BY: JANET MCCLINTOCK
Six months ago, Joan Bowman’s fiancé, Duncan Archer, was shot during an ATF sting operation in Arizona. He’d left a message with a friend that, if anything happened to him, she was to call a certain phone number. That led her to Yonkers, New York, and Duncan’s longtime friend, Jeb Durham, who has control over Duncan’s estate. Their understanding was that, if Joan called, something had happened to Duncan, and she was to inherit the money.
Duncan’s plan was for Joan to use the money so she could buy a new identity and disappear. However, Jeb has other plans. He can’t accept the fact that his friend is dead and believes Joan had something to do it. He gives the money to her in advances only large enough to live on. If he keeps her close, he can play her, befriend her, and get her to open up to him and confess her part in Duncan’s demise. But Jeb has yet to learn what Duncan knew well: never play a player…
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Only Sin by Janet McClintock, Joan Bowman is on the run from the law. With her lover Duncan killed in Phoenix, Joan has gone to New York to find his friend Jeb, who tells her that she is to inherit Duncan’s estate. But Jeb is suspicious and only gives her a monthly allowance until he can be sure that she is not the one responsible for Duncan’s death. But Jeb’s plan backfires when Joan goes to work for his security company and he finds out that deceiving Joan is a very bad idea.
Like the other two books in McClintock’s Iron angel series, this one is filled with wonderful characters, fast-paced action, and more than a few surprises.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Only Sin by Janet McClintock is the third book in this talented author’s Iron Angel series. Joan Bowman, on the run from the law after a sting in Arizona, has fled to New York to a friend of Joan’s lover Duncan’s, who was killed in the Arizona sting. Jeb, Duncan’s friend, gives her money from Duncan’s estate to get set up in New York, but not enough to disappear and start a new life with a new identity. Jeb convinces Joan to go to work for him in his security business in an effort to discover her role in Duncan’s death. He doesn’t want to release all Duncan’s money to Joan until he is sure that she was not responsible for his death. But Joan doesn’t trust him. She knows he is up to something, and she has no intention of getting stung by someone else’s agenda.
The Only Sin has some big shoes to fill, following the first two books in the series, but McClintock doesn’t disappoint, delivering another page turner that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
Joan scurried across the street, mixing her footprints with those already in the light snow that had fallen during the night. She quickly covered the half block to the subway entrance and ducked down the stairs. With each step, the cold city streets disappeared above her and relief filtered through her body.
The station platform was a hodge-podge of light and dark. Several lights were out, which created shadows between areas of bile-colored light, as if they were human fly strips. She pulled up her scarf, checked for surveillance cameras, found a dark area near the tracks, and slipped into the gloom.
A half-turn one way, and then the other way revealed a deserted platform except for a man sleeping on a bench. If law enforcement found her and confronted her in this murky tomb, she would have nowhere to go. She looked down the tracks into the darkness.
Where was a train? The station serviced both uptown and downtown trains. She would hop on the first train that came along to put much-needed distance between herself and the federal agents who were probably blood-hounding through her apartment at that very moment.
She pulled out her phone–one bar. She frowned and returned it to the front pocket of her black, leather jacket. It would be dangerous to call anyone until she determined how the feds had located her.
She thought about the cryptic phone call that had sent her scrambling to pack her few possessions. A man’s voice had said she’d been made. She had five minutes to get out of her apartment. It didn’t take five minutes to pack the few things she owned. Fugitives traveled light.
Loneliness ached in every joint of her body. If Duncan were alive, he would have known what to do. But he was dead, killed by federal agents in another city during a sting operation. Her shoulders slumped. Life sucked for the last man standing.
Her once-sharp instincts were muted by grief, making sorting out who she could trust tricky at best. It had been foolhardy to come to the New York Tri-State area where she had a connection–maybe that was how she had been located. That mistake could not be undone but, heartache or not, she needed to get her head above the quicksand before the law sucked her down.
How in God’s name did the feds find her in New York City? Only three people knew where she lived. Three people out of a country of over three hundred million. How hard could it be to find three people she could trust?
She peered into the darkness. Come on, train. Where are you?
She leaned a shoulder against the cold, iron support beam. Only two people knew her number, and neither of them gave her the warm-and-fuzzies. They both had been Duncan’s friends, which didn’t necessarily make them hers. Kearney had been a brutal enemy for a couple years, leaving her with physical and mental scars. Then, out of a misplaced sense of duty, she saved his life, and now he spent every waking hour trying to make up for the gruesome things he had done to her.
