After spending ten years publishing short stories and receiving publishing credit and garnering two Pushcart Prize nominations, I decided it was time to attempt a novel. That book was my first Nick Bracco thriller, "A Touch of Deceit." In the original manuscript Nick Bracco couldn't tell a lie, similar to the James Spader character in Sex, Lies and Videotape. But an FBI agent who couldn't lie became cumbersome and required significant reminders to the reader, so I scrapped the idea and moved forward. That project took almost a decade to perfect--constant changes and rewrites until I was completely satisfied with the end result.
Fast-Forward a few years--after "A Touch of Deceit," loitered in the offices of a high profile Literary Agent's office in New York for 18 months until his assistant was kind enough to contact me after she'd left and tell me the agent had only submitted it to one publisher and had no intention to do anything more with it. Then another agent, Robert Brown, was the judge of the S.W. Writers Contest, who awarded me first prize in the thriller category and was excited to take me on as a client. It only took him a couple of months to realize there was no one interested in taking on a no name client during the recession. His advice, publish it yourself. He was smart, kind-hearted and honest. He even helped format the book for ebooks knowing he would never receive a penny for his work. Who else would have done that? No one.
Now, two years later, the third book in the series is a reality. After 10,000 people bought my Nick Bracco thrillers in December alone, the series seems to be finding an audience. It's all I ever wanted when I began taking my literary career seriously some twenty years ago and if not for a broken publishing system and a caring agent, I would not have gotten this far. I am grateful for the opportunity and it's rewarding to know that every time I sit at my computer and write, thousands of people will be reading those words. A very heartfelt "Thank You" to my many readers and especially to Robert Brown.
“Mr. Hernandez,” the man’s voice called out from behind him in a Mexican accent, “we have two kinds of soup today. We have chicken soup and we have screw-you soup. Unfortunately for you, we are out of chicken soup.”
A roomful of laughter echoed throughout the empty chamber of aluminum roofing and corrugated steel walls. Hernandez judged about thirty men surrounded him with AK-47s, while Hernandez had an FBI issue 9mm pistol with just one solitary bullet left. He stared at Braden’s corpse lying there in such an unnatural position, his eyes wide in horrified shock. Hernandez’s legs trembled. His left eye had an uncontrollable twitch. The desert heat was so viciously oppressive, his sweat-soaked shirt stuck to his chest.
The voice taunting Hernandez belonged to Antonio Garza, known as El Carnicero throughout the world of Mexican cartels. The Butcher. He was an infamous assassin with a legendary reputation for torturing anyone who crossed him. Including undercover FBI agents posing as drug dealers. Hernandez had seen the remains of the bodies Garza had left behind. Fingers, eyes, tongues, all severed and stuck inside the victim’s mouth, while the body floated in a vat of boiling water. The assassin was known to have a doctor on hand to continuously revive the victim and prolong the torment for hours, sometimes days.
“Mr. Hernandez,” Garza said, closer now. “I make you a deal. Come out right now and I let you speak with your family. You can say a proper farewell, eh?”
Hernandez was in shock, his mind numb to the statement.
“You can't be saved, so make your peace,” Garza ordered.
Among other things, Garza was a chronic liar. Hernandez was lured into Mexico while undercover, so there would be no rescue. He was out of US jurisdiction. Then it hit him. He still had a minute or two to say good-bye to his wife. He fumbled into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone.
“I’m waiting,” he heard Garza say.
Tears blurred his vision as he tried to find his Nicole’s number in his contact list. He was bawling now, warm urine leaked from his bladder. Once he’d heard her voice he realized he wouldn’t be able to speak. He was wasting too much time just trying to gather himself. Then he saw the name just above Nicole’s. Nick Bracco. Hernandez knew then what he needed to do with the remaining seconds of his life. He pushed the button.
“Time is up,” Garza called out.
“Hey, Ricky,” came the voice on the phone.
“Nick,” Hernandez stammered. “Nick can you . . .”
Hernandez’s hands shook, tears crawled down his face. “Please tell Nicole . . .” he hiccuped and whimpered, “how much I adore her.”
“Where are you, Ricky?” Nick demanded.
“Now!” the assassin screamed, a barrage of bullets exploded all around the agent as he shriveled up behind the column for protection. His legs were getting pounded by direct hits and ricochets.
“Ricky?” Nick shouted into the receiver.
The shooting stopped. The tops of Hernandez’s feet were missing, only two toes stood out among the bloody stumps. Hernandez’s stomach spiked up into his throat. “Nick,” he uttered. “Promise me you’ll kill him.”
Footsteps came shuffling up behind him and Hernandez dropped the phone between his legs. He took one last look at his partner, then said, “I’ll be right there, Jimmy.” As he braced the tip of his pistol tight under his chin, the one thought which remained, the one glimmer of solace which contained him, was the thought that Garza would not survive long. Hernandez had an irrational rush of jubilation. Nick Bracco had been notified. Ricky Hernandez smiled.
Then he pulled the trigger.
Here's a link to the Amazon page: