The end of Stan…

An excerpt from the first chapter of "Joey's Place," a Las Vegas crime novel by J.W. NelsonHe put the package in the Toronado’s big trunk. Maybe when he got home later he would pretend he had forgotten. He smiled again and went around to unlock his door, not noticing that the knob was already up.

Sliding onto the soft leather seat, he savored the new-car smell a moment before closing his door. He slipped the key into the ignition and the big engine smoothly came to life. He re-inserted the 8-track tape his wife had given him at Christmas into the car’s tape player. The Tabernacle Choir’s Greatest Hits, Volume II. Elger’s “Land of Hope and Glory” began playing. It truly was glorious.

He sat there enjoying the moment, the car’s air-conditioning getting colder. The music made him look forward to the bishops’ meeting tomorrow tonight, despite the bickering over the proposed sites for the town’s first temple. He knew that the Lord would show them the way to an understanding.

He was about to put the Olds into reverse when he felt cool metal against the back of his neck. Just above the atlas, the first cervical vertebra of the spine. How strange that he would think of that, something he had learned by rote so many years ago in a biology class his sophomore year at BYU. 

“Keep your hands on’a wheel,” said a hoarse voice from the back seat. “Don’t look in’a mirror neither.” . . . 


[Advance review copies available upon request.]

“Joey’s Place” now with beta readers

JP_CoverPage_313x231“A middle-aged man with graying blond hair sat in the driver’s seat, one hand resting on the bottom of the steering wheel, the other resting on his thigh. An open billfold was in his bloody lap. His head was tilted down, like he was checking the speedometer, and his mouth was open. His gold-framed glasses were slightly crooked on his nose. His face was pale and creamy. His eyes were open wide. Bulging. A cartoon character who just saw a ghost. Small-caliber, low-velocity slugs rudely entering the skull will do that.”

Detective Heber Parkins is the Clark County Sheriff’s Department’s outcast, the lead man in its “leper colony,” the guy who collects the anonymous victims of the most anonymous town of them all, the “trash man.” Then he’s assigned to investigate the murder of the partner of the man who operates the classiest club on the Strip. Joey’s Place. Is he being set up to fail? Play the cat’s paw? He doesn’t care. It’s his first real case in years and it draws him into a struggle that will determine the future of Las Vegas.

I feel fortunate to have a roster of readers who not only enjoy crime fiction but also know a great deal about Las Vegas in September 1970. If you would like a review copy, please contact me at john@jwnelson.net

The little man

MeyerLansky“You wanted to see me?” Heber said.

The little man looked up and appraised him like he was meat on the hoof. Those close-set eyes were as dark as coal. Death itself was in those eyes.

Heber took a step back. He wondered if he’d have to dig his own grave. Planted in a desert forested with forgotten ghosts.

Finally, the little man smiled and said, “Yes, young man. I did wish to see you.”