Thanks to Nicole Dow of the Hackettstown Free Public Library for the opportunity to read from and discuss the Frank Nagler mystery series.
We discussed how Frank and his hometown of Ironton,. N.J. are linked, and how his love for his wife Martha, who died when they were both young, haunted him.
And we discussed villains: Mayor Howard Newton from “The Swamps of Jersey,” #ARMAGEDDON from “A Game Called Dead,” and introduced “Tank” from the upcoming “The Weight of Living.”
Here is Tank, introducing himself to Frank Nagler:
“Outside a steady rain washed away all other sounds; just the splash of water on asphalt and cement, tapping on roof tops and drumming metal car roofs; a perfect wall in which to hide.
We walk through this wreckage, seeking what does not exist: wholeness. This is the weight of what we are, he thought. The weight of living.
A few cabs and delivery trucks splashed through the streets left damaged by winter’s wrath. Walking again. I wish I could walk this all away. What did Del say the other day: You see how deep the poison goes, how strong is the wrong in what they doin’.
Tell it, brother.
His phone rang and he answered it out of habit. “Yeah.”
Nagler closed his eyes and spit into the street. He glanced quickly around for a parked vehicle.
“Fuck you, Tank.”
“Oh, please. If it had been me shooting, you’d be dead. But Alton, well, he missed.”
“It’s not me. She is off limits.”
The receiver filled with a shallow breath.
“Nothing is off limits.” Said slowly like a hiss. “I take what I want.”
“You won’t take her.”
“Then I’ll take something else.”
“It’s already in motion, Detective Nagler. Already in motion.”
Don’t let him bait you, Frank.
Nagler lightened his tone.
“So why do you do this, Tank? That’s the perfect name for you. Something blunt and brutal, something destructively dumb. Tank.” He expelled the bitter name.
“I take because I can, and I can because everyone wants something from me.” A deep laughed filled the phone.
“Oh, please. Money is easy. Turn on late night TV or watch that Wall Street cable channel. You’ll see. Selling the American Dream. Give me a grand and I’ll give you back five. I have magic beans, the ear of God. I can conjure everything you want with a snap of my finger. I am the Wizard of Oz, but the heart I present to you is empty of feeling, the brain, devoid of thought. Money, I have more money than they will ever find, trinkets galore. I command a dark world.”
“You’re just nuts,” Nagler said, chuckling. “Just fucking nuts.”
“No, Detective Nagler. I’m in charge. Take Commissioner McCann. If I were Henny Youngman, I would add ‘please’ and get a big laugh. But, no. McCann wants power, so I give him the illusion that he has power. He makes what he thinks are command decisions, but fails to realize that they had been previously plotted. And he also fails to understand that if he does not carry out my plans, there is a certain matter of a bribe he took in his first year as a prosecutor that allowed the scion of a wealthy family to walk away from a situation where he had pumped his pregnant waitress girlfriend full of drugs and threw her off a highway overpass into the path of a truck. It was so well planned…” A smirking voice.
“I’ll send you the paperwork.” The smirk gone; satisfaction, perhaps, even, boredom.
“You find all this amusing, don’t you, Tank? Taking, ruining people’s lives.”
“These are lives that are already ruined, Detective Nagler. Alton Garrett? Calista… that is not her real name but for the life of me I cannot remember what name I gave her…”
“So she is your daughter?”
Nagler could see the shrug in his voice. “Daughter. Niece. Wife. The same. She is family, Detective Nagler. Family is flesh, and flesh is a commodity. I create flesh, and I can destroy it.” A pause. “Alton Garrett wants love, so I give him the illusion of love. Calista Knox wants freedom, ah, a truly more dear commodity. She has a heavier price to pay. And you want relief, assurances. They too, come with a high cost.”
The phone went dead.”
The first two Nagler stories are available at:
The books are also available at the at the following libraries: Morris County Library; Somerset County Library System; Bernardsville Public Library; Hunterdon County Public Library; Mount Olive Public Library; Phillipsburg; Warren County, Franklin branch; Mount Arlington; Wharton; Dover; Hackettstown; Clark, Parsippany and the Ramsey library, as part of the Bergen County Cooperative Library System.
Also at: Bobby’s News and Gifts, 618 Main Street, Boonton.
The Clinton Book Shop, 12 E. Main Street, Clinton. http://www.clintonbookshop.com/
Sparta Books, 29 Theatre Center, Sparta. http://www.spartabooks.com/
For information on independent book sellers visit, http://www.indiebound.org/