Michael Bronte novels, all written in his signature unmistakable style.
Homicide: Party of Twelve
When his boss is gunned down in a drive-by outside Chez Alain, the Jersey City restaurant where Frankie Fortunato works as a server, Frankie takes over as manager. Reluctantly, he becomes an integral part of New Jersey State Police Detective Matt Klimecki’s investigation aimed at bringing the criminals who perpetrated the crime to justice.
The story is that of an everyday guy who is torn between being a reluctant hero, or chucking it all and walking away from a dangerous situation. It’s his loyalty to his fellow workers that motivates him to put himself in a leadership position after the death of his boss to work with an investigating detective. One of those fellow workers is the woman he’s been falling in love with over time, Gabby D’Angelo. The criminals who perpetrated the crime are patrons of the restaurant, and conspired with the previous manager to use the restaurant to launder money from their illegal activities.
The setting is inner-city. The scenes can be gritty, and some of the characters are unsavory. Frankie is an honest, hard-working guy who rises to the occasion to fight his criminal antagonists. The mood is serious, as Frankie is constantly undergoing inner conflict over his decisions to (a) become the new restaurant manager, and (b) becoming part of Detective Matt Klimecki’s investigation.
Jake Blackwell wasn’t always a handyman. As an Army Ranger and part of the 75th Ranger Regiment, he’d done four tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, only to be taken out by an IED while closing in on a sniper nest outside of Ramadi. The result? Traumatic brain injury, otherwise known as TBI. His life as a close combat and special operations specialist was over. What was not over, however, were the lingering effects of his TBI. Seizures, blackouts, and memory loss were all part of the problem, and no one wanted him on their payroll after ten years of fighting for his country. For Jake, there was no choice but to go into business for himself.
His last job seemed normal enough: spackling, painting, nothing he hadn’t done a hundred times before. It didn’t turn out to be normal after all, however, when he stumbled across what appeared to be blueprints of some sort. But what kind of blueprints contained the word detonator? He answered his own question when he discovered that the plans were for a W54 nuclear device, known otherwise as the backpack nuke. It was one of ours, it weighted just fifty-four pounds, and the implications were mind-boggling. Someone could take out the Empire State Building with this thing, along with several other city blocks, and if the blast didn’t kill you, the radiation would. Literally tens of thousands could die with one detonation, and there would be no way to stop it from happening. What could two of these devices do, he wondered. Or ten, or fifty!
Why were those blueprints in that house? Who was the owner, and why did he possess plans to construct a miniature nuclear device? Jake pursues the answers to those questions, risking not only his own life but those of his entire family in trying to stop disaster from happening.
Y.I.T.B.: It means Yours In The Bonds. It was how they signed their letters and their emails to each other. They were The Brothers of Zeta Chi, and they vowed decades earlier that their pledge meant more than having drinking buddies for life. For these brothers it was an assurance that they’d be there for each other in good times and bad, and that their bond would go far beyond the occasional stock tip or job reference. For them, being able to count on each other was real.
It was their thirtieth reunion at John Adams College and they’d come in from all over for the momentous occasion. Bones was there, as was Stokes and Fighting Al. The Zen Master came in from Philly, Doc from Chicago, and Ducky brought wife number three, only too proud to gloat over the other brothers as to how he managed to marry a fine-looking dish like her, who also happened to be the local assistant district attorney.
Harry “Dirty Harry” Curlander had organized the event, and he’d managed to convince all twelve brothers from their pledge class to attend; the only one missing was his roommate from back in the day, R. Todd Hutchinson, known to the brothers simply as Hutch. Hutch never did make it to the reunion, but he had a good reason. Hutch was dead, found locked in his car outside the bar where the other brothers were waiting for him. Was it suicide, or an accident? Was it due to natural causes? None of the explanations were satisfactory, and when the police, the DA, and the medical examiner all refused to authorize an investigation due to lack of any evidence indicating foul play, the brothers said, “If you won’t investigate, we will.” Who knew it would turn into a murder investigation, and that it would lead Harry and The Brothers into a showdown involving international terrorists, the police, the CIA, and the Financial Crimes and Enforcement Network inside the U.S. Treasury called FinCEN.
Carmen Madrid finally got his opportunity when he moved up to become a hotshot salesman selling Jaguars, Lincolns, and Chevys. Life in Jamaica Queens was good—for a while—but the commission checks weren’t as big as he’d anticipated, and it wasn’t long before he was looking for other ways to pay the bills. That’s when he discovered that the dealership did more than sell cars. Money laundering, drug peddling and pornography were all part of the gig, and it wasn’t long before he had to make a choice: be an honest salesman, or take the big money from the “side jobs” the dealership offered.
There are others interested in his decision. Meet Rita O’Shea, the lady cop who infiltrates the dealership by working undercover as a salesperson, Patty Fairchild, the goody-goody owner who wants to prove she can make the dealership profitable, and Chita Espino, who believes in Carmen when others do not.
Travel with Carmen through the gritty world of fast cars and faster women, organized crime and racketeering, all of it shrouded by the crack epidemic and tough times that blanketed New York City in the mid-‘80s. Does Carmen do the right thing, or does he become just another punk trying to get over on others before they get over on him? Find out how he walks the line between decency and depravity, and see if he comes out on top. It’s quite a trip.
