#BookReview “See You Next Tuesday: From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” by Ken Harris

July 11 – August 5, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

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5/5 Stars!

Rockfish and Jawnie are back without missing a beat, but with a change or two.

Rockfish and McGee, Investigative Specialists now has two licensed investigators after Jawnie passed her exam, and she’s still dragging him into the new millennium and the wonderful world of technology. Steve grudgingly takes baby steps and would rather swallow glass shards before he admits he actually likes it.

A family emergency distracts Steve, and Jawnie is left on her own for the first time… with a cheating husband case.

Doing his lone wolf style investigating—except for Raffi—a furious Steve is hellbent on tracking down the scammers who took Mack and Iggy for over forty-thousand dollars.

Despite a lack of clear, two-way communication, the partners soon realize both their cases are connected and go deeper than they could have imagined.

This was another great ride with Rockfish and McGee and plenty of bad guys, too many close calls, and never too many one-liners.

We also get to see even more into the sometimes troubled psyches of the dynamic duo, meet a guy named Earl—easily forgettable—and a young woman named Gwendolyn Hurricane-Tesla, not at all forgettable! Nor is the title’s meaning!

A great plot and stellar writing do an amazing job of blending popular culture, current events, and generational differences with the investigations of the flawed but sharp sleuths.

Hard-boiled and gritty, or witty and hilarious, this read doesn’t miss a beat!

Rockfish shops at Things Remembered. Who knew?

Enjoy!

~~~

Synopsis:

 

From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish

PI Steve Rockfish’s father loses part of his retirement savings in an online romance scam while partner Jawnie McGee handles the firm’s newest client who spins a tale of alleged spousal infidelity. Rockfish ignores his current case load and becomes fixated on tracking down those responsible for the fraud. Restitution is coming in the form of cash or broken bones. At the same time, Jawnie’s surveillance of the cheating spouse reveals more acts of kindness than sex leading to a client who doesn’t want to believe the good news.

Unbeknownst to the partners, each investigative path leads the partners to the Church of the Universal Nurturing II where the fraud is on a cryptocurrency level. Their new SunCoin is marketed as the only post-rapture currency accepted inside the pearly gates. After all, who wants to show up to the after party with out-turned pockets and not get past Heaven’s paywall?

Church elders court Rockfish and his new-found Hollywood wealth with an old-fashioned honey pot. The danger level ratchets up as Rockfish counters by sending the firm’s two new confidential informants undercover only to find the church’s endgame grift is larger and deadlier than anyone expected.

Praise for See You Next Tuesday:

“Action packed and smartly written.”

Kevin Somers, GoodReads Review

“Harris has created his own sub-genre with this series, which is a beautiful and unique thing to see. Beloved characters must brave the most dangerous, harrowing journey yet. The suspense woven through this tale is done with a finesse rarely seen, and ensures we stay glued to the page.”

Ben Eads, author of Cracked Sky and Hollow Heart

“The second in the Case Files of Steve Rockfish series begins with separate cases involving a cheating husband, a corrupt religious cult, a stockpile of poison gas, and a currency scam. The cases come together in a wild ride worthy of a chase scene in a movie, as the detectives pursue the cult leader in a rip-roaring page turner of an ending.”

Carolyn Geduld, author of Take Me Out The Back and Who Shall Live

“Harris takes you on two journeys you hope will never happen to family members but fear it could. The emotional roller coaster you will ride, keeps you reading and hoping the end comes with a taste of sweet revenge. Harris finds a way to weave a story that keeps you turning the pages and wanting more Rockfish.”

Stephen W. Briggs, author of Family of Killers-Memoirs of an Assassin

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction, Crime Thriller

Published by: Black Rose Writing

Publication Date: July 14th 2022

Number of Pages: 546

ISBN: 1684339898 (ISBN13: 9781684339891)

Series: Case Files of Steve Rockfish, #2

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Kindle Unlimited

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

~~~

Enter for a chance to win an Amazon Gift card!

GIVEAWAY!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Ken Harris. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

~~~

#BookTour “See You Next Tuesday: From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” by Ken Harris

See You Next Tuesday by Ken Harris BannerJuly 11 – August 5, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

book cover

~~~

Synopsis:

 

From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish

PI Steve Rockfish’s father loses part of his retirement savings in an online romance scam while partner Jawnie McGee handles the firm’s newest client who spins a tale of alleged spousal infidelity. Rockfish ignores his current case load and becomes fixated on tracking down those responsible for the fraud. Restitution is coming in the form of cash or broken bones. At the same time, Jawnie’s surveillance of the cheating spouse reveals more acts of kindness than sex leading to a client who doesn’t want to believe the good news.

