy’s, where Raymond Lewis and Loretta Haynes had been murdered. Jimmy gazed at the fine wood furnishings longingly, but despite the class of the place, he wasn’t sure he’d want to office here if the building ever reopened. What had happened to him here sometimes still occupied his dreams.
Sharon Lewis had been quite good at killing. First she shot her husband Raymond and Loretta upstairs and tried to burn the Prestige down to hide their bodies. Then she went after Diana. She failed in her efforts three times, but each of those failure resulted in the death of one of the Foundation’s girls. The murders of Nicolette, Cynthia and Brittany haunted Diana to this day.
So much for nostalgia. He started back toward the stairs when he heard loud voices through a door on his left. Puzzled, he opened it.
The room appeared to have been an observation box of some type ages ago, and opened onto a balcony on the far wall. Jimmy advanced to the railing, which gave an excellent vantage on the ballroom below. Patricia was standing beside the table, throwing a fit as everyone else sat and watched.
“What do you mean, we have lost control?”
“You appear to be doing some of your own right now,” Andrew said. He seemed quite amused.
“Stop being a horse’s ass, Andrew!” she said.
“Temper, temper,” Andrew chided.
“I want to know how we are losing control of Father’s project,” she said.
“I would also like to know, Patricia. If you will calm down, I’m sure that Walter will resume his explanation,” James said.
Patricia stared from one to the other of her brothers, then sat back down in a huff.
“I’m sorry about the interruption, Walter. Please continue,” James said.
Walter replaced his eyeglasses and studied the document before him.
“Per the provisions of Raymond’s will, there were certain milestones that were expected to be reached on a specified schedule. The primary of these was the Barnstow Arms Apartments.”
“Yes, Walter, but as we all know, construction often runs into setbacks,” James said.
“Well, the reclamation of the Southside seems to have run into three,” Walter said.
“I beg your pardon!” Patricia said.
“Really, Sis?” Andrew asked.
“He doesn’t mean that we three are setbacks, Patricia. He means three of the sub-projects,” James said, then turned from Patricia to Walter, “which are?”
“The Barnstow Arms, the General Pershing Theatre, and The Prestige.”
“Each of which has had perfectly legitimate and understandable delays, as you can see in our ongoing reports,” James said.
“Yes, and those reports gained you your first and second exceptions. However, your father’s terms were very clear. The schedule was to be maintained within certain parameters, and you have reached the limits of those,” Walter said. “None of the three litmus tests have been completed.”
“I told you Father wouldn’t be happy with us,” Andrew said. “I had the theatre coming along. If only the two of you had been making a sincere effort -”
“Oh, do shut up, Andrew!” The older Lewis was beginning to show some irritation, but he recovered quickly. “So, if we had completed only one of the three, we would have satisfied the requirements?”
“That is correct,” Walter said.
“I knew we should have bribed that inspector at the Arms,” Patricia said.
“No, Patty, we should have been more diligent about sticking to Father’s plan instead of trying to cut costs,” Andrew said.
“This meeting is your official notice that control of the Southside Restoration Endowment by Lewis, Waldren, and Lewis has been revoked,” Walter said. “Control of the endowment passes to the Secondary Conservator.”
“Hah! That would be me!” Patricia shouted. “Now we’re getting somewhere.”
“No, Patricia, it isn’t you.” James looked over a document in front of him.
“James is correct,” Walter said. “Control of the Southside Restoration Endowment falls to the Administrator who has most closely followed Raymond’s wishes, according to this rather complicated algorithm.”
“And I think I know who that is.” Andrew gave Diana a two finger salute. “Congratulations, Ms. Devereaux.”
Diana stared across the table at Andrew, slack-jawed for a few moments. Jimmy wasn’t used to seeing her at a loss, but she was for a few moments before she turned her attention back to Walter.
“I don’t understand.”
“According to the algorithm, your administration of The Working Girls Foundation has not only met Raymond Lewis’ goals, but exceeded them far beyond any of his other projects,” Walter said. “Ms. Devereaux is now in charge of the Southside Project and its endowment.”
Diana sat there in shocked silence.
Patricia was in shock as well, but her shock was more vocal.
“Her? How can it be her?”
“You have to admit, her foundation has been doing quite well. Father would be proud,” Andrew said.
“Does her success with restoring and running that Italian restaurant in Southside come into this as well?” James asked.
The iconic restaurant had changed hands multiple times since Mickey Gialani’s murder, but none of the subsequent owners had been able to keep the restaurant afloat. Under Diana’s direction, The Working Girl’s Foundation had taken over Gialani’s Italian to give the girls a place to work other than on their backs, and it was more popular now than it had been under Mickey. Of course, he never had women like Diana’s girls to draw in customers.
