Buffalo, New York, private investigator Gideon Rimes, a black Iraq-war vet and retired army CID detective, is hired to protect blues singer Indigo Waters from her ex-boyfriend, a police officer who serves as a driver and personal bodyguard for Buffalo Mayor Ophelia Green. When the boyfriend is murdered, Rimes is the prime suspect. He’s arrested but police are forced to release him due to a lack of evidence. As the cops search for clues to tie Rimes to the murder, he begins his own hunt for the killer, uncovering a plot that involves city leaders, a wealthy business owner, corrupt cops, access to control of a half-billion-dollar project—and a dark family secret that someone will do anything to keep hidden, regardless of who they have to kill…

TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In Nickel City Blues by Gary Earl Ross, Gideon Rimes is a Black Iraq-war vet, a former military CID cop, and current PI who gets a gig to protect a blues singer from her stalker boyfriend, a cop on the mayor’s protection detail. Rimes and the cop have a few words when the cop violates a restraining order the singer has on him, so when the cop ends up dead, Rimes is the prime suspect. Released due to lack of evidence after a brutal midnight arrest, Rimes is determined to find the killer and clear his name. But what he finds is corruption, ruthless mercenaries, and dark secrets. Now the only question is can he stay alive long enough to bring the killer to justice.

The story is tense, intriguing, and well written—a fast-paced, action-filled tale of cops, private investigators, attorneys, and politicians that will have you turning pages from beginning to end.

REGAN MURPHY SAYS: Nickel City Blues by Gary Earl Ross is the story of a former army vet and military cop turned private eye. Gideon Rimes is a PI in Buffalo, New York, who’s hired to protect a colored blues singer from her stalker cop ex-boyfriend. Acting as a bodyguard, Gideon follows the singer to the nightclub where she works, and when the boyfriend shows, he and the bouncers convince the man to leave, but not before the cop and Gideon get into an altercation. Later when the cop turns up dead, Gideon is arrested, but there’s no evidence he had anything to do with it. So the cops let him go. Reluctantly. Then Gideon is hired by the singer, the mayor, and the dead cop’s parents to find his killer. As Gideon investigates he discovers that there is much more to the story that a cop who didn’t want to break up with his girlfriend and ended up dead.

Nickel City Blues is hard hitting, fast paced, and tension filled. This one will keep you glued to the edge of your seat. If you like books you can’t put down, you’re going to love this one.

Chapter 1

Indigo Waters held the wireless microphone in her left hand as she moved amid tables full of wings, sandwiches, and pitchers of beer. She was small and curvy, with short black hair and skin like whipped chocolate. Her huge amber eyes glittered like the sequins on her clinging copper gown, even in the muted light of the Anchor Bar. The voice that shook the autographed celebrity photos on the walls of the nominal birthplace of the chicken wing had extraordinary range and clarity.

It seemed too big to come out of such a small woman, too old to belong to someone barely twenty-five. Some of the patrons this Friday night in early October moved their lips along with her on “Night Time is the Right Time.” Fingers tapped table tops, others kept time with the band. But most of them just watched Indigo in rapt silence.

The crowd was a mixture of young and old, black and white and brown, sports jerseys and sports jackets, tight jeans and casual dresses. Several were obviously suburban, having driven into downtown Buffalo from Amherst or Williamsville for a night of theater before stopping off for a snack. Others wearing hockey jerseys and carrying foam fingers looked as if they had come from the Sabres victory at Key Arena.

There were college kids, gangster-rap wannabes, old-timers who couldn’t shake an outdated pimp look, and tourists who couldn’t stop staring at the antique toys, sports gear, and musical instruments hanging from the ceilings, the multistate license plates on the walls, or the vintage motorcycles mounted high on special brackets.

As far as I could tell, it was an ordinary Friday night in one of the Nickel City’s best loved establishments.

I sat alone at a small table opposite the bandstand, nursing a Corona and picking over the last of my suicide wings. I was in a perfect place to watch the main dining hall, the bar beyond it, and the parking lot entrance, as well as the emergency exit at the front of the building. My positioning was no accident. I had been hired to keep an eye out for the man stalking Indigo Waters.

“He’s a big guy,” she’d said in my Elmwood Avenue office the day before. In jeans and a print top, she was seated in one of the metal-frame client chairs in front of my desk. “I mean, you’re no midget—and you’d look a lot scarier bald instead of having those big salt and pepper curls—but he’s bigger than you, and he doesn’t wear glasses, and he’s younger.”

“Young men can be dangerous,” I said. “Especially when they don’t wear glasses.”

