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.

Beachtown Blues, or 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.

Beachtown Blues 6 page excerpt >>

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 >>