Unbeknownst to the partners, each investigative path leads the partners to the Church of the Universal Nurturing II where the fraud is on a cryptocurrency level. Their new SunCoin is marketed as the only post-rapture currency accepted inside the pearly gates. After all, who wants to show up to the after party with out-turned pockets and not get past Heaven’s paywall?

Church elders court Rockfish and his new-found Hollywood wealth with an old-fashioned honey pot. The danger level ratchets up as Rockfish counters by sending the firm’s two new confidential informants undercover only to find the church’s endgame grift is larger and deadlier than anyone expected.

Praise for See You Next Tuesday:

“Action packed and smartly written.”

Kevin Somers, GoodReads Review

“Harris has created his own sub-genre with this series, which is a beautiful and unique thing to see. Beloved characters must brave the most dangerous, harrowing journey yet. The suspense woven through this tale is done with a finesse rarely seen, and ensures we stay glued to the page.”

Ben Eads, author of Cracked Sky and Hollow Heart

“The second in the Case Files of Steve Rockfish series begins with separate cases involving a cheating husband, a corrupt religious cult, a stockpile of poison gas, and a currency scam. The cases come together in a wild ride worthy of a chase scene in a movie, as the detectives pursue the cult leader in a rip-roaring page turner of an ending.”

Carolyn Geduld, author of Take Me Out The Back and Who Shall Live

“Harris takes you on two journeys you hope will never happen to family members but fear it could. The emotional roller coaster you will ride, keeps you reading and hoping the end comes with a taste of sweet revenge. Harris finds a way to weave a story that keeps you turning the pages and wanting more Rockfish.”

Stephen W. Briggs, author of Family of Killers-Memoirs of an Assassin

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Fiction, Crime Thriller

Published by: Black Rose Writing

Publication Date: July 14th 2022

Number of Pages: 546

ISBN: 1684339898 (ISBN13: 9781684339891)

