We no sooner set foot on the pavement when a guy walks onto the loading dock wearing a beat-up black suit, white shirt, and black tie. I recognize him as Jack Barzi, a mass of muscle with hippy-long, graying hair; everybody called him “Chief” in the old days because he resembled that big Injun in the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. He has not changed much.
I stroll up to Chief like I am here to buy the place. He is standing a good four feet above me on the dock and looks twenty feet tall. I remove my Ray-Ban Aviators. “Chief? You work for Macky now?”
He nods and twists his mouth around to make it resemble a smile. “Long time, Babe. You ain’t changed a bit.”
I give him a smile that is genuine. Finally someone recognizes Babe Crucci for the grade-A physical specimen he is, living proof of the adage that age is only a number. My youthful appearance is mostly genetic; the rest of it is attributable to the weights I humped religiously in prison and the food in there I could barely eat enough of to stay alive.
I say to Chief, “Except for the hair, you’re hanging in there pretty good yourself.” I take out my wallet, dig inside it. “Look, here’s my hairdresser’s card. Call her and she’ll get rid of that gray for you. My treat.”
“You get your hair dyed?” he says, then takes the card and says, “I be damned,” while squinting to examine my hair. He fingers the locks on his shoulder, inspecting them like they are someone else’s, and laughs that grunty laugh of his. “Macky says you only been outta the Q a week?”
“Macky speaks truth.”
He digs in his wallet and hands me a card. “This’ll connect you to the best call-girl service in LA. First pop’s on me. Just tell ’em I sent ya.”
“Good deal,” I say, though I am certain I have already found the best call girl in LA. Best in the world, even.
Chief looks satisfied before he looks at my son, then his lips snap back to their natural snarl. After a few seconds of this, he squats, motions me over with a tug of his head. In a low voice, he says, “Babe, listen, between you and me. I don’t know everything going on here, but I’ve heard bits and pieces that worry me. Macky pays me—all right?—and I gotta do my job—okay?—so, you know, be careful. Don’t do nothin’ loopy.”
“Hey,” I say, “you know I do not do loopy things.”
“Maybe,” he says with the slightest twinkle in his eye, “but you never been convicted of bein’ careful neither.”
Title: Deadly Lullaby
Author: Robert McClure
Genre: Thriller / Suspense
For readers of Harlan Coben and Robert Crais, Robert McClure’s rollicking crime novel of family and felony takes readers on a relentless thrill ride through the L.A. underworld.
Fresh off a nine-year stint in San Quentin, career hitman Babe Crucci plans to finally go straight and enjoy all life has to offer—after he pulls one or two more jobs to shore up his retirement fund. More than anything, Babe is dead set on making up for lost time with his estranged son, Leo, who just so happens to be a rising star in the LAPD.
The road to reconciliation starts with tickets to a Dodgers game. But first, Leo needs a little help settling a beef over some gambling debts owed to a local mobster. This kind of thing is child’s play for Babe–until a sudden twist in the negotiations leads to a string of corpses and a titanic power shift in gangland politics. With the sins of his father piling up and dragging him down, Leo throws himself into the investigation of a young prostitute’s murder, a case that makes him some unlikely friends—and some brutally unpredictable enemies.
Caught up in a clash of crime lords, weaving past thugs with flamethrowers who expend lives like pocket change, Babe and Leo have one last chance to face the ghosts of their past—if they want to live long enough to see their future.
Robert McClure read pulp fiction as a kid when he should have been studying, but ultimately cracked down enough to obtain a bachelor’s in criminology from Murray State University and a law degree from the University of Louisville. He is now an attorney and crime fiction writer who lives and works in Louisville, Kentucky. His story “My Son” appeared in The Best American Mystery Stories, and he has had other works published in MudRock: Stories & Tales, Hardboiled, Thug Lit, and Plots with Guns.
Penguin Random House