Dying is not for the faint of heart.
Unfortunately, dying is also not reserved for the very old, the very ill, or the very deserving either. Sometimes, dying is unfair and ill timed—almost always, it’s irritating. Just when things are great—you’re a hotshot homicide detective married to a brilliant, beautiful professor—then, wham, someone shoots you in the heart. I’m not being figurative here; I mean right in the heart. One minute you’re alive and on this earth, and the next minute you’re dead, and, well, still on this earth.
Just to be clear, being among the living and being one of them are two separate things.
I’m Tuck. Formally, Detective Oliver Tucker, and I’m a damn fine homicide cop. Oh, I’m also dead—just not gone.
See, about a year ago, a crazed killer murdered me in my own house. Oh, he wasn’t breaking in for the cheap silver or dog cookies—he was after my wife. She’d unearthed a secret hidden for decades. A deadly secret. His secret. And I took a bullet for her.
That bullet ended my life and started a new career—a dead detective, or rather, a detective for the dead. Some call me the Ghost Gumshoe—a nom de guerre I’m not fond of, but no one asked me. Hercule hides his head when he hears that name. Angel teases me with it. Oh, Hercule’s my black Lab and best pal. Angel’s my wife and, uh hum, a Professor of History at the University of the Shenandoah Valley and acting Department Chair. She’s a local big shot, gorgeous, smart, and, well, gorgeous. She calls me a private-dic—err, detective—ever since meeting Sassie and Vincent Calaprese—my new pals from 1939.
Yes, 1939—seventy-six years ago.
See, after I was clipped by that crazy last year—ah, sorry, that’s Vincent rubbing off again—after I was murdered, I’ve been meeting the dead. Not all dead people; that would be too weird. Just those who want overdue justice. In my last case, Dying to Know, a couple pretty, young, dead girls were looking for justice and I served it up. Their killer—my killer—had been on a killing-spree for many years. He made the mistake of adding me to his list. That cost him. It cost him big.
My latest caper—Dying for the Past—just broke. There’s the big hint … for the past. Someone’s got some ‘splainin’ to do for their past. Another hint—it ain’t Hercule or Angel, either.
Here’s the short version. Angel and I were at her highbrow charity ball for the rich and famous. All the big shots were there—and they let my detective partner Bear Braddock in, too. Anyway, there we were enjoying some old swing music when this mysterious philanthropist got drilled, err killed, in front of a hundred guests right in the middle of the dance.
I was standing there watching my Angel in her sexy evening dress—icing poured hot over sultry curves—when bam!—Mr. Carnation gets clipped. (Mr. Carnation is not his real name.)
No, no one saw diddly. No smoking gun. No murderer. Nothing. The killer jitterbugged in and gunned him down to Benny Goodman.
The next thing I know, Bear and his detectives were running around chasing shadows. The FBI got involved and the US Attorney’s Office, too. Even the Russian mob got in the act. Then, someone was stalking Angel … a missing Federal witness … a lost mob stooge. Even, some crazy old lady in a karate gi (I swear!), and of course, Poor Nic Bartalotta’s hand was in the cookie jar. Oh, Poor Nic is a retired New York mob boss who settled in Winchester. He also happens to be gaga over my Angel. He’s not a bad guy, mind you, just a former racketeer, murderer, embezzler, swindler, and thug. He is retired though. So he has that going for him.
You’ll love Poor Nic, honest.
Then, just when I thought I’d seen it all, I met Vincent and Sassy. Vincent’s an old mob boss, too—from 1939. I also met Sassy, well, phew… she’s the twenty-something va-va-voom gal on his elbow. And she likes me. A lot.
How does all this fit together? A new murder and old gangsters?
It’s all about the past. It’s all about the book.
The book, see, is Vincent’s journal containing all the mobsters, spies, and miscreants from the good old days leading up World War II. You know what? A lot of those families are still around—or their crimes are. That book will lead whoever reads it to a few million in loot and a whole lot of names and dates and espionage rings and blackmail and bodies.
Needless to say, everyone wants the book. Everyone.
So, what do you think they’re all willing to do for it?
You can read more about Tuck in Dying For The Past, the second book in the “Gumshoe Ghost” mystery series, published by Midnight Ink. The first book in the series is Dying To Know.
GIVEAWAY: Leave a comment by 6 p.m. eastern on January 23 for the chance to win a copy of DYING FOR THE PAST. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only.
About the author
TJ O’Connor lives in Virginia with his wife and three Labs. Dying for the Past, the first of two sequels to Dying to Know, releases January 8, 2015—available now for pre-orders. Dying to Know is available in bookstores and online everywhere. TJ is an international security consultant specializing in anti-terrorism and investigations. Learn about his world at www.tjoconnor.com and Facebook.