Excerpts

Fractured Fragment Friday: The Release Day for “Too Much of a Good Thing” is Here!

Today is the release day for “Too Much of a Good Thing” – the ninth in the Detective Jimmy Delaney series. It’s 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 Marvel superheroes.)  

Here’s the Blurb

Was it a case of too much of a good thing?

Diana’s work on the Southside Restoration has progressed to the point that only the vagrant situation is holding things back – and suddenly, they start disappearing from the streets. The unusually mild winter has resulted in an equally unusual number of homeless deaths. Jimmy’s curiosity discovers more oddities than coincidence could explain, and suspicions that Diana might be involved.

And Here’s Today’s Excerpt

Jimmy woke in the dark.

“Looks like he didn’t make any calls out – just that one text.”

The voice was muffled, but the face was still in his mind.TooMuchOfAGoodThingCover

Reggie Reynolds used to work for Max back in the day, but had branched out on his own, and was undoubtedly sore at Jimmy for breaking up his sports merchandise counterfeiting ring. Now that he had a face to attach the voice to, he knew why Leon’s companion had seemed familiar. But the Brit’s voice was different.

“You must have worked hard to lose your accent,” Jimmy murmured.

He tried to assess his surroundings. He sat with his back against a wall in a very small space. When he stood, he hit his head on a horizontal pole. This was a closet.

“Yes, Jimmy – it turns out that being easily recognized is not a plus in my line of business, either,” Reggie said. “That accent was sending too many curious people in my direction.”

That sounded more Brit, but a little strange. It’s not the same thing when someone tries to effect an accent that they don’t have any more.

Jimmy stood and tried the doorknob; it turned freely, but the door wouldn’t budge.

“So, what are we going to do now?” Jimmy remembered the last time he and Reggie had tangled. “Would you like to use a Disabler on me and kick me in the head again?”

Reggie chuckled.

“A good time, that was. But no, I think I’ve already had enough fun.”

“So I can go then?”

“I might have agreed to that, but you know too much, and I have my orders. Nothing personal, of course.”

“Of course, not – we’re both professionals.” Jimmy felt his pockets, but his cell phone was gone. Silly to think that Reggie would return it.

“Well, as one professional to another, I’m curious. How did you survive the elevator?”

Jimmy didn’t want to tell Reggie about Nicolette. It was embarrassing enough to have needed rescue, without setting off more crazy rumors about the supernatural. And maybe he could convince Reggie that he didn’t know anything.

“What do you mean, survive? I wasn’t stuck in the elevator that long – it wasn’t like I was going to starve.”

“Oh, come now, Jimmy. I know you climbed onto the roof and turned off the oxygen bottles, but it was after it started.”

“You’ve got me there. I’ll tell you what – you tell me whose operation this is, and I’ll tell you how I did it.”

“Right then, but you go first.”

“I already knew that people were dying from oxygen toxicity, so when I heard the hissing I held my breath, climbed onto the railing, and unlocked the hatch. When I pushed it up I could breathe again, and then I turned off the bottles so your kill box wouldn’t work anymore.”

“When I checked the sensor logs, they showed that the oxygen stopped flowing before you ever opened the hatch. Professional to professional – be honest. Who helped you?”

Sensor logs? Well then, there was nothing else for it.

“A ghost shut off the gas.”

“You know, I heard that you were into this paranormal nonsense, but I know you Jimmy, and you’re not that crazy.”

“Well, I hate to disappoint you, but I am. Now tell me who’s calling the shots.”

“I’ll have to pass on that.”

“I swear, it’s the honest truth. I take it you’re going to kill me – what harm could it do?”

“True enough, but even if I believed you, I don’t think she’d want you to know. Sorry, Jimmy.”

Jimmy heard a door open, and footsteps approaching.

“Why did we have to put Delaney all the way up here?” Leon asked. “Dymtrus says everything is ready.”

Dymtrus was the smart element in Max’s organization, a combination mechanic and chemist. Jimmy wondered what he was cooking up.

“Well Jimmy,” Reggie said, “things are going to get a little too hot for my taste, so I need to leave. But you can go to your rest knowing that someone really cares what happens to you.”

Was that sarcasm?

“What is this with the English accent?” Leon asked.

