Sunday, 16 September 2018

Spotlight & Excerpt: Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers

Dark Paradise by Gene Desrochers

Boise Montague’s life in Los Angeles has fallen apart. After his wife dies, he returns to the tiny island where he grew up. Unfortunately, coming home doesn’t bring him the peace he’s looking for.

Things have changed drastically since his last visit. The island has moved on and so have the people he once knew. When Boise tries to find the one friend he thinks he can count on to be there for him, he’s confronted with another death. A murder. A murder that the police did not think important enough to investigate thoroughly.

Boise wants answers. He enlists a local reporter named Dana, who has theories of her own, to help him dig deeper.

With not much left to lose, a bone to pick with the justice system, and a relentless partner, Boise sets out to do what the police would not: solve the murder of Jeffrey Black.

The island of St. Thomas is a gleaming tropical paradise. Welcome to the Caribbean, where murder is as common as sunshine.

Here Boise negotiates Hannibal Lecter style with a lawyer who represented the friend whose murder Boise is trying to solve.

Salas was standing at the top of the stairs, hands on her ample hips. Her short-cropped hair swooped about her forehead in the wind. The haircut made her tea-colored face look fatter than it actually was. I stashed the photo away.
“Who were you looking at?” she persisted.
“Nothing. I’ll get off your steps.” I started to descend.
“If you tell me who you were looking at, I’ll tell you what I can about Roger.”
“How did you--”
She held up a crumpled piece of note paper I recognized as my to do list for the day and some of the notes about people I’d looked up online.
“You dropped this,” she said.
The sky darkened as I contemplated sharing my wife and our marital history with this cold stranger.
“I’m trying to figure out what happened to Roger Black. Why he died. I mean, beyond him just being part of the gang-slash-drug world here,” I said.
She stood unnaturally still, one hand on her hip and one frozen in the air holding the fluttering sheet of paper. Rain fell. Heavy drops pelted us. She remained still, so I climbed the stairs between us and snatched my note away, stuffing it back into my pocket.
She spun on her flats and I followed her into the office. A lone banker’s lamp illuminated her paperwork and an iPad and a laptop sat atop a large mahogany desk. Compared to the ones I’d frequented as an investigator in Los Angeles, her legal office was spartan. Absent were the large beige and red tomes numbered like encyclopedias.
“Where are your law books?”
“My questions first, then I’ll discuss Roger to the extent I am comfortable. You may answer now.”
She sat, looking at me like a petulant puppy.
My memory felt sluggish. I visualized our stairway encounter in the rain, feeling the gusting wind and watching my note flap like a flag. Then it came to me.
“It’s a photo of my wife,” I replied.
“You looked like you were trying to remember who she was,” Miguela said.
“Something like that I suppose,” I replied.
Her brown eyes bored into me. It felt like she could see my blood vessels and naked skull right through my skin. Uncomfortable with the silent interrogation, I glanced away.
“Are you going to confess that she’s dead or that she left you for another?”
“She did not leave me!” I startled myself with a shout that ricocheted off the walls in the tight room.
“I’m sorry she’s dead,” she said.
Three deep breaths, counting them.
“I’m going to look at my screen again so you don’t feel uncomfortable composing yourself. This wound is still fresh. Did she die in the last year?”
“Just over a year ago.”
“Today is April ninth. Did she die in March or February?” she asked.
“She died on March twenty-second. Do you want the fucking time of day?” I asked.
“No, not now. You appear distraught. I’m pushing your emotional boundaries.”
“Yeah, you could say that. You got any beer?”
“No. Mr. Montague, this is my office, it is not a bar, grill, or restaurant. I have bottled water. Would you like some?”
I leered at her. “Sure, esquire. Whatever’s handy.”
She handed me an ordinary bottled water bearing a local brand. No doubt somebody using a label maker and tap water to charge everyone four-fifty. It declared something about being from a spring in Jamaica.
“Can you please tell me about Roger now? Quid pro quo,” I said while twisting the top off my water.
“You know Latin?”
“It’s from a movie,” I said.
“I don’t watch movies.”
“What do you do?” I asked, realizing I was thirsty and taking a swig. Rain tink-tinked on the galvanized roof, providing a soft background symphony to our jagged conversation.
“Yes. I listen to music and work.” Miguela opened up a desk drawer to her right and held up a large pair of headphones plugged into her iPad. “This is why you cannot knock on my door and get an answer. When you ring the doorbell, that light comes on and I can decide whether I wish to answer.”
A large red light resembling a police siren hung above the door.
“It really gets my attention, but sound does not. I have another question for you.”
I groaned. “Hold on, you never told me anything about Roger.”
“No, I answered another. My turn.” She waited, clearly not willing to give any ground on this.
“What is it?” I said impatiently.
“What was her name?”
“Can we stop talking about my wife?” I said. “Ask me something else.”
She stood up. “It was nice meeting you, Mr. Montague. I have work to do. Perhaps we’ll meet again.” She held out her hand in a businesslike fashion.
“Her name was Evelyn.”
“Okay, your turn. Ask about Roger,” she said, pulling a black file folder from her desk.
“Is that his file?”
She shoved her laptop aside, closing the lid. She placed the file on her blotter.
“Yes, it is.” She tapped the file with her index finger. “Black is for dead.”
“Could I look at it? It would save us having to do so much talking,” I said.
“No. Mr. Montague, most of what is in this file will not bear on your, what should I call it? An investigation. It is still considered confidential by me, if not the law.”
“Okay, talking it is. Could you tell me about him? What was your impression? What kind of a guy was he? Did you like him?”
“Yes, those things are not in the file. See, we need to talk. Roger was not a good man in a moral sense. He was driven to have money. He was avaricious, but more than that, he wanted respect. He thought money was part of it, but not all of it. I have no doubt that Roger had many enemies. He did not like killing, but to advance his business, he would do what was necessary. In his case, sometimes that meant doing unsavory things.”
“Did that make representing him challenging?” I asked.
“No,” Miguela said.
“So, you knew his business from the beginning?”
“I work and live in this neighborhood. Everyone knew Roger’s business, if you paid attention.” She paused for effect, “Mira,” she muttered the Spanish word for look, “he wanted to be famous as much as allowable and not go to jail.”

Gene Desrochers hails from a dot in the Caribbean Sea called St. Thomas. He grew up with minimal supervision and free-roaming animals in a guesthouse that also served as a hospital during wartime. He has spent his life steadily migrating west, and now finds himself in Los Angeles with a beautiful wife, cats, and kids. After a lifetime of writing and telling short stories, he ventured into the deep end, publishing his first novel, Dark Paradise in 2018. If you ask, he will regale you with his Caribbean accent and tennis prowess.

Giveaway 1 - Win a $25 Amazon e-gift Card
Post your photo with your e-book or hard copy of Dark Paradise on social media and share on Gene’s Facebook  Instagram  or Twitter page and you’ll be entered in a drawing for a $25 Amazon Gift Card to be awarded on Monday, September 24th
Giveaway 2 – Win 2 x Paperbacks and 2 x E-copies of Dark Paradise (Open Internationally)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. The two paperbacks are only open to USA entries. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.