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THE MAN WHO RISKED HIS PARTNER Thread

 
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2004 2:29 pm    Post subject: THE MAN WHO RISKED HIS PARTNER Thread Reply with quote

This is the thread for the second in the series: the one I read first, which got me to reading all the rest. Syl, didn't you read this one recently?
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2004 10:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not too long ago, yes.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2004 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I just got my copy today! Still, I hope that the first one comes soon, so I can read them in order.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 08, 2004 8:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, gotta read the first one first, in my opinion. After that, you can kind of mix 'em up.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 09, 2004 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read RISKED before any of the others. Just what I happened to find in the store. Still, yes, probably better to read the first 3 in order.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 21, 2004 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I actually managed to read Danlo's copy of RISKED during Elohimfest, for which I ought to thank him properly.

Thank you, Danlo!

And thus was I introduced to the literary oeuvre of Reed Stephens, retired cop. I'm still getting laughs out of SRD's rendition of Albuquerque into the fictionalized city of 'Puerta del Sol'.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 15, 2004 3:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dragonlily wrote:
I read RISKED before any of the others. Just what I happened to find in the store. Still, yes, probably better to read the first 3 in order.


So I can read the 1st 3 in order, and 4 out of order?
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2004 1:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My anarchic recommendation has been to read Book 4 first. This is for people who find Brew difficult to appreciate in his witch's "brew" of problems, in the earlier books.

One can, of course, read them as SRD meant them to be read. Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 16, 2004 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

well, with no access to book 3 until December, and book 4 soooo suggestively sitting on my bookshelf.....argh. I must not do it. I must remain strong.....Runes is NOT gonna get here a day too soon......
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 20, 2005 8:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

While I liked the first book, I think I liked the second one more. I like how SRD starts right out with having Ginny and Brew both dealing with the serious consequences of the events of the first book.

A lot of writers might not have the courage to do that. Confused

He certainly puts them both through the wringer in this one, doesn't he? Surprised

Brew is quite heroic by the end, in spite of himself. Cool
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 10, 2007 7:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wayfriend gave me a copy of 'Tried to Get Away" at E-fest, so I'll make an effort to finish 'Risked' fairly soon-to get up to speed. Cool
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2014 5:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This book begins about half a year later from when Ginny and Brew solved the teenage kidnapping case involving Brew's niece, and the weather has moved from hot to cold. Ginny has lost something more of herself besides her left hand in this intervening time.

Quote:
For a drunk like me, sobriety is like trying to push a brick wall down with your nose. Six months of it gets to be pretty painful. But I hadn't had a drink yesterday, or last week, or last month, and I wasn't going to have one today.
Ginny really did need me.
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The problem was simple. She was Ginny Fistoulari, hot-shot private investigator, smart, tough, give-me-a-running-start-and-I-can-do-anything. And she was maimed. Without her hand, she felt like a cripple, ugly, undesirable, and bitter. The claw made her hate herself.
I knew exactly how she felt. I was Mick Axbrewder, the drunk who killed his brother. She never would've lost her hand if I'd had the brains God gave a spaniel--if, for example, I'd thought of using my belt to hold that bomb.
So I took care of her.



Brew and Ginny are going to see a potential client, a bank employee that needs protection named Reginald Haskell. Before they leave for the interview, Brew reads a newspaper article, and somehow you just know what he reads about is going to get entangled within the main plot of protecting Haskell.

Quote:
Near the back of the city section, an item caught my eye. I don't know why--I could just as easily missed it. But when I started reading it, it didn't have any trouble holding my attention.
Ginny went on using the phone. Part of my mind heard her explain we didn't do that kind of work, but I wasn't really listening. I was concentrating on this news item about Pablo Santiago.

He wasn't anybody special--not like Roscoe Chavez [a famous local gangster in the employ of local crime lord el Senor]. Just a ten-year-old kid I happened to know. Ginny and I worked for his family a couple of years ago on a protection-racket case. The Santiagos ran a grungy little tiendita down in the old part of town--one of those places where toothless grandmothers bought beans and tortillas at prices that were actually reasonable, and kids stocked up on Coke and licorice--until some of the local muchachos decided to finance their hobbies by extorting "insurance" from small businesses. Since the muchachos were freelance, the Santiagos could have turned to el Senor for help. But then they would've enede up paying him protection money. That they didn't want, partly because they were honest, and partly because they valued their independence. So they hired Fistoulari Investigations.

Which was how I met Pablo Santiago.

According to the paper, he'd been missing since Saturday night.



Reginald (he tells Ginny and Brew to call him "Reg", ending pronunciation with a hard g, like he's just a regular guy) Haskell's original story to Ginny and Brew was that local crime lord el Senor wants to break his legs for not paying his gambling debts. But it becomes clearer that someone wants to kill Haskell, and the guy keeps changing his story. It also becomes clearer that Haskell is as hard to admire as he is to trust, as he keeps his wife in suspenseful ignorance in a hotel room, while he carries on serial affairs with current and past bank employees. Brew also hears an important admission from Reg when they are finished playing high-stakes bridge in an upscale neighborhood clubhouse.

Quote:
I did a little rough math in my head, and realized that Haskell had taken in over four thousand dollars.
He didn't smile the whole time. He didn't have to. His entire body did it for him.
On the way down the stairs, I made my brains stop rattling long enough to ask him, quietly, "How did you do that?"

If I hadn't towered over him, he would've looked like a conquering hero. At my question, he cocked an eyebrow and thought for a few steps. Then he said, "It's difficult to explain. I don't really play cards. I play people. You gave me a lot to work with."

What a nice compliment, I growled to myself. I'm so proud I could just shit. But he was still the client, so I kept a civil tongue in my head.

Together we collected our coats from the butler-bouncer and went out through the portico.
Outside all the wind was gone. Behind the noises of the cars as valets brought them up the driveway and bridge players drove them away, the night was still. Poised and quiet, like your first kiss. On the other hand, it was cold as a meat locker. I had to hug my coat to keep my bones from falling out on the ground. People stood in knots around the columns as if they were trying to share warmth. Over on the golf course, a few hardy souls still played. What few stars shone through the lights of the city looked like chips of ice.

I gave the Buick's keys to the next valet, a kid with hopeful eyes and an unsuccessful moustache, and told him what it looked like. He sprinted away toward the parking lot, working for a good tip.

"Don't take it personally," Haskell said. He'd already proved that he was more observant than I gave him credit for. "I play that way because it works. It's the only way to win."

I didn't really listen. For some reason I kept watching that kid. The way his coat flapped behind him as he ran made him look like a valiant child, too full of energy to be cold--and trying too hard to please. He reached the lot and dodged between the cars toward the back row.

"Tell the truth, now," Haskell went on. Deep in his heart, he probably wanted me to admit how brilliant he was. "You enjoyed yourself, didn't you?"

"Give me a choice next time," I said absently. Still watching the kid. "I'd rather have my kneecaps dislocated."

The kid reached the Buick--I could see it between two other cars. He unlocked the door and jumped into the driver's seat. Before he closed the door, he reached for the ignition.
I wasn't ready for it. In all my grubby and sometimes violent life, I've never been ready for such things. With a special crumpling sound that you never forget once you've heard it, the rear of the Buick turned into a fireball.

I should've stayed with Haskell. That was my job. I was supposed to protect him. But I didn't.
Pounding hard, I started for the parking lot.
Long legs help. And I'm fast for my size. In what felt like no more than half an hour, maximum, I reached the fire.
A couple of valets were there ahead of me. Yelling, they pointed me at their friend.
The whole Buick was burning now, but the blast had blown him clear. He lay beside the next car. Fire ate at his clothes. He wasn't moving.

The heat scorched my face, but I didn't think about it. He was only three steps away, three steps with flame whipping in all directions. The important thing was not to breathe. I ripped off my coat and ran to him. With the coat, I tried to smother his clothes. Then I picked him up and carried him out of the heat. Even though I knew it was too late.

His friends took him from me. Someone said the manager had called the fire department, the cops, everyone. With a piece of fire still burning inside me, I walked back to the club.

Haskell met me on the steps. "I called a cab," he said. "It should be here in a few minutes."
He couldn't help himself. He was grinning like a little boy after a successful raid on the cookie jar.


The heartless smirking attitude of Haskell focused more on cheating death than on the poor valet's plight gives us a real glimpse of him, and Brew can't bring himself to care personally about the guy, certainly not like how he genuinely cares about Pablo Santiago. Brew successfuly protects Haskell, while hurting over what has been suppressed in Pablo's case.

