BY: E A AYMAR
Three years have passed since Tom Starks, a Baltimore community college professor and single father, tried to avenge his wife’s death by hiring a hit man. Tom is now hopeful that he has left the world of violence and murder behind. But he is drawn back into Baltimore’s criminal underground after he witnesses the assassination of an influential crime boss. To make matters worse, it appears the FBI has discovered Tom’s involvement, and they force him to work with them as an informer. Now Tom must navigate a deadly path between warring crime families and ruthless federal agents, even as he desperately tries to keep his involvement a secret from those closest to him.
TAYLOR JONES SAYS: Tom Starks is back in You’re As Good As Dead by E A Aymar, and in more trouble than ever. Ever since trying to hire a hit man in his first book, I’ll Sleep When you’re Dead, Tom has been unwillingly involved in the underworld of crime. Now he goes to pay the crime boss who is extorting him and the guy is killed right in front of him. Tom barely escapes with his life, leaving his own gun at the crime scene, and things just go downhill from there.
Like his first book, this one is fast-paced, filled with edge-of-your-seat tension, and will keep you turning pages from beginning to end.
REGAN MURPHY SAYS: You’re As Good As Dead by E A Aymar is the second book in the Dead series, and like the first one, I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead, You’re As Good As Dead doesn’t disappoint. Tom Starks returns, still paying the consequences of hiring a hit man to avenge his wife’s murder. Now Tom is being extorted by the underworld crime boss who employed the original hit men only, when Tom shows up with a payment, a rival crime boss kills man extorting Tom. Good, right? Well, not exactly. Being the babe in the woods that he is, Tom flees the scene, leaving his own registered gum at the scene. But it’s not the cops who show up at his door step, it’s the crime bosses–both the one replacing the extortionist and the one who killed him. They both want Tom to work for them. Then to top it all off, the FBI shows up at Tom’s work, asking him to be an informant for them. And Tom feels like a rope in a three-way tug of war.
Aymar has a way with story-telling. Even though our hero is just an average guy, who really isn’t very likeable, you can’t help rooting for him as he bumbles his way through the complex maze of underworld crime, tiring to keep himself and his daughter safe. And not doing a very good job of it. The book is fast-paced and will hold your interest from the very first page.
On a cold afternoon in October, Mack bites down on a potato chip and his forehead explodes.
It’s been quiet in Mack’s Guns and Gifts until that moment. I’d dropped off my monthly extortion payment while Mack watched the Baltimore Ravens pummel the Atlanta Falcons, a bowl of Doritos near one hand, a gun close to the other. He’d acknowledged me with a grunt and a nod and waved for me to leave my envelope on the counter.
Then I’d heard a loud pop and he’d fallen backward off his stool.
I cautiously walk around the counter and look at Mack’s body on the floor. His mouth is open and an uneven hole is ripped into his forehead. His eyes are frozen and intense, as if he’s trying to stare through the ceiling. A bloody halo expands underneath him.
“Are you all right?” I ask, rather pointlessly, and nudge him with my shoe. I can admit I’m not exactly a first-responder.
A loud pound on the store window startles me. I turn and lines in the glass are racing away from each other. Someone dressed in black is running toward the store.
And that’s when it hits me that Mack’s dead, someone killed him, and whoever did it is coming after me.
And I should probably do something.
I rush into the shop’s storage room and close and lock the door behind me. The storage room in Mack’s Guns and Gifts is small and empty with a second door that leads outside. I’m about to pull open that door and run out, but force myself to stop.
Someone might be waiting on the other side.
I pull out my Glock 30 from the concealed holster at my hip. I’ve shot this gun at a target range at least once a month for the past three years, but now it feels heavy and foreign in my hand. Still, it’s a better choice than my pocket mace. I set the gun down and take out my phone. I dial 9-1 and stop. I can’t call the cops. I can’t be found here and questioned. If there’s one thing I don’t need, it’s the police poking into my past.
Three years have passed since I’ve seen any violence, and I’ve spent that time preparing myself in case I see any more. I’ve done sit-ups and pushups and jumped rope and sweated on an elliptical. I’ve dropped from two hundred pounds to a lean one seventy and, for what it’s worth, I can do thirty pull-ups in a row.
Unfortunately, pull-ups aren’t worth much. I’m not ready for today. Not even close to ready.
I pick up my Glock. My hand tightens around it.
I think about Julie, my fifteen-year old daughter, and my phone makes its way back into my hand. But I can’t call her, not with a killer roaming somewhere on the other side of the door.
Mack never told me about any problems or enemies. Of course, a man who runs a criminal network probably keeps that information to himself. I’d stumbled upon Mack’s ruthless crew three years ago, when I was searching for revenge against the man who’d killed my wife. But the search had gone down the wrong path. People had been brutally murdered, and I had been lucky not to be one of them.
A man who runs a criminal network.
That thought tugs at me. Mack was in his late seventies. He’d lived a long time working in a dangerous business. He shouldn’t have been an easy man to get a jump on.
I hear footsteps in the shop. I hurry to the other door, press my ear against it, and listen. A few steps, then nothing. A few more steps, then nothing. I quietly lift the gun.
I can’t hear a thing.
I press my ear closer to the wood.
The door to the shop slams against my head.
I fall back and scramble to my hands and knees. I point the gun at the door. Something slams against it again.
Time to leave. I hurry to my feet, grab the handle of the back door, and yank it open.
A man stands before me.
He wears all black: ski mask, sweater, pants, and gloves. Duct tape connects the sleeves to the gloves and the mask to his sweater, so his skin can’t be seen. His eyes and mouth are covered with some sort of tinted material. An empty holster hangs on his side and a rifle is slung across his back. His right hand holds a gun, but it’s pointed at the floor.
His other fist turns my head into a strobe light.
© 2015 by E A Aymar