BY: J J BURKE
El Tigre is dead. This is a confirmed fact, but the legacy of evil and violence that he has sown continues to sprout. When these erupt, they inevitably affect Jon Morton, and, by association, Carlos Montoto. Once again, Jon and Carlos are forced to abandon their peaceful refuge as commercial fishermen and return to the dark world of violence and death. As before, this return is attributed to El Tigre and his convoluted criminal mind. Jon’s last involuntary return to the world of covert action came close to getting him killed. Now he is facing one known man, plus the addition of an unknown group of murderous criminals, all hunting El Tigre’s money, and all headed toward rural Dodsonville, West Virginia. Can Jon and Carlos terminate these criminals in time to prevent a blood-bath?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Blood Money by J J Burke, we are reunited with Jon Morton and Carlos Montoto as they are once again drawn into the world of black ops, violence, and death. Even though the Colombian criminal and terrorist, El Tigre, is dead, Jon and Carlos still aren’t free of him. Things El Tigre set in motion before his death are coming back to haunt them. Now a group of killers is converging on a small mountain village in West Virginia, and Jon and Carlos are the only ones who can identify at least one of them. Sent by their former commander to identify and stop the criminals, Jon and Carlos soon discover that what they thought would be a simple cleanup operation could be a deadly fight for their lives.
Well written, intense, and fast paced, this story will have you biting your nails and turning pages as fast as you can. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Blood Money by J. J. Burke is the story of two former black ops soldiers who just want to live the quiet life of commercial fishermen. Jon Morton and Carlos Montoto have long since retired from the service but the black ops missions they participated in just won’t stay in the past. Criminals from groups they targeted while in the service are out for blood. Now that the leader of the main group is dead, rumors of money he paid an informant being stashed in a small town in West Virginia are spreading rapidly, drawing opportunists and cold-blooded killers into the area. Agents posing as INS are on the case, but only John and Carlos have seen at least one of the criminals, so they are the only ones who can identify him. Convinced by their former commander to go to West Virginia to point out the man to the other agents on the scene, Jon and Carlos get much more than they bargained for.
Like the two before it, The Lethal Fisherman and Scattered Pieces, Blood Money is fast paced, intense, and compelling. Once you start, you’ll find it very hard to stop reading. An excellent addition to the series.
The unknown shooter had been identified as A.J. and had been killed. The oddity was that he was not killed by Jon or Carlos, but by a young man named Pablo Robles. Pablo was unknown to either Jon or Carlos and was seeking to revenge the death of his father. His father had been killed in the raid on El Tigre’s island headquarters. The young Colombian had also been hunting for two-million dollars that El Tigre was to have paid A.J. for the information that led him to Jon. El Tigre told Pablo it would be his when he killed A.J. Although the money was assumed to exist, no one living knew that to be factual, and, if it did exist, where it was hidden.
Jon and Carlos had taken Pablo Robles into custody and put him on La Luna Media, the freighter he first arrived on. He was now, unwillingly, headed back to Colombia on the same freighter—without the money he believed to be rightfully his. He had been strictly warned that if he returned to the US, and if caught, he would be put on trial for murder. The captain of the freighter had also been strictly warned that he would be tried as complicit, to ensure that Pablo did not get off the ship until their arrival in Colombia.
Jon and Carlos were driving back to North Carolina to meet with Rosita and Sheri. Both men were relaxed and looking forward to the reunion, now that the insidious threat was ended. Jon, however, had a nagging sensation and could not help but wondering if it was truly completely over
Sheriff Gabriel Tanner was still at his desk. It was well after eight-thirty in the evening, but Gabe was oblivious of time as he painstakingly tried to sort out, and put together, the events of the past three weeks. The legal-size yellow pad on his desk was covered with names, dates, and events—many with question marks. Unfortunately, there were far too many questions and far too few answers. For someone in law enforcement, unanswered questions yielded nothing but problems, usually coupled with more questions.
Albert James Johnson, known to everyone in this small mountain town as A.J., had been buried alongside his parents, just three days ago. The events that led to his death presented some disturbing inequities. He could have let it go, and no one in this small mountain town would have questioned his decision, but Gabe had made up his mind. He intended to get this mess sorted out, and properly ordered. This file wasn’t about to be closed, until he was completely satisfied. Fust thing er ta check off whut ah know, fer a fact. Mizz Polk tole me thet she had give Zeke’s gun ta th’ Johnsons, efter Zeb were shot. Thet prob’ly ’splains how A.J. knew ’bout who th’ gun b’longed ta. He paused in his though process, at that point and took a long look at the rest of the items on his list. They ain’t but jest a few unanswered items. Problem er they’re all th’ big uns, ’n’ all ah got er guesses ’n’ mebbe’s—no facts. Ah need sum solid answers.
Ah’m near positive thet A.J.’s th’ one whut put thet arrer through Zeke ’n’ ah’m shore Zeke burnt A.J.’s folks house, ’n’ thet’s where ah’m stuck. Ah ain’t got th’ bow’n’ no proof thet A.J. er anyone else ’roun’ these parts ever owned one. Zeke’s dead so ah cain’t question him, ’n’ th’ same fer A.J. Thet’s two dead ends, fer shore. Them two guys whut come t’ town, jest days afore we heared thet A.J. got killed—jest know they wuz more ’n they let on t’ be. T’other thing er how come ah found A.J.’s truck ’pon thet spur en th’ woods? How’d he git t’ town ’n’ back t’ th’ base fer ta be shipped out? Shore as shit he didn’t walk! Then ta top er all off, he left ever’thin’ ta me en his will. Gabe stared at the yellow pad for a while longer then made the only logical decision that he could at the moment. ’Peers ta me thet sum, er all, a these questions might never git put ta bed. Reckin ah’ll jest set this list aside, ’n’ keep er tucked away fer when an answer shows, ’n’ they allus do! Shore wish ah cud find me a deputy ta hire. Seems thet fer a right small town, they’s right much work.
A New Day
Jon’s days, when he was working, usually began as a carbon-copy of the day before. This was not the result of intentional planning, but just that it had become a smooth and comfortable procedure. Toilet first then wash, shave, brush his teeth, comb his hair, and finally dress. He would, on occasion, stop in the kitchen for a glass of orange juice, and then out the door for his solitary walk to the docks. His routine was purposely simple and repetitive—a direct opposite from his former, covert world. Today there’ll be a new and welcome change in my routine. I get to take delivery of my new fishing boat and finally get back to a peaceful existence. He smiled visibly at the thought of this new custom-built boat. Can’t wait. Have to remember to thank Tony, with a bottle of good bourbon, for giving me that connection. Today Jon went to the kitchen in a more relaxed state of mind. I’ll get the coffee started then relax until Sheri wakes up. His thoughts went briefly to last night. That was a fantastic dinner. Frank hasn’t lost his touch, and the Blue Pelican looks as if it’s going to be around for a long time. Coffee’s ready. He poured a mug full of black coffee and walked toward the screened porch then changed his mind. I’ll just sit here until she gets up. The lounge chair will do for now.
Old habits, which were life-savers or learned lessons were hard to let go of, and he automatically started a mental review of the crazy hunt to track down and eliminate a turned operative. Could we have found him any quicker? Did we miss any of the clues or signs? The more I go over it, the more I’m convinced that we did everything possible under the circumstances. Now that it’s over and, after all is said and done, the three of us, Ertugal, Carlos, and I are lucky to be alive. That might not have been the case if it weren’t for the intrusion of the unknown factor, and a damn lucky one at that. Carlos’s casual observation allowed us to save Ertugal’s ass. That kid, Pablo, without knowing it probably saved me or Carlos or even both of us from a fatal bullet. That alone was worth just putting him back on that boat to Colombia instead of causing him to disappear. If that’s the case then how come I still have that nagging feeling that we should have also terminated that kid. We had the perfect opportunity, regardless of what transpired. The termination of the kid would have closed all the doors, leaving the field clean.
He was abruptly brought back to the present. “Good morning, hon. Have you been up long? You must have been deep in thought for me to be able to walk right up to you without your noticing.”
“I was doing a mental review of the new boat.” She doesn’t need to know the truth in this instance. He stole a glance at the clock. “Just shy of one hour till I have to go. Coffee’s ready. I need a refill, and I’ll get yours while I’m at it. Why don’t you get comfortable on the porch, and I’ll be right there?” Let’s see if I can push my luck. “That is, unless you’d like to get comfortable in the bedroom?”
“Funny boy—coffee and the porch sound perfect, right now.” She started for the porch door.
He was on the porch a minute later. “Here’s your coffee and something else.” He leaned over and kissed her long and firmly on the lips.
“That’s a perfect starter. By the way, what time do we have to leave?”
“If we leave here by six-thirty, that should allow ample time. I’ll drop you with Rosita, and Carlos and I will continue to the dock.”
“What time do you think you’ll be back?”
“Barring any problems, we should be back in time for lunch. We’re going to take her out for a shake-down run.”
Sheri changed the subject abruptly and unexpectedly. “Jon, is it finally all over? No more return visits to that horrible military experience of yours. Can you—we—finally look forward to a normal life? I’m asking because I can’t enjoy a relationship where I have to be in constant fear that something else is lurking in the shadows of your past.”
I should have expected this, and I guess I can’t blame her. “Yes, it’s over and done with. This last mess has put the past behind me, and we can look forward to a future of normal lives.” I sure hope that’s true, and I’m not just saying this for the moment. Sadly only time will tell.
“Fantastic! Let’s get dressed.”
© 2018 by J. J. Burke