Authors: Howard Shrier
Tags: #General, #Fiction, #Mystery & Detective
“Combining fast-paced action with well-structured plots, and featuring a complex but likeable protagonist, Shrier’s novels are fast winning him legions of loyal fans. If you enjoy contemporary hard-boiled tales with nuanced characters, check out
you won’t be disappointed.”
“Shrier … writes with an easy assurance and a killer sense of humour.…
is a great addition to the mystery shelf.”
“A crackling good mystery … a compelling portrait of modern secular Jewish life complete with its wisdom, contradictions and abiding humour.
is often funny, sometimes violent and always thoughtful, with a powerful sense of place throughout. Toronto may have just found its Spenser in PI Jonah Geller, and I can’t wait for his next case.”
—Sean Chercover, award-winning author of
Big City, Bad Blood
“A more than worthy sequel [to
], with an intriguing plot, a wicked sense of humour and masterfully managed dialogue.”
, Shrier cements his reputation as a fine mystery writer. I suspect and hope that he and Jonah will be around for a long time to come.”
Canadian Jewish News
“A plot brimming with greed, deceit, violence and murder makes
a fast-paced, entertaining read.”
—José Latour, bestselling author of
Crime of Fashion
“What a great book
is. I thoroughly enjoyed it, could not put it down.”
—Deon Meyer, bestselling author of
“A fast-moving and violent tale that proves your deadliest enemy is probably the person sleeping right beside you. I hope Geller returns for a third book.”
Winner of the Arthur Ellis Award for Best First Novel
“Howard Shrier’s first novel,
, is a winner.”
“A cast of compelling oddballs; a complex, funny and always surprising hero and a plot as fresh and twisty as today’s headlines—Shrier juggles them all deftly and nails his first crime novel with the aplomb and impact of a seasoned pro. A completely satisfying read that made me wish Jonah Geller could work cases on my shows.”
—René Balcer, Emmy Award-winning executive producer/head writer of
Law & Order
, creator of
Law & Order Criminal Intent
, winner of the Peabody Award and of four Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America
“A crime story that is both thrilling and thoughtful.”
—Kelley Armstrong, bestselling author of the Women of the Otherworld series
“A great debut novel from Montreal-born Torontonian Shrier, and it introduces PI Jonah Geller in what is certainly going to be a fine series. The plot is tight, the characters engaging, and this one even has a believable—and sympathetic—bad guy.”
The Globe and Mail
“Blunt action, realistically and graphically described and paced with just enough time to catch your breath before the next sudden eruption. Add the right feel for dialogue, a plot and writing that’s just the ideal temperature for a mystery-thriller and you have
.… A debut novel with a well-juggled storyline brimming with dry humour, a cast of oddball characters, and graphic scenes that come alive with action. A must-read.”
The Hamilton Spectator
“Delivers a fast plot with the requisite brutalities and, not least, a sharp look at what happens to people—Americans—who lack anything like sensible health coverage.…
depicts pretty vividly how that sad system works.”
London Free Press
“This first book by Shrier is top-notch, a page-turner to rate with the best of them and with some memorable characters. It also contains just the right dose of cynicism and dark humour, both of which mark the best of the private-eye novels.”
“There’s a new Howard [not Howard Engel] on the horizon, and his protagonist bears only a passing resemblance to Engel’s creation. No schmuck, he is tougher, slightly grittier and strictly a big-city sleuth; he is, in fact, a Cooperman for the new millennium.…
is a fine debut novel.”
Vintage Canada Edition, 2012
Copyright © 2012 Howard Shrier
All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the publisher, except by a reviewer, who may quote brief passages in a review.
Published in Canada by Vintage Canada, a division of Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto, in 2012. Distributed by Random House of Canada Limited.
Vintage Canada with colophon is a registered trademark.
Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication
Boston cream / Howard Shrier.
