Nagler 5: ‘You Were Never Here’

Frank Nagler Book 5 is on the way.

This story follows THE WEIGHT OF LIVING.

The key elements:

A destructive fire that ruins a section  of downtown Ironton, N.J.

The request by a police cadet that Nagler open a cold case that put her father in jail for most of her life.

Nagler’s state of mind. Following the end of THE WEIGHT OF LIVING, which had crushing consequences for Nagler, he was assigned to the police academy. He must prove to the police captain and the town’s  mental health professionals that he is ready for street duty again. He is fighting for his job.


The working title: YOU WERE NEVER HERE. 

I’d say look for it Spring 2021.

“The kitchen chair caught his attention.

  Of all the things  stretched out before him – a smoking, broken two-block section of downtown Ironton, the hundreds of hard-hatted searchers, firefighters in full turnout gear, police in battle gear, rows of ambulances, police cars, fire trucks, all flashing red and blue lights off the cracked windows and dusty air, clustered officials,  pointing this way and that, reading oversized street maps resting on the hoods of cars, and beyond it all, a huddled crowd of on-lookers—of all that,  Frank Nagler focused on a single, undamaged metal kitchen chair with yellow upholstery standing  upright on the roof of the old theater a half-block way. (Photo by Nguyen Bui, Upsplash)

He had climbed to the highest  point near downtown, the new bridge that crossed the river, to gain some perspective on the blast scene: What he guessed was an explosive natural gas leak had over night destroyed a block of Warren Street and the flying debris had damaged neighboring buildings that contained businesses and apartments.

The building fronts facing Warren street were gone, along with partial roofs. Walls between buildings had caved in after the explosion and fire.

But there was that single kitchen chair.

“That seems odd,” he said. “Is that even possible?”

“What’s odd?”  a voice to his left asked.

“That you’d find me here, for one thing,” Nagler said to reporter Jimmy Dawson.

“I’m not even supposed to be here.”

Dawson lowered his smart phone that he had been using to record video of the scene. “That’s why I knew  you’d be here. Actually I followed you from downtown. I knew you’d find the best vantage point.”

Nagler waved his hand toward the scene. “So, what have you heard?”
Dawson slipped the phone into a pocket. “Same as you. Natural gas, old wooden buildings.”

“Look at all the damage. That make sense?”

Dawson smiled and shrugged.  He’s been off the front lines for six months and still understands more than the cops on the beat. “Makes sense till it doesn’t.”

“What do you think about that?” Nagler asked, pointing to the kitchen chair.

“Does that make sense? That chair, on that roof?  Not crushed, A perfect four-point landing? Okay, the blast and the fire hollowed out the buildings, but the gas lines would have entered the buildings below street level. Even if you filled one of those restaurant cellars with gas, that’s what twenty-by ten? Twenty-by-ten what, cubed? squared? I’ve been down there. They’re damp and moldy, but maybe that doesn’t matter…” He glanced  again at  the chair on the theater roof.

“How much force would it take to blow a chair a half a block in the air from inside a building?”

Dawson laughed, “I don’t know.”

“Who would?”

“I know some Army explosives experts at Picatinny. Could ask them.”

Nagler smiled. “You know, Dawson, that sounds like a really good idea. Why don’t you do that. Tell me what they say.” Sourly,

“After I’m reinstated.”

Dawson laughed. “You need to get back to work, Frank.”

Nagler rolled his head on his shoulders, closed his eyes and sighed. “Got that right, Jimmy. I’ve got one more meeting with the chief.” He stared at the kitchen chair again. “Now if the blast did not launch that chair into the air where it did a somersault and landed on its feet, why is it there?”

Dawson shrugged. “Maybe they wanted a front row seat to the fireworks.” “



Previous Frank Nagler Mysteries:



A GAME CALLED DEAD: . A Runner-Up in the Shelf Unbound 2016 Best Indie Book contest.


THE WEIGHT OF LIVING: First Place for Mysteries  in the 2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Award contest;  Notable 100 Book, Shelf Unbound 2018 Indie Book Awards; Named a Distinguished Favorite, 2018  Independent Press Awards; Distinguished Favorite in the 2018 Big NYC Book Contest; Finalist in the 2019 Book Excellence Awards.


THE RED HAND: Distinguished Favorite in the 2019 Big NYC Book Contest; Second Place winner for mysteries in the 2019 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards;  Notable 100 Book in the 2019 Shelf Unbound Indie Book Awards;  Distinguished Favorite  in the 2020 Independent Press Awards; Nominee in the 2020 TopShelf Book Awards




About michaelstephendaigle

I have been writing most of my life. I am the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. "The Swamps of Jersey (2014); "A Game Called Dead" (2016) -- a Runner-Up in the 2016 Shelf Unbound Indie Author Contest; and "The Weight of Living" (2017) -- First Place winner for Mysteries in the Royal Dragonfly Book Awards Contest.
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