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Broadway Butchery
Memento Mori: Book Three


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Emporium Press
Date: June 22, 2023
Series: Memento Mori

Cover art: Reese Dante
Genre: Police procedural mystery, romance

It was Wednesday, June 10, 4:57 p.m., and there was a mummified body in the wall.
Detective Everett Larkin stood in the middle of the showroom floor for NYC Souvenirs, a hectically assembled and poorly organized tourist trap between West Fortieth and Forty-First on Broadway. Its dingy alternating-black-and-white tile floor was crowded with display stands stuffed to overcapacity with every tchotchke that Milton Glaser’s iconic I Heart NY logo could be decaled to: T-shirts, keychains, coffee mugs, license plates, snow globes, magnets, pins, tote bags, commemorative plates, phone cases, shot glasses, and what Larkin suspected might have been known colloquially as booty shorts.
Larkin slid his hands into his trouser pockets; studied the ancient ceiling fan overhead as it sluggishly pushed too-warm air around the storefront, its blades heavy with a buildup of gray fuzz; listened to the crackle of police radios through the open door at his back; and sniffed the air. It smelled closed up. Stale, musty, underlain with something sickly-sweet—fruity, but chemical in makeup.
“Ever read The Cask of Amontillado, Grim?”
Turning toward a narrow hallway on his right, Larkin watched Homicide Detective Ray O’Halloran enter the main room. He stepped around a construction light on a tripod, the harsh yellow of the halogen bulb causing his mussed strawberry-blond hair to appear almost orange. With his hip, O’Halloran checked a spinning stand of name keychains as he squeezed sideways between displays, and they shook on their hooks like rain pinging off sheet metal.
Larkin quoted, “The thousand injuries of Fortunato I had borne as I best could, but when he ventured upon insult, I vowed revenge.”
“Yeah, that’s what I figured.” O’Halloran stopped to stand before Larkin, his hands on his hips, sleeves rolled back, tie loosened. Sweat darkened his hairline, and his usually ruddy cheeks had more color than normal. “You bitched about the last DB—”
“Yes, well, he was only nine days dead,” Larkin interrupted.
“You closed a fuckin’ case, though, didn’t you?”
Larkin said, “I closed the murder of Marco Garcia and gained six new victims.”
“But you know who did it,” O’Halloran insisted.
Larkin narrowed his eyes. “What are you doing.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“This insistence on looking at the positives. The Alfred Niederman case garnered myself and my squad considerable media attention, and had you not punted the murder onto me, those accolades would have belonged to you. It’s decidedly out of character, considering you have accused me on more than one occasion of ‘stealing’ high-profile cases in order to obtain press and funding—which is, of course, not true, but the natural progression of a homicide case’s lifespan. When you brutes have exhausted all avenues of investigation, the Cold Case Squad steps in to solve the impossible. It’s only natural that detectives, territorial and egotistical by nature—and yes, I do include myself in that sweeping generalization—would find someone like me to be intimidating and therefore a professional adversary.”
O’Halloran laughed gruffly. “You’re hardly intimidating, Grim. What is this you’re wearing, pink?”
“It’s rosewood burgundy,” Larkin corrected, plucking at his suit coat with one hand. He’d paired the three-piece suit with a white button-down, teal pocket square, and a navy tie patterned with yellow flowers, which of course he’d matched to gold wingtips.
“It’s very colorful,” O’Halloran remarked.
“I enjoy the challenge of a thoroughly explored color palette.” Larkin waited a beat, raised one eyebrow, then asked, “Is that all.”
“Is… what all?”
“Twenty-two days ago you lamented the statistical probability of being in a room with, I quote, ‘You homos.’ I’m simply waiting for you to get in your usual jabs so that we may progress to the actual matter at hand.”
O’Halloran puffed his chest out, crossed his arms, and asked, “You want me to make a fag joke?”
Larkin considered O’Halloran’s defensive posture, the way he was anxiously tap, tap, tapping his thumb against his bicep, his evident reluctance to offer a remark similar to those he’d flaunted without remorse, but with pride, in the recent past. Larkin blinked before saying, “Ah. Interesting.”
“What is?”
Larkin sidestepped O’Halloran and began picking his way around the congested fixtures.


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