The Eunuch of Shanghai  

Self-made billionaire Li Chenqing, China’s wealthiest and most ruthless industrialist, has died.  At his funeral, his elder son Tian Wu discovers that decades before, during the Mao regime, Old Li sold his soul—and much more—in a Faustian bargain for power.  The son responds by casting aside filial piety to exact a heinous revenge against his late father’s legacy.

Fast-forward a year.  Detective Inspector Nigel Hawkins and Special Agent Daniella Benelli, partnered again after The China Contract (the first episode of the Inspector Hawkins series), re-deploy to Asia when a family of U.S. citizens is massacred at a luxury resort in Vietnam’s northwest highlands.  By the hand of Fate, the victims are Old Li’s Americanized daughter Jun Ying and her American spouse and children.  In the challenge to expose the hand—or hands—of the killers, and chasing a thin trail of clues, Hawkins, Benelli, and a “third musketeer,” the redoubtable Lt. Thanh, cross into China, where they become entangled in the history, secrets, and complex fortunes of the late Mr. Li.  In a near-fatal ambush on the streets of Shanghai, our trio are aided by the surprise intrusion of an armed patrol under a Chinese official, a Mr. Wang–whose life Hawkins and Benelli saved in The China Contract.  Wang becomes the conduit for pursuit of the killers of Jun Ying and her family.  Riding along in the shadows are Benelli and Hawkins’s common truths of heartbreak, obsession, and redemption.

The Killing of Chuy Muro

The time is 1963 in the rural Southwest, and farmworkers’ civil rights are a flashpoint of social change.  The place is Richland, a rural town on the California coast.  Eddie is at work, mulling over his seventeenth summer and his plans with Gene, his best friend since before they “could pee standing up.”  Into the gas station rolls Chuy Muro, a local tough with a sawed-off 12-gauge under the dash of his pre-War Chevy.

So begins a story of discontent, ethnic conflict, and violence.  Town officials and police are unable or unwilling to take control, and a combination of alcohol, testosterone, and embittered traditions cascade into beatings, rape, and murder.  These events become the acid test of Gene and Eddie’s friendship.

From an escalating series of ethnic clashes, Eddie and Gene argue over the blame-laying, and the split between them grows.  During a massive gang fight, Eddie witnesses a crime and, under pressure from Gene, testifies against the police, leading to his being ostracized by the town.  This perceived betrayal by Gene pushes Eddie past the breaking point.

Released from prison forty years later, the man who speaks to us is still Eddie the boy, remorseful of his deeds and where they have taken him.

The Killing of Chuy Muro opening chapters >>

The China Contract

Entering his life’s defining chapter, Detective Inspector Nigel Hawkins is torn by the choice between freedom and obligation, between fearing his loss of devotion and the pain of reliving his mistakes.  The murder on Hawkins’s turf of a Nobel Prize candidate, beheaded in a contract killing, leads to a round-the-world chase—Singapore, Dubai, Madrid, London—that ends in the affluent surrounds of Montecito, California, and the tortuous confines of the capitalist mind.

Yet Hawkins has his own demons: a wife-and-marriage once betrayed, and the growing doubts over his career.  Enter Danni Benelli, FBI specialist on the twisted life of Hawkins’s quarry.  She offers Hawkins what’s missing in his life, but his conflicts over duty and guilt interfere.  Following the climax, Hawkins must part with Benelli and return to New Zealand, but what he finds there opens the door to an unexpected future.

The China Contract 6 page excerpt >>

“Unique story, unique setting . . . cinematic . . . touches all the bases.” – Gene Riehl, author of QUANTICO RULES (St. Martin’s Press)

” . . . lean and mean, hard-boiled . . . exotic and compelling . . . a serious writer in the company of John Le Carre, and Scott Turow.” – Alan Rinzler, editor for Robert Ludlum, Clive Cussler, Toni Morrison, et al.

The Brass Ring

Ring explores the experiences of grief, despair, and resurrection, while spinning a yarn about the California wine world, cocaine, blackmail, and murder, from Napa Valley to Colombia, from Los Angeles to the West Indies.

The story opens in Spain, where we meet Alex Corlett, injured adventurer and business innocent who, four years before, lost his wife and first child.  Since then, he has been escaping from his grief in an aimless wander around the world.  Returning now to California, he doesn’t see on the horizon the reappearance of an old love returning, or the dangers that await him from David Gilbért, high-flying wine baron, cocaine smuggler, and money-launderer.

Once home, and unknowingly infringing on Gilbért’s plans, Corlett encounters brainy, muscular, one-eyed Samantha, and together they must face Gilbért’s final solution of deception, reversal, and death.  This is an enterprise that will lead to love affairs, sexual affairs, extortion, and prosecution, endangering many lives and ending a few.

The Brass Ring 6 page excerpt >>

Loan Star

The year is 2020.  Neil Manley, MBA, barely thirty and unwitting instrument of his parents’ death, returns from his Boston job to California to care for his off-the-rails sister McKenzie and her two kids, Thunder and Lightning.  Now VP for tiny Malibu Bank & Trust, Manley moves himself, Kenzie, and the kids into a rented house in Oxnard, a town where romantic prospects for a young man are as common as cupcakes on the moon.

Manley and his former colleague Clint Elstrom have been discussing a banking bill from Congresswoman Anita Mitchell, Clint’s boss.  Friction over this bubbles up between Manley and Christophe Santoni, his current boss, but MB&T is soon bought by two big hitters from Manley’s past as they launch APEX, a new $160 billion bank.  Manley gets a huge promotion and income to match, solving most of his life’s dilemmas.  Out celebrating, he meets Tina Perez, possibly the woman of his dreams, and chief of cyber-security for a national tech firm.  Then, his guard down, Manley has a one-night fling with coworker Ali Scott; it seems innocuous, and ends quickly—or so he thinks.

Loan Star 6 page excerpt >>

Palanquin

Palanquin, set in 19th-century India and Victorian London, opens with a fictional preface and introduction by the son of one of the story’s second-tier characters. This is followed by a short publisher’s note explaining the decade-long delay in the book’s release to protect one character’s sacred reputation. These three statements present the novel’s conceit, that it is a factual chronicle of actual persons and events as recorded in the collected papers and documents of the writer’s deceased father, and in others’ journals, diaries, etc. to which the son had access.

The two opening chapters establish historical context for the main narrative, the first describing the birth of British trade in 17th-Century India with a fictionalized encounter between historical figures Capt. William Hawkins, master of the Hector, and Mughal Emperor Jahangir. This leads to the emperor’s execution of three high-placed traitors whom Hawkins exposes, and advancement of British trade. A short second chapter reports on how the First Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42) sets the tone for much of Britain’s imperialist conflicts that follow (and, incidentally, in Afghanistan today).

Palanquin 6 page excerpt >>