1969 has been called the most eventful year in our history, and it’s against the backdrop of Vietnam and anti-establishment culture that Brownie wrote his own history that year: he smoked his first joint, and got laid, both of those momentous events taking place in the sun and the mud at Woodstock. He also attended Alliance College, and while there was no war there, people died, victims of an evil crime network fronted by a fraternity house cook. Brownie and his best friend become inextricably tangled in Dandy Don’s web of crime, bribery, depravity, and degradation. From professors to ballplayers to strippers, Dandy Don ruins the lives of everyone he touches.
Porchball is a story of loyalty, betrayal, and deception as the characters’ lives are funneled into a single situation where the only goal is to stop Dandy Don. Ultimately, it’s the code by which the game of Porchball is played that rises above all other of life’s principles. When a fraternity brother explains that no one cheats at the game, Brownie doesn’t understand. It’s simple. “Everyone is taken at their word,” says the brother. “Everyone does the right thing.”
Call Me Crash
Few people would consider the department store business to be a dangerous profession. Similarly, not many people would think that a skinny kid from the streets of D.C. would have any fashion sense.
It’s 1979, Jimmy Carter is president, and Rosenbloom & Starr is a department store empire in which Tom “Crash” Crandall has worked his way up to become floor manager at the flagship store where the wives of congressmen, senators, and power brokers shop. It’s the busiest time of the year and he knows there is something terribly wrong with the way the goods are flowing—or to put it another way, not flowing— into his department. Where were the backup orders? What the heck were those buyers doing up there on the seventh floor?
Crash has no idea that the problem he’s observing is an offshoot of a hostile takeover attempt being perpetrated by Associated Department Stores of America, a villainous outfit that has been swallowing up other department store chains across the country. CEO Gino Starr knows, however, and he isn’t about to let Rosenbloom & Starr be torn apart by ruthless raiders who would destroy what he has built from humble beginnings. Associated stops at nothing to accomplish the takeover, including brutal attacks and grisly murders. What Gino doesn’t know is that Associated’s vicious dealings are tied to an international crime syndicate that has infiltrated our own government. Crash is thrust into the fray simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and to say he earns his shot at promotion into the buying office would be an understatement.
The Tenth Caller
He was the shock-jock extraordinaire, in syndication in every major market in the country, but it had been quite the fall. Blackballed and forgotten, he was doomed to doing the graveyard shift on godforsaken AM at a 5,000-watt piss-ant station in Andersonville, Indiana, where the highest rated program was the tornado report.
At night and under the right conditions, however, the mega-signal of the Midwest can be heard for a thousand miles, and in the wee hours the depressed and the depraved gather on the broadcast doorstep of Gulliver McKnight to confide in his wisdom. Some call it a cult following; others call it a radio freak parade. At 3:16 a.m. on November 8th, Gulliver takes the tenth call, but the caller isn’t interested in the chicken dinner Gulliver is giving away. He’s into murder, and the killing goes back decades.
It’s Julie Hernandez’s job (Julie’s a he, not a she) and Sam Olsen’s job (Sam’s a she, not a he) to stop this serial killer who’s found that calling in to Gulliver’s show is an interesting new way to get his jollies. The questions are: who is he, and how is he always the tenth call?
It’s Saturday, September 25th, and the entire town of Sea Beach, New Jersey, has no recollection of what happened to Friday the 24th. Reporter Johnny Pappas is among the baffled residents, as is police chief Roy Mulroney. It’s only when Johnny discovers the abduction of high school quarterback David Robelle that the fog over this mystery begins to lift.
The evidence leads to the unfathomable conclusion that they’ve been visited by futuristic time travelers from the International Counter Terrorist Organization, or the ICTO. In the future, time travel becomes a huge geopolitical weapon, enabling those who control the technology to go back in time and manipulate history so that important historical outcomes fall to their favor. The influence extends all the way to the White House.
Time travel, human clones called Synthetics, editions of newspapers that haven’t even been written yet, it’s all part of Lost Friday. Johnny has three objectives: cover the story as a reporter, win the romantic attention of fellow reporter Kelli Remington, and rescue David Robelle from the terrorists. Oh yeah, he’d also like to win a Pulitzer.
When dead presidents in a supernatural world play the board game of world conquest, their moves are carried out in the human world.
Leaders are born and dictators rise to power as presidents past such as Teddy Roosevelt, Abe Lincoln, Dwight Eisenhower, and others, plot their moves. One of them makes a move, and an invasion takes place on Earth.
In the supernatural world, it’s about strategy, wits, and the will to win. On Earth, however, it’s an action and adventure story featuring a psychopathic dictator threatening the United States, and the boy who will grow up to stop him from taking over the world. It might seem impossible, but history is being determined before it actually happens.
In the end, it’s all about leadership, and little Pauli Campo emerges from his meager existence to lead his country in the fight to avert a world war that could lead to the deaths of millions of people. This is the unGame, and the struggle for world domination continues with each roll of the dice in Presidential Risk.