On the verge of bankruptcy, private investigator, Mitch O’Reilly takes any gig that comes his way, while running his Eye Spy Supply shop in a forgotten Los Angeles strip mall. After two tours in Afghanistan, Mitch’s life amounts to operating his store, coping with his fun-loving sister, Josie, and scoring with anonymous men he meets online. That changes when he gets a break. A beloved comedy scriptwriter is murdered at a bathhouse, and Mitch is hired to prove the innocence of the club custodian. Adapting from a two-bit gumshoe to a high-profile sleuth proves more challenging than he expected.
As if Mitch didn’t have enough to deal with, charismatic bathhouse operator, Trent Nakos, enters his life. After a heartbreaking past, the manager is the definition of a man the brooding P.I. actively avoids.
Following leads from sprawling mansions to sketchy hoods is demanding but becomes more troublesome when deadly threats jeopardize the biggest opportunity of his career.
“This case will be good for both of us,” Eve said. “If we get my client off, we look like heroes. If we don’t, he’s just another Mexican in prison who’ll be forgotten.”
“You’re one cold-hearted bitch.”
“Just honest, Mitch.”
Attorney Eve Aiken and I had worked together twice before. Once, I took pictures of a drug-abusing father in a custody battle. The second case involved a Pomeranian and suspicious bite marks.
“He’s probably an illegal. That’ll make it harder for us.” She pulled her gray suit jacket off, revealing a low-cut, black shell top. The skin above her breasts and down her arms was rough, wrinkled, and splotchy, making her look far beyond her fifty years. “I’ll give you the quick and dirty.”
I cocked my head and smirked. “Quick and dirty is the way I like it.”
She glared. “You probably know about the murder at that gay bathhouse yesterday.”
“It may surprise you to know there is no gay underground to disseminate information.”
“Don’t you watch the news?”
Before I could answer, a bell on the main door handle jingled. I rolled my desk chair to see the front of my store, Eye Spy Supplies. My twin sister, Josie, was showing up for work an hour late.
My desk, tucked in the corner of the cramped storeroom, is one of those heavy-as-hell, gray metal types the government used for decades after World War II. I placed my arm back on it, bumping a pile of paperwork to the floor where it mingled with more papers sorted in no particular order.
Eve scowled as she combed my shabby storeroom office with its dimmed fluorescent lighting and dark wood paneling. Stacked boxes slanted, ready to fall at any moment. A stool next to the desk barely balanced a mountain of bills on top, all stamped “past due.” I casually took a book off my desk and placed it on the pile. I had opened the store to be my own boss and get out of detective work. My plan was failing miserably. I still didn’t make enough from the store to stop being a private investigator, and I didn’t make enough as an investigator to close the store.
“You were saying?” I urged Eve on.
“A man was killed yesterday morning at the Club Silver Lake bathhouse,” she said. “Familiar with it?”
Familiar? It had been almost five years since I’d been inside, but I would never shake the lure of sheer self-indulgence that consumed my life after I left the army.
“I’ve heard of it. What happened?”
“A man by the name of Victor Verboom had his throat slashed while in a steam room. They have a suspect in custody—Ernesto Torres, a jilted lover who swears he didn’t do it. I’m defending him. That’s why I need your help.”
“Given your feelings towards ‘the gays,’ it’s surprising you took the case.”
“I work with you, don’t I? Anyway, it doesn’t matter which way the wind blows, as long as the cash is green.” She slid forward on my turquoise thrift-store couch and leaned toward me.
“They found Verboom’s body at 3:00 a.m. Apparently, he has a huge house in the hills, but he was known to sleep at the bathhouse several nights a week. Can you imagine
I could but didn’t say so. “What’s his story?”
“He was a staff writer for some TV comedy I don’t watch. It’s in the file.” She opened a manila folder that was in her lap. “Let’s see, it’s a show called Don’t do That! You ever see it?”
“I don’t watch much TV, but I can’t imagine you watching sitcoms. Is it even possible for you to crack a smile?”
Eve’s lips turned down, and she furrowed her brow. In an attempt to lean back, she forgot she was seated too far forward, which caused her to slump on the couch flailing her raised hands. Grunting and clearly embarrassed, she scooched up in her seat and straightened her gray, stained skirt. I was forced to grit my teeth and look away to maintain self-control.
She brushed aside a strand of her thin, black hair and crossed her arms. “Do you want this job, O’Reilly?”
“I’ll quit with the witty banter.”
“Witty? Don’t flatter yourself.”
After growing up in Michigan and North Carolina, Brad Shreve criss-crossed the country while working in the hotel industry. In addition to working in hotels as a bellman, front desk clerk, and reservation call center director, he’s managed coffee houses, waited tables, sold potato chips off a truck and even hocked pre-burial funeral plans.
He credits Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak for developing his interest in art and storytelling. He’d spend hours on the floor sketching and painting and writing stories. My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George gave him his first inklings that he’d like to be a novelist someday.
In addition to perpetually thinking of how to kill people, he’s a proud dad, a beach bum, and coffee house squatter.
He currently lives in the Los Angeles South Bay with his husband, Maurice.
Website/Newsletter Sign Up: www.bradshreve.com
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/bradshreve
|Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions|