Read Cicero's Dead Online

Authors: Patrick H. Moore

Cicero's Dead

 
 
 
 
 

Cicero’s Dead

Patrick H. Moore

 

© 2014, Patrick H.
Moore

www.usindiebooks.com

Library Of Congress Control
Number: 2014945141

ISBN: 978-1-941740-06-4

 

All rights reserved and owned by Patrick H. Moore. No part of this book
may be used, reprinted, copied, sold, borrowed, bartered or loaned without the
express permission of the author. You have been warned. Ignore at your peril.
Remember, Mr. Moore is a Los Angeles based private investigator.

 

This is a work of fiction. None of it is real. Names, characters,
businesses places, events and incidents are either a product of the author’s
imagination, or used in a fictitious manner based on his real life experiences.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely
coincidental, unless otherwise stated.

In this edgy detective
thriller, Southern California heiress Jade Lamont is desperate to find her
beloved brother Richard, who has vanished without a trace. To make matters
worse, her father, Cicero Lamont, has just died under mysterious circumstances
and her mother has committed suicide. In desperation, Jade turns to Nick
Crane—an intense old school private detective with a big heart and a crack
team of deputies. But even Nick doesn’t anticipate the dense web of evil and
intrigue that has swallowed up Richard and threatens to claim him and Jade as
its next victims.

Cicero's Dead is as hard boiled as it is
compassionate. Read it, and take a walk on the wild side.

Praise for Cicero’s Dead

 

“Moore peoples his novel with interesting and
thoroughly developed characters, and presents a complex and imaginative
story.”
 
Reviewed by Sanford
Perliss.

 

“Moore has a way with words and a strong grasp on
how to tell a story with captivating images and details. I would encourage
other readers to under no circumstances miss Cicero's Dead.” Reviewed by
Antonio Rodriguez.

 

“I give particularly high
marks for the well-developed characters, and the exceptionally authoritative
rendering of the Los Angeles environment.” Reviewed by Michael D. Sellers.

 

“…the trail leads Crane to
doctors on the take, crooked lawyers, fake cops, murderous bad guys and one of
the most evil characters in the annals of detective fiction.” Reviewed by
JimBo.

 

“Cicero's Dead could get marketed
as Silence of the Lambs meets True Romance, as much for its tone as its
plotline.” Reviewed by Anthony Agresti.

 

“Detective Nick Crane
assembles a well-oiled machine and takes on the streets to find Cicero's
killer.. and the bullets start flying.” Reviewed by Doug Barisone.

 

“… a spellbinding crime
novel in which the characters are vivid and the action fast-paced.” Reviewed by
Michael S. Axt.

 

“The characters are well
rounded, and quirky in a way that make you want more.” Reviewed by Tucker
Kahuna “John”

 

“He paints a vivid picture
of Los Angeles which he then rolls back to display the horrors that lie
beneath.” Reviewed by Daisy.

About Patrick H. Moore

 

Patrick H.
Moore is a Los Angeles based Private Investigator and crime writer. He has been
working in this field since 2003 and has experience in virtually all areas of
crime including drug trafficking, sex crimes, crimes of violence, and
white-collar fraud.

Acknowledgements

 

For Warren Larry Foster,
Vietnam veteran, American hero and friend unto death. May he find the peace
that every Vietnam veteran longs for.

 

To Patricia Wong, smooth, true, brown.

 

And to Max Myers, publisher, friend and
inspiration.

Part One

Chapter I – Jade, Los
Angeles, October 24, 2003

 

Jade Lamont met me in the
lobby of her Wilshire Boulevard high-rise. She was striking, on the petite
side, with enough cleavage showing to make things interesting. She had purple
and gold butterflies tattooed above each breast, and wore her hair blunt cut in
back and long on the sides. Her navy blue designer shorts gripped her thighs
like eager friends. Her legs were long and brown and seemed to glisten as she
led me to the elevator and we rode up together to her 23rd floor condo. I
assumed she did her shopping on Rodeo Drive.

We sat across from one another at a
glass-topped breakfast table, sipping tea, which she served with heavy cream
and sugar. She had clear green eyes, a café con leche complexion and
lovely sculpted lips. I had the impression we were alone, or maybe that was
wishful thinking. Not wanting to stare, I cut right to the chase.

“I’m sure I’m not here just to keep you
company.”

“I wish you were.” A brief smile washed across
her features. “You come highly recommended. They say you’re persistent and are
the soul of discretion.”

I smiled. “They are correct. Whoever they
are.”

She took a sip of tea and shook her head
sadly. “It’s my brother, Richard. He’s disappeared.” She paused and I waited.
“His cell phone is disconnected and I haven’t heard from him. That’s not like
him. He usually calls me every few days. We’re very close.”

“How long’s it been?”

“Three weeks.”

“Did you see it coming?”

She shook her head, her eyes turning inward as
if the answer lay somewhere behind her retinas. Her chest heaved slightly and
the smooth tops of her breasts seemed almost plaintive.
 
She stood up, crossed to a black
lacquered sideboard and took out a photo album. She sat down, and pushed it toward
me across the table.

Richard Lamont had brown eyes under his dark
curly hair, and looked comfortable in front of a camera. There were pictures of
him and Jade, his arms wrapped around her while she gazed up at him. In one
photo he stood on a diving board, hair tousled by the breeze. His youthful
physique was powerful, with broad shoulders and a deep chest. In another
picture, he wore a top hat and held a knife in either hand like some demented
circus impresario.

“Handsome kid.”

“He was,” said Jade. “He’s much thinner now.”

I turned the page and came to a family photo.
Father wore a dark pinstriped suit. Well-barbered with swarthy features, he
appeared pleased with his family. Mother was maybe five four and wore designer
clothes, voluptuous with good features and the same green eyes as her daughter.
Jade stood next to her father. Oddly, in this picture, Richard looked worried,
lacking the camera-ready confidence that was so pronounced in the other shots.

“Everybody’s gone,” said Jade. “One right
after the other.”

“What do you mean, ‘everybody’?”

Her composure cracked slightly, and she looked
down at her hands, fingers long and slim like a pianist’s. When she spoke, her
voice was barely audible.

“Daddy, Cicero, was killed in a hit-and-run in
the Valley, on August 16th. Two months before that he and Mother separated. She
moved to San Francisco to be close to her boyfriend. She died twelve days after
Daddy.”

“Died? How?”

“It was ruled a suicide.”

“What d’you think?”

“Mother wasn’t the type to kill herself. She
was always steady even when things were rough. And she adored Richard. It
doesn’t make any sense.”

“How old are you and Richard?”

“I’m 22, he’s 20.”

“How old was your mother?”

“She would have been 39 in two months, on
December 12th. Daddy was 10 years older. Her maiden name was Dominique
Dominguez, from the Virgin Islands.”

“You’ve been through a lot.”

Sadness reshaped her mouth, and she nodded
matter-of-factly. “It hasn’t been easy. Losing Richard would be the final blow.
I love my brother.”

“I’m sure you do.”

Although there was a hint of liquid in her
eyes, she kept her poise. “He’s a good kid but he’s messed up. He was never
that close to Daddy, which makes it even worse.”

I thought it over. “Why do you think he’s
disconnected his cell?”

“I dunno. Why do people do that?”

“Lots of reasons. They wanna shake someone, or
don’t wanna be found. Drug traffickers change burners, phones, all the time.
Sometimes people just want a new number to shake off people they don’t want
calling ‘em anymore. That’s probably not the case here. Richard would have let you
know.” I thought for a moment. “Anything in particular I should know about your
brother?”

“I know he was messing around with drugs but I
don’t know the details. It’s hard to know for sure with him. He could be pretty
secretive.”

We paused for a moment and looked at one
another. “And?” I asked.

She shrugged. “I don’t think he’s an addict or
anything. More tea?”

“Sure.”

She rose and glided over to her stainless
steel stove. Her body moving made me uneasy. She poured us each another cup and
sat back down.

I hoped she hadn’t noticed me staring, but
women like her don’t usually miss a trick. I cleared my throat. “What kind of
work do you do?”

“I work for one of the downtown law firms.”

“Are you an attorney?”

“Hardly. I do paralegal stuff. Daddy got me
in. He knew a lot of attorneys.”

“Which firm?”

“Waldrop & Hemsley.”

“What do they think about what happened to
your father?”

She shrugged, a smooth up and down motion of
her shoulders. “We don’t talk about it.
 
But what is there to think? Unsolved hit-and-run.”

“Unsolved?”

“Aren’t they usually?”

“Actually a lot of them are solved. Were there
any witnesses?”

“Sure. They got a description of the vehicle,
a silver late model Honda Accord. Someone even got a license plate, but they
never found the car. I’ve heard that more Accords are stolen than any other
vehicle.”

“That’s true. Is there any reason anybody
would want to hurt your father?”

She looked at me quizzically. “Of course.
Cicero Lamont was a baller. He called the shots and too bad for anyone who
didn’t go along with the program.”

“What was his business?”

“Daddy was in refrigeration. Produce. But he
did other things too.”

“Dope?”

She shrugged. “I dunno. Maybe.”

“You said he was a baller. That implies that
he was involved in some type of criminal enterprise.”

“Cicero had a way about him. Exactly what he
was into, I dunno.”

She was avoiding the issue, so I let it go.
“What about his friends?
 
What were
they like?”

“Just like you’d imagine. Some were young guys
in Hugo Boss suits, Gucci shoes, expensive sunglasses and Beamers. Others were
older guys who looked like they ate metal for breakfast.”

“They sound like a fun crew.”

“As far as I know, Cicero sold most of his
warehouses in 2005.”

I nodded. “What about Richard? Did he
associate with your father’s friends?”

She shook her head. “Not really. My brother
usually went his own way. My father was frustrated with him.”

“Why?”

“It’s not that he wanted Richard to learn the
business necessarily; my father just wanted to be acknowledged, while Richard
just wanted to be acknowledged for being Richard. You know how fathers and sons
can be. Competitive. Not unlike mothers and daughters except--” She fell silent
and her eyes searched the room.

“Except what?”

“Oh, it’s just something Cicero used to say,
‘the big difference between men and women, is that women don’t have hair on
their chests.’
He had a way of summing up the world in a single phrase.”

I laughed and was damn sure this girl didn’t
have hair on her chest. “Were you close to your father?”

She nodded. “Daddy doted on me. I was his
little could-do-no-wrong princess. When I started to date, he watched me like a
hawk.”

“What about your mom? Why did she move out?”

“Mother was very strong-willed. That’s why
it’s hard to believe she killed herself. She was just a kid when they met, but
over the years she wised up and grew tired of being invisible to Cicero. Money
can only go so far when you’ve got no one to share it with.”

“Did your father mess around?”

Jade frowned. “I’m sure he did, although I
don’t believe that was his thing. He was a man’s man and women weren’t that
important to him.”

“But you were.”

“It’s different with daughters. Fathers and
daughters go together like wine and roses.”

I sat back for a moment and chewed this over.
“It sounds to me like we’ve got three mysteries; your brother’s disappearance
and the deaths under questionable circumstances of your parents.” I met her
eyes and she nodded slowly. “Why would anyone wanna kill your mother?”

“Why not? Mother was no dummy. She knew far
more than Daddy ever wanted her to.”

“But he was already dead when she died.”

“I know. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, does
it?”

I shook my head. “These things usually don’t
until you’ve had time to put the pieces together.”

Jade took a sip of her tea. “Find my brother
and if you discover anything about my parents’ deaths, so much the better. I
just wanna know he’s okay.”

“I understand.”

She extracted a manila envelope from the back
of the photo album and pushed it across the table. “I’m counting on you. This
should help you get started.”

It’s always a heady feeling to start a new
case and I felt a peculiar exhilaration. We shook hands at the door; her grip
was warm and firm and I felt the electricity roll right up my arm.

“You might start by talking with one of
Richard’s friends, the actor Ron Cera,” she said softly. “His address is in the
packet.”

“Thanks.”

On the way down in the elevator I opened the
envelope. It was a cashier’s check for $10,000 made out to Nick Crane.

Outside, the wind was blowing in off the
desert. Already the weathermen had warned of fire danger. In 24 hours, the
Santa Anas would be shrieking in the canyons.

 

Before going home, I stopped in at Philippe’s
to have a beer with Tony Bott.
 
He
works narcotics for LAPD. We’ve been pals for 20 years, maybe because we’re
both originally from the Midwest and both like guns and basketball. Tony has a
magnificent weapon collection: swords from medieval France, scimitars from the
days of the sultans, blow guns from South America, and, of course, the
obligatory Kalashnikov AK-47. In the dark world of law enforcement, he may be a
little crazier than most.

“Hey, bro,” grinned Tony, hugging me as he
gripped my hand.

“What’s new? Still beating up on the
homeless?”

“Only if they force my hand.”

We laughed and grabbed beer and coleslaw, planting
ourselves in a booth on the lower level. Philippe’s is a L.A. landmark, just
down the street from the Federal Detention Center and a few blocks from the
downtown courthouses. D.A.’s, lawyers and cops come here for French Dip
sandwiches and beer.

Tony grinned. “Dude, I’m getting ready to
arrest 10,000 meth dealers.”

“Better be careful. You don’t want to work
your way right out of a job.”

We have this running gag. The basic notion is
drug dealers are interchangeable; you take out three or four and five or six
new ones spring up like weeds.

“Nick, I’m confident that there will always be
plenty of dealers. The lure of easy money never goes away.”

“I wish some of that easy money would come my
way.”

“That’s what my new girlfriend says.”

“Where did you meet her?”

“At this sushi bar. She’s Japanese.”

“I love sushi.”

He grinned. “Yeah, me too.”

“Where’s she work?”

“At this aerospace firm. She’s some kind of
manager. Gets her very stressed, so we fuck like bunnies to relieve it.”

“Sounds like a match made in heaven.”

“She wants kids, though. Not sure that’s for
me.”

“Why not? You’d be a great dad.”

“I know, but I’ve made it this far without any
serious entanglements. Why ruin a perfect record?”

“The time comes for all men.”

“Not all.”

We ordered a second brew and I asked, “Ever
heard of a guy named Cicero Lamont?”

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