GENRE: Mystery (detective)
A teenage runaway from the Brownsville projects, Alessandra Martillo lived with an indifferent aunt who had taken her in when her mother killed herself, and later, after more than a year on the streets, a caring uncle found her, took her in, and showed her she had a chance. That was many years ago, and now Alessandra’s all grown up, working for a sleazy P.I., repossessing cars, and trolling for waitstaff on the take. The cases aren’t glamorous, or interesting, but the work pays the bills. And she’s good at it---if there’s one thing she’s learned since leaving the streets, it’s how to take care of herself around life’s shadier elements.
When an Irish mobster named Daniel “Mickey” Caughlan thinks someone on the inside of his shipping operation is trying to set him up for a fall, it’s Al he wants on the job. She’s to find the traitor and report back. But just a little digging shows it’s more complicated than a simple turncoat inside the family; Al’s barely started on the case when she runs into a few tough guys trying to warn her away. Fools. As if a little confrontation wouldn’t make her even more determined.
The things a girl’s gotta do to turn a buck . . .
Alessandra Martillo leaned across the pool table and lined up her shot. Black hair fell forward across her face and hung down over one eye. She knew Marty Stiles, the fat dude at the bar, was staring at the gap in her V-neck sweater, but she also knew that he couldn’t help himself. Her single unobscured eye flicked once in his direction, then back down at the table as she struck the cue ball softly. It rolled half the length of the table, knocked the last striped ball into a corner pocket, then caromed off the end bumper and rolled to a stop about a foot and a half behind the eight ball. She straightened back up, ignored Marty, tapped her stick on the other corner pocket. Her opponent, relegated to observer status since four shots after the break, stepped forward and laid a folded twenty on the table. “Forget it,” he said. “You’re out of my league.”
She shook her hair back out of her face and winked at him. “If that’s the way you feel about it, baby.” The guy walked off shaking his head.
She walked around the table and sank the rest of the balls.
Now that her game was over, she hammered them home one by one, almost violently. No one had yet come forward with the price of the next game. Stiles didn’t reach into his pocket, either. Marty never played anything, anywhere, unless he had an edge. Besides, when Al was dressed for the club, the guy could never think straight; all he could do was waste his time admiring her ass.
She knew she was no cover girl, but she was tall, dark, lean, fine enough in her own way. If you wanted a Barbie doll, she wasn’t for you, and she was comfortable with that. She was more like the kind of broad who could pitch a shutout against your softball team, hit one out herself, then drink you under the table after the game. There were certain guys who went crazy for that, and Marty Stiles was one of them. She knew it: when she stared at him she could turn his guts to water. Every time she wore a pair of low- rise jeans his tongue would hang out so far you could put a knot in it and call it a tie. He’d had it bad for her for a while. He’d given her his best shot: laid off the sauce, dropped about thirty pounds, got into some new clothes, sprang for a fifty- dollar haircut . . . But when he made his move, she laughed at him.
Not a chance, she told him.
Norman Green is the author of six crime novels, most recently Sick Like That. Born in Massachusetts, he now lives in New Jersey with his wife.
Norman will be awarding a digital copy of The Last Gig to 3 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour.