Read The Payback Game Online

Authors: Nathan Gottlieb

Tags: #Mystery; Thriller & Suspense, #Mystery, #Hard-Boiled, #Thrillers & Suspense, #Crime, #Crime Fiction

The Payback Game

BOOK: The Payback Game
2.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


The Payback Game
is not only a terrific mystery story, but it’s so loaded with twists and turns and compelling characters that it’s nearly impossible to put the book down. Frank Boff, the rogue private eye and former legendary DEA agent continues to defy all genre expectations. He’s a delightful and iconic investigator with a wicked sense of humor and a morally-challenged idea of what constitutes justice in a system overrun with corruption. I defy you to find a more original and appealing private eye.

--Harvey Araton,
New York Times


A New York City cop is killed by an assassin who disguises the murder as a heart attack. Two weeks later, a star investigative columnist for the
NY Daily News
, who was digging into the faked heart attack, is brutally murdered himself. Months later, the two cases have gone cold. Nobody can crack them. Well, nobody except Frank Boff. In this fourth installment of Nathan Gottlieb’s acclaimed mystery series, the former DEA agent turned high-profile private investigator is hired to hunt down yet another killer. This time, Boff and his sidekick, boxer Danny Cullen, find themselves neck-deep in danger as they go up against Hells Angels bikers, bent cops, and a secret criminal operation that is about to explode onto the New York scene. If
The Payback Game
doesn’t keep you turning pages at warp speed, then you don’t have a pulse.

--Kevin Kernan,
New York Post



Nathan Gottlieb, who knows the fascinating behind-the-scenes world of professional
athletes inside-out, takes us on a compelling and suspenseful trip into the underbelly of the glitzy Las Vegas strip in order to chase down the killer of a world champion boxer. Gottlieb's prose is as fast and firm as the stiffest jab, and his ending is simply lights-out. First-rate, fun and irreverent story telling.

Harvey Araton,
New York Times



Nathan Gottlieb has done it again, this time unleashing Frank Boff on Gotham and allowing him to turn over three boroughs of New York City and expose every hideous worm beneath. And as a bonus, we meet The Boffer's mom, a 72-year-old numbers runner who packs a Remington 20-gauge. Crime fiction devotees should take note: The Boff-Cullen Series, just two volumes old, is already at full boil.

—Dave D'Alessandro,
Newark Star-Ledger


In his funny and breezy writing style, Gottlieb follows Boff and Cullen along the mean Brooklyn streets and the hip night clubs of NYC to reach a startling and exciting conclusion. I dare you to find a writer that gives you a detective as funny and original as Frank Boff.

—Jochem Vandersteen
author of the
Noah Milano
mystery series




is a terrific third book in the
Frank Boff Mystery Series
, maybe the best yet. It’s locked and loaded with everything you could ask for in a mystery, starting with the most unusual PI to hit the pike in quite some time, Frank Boff. If you’re looking for a complex mystery, with multiple murders, twists, surprises, and a peek into the hidden world of sex-for-hire at premium prices,
The Killer Sex Game
will deliver all that and more. I look forward to the fourth novel in this highly-acclaimed series.

Kevin Kernan,
New York Post











The Payb
ack Game


By Nathan Gottlieb








The Payback Game: A Frank Boff Novel
Published by: Endless String
Published: February 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9858533-6-5
Copyright © 2014 by Nathan Gottlieb
All rights reserved.








For Adelyn Leigh Jones


Do not wait to strike till the iron is

; but make it hot by striking.


—William Butler Yeats




To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop.


—E.E. Cummings










Chapter 1




It was a walk home from the subway that Patrick Maloney had made hundreds of times before without encountering trouble. He walked confidently that night, never once looking behind him.

Perhaps he should have.

The street he lived on was in one of the safer neighborhoods of Brooklyn, largely working-class types who hit the sack early. It didn’t hurt that everybody on the block knew he was a cop.

The only people out on the street
were the usual late-night types: dog walkers, joggers trying to squeeze in a run, and three young men he had seen before who were playing poker on a brownstone stoop. Their boom box was playing hip-hop a bit too loud. He thought of saying something to them about the noise, but his policy was to not get involved with the locals.

As he walked
past the card game, one of the players, who was wearing a hoodie, saw the cop and turned the sound down on the boom box without being told. Then the Hoodie, better known on the street as Rashid, turned and tracked the cop with his eyes. Sometimes keeping tabs on people put money in his pocket.

Rashid liked to boast he was in the information business
. This was a fancy way of saying he was just another snitch among hundreds all over the city. But he felt confident he was one of the best, if not
best, in the game.

About thirty seconds after Maloney had passed
the card game, another man walked by. He was moving with purpose. The snitch waited until the second man was far enough away before he folded his cards, scooped up his change, and headed after him, making sure to keep a sizable gap between them. In Rashid’s line of work, he knew how to spot a tail. This was one.

A few minutes later, t
he cop crossed the street to the other side and continued walking. The tail kept following, but stayed on the opposite side of the street. As Maloney began climbing the stairs into a red brick row house, the tail stopped walking, leaned against a stoop railing, and lit up a cigarette. Not wanting to look suspicious, Rashid hopped onto the hood of a car, whipped out his iPod, put the head set on, and moved his body to the rhythm of some tune, pretending he was lost in the music.