(Jonah Geller mystery series; 3)
I. Title. II. Series: Shrier, Howard. Jonah Geller mystery series; 3.
PS8637.H74B68 2012 C813.’6 C2011-904065-4
Cover images: (top) Jac Depczyk © Getty Images
(bottom) Denis Tangney Jr. © Getty Images
To my sons Aaron and Jesse, for all they give me
and to Harriet for everything else
t was five minutes before ten in the evening and Harinder Patel was ringing up Mr. Gordon’s usual sale: a pack of Marlboro Lights and ten tickets for the lottery. How a man like Mr. Gordon could spend so much on the lottery was beyond Harinder. It was all a load of nonsense, in his opinion. A tax on the poor, on the dreamers of the world who wanted to be rich without working for it. But a sale was a sale and he wished Mr. Gordon luck with his numbers, as he always did. “This week is your week,” he always said, though clearly it never was. The man’s clothes were old and worn and the smell of cheap wine always drifted off him like sewer breath.
When the door shut behind Mr. Gordon, Harinder began to get ready for closing. Another fourteen-hour day behind him, and not enough to show for it. A few packs of cigarettes, a few cartons of milk, tickets for the blasted lottery. Not nearly enough. Maybe I should buy some tickets myself, he mused. But he knew he wouldn’t. He might have been poor but he was no dreamer. Anything he got in this life he would have to earn.
He had no regrets about having moved to Boston. It was an agreeable city by any standard, other than the weather, and with so many excellent universities, he’d had high hopes that his son Sanjay would enter one of the professions. Sadly, he had not. He was studying marketing communications, if you could believe it—Harinder had no idea where that would lead; neither, he supposed, did Sanjay. But it was an education, and maybe a diploma—not even a degree—would help Sanjay find a rewarding career. If nothing else, maybe he would come up with some brilliant marketing scheme to bring more customers into the store. Lord knows we could use the help, he thought. And soon.
He knew he had made a mistake in choosing the location: Somerville, of all places. And on Bow Street, which didn’t draw nearly enough traffic, neither on foot nor by car, and so little parking on the street. And would construction on Union Square ever be complete? Always something being torn up and fixed: street, sidewalks, street again for underground pipes.
It had seemed like such a deal at the time: house with ground-floor business for sale. But the house was old and drafty and in constant need of repair, and the business … he was so far behind in his payments that if things didn’t turn around soon, Harinder knew he would lose it all.
One minute to ten.
He was walking toward the front door to lock up when it banged open and two men came in, backed by a wintry blast of air. As soon as he saw them, he knew they were trouble. Hard-looking men, one of average size and one who was enormous, at least a head taller than his companion.
“Evening,” said the smaller of the two. He had long, dark-blond hair combed back from his forehead and was smiling, though not in a way that could be described as friendly. Harinder couldn’t help thinking that this was how a wolf would smile at its next meal.
No hat or gloves in this weather, Harinder noticed. Who went out like that? Maybe, he thought, the lack of gloves was a good thing.
“Good evening,” Harinder replied, his voice sounding high and thin to his own ears.
The man nodded at his larger friend, who turned the Open sign in the door to Closed, then turned the lock and leaned against it. Clearly the smaller man was in charge.
Harinder tried to keep the panic from rising in him. If they robbed him, so be it. There wasn’t much cash in the register; how could there be? But he did fear violence. He knew from reading the
that the city was full of drug-crazed criminals who would kill you for the change in your pockets.
Thank God Sanjay is not here, he thought. Like all young men he could be something of a hothead, more inclined to fight than back down from a threat.
“How’s it going, Harry?” the smaller man said. “Okay if I call you Harry? ’Cause I ain’t really sure how to pronounce your name.”
Harinder looked from one man to the other. He had never seen them before—how did they know his name? And why the talk? If they were here to rob him, why not get it over with? “Please.… ” he said.
“Please what? Am I making you nervous or something?”
“No, sir. Not at all.”
“You look nervous.” He turned to his friend at the door. “Don’t he look nervous to you?”