Free excerpt, Donan Berg's latest mystery "Adolph's Gold"

Adolph's Gold e-book is available at . Enjoy. Trade paperback available at fine book retailers.

Adolph's Gold by Donan Berg

Sonja Maria Sanchez’s apartment-ceiling fan blades swirled a gagging, greasy-bacon aroma that settled like a loose noose on Detective Second Class Adolph Anderson’s shirt-covered collarbones. He’d carried beads of August perspiration inside with him, leaving his blue blazer on the front seat of his yellow Monte Carlo. Listening to Sonja Maria’s squeaky and faltering alto, Adolph failed to conjure up how he’d earn the shiny gold first class shield he craved. Rather than ask her to repeat her undecipherable English pronunciations, he pressed his sweaty left elbow into her living room recliner’s cracked vinyl armrest and rotated his cocked left ear toward her in faked rapt attention. Behind his well-practiced facial facade, his distracted mind wandered to the yet to be interviewed bar homicide witness he’d stumbled upon yesterday. Solving homicides, he knew from eights years of being a detective, generated accolades and earned gold shields. He couldn’t pin sentiment to his chest.

Sonja Maria hesitated twice without his prompting or encouraging her to continue. The seething, curdling waste-of-time anger clawing his innards intensified by remembering that Bridgetown, Iowa, Police Chief Ronald Howard had dropped this wild goose chase on him. Adolph damn well suspected that, with Yancey out, The Chief would try to appease the League of Women Voters by giving the one gold shield up for grabs to Luann.

His left hand clamped closed his notepad as Sonja Maria described the explicit deportation threat, her physical damsel-in-distress cowering, and her feared sexual assault. For Adolph, her details too vivid for a real-life assault victim, even if her droopy lower eyelids glistened. He chomped-at-the-bit for an exit strategy that wouldn’t rile her to file a citizen’s complaint. After ten years on the beat before being promoted to detective, Adolph had promised himself he’d never again wear Oxfords whose soles had been scraped holey. He’d paid his dues and his numbing brain had heard Ms. Sanchez’s fuzzy TV-drama scenario countless times.

He’d already scribbled notes detailing the absence of visible bruises on her forehead, chin, arm, and the below-the-knee skin of her rail-thin frame. “So, you didn’t go to the hospital?” Why he delayed his departure with an objectively answered question, Adolph couldn't fathom. He’d called the hospital to learn no admission record existed for Sonja Maria Sanchez, the name she'd given him and, thus, no traceable rape kit evidence. Wouldn’t take an armchair genius, he thought, to determine that any effort he spent trying to nail this gossamer suspect wouldn’t enhance his jury-verified reputation for jailing criminals. With his chance for a gold shield needing a higher percentage of cases closed, he planned to administratively deep-six this investigation as fast as he could without risking charges of insubordination or dereliction of duty.

Adolph’s mounting disgust for this colossal waste of time splashed in his stomach like a limestone brick plunging into the surface of a nearby backwater river pool. If he abandoned logical reality and believed the story behind the streaking tears, choked words, and pregnant pauses, Sonja Maria, a hard-featured woman who’d celebrated her thirty-fifth birthday the previous month, had been overpowered and/or drugged by an unknown attacker and raped at St. Mary’s, a local college populated by scores of comely co-eds.

While it was true he strove day and night to keep his town, his high school daughter, and his arthritis-disabled wife safe, he had no qualms to shun fakers or bend a legal rule or two. He dismissed each transgression as a necessity to remove another scumbag from Bridgetown streets and to earn his longed for gold shield.

He finally said to Sonja Maria he needed to go and would call her if additional info were needed. Sonja’s eyes, obscured by a new moisture drizzle, stared at him across the diamond-pattern of threadbare carpet and pleaded that he believe her and shelve all doubt.

If, gold shield or not, he forgot the jailing-the-bad-guys end result, did swearing to uphold the law and serve the public justify emotionally trampling a reeling, weakened fellow human being? His eyes scanned the shabby brown-fabric sofa that almost swallowed Sonja Maria whole, the faded emerald green living room wall paint, the hung picture of Jesus, and that face, hers, smiling at him from a family eight-by-ten photo enlargement set on an end table beneath the lampshade’s tattered fringe. This apartment in which he sat, like her, without excess adornment and scrubbed clean. Especially prominent were the back of her hands—purplish, popping veins from calloused fingers that dived to be submerged and invisible under wrist skin en route to a heart in a small muscular body. Five-foot-two, he estimated, tipping scales between ninety and one hundred pounds. Straight, neck-length black hair framed unmoving dark eyes, surrounded by a caramel complexion.

“When were you grabbed?” He angled forward. His interrogation tape recorder pointed at them from atop a stack of People magazines on the glass-topped coffee table. He stopped short of asking her not to drink for that would’ve been heartless. By the observed halting sips, he fathomed that alcohol had never been Sonja Maria’s painkiller; especially the straight undiluted 1800 Tequila she poured into a scratched, clear plastic tumbler.

“Don’t want to feel bad again. Dishonor beloved husband, Philippe.”

“Need you to explain everything to have any chance of putting this guy behind bars where he belongs.” If the scumbag exists? “Tell me again. Yesterday, where were you?”

With a head bowed, her eyes gazed into a vacant lap. “Third floor janitor closet.”

“That’s your job. Cleaning, right?” Adolph re-opened his notepad.


“You working?” Adolph tried to distill his questions for he lacked strong Spanish skills.

She waggled her head sideways. “On break, spit out tequila when see bottle worm."

He'd misjudged her capacity for alcohol. "Go on."

"Not wanna be sent back to Guatemala.”

Adolph envisioned a defense attorney’s field day. Assault cases were hard enough to win, even with a stellar witness. Prosecution attorneys ran the opposite direction on learning alcohol clouded a complainant’s judgment and memory. “And, then?” At this rate he’d never finish. Bridgetown’s St. Mary’s College hired mostly Hispanic janitorial/cleaning staff, forged immigration papers common. He always looked the other way if the illegal didn’t evidence gang affiliation and Sonja Maria lacked visible tattoos.

“No hear. Lift head from sink; bag cover face. Can’t see.”

He remained silent. She raised her head to stare, this time above and beyond his right ear.

“Voice say be quiet. Say police outside.”

“Man, woman?”

“Man. He say don’t try escape. Squeeze my arms. March me into another room. Feel cold on left ankle. Heard noise, what be English word . . . clinking.”

“Any other noises?”

“Un poco pop. Man jerks my head; hand press bag to face and my tongue feels hole. Sweet cola drops wet my tongue. He tell me ‘drink,’ and cola fills my mouth. Something, I don’t know, move along my right arm to back of hand.”

“How’d you know it was cola you drank?”

For a greater sample visit and have an opportunity to purchase ($2.99) Adolph's complete story for your total enjoyment.
It's available online for Kindle, Nook, Apple (iTunes) and downloadable to your computer in epub, mobi or pdf formats. You can be assured that however you wish to download, the way to meet your needs is more likely available than not.
The trade paperback is available at priced at $14.95.


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