My interview on AllAuthors.com

I was offered the opportunity to take part in a question-and-answer interview on the website AllAuthors. Thanks for the opening .

A writer and journalist, Michael Stephen Daigle has had an award-winning career in journalism. One of the first stories he wrote was about a little band that traveled using a school bus. Having published multiple novels in the crime fiction and mystery genre, Michael is the author of the award-winning Frank Nagler Mystery series. His characters are strong and convincing, and the plot is unpredictable, with sudden twists that take the reader by surprise. Read full interview…

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

People who made a difference

“She believes. Mary DeCeseare believes.”

So opened the first-ever “Morris People” column I wrote for the Morris County (NJ) Daily Record in 2007. I wrote that weekly column until 2011, when we all were, well, discharged.

The goal of the column was to highlight one person’s life and activities.

The trick was to write the column in the voice of the subject, not in my voice, to highlight what they said, not what I wanted them to say.

Cleaning up, I found a file with maybe 100 columns, background and contact info intact.

Reading them, I rediscovered why I had suggested the project: The people I spoke with made a difference.

I write fiction now, mysteries mostly. Check me out on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The lives that these columns represent are reflected in my fiction. It is a reminder of the close world we inhabit.

So from time to time, I think I’ll sprinkle  a few posts  here to celebrate their lives.

So in no particular order, some lives.

Mary DeCeseare, who believed, sets the tone.

In 2000, she and her friend Gloria Touhey  founded the Silver Brigade, Denville senior citizens pushing for tax relief.

“The big deal candidates would offer sympathy and encouragement, but no solutions,” she said.

“They’re saying the same things today,” she said.

When asked by friends what they could do, she offered this advice: “Fight on.”

Dawn Dodsworth was an adjunct professor at Centenary College in Hackettstown teaching criminal justice, and a victim advocate for the Crime Victim’s Law Center.

She was also a crime victim.

“I will always be a crime victim. I will not forget that.  I’ll never lose that scar. I believe we are supposed to leave this world better than we found it. The legacy of our  life is in not what you talk about but the life you lead, the example you make.”

Mike Lowrey of Parsippany invented Rufus, a recyclable sorting robot.

He studied industrial films to see how curbside recycling was handled.

“Thomas Edison said he invented 1,000 ways not to make a lightbulb. I always ask myself how can I solve this problem?”

For Sarah Murray Dundas, her appointment to the state’s  Martin Luther King Jr.  Commission was an opportunity to repay lessons learned growing up in the middle of 1960s urban riots.

“The idea that Martin Luther  King represented just a black issue is wrong. It is much more. It’s about diversity generally,  about Jews nor being accepted, about Asians, Koreans, Muslims.”

I thought, as a reporter,  that I had a handle on how modern poverty worked. I had been given lessons in 1996-97 by Georjean Trinkle, then of Norwescap, who ran job training classes for women during the Bill Clinton welfare reform era. (Her story can be found here: https://michaelstephendaigle.com/2018/04/27/old-newspaper-columns-reveal-how-little-has-changed/-)

Then I walked into a meeting with Andrea Conway, Michelle Roers and Stephanie Hoopes Halpin of the United Way of Northern New Jersey and was introduced to ALICE. And got schooled.

Hoopes Halpin was a statistician and mathematician whose committee redefined with numbers the real  relationship between work, life situations  and poverty.

They created ALICE — Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – as a paradigm for the new, struggling working family. It’s not about being lazy.

“If you view 2, 3, 4 percent poverty in Morris County you might feel you don’t have to do a lot. But when you  see that 25 percent can’t support themselves, then maybe you see you have to do something. Our report presents a different way to look at the issue.”

Information on ALICE can be found here: unitedforalice

John Smith was a train engineer for the “Rio Grande” railroad at the Rockaway Townsquare Mall in Rockaway Township.

Before that, he collected scarves, gloves and hats from lost and found and gave them to poor kids in the Bergen County school where he worked.

“It was the light in their eyes, the smiles, the waves to Mom and Dad, the trip to a world of their own” that made the train ride special, he said. It was hard to say whether the children enjoyed it more than  he did, Smith said.

