Hi, all! So here’s my slightly late hop on The Law Game blog hop.
AND! DO NOT FORGET to get in on the giveaway! Leave a comment at Women and Words on THIS LINK. We are giving away a SET OF ALL FIVE OF THESE BOOKS, ebook. FOR REALZ. GO SEE!
For those not in the know, The Law Game is a collection of novellas/novels that all share a common theme. They have to do with “law” in some way.
I’m the last stop! HA! The buck stops here! Okay, not really. I don’t know what the buck does on its off time, but it doesn’t linger too long around here.
Oh, you can catch the fab Jessie Chandler’s installment of the blog hop HERE. She posted Aug. 24th.
And, so you know the awesome, here are the other participants in this here cool series thingie by Ylva publishing.
And here’s what my contribution is all about:
Eleanor “Ellie” O’Donnell is part of a special investigative unit within the New York City Police Department. Her latest assignment has her tasked with uncovering the relationship between internationally known fashion mogul and all-around ice queen Marya Hampstead and a local Russian crime family. As legendary for her business acumen and beauty as her uncompromising and unapproachable personality, Marya Hampstead is not a woman to cross.
Unfortunately for Ellie, the only way she can get close enough to conduct her investigation is by pretending to be an aspiring designer who takes an internship at Hampstead’s company. Definitely out of her element, Ellie has to put all her acting and investigative skills to work as she delves into what at first seems a simple case of occasional public outings with a man whose family has ties Hampstead might not know about.
But when Marya’s father, an international businessman, shows up in New York, it becomes clear that something else is going on, and that there’s much more to Marya Hampstead than meets the eye. The question is, how much more and how deep is Ellie willing to go to find out?
In the fast-paced world of clothes, critics, and competition, Ellie uncovers a lot more than runway gossip, including secrets that will kill far more than a bad outfit.
So I consider this read “fluffy,” meaning I had a great time writing it. It’s pure unadulterated thriller-ish with a romantic thread. It doesn’t solve the mysteries of the universe, it doesn’t open philosophical inquiries into the nature of being human, and it’s not going to help you date. Well, maybe it will that last one, if you like it and you recommend it to that person you have a crush on and that person likes it…then you have something in common to talk about! #everybodywins
“Here’s the target.”
Ellie took the folder and opened it. A photo was fastened to the inside cover, and the woman in it stared out at her, almost glaring. “Wait.” She looked up at him. “This is Marya Hampstead.”
“Yep.” Rick took his suit jacket off and slung it over the back of the chair at his own desk. He rolled his shirt sleeves up, something he did when he was in the office, and straightened his tie. Rick was built like a prize fighter, and Ellie figured he had his shirts custom-made to accommodate his musculature. A long scar marred the underside of his left forearm, pinkish against the brown of his skin, a souvenir of his service in Afghanistan.
“The Marya Hampstead,” she said. “Fashion mogul. Bitch on wheels.” And ultra-hot, she finished to herself. Seemed beauty was wasted on people like her.
He clicked the remote and brought up Marya’s portfolio on the big screen that hung near his desk. Hampstead glared out at him now, too. “You’re quick, Els. Guess that’s why you’re part of this unit of NYPD.” He flashed her a grin.
She ignored the ribbing and rolled her chair over to his desk. “What’s the deal?”
He clicked to another photo that showed Hampstead with a well-dressed man, entering a restaurant. She had her hand on his arm. “That’s Lyev Koslov,” Rick said.
“Looks familiar. Is he part of the Koslov family here?”
“Yep. The Koslovs might be tied in with international arms dealers overseas.”
“Define ‘tied in.’”
“Daddy Koslov—the head honcho—runs a company in Moscow that makes medical equipment. However, a couple of his shipments were intercepted in Turkey. The shit in the boxes was not scalpels or clamps.” He clicked to another photo that showed military-grade rifles and ammo.
“Where were they headed?”
Which was currently a hotbed of crazy, with layers of civil war, violence, and whatever other atrocities people dealt out to each other.
“There are complicating factors.”
Of course there were. “Which are what, exactly?”
Rick put another photo on his screen. It showed a dead guy, a standard autopsy photo that showed him from the pecs up; the stitched-up Y-cut on his chest was visible just above the sheet. A small black hole was positioned almost perfectly in the center of his forehead.
“And who’s this poor soul?” she asked.
“One of the Petrovs, but not of the New York Petrovs, though he is related. A second cousin of Ivan, the boss here in the city. This dude was based in Moscow up until this past January. Then he wasn’t based on this earth at all.”
“Professional hit,” she said, leaning forward a bit. He looked like he was in his early thirties. “Not very old.”
“Thirty-two. Not married, and somewhat of a playboy.” Rick clicked the mouse and another autopsy photo of another dead guy showed up.
“This is another Petrov,” Rick said. “Another cousin to Boss Petrov.”
“Call me crazy, but I’m sensing a pattern.”
“Damn, you’re really quick,” he said with a little smile. “This gentleman was found in Prague about two months after the first died.” Rick pulled up a third autopsy photo. “Comes in threes, for now.” Another Russian guy, shot execution style. “This is yet another Petrov, His mother is a first cousin to Boss Petrov. She’s originally from St. Petersburg. She married a Brit and still lives in London. His body was found there in June.”
“Okay, so it looks like the same hit man did all three. What ties them together besides the Petrov connection?”
Rick clicked his mouse again and a photo of Ivan Petrov filled the screen, wearing an expensive suit, sunglasses, and standing outside one of the restaurants he owned in the city. He was in his mid-sixties, but he maintained himself, and he was always in the company of younger women, though he did have a wife.
“The Petrovs are also involved in arms dealings,” Rick said, sounding like a college professor. “We’ve been following this guy for a couple of years, now. He’s on Interpol’s radar, too, but he’s pretty slick. All three dead dudes were involved in Petrov gun-running, though they managed to keep their hands clean. They arranged sales, apparently, serving as the middlemen between buyer and seller, but never got caught with anything.”
“So they were points of contact.” Ellie rolled her chair back to her desk, grabbed her coffee cup, and rolled right back to Rick’s.
“Most likely. And probably helped organize meetings and networking. So law enforcement overseas wasn’t able to make much stick. And then they turned up dead.”
Ellie sipped. “So what does any of this have to do with Lyev Koslov and Hampstead?”
Rick pulled the photo of Marya and Lyev up again. “We think there’s some kind of private territorial war going on between the Koslovs and the Petrovs.”
“An arms race, basically.” Figures. Any time there were guns and money to be made, people got greedy. And violent.
“Something like that. The thing is, the Koslovs don’t have a history in arms dealing, and Daddy Koslov insists his family isn’t involved, and he insists that he has no beef with the Petrovs.”
“But the Petrovs are blaming him for the murders.”
“Yep.” Rick took a sip of his diet soda.
“What about the guns that turned up in Koslov’s medical supply boxes in Turkey?”
He screwed the top back on the bottle and set it down. “Koslov claims he was set up, that those boxes were stolen from the supply warehouse in Russia. He’s got a police report to prove it.”
Ellie snorted. “Easy to fake that.”
“Yeah. Except Koslov seems worried. He’s wondering if somebody in the family has gone rogue and has personal beef with the Petrovs. He’s running tons of diplomacy right now with Boss Petrov, and word on the street is Petrov is giving Koslov time to see if that’s the case.”
“Could be Petrov is popping his own guys to set Koslov up to take a fall. Koslov’s empire is bigger than Petrov’s, and he’s been at the game longer.” All this underground mob stuff could get really shitty like that.
“We thought about that, too. But Petrov personally worked with the men who died, and from what we can glean, they were good at their jobs. No mob guy is going to get rid of assets like that to make a point or set a trap.”
