Nagler’s Secret: Silence and tension

In NAGLER’S SECRET, the work-in-progress Book six of the Frank Nagler Mystery series, Ironton, N.J. Detective Frank Nagler and others have been examining an  old farm house that could be the headquarters of a shadowy outfit called Sunshine Farms.

In this scene Nagler  stayed behind to look for something  when two people enter the building,. He is on the second floor and they entered the front door, a floor below.

The idea is this scene is to use silence to create atmosphere and tension, and then with sound, bring the scene to a conclusion.

The multi award-winning Frank Nagler Mysteries are available in ebook, paperback and audiobook at leading online book sellers and at Book & Puppet, Easton, Pa.

Book 5, DRAGONY RISING, was recently named a Distinguished Favorite in the 2023 Big NYC Book Awards.

The scene:

He put on rubber gloves and with his pocketknife spun the eyehook from the wall and placed it and the footlong piece of frayed hemp rope in an evidence bag.

The voices from below startled him.

“Got company,” Nagler texted Ramirez.

Below, the pair had stopped talking.

With concentrated, squinting eyes he followed their hollow footsteps on the bare wooden floors. They first walked together to the room to the right of the doorway, a parlor that contained one chair and some boxes; the door to the room to the left had been closed.

It scraped open.

The room must have been empty. They didn’t enter. One of them sneezed. He imagined the other’s hard warning face.

He shook his head. Do they think I don’t know they are here? Why are they sneaking around?

Nagler felt his damaged left ankle begin to lock from standing still.

The only way to relieve the pressure was to step or walk; he raised his heel and slowly turned the foot on its ball, hoping the floor would not creak.

In his pocket, his phone pinged.

It was Ramirez: “On our way back. 10 min.”

They didn’t hear that.

Downstairs the pair separated.

While footsteps crossed to the rear of the house where he and Calista found Dwayne hanging, the creak of dry, stuck doors crept up through the thin, wooden walls.

A voice called from the rear of the house, excited  but unintelligible. Quick steps toward the voice. Their clomping steps said they were both in rooms he had not examined.

What the hell are they doing? And why didn’t we see them before?

Nagler shook his head and dropped his chin to his collarbone.

They have to know I’m here, so what’s taking them so long?

“Enough of this,” he muttered.

He guessed that he had about thirty seconds before they were climbing the stairs if they heard his noise.

He stepped from the cubicle and kicked opened the door across the narrow hallway, left it open, and in three steps, entered the first door on the right side of the hallways. It stuck and opened with a pop.

Good. They had to have heard that.

Inside, he held the latch open and leaned his shoulder on the door frame.

The stairs creaked under each step; boots kicked the risers until all the foot sounds were at the landing.

They separated; doors on the opposite hall grumbled open.

When steps paused in front of the door to the room here he stood,  with gun drawn Nagler pulled open the door and yanked in the  intruder by his collar.

“What the …”

Nagler shoved the stunned man and pressed his face into the opposite door.

The other man stepped into the landing with a drawn handgun.


“You don’t want to do this, Frank,” Sgt. Jack Morrison said, squaring his posture.

“Do what? Shoot your friend and then shoot you? What the fuck are you doing, Morrison?”

“You need to walk away from this, Frank. It’s gonna get bad for you.”

“Not as bad as it’s gonna get for you,” Nagler said as he turned and in two steps pressed the barrel of his weapon  to Morrison’s forehead, pushing the shorter man to the stair railing.

“Hey, Frank!… what the fuck?”

Downstairs the front door was slammed open.

“Frank!” Ramirez yelled.

“Upstairs. Got a couple friends. Tell Calista to stay downstairs.”

“Give it up, son,” Nagler said, glaring as he pulled back his weapon.

“Jesus, Captain, he was going to shoot me.”

“I doubt that,” Ramirez said as she nodded to Nagler and stepped off the stairs behind  Morrison. “Let me have it,” and reached a hand out for Morrison’s weapon.

Instead of releasing the weapon, Morrison flinched.

Ramirez dropped  him to the floor and pressed a foot onto his wrist.

“Push it away,” she ordered.

His fingers released the handle and with what effort he could muster from his crushed hand,  gave up the gun.

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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