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The Body on the Underwater Road

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Donovan is forced to use his skills as a former contract thief to solve the appearance of a body on an underwater road.
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Author: Chuck Bowie
Description

Tricia Parker was a woman with a past; one that led to a marriage break-up and the complete severance of ties to her very wealthy ex-husband and daughter. Fifteen years later, Tricia suddenly appears, wanting to talk to her daughter, and a day later, Tricia’s body washes up on an underwater road. The prime suspects are her daughter and ex-husband, who are summering in St. Andrews.

Friends who see their predicament contact Donovan and Beth, who are no strangers to murder, and who have certain skills in solving crimes.

As Donovan begins piecing together the elements of the case, he happens upon an old acquaintance, a particularly nasty art thief who shouldn’t even be in that part of the country.

The Body On The Underwater Road is a story set in two countries. It’s about estranged families, old money, and secrets. And murder.

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Title The Body on the Underwater Road
Author Chuck Bowie
Series Donovan: Thief for Hire
Genre Suspense Thriller
Release 2018
Designer Charlotte Volnek
ISBN 978-1-77392-006-1
Length 256 pages
Price 5.99
Tags International travel, contract thief, winery, art theft, resort town, secrets, smuggling, family intrigue.

Excerpt

Harry Rafuse sat in the passenger side of Billy McLeod’s pickup truck, just off Route 127, in Chamcook. Occasionally, a vehicle’s muffled roar would sound, but a discreet wall of trees ensured the truck and its occupants stayed alone. The path, barely recognizable as such, carried on another twenty feet, and then dipped precipitously downward toward the rocky shore. A squirrel scolded them for just a moment, and they were once again alone.

“Want a drink?” Billy reached behind the seat, pulling out a Pabst Blue Ribbon from a cooler. Icy droplets flew as he gave the can a brief shake, tapped the bottom with a broken fingernail and cracked it open. Without waiting for a response, he handed it over to Rafuse, who accepted it. With a little grunt, he returned to the cooler and produced a second beer. “So, what are we talking, here?”

Harry smiled. “We’re talking business, my friend. A few days ago, I sent a crapload of parcels to Eastport, in Maine—”

“I know where Eastport is.”

“Sorry. I just want to be clear, that’s all. Anyway, it would be helpful…really helpful, if I could get those parcels over to St. Andrews in the next few weeks. The thing is—”

“The thing is you’re not interested in the St. Stephen or Milltown Border Services.” His voice was flat. “You’d rather have a more, ah, customized service for your parcels. Maybe one with fewer prying eyes?” Billy took a long pull on his beer and offered a shrewd glance toward his guest. The setting sun sprayed horizontal white light off the water and up through the trees, causing MacLeod to lower the windshield visor.

Rafuse looked back, taking the man’s measure. He saw a solid man in his forties, piercing blue eyes and unruly hair escaping from the sides and back. A touch of gray sprinkled through the brown curls. He noted the lines around the eyes; the harvest from years of heading out eastward on the water as the sun rose above the horizon. The firm set to the jaw, a scattering of scars across the raised knuckles on the hands, and the size of MacLeod’s shoulders all told a story. A tough story. If a man was capable of smuggling numerous cases of art across an international border, this might be that man.

“I take it we’re talking about a shipment or two from Eastport, across the water?”

Rafuse nodded. “And you’d get a good day’s pay for it.”

“Up front?”

Harry Rafuse paused. He’d expected this question, sooner or later. And owing to his current impecunious state—his wallet had less than three hundred US dollars in it—there would be no possibility of fronting the cash to Billy.    Unless…unless he was able to separate cousin Nick from a few thou. “I’ll say yes. Upfront. The end of summer would work a helluva lot better for me, since I expect to be a rich man by then. But I can probably scratch up a few thou in the next week or two.” He winked at the fisherman. “In our line of work, trust between strangers only goes so far, right?”

MacLeod’s mouth tightened, just a little. “About as far as I can throw you. With that out of the way, I think we should come to terms. What’s the value of the shipment, how much space does it take up, and how many trips do I need to make?”

“We’re talkin’ twenty five boxes, some of them are just over two cubic feet, a dozen of them are three-by-three by six inches thick. So, one or two trips should do it, I expect. One trip.”

“You’re talking through your hat, buddy. I’m counting two trips, but if you tell me the exact number and size of the crates, well, maybe I can squeeze it all into one trip. The second trip would cost you ten times as much as the first, on accounta the risk. Now, what was the value of the shipment?”

Rafuse’s eyes narrowed. “I’m giving you no disrespect, sir, but that doesn’t concern you. I’m willing to pay you a generous amount for each trip. Why can’t we leave it at that?”

Billy leaned back, tossing an empty can out of his window and into the bed of his truck. “I suppose so. Okay. Ten thousand. Per trip.”

“I was thinkin’ three thousand for each of two trips.”

“Seven thousand.”

Rafuse’s voice took on a whiny tone. “I was thinkin’ three thousand.” He paused. “How about two up front before each trip, and two after I receive the goods from each trip?”

Billy MacLeod nodded. “Five thousand up front for the first trip, and ten thousand if there’s a second load. Someone’s doing all the heavy lifting, risk-wise, and it ain’t you.” He jabbed a finger, solid as iron, into Harry’s chest.

Harry’s voice toughened. “Just so we’re clear here, these goods are incredibly difficult to sell. If they were to, say, disappear, they wouldn’t be worth anything to anyone. They’d be almost impossible to fence.”

Billy’s laugh was harsh. “I’d be offended if I didn’t know who I was dealing with. Let’s just say we understand each other as clear as spring water at high tide. Let’s get you back now. I’ll call you with possible dates and times, and we can see what works. The weather’s gotta cooperate, the alibis have to be set, you have to be nowhere near the job when I get there and I have to have the right feeling, right here,” He patted his gut, “and right here.” He tapped his temple. “Don’t call me, don’t recognize me on the street, don’t introduce me to anyone, got it?”

Harry laughed, a genuine belly laugh. “You make it sound like this is my first time. Well, it ain’t. I won’t make any mistakes, and I’ll thank you to do the same. With that out of the way, I’m feeling good about finding you. You don’t sound like you’re interested in getting caught, either. Okay, take me home and I’ll wait on a call from you.”

“It could be as long as three weeks, so don’t wet your pants waiting by the phone.”

“I got it. You’ll tell me and I’ll jump.”

Billy MacLeod nodded, not knowing whether the man was joking, and not caring. He put the truck in reverse and backed out of the brush and onto the road.

 

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