Ellie frowned. “Okay, so basically, we want to know if Big Daddy Koslov is lying about arms dealing. If he’s not, then we want to know if maybe Lyev is doing it or if somebody else is, and using Big Daddy’s various businesses as fronts and killing off Petrovs because he wants their markets.”
“Nailed it. The last thing anybody wants is a mob war between two powerful Russian families like this, especially when it’s so damn easy to get guns up the I-95 corridor. They could flood the city with them.”
“That’s such a lovely thought, Rick. Thank you. As if we’re not already inundated with assholes.”
He laughed, and Ellie looked at the photo of Marya and Lyev on the big screen again. “So what the hell does Marya Hampstead have to do with this?”
“We don’t know. We’re trying to figure that out. We’re also trying to figure out what Hampstead’s relationship to Lyev Koslov is. And what he’s up to with her.”
“When was this picture taken?”
“Almost two months ago.”
Ellie frowned, skeptical. “The guy’s a businessman. She’s a businesswoman. Her dad does international banking in the UK These two probably met at a party or some dinner or something and had a fling. That’s how they do it in those circles.”
“Totally possible. Except Daddy Hampstead spends a lot of time with Koslov holdings overseas, and we’re not sure what he’s up to. He’s been spotted in Moscow, cozying up to former KGB.”
“Practically everybody in the Kremlin is former KGB, including Putin.” Ellie rolled her chair back to her desk and took one of her cinnamon Jolly Ranchers out of a drawer. She unwrapped it and put it in her mouth. “Businesses over there are probably full of ex-KGB, too,” she said around the candy as its spicy kick filled her mouth.
“True. But Jonathan Hampstead has ready access to all kinds of international contacts, and he’d be able to get the money to help broker a few arms deals.” Rick sipped his soda again.
“So we’re targeting her to get to Daddy Hampstead.” Her tongue burned a little from the cinnamon.
“And Lyev Koslov.”
“Even though she hasn’t been seen with him for almost two months.”
“But he might be hanging out with her dad, still.” Rick gave her a look over his shoulder.
“And what about Jonathan Hampstead? Maybe he’s taking care of all the Petrovs.”
Rick studied her. “That thought has crossed my mind, but there is zero evidence to support it.”
“Seriously?” Ellie raised her eyebrows. “Assassins-R-Us on the deep web. Burn phone. Meeting, payment, done.”
“Again, we have zero evidence for any of that. And he’s an international businessman making money hand over fist. He doesn’t need to run arms.”
“No, but people still do it, no matter how much money they make legitimately.”
Rick shook his head. “We’ve got no evidence, Els. So let’s stick with what we know.”
“Fine. Rain on my damn parade. When was the last time Marya saw Dad?”
“A month ago in London. He’s British and based there. Plus, she has fashion shit she has to do all the time over there and in Paris. His ex-wife—Marya’s mom—is Greek. The ex still lives in London, too, and it seems she’s still cordial with dad and daughter. Marya is a British citizen, but like a lot of international business-types, that hasn’t been a roadblock to running Fashion Forward and living here. Read the file and see if you can fill in some holes.” He pointed at the screen. “We’re starting this op in about a week. By that time, you’d better know Hampstead’s favorite music, what wine she likes, and the kind of toilet paper she uses.”
Ellie raised her eyebrows. “C’mon,” she said. “People that rich pay others to wipe their asses.”
He laughed. “Then find out what the servants buy.”
Ellie took a drink of cold coffee. “So how is this going to go down?”
“We’re putting someone inside.”
“Hampstead’s outfit. Fashion Forward publications.”
Ellie nodded, approving. “Ambitious. Who gets that job?”
He grinned at her, like a shark.
Sound like something you’d dig? Well, you’re in luck. You can buy it at the following places:
So there you have it, friends! Hope you decide to join me on this romp! And thanks so much for hanging out with us during the blog tour. And don’t forget to hit the link above to get in on the giveaway. We’ll be doing that drawing soon. MUAH!