Action packed, loaded with Higgins-like dialogue and clever, Leonard-like plotting, Wild Bill is more than a sure footed debut … it’s wonderful, a GREAT read.

- Charlie Stella, author of Johnny Porno and Mafiya

…a juggernaut of a book that (literally) kept me up till all hours. I loved it.

- Timothy Hallinan, author of the Edgar and Macavity-nominated The Queen of Patpong

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Wild Bill at Temporary Knucksline

The first review of Wild Bill has come in, thanks to Charlie Stella (Johnny Porno, Shakedown, Cheapskates) through his always thought-provoking blog, Temporary Knucksline. Charlie was even thoughtful enough to provide his own blurbable excerpt:

Action packed, loaded with Higgins-like dialogue and clever, Leonard-like plotting, Wild Bill is more than a sure footed debut … it’s wonderful, a GREAT read.

To read Charlie’s entire review, click here. Take advantage of the links to pick up one of Charlie’s books while you’re there. If you like Wild Bill, you’ll love Charlie’s stuff.

Many thanks to Charlie, not least for his generous offer to allow me to co-write an anthology with him. Details to follow.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Wild Bill is Available for Kindle and Nook

Those of you who follow the news closely enough may have heard a hurricane will strike the East Coast this weekend. Those of you who have experienced hurricanes know they can be damned inconvenient, especially when they fall on weekends. Everyone is pretty much confined to their homes, hoping the power doesn’t go out.

With this potential denial of entertainment in mind, we (okay, I) have decided not to wait for August 29 for Wild Bill’s release . It’s available for download now, both for Kindle and Nook.

Don’t delay. The power could go out at any time this weekend, and you’re going to need something to read.  Don’t risk the chagrin of realizing too late you could have downloaded Wild Bill for your Kindle or Nook, but now it’s too late, as your home router is down.

Only $2.99. That’s less than the cost of a gallon of the gas you’ll save by not driving around this weekend. I can’t offer a better deal than that.

Did I mention it’s available now for both Kindle and Nook?

A Sample Scene

No spoilers just a taste from Wild Bill, to show a book that’s generally serious in tone can have some fun, too.


Ben Borowski had the blues.

“You gonna tell us what’s up, or not?” Will tipped back his chair, heels on the desk. Eleven o’clock, and Ben hadn’t said ten words all day. Will had mixed emotions about drawing Ben out. Most days he’d be thinking up a fake call to get him out of the office, shut him up for a few minutes. “What happened? One of the dancers at Heavenly Bodies say you looked like her dad?”

The look from Ben stopped Will rocking his chair. He suppressed most of a grin, gave anyone in the office who wanted to listen time to gather. “Come on, Benny. Out with it. You know we’re not going to let it rest until you tell us.”

Ben glanced around the room, saw the usual suspects. Amanda Dalrymple. Fa, already turning a chair around so he could lean on the back to listen. Couple of guys from the Sal Enna team, in to compare notes. Will waved to Mike Satriale, on the phone in his office. Satriale ignored him, already in an animated discussion. Will extended his right arm in Ben's direction, wagged three fingers toward himself.

“Last night’s my night to take Shannon to dinner, right?” Ben divorced a year; his four-year-old daughter lived with the ex. “We go to Fuddruckers so she can mutilate her food and eat half an ounce of meat. Her mother’s on a vegetarian jag this month and it’ll piss her off when she hears where we went. So we walk out and there’s this Starbucks across the street, and Shannon wants one of those cookie things—what do they call them?—biscottis? Something like that. I think they taste like stale bread, but she loves them. I say, fine, I’ll get a hot chocolate, get her some milk to wash the thing down. We’ll be ten minutes late getting home. Not a crisis.”

“Why’d you get hot chocolate?” Fa said. “It was eighty degrees yesterday.”

“What else am I going to get? Coffee’s just as hot.”

“Iced coffee, Ben.” Amanda tilted her head, made a “yummy” face. “That iced shaken coffee is to die for.”

“Or iced tea, even,” Fa said.

“Or pop.” Will enjoyed having help to agitate Ben. Amanda and Fa were working out just fine. “Don’t they sell pop there?”

Ben faced all three for a second each, not sure where to start. He chose Will. “Not like you mean. They have stuff they call pop, but it’s not like anything I ever drank. I like hot chocolate, okay? If it makes you feel any better, let’s say I had an iced tea. Now can I tell the story you couldn’t live without?”

“Iced tea and biscotti?” Fa learned fast. “You serious?”

“I’m not eating the fucking biscotti. Shannon is. I’m just getting something to—”

“You’re not going to eat anything?” Will said.

“I just ate at Fuddruckers. Do you want to hear the story or don’t you?”

“Yes, we want to hear the story,” Will said. “You’re just doing a shitty job telling it, is all.”

Ben waited for quiet, checked every face in turn. The two agents from the Enna squad stood against the wall with semi-suppressed smiles. Ben’s stories were legend, especially with Will to disrupt them.

“We’re in there, Shannon’s eating her cookie—with some cold, white, whole, Vitamin D milk,” Ben said, glaring at Will when it looked like he might interrupt. “I’m drinking my hot chocolate—I mean iced tea—and this little girl from the next table starts talking to Shannon. I don’t pay much attention—it’s two little girls, they’re getting along—then the mother turns around to see what the kids are up to, and she’s hot. Long, black hair, beautiful face, pouty lips, nice, snug sweater over a great rack. I’m thinking she might be a little young, then I’m thinking she’s old enough to have a kid the same age as mine, what the hell?

“I start talking to her, work it around so she knows I’m with the Bureau—nice, stable, profession, background check already done—and I find out she works at Hooters on Wells Street. I start to say she’s perfect for it, but I catch myself in time.” This spoken to Amanda, who nodded approval. “Turns out she’s seen me in there, recognizes me once we get to talking.”

“She should,” Fa said. “You’re probably there more than she is.”

Everyone laughed but Ben. “So we talk. She’s a graduate student at DePaul, English Literature or English History. English something, I don’t remember.”

“I bet you’d remember if it was written on her sweater,” Amanda said. More laughter. Amanda blushed like a kid saying something clever her first time at the grown-up table for Thanksgiving. Ben started to weaken. He was in trouble if even Amanda could tee him up.

“So I ask what she’s doing in Starbucks, and she says she’s waiting for her mother so mom can sit the rug rat while Shelley—that’s the young mother’s name, Shelley—goes to work.”

“Thanks, Ben,” Will said. “I was about to offer twenty bucks if you could remember her name.”

Ben flashed him the finger. “Just then grandma walks in. Nice looking woman. I guess she would be, with a daughter who looks like this girl I’m talking to. We get introduced, and I’m thinking this is great. I get a chance to be nice to Mom, show some respect, this is moving right along.”

Ben stopped, tasted some of his cold, not iced, coffee. Blew his nose. Tied a shoe. Then the other one.

Will said, “Ben.”

Ben said, “So Grandma looks at me kind of funny, and says, ‘Ben Borowski? Are you with the FBI?’ And I’m thinking, sweet, somehow she knows I’m a respected law enforcement professional—” loud coughing from the audience, including the two visitors "—this can’t help but be a good thing. So I say, ‘Yes, that would be me,’ and Grandma says, ‘You don’t recognize me, do you? You took me to my sorority dance at Northwestern when Danny Connolly got sick at the last minute. We were both juniors.’ ”

The room erupted. Agents came from other rooms to see what all the noise was about, stood with confused faces while Ben’s audience wiped tears from their eyes.

“I tell you,” Ben said, “if that’s not a dick shriveler, nothing is.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Wild Bill: Cast of Characters

(Wild Bill will be available for Amazon Kindle On August 29; other formats to follow. )

Not to sound arrogant or conceited, but Wild Bill shares qualities with the greatest American fiction, writers such as Hemingway, Faulkner, and Twain. Words. Sentences, Paragraphs. Chapters. Grammar, for Chrissake.

And characters. Lots of them. Here’s the lowdown on a few.

Willard “Wild Bill” Hickox. Born Scranton PA. Graduated Penn State University. Joined FBI and; assigned to Los Angeles Field Office, Bank Robbery Detail. Received FBI Medal of Valor for apprehending or killing all four members of the notorious “Space Invaders” robbery crew when he came upon them unexpectedly in the commission of a robbery. Received FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement for capturing fugitive felon David Wayne Longstreet. Transferred to Chicago Field Office, Organized Crime. Developed sources and informants for over twenty years and earned another Medal for Meritorious Achievement for his participation in Operations Silver Shovel and Family Secrets, among others. Wife, Sheila, killed in one-car accident during Hickox’s tenure in Los Angeles. No children, one brother. Romantically involved with Madeline Klimak.

Francis Albert Ferraro. Born Chicago IL. First arrest at age 15 for armed robbery; charges dropped. Arrested for Assault with Intent to Inflict Grave Bodily Injury for beating a man with a blackjack during a traffic incident; charges dropped when victim recanted. Suspected of five homicides and of ordering at least a dozen more. Criminal activities in connection with organized crime in Chicago include hijacking, extortion, bootlegging liquor and cigarettes, murder, usury, bid-rigging, gambling, auto theft, and pornography. Part of a triumvirate with Carmine Aliquo and Gianni Bevilacqua (both now deceased) that controlled the Chicago “Outfit.” In prison for Possession of a Controlled Substance (Marijuana) when Aliquo died and Bevilacqua assumed all power in Chicago. Engaged in violent dispute with Gianni Bevilacqua, Jr. for control of Outfit. Married, three children.

Gianni Bevilacqua, Jr. Born Oak Park IL. Attended one year at University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana; dropped out. First arrest for Indecent Exposure and Public Urination while in college. Second arrest for Aggravated Assault, also in Champaign; charges dropped when victim recanted. Arrested for Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance (Cocaine); charges dropped when evidence went missing. Criminal activities include hijacking, extortion, murder, usury, gambling, and distribution of methamphetamine. Currently underboss of Chicago Outfit, engaged in struggle with Frank Ferraro for overall control. Married, two children.

Mitchell Klimak. Born Bridgeview IL. Associate Degree in Criminal Justice, College of DuPage. Detective, Chicago Police Department Organized Crime squad. Awarded Department Commendation for his part in the arrest of known sex offender Alfredo Calderone while working as uniformed officer. Received FOP Distinguished Service Award and Joint Operations Award for participation in task force including city, state, and federal resources. Received Lifesaving Award for leaping into Lake Michigan in full uniform to rescue Michelle Sloane, 15. Allegations of unnecessary force resulted in one suspension, one reprimand, one dismissed charge. Married to Madeline Shea Klimak; two children.

Madeline Shea “Mad” Klimak. Born Morton Grove IL. Graduated with honors from Northwestern University. Six years in uniform, Chicago Police. Twenty years as investigator for Midwestern Casualty Insurance Company as fraud investigator. Nickname shortened from “Maddy” to “Mad” at age four, when she became so enraged by an older brother’s taunts she assaulted him; his injuries required ten stitches. Married to Mitch Klimak; two children.

Saturday, August 20, 2011


The ceramic tile felt cool and dry against Gianni Bevilacqua’s cheek. A thread of drool ran from the corner of his mouth to the tile like the first strand of a spider web. Less pain in his left arm and chest now, but Gianni knew he’d die as sure as he’d known he was coming last night with Connie Tortorella.

Rosalie told him not to eat so many cannoli. “Eat some pizelles,” she said every night after dinner. “The cannoli are too rich for your cholesterol.” Cholesterol didn’t scare Gianni. He’d lied, cheated, manipulated, and killed to get to the top of the Chicago Outfit. He usurped authority and took down every tradition that didn’t suit him until he ran the whole operation. A pair of .22s behind his ear figured to get him long before cholesterol.

Gianni alone in the big house, Rosalie at Mass again, praying for his soul. Lot of good that did him, lying on the floor, eight in the morning, barely breathing. She should have prayed for something useful, like a tasty, low-fat cannoli.

Gianni’s soul didn’t interest him. The priests taught him young, everyone was on this earth to suffer for their greater reward in heaven. So be it. Gianni went about God’s work with a clear conscience, doling out suffering as he thought appropriate, sending some to their rewards even faster than God intended. He’d do what he had to if the invisible prick wanted him to suffer in the afterlife, too. How’d the saying go? Heaven doesn’t want me, and hell is afraid I’ll take over. A smile flickered in Gianni’s eyes, too weak to move his lips.

He’d had taken over before. Broke in with Momo Giancana, busting up policy wheels on the West Side before he was twenty. Saw Momo become the front boss, thinking he was the real thing, waving it in people’s faces. The man John Gotti only dreamed of being. Dated a McGuire Sister, fucked the president’s girlfriend, banged Marilyn Monroe on the side. He hung out with Sinatra, for Christ’s sake. Can’t get more big time than that.

Momo’s problem was, the Outfit didn’t go for flash. Tony Accardo had the big house; everything else, low profile. Momo got sent to Mexico to hustle seƱoritas in semi-retirement until his ego couldn’t take it anymore. He came back to be boss and the Outfit put him out of their misery in his own basement one night.

Gianni had more smarts than that. He stayed tight with everyone: soldiers, street bosses, all the big shooters. Greased skids, arbitrated disputes, made sure things worked like they were supposed to. Everyone thought he was on their side, and he was, when it suited him. When it didn’t, he had a story. It couldn’t be helped. The fat prick lied. They got to him first. I did what I could. I’ll make it up to you.

Luck is where preparation meets opportunity, and Gianni Bevilacqua had been preparing his whole life. When Carmine Aliquo died while consiglieri Frank Ferraro served three federal years, Gianni became the de facto boss. He added crews, promoted his supporters to street bosses, Gianni Junior to underboss. Ferraro came back from Lewisburg a true consiglieri: a counselor, in charge of nothing. Gianni Bevilacqua alone ran Chicago and points west.

Ferraro didn’t get to be consiglieri by letting things slide. Gianni made cosmetic changes and excuses to keep Ferraro off his back, all the while telling Junior he was being groomed for the top spot. For almost two years he maintained equilibrium between Frank and Junior, giving each only enough slack to keep him quiet. He’d sort it out sooner or later.

Now it was later, and nothing was settled. Gianni tried to lick the strand of drool from his lip. His tongue stuck to the roof of his mouth. Junior thought he was next in line; Ferraro would never stand for it. After seventy years of peaceful transitions, the Outfit would fight over turf like those babbos in New York. Just because Gianni couldn’t take it with him didn’t mean he had to leave anything behind.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Wild Bill Available On Amazon August 29

My first e-book, Wild Bill, will be available for Kindle on, Monday, August 28. I’ll spare you all the flackery a corporate minion would inflict upon you about what a glorious work of unsurpassed genius it is and let you make up your own mind, based on the description that will appear in Amazon:

Will Hickox is a decorated FBI veteran with a legendary ability to cultivate informants, much closer to retirement than to the days when he earned the nickname “Wild Bill.” Operation Fallout should cut the head off of the Chicago mob and provide a fitting capstone to his career. When Outfit boss Gianni Bevilacqua dies and the resulting war places Fallout in jeopardy, Hickox does what he can to save it, and his retirement plans with his lover, Madeline Kilmak.

Wild Bill examines the stresses of Operation Fallout from the law enforcement, criminal, and personal perspectives, as Will and his peers fight to keep the investigation afloat amid the power struggle between Gianni’s son and elder statesman Frank Ferraro. Torn between wanting closure to the investigation and starting his retirement, Hickox weighs the dangers of involving himself and Operation Fallout in the war, blurring the line he walks with his informants.

All that for only $2.99. That’s right, for about  the same cost as the amount of Starbucks you spill getting out the car with all the crap you carry to work each morning, you can have an original work of fiction in a state-of-the-art electronic format.

Stay tuned for the link to the Amazon page, and thanks for stopping by the blog. I'll update it over the coming days with character sketches, writing samples, and links to interviews and reviews I'm lucky enough to secure.