“It’s nothing – I’m just clowning around,” Reggie said, slipping back into a more generic American dialect. “Let’s get out of here.”

Their voices faded as they walked away. Whoever this she was, Jimmy was going to give her an earful when he got out of there. If he got out of there. The nearest he could figure, he was in a closet in the Barnstow Arms, possibly on the empty fourth floor.

He turned the knob and tried pushing on the door again, with no more effect than before. He could tell from the feel of the door that it wasn’t some hollow piece of laminate – the door was authentically solid. He wouldn’t be able to knock a hole through it. But the walls were another matter.

One kick against the back wall told him that wasn’t going to get him out, so he worked the clothing rod loose, and started pounding on the wall of the closet with the end of the rod. After a few tries he broke through the sheetrock, and using his bare hands and the extra leverage from the rod he managed to clear away enough so he could squeeze between the studs and into the next room. It was actually another closet, but the door wasn’t sealed shut on this one. He emerged into an empty apartment and opened the door to the hallway.

Jimmy was certain now he was on the fourth floor of The Barnstow Arms, and the muffled sound of yelling came to him from the lower floors. There was a smoky haze hanging about eye level.

Jimmy now understood the situation. When Reggie had said things were going to get too hot, he meant literally. That explained why Dymtrus had been there – arson should only be handled by professionals.

 He ripped part of his shirt, ran water on it, and then tied it so it hung over his nose and mouth, then headed for the stairwell. He pulled the fire alarm at the end of the hall as he passed, but nothing happened. He ran down the stairs.

The smoke was thicker on the third floor, and now he could hear people pounding on doors as well. Reggie and Leon had used some sort of quickset epoxy around the doors – there was no way to pull the door open from the inside. But with enough force pushing from the outside –

“Stand away from the door!” he shouted.

The Arms’ doors were solid, and if the deadbolt had been locked it wouldn’t have worked, but these people weren’t trying to keep him out. One kick with the technique he’d been taught on the force and the door flew open. It bounced back before Sally stopped it from swinging and came out into the hall.

There were only four other apartments taken on the third floor. Jimmy repeated the process and got all those doors open, then started down the stairs. He had a parade of people he’d freed following him, but he could see that the flames on the first floor made the stairwell useless as an escape route. He turned to the others.

“Go to one of the end rooms and use the fire escape.”

The Barnstow Arms was sandwiched between two other buildings on the block. The only apartments with outside access and fire escapes were either at the front of the building facing 8th Avenue, or at the back facing onto the alley.

“They removed the ones at the front yesterday – said they’re being replaced,” Sally said.

“Then use the back ones,” Jimmy said.

They started in that direction while Jimmy ran downstairs. The second floor was significantly warmer, and the smoke much thicker. It was harder to breathe, or even to see. He relied on the pounding and yelling to find doors that needed kicking in. He sent each new face upstairs to follow the others out. By the time he breached his eighth door on that floor he was coughing and fell to his knees in exhaustion.

The occupant stepped out, carrying a black and white cat. She was dressed shabbier than Jimmy was used to seeing her. Just like a homeless person.

“Mary!” Jimmy coughed. “What are you doing here?”

“It seemed like a good idea.”

Mary paused to have her own coughing fit. They were at the end of the hall, now, and flames were coming up the stairwells at both ends. The floor was hot, and the hallway carpet was smoking.

“We need to get upstairs,” Jimmy gasped between coughs.

They helped each other up the stairwell in the searing heat. When they reached the third floor, Jimmy was surprised to see a line of people hanging around the back apartment’s door, coughing.

“Why isn’t everyone down the fire escape already?” Jimmy asked.

“We can’t go that way,” one of them choked out.

Jimmy pushed through to the window and saw the problem; the two fire escapes on the alley had also been removed.

 

Sounds like a code violation to me – I bet it warms (forgive the pun) Jimmy’s heart to know that he and the others can sue – if they live through this.

“Too Much of a Good Thing” is available now at several online retailers for a REDUCED PROMOTIONAL PRICE, including, but not limited to:

Honest ratings and reviews are, as always, appreciated. Hope you enjoy it!

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For  information and links for my current promotions (including the 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.

Reaching Out

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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