Series: Case Files of Steve Rockfish, #2

Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Kindle Unlimited

~~~

Read an excerpt:

After a couple of early morning passes for Jawnie to grab a handful of fresh photos, the team backtracked to an abandoned gas station they had passed on the way in. Rockfish parked the van behind the dilapidated building. Jawnie bundled their supplies and they headed out with backpacks bursting at the seams. It would be a two-mile trek to the edge of the woods overseeing Diane’s trailer.

The route would take them along the main road for half a mile and then a diagonal cut across fields littered with large, round hay bales before entering the woods for the rest of the hike. As they veered off the road, Jawnie wanted to pick up the pace so that they weren’t visible to any curious drivers coming down this open stretch of highway. But one glance at her partner told her he was already looking forward to the first rest stop.

They arrived at their vantage point an hour and fifteen minutes later. Rockfish dropped his backpack and took up position on the ground. “Let me sit here for a minute and I’ll be okay, I swear.”

Jawnie slid off her pack and patted Rockfish on the shoulder as she walked over to get a better view of their target. The line of sight was perfect. She could use her telephoto lens and look down into the trailer through a window. They were close enough to watch what went on in the backyard without the help of her camera. The field between them and Diane’s was also littered with the large round hay bales. They’ll provide more than ample cover if I need to get closer for any reason.

“Nice job picking the spot, boss. I hope you live to walk another day.”

“Fucking Bataan Death March had nothing on this hike,” Rockfish said and Jawnie could tell he had yet to catch his breath.

They set up their gear and took turns peering through the camera’s telephoto lens, down onto the property and sometimes straight through the uncovered window. It wasn’t long before Jawnie concluded that the only people at home were Sunny and another woman who she assumed was Diane.

“No sign of Roan unless they’re keeping him in some back bedroom and not letting him out. But all these two are doing is eating cereal and watching television. The View was on. Now it’s turned to The Price is Right.”

“See, now you’re experiencing the glamour side of being a P.I. Not all of it is meeting with Mafia Dons and car chases. I used to love this grunt work, but this old body sure doesn’t want to keep up.”

“Sit tight,” Jawnie said. “You keep providing that wit and wisdom and I’ll take care of the physical stuff. Partners, remember?”

The quiet morning hours slowly turned into an equally uneventful afternoon where Rockfish spent way too long bitching about the Nature Valley pressed cardboard bars that Jawnie had packed for lunch. And she, without hesitation, returned fire.

“If you hadn’t done takeout from the Waffle House this morning, you could have spared us all, and not had to keep making that twenty-minute hike back into the woods every hour on the hour. That stuff isn’t meant for anyone’s stomach, and those cardboard bars are binding. We should all be thankful for that.”

“Maybe it’s the water?”

She looked down at the Dasani bottle at her feet. Yeah, it’s definitely the water and not seventeen grams of pure grease. I’d better change the subject before this goes any further.

“We’re going to want to get one of those trackers on that Jeep down there.”

“Yup, hopefully once it gets dark, we’ll draw straws,” Rockfish said.

“I’m letting you know I’m going to do it. I’m quicker, a smaller visual target and won’t need CPR upon my return.”

Jawnie was into the last hour of her shift on the camera, a little after 2pm, when the back door to the trailer opened. The women emerged and walked across the lawn towards the trampoline. They’re not going to jump on this thing, are they? She watched them crawl through the netting and lay in the center. Now they’re not dressed for sunbathing, not to mention the sun isn’t cooperating this afternoon and it’s freaking mid-April. Jawnie hunched over the camera’s tripod and swung it towards the trampoline. A flash of light caught her attention, and she zoomed in. The flick of a lighter and a hand rolled joint passed between the two. Jawnie wouldn’t need to wait for the cover of darkness when a THC haze would do the trick.

Jawnie turned and waved Rockfish over. “Look at this.”

He glanced through the telephoto lens, and she relayed her plan. Rockfish kept nodding as he agreed. Or is he enjoying the view? I’m going and won’t take no for an answer.

“Okay, no dillydallying. Down and back,” Rockfish said. “Put your phone on vibrate in your back pocket. If it goes off, turn around and head back. That means they’ve moved off the trampoline and I don’t want you taking any chances. You got me? Vibrate equals full stop and start working your way back. No hesitation, get back here, moving from bale to bale to bale.”

“Got it.”

“Come back as careful as you went down. If you hear my voice, then you know shit’s gone sideways. Time to put on your track shoes.”

Jawnie took one of the GPS trackers and carried it in her right hand. She serpentined from one hay bale to the next until she had made her way down to where the field met Diane’s property. Jawnie peeked out around the large bale and could see it was a diagonal sprint, twenty yards to her left, to where the Jeep Wrangler sat in the driveway. She peeked around the other side but could not see past the trailer’s back corner. Back on the left side of the bale, she knew her best shot would be to aim for the passenger side rear wheel. Snap this puppy on and then slide around the back to reassess. Fuck, I hope no one drives down the road at that point.

Jawnie inhaled deeply and took off. If she were wrong and there was a third occupant, who was in the front living room, she’d be fucked before she got halfway. She reached the Jeep in six long strides and the driveway gravel gave way as she slammed on the brakes. Jawnie landed on her ass and popped right back up. She slapped the tracker up into the wheel well and heard the satisfying clunk. She pulled her hand back. Well, it didn’t fall out. That’s a bonus. No buzz from Rockfish yet. Time to press that luck he told me not to. She presumed that if no one had fired a load of buckshot over her head by now, no one was sitting in the living room, looking out over the front yard.

She worked her way around the back end of the Jeep and then forward, along the driver’s side, towards the set of double windows next to the small front porch. Jawnie reached up and stood on her tiptoes to peek inside. The stench of cigarettes hit her senses from the open window before her eyes focused on the inside. A second later, when they did, she wished they hadn’t. The place was a disaster. Domino’s boxes and Big Gulp cups littered any flat surface. And then she saw it. Someone had draped a black leather duster over a wooden chair next to the small dinette.

Fucking B-I-N-G-O was her name-o. A fist pump and a game of hay bale Frogger later, Rockfish claimed she resembled the cat that had eaten the friggin canary and went back for seconds.

“He’s here,” Jawnie stammered. “I mean not right now, but he’s been here, and odds are he’s coming back, if not for the jacket, another round of good times. Raffi and Lynn both mentioned that damn coat.”

“And you saw no one else?”

“No one. When I got back to the field, I stopped behind that first bale and looked back to see if I had missed anything, but you saw that.”

“I did. Now let’s make sure this thing actually works after making the trip.” Rockfish pulled out his cell and opened the tracking app. “Good clean signal,” he said. “I believe we’re in business. I hope someone gets in that Jeep and heads out so we can really test this thing out.”

“Based on the Domino’s delivery boxes piled up, I think the only destination you’ll get off that one is 7/11. Cigarettes and Big Gulps runs.” “Don’t forget the rolling papers,” Rockfish said. He put his fist out and she bumped it. That was her attaboy, and Jawnie couldn’t have been happier.

She sat back on the ground and her heart continued to beat as if it would come through her ribcage. Jawnie tried to relax but had a hard time settling back into the waiting game. The adrenaline rush from that little ten-minute operation was the first on the job, legit high she had experienced. She couldn’t wait for the Jeep to head out for Earl or for him to show up. It didn’t matter whether the action came at dinner or lunch tomorrow. She’d be ready.

Jawnie’s second opportunity came after ten that night before they were ready to call it a day. Rockfish had tracked the headlights as they came down the road and turned into the driveway, sans blinker. An old Chevy pickup pulled in behind the Jeep and backfired before the engine died. The driver quickly climbed the porch steps carrying a twelve pack of beer in his right hand. The small porch light above the door lit Earl Porbeagle in all his glory. Rockfish knew when he saw him. The man could pass for any Kilingess resident, in a tank top and jeans.

An hour passed before the kitchen and living room lights went off, one at a time. A couple of seconds, later Rockfish could see through the telephoto lens a light from a rear window at the back of the trailer had flickered on. It illuminated the far corner of the backyard.

“Hey, I think we’re primed—”

Jawnie was three hay bales deep into the field before Rockfish could tell her it was time.

She followed the same path as before and stopped again at the last bale that separated the field from the property. Her breathing was calmer on this second trip, and she looked around the left side of the hay bale at her target. The porch light lit little more than the small landing and the front half of the Jeep. Darkness smothered the old pickup. Jawnie counted to three and stepped out into the open. She slowed this time as she approached the driveway and didn’t end up on her ass.

Jawnie crouched down at the right rear wheel and reached up the side of the truck to the bed wall. These old trucks had holes on the top of the bedsides, called stake pockets, or so Rockfish claimed. It would be an undetectable spot; he swore on it. She ran her hand along the top of the bed and easily found the first one. Clunk.

Well, I’ll be damned. Old man knows his shit. She turned and bent over, stayed low and sprinted back to the confines of the hay bales.

***

Excerpt from See You Next Tuesday by Ken Harris. Copyright 2022 by Ken Harris. Reproduced with permission from Ken Harris. All rights reserved.

