BY: SHAUN COEN
In a neighborhood full of secrets, everyone’s a suspect.
Hard-living Detective Eileen Ryan is called to investigate the murder of a popular bartender in her hometown, a tight-knit Irish enclave in The Bronx, New York. But she can’t quite remember the night of the murder and has to fight off the advances of a creepy forensics officer who places her at the scene of the crime. Ryan discovers secret societies and double lives, as she moves back into her childhood home to care for her father, a retired police officer who suffered a stroke, and comforts her confidante, the hardened Lieutenant Barry Durkin, another neighborhood alum who’s binge drinking through an impending divorce. Will caring for family and friends prevent Ryan from catching the killer—or becoming the next victim?
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: In The Pot O’Gold Murder by Shaun Coen, Eileen Ryan is a NYPD detective. She has a one-night stand with a guy whose name she can’t remember in the morning, probably due to amount of alcohol imbibed the night before. Then she gets a call from her lieutenant about a murder at the very pub she was drinking at just hours before. As Ryan follows a trail of confusing clues, she finds her life uprooted with both personal and professional problems.
The story is intriguing, the characters charming, and the killer really comes as a surprise. I would never have figured it out on my own. Bravo, Shaun Coen.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: The Pot O’Gold Murder by Shaun Coen is the story of Irish-American cops and immigrants in The Bronx. Eileen Ryan is a detective with the NYPD. She goes out for a night a drinking and ends up sleeping with a man she just met. The next morning she’s awakened by a call from the department about a murder of the bartender at The Pot O’Gold tavern, a man who she counts as a friend and a former lover. But who would want him dead? As she sorts through the clues and investigates the Irish-American residents in the neighborhood, it seems no one had a motive. At least not an obvious one. As she struggles with problems both in her family and her department at work, some dark secrets are exposed, but she seems no closer to solving the bartender’s murder. Will his killer escape justice?
The Pot O’Gold Murder is a complicated tale of life as a single woman, a cop, and an Irish-American in The Bronx, as well as a chilling murder mystery.
Tommy “Slats” Slattery was hauling garbage bags down the alleyway between The Pot O’Gold and The Shanty at 6:15 a.m. when he found Declan McManus face down on the concrete, the barrel of a Coors Light protruding from his neck. Dark crimson blood, still wet, streaked down the alley toward a drain. Slats, the mildly retarded porter, often found drunks and fighters passed out in the alley, victims of the previous night’s debauchery and inevitable dust-ups. He would either cover them with a jacket or some garbage bags and drag them out of sight of the parishioners who were heading off to early masses and the commuters going to the bakery for coffee and a scone before boarding the number thirty-four bus to the number four subway. Declan, the good-looking, well-liked bartender of the new neighborhood hot spot, The Pot O’Gold, liked to play gags on the waitresses and the bar backs, and Slats was an easy mark. But this seemed different. It was too elaborate a prank, even for Declan. His black Rockport shoes were still polished, his white button-down shirt wasn’t overly wrinkled, and not a dark hair on his gelled head was out of place. Declan was a joker and a lover; he wasn’t a fighter.
“Come on, get up, Declan,” Slats said, as he flung a garbage bag into the metal Dumpster. “That’s not funny, man.”
Slats scanned the alleyway and looked across the street at Hooligans and MacGuffin’s, two of the other eight bars that lined Katonah Avenue. At some point or other, he had worked at all of them. He’d seen some crazy shit at this hour of the morning–naked men and women in various sexual positions, post-coital, mid-coital, and passed out drunk. People he’d never imagine. Mothers and fathers, nurses and lawyers, old women and teenagers, and one time a priest, still in collar with a raspberry on his forehead and an empty wallet beside him. He’d seen tattoos in sensitive places and people defecating in planters, in garbage cans, and even right on the sidewalk. “Nothing good ever happens after three a.m.,” his mother always used to say. Except that was when Slats went to work, and he liked to work. It gave him a sense of purpose. Even though he still took abuse from a few obnoxious drunks, it was nothing like the ribbing he used to take from neighborhood kids. Working these hours, he didn’t see many kids anymore, which was fine by him. He might have been the only one in Woodlawn who was happy there were thirty-two bars within walking distance and that each of them at one time or another was willing to hire him to take the garbage out for minimum wage. Despite his disability, he’d been able to earn enough to pay the rent on his tiny basement studio apartment and even save some money. He long ago came to the realization that he’d never be able to drive a car or a motorcycle. His eyesight was awful. But he’d really like to ride one of those motorized scooters or wheelchairs to work. Those didn’t require a license or good eyesight.
Slats reached out his right leg and, with an unlaced New Balance, the only sneaker wide enough for his feet, attempted to roll Declan over. The body nudged a bit and settled back into place. So that’s what dead weight means, Slats realized, staring at the smudge his sneaker left on Declan’s shoulder. Holding onto the Dumpster for leverage, he placed a foot under Declan’s shoulder and lifted again, this time hard enough to roll him onto his back.
Declan’s eyes were wide open, as if in shock, and his shirt was covered in blood. It wasn’t bright red, or the color of ketchup, like it was in the movies, but a much darker shade. Maroon. Like the stuff kids paint on their faces when they pretend to be Dracula for Halloween. Only this stuff didn’t look fake. Slats hoped that Declan would start laughing, or that Orla the waitress would jump out from behind the Dumpster and take a picture with her cell phone camera, but everything was silent and still. He looked around the alley for any sign of life but saw none. Slowly kneeling down, he closed Declan’s eyes. Slats grabbed the bottleneck and yanked it, removing it from Declan’s throat with a moist smack. A geyser of blood sprayed over both of them.
“Declan?” Slats asked. “Declan?”
He tapped his face a few times but Declan didn’t respond. He threw the bottleneck against the brick wall. Broken shards of glass rained down on them.
“Declan! Get up!”
Slats kicked Declan’s side in anger.
“Get up, Declan!”
His screams echoed off the brick walls of the alley until a light went on in an apartment above The Pot O’Gold.
Eileen Ryan’s cell phone blared from the nightstand, but at first she didn’t budge. When she felt a pair of hairy legs under the sheets, she bolted upright and was somewhat embarrassed that she had downloaded the Neko Case “People Got A Lot Of Nerve” ring tone. Its chorus of “I’m a man, man, man, man, man, man, man eater. But still you’re surprised…prised…prised when I eat ya” was catchy enough but not the sort of thing she wanted her nubile young bedmate to hear first thing the morning after. God, he was cute. What was his name again? She looked at the faint white initials she had carved into her wrist with a fingernail at the bar last night to remember but they had already faded. Looked like a D and a P. Or maybe it was DD? BB? No, definitely a D. DB. Before the chorus of her ring tone repeated, she picked up the phone.
“Rough night, iRye?” answered the gruff voice.
“Morning’s usually rougher. What’s up?”
“Got a stiff one for you,” Durkin said.
“I’m flattered, Durk, but you’re married.”
“I mean a cold one.”
“Little early for a beer, but I could use a little hair of the dog.”
“Let me know when you’re done with the comedy routine.”
She reached for the Alka-Seltzer and Vitamin Water she always laid out on the nightstand when she knew her head would be banging in the morning and dropped two tablets into the plastic bottle.
“Okay, I’m listening,” she said, watching the bubbles rise.
“I need you to investigate a homicide.”
“Aren’t there any morning people on the squad who can handle it?”
“This one’s got your name written all over it,” Durkin said.
“Word on the street is that the guy was gorgeous, well-off, liked to drink and gamble.”
“Only the good die young.”
“Yeah. A real lady killer, too.”
“And one of these ladies exacted revenge?”
“That’s what I need you to find out. Nobody has a bad word to say about this guy. It’s weird.”
“Nobody ever says anything bad about serial killers, either. They’re always the quiet guys who kept to themselves.”
The body next to her began to stir under the covers. What a way to wake up, Ryan thought. Poor guy probably thinks he fell asleep watching Law & Order again. But he’ll be happy to discover he’s in bed with a naked woman. He probably didn’t remember much from last night, either. They were both pretty drunk.
“This is different, though,” Durkin said. “A lot of people knew him. Nobody had a grudge.”
“Where’d they find him?”
“In an alley with a beer bottle in his throat. He was a bartender in Woodlawn.”
“The Pot O’Gold.”
“Declan is dead?”
“Yeah. You knew him?”
Knew him? Ryan thought. I blew him. “Be right there, Durk.”
© 2016 by Shaun Coen
Author, Jeffery Deaver:
“A great thriller! Coen brings into vivid focus not only his characters but an entire neighborhood. You’ll read this in one sitting—guaranteed!” ~ Number One International Best-Selling Author Jeffery Deaver
Author, John Roche:
“In this gripping, gritty tale, centered on a murder investigation, Shaun Coen brings the bars, back alleys, and unbreakable bonds between family and friends of the Woodlawn section of The Bronx to life. The finely drawn complex characters suck you in, the plot is dead-on, and the details and dialogue make each page crackle and buzz with electric authenticity…this is a killer debut crime novel you won’t soon forget.” ~ John Roche, Author of Bronx Bound