Taken, A Detective Al Warner Novel by George A Bernstein
The corpse of a Miami hooker is discovered in the Everglades. As Detective Al Warner investigates, he learns other streetwalkers also have disappeared, and this homicide is now a case of human trafficking. Nicki, a female undercover cop, goes as a streetwalker, hoping to be taken so she can use a tracking device, but it’s stripped from her before she can activate it.
Meanwhile, Maggie is offered a lucrative deal as a birth surrogate for a secretive, wealthy couple. She’s living nine months in luxurious seclusion but begins to worry when another surrogate disappears a month before her term. Maggie discovers her fetus is a tool of extortion, and fears for her life. She attempts to flee the mansion, but her “hosts” refuse to let her go. Her life is trivial to them, but they need the child she carries.
Trapped at the bordello on a remote ’Glades island reached only by airboats, Nicki embarks on daring foray to find and activate the tracker. If she fails, she’ll become a sex slave like the other women imprisoned there, with little hope of rescue. Warner and his team eagerly await Nicki’s signal. Without that, there’s no clue to her location, and no idea of the deadly confrontation that awaits them. Warner is thrust into danger as he seeks to free the sex slaves and also rescue Maggie and a second infant before it’s too late. Lives are on the line, and only Al Warner can save them.
Targeted Age Group:: 16 and up
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
A continuation of the Detective Al Warner series. This is the 6th in the series and an appropriate plot line for current conditions
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Most of the Detective's and his associates have been featured in all the past Warner novels. New characters, and especially the antagonists are strictly the product of my imagination.
The blue Maserati GT convertible shot the too narrow gap between a Honda SUV and a Ford pickup. At 115 miles per hour, only a light rap by the F150 on the GT’s rear bumper sent it spinning across the Palmetto Expressway. It tumbled over four times, careening off the concrete median strip and showered the pavement with sparks and blood spatter.
The mangled vehicle skidded to a final stop, upside down and straddling two lanes. Luckily, late evening traffic was light and further collisions were avoided as all traffic screeched to a halt.
The driver of the Ford and another man leaped from their vehicles and hurried to the $200,000 pile of wreckage, peering inside in the unlikelihood there were survivors. No one was visible, but blood began to pool on the macadam.
Seven minutes later, the police had blocked off the expressway, and an ambulance was transporting the single DOA victim to Jackson Memorial, and eventually the Medical Examiner. He had been IDd as Anthony Stirling, of Coral Gables, a prominent banker and philanthropist. A tox screen would prove negative for alcohol or drugs. The clearly wealthy man had been intoxicated only by speed and power, and probably a life of imagined invincibility.
He’d been wrong.
~ 1 ~
Chief of Homicide Detectives, Al Warner, glanced up from the report he was scanning and grinned. A flurry of applause from the bullpen announced an arrival he had expected. He pushed up from his desk and strode to his doorway where he paused and took in the scene.
A diminutive man bowed, then curtsied to the laughter of Warner’s detectives who gathered around him, shaking his hand and patting his back. Detective Olvida’s attempt to run fingers over the man’s salt-and-pepper goatee earned him a friendly jab on the arm.
Warner moved into the room, hands in his pockets, and tried to screw a frown past his smile, but it didn’t succeed. “So, Harris, ya finally decided to quit lollygaggin’ and come back to work.”
“Yeah, Boss.” Harris offered his hand for a shake. “It was that, or you’d have to arrest Doris for Murder One.”
“Wife had enough of ya, Jack?” Warner pulled his ex-partner close and squeezed his shoulder. “Seriously, how’re ya feelin’?”
“Eager to get back to work, that’s how.” He caught Warner’s eyes, the corner of his lips ticking down. “You’re gonna strand me at a desk, I suppose.”
“That deadly bitch cost ya a lung, and almost your life, partner, and you ain’t gettin’ any younger.” They turned together and ambled toward Detective Jack Harris’s cubicle. “You’re damned valuable on a desk, but give it six months and we’ll see what happens. Meanwhile, we kept your spot open.”
“Thanks, Boss.” He settled in his chair and ran hands over the mica-topped desk. Harris opened a drawer and withdrew his 9mm Beretta and his detective’s shield. His eyes misted as he glanced at Warner.
“You’re still a homicide detective, Harris. Desk or not, that comes with a weapon and a badge.”
“Right.” His voice a bit choked. “So, what now?”
“What d’ya think? Work is waitin’.” Warner pivoted and headed for his office. “C’mon. We got two murders in Little Havana that have drug cartel undertones. I need ya to dig into them and figure out what’s what. It’s Beck’s case, so hook up with him.”
Harris rose and trailed Warner, his fingers absently finding the spot where the very deadly Shadow had put a .40-cal through the small opening in his Kevlar vest. Six months to recover, and the ache remained. Desk duty didn’t look that bad. If they got another big case