Seventh-Inning Stretch (Jake Hines)

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People tend to laugh a bit, usually out of embarrassment, when they’re taken in by grifters and scam artists. But there’s very little to laugh about in Rutherford, where a gang has hit town and has Jake Hines and his team spinning, trying to follow a trail of dodging and deceit.

It stops being a game of catch-me-if-you-can, though, when the grifters leader turns up dead and Jake finds his own life on hold as every moment is devoted to preventing a murder from turning into a bloodbath. With little energy left to deal with matters on the home front, Jake may be having trouble uncovering the truth about what’s happening in his city, but he does learn that when it comes to hard bargaining and barter, his girlfriend, Trudy, possesses a surprising, and welcome, talent.

“…the best yet in an outstanding series.”

“Gunn’s mastered small-town nuances, police procedure, and now, as in Six-Pound Walleye (2001), deft character-sketching.”
–Kirkus Reviews


He answered his phone, “Dooley,” the way he always does, quick and flat, like talk is money and he’s deep in debt. He came into Kevin’s office without saying hello to anybody, refused a seat with one quick headshake, and stood just inside the door, scanning the room with his ice-blue eyes. Sometimes I long to ask Bo Dooley if he suspects the building is on fire.

I said, “Kevin’s crew is having an interesting week….

Kevin pointed his fistful of reports at Darrell and said, “Go ahead.”

“Five complaints Monday,” Darrell said, “all involving a swarthy guy with a Hispanic accent. He approaches somebody, in a crowded hotel lobby or the atrium at Methodist Hospital, says he just found this envelope full of coins and he’s a stranger here and needs help deciding what to do with it. He’s very nervous because he’s a foreigner and doesn’t want to get in trouble. The coins are from three or four countries, like a small collection, a couple of them are fairly old. There’s a name and phone number on the outside of the envelope–”

“Let me guess,” Bo said. “The mark calls the number, and a woman says, ‘Oh, goody, you saw my ad in the paper, huh?’ and tells him she’s offering a big reward.”

Darrell looked up from his notebook and said, “How’s come you’re answering property complaints?”

“It’s one of the oldest scams in the world,” Bo said. “The woman asks them to bring the coins to her, right?”

“Well, right, yes, she can’t come downtown because she can’t leave her sick mother, but she’ll pay a thousand dollars if they’ll bring the envelope–”

“And the guy who supposedly found the coins says he’s afraid, the police in his country trap people for ransom sometimes–”

“Something like that, yeah, so he says I don’t care about the big reward, just pay me a couple of hundred dollars, and you can keep whatever she pays you.”

“So the mark pays him two hundred and takes the coins to the address the woman gave him, and it’s an empty lot.”

“Okay,” Kevin said, “but this one’s got a fun wrinkle. A couple of times, when the mark got a little suspicious and started to walk away, a second guy turned up and joined the conversation.”

“Uh-huh,” Bo said, “and he says, Hey, a couple of those coins are really valuable, I’ll give you two-fifty for the lot.”

“Jeez, you know the whole routine, don’t you?” Darrell said.


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