A couple minutes after the cop
had disappeared inside the building, the snitch saw lights go on in a dark second floor apartment facing the street. The tail flicked his cigarette into the gutter, pulled out a mobile phone, talked only a few seconds, then quickly crossed the street and walked up the stairs to the building the cop had gone into.

to look at the tail now, Rashid noticed the guy slip something long and metallic out of his pocket and insert it into the door lock. Seconds later, the tail pulled the door open and walked inside.

As soon as Rashid saw this, he hopped off the car and shoved his iP
od and headset into a pants pocket. The snitch now felt sure something bad was going to happen in that building. Whatever it was, it was probably going to be useful to him.

Sure enough, the lights suddenly went out in the apartment facing the street. Barely a minute later, the tail flew down the steps and hustled over to the curb just as a Land Rover
with its headlights off pulled up fast. As soon as the tail was inside the car, it took off, still without lights. Rashid watched as it made a sharp right turn at the next corner and sped away.

The snitch frowned. Without the car’s lights on, he couldn’t read the license plate. He would’ve liked to have gotten it.
For several minutes he kept his eyes glued on the dark apartment to see if the lights came back on. When they didn’t, he headed back to the card game.

As he sat down, one of the players
dealt him a new hand and said, “What was that all about, man?”

“Not sure. But I intend to find out.”

The snitch glanced in the direction of the apartment again, still wondering what had gone down inside it. One thing was for sure. By the way that tail raced out of the building and jumped into car without lights, it probably wasn’t good.


Greenwich Village. Two weeks later


It was just after midnight when a taxi pulled up in front of a newsstand on Hudson Street in the West Village. Out from the back of the cab stepped Nicky Doyle, a heavyset man in his forties wearing a loose-fitting gray suit.

It was a quiet Monday night and the street was nearly deserted.

Heading over to the newsstand, he reached into his pocket and pulled out four quarters for a beggar sitting on a folding chair next to the kiosk. Doyle knew that “Blind Joe” Woolley could see perfectly well behind his black Ray Charles glasses. Seeing Doyle approaching, the beggar smiled and jingled the coins in his metal cup.

, Mr. Nicky,” Blind Joe said.

As Doyle
dropped his quarters into the cup, he said, “So how’s business tonight?”

Well, Mr. Nicky, everything comes to him who hustles while he waits.”

Doyle laughed. “Did you steal that
line from your book of quotes?”

The beggar nodded. “Yup. Thomas Alva Edison
said that. You being a hot-shot newspaper reporter, you must know who he was.”

Sure do. Inventor of the light bulb.”

Not to mention the phonograph and movie camera.”

Sliding his dark glasses down his nose to the tip, Blind Joe looked straight at Doyle and
grinned. “I’m hearing you broke a big story today.”

“You got that right.”

“Gonna read it as soon as I get home,” the beggar said, then quickly readjusted his glasses and jingled his cup as another man approached the kiosk. The guy walked right by without stopping.

Seeing Doyle heading
in his direction, the newsstand’s Pakistani clerk smiled. “Wassup, Nicky? I’m selling a lot more of the
Daily News
than the
tonight. So I figure your story must be a real good one.”

Doyle nodded.
“It is, Malik. And I’m working now on an even bigger story.”

“You’re the best.”

“I like to think so.”

Picking up the
, the reporter looked at the front page and felt a surge of pride. Under a red EXCLUSIVE banner was a headline:







Tucking the newspaper under his arm, Doyle plucked
three Slim Jims out of a glass jar and put them in his pocket. Then he pulled off two bags of barbecue chips from a rack and grabbed a
Sports Illustrated
. He handed a ten-dollar bill to Malik.

Keep the change,” he told the clerk.

s, Mr. Nicky.”

As he tucked his magazine under his arm with the newspaper, Doyle
turned back to the beggar. “Keep hustling while you wait.” Then he started walking south on Hudson. There was a six-pack of Bud in his refrigerator waiting for him, and he was eager to get home and make a dent in it.

Earlier that night, after knocking off work,
he had left the
Daily News
Building on East 42
Street and stopped at McFadden’s bar, where he’d ordered some mozzarella sticks and drunk a few pints of beer with a fellow reporter. He was still feeling buzzed now as he turned off Hudson onto Morton Street, a quiet residential block lined with handsome brownstones and row houses.

Halfway down the block, Doyle stopped by the stairs
of a three-story, red brick building, fished his key chain out of his pocket, and fumbled with the keys to find the right one. The keys suddenly slipped out of his hand and dropped to the sidewalk near the railing of the stairs that led down to the basement apartment. As Doyle bent to pick up the key chain, someone in the dark recess of the stairwell stepped up out of the shadows and pointed a handgun with a long silencer at him.

Before Doyle could react, the man popped off three shots
into the reporter’s chest and sent him crumbling to the ground.

Scrambling up the basement steps, the
gunman fired one last bullet into the top of Doyle’s head, then hit the curb just as a Land Rover with its lights off raced up. As soon as he was in the car, the vehicle sped away.

Left behind was a tableau reminiscent of a
1940s gangland-style shooting: Doyle’s twisted, lifeless body lay sprawled awkwardly on the pavement in a pool of blood.

The next day’s
Daily News
would lead with another of the reporter’s stories, but not one he would have liked to have seen:




BOOK: The Payback Game
2.93Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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