In the Mainstream
October 27, 2010 | Friends
is where you’ll find Dorien Grey and his stellar novels. A masterful writer, Dorien created P.I. Dick Hardesty and a series was born. The book we featured today, THE NINTH MAN is another excellent addition to the long line of critically acclaimed and best-selling novels by Dorien Grey.
THE NINTH MAN
Hired to get find the truth behind the mysterious death of a gay man the homophobic police force has declared a suicide, P.I. Dick Hardesty uncovers a series of similar, seemingly unrelated deaths and sets off to find the common link between them which will lead him to the murderer.
“Cigarette?” he asked, leaning across me for an ashtray on the night stand.
“Gave ’em up,” I said, smugly.
“You? Liggett & Myers’ best friend?” He paused to light up. “I’m proud of you. Really. It’s a filthy habit.” And he blew a long stream of smoke into my face.
“You little…” I said, lunging out to tickle him under the arm, which always drove him up the wall. He shrieked and rolled away from me, almost falling off the bed in the process.
“Don’t! Please! I’ll be good! Honest!” he gasped between arias of laughter and frantic flailing trying to fend off my insistent tickling. Finally, fearful that the neighbors might be considering calling the police, I stopped.
Tim lay limp, catching his breath. He took a long drag from his cigarette, which had somehow come through the struggle unscathed, and carefully blew the smoke away from me. After a minute, he plumped up his pillow and scooted himself up on the bed, his back against the headboard.
“Okay, so let’s talk,” he said.
“About what?” I asked.
“About whatever it was you called me about,” he said with a grin.
I duplicated his pillow-plumping and hoisted myself up beside him. “You know I hate to mix business with pleasure, but…”
“Yeah, yeah, I know. So ‘but’ what?”
“Your office had a case recently—you probably don’t remember it with all those stiffs you have coming and going. Mostly going. But this one was kind of different. Young guy named Bobby McDermott; 27.”
Tim muttered something under his breath—it sounded like “Fuck!” —and stared into the ashtray balanced on his stomach.
“What?” I asked.
Tim turned his head and looked at me, strangely, his eyes searching my face. He said nothing.
I felt a twinge of guilt. “Hey, Tim, I’m sorry,” I said. “I know I don’t have any right to butt into your business….”
Tim shrugged and relaxed a little. “It’s okay,” he said, finally. “Yeah, I remember Bobby McDermott. What about him?”
“The police apparently indicated to his lover that he killed himself. Probably poison. His lover swears he was murdered.”
Tim stubbed his cigarette into the ashtray, staring at it and continuing to tamp it long after it was out. “What makes him think that?”
Patience was never one of my greater virtues, and obviously Tim knew something he wasn’t too eager to share with me.
“Come on, Tim! The guy’s 27. Healthy as a horse—hung like one, too, I understand. No apparent problems—unless you count the lover, but that’s another story. Apparently the only thing he was addicted to is sex, and I’ve never heard of anyone fucking themselves to death, have you?” Tim shrugged, avoiding my eyes. “And then the cops ask the lover what he knows about poisons. That strikes me as more than a little strange; they don’t ask about drugs, but poisons.”
Tim pursed his lips, thought a moment, then turned to me with a deep sigh. “Well,” he said, shaking his head, “somebody was bound to catch on, sooner or later.”
“Catch on to what?” I asked, with a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach.
“First of all, he didn’t die of drugs; it was poison. Cyanide, to be exact. Apparently inhaled. Secondly, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t suicide.”
“What makes you think that?” I asked.
“Apart from the fact that cyanide is a pretty esoteric way for anybody to commit suicide, how would someone like McDermott manage to get hold of it? It’s not impossible to come by, but it’s not exactly a household product. But what really blows a hole in the suicide theory—and a little detail that the cops apparently chose to overlook—is that from what I understand, there was absolutely nothing in the room to indicate how he managed to inhale cyanide. No bottles, vials, inhalers, rags, nothing.”
“Weird,” I said, the butterflies still there.
“It gets weirder when you consider that Bobby McDermott wasn’t the first case we’ve had like it in the past couple weeks. He’s the sixth one.”
There is nothing Dorien loves more than hearing from a reader. If you’d like to contact him, just drop him a note. Replies are guaranteed. Dorien answers all his emails.
I’ll be back Friday. Until then…
Sweet as Honey…Hotter than Hell