When Kris Emmitt  began to bring Reilly, a bearded collie, to CROP walks, which raised funds for disaster victims, the experience changed.

Reilly attracted attention, and in the end, more than $50,000 in donations over 10 years. His participation spawned “Reilly’s All-Stars,”  a gallery of pets whose owners supported the walks.

“He thinks walking is his job.  When he arrives at the walk, people applaud. Reilly barks.”

Pamela Pangaro says “and stuff” a lot. It reminds you that she is 13.

Her mitzvah for her own Bat Mitzvah was to collect food and other goods for the Interfaith Food Pantry.

“It’s hard to grasp, the people who need help. I had no idea who they were. It’s not just the act, it’s the knowledge that goes with it. I want to carry on and stuff.”

Info: Interfaith Food Pantry Network – Serving Morris County (mcifp.org)

Harvey and Blace Flatt could often be found raking leaves and removing sticks from an old lot on Route 15 in Jefferson.

They had become caretakers for one of the oldest cemeteries in the township and Morris County.

“It dated back to the 1700s when the region was just filling with European settlers, when the iron ore that would spur an industry was just being dug from the ground, when the hills were covered with immense forests.

“Chamberlain,  LeFavre, Flatt and Holley are among the families. Some of the stones are worn, the names a mere unreadable stencil in the stone. Some just say Mother and Father; one probably for a child has a raised heart carved in the center. The heart is cracked, broken.”

The  Flatts have been in Hurdtown a long time, the brothers said. It is the place they swam in Lake Shawnee when  it was called Duck Pond, hunted, fished in Lake Hopatcong, walked three miles to elementary school, got warm milk right from the cow at a nearby farm.”

“You have to do it,” Blace Flatt said. “It’s out of respect for who is here. That’s the main thing.”

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

L104.7B389.

“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.

Book links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC

Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lazy government at work in Phillipsburg library dispute

MAY 7 update: The mayor and the library board began a discussion today about solving this financial issue. Probably no simple fix, but this is what should have happened at the beginning. This is not an issue that cropped up on May 4. It has been a few years in building. But, this could lead to resolution.

UPDATE: Follow up to this post: The Phillipsburg town council cut the library funding Tuesday (May 4) , saying they had no choice to seek the library surplus. Of course they had a choice, but the GOP majority had already made up their mind. Classic move: Defund a service so it can not meet its core mission, then declare in time that the service is no longer needed because it can not meet its core mission. They made no effort to find an alternative solution. One council member suggested P’burg residents could use the county library in the next town over.

There is a war in Phillipsburg, N.J., over the fate of the public library.

Again.

With a regained Republican majority on the town council in the past couple of elections, the library, founded  about  100 years ago, has been the target of a persistent campaign by the council majority to – no polite way to put it – shut down the library.

In 2020, the council even floated a referendum to ask voters if they wanted the local library to close. The referendum never made the ballot.

The council is trying again, this time with drastic budget cuts, on Tuesday, May 4 with an item on the agenda seeking to get back $160,000 from the library board, while the town’s 2021 budget shorted the library funding by about $200,000 of the library’s request. The smaller budget would result in staff layoffs and reductions in services.

In a reported response, one town council member said that the laid-off workers would be better off collecting the state’s Covid-enhanced unemployment benefits  than  working.

In other words, Alex, I’ll take Tone Deaf for $100.

Two things: the above is a  truncated  version of the situation, and though I am not a resident of Phillipsburg, I use the library’s services and am a member of the library’s writer’s group. During the pandemic, library staff helped us maintain the group online with the use of the library’s Zoom account.

That was one such effort made by staff to meet the needs of the library’s users.

Here are a few points.

For years the Phillipsburg library was in essence the western Warren County branch of the Warren County library system. For years the closest county library was in Franklin Township, on the campus of  the county’s regional technical and vocational high school. Security issues forced the county to find a new site of the library. The new site is on Route 519 in an abandoned industrial building.
The new county library is a wonderful new building, but it is bordered on one side by  the area’s warehouse district and on the other side, by shopping center row. The county road is heavily traveled and has no sidewalks. You need a vehicle to get there and I’m sure many Phillipsburg residents use the facility. This current mess is not a fight with the Warren County library.

