A dead society is a polite society in this Future Noir tale of double-dealing, greed and love at first sight.
Murder is obsolete now that LifeEnders Inc. is in on the scene. Only assassins of the highest moral and ethical caliber receive the coveted License to Kill issued to associates of the world’s first murder-for-hire corporation. But when human frailty rears its ugly head all bets are off.
Told in legacy style of Dashiel Hammett and Raymond Chandler, with a heaping helping of Mickey Spillane, the hero could be Sam Spade, Philip Marlowe or Mike Hammer, while the dame could be Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford or Barbara Stanwyck. Come back to the days of fast action and snappy dialogue, when men were men and women led them around by the nose.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This story was inspired by all of the great authors who used to hang out on the old AOL message boards, circa 1995. The first 500 words were written simply for the entertainment of the readers and writers who congregated there, but when a NYT and Amazon #1 Bestselling author told me it was very good and I should expand it into a full story, I did. And here is the result.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The characters here are all mandatory for proper crime fiction noir, but with an unexpected twist. The bleached blonde married to a rich, cuckolded husband. The vivacious daughter who isn't as innocent as she seems, and the world-weary protagonist caught up in their schemes. I grew up loving such characters, but also wanting to tweak them out of being mere caricatures and into flesh and blood people.
The blonde was bleached, like raptor bones frozen in Cretaceous mud. The guy was fleshy, his jowls sagging like raw bread dough. Jewels glittered on most of their twenty fingers and they both smelled nice, like those French milled soaps hotels put in the little baskets in the bathrooms.
“You have read the contract, I assume?” I said. “You know my fees?”
“The terms are acceptable, the money is no problem,” Mr. Delvin said with a dismissive wave. To him I was just another underling. “So who do you want dead?” I asked, leaning back in my old swivel chair and firing up a smoke. The word dead got his attention. His demeanor changed, like he finally figured out this was my office, not his. The man glanced to either side, as if he could spot my hidden cameras and microphones, and wiped his generous forehead with a handkerchief.
“Exactly how confidential is this conversation?” he asked. His right thumb and index finger tapped each other like John Bonham hammering a drum kit; he was the kind of mark I loved playing poker with, rich and unable to hide his anxiety.
"I’m bound by the ethics of my profession and my organization,” I said as I pointed to the twin frames holding my license and my certificate of membership in the North American Life-Enders Association. “As well as by all applicable laws. It’s as confidential as the doctor-patient, lawyer-client privilege. It’s all spelled out in the contract.”
“You have no cameras or microphones here?”
“Of course not,” I lied.
“Well, you see, it’s just that we’ve heard–" he glanced at Blondie, aka Mrs. Delvin, who reached out and rubbed the back of his hand. “–things. People like you who carry out the contract, then inform the victim’s family who hired you. Drumming up business, so to speak.”
Assassins, by and large, are a live-and-let-live sort, slow to anger. Ours is not a business that lends itself well to quick displays of emotion. But what Mr. Delvin insinuated was the deepest insult someone in my profession could suffer.
“I don’t usually do pro-bono work,” I said in a low voice. “Don’t tempt me to change my mind.”
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