She ignored my stab at humor. “He’s a real cop, so you being black won’t matter to him either.” Her southern accent gave an inescapable whisper of music to her speaking voice. I wasn’t surprised. I’d seen her sing before.

“Mr. Rimes is a real cop,” her lawyer said. “Or he was.” Navy suit tailored to fit her tall, thin frame and medium-length black hair tied back to reveal the oval of her face, Phoenix Trinidad sat in the chair beside Indigo’s. Though we had never met before she led her client into my office, each of us had known of the other because my godfather, Bobby Chance, was good friends with her mentor and law partner, Jonah Landsburgh. But it was apparent she knew more about me than I did about her. “He was career army. An MP. He served two tours in Iraq then went to work for the CID and earned an advanced degree in criminology before he retired.”

“What’s CID?” Indigo asked.

“Criminal Investigation Division,” I said. “Army detectives.”

Indigo scrutinized me closely, considering.

“He came home and took a campus police job at Buffalo State,” Ms. Trinidad said.

“You went from army detective to rent-a-cop?” Indigo asked me.

Ms. Trinidad shook her head. “State University police have exactly the same training as New York State police. But Mr. Rimes didn’t stay long.” She hesitated. “After two years, he left and got a PI license.”

Indigo shifted her gaze from her lawyer to me and back, as if waiting for more.

I leaned forward and looked directly at Ms. Trinidad. “You might as well tell her the rest of it.” I hoped she would, because I didn’t like talking about it.

Deep brown eyes never leaving mine, she smiled sadly, almost apologetically. I found myself appreciating the contrast between her apricot lipstick and light cinnamon skin.

“Mr. Rimes resigned from the campus police force after a shooting incident left two dead and a police officer paralyzed.”

Indigo’s already large eyes widened. “You killed somebody?”

“Yes,” I said.

“Who? A student?”

“No.” I sat back.

“Mr. Rimes did what he was trained to do,” Ms. Trinidad said. “He neutralized the threat.” She paused, and I thought I saw sympathy flicker in her eyes. “He killed the killer.”

“One of the killers,” I said. “The other one survived.”

“You shot them both?”


Indigo looked at Ms. Trinidad. “When did all this happen?”

“About three years ago, before you came to Buffalo.” She patted Indigo’s forearm. “So this man is the real deal. He can protect you.”

Indigo looked at the Real Deal again, curly hair, glasses, and all. I considered smiling but decided not to. We studied each other several seconds before she asked, “Who was he?”

“His name was Marv Tull,” I said, resigned that I would have to talk about it—think about it—after all. I pulled off my stainless steel frames and tapped my lower lip with one of the stems. “He and his cousin Jasper went on a killing spree in Pennsylvania and were on the run to Canada when they stopped here. They ditched a stolen car in Delaware Park, behind the art gallery, and crossed over to Buff State. They were in a campus lot jacking a replacement when my partner and I rolled up on them.”

“I think I heard about that…”

For a moment she looked past me, processing all she’d been told as I tried not to think of Solange Aucoin with a bullet in her left eye or Jimmy on his belly, lips kissing asphalt, as blood pooled around his midsection. The daughter of Parisian professors, Mademoiselle Aucoin had come to Buffalo State for graduate study in special education and was, by all accounts, delighted to have picked up a used yellow Hyundai two days before she died.

Jimmy Doran had slipped into his uniform and duty belt early that morning, kissed Peggy Ann goodbye, and walked through his front door for the last time. I seldom thought of the other victims of the shooting spree, Tull’s parole officer and the people who died for their cars: the seventh grade teacher waiting at a red light in Pittsburgh, the vacationing Kansas couple in Erie, the old woman and her ten-year-old grandson in Jamestown.

The split second it took me to read the emptiness in Tull’s eyes had not cost them their lives or their ability to walk. Sometimes that split-second felt like a century. The only thing that shortened it was the indignation I felt whenever I remembered that Jasper Hellman tried to sue me from prison over his colostomy bag.

Lower lip caught between my teeth, I slid my glasses back on.

“He’s still bigger than you,” Indigo said. “And younger.”

“And a real cop,” I said. I looked at the lawyer. “So why me? Why not go to his district commander or file an order of protection?”

Ms. Trinidad smiled again—beautiful white teeth, a gotcha smile if I ever saw one. “I hoped you’d want to help somebody you care about avoid embarrassment at a critical time. You see, the man bothering my client is Kenneth Carnahan, bodyguard and personal driver to a friend of yours, Mayor Ophelia Green.”

© 2017 by Gary Earl Ross