The county terminated its arrangement with the Phillipsburg library, and the town had to agree to a multi-year payback plan to settle the account.

The relationships between town governments and library boards are at times rocky. The library board is an independent agency that in many cases preceded the local government’s involvement in the  library. But as these feuds have surfaced, they usually are quickly smoothed over because the value of the library is a thing to be protected.  I sense in the current Phillipsburg mess that might not be the case.

The Phillipsburg Library is in a residential district and at the apex of  routes walked daily by students attending the town’s high school and middle school.

Phillipsburg is only one of two Warren towns that does not collect a local library tax. which average about 5  cents per $100 of property assessment. For me that means I pay $9 a year to support the county library because we do not have our own public library because we use the Phillipsburg library. (Hmmm).

We have seen this approach before.

I covered Morris County for many years. One election found a couple of Republican budget cutters were elected to the county commission board and took aim at the county library. One of the new members opined that no one used the library anymore because of the Internet.

That idea died aborning.

As should the Phillipsburg library mess.

As an example of public support, a resident made a donation to the library to maintain one of its online services.

That should not be a signal to the town council that library supporters should be the sole source of funding. It is a public library, after all.

I like Phillipsburg.

Readers of my  Frank Nagler Mysteries, set in Jersey, know I have an affinity for old industrial towns that are fighting back after years of decline.

Such is Phillipsburg. Like many Northeast U.S. industrial towns the transition from that economy to a new one had been slow.

But it takes work to make that transition.

We moved to this region in 1991 and watched P’burg  officials get in their own way as Easton, Pa., a sister city across the Delaware River began to prosper.

We watched as it took the state threatening daily fines before the P’burg council agreed  to tear down its mold infested former city hall and police station. The police had sued to force the town to designate a new police HQ.

The project may have been out out to bid, but the old PD is still there.

Oddly, that building is on the same municipal lot as the library. How much would that lot be worth to a developer if both municipal uses were removed? Just asking.

A grocer was forced to close in the western part of the town creating a food desert.

Is  the council pressing the new owners for a new improved grocery store at that site, which would serve a large section of the town? Not that has been reported. I would use the store often. Needing  milk, I would, return home after spending $50.

Things are changing in P’burg.

A new high school, new housing, new investment, new businesses filling in old spots. An extremely popular local railroad attraction that brings in thousands of visitors during its season. An old industrial site is home to huge warehouse development after near 30 years of trying to build something there.

Yes, there is an outcry that too many warehouses are planned. But the old industrial site on a state highway a mile or so from the interstate highway seems like a good place. That said what does not seem like a good development is a council  favored warehouse plan along the Delaware River in a residential neighborhood that has no direct access to any highway, meaning trucks would be negotiating  narrow town streets to serve the site.

After covering government for decades, I can say I’ve seen this before.

It’s lazy government.

It’s cronyism, ideologically agenda driven, self serving, forgetting who you represent government.

The town council is right to want to attract new business and news residents to Phillipsburg.

But they will still come, if a reasonable way to pay for the library and its services is found.  Residents like parks and recreation fields and libraries, even if it’s just the idea of them. Not bad for $9 a year.

Otherwise your sales pitch is: Come to our town, we just closed the public library.

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library | Leave a comment

A good day to bring you flowers

There had been that gap in time

Separate.

I wondered about your smile,

Missed your voice

The tone between soothing and sarcasm

Wondered if the losses had deepened in your eyes

Wanting to see again that light

Knowing too much had not been done,

Affections lingering

Hung by questions.

Your arms around my neck

The scent of your hair

The perfume of your skin.

Then a smile and Why you asked.

Because there are flowers

And it is a good day to bring them to you.

Posted in Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle | Leave a comment

Nagler 5: Leonard refuses to be bullied

Leonard receives a visit from Taylor Mangot II, a shady financier whose presence in Ironton is suspect. He wants to build a giant glass project on a site of a recent bombing.

The door opened and closed sweeping in a whisper of fluttering leaves, wordless shouts and the scent of chilled fall air.

