This is a scene in Nagler 5 about getting to the heart of Detective Frank Nagler’s life. Lauren is Lauren Fox, his companion and the Ironton city planner who has taken steps to protect herself from the assorted criminals.
This is us, Frank Nagler thought, the trail of us, the perfect imperfection, the chaos of two lives running in nine directions.
The empty, dark house weighted, wisps of Lauren’s presence hanging. Jeans clinging to a chair arm, a wadded towel still moist with her rose-scented body wash, hints of lavender shampoo, piles of musty, water-stained tan paper files, pages of reports open and underlined, a cup half filled with white skimmed coffee; in the kitchen sink a vase holding the flowers he brought her, the purple buds now brown, the sagging sunflowers. “Don’t worry,” she says. “I’ve got this.” And I have to believe that she does. He leaned backside against the sink and surveyed the room: haphazard paper piles, the empty beer bottles on the table, her coat slung across the counter, a plastic bag left from Chinese takeout, three forgotten fortune cookies and a menu nestled in the bottom. This is us, Frank Nagler thought, the trail of us, the perfect imperfection, the chaos of two lives running in nine directions, pressed by all these things dark and light closing in, unable to even fill a flower vase with water to keep them alive, yet knowing just the same how delicately their scent drifted in to the dry air, how the frail petals slipped against her fingers, how she smiled, one moment in this unspoken, tangled thing.
He turned and stared into the darkness beyond the window, his face a wavy outline, a smear of light.
The moment is rising, he thought. We have no choice, but to stand.
Pushed from the house to escape its answerless questions, Nagler walked.
The day’s mist, now cleared and frozen, drips made temporary stalactites frozen on the tips of dark branches, sidewalks sheen slick, streets still, shining as a glitter of light trapped in ice. Lights fuzzy with icy patina.
He had walked this route a hundred times, back through the years of his life, down streets that grew darker where the streetlights failed, along narrowing broken sidewalks to the darkened dirt paths, places memories deepened.
Past three-story, white homes with wide porches and picket fences, past the pretty parks to warrens of broken trees, weeds curled like snakes around stunted trunks; then descending along alleys lined with single story unpainted dull wooden garages and sheds with uneven doors and cardboard windows, dying grass at the corners.
Finally to the bottom, the center: The empty lot where his grandparents had lived. The old man would sway in his chair, hands bent and gnarled gripped the rails, feet locked to the floor, eyes pinned to the past, a face like iron.
“They meant well,” he told his grandson from that chair one day before he died. “But they had no idea what they were doing. No means to govern other men. So they stopped trying. Governed for themselves. Greed gets easy. The cheap houses they built, the company stores, wages gleaned, and when the troubles started, hired the thugs to maintain order, the friendlies, the sons, the cousins, brothers, nephews. Hired their own kind, all else be damned.”
Nagler remembered the old man leaned forward, elbows on the chair rails and growled, “It will go on till someone stops it, Frankie, someone from these dreary streets, someone who knows …” His grandfather had collapsed back into the chair, weary. “Knows what, Grandpa?” Frank asked. “Our life, Frank boy. Knows our life.”
When Nagler told Martha that story years later, as teens sitting on the front porch of her parents’ comfortable home under the soft light of a summer day, she turned his face to hers and said, “That wasn’t a curse, Frank,” before she kissed him. “Feels like one,” he had replied. “No, no, no, Frankie.” She wrapped her arms around his neck. “It was his blessing.”
What reviewers say about the Frank Nagler Mysteries:
The Red Hand:
Reviewed in the United States on April 10, 2021
I very much enjoyed The Red Hand. The story kept me engaged and there were plenty of thrills with lots of twists and turns. It was chilling and in many places twisted. The character dialogue was exquisite and made me relate to the characters. Well done.
The Red Hand
I read many mystery stories. This one is among the best I have ever read. The last 3 chapters were amazing. I was always with the hunger to read the next chapter.
Reviewed in the United States on June 2, 2021
The characters were well-developed and it made me want to care about them and the outcome of each adventure or situation.It kept me guessing and stealing time to read. The complexities of each hurdle developed the characters as in real life. If you are a fan of The Swamps of Jersey by Michael Stephen Daigle,try this one.
The Weight of Living:
The Weight of Living:
Raced through this one. Nice cover too. Good job.
Will be looking out for more from this author.
The Weight of Living
I normally don’t gravitate to dark thrillers but a few stand out to me and a few are worth it. The Weight of Living is ominous in tone but the characters are compelling and the plot is well-developed. If you are a fan of The Girl in the Ice, then you will enjoy this mystery.