The jury was out on Jeb. Duncan had left his sizeable estate in Jeb’s hands on a handshake–some kind of spec ops honor thing–with instructions to give it to her if something happened to him. Jeb had handled her inheritance with integrity. Yet, something about him did not foster reliability. He controlled her inheritance, so she had to stay close to him.
She looked down the track again. How fucked up could one life get?
She wiped the nervous sweat off her forehead with the back of her hand. Her hat. In the rush to get out of the apartment, she had forgotten the ball cap she always wore. That bill would come in handy to block her face from surveillance cameras. She couldn’t do anything about it now. She set down the duffel, slid off the backpack, and did shoulder circles to loosen them up. No rumble came from the tunnel, but footsteps scraped down the stairs. Joan glanced over her shoulder to get a glimpse of a man’s legs descending to the platform. The pant legs had a stripe down the side, like those on a uniform. Don’t act nervous. She turned to stand with her back to the beam, pulled up her collar, and looked down at her bags. No one knows you’re here. You’re waiting for a train like anyone else.
Should she have stayed up above ground? The city streets were not alien to her, but she felt alienated by them since she had returned. Staten Island and Manhattan had been her playgrounds. Saturdays of museum trips with her mom dotted her memory of pre-teen years. Later, she went to Manhattan by herself and spent many hours in the great libraries surrounded by books where she soaked up the quiet and safety. She loved books, but to a fugitive they were anchors.
A wry smile started at one corner of her mouth as she thought about the time she had obtained a false ID. She had partied with the best of them–until her dad found out and grounded her. She had screamed at him that he had ruined her life. As it turned out, her dad had not ruined her life. She quite efficiently made waste of it all on her own. Sure, she could have said “no” at any time. She even did once, but she could never say “no” to Duncan. And now he was dead and she might as well be.
She pulled out her phone and popped it out of its holder. A business card fell out and fluttered to the ground. She squatted to pick it up, but a man beat her to it. She looked up into the eyes of a Port Authority Police Officer.
Her mouth went dry, and for an interminable two seconds they looked into each other’s eyes.
Joan broke the trance by smiling at the officer and thanking him for picking up the card for her. She stuffed it into the front pocket of her leather jacket.
“Is everything okay?” the police officer asked.
Joan beamed her sweetest smile. “Oh…yeah. My boyfriend kicked me out.” She shrugged. “His loss.”
The officer gave her the once over then turned and walked away. Joan closed her eyes and released a giant, silent exhale. Out of all the stations he could be on duty, why the one closest to her apartment? The self-help book she was reading at the moment, Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life by Michael A. Singer, suggested quieting the mind’s narration of the outside world and experiencing the world. She closed her eyes. This storm passed, and she had one more hour of freedom, maybe even a day–or two if she was lucky.
The faint rumble of an approaching train picked up her heart beat. A downtown train came to a stop in front of her. She jockeyed her bags through the door and took a seat with her back to the platform and the police officer. Out of the corner of her eye, she watched him roust the sleeping man. He had fallen asleep on a bench under an advertisement for No-Doze. Joan half-smiled. You couldn’t make this stuff up. She pulled up her collar and tucked her chin into the olive green scarf. The train pulled out of the station and her thoughts returned to her predicament.
Everything had happened too fast for her to think about what the feds were doing in her apartment. She mentally scanned her apartment for anything she may have left behind. A potentially damaging note. A forgotten weapon. Secreted cash. Her damn hat. Her body reacted first with shaking that rippled through her body. She rubbed her face with her hands and tried to think of her next step. What would Duncan have told her to do? Get on the next train–check, did that–and call him. But she couldn’t call him. Because of her shortcomings, he was dead.
She tried to ignore the card in her pocket, but it beckoned her, as if it were vibrating. She pulled it out and thumbed the raised name and numbers. Jeb Durham had written his private number on the back and given it to her in case she ever needed his help with anything. “No matter how large or small,” he had told her.
Giving her the card turned out to be prophetic or a coincidence, but she did not believe in either. She thought about it while she flicked it with her thumbnail. Jeb had given her the card. He knew her phone number. He topped the short list.
She put the card back in her pocket.
Time to make a plan.
© 2017 by Janet McClintock