From Publisher's Weekly: The strong final book in Zeltserman's felon-out-of-prison trilogy (after Pariah and Small Crimes) focuses on hit man Leonard March, who cuts a deal with the state in exchange for a lighter sentence. By providing full details of the 28 murders he committed for Boston's top crime boss, Salvatore Lombard, March receives immunity from prosecution for those crimes. Pleading guilty to lesser crimes leads to his serving only 14 years in prison. Once freed in 1997, March gets a janitorial job in Waltham, Mass., but makes few long-range plans, convinced that it's only a matter of time before Lombard's goons take him out. Writers and journalists pursue the enigmatic March, seeking to capitalize on his murderous past, which is revealed in flashbacks, though survivors of his victims could seek any proceeds. Spare prose and assured pacing place this above most other contemporary noirs. (May)
Dave gives an overview of the book:
“What if I gave them Salvatore Lombard?”
That gets my lawyer’s attention. It would have to, me offering up Boston’s top crime boss. Up until that moment he’d only been going through the motions, halfheartedly suggesting that he might be able to cut me a deal for thirty years, but using a tone which indicated he didn’t really believe that. I can’t blame him. I’ve already seen the same videotapes and wire tap transcripts that he has. The state has me dead to rights for a long laundry list of crimes including extortion, a shitload of Mann Act violations and attempted murder. My busting up an undercover cop’s skull with a crowbar was only icing on the cake as far as they were concerned.
“You’re sure about this?” he asks.
I nod. This wasn’t a spur of the moment decision on my part. It was something I’ve been mulling over for weeks, ever since I realized someone in Lombard’s organization must’ve given up the operation. This was the reason I fired the lawyer Lombard had cherry picked for me, and had my wife, Jenny, find me a virgin one, someone not connected. I am forty-eight, and maybe betraying Lombard means I’m never going to see forty-nine, but I’ll be fucked if I’m going to be buried in a prison cell for the next thirty years.
“And you can tie him to all this?”
“That might change things,” he admits. “Let me see what I can do.”
His face is flushed now. He stands up abruptly and knocks on the small square Plexiglas window embedded in the locked door, and two guards come into the room to escort me to my cell. Less than an hour later I’m brought back to the same room. My lawyer’s waiting for me, his face still flushed, maybe even a bit shiny at this point. I take the chair opposite him, and we both wait patiently until the guards leave the room and close the door behind them.
“If you can really deliver Salvatore Lombard—”
“Then I can get you fourteen years,” he says. “This is a gift given what they have on you.”
“I need better than that.”
He stares at me, his eyes widening as if I’m crazy. “Leonard, let me try to impress on you how generous their offer is. I know the DA must be salivating over the prospect of nailing Lombard, but fourteen years is the best he can give you without inciting a riot within the police department after what you did to that officer, not to mention those other people. I wouldn’t have a prayer of doing better than that if this went to trial—”
“I can do the fourteen years. That’s not what I’m saying.”
I shift in my seat, my gaze wandering past him. “If I give up Lombard he’ll tie me to other felonies. I need immunity from those. Fourteen years is all I do regardless of what else I confess to.”
“What else did you do?”
I shake my head. “When we have a deal in place I’ll give the rest to the DA.”
My lawyer gives me a funny look, but he gets up again and signals through the Plexiglas window. The guards let him out, but this time they don’t bother taking me back to my cell. I sit alone for no more than fifteen minutes before my lawyer is let back in. His eyes are hard on mine as he nods.
“As long as there’s no crimes involving children, no child porn, and no sex crimes, the DA’s willing to give you a free pass on everything else if what you give them can be verified and is enough for a conviction.”
“We’ve got a deal then,” I tell him.
My lawyer and I meet with the DA. After I’m given the paperwork for the deal my lawyer has worked out, I give the DA what he needs. It takes them three weeks to check it out, but once they have Lombard charged, we all meet again so I can outline the rest of my crimes, the ones I’m going to be given immunity for. It takes a while. There are so many of them. When I go over the twenty-eight murders that I did for Salvatore Lombard, the DA’s face turns ashen. Involuntarily, my lawyer’s lips twist into a sick smile, almost as if I’m pulling something over on him too.
I breathe easier after that. Ever since I fired Lombard’s chosen lawyer, I was expecting Lombard to either find a way to kill me or to leak my involvement with those killings to make sure I couldn’t cut any deal. I guess he couldn’t figure out a way of doing either of them without screwing himself. Anyway, a hell of a weight off my chest…
Dave Zeltserman’s short crime fiction has been published in many venues, including Alfred Hitchcock's and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazines. His first novel, Fast Lane, received widespread praise, with Ken Bruen calling it ‘the most entertaining debut since Jim...
[starred review] Zeltserman’s breakthrough third crime novel deserves comparison with the best of James Ellroy. Joe Denton, a corrupt cop, has just been paroled from the county jail in Bradley, Mass., after...