~~~

Author Bio:

Ken Harris

Ken Harris retired from the FBI, after thirty-two years, as a cybersecurity executive. With over three decades writing intelligence products for senior Government officials, Ken provides unique perspectives on the conventional fast-paced crime thriller. He is the author of the “From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” series. He spends days with his wife Nicolita, and two Labradors, Shady and Chalupa Batman. Evenings are spent playing Walkabout Mini Golf and cheering on Philadelphia sports. Ken firmly believes Pink Floyd, Irish whiskey and a Montecristo cigar are the only muses necessary. He is a native of New Jersey and currently resides in Northern Virginia.

The Pine Barrens Stratagem published on January, 27, 2022. The sequel, See You Next Tuesday published July 14th and the third in the trilogy A Bad Bout of the Yips is coming March 9, 2023.

Catch Up With Ken Harris:
www.KenHarrisFiction.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @08025writes
Instagram – @kenharrisfiction
Twitter – @08025writes
Facebook – @kah623
Twitch – @KenHarrisFiction

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

~~~

Enter for a chance to win an Amazon Gift card!

GIVEAWAY!

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Tours for Ken Harris. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

~~~

#BookReview “The Pine Barrens Stratagem: From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” by Ken Harris

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

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book cover

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5/5 Stars!

What a great read! Steve Rockfish is my new bestie!

A down, but never out private investigator, Rockfish isn’t an anti-hero. He also isn’t necessarily the good guy. He intends to do the right thing and sometimes, that’s by way of doing the wrong thing!

After a chilling and heartbreaking opening, the story goes full circle with Covid-19 and mandatory lockdowns leading Rockfish to take cases he would otherwise pass on. But jobs are far and few between and the repo man is coming for him.

