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Pauper and Prince in Harlem
A vulnerable kid. A brutal enemy. An addled ally. Blood runs cold on Harlem’s hottest summer night when Drive-by assassins shoot up a crowded playground, killing the teenaged friend of private eye SJ Rook. Only fourteen, the kid was smart, affectionate, and alive with potential. His sudden death strikes the cynical Rook through the heart. Was this boy the victim of a cruel accident? Or was he targeted by gang hit men in a ruthless display of power?
To find the killers, Rook must enlist the help of another teen, Whip, a mysterious runaway witness. Whip is a transgender boy whose life on the streets has drawn him into the realm of a violent mob kingpin. Damaged by his mother’s rejection, Whip doesn’t want to be found. Not by the cops or by community do-gooders. And certainly not by Rook, a resolute stranger with vengeance on his mind. Rook’s search for the elusive kid becomes a dangerous trek through the meanest corners of his neighborhood.
Racing from desolate homeless camps to urban swamps, from settlement houses to high-rise palaces ruled by greed and corruption, the determined Rook pursues his quarry. An unexpected twist in the detective’s relationship with his crime-fighting partner, Sabrina Ross, threatens to derail his mission. Noble tramps, vicious thugs, and a pint-sized trigger woman also complicate Rook’s efforts to protect Whip. When a mob prince and a hobo hold the boy’s life in the balance will Rook’s grit and imagination be enough to save Whip and bring the killers to justice?
Author Bio – Delia C. Pitts is the author of the Ross Agency Mysteries, a contemporary private eye series including Lost and Found in Harlem, Practice the Jealous Arts, and Black and Blue in Harlem. She is a former university administrator and U.S. diplomat, who served in West Africa and Mexico. After working as a journalist, she earned a Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago. She has published more than sixty fan fiction titles under the pen name Blacktop. Pauper and Prince in Harlem is the fourth novel in the Ross Agency Mystery series. The fifth, Murder My Past, will be released in 2021. Learn more at her website, www.deliapitts.com
Social Media Links – Website: www.deliapitts.com Instagram: deliapitts50 Twitter: @blacktop1950
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Outnumbered and surrounded, Harlem private eye SJ Rook falls into a dangerous trap when he confronts a violent hoodlum in a homeless camp.
“Link stepped closer, his tobacco-drenched breath smearing my face. He was two inches shorter and fifty pounds lighter than me. Hard and straight like iron rebar. Dark eyes, flat as tarnished dimes, shimmered between narrowed lids. He ran two fingers over scarce black whiskers on his chin. Shoulder twitched; elbow jutted. The tip of a switchblade bit skin at my throat. “Give me a name, old man. If I like it, I might let you go with just a scratch. Or two.” He nudged the knife towards my Adam’s apple.
Link stroked the knife down my shirt placket, slipping the blade under the first button. “What kinda name is that?” He flicked and the button popped into the air. “Some kinda superhero street handle?” Sniggers tickled my ears from both sides.
“The name my father gave me.” The blond kid hooted at my claim, but I kept eyes on the chief. “Tell me what I want to know, and I’ll leave you in one piece. Link.”
“Bold.” The thin boy lowered his voice. “You awful bold for a trapped man with a crip leg.”
“Link. What’s that short for anyway? Chain Link? Missing Link?”
He sliced two more buttons from my shirt. The white disks scurried like roaches across the wooden floor. When Link nodded, the hoods behind me jammed my arms again. Pain darted from shoulders to groin. The shirtfront gaped, sweat streaking dark on my undershirt. Link flicked the knife again, the gash in the damp fabric left my skin exposed but intact.
He pressed the blade behind my left ear, drawing it toward my jaw. Spittle sprayed over my right cheek as Link’s stooge spoke: “Whatchu gonna do to him, Link? Like you done to that calico kitten last week?”
Fire threaded through my flesh as blood dribbled past my collarbone. Link chuckled. ” He don’t need two ears, do he? Any more than that cat did.”
A crooked shadow rushed past my right shoulder. ” Drop it, boy.” The words grated over a deep rumble. ” You break the peace of this camp again, you gonna pay a high price.”