Quote:
For a second my brain refused to cooperate. Then I kicked it, and it coughed up [police Sargeant] Raul Encino's home phone number.
It rang a dozen times or so with no answer. That didn't cheer me up, but I hung on. After all, what night-shift cops so during the day? They sleep, that's what. And maybe his family--if he had one--was out. In school, grocery shopping, something. I let the phone ring.

Finally, the line opened. A fatigue-numbed voice said, "Encino."
"Axbrewder."
For some reason I wasn't relieved. I was scared. Those hamburgers felt like buckshot in my stomach. "Sorry about this. Tell me about Pablo Santiago's autopsy, and I'll get out of your life."
"Axbrewder." I heard the distinct thunk of the receiver landing on a hard surface.The phone didn't pick up any breathing, or even any movement. When he came back, he didn't sound asleep anymore. He sounded like he had a gun in one hand and a riot stick in the other.

"Axbrewder?"
"I'm still here."
"Are you sure you wish to stick your nose into this?" The stiffness of his English contrasted ominously with his fluent Spanish. "For an Anglo, you have some decency. Consider what will happen if you hinder Captain Cason's investigation. Anything you do will make enemies. To find the killer of a man like Roscoe Chavez--even a bad cop will jump for the chance. Consider what will happen if they find I leaked this autopsy to you."

I understood him, and it made tiredness swim around in my head. Oh damn it all. His poor parents. They could probably stand it if he was just dead.
"In other words," I said from some distance away, "he was killed. It wasn't an accident. He was killed, and it has something to do with running numbers."
"Listen to me," Encino said sharply. "Cason is not a man to be laughed at or dismissed. Leave it for him."
"No, you listen," I retorted. Somehow I made myself sound like my mind wasn't out there flapping in the wind. "I know Pablo's parents. They have a stake in this, and I seem to be the only one who cares. I'm just a crazy Anglo--what harm can I do? I'll never tell where I got my information. And if I haven't got enough sense to cover my own ass, that's not your fault. What does the autopsy say?"

There was a long silence. Then Encino sighed. "Pablo Santiago died of a broken neck."
I waited. When he didn't go on, I said, "I already knew that. You told me."

"I told you," he replied with old-world asperity, "he died of a broken neck, bruises, and injuries consistent with an accidental fall from a moving vehicle. That remains true. However, the M.E. is now sure the neck was broken before the fall. Partially crushed windpipe and other internal damage to the throat indicate strangulation."

Now it was my turn not to say anything. Encino spelled it out for me. "Someone killed the boy"--as if I needed it spelled out--"and then threw him from a car to make it appear accidental."
"Shit," I muttered profoundly. "Shit on everything."
I could almost hear him shrug over the phone.
My head was going in eight directions at once. "Has anyone told the family yet?"
"Would I be informed?" In his own way, he was about as pleased as I was. "This case is not mine."
"All right," I said. "All right." I needed to get off the phone. "Thanks. I owe you. Remember that."
"Go away," he replied. "I consider it even."
I didn't thank him again. I just hung up.

My reaction probaly would've been pretty entertaining to watch. There's this huge clown with raked eyes in a Muchoburger, of all places. First he puts the receiver back in its cradle like it was a snake that just bit him. Then he goes outside, flapping his arms wildly at the doors and the cold. He kicks one of the tires of his car as hard as he can, damn near breaks a bone in his foot, and almost falls down. Finally he fumbles the door open, stumbles into the seat, and tries to tear the steering wheel apart. What fun. I couldn't have been happier if I'd fallen into a cement mixer.

I didn't just want a drink, I wanted Everclear. The closest thing I could get to intravenous alcohol. What had happened to Pablo made me sick enough. But what really make me rage was that the cops had found his body more than two days ago--and still hadn't bothered to tell the family.



Brew is the one who originally spoke up and took this case because he hoped it would get Ginny to be her old self again. But she nearly cracks up under the strain of not being able to trust Reg Haskell, and when Ginny and Brew step outside Reg's house to resolve a difference, Brew gets gut-shot by one of el Senor's goons (the reptilian Muy Estobal) looking for Reg. Brew regains consciousness in the hospital thinking what he must do to discover who killed Pablo, while Ginny opens up about her own deep wound.

Quote:
When I finally pried my eyes open and saw Ginny near the head of the bed, I tried to explain. But my mouth and throat were so dry i couldn't dredge up anything more than a croak. That held me back long enough to realize that I couldn't say anything to her. If I did, she would refuse to help me. Simply because I'd been hurt, she would refuse.
In my condition, I didn't have the strength to tell her why she was wrong.
When she heard the strangling noises I made instead of conversation, she leaned over the bed. Her fingers stroked my face, running gently around the marks Gail Harmon had made on my cheeks. "Mick Axbrewder," she said, even though no one calls me Mick, not even her, "you look awful." I couldn't focus my eyes on her face, but her voice had a damp blurred sound, like tears. "I did this to you."

That didn't make sense. With an effort, I twisted my croaking until it sounded a bit more like words.
"Where am I?"
"Don't worry about it." She tried to be comforting. Maybe she even tried to smile. "You've done enough for one night. Everything is taken care of. Just relax and get some rest."
I persisted. What else could I do? "What time is it?"
"Late. You got out of surgery half an hour ago. You were lucky again. Anybody else would be dead by now. Or have their internal organs seriously damaged. Not you. That slug just tore up your guts a bit."

She sounded brittle and lonely, like a woman standing on the edge of a wasteland. But she fought to put a good face on it.
"The doctor told me more than I wanted to know. Somehow the slug missed your lungs, your kidneys, and your liver. And it didn't hit bone going in, so it didn't mushroom. You're in surprisingly good shape. You'll hurt like hell for a while. Then you'll be all right."
Damn woman. She couldn't possibly know what I was thinking about, but she still wouldn't give me a straight answer. For a minute there, frustration and pain made me so mad I wept.

She leaned on the rail of the bed, holding one of my forearms with her good hand. "Brew," she said softly, "I'm so sorry. This is my fault. I was so fucking determined to prove you were wrong about the driver of that Cadillac. I needed to believe Haskell was still lying. I couldn't think about anything else. So I set you up to get shot at point-blank range."
Her voice bit in like the edge of a saw, ripping across the grain of her self-respect. Luckily, I still couldn't focus on her face clearly. God knows how bad she looked.
"When I saw Estobal there and he started shooting--when you went down--
"We should never have taken this case."

Well, maybe. But it didn't matter. I was running out of time. And I didn't know how to get through to her. And one of those IVs fed stuff into my veins that made me want to sleep for three or four weeks. So far the pain was all that kept me awake--and that had started to fade.

I tried again. "Where am I?"
She didn't seeem to hear me. "I used to think I was tough," she mumured, far away with hurt. "Mentally, not physically. I used to think my mind could stand anything. I never knew I was so dependent on my hands. When I finally understood I was never going to get my hands back, and the best I could hope for was a prosthetic device that made me look like I was only half human, not a person at all, never mind how I looked as a woman--"
She caught herself, the words like barbs in her throat. "Something went out of me. Whatever it was that held me together. And I discovered I wasn't tough at all. I've been using you to carry me ever since." Softly she swore at herself--vicious, down-to-the-marrow curses, swearing to hold back the grief. "We never should've taken this case."

I wanted to scream at her. Silly of me. I didn't have the stomach for it. The whole situation was getting away from me. Hell, even consciousness was getting away from me. I could hardly remember what was so important to me.
As clearly as I could, I croaked, "I don't care about that. What time is it?"

Her reaction sent a quiver through my bed. Pieces of something wet landed on my face, trickled down my cheeks. "Fuck you, Axbrewder," she said stifffly. But then she softened. She stroked my face again, spreading the wet around. "Ah, hell. They've got you so doped up, you probably can't understand a word I say. We'll talk about it later."

That was a lie, and I knew it. The loss in her voice made it obvious. She would never talk about this again.


I liked this book even better than the first, as we get more knowledge of the main characters and there's several interesting side characters to meet (like would-be one-man-army Mace Novick--what a crazy).

A lot of the interactions between characters in this book were both enjoyable and believable. What was unbelievable was Brew taking out all his IVs and leaving the hospital near midnight with the help of Pablo's father to find information about Pablo's killer from two drunks in a snowy downtown park. That was just too much (but I admit it kept me reading). Heh-heh, I kept thinking, "Brew, you NUT, you should be in bed for the next few weeks!"
But yeah, it's heroic.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2020 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I recently discovered a UK hardcover edition of this novel, published by Collins. That's now three UK editions I have - the hardcover (Collins) and the trade and mass market paperbacks (both Fontana).

I'm hoping to eventually own all the UK editions of the Reed Stephens novels, but some of them are hard to find or quite expensive.

(I quite like the stories, too)
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