From an eighty-year-old child trafficking case to a Covid-19 fraud case that involves… well, a little of everybody, Rockfish has to do double time to keep up and stay alive.

I’m looking forward to more of this everyman character who wants to be a high-end Magnum, would settle for a middle-class Joe Mannix, but is actually a low-end Jim Rockford… for now.

Enjoy!

~~~

Synopsis:

 

Private Investigator Steve Rockfish needs cash, like yesterday. The bad news is that yesterday, a global pandemic raged, and Maryland was headed toward a lockdown that would ultimately lead to cheating spouses no longer “working late,” and hence a lack of new clients.

Rockfish’s luck changes when a Hollywood producer reaches out, but the job is two states away and involves digging up information on a child trafficking ring from the 1940s. What he uncovers will be used to support the launch of a true crime docuseries. He grabs a mask, hand sanitizer and heads for South Jersey.

On-site, Rockfish meets Jawnie McGee, the great granddaughter of a local policeman gone missing while investigating the original crimes. As the duo uncover more clues, they learn the same criminal alliance has reformed to use the pandemic as a conduit to defraud the Federal Government of that sweet, sweet, stimulus money.

It’s not long before the investigation turns up some key intel on a myriad of illicit activity over the last eighty years and Rockfish rockets toward a showdown with the mafia, local archdiocese and dirty cops. COVID-19 isn’t the only threat to his health.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller

Published by: Black Rose Writing

Publication Date: January 27th 2022

Number of Pages: 250

ISBN: 1684338719 (ISBN13: 9781684338719)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

~~~

ENTER TO WIN:

This is a giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Ken Harris. See the widget for entry terms and conditions. Void where prohibited.

~~~

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Tours

~~~

#BookTour “The Pine Barrens Stratagem: From the Case Files of Steve Rockfish” by Ken Harris

February 1-28, 2022 Virtual Book Tour

~~~

book cover

~~~

Synopsis:

 

Private Investigator Steve Rockfish needs cash, like yesterday. The bad news is that yesterday, a global pandemic raged, and Maryland was headed toward a lockdown that would ultimately lead to cheating spouses no longer “working late,” and hence a lack of new clients.

Rockfish’s luck changes when a Hollywood producer reaches out, but the job is two states away and involves digging up information on a child trafficking ring from the 1940s. What he uncovers will be used to support the launch of a true crime docuseries. He grabs a mask, hand sanitizer and heads for South Jersey.

On-site, Rockfish meets Jawnie McGee, the great granddaughter of a local policeman gone missing while investigating the original crimes. As the duo uncover more clues, they learn the same criminal alliance has reformed to use the pandemic as a conduit to defraud the Federal Government of that sweet, sweet, stimulus money.

It’s not long before the investigation turns up some key intel on a myriad of illicit activity over the last eighty years and Rockfish rockets toward a showdown with the mafia, local archdiocese and dirty cops. COVID-19 isn’t the only threat to his health.

Book Details:

Genre: Crime Thriller

Published by: Black Rose Writing

Publication Date: January 27th 2022

Number of Pages: 250

ISBN: 1684338719 (ISBN13: 9781684338719)

Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

~~~

Read an excerpt:

Rockfish sat in the Scion’s passenger seat while Jawnie drove. He wasn’t thrilled with the decision, but she was adamant that some of the dirt roads, deep within the Pine Barrens, were no place for a Dodge Challenger. Plus, she didn’t feel like playing navigator. In the end, Rockfish decided not to put up much of a fight, considering Jawnie was more than a little familiar with where they were headed, although he had second thoughts with the four cases of whiplash he had suffered before even reaching the highway.

“Do you drive with two feet,” he asked. “Because my head can’t keep jerking forward and slamming back much more. Unless you’re running an insurance scam, and if so, what would be my take?”

“Enough with the backseat driving, and can you put your visor back up? That late afternoon glare off the mirror is killing me.”

“Make a deal with you. You drive how you want. I’ll keep an eye on our surroundings the way I want. Speaking of which, can you move this right-side passenger mirror a little more to the right, all I’m seeing is the rear fender.”

“You got it,” Jawnie said, and she played with the mirror control until Rockfish let her know it was right where he needed it. He could monitor anyone approaching from behind without having to turn around.

“I do want to fill you in on something I learned before we left,” Rockfish said. “When you went into the house to fix those sandwiches, I reached out to a guy I know in the Baltimore PD, Dan Decker. He’s an old friend and helps me out when he can. He’s going to have one of their academy cadets do some research for us and see if there is anything more than a current history between the Marini and Provolone families. The Marini’s have run Baltimore as long as the Provolone’s have this area. If Edward’s notation of the two factions working together has anything to it, Decker will let us know. He said currently both families have worked together when it was profitable to do so. Sound familiar?”

“Yeah, same M.O. as our knuckle draggers and kid touchers,” Jawnie replied.

Rockfish was happy to learn Jawnie’s disdain for organized religion matched his own. “Well put. But if there is a history there, what are the odds that some wealthy, non-fertile Baltimore Catholics would be willing to pony up some cash to right the situation. And Edward was witness to it all?”

They drove in silence over the next twenty minutes, Rockfish trying to figure out exactly what he expected to find in a fifty-four-year-old decrepit building in the middle of the woods. He hadn’t arrived at a conclusion yet when something very familiar came into focus.

“Remember when you asked me about knowing when you’re being followed?” Rockfish said.

“Yeah, I just chalked it up to anxiety and paranoia. It comes standard on the Millennial base model.”

“Guess what? We are,” Rockfish deadpanned. “Don’t do a damn thing different and let me think for a second. There’s a Jeep Grand Cherokee, right now, two cars back that’s been with us since we pulled off the highway when I was telling you what Decker said.”

Rockfish pulled out a scrap of paper and jotted down the license plate.

“I’ll ask Decker to run this, if they end up sticking on our ass the whole way. I could be a tad paranoid, but I’d rather err on the side of caution. Just keep doing what you’re doing, and I’ll tell you if evasive actions become necessary. We’ll start you slow and work our way up to the infamous private eye J-turn.”

Ten minutes later, the Scion crossed the Hammonton City line and Rockfish lost sight of the Jeep. He had Jawnie drive a couple of concentric circles around the downtown area, before heading out on County Route 542 which, according to her, would point them towards the southern part of Wharton State Forest and the abandoned orphanage.

Rockfish spotted the Jeep, only a second or two after it turned on Route 542 from a side street.

“Company’s back,” Rockfish said. “I guess when we hit these dirt roads you mentioned, we’ll see how serious they are.”

When the Scion’s tires soon left the asphalt, and began rolling down the slightly larger than single lane dirt road, the Jeep’s true intentions came to light. No longer concerned about being spotted, the Jeep’s speed increased until it was only a few feet from Jawnie’s bumper. Rockfish’s head swiveled from the Jeep and back to his pilot. He needed to stay calm, but Jawnie looked petrified, and while her hands had a death grip on the wheel, they were also visibly shaking.

“Jawnie, listen to me and we’ll be alright.”

She didn’t say a word, but Rockfish could feel the car slowing down. Screw her feelings, he thought and began giving orders.

“Put your foot back on the gas. You need to keep a constant speed.” And then a minute later. “Stay in the center, don’t give them space to get alongside of us.” Lastly, he shouted. “The center I said!” His voice gave out with that last outburst and he knew she heard the fear in it.

Rockfish swore as the Jeep slammed into their back bumper. “That a girl, keep her straight! Gas, give it some—”

The rear windshield exploded, shards of safety glass like small pellets peppered the interior of the car. Jawnie screamed and instinctively yanked the wheel to the left. Likewise, Rockfish now yelled in order to be heard.

“Foot off the gas! Steer into it!”

Rockfish wasn’t sure how he got through to Jawnie, but she listened, and the Scion straightened back up and they were rocketing straight down the dirt road once again. But before he could congratulate his pupil, the Jeep was now angling to get alongside; the Scion drifting dangerously close to the right shoulder, or lack thereof. Rockfish turned and looked out the driver’s side rear window. He could clearly see the Jeep’s front end.

In the next instant, they were sliding again, Jawnie’s foot slammed on the brake and the Jeep’s right fender nudged the Scion’s left rear. Brakes squealed, and tires howled as dirt, dust and burnt rubber filled their lungs.

“Hold on, hold on, hold on!” It was all he managed to say, but her eyes told him she was a million miles away. Rockfish closed his and braced for impact.

The car spun violently to the left, a hundred and eighty degrees, and his head whipped left and then right, slamming against the window. The seatbelt dug into his chest and he had trouble breathing. A second later, the earth beneath the car’s right side began to give way and the Scion slid into a ditch before coming to a stop.

By the time Rockfish opened his eyes and turned around, the taillights from the Jeep had disappeared into the distance.

* * * * * * * * * *

“That settles it, I’m going to the police now! They, someone, fuck I don’t know who just tried to kill us!” Jawnie said. “Look at my car! Who’s going to pay for this? Not like we’re exchanging fucking information with them!” Her mask was around her neck and Rockfish could see the tears.

Rockfish took a second before he replied. His partner was still in shock, borderline hysterical, and he didn’t want to push her over the edge, unlike the car they pulled themselves from. The Jeep had performed a textbook pit maneuver and Rockfish bet Jawnie wasn’t a big fan of Cops or Live PD. Hence, her jumping straight to attempted murder.

“Now hold on Jawnie,” Rockfish said. “You’re not hurt, right? That seatbelt and airbag did their jobs?”

“Of course, but—”

“No buts about it. Your chest might be a little sore tomorrow from that belt, your eyes swollen from the air bag, and more importantly, you’ll never forget your first chase. But seriously, no one tried to kill us. If they had wanted us dead, we’d be bleeding out from gunshot wounds. Your rear window was the victim of a warning shot. When we were in that ditch, no one walked up from behind and pumped a few slugs into the back of our heads.”

Rockfish stopped and looked at Jawnie, he needed to make sure he was getting through. Her breathing had slowed down quite a bit and that was a start.

“This was a warning, pure and simple. All this tells us is that someone thinks you might be sticking your nose somewhere it doesn’t belong. Obviously, it pertains to those boxes. I haven’t been in town long enough to piss someone off yet, at least, I hope. But if they were staking out your place, they’d have my license plate number and know who I am.”

“But I’ve only dealt with Hasty on this,” Jawnie said.

“Look. You might have worked out a deal with Hasty, but odds are he wasn’t the one that went into the very back of the evidence room and pulled those boxes for you. He’s probably recounted your conversation to a few of his ‘trusted’ senior men, and God knows who else might have been in the room when those conversations took place. Was there anything else you mentioned either to him or anyone else at the station that might cause a reaction like what just happened?”

“I d-d-did tell him I had hoped to t-t-take what I found in these boxes, scan what I could, and create a website. One that would ask the public for tips. Anonymously, of course. It would be a way to get the word out and maybe get someone’s attention who might remember something. Hasty asked his secretary to check and see if he had the authority to put the PD’s logo and tip line on this site. He was only trying to help.”

“So, he’s got a secretary. Old bird, I bet?”

“Yeah, Betty Lou Sommers. I’m guessing she’s logged more than a few years there.”

“There’s your problem. Old Betty Lou sees all Hasty’s business that comes and goes out of his office. I’d lay odds her loyalties lie with others she’s worked with or for through the years and not the guy who knocked the latest Ringle out of office.”

“I’d never thought of it that way.”

“If you’re trying to be a junior special agent, I’d advise you to think that way. Someone in that department is crooked and an off-duty cop or on-duty mafioso ran us off the road. Doesn’t matter who, I’m betting they can be one and the same. Now if you feel alright, we need to call for a tow.”

“And an Uber.”

“Do you have any bars?” Rockfish said.

“Nope.”

“We were lucky this was only a warning. We’ve got some walking ahead of us. They shouldn’t be coming back.”

I gotta reach out to Davenport, he thought. The stakes have significantly increased.

***

Excerpt from The Pine Barrens Stratagem by Ken Harris. Copyright 2022 by Ken Harris. Reproduced with permission from Ken Harris. All rights reserved.

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Author Bio:

Ken Harris

Ken Harris retired from the FBI, after thirty-two years, as a cybersecurity executive. With over three decades writing intelligence products for senior Government officials, Ken provides unique perspectives on the conventional fast-paced crime thriller. While this is his first traditionally published novel, he previously self-published two novellas and two novels. He spends days with his wife Nicolita, and two Labradors, Shady and Chalupa Batman. Evenings are spent cheering on Philadelphia sports. Ken firmly believes Pink Floyd, Irish whiskey and a Montecristo cigar are the only muses necessary. He is a native of New Jersey and currently resides in Northern Virginia.

Catch Up With Ken Harris:
www.KenHarrisFiction.com
Goodreads
BookBub – @08025writes
Twitter – @08025writes
Instagram – @KenHarrisFiction
Facebook – @kah623

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