“Yes, it added to her score,” Walter said.
“What does that hole in the wall eatery have to do with anything?” Patricia asked.
“Come on, Sis,” Andrew said. “The place is so popular, it’s almost started its own Southside revival while we’ve been twiddling our thumbs.”
With Gialani’s drawing in traffic, other businesses had decided to risk opening up in what was still low-rent shop space.
“But she had women die! Even at the old estate!” Patricia said. “How is that over-performing?”
Diana looked like she’d been slapped in the face. Jimmy knew she had taken every one of those girls that Sharon Lewis had murdered as though she was personally responsible. It was one of the first times he had seen how vulnerable she could truly be, and a large part of what finally changed his opinion of her.
Jimmy wanted to jump to here defense, but it was a long way down, and he wasn’t supposed to be hearing all of this. Besides, Andrew seemed to be coming to Diana’s rescue as well as he could have.
“Not fair, Sis! She’s not responsible for what our wicked stepmother did.”
“All she does is get a bunch of whores to change careers, and she gets all that money? What did you do with our father?” Patricia asked.
“Don’t be gauche, Patricia. She didn’t start with control. She appears to have earned it,” James said. “So, does the endowment’s new administrator have some rules to abide by?”
“Yes. Just as Lewis, Waldren, and Lewis, Ms. Devereaux’s worthiness will continue to be judged by your father’s guidelines. She will retain control of the endowment unless or until the algorithm determines that it is time to select a new administrator,” Walter said.
“And who would that be?” Patricia asked.
“That will also be determined by the algorithm,” Walter said.
“So whatever side projects we’ve each been working on might be worth completing. James stood and headed for the door, putting on his trench coat as he walked. “No point wasting any more time here.”
“You wait for me!” Patricia chased after her brother, loudly muttering something about, “a bunch of whores!”
Andrew smiled at Diana.
“They’re sure that you’ll fail so they can regain control of all that money. Personally, I’d like to see Father’s dreams come to life.” He stood and pulled a business card from his pocket and set it on the table in front of her. “Give me a call. I’d be proud to help you succeed.”
He walked out, leaving Diana and Walter alone at the table. He stood and arranged his papers back into his briefcase.
“Is there anything I can do for you, my dear?” Walter asked.
“I would like to have a copy of the documents that list out my responsibilities, the endowment’s rules, and that algorithm,” she said.
“I thought you might.” He handed her a black leather portfolio from within his briefcase. “It’s all in there. I assume you are still using Martin Stein as your attorney.”
“Tell Mr. Stein to reach out to me if anything seems to be missing. Good day to you.”
Jimmy saw Walter Prescott exit the building and get into a limo as he came down the marble stairs. He had planned to meet Diana there in the lobby, but after waiting a few moments, he decided to join her in the ballroom.
“Looks like someone is going to be very busy,” he said.
“How do you…” She looked at him suspiciously. “You heard all that, didn’t you?”
“What did you expect – I am a private eye,” he said. “Congratulations!”
“I’m not sure you should be congratulating me. I don’t know if I can pull this off.”
“What? Diana Lang, the mysterious Misty Devereaux – claiming to not being perfect? I don’t think so.”
“This is different, Jimmy. It’s bigger than anything I’ve tried to handle before. I don’t know enough about construction to pull all of this off on my own.”
“Good! I’d hate to think you were going to try to rebuild the Southside all by yourself.”
“Are you mocking me? You know how I hate being mocked.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
“Possession” is a soft-boiled detective novella with some sci-fi and fantasy elements, sort of a The Rockford Files meets The Avengers (the old BBC series, not the superheroes.) It’s the eighth story in the Detective Jimmy Delaney series.
The novella is available now, through the September 3rd release date, as a FREE SMASHWORDS PRESALE! That means that, at no cost to you, you can download the book RIGHT NOW and read it for FREE.
“Possession” is also available for preorder until September 3rd at a special promotional price at several online retailers, including – but not limited to:
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/possession-william-mangieri/1140041598?ean=2940162204534
Just a reminder – if you haven’t read any Detective Jimmy Delaney stories, the first one (“In a Flash”) is FREE! at each of those sites (links are on my Current Book Promotions page below.)
Honest ratings and reviews are, as always, appreciated. Hope you enjoy it!
Current Book Promotions
For information on my current promotions (including the FREE Presale and reduced price preorders for Cats of War III, my participating books in the 14th Annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, as well as FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.
William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
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