Nagler 5: The ’85 Impala and Dancer’s blood

Detective Frank  Nagler and Lieutenant  Maria Ramirez have been told by the widow of an accountant named Sol Rosen that a license plate on a 1985 Impala is a clue in their current bombing case.

“Lieutenant Ramirez at her computer stared at a photo of the license plate left on Sol Rosen’s Impala.


“Lotta numbers,” Nagler said, “Special order plate. Think there’s a record of the application?”

“If her Solly was so smart, he didn’t need one,” Ramirez said. “Ordered it right from the plate shop in state prison.”

“Sounds about right,” Nagler said. “What’s it mean? Coordinates? Address? L…lower something,. B..backside?”

“Sorry to interrupt,” Medical Examiner Walter Mulligan said as he entered. “I have…is that a license plate?”

“Yeah” Ramirez said. “It’s a plate that was found on the ’85 Impala in that warehouse on Dubin Place, but it belongs to a ‘67 Barracuda. The Impala was registered to Sol Rosen, who died in 1993, and the Cuda was registered to Adam Kalinsky, who was killed in a car crash in 2006.

“Dubin Place, you said.” Mulligan leaned into the examine the computer image. “Why would someone put a lot and block number on a license plate?”

“A what?” Nagler asked.

“You own a house, Detective. I’m surprised you didn’t recognize the form.”

“Ya lost me.”

“Have you ever read your tax bill?”

“The bank pays the taxes.”  Nagler shook his head, embarrassed.

“Well,” Mulligan began in that scolding voice that reminded Nagler of Sister Katherine in fourth grade when he didn’t do his spelling assignment, “Your tax bill has two notations,. Your street address, and a  designation that appears on the tax map of the city.” He pointed to the screen. “It appears in this form, lot first, then block.”

“That’s weird clue,” Ramirez said.

“Clue for what?” Mulligan asked.

Ramirez leaned back and ran her fingers through her hair.  “Sol Rosen was an account for some gangsters. Seem he stole some money, up to five million. His wife told us that he and Kalinsky cooked up some scheme, for what we don’t know and left clues on Rosen’s Impala and on this license plate. Rosen was murdered in 1993 – unsolved – and Kalinsky  died in a car crash in 2006, maybe suspicious.”

“I remember the Kalinsky accident,” Mulligan said. “Blunt force trauma from the crash.”

“That all? Report said there was a big fire, truck filled with gasoline,” Nagler said.

Mulligan squinted at Nagler question. “Don’t believe so, Frank. I recall I wondered why there were not extensive burns. I’ll check. As for Mr. Cohen, I’ll have to examine that file as well. Where was he killed?”

“Boonton. Description seemed like a hit.”

“Indeed.” Mulligan tapped the computer screen again. “You might consult Miss Fox about any real estate developments about the time of Mr. Cohen’s death. Oh, and this was the reason I came to see you. We  disassembled the bread knife found with Mr. Tallem and found blood belonging to Ethan Ricardo and former Ironton Detective Jeffrey Montgomery.” Here’s the report. “I suspect this changes the trajectory of the case.” Then  he left, taking all the air in the room with him.

Ramirez spun in her chair and Nagler deeply exhaled and grabbed a handful of his hair.

“Dancer,” he said. “Fucking Dancer.

The room seemed to sway, the walls separate. Nagler felt himself unhinged from the floor.

He stumbled from the room and left Maria Ramirez, stunned, furiously typing on her computer keyboard searching for anything about Jeff Montgomery. He burst into the Sussex Street parking lot where sat the  four cruisers that had been blasted a week before by the unknown occupant of a black Jeep Wrangler, mind  racing as the case before them shattered into a million shards, fell from the side of the skyscraper, papers blowing which ways all at once beyond his grasping fingers, never to  be assembled again; to hear in his mind Dancer and McCarroll guffawing, that mocking laugh, calling down the supposed power of the Dragony, the fearsome history of suspicion.

 Dancer, damn it. Hey, Frank. I’m dying in the heat out here and  ya gotta help me get this monkey off my back cause they’re gonna kill me.

Know what, Dancer? They might anyway.

Go back inside, figure this out, Nagler scolded himself. Isn’t the first time some cop or some friend turned.

Mind boiling. Not yet. Not now.

A chill sleety wind descended

Outside, the city seemed still, cement footed, unmoved, unchanged, bland, uncolored, too quiet by half, disinterested.

There is treachery in this city, thuggery, stealing your future, criminals! See them. They stand before you and lie. They will take all you own and erect a shining glass tower empty of all that you know and love. Stop them.

And still in his mind they walked, plowing forward, he reached out his arms  and  pushed back, but still they marched mechanically on.

Is this my fight alone? The silence said: Perhaps.

A truck backfired. Nagler, awakened,  coat open to the wind, was chilled by the sweat running down his spine. He hoped no one passing noticed how wide-eyed his face was, how  wrenched into confusion; how he slowed his breathing, blinked, closed his eyes a moment. Calmed.

What reviewers say about the Frank Nagler Mysteries:

The Red Hand:

 A great read

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.

 Engaging Mystery Story

Reviewed in the United States on April 3, 2021

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.

The Weight of Living:

 Good Read

Reviewed in the United States on March 16, 2021

Raced through this one. Nice cover too. Good job.
Will be looking out for more from this author.

The weight of living

Reviewed in the United States on March 2, 2021

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.

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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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