Yes, it’s almost here. Simmering and just about ready to remove from the oven. The third gripping installment of my Jack Barnett / Las Vegas series, The Downtown Deal, is on the verge of publication. The series, centering around a hardboiled ex-private investigator living in Las Vegas, has previously consisted of two novelettes, Temptation Town and Hard CashThe Downtown Deal, however, is a full novel.

POSTER ART 2-6-12The whole thing began in my mind as a chronological series with Temptation Town, which is set in October of 2002. It somewhat explained who Barnett was and how he slipped into Las Vegas in the middle of the night from LA the year before, looking to become anonymous. Living the life of a low-limit professional poker player, he’s not able to put much money together, so when an opportunity arises to make five grand doing some routine PI work, he jumps at it. Let’s just say he soon wishes he hadn’t.

Kindle cover 5-29-12Move on to February, 2003, and Hard Cash. Barnett witnesses a freak hit-and-run accident on a Las Vegas back street. As he cradles the dying victim’s head, the man gives him an envelope containing $95,000. Does he keep it? Even after finding out who it really belongs to? This novelette introduces us to John Brendan Blake, local real estate mogul, who’s not above associating with unsavory elements. Blake also turns up in …

The Downtown Deal, set in October of 2003. Blake’s ex-wife is murdered, execution-style. Blake, who still carries a torch for her, offers Barnett $20,000 to find the killer. This leads the PI into a tangled web of high-powered real estate, a rising body count, shady Miami Cubans, and a seemingly unimportant slice of vacant land in a seedy area of downtown Las Vegas. A mysterious case of wine rests at the center of the story, and everyone wants it. The question is, can Barnett find the killer before the whole thing blows up in his face?

I intend to take this series through the 2000s and the 2010s, having Barnett age with each book. He carries around his own set of baggage, from which there is no escape, and this looms over all his activities. And at some point, I’m going to mention Barnett’s grandfather (who was alluded to in Temptation Town, as having been Mike Barnett, former New York private eye and the protagonist of the early 1950s TV series Man Against Crime, starring Ralph Bellamy.

The cover for The Downtown Deal is ready to go. I’m waiting for the editor’s final run-through, and then it’s Amazon or bust! Like the other two installments in the series, it’ll be available on Kindle and in paperback. I’ll post the appropriate links when it comes out.

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