Jim Winter is a writer from Cincinnati whose new book, Road Rules, hit the e-book trail on September 1. Jim has written reviews for January Magazine and Mystery Scene and the odd interview piece for The Rap Sheet and Crimespree. His short stories have appeared in Thrilling Detective, the original Plots With Guns, Spinetingler, andThug Lit. He writes regularly and well on subjects ranging from crime fiction to American history at his blog, Edged in Blue.
Jim was kind enough to stop by One Bite at a Time with an excerpt from Road Rules.
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“Hello, Koradovich,” said Estevez. Behind him stood Simmons, with two uniform cops further back.
“Yes?” said Koradovich. “May I help you?”
Estevez reached into his pocket and shoved a card at Koradovich. “Carlo Estevez, Major Crimes Unit, Cleveland Police. This is my associate, Detective Charles Simmons. We'd like to ask you a few questions regarding a company you own.”
Koradovich spread his hands and looked around. “As you can see, this is my company. Andre the Giant's Clean Used Cars.”
“Are you sure about the clean part?” asked Simmons.
“Kiss my ass, Detective.”
“Has it sat in one of your cars?”
Estevez glared at the young detective. “Simmons.” He turned back to Koradovich. “We weren't discussing your primary business. No one questions you own a buy here/screw here lot. I'm here about another business, one you have a silent partnership in.”
“And that would be... what? Is someone selling drugs out of one of my apartment buildings? Or my bar? What, Lieutenant? I'm a busy man.”
“You are a partner in a firm that in turn is a partner in a company called Cossack Holdings. In fact, you seem to be the only partner worth mentioning.”
Koradovich leaned back and laced his fingers behind his head. “Probably. Who knows? My accountant does a lot of things for tax purposes.”
“Like launder money through nail salons on the east side?” said Simmons.
“What's your point, Lieutenant? I've got a business to run.”
“Cossack Holdings... Nice name, by the way,” said Estevez. “No one would ever suspect a guy named 'Koradovich' as one of the partners.”
Koradovich waved his hand in a circle at Estevez.
“Anyway, Cossack Holdings owns a warehouse.”
“Allied Staging,” Simmons added.
“Allied Staging,” said Estevez. “Out in the valley off 480. Know it?”
A low bubbling sound came from under Koradovich, followed by a smell best described as organic.
The uniforms both covered their mouths and noses. Estevez waved his hand in front of his face. “Can I take that as a no?”
“It's no crime to own a warehouse, Lieutenant,” said Koradovich. “Lots of people own them. We Ukrainians call that 'investment property.' Familiar with the concept? I guess on a cop's salary, you wouldn't be.”
“You're right, Andre. It's not a crime to own a warehouse. It is, however, a crime to aid and abet grand larceny.” He perched on the edge of Koradovich's desk. “See, Allied had been contracted to store and secure a very rare artifact, The Chest of St. Jakob of Danzig. Perhaps you've heard of it?”
At Koradovich's elbow sat the morning's Plain Dealer, the headline proclaiming the police “baffled” in locating the stolen relic. “The media seems to think you can't find your own dicks if you unzipped your flies. That why you're harrassing me?”
“I'm here,” said Estevez, “because you own the property where the Chest was stolen. Among other things we can discuss downtown.”
“Maybe it was stolen during transport.”
Estevez shook his head. “It came from the airport by armored car and left by police escort. Both transport companies can account for their time. Your warehouse manager seems to have a problem accounting for his.”
“So what do you want me to do about it?”
Estevez smiled. “I want you to come downtown and answer a few questions.”
“And if I don't?”
“Well, you have a right to refuse. I'm sure you already knew that.”
“I also know I have a right to an attorney.”
Estevez motioned to the two uniforms. “Help Mr. Koradovich to the car, boys. Handcuffs won't be necessary. Just a friendly chat.” He turned back to Koradovich. “Ain't that right, Koradovich?”
“Yeah. Friendly. Let me call my friendly lawyer so he can give you a friendly reminder in what my rights are.”
* * *
My copy already resides on my Kindle. You can get yours by clicking any of the these links: