Authors: Mark Mynheir
Tags: #Fiction, #Christian, #Suspense
The Night Watchman
“With dialogue so realistic that it sounds like crime scene dictation, Mynheir renders a flawed, emotionally haunted, staunchly decent protagonist in retired detective Ray Quinn. The reader cannot help but root for him to defeat his personal demons. The warmth of this story rings true and feels deserved.”
screenwriter and author of
The Hidden Man
The Last Nightingale
“What a rare pleasure it is to discover a suspense novelist as talented as Mark Mynheir—an elegant writer who tells stories about the world of law enforcement that only an insider possibly could.
The Night Watchman
is a powerful, fast-moving tale with rich characters and some great twists.”
New York Times
best-selling author of
“With stakeouts, fake-outs, and shootouts,
The Night Watchman
is a terrific crime story. Well written, well plotted, and extremely well done, Mynheir delivers a compulsively engrossing thriller that bears comparison with Michael Connelly and John Sanford.”
—W. L. D
best-selling author of The Shefford—Johnson Case series and
“Riveting, revealing, rewarding—classic Mark Mynheir! In
The Night Watchman,
Mynheir has created an intricately woven thriller with a worthy mystery, gut-clenching suspense, and a compelling protagonist, Ray, who has lost everything, including hope and faith. Yet Ray dares to seek answers intentionally buried, and in doing so, he finds himself… and offers us insights into ourselves. Author to author, I say, ‘Bravo!’ Reader to reader, I say, ‘Don't miss this book. It's loaded with insightful gems!’”
, award-winning author
of Kill Zone
“The Night Watchman
delivers high-stakes suspense, the perfect amount of police intrigue, and characters so real they walk off the page and into your soul. This is a story that will keep you awake all night and stay on your mind long after you've placed this novel on your keeper shelf.”
of Enduring Justice
“Mynheir's real-life experience shines through in his creation of new hero Ray Quinn—a hard-edged, never-say-die detective with leathery wit, unable—or unwilling—to quite give up on life.
The Night Watchman
is an intense read you won't put down until the last page.”
of Fore Word Magazine
Book of the Year Silver Award Winner
Demon: A Memoir
Havah: The Story of Eve
“What a ride! In a novel rich in both plot and character, Mark Mynheir has given us a classic noir crime novel. Ray Quinn, the night watchman, may be broken in body, but his mind and heart refuse to quit. A must-read for mystery fans.”
of Fatal Deduction
Other Books by Mark Mynheir
Truth Chasers Series
From the Belly of the Dragon
To my mom, whose strength of character and courageous spirit have been an inspiration to me
In over twenty years of law enforcement, I've had the opportunity to work with some incredible law enforcement professionals who have provided much of the fodder for my stories. When I first started investigating violent crimes, I partnered with an edgy veteran named George Santiago, who had the decency to take me under his wing and teach me how to be a detective. I'm greatly indebted to his wisdom in those early years, especially his knowledge of interviews and interrogations, in which he is a master.
I currently work with some great detectives as well as godly men—Sergeant Ken Arnold and Detectives Ernie Diebel, Louis Figuroa, Mike Pusatere, and Steve Hill—who make up the Violent Crimes Unit. Rarely does one get the opportunity to discuss deep theological concepts while on the way to arrest a murder suspect. The Violent Crimes Unit allows me to do just that. Mike Pusatere also provided his proofreading skills and love of mysteries to this project, for which I'm grateful. Major John Blackledge and Chief William Berger have also been incredibly supportive in my writing and my police career.
Rachel Savage has once again loaned her keen eye and willing spirit to this book.
My greatest appreciation goes out to my editor and very good friend Julee Schwarzburg, who has helped me grow as a writer and a person. I'm also indebted to the many wonderful people at WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group, including Shannon Hill-Marchese, Tiffany Lauer, Allison O'Hara, Jessica Barnes, Joel Ruse, Lori Addicott, Carie Freimuth, Jan Walker, Kim Shurley, Stuart McGuiggan, Ken Petersen, Steve Cobb, and many others. They've made the writing of this book not only fun but also quite rewarding.
Lastly, I'd like to acknowledge the loving sacrifice of my wife and children, who encourage, support, and bless me through two very demanding careers. Lori, Chris, Shannon, and Justin—I love you with all my heart.
HE TWO MEN STALKING ME
emerged from the shadows and then trailed me though the parking lot.
They lagged behind me about fifty feet. I slowed my pace, not that I wasn't as slow as a tree slug already to see if they would overtake me or hang back.
They hung back. Not good.
Any human at a normal pace should have passed me by now. I could feel their eyes punching holes in me, waiting for the right time to move.
Since I wasn't up for dealing with any problems, I stepped it out as best I could. With a new-and-improved plastic pelvis and hip, along with ten months of physical therapy, I should be able to hobble a little faster. No such luck. The cane and gimpy leg would only go so fast. Grandma Moses on a pogo stick could hop circles around me.
Using the rearview mirrors on the cars parked along Lake Avenue, I kept tabs on my new friends without being too obvious, a little trick I picked up when I worked undercover. No need to give them more of an advantage than they already had.
The big one, a black kid maybe twenty years old, wore a white wife-beater muscle shirt and black jean shorts. Mini-dreads jetted from his head like a frayed ball of yarn. The other kid, probably the same age, was an anemic white with a tattoo sprawled on his neck and a shaved head that glistened under the streetlights.
With each glance I caught, they feigned like they were talking to each other, but I could sense they were planning to pounce. And why not? I was an easy mark—a crippled guy negotiating the Orlando streets alone at night. One more block to go until I was at work.
Eleven months ago I would have enjoyed this game of cat and mouse. But then I would have been the cat, a big hungry one ready to swallow those thugs like the rodents they were.
I hoped they were just playing a game.
I stole a furtive glance behind me, and my tails were nowhere in sight. I stopped and shifted all the way around. Gone. Must have headed up an alley. Maybe I was just losing my mind. Hadn't been out much lately.
I used to love the Orlando nightlife, the clubs and things to do; the pulse of the city at night energized me. It had changed so much in a short amount of time. Faster, meaner, a stranger to me. Like I was living on a different planet. I had grown up here, not long after Mickey scurried in, back when Orlando was more of a cowtown. Now it's a big city plagued with big-city problems.
As I approached the corner of Lake and East Jackson, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dumber raced around the corner right in front of me, both out of breath. They must have sprinted down the alley behind the store to cut me off just before I reached the intersection.
This wouldn't end pretty.
“Hey, old man.” The ugly white kid checked up and down the street, like felons do when they're preparing to do something monumentally stupid.
His buddy invaded my personal space on my left. “How about some spare change?” he said with an accent, maybe Haitian.
“Don't have any change.” I eyed possible escape routes, though escape wasn't likely in my condition. And I couldn't count on anyone to help me, or even to notice, for that matter. On this corner, in a city of over two hundred thousand people, I was on my own… as usual.
“Then give up your wallet, or I bust your head like your leg is.” The black kid pressed in on me.
“Okay. Okay.” I held up my right hand while leaning more on the cane with my left. “I'll give you my wallet. Just don't hurt me.”
“Hurry up!” The white kid spit as he spoke, clenching his fists at his sides. “I ain't got all night.” He was the alpha dog of the two. If they were going to attack, he would lead. He needed to be tamed.
I reached back with my right hand, brushed past my wallet in my back pocket, and slipped my hand up into my waistband. I let go of the cane. The brass handle clanked as it bounced off the concrete, echoing around us. Huey and Dewey beaded in on it, drawing their attention down for the second I needed.
I unsnapped my Glock 9mm from its holster, then drew it to eye level, setting my night sights on the white kid's forehead. A stupefied look crossed his face, which must be a regular event for him. He wasn't so alpha dog now.
“The leg's busted, scumbag, but my finger works fine.” I gritted my teeth and leaned forward. “You wanna test it out?”
Both raised their hands. “We're just playin' around, man.” The black kid glanced toward his partner, who peered down the barrel of my pistol.
“I'm not. You got ten seconds to run before I call the cops. Ten. Nine.” They were half a block away before I hit five.
Retired cops can legally carry guns, even if they're medically retired. At least I had that going for me. If not, I'd have been a quick lunch for those creeps. I thought about calling Dispatch and reporting it, but something told me my new friends would think twice for a while before robbing someone again, and I didn't relish the idea of being listed as a victim again on an incident report with my old department.
I slid the pistol into its holster at my back, then snapped it in. I combed my fingers through my hair. The May air was thick and still. The adrenaline surge from the game with my buddies wasn't all bad. For the first time in a while, I felt alive, energized. Too bad it would die down soon.
My cane lay on the sidewalk, which shouldn't have been a big deal. But everything was a big deal these days. As I stood without support, I felt like I was balancing on a dry, cracked twig ready to snap at any moment, sending me crashing to the concrete. My own legs were under someone else's spell, because they certainly didn't obey me anymore. I used to be able to roundhouse kick a heavy bag so hard it would bend in half. Now I had to mentally prepare to bend over and pick up my cane so I wouldn't fall on my face like an idiot… or worse, a helpless child.
I shouldn't have been too worried, though. Me and my physical terrorist—I mean, therapist—Helga, had been working on this. Her name really wasn't Helga, but I liked to call her that. A linebacker-sized woman with viselike man hands, sweet Helga and I would rendezvous three times a week—whether I wanted to or not. (If I didn't go to my therapy and doctors' appointments, I didn't get my medical retirement checks.) I imagine Helga's former job was as an interrogator in a Russian gulag somewhere deep in Siberia, slapping, twisting, and pounding confessions from the prisoners. I've cried out for mercy more than once on her medieval torture table.
I drew in a deep breath, then exhaled as we practiced. I eased down, shifting all my weight onto my left foot while rolling my right foot on its heel, stretching it out. Throbbing bolts of pain fired up my leg then my spine, like multiple shots from a Taser. I wobbled as my fingers brushed the cane, as if I were petting the head of a snake. My middle finger caught the lip of the hawk-bill handle, then drew it into my hand. I stabbed the tip into the concrete and pressed myself up. What a production.
As I righted myself, I took a second to compose, the nerve endings in my lower half signaling their dismay and rebellion. I checked my watch. If I was gonna make my shift as the night watchman at Coral Bay Condominiums, I'd have to hustle. I'd hate to lose my new job. But then again, I didn't have much respect for someone who's never lost anything.
My name is Ray Quinn. Eleven months ago, I lost everything.