Leonard in his usual corner a seat waited for the footfall to announced the entrance of a new visitor. But the expected call out to Barry for coffee, or from Barry – “Hey, Jack, special?’’ – did not follow. Whoever had entered paused, as if scanning the room; Leonard heard the crinkle of a leather coat being removed.

“Leonard, I’m Taylor Mangot II. So pleased to meet you.”

Leonard forced a small smile, but felt the ice of the voice crawl down his spine. The voice came from a point a foot or two above Leonard’s head. Leonard then recalled that Taylor Mangot II was described as being six and half feet tall.

“Mr. Mangot, welcome. “Please sit. May I offer you a beverage?”

Mangot reached Leonard’s table in eight precise, soft steps. Catlike, Leonard thought; he would be on you before you knew he was there.

Leonard shifted his wheelchair to face the table as a chair opposite him slid along the floor and he sensed the weight of the tall man sitting.

“Pardon my manners…”

“Sir, I understand,” Mangot replied. “If I might, how long have you been blind?”

“Since childhood.”

“And yet you own this block and parts of another. How did you accomplish that?”

Leonard took one small breath as the frigid insulting tone of Mangot’s question stung. He had been expecting this visit for several weeks since he had  initially rejected the offer from Mangot’s  foundation for a partnership.

“I am blind, Mr. Mangot, but I don’t lack ambition or skills. I have many friend with skills as well. People who care about me and this city and are willing to set goals. I grew up on these streets. I hope to make life better for others.”

“As do I.” Mangot said.”

 Leonard heard the self-important smile.

 “I have taken the ineffective tiny company my father left me and fine tuned it. I change cities, Leonard, not just blocks. I enrich, not just improve.”

Leonard shifted in his chair. “I am  impressed, your reputation precedes you.” He added an edge to his voice, up to that moment, soft and welcoming. “But I find it interesting that you would come here and insult a prospective partner.”

“You misunderstand. I don’t have partners. I acquire.”

Leonard heard Mangot shift in his seat and place his elbows on the table.

“If this were mine I would transform it, while you desire to fix it.” A scoffing tone. “These blocks can not be fixed. They have the stench of age, the aroma of labor that would always remain if they were nor demolished. Just like the block on Warren that was destroyed. For the better I might add. Your city looks backward, preserving the old, dirt red brick as if it is an act of mercy, as if somehow the cries and sweat of the ancient workers are more meaningful than the efforts of the men who paid the wages, who took what the ground held and transformed it into vision of wealth and comfort. I will bring new people to Ironton, people with money and class.  My father catered to the past, as do you. There is little room for you in a new Ironton.”

Leonard listened as Mangot leaned back. He imagined his hard, cold face.

“Ah, sir, the smell of old Ironton,” Leonard said. “I walk these streets, you know, feel the rough edges of bricks formed one by one with hands of skill and intelligence. I feel that knowledge and know that each brick fed a family I might have known, a family who helped me when I was a child. I know that knowledge was transformed into skill that engineered railroads and streets and the buildings you despise. They meant something, mean something. Besides, sir, is not  glass but sand harvested, processed and transformed? Who will do that for you? You see glass as money. But is that why they chased you out of San Francisco, and that your plans in Singapore were denied. Is that why your foundation has been suspended in this state? I am not a thing to be bought, sir.”

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.

 Page-turning thriller

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.

Book links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC

Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nagler 5: Who or what is the Dragony, and what’s with the bread knife?

The self-named “Dragony” is a shadowy organization that may be behind  the bombing of downtown Ironton, N.J.  It also might be the reason that several of its suspected members keep dying. So who are they and what are they up to? (And what’s with the bread knife?)
Detective Frank Nagler makes a list:

Nagler wrote the word “Dragony” at the top center of the white board.

So, who are you guys? And why are you all in Ironton at this exact moment?

What’d you forget to do, or is the question what are you planning to do, as if blowing up downtown was not enough.

McCarroll, Nagler wrote.

Said he was. Acts like the boss, but I doubt it.

Eduardo Tallem.
Who’s he?

Depends on what state and year, records said.

Odd role; not at top of chain of command, but not a foot soldier. Facilitator. But of what?

Ethan Ricardo.

Street punk, drug dealer. Bread knife victim.

Maybe.

“Trainee,” Nagler said.

Who was his boss who signed the fake passport?

Of course, Tallem was also a victim of a bread knife.

Does that make Tallem a traitor?

Well, he is dead.

“BLT,” from Dancer’s  notes. Boonton Lieutenant Dan Thomson.

Foot soldier, for sure..

How many are there?

BL, from the notes.

No idea.

T1 and T2, the Green twins, James and Rachel.

Drug stoolies in that raid fifteen years ago.

Everyone said they were dead. At least Dancer did.

Taylor Mangot II.

From a distance. Ink stained, not blood stained.

Taylor Mangot I.

Nagler pondered. More blood than ink.

The four dead in that warehouse 15 years ago.

Sacrificed. Fake IDs.

Someone on the roofs of downtown. On the other end of Tallem’s phone call.

Nagler wrote, “Roof guy.”

He stared at his list.

Incomplete.

Dancer, he wrote.

Knows too much. Sudden reappearance. The scribbled notes recalled. Death and destruction.

Felt less bad about writing that name than he thought he would.

So, if Dancer, then Carlton Dixon.

Maybe his taking the rap for the drug deal was not what it seemed.

But, that one felt like a leap.

Still, if Carlton Dixon, then Mahala Dixon.

Wannabe. Maybe.

Schemer. Scared for some reason.

Then, if Taylor Mangot I, then Jock Newton, old iron mine knock-around.

If Jock Newton, then Howard Newton. Kept it in the family.

And Gabriel Richman, and Chris Foley. Howie Newton’s sidekicks.

Really? Why not?

Who else? McSally, mentioned by Dan Thomson. Confused with McCarroll? Descriptions didn’t match.

So who’s McSally?

Mastermind.

“Friend’s list?” asked Maria Ramirez, as she leaned in the doorframe, then joined Nagler at the board.

“Anyone else?” he asked. “Could be a reach.”

“That reporter, Adam Kalinsky,” she said.

“Why?

“He drove a ‘67 Barracuda. Those were his plates on the Impala stashed at Dubin Place.”

Nagler closed one eye, tipped his head and let out a long whistled breath.  “Try anything. Okay.”

He wrote, “Adam Kalinsky.”

“And if  Kalinsky, then Saul Rosen. His Impala was wearing Kalinsky’s license plates.”

“Yes, it was!”

Nagler added Saul Rosen to the list. Whoever he was.

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.

 Page-turning thriller

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.

Book links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Michael-Stephen-Daigle/e/B00P5WBOQC

Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-red-hand-michael-stephen-daigle/1132368097

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

5-star review of ‘The Swamps of Jersey:’ Add Frank Nagler to the crime fiction honor roll.

Thanks Henry Chamberlain for this fabulous review!

5.0 out of 5 stars Detective Frank Nagler has earned a place among the best detectives in crime fiction

Reviewed in the United States on March 20, 2021

Detective Frank Nagler can join Sam Spade, Nero Wolfe, Ellery Queen and all the rest of the crime fiction honor roll as an entertaining and compelling character! I think the author, Michael Daigle, a journalist by trade, is having a lot of fun here. It will be evident to the reader that Daigle has a command of the crime beat, the political beat, and the overall gritty city beat! Daigle’s prose is robust and keeps the reader hooked. If you can win over the reader with your own level of passion, then you’ve won as a writer. And the reader gets to reap the rewards. I’m sure Daigle has paced himself and plotted a fun course for this series. I look forward to more.

Amazon.com: The Swamps of Jersey eBook: Daigle, Michael Stephen: Kindle Store

SAMPLE:

CHAPTER 1

The ringing phone grabbed Detective Frank Nagler from the fitful sleep he had found crammed into an office chair like a discarded suit jacket. It was three a.m.

  The phone rang again, buzzing like a swarm of flies. He rolled dizzily sideways, slammed his feet to the floor and sat in the chair, feeling his back clench.  Crap, that hurt. The phone rang again.  And again. He rubbed his eyes with the palms of his hands and waited for one more ring, then picked up the receiver. “You’re kidding,” he replied wearily to the dispatcher’s request.  “What’s next, locusts?  Yeah, never mind. Thanks. Just what we need after all this.  Be there soon.”

He wrapped himself in his long black raincoat that had become his shield against the wet and raging world, and leaned into the outer door as the hurricane winds slapped him awake.

He had not seen the sky for days, felt the heat of the sun, wore dry shoes or walked outside without that raincoat since the storm blew in and sealed the hills above the city with a dense smothering grayness, a swirling menace of thunder clouds and shrieking winds that pounded the city with an apocalyptic rain that sent the Baptist preachers howling to the hills about sin and damnation.  It emptied the grocery store shelves of everything but a few cans of cream of mushroom soup,  and locked the residents in the top floors of their homes as the river crashed its banks, flooded streets and rearranged the city landscape like a madman with an earth mover.

The placid, blue August sky had been replaced by rain that came and stayed. Rain with menace, rain that pulsed around corners dark with  dislodged pieces of the earth  as it ripped away every weak thing it could; rain that claimed, rain soulless and dark as evil;  that challenged knowledge; rain that took possession.

The ancients knew what to do with rain like this, he thought wickedly, squinting into the horizontal blast of water.

Conjure an honest man with a ship and spin a parable about the wages of sin.  Nagler laughed sourly. And then get out of town. Nagler plowed his car through the treacherous bumper-deep water that filled the downtown streets. Random spotlights, swinging loosely from dangling wires on damaged poles or hanging off ripped roof tops banged with the hollow, doomed echo of cathedral bells at the end of times and flashed a shifting and sinister light on flooded parking lots or intersections rippling with dark water. Store after store was dark, some with boards covering glass windows; others had jagged shards of glass that gleamed menacingly in the fractured light, hanging in dented window frames.

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, http://www.sallyember.com, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A review: ‘The Fiddler in the Night’ Spare prose tells story of love, loneliness and redemption

Arcadia is a spare land, heavy with silence and distance, a misfit place.

In that space author Christian Fennell places his tale, “The Fiddler in the Night,” a story that aches with loneliness, love and loss, but drips with blood.

The story is told in the sparest prose, descriptions and character emotions ground down to bare essentials. Things are, the land is and time stretches back through history and into a foggy uncertain future. The style allows each reader to alone assess motive and resolution.

In its barest form, “The Fiddler in the Night,” brings together separate searchers seeking a measure of peace, freedom  or relief. In its fullest form, the story rubs hope and peace with evil.

Jonathan McClean, 16, is a scion of a family who has farmed a piece of Arcadia for generations. He leaves the farm one night  after his terminally ill father chooses death,  and his mother leaves, seeking solitude and perhaps her own death.

The search is triggered by the disappearance of Jonathan’s mother, and the theft of his father’s truck.

Jonathan crosses paths with a handful of colorful and disparate souls, including Holly, a girl held captive as a sex slave, and Rachel, a young girl whose mother is gone and her father is killed. She occupies a surprising place in the story.

Raging over the story is Leonard, a 17-year-old untethered killer who leaves a trail of butchery  across the dark landscape.  His murders grow in savagery  and brutality as his blood lust grows, engorged by the  thrill and his self-fulfillment.

Jonathan and Leonard cross paths, each with murder in their minds. In  his heart, Jonathan wants to find an end to the trail of deaths he has tracked, all leading to Leonard.

Leonard simply kills, filled with his glorified senses of revenge and power.

The story reads a times like poetry and at others, like a fever dream, an enticing and imaginative combination that melds the heaviness of ancient mythmaking and the nervy edge of modern life.

The story concludes, but for Jonathan and Rachel, it does so with a measure of hopeful unease.

The Fiddler in the Night by Christian Fennell – Reviewed by Michael Daigle | Reedsy Discovery

Posted in Fiction, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Michael Stephen Daigle, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Leave a comment

Nagler 5: ‘The Dragony, she be a many tentacled thing’

The search for the bombers who destroyed downtown Ironton takes on a new direction.

“Boonton Police. Captain Dan Thomson.

“Captain,  hello. Frank Nagler from Ironton. Have a question about your cadet Mahala Dixon. How’d she get approved with her juvie record?”

A long silence.

“A favor,” Thomson said.

Figures. “Her father?”

“Hey, Nagler, don’t get me wrong. Mahala has a mind for this. She’s sharp and inquisitive.”

Thomson sounded nervous, Nagler thought.

“But she also was caught selling drugs in school. How’d you make that go away?”

“Christ, Nagler, did someone a favor. Happens all the time.”

“Except this favor was one step in a series that led to a major crime and Mahala’s father in jail.”

“That’s not how…” Voice a cross between anger and panic. “Why are you asking about it now?”

What’s that phrase we always use? Nagler thought. Oh yeah. “Came up as part of a new larger investigation. Don’t you have any records on this?”

 The receiver filled with a long breath and a soft, “Fuck. It was undercover,” Thomson said. “You know that. No one wrote anything down back then. If anybody did, Langdon wrote it down. Hell, it was his show.” Said with irritation. “Bernie Langdon and what’s his name, Montgomery. Okay, Carlton Dixon caught his daughter with a stash in her bedroom. She was working with Ricardo, so-and-so-Ethan Ricardo.

“The kid who died in the explosion. Working with Mahala.  His records said he was twenty.”
          “And you believe that? Come on, Nagler. Know how easy it is to get a forged passport, when your boss is the forger?

“His boss, Tallen, the restaurant owner.”

“No, some other guy.” A hesitation. “Some Irish punk.”

“McSalley,” Nagler said.

“Yeah,  yeah,” Thomson said. “McSalley. Big guy, mustache, face looked like it met a wall or two close up.”

This is interesting.  “So, is there a photo of this McSalley in the records you don’t have?” Nagler asked.

“What are you fishing for?”

“First time that name, McSalley, came up,” Nagler said. “Know what, heard there was a lot of cash in that warehouse when it was raided. Vanished, apparently.”

“Really? I heard the feds took it. Anything else, Nagler?”

“Naw, just pulling strings, trying to solve that bombing, you know.”

Thomson chuckled into the phone. “Good luck with that. Better you than me.”

 “Yeah, well, thanks, Captain.” Nagler said. “Oh, last thing. We sent out bulletin on a ’89 white Ford van. Might be in your town.”

“Got it.”

Nagler hung up the phone and rolled his eyes at Maria Ramirez.

“What was that?” she asked. “Isn’t that Irish hood named McCarroll?”

Nagler grinned. “Why, yes he is.  And he’s a short, skinny beat-up looking guy. So who’s McSalley? Also interesting, that was the second time someone mentioned there was a lot of cash in that warehouse, the first being McCarroll.  There’s no record of it. I wonder in whose basement wall it’s hiding?”

“Why that Boonton cop?”
            He nodded to her computer. “Pull up that video Dawson made. Go to the old photo of the drug bust. There, upper right. That’s  Boonton Sergeant Dan Thomson, BDT in Dancer’s notes.”

“What’s a Boonton cop doing on an Ironton bust?”

“Normally I’d think task force,  undercover.  But this time, I’m thinking of something else.” He grinned. “The Dragony, she be a many tentacled thing. Wonder how fast he calls Bernie Langdon?”

Ramirez laughed. “You’re a sick man, Nagler.”

“Let’s see if we can put Thomson, Langdon and even Montgomery together.”

The Red Hand: A Frank Nagler Mystery (The Frank Nagler Mysteries Book 4) – Kindle edition by Daigle, Michael Stephen. Mystery, Thriller & Suspense Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

Amazon.com: Who Shot the Smart Guy at the Blackboard eBook: Daigle, Michael Stephen: Kindle Store

Posted in Bergen County Cooperative Library System, Fiction, Greater Lehigh Valley Writer's Group, Hackettstown Public Library, Hot in Hunterdon; Georjean Trinkle, Imzadi Publishing LLC, Michael Stephen Daigle, Mystery Writers of America, Paramus Public Library, Parsippany Public Library, Sally Ember, www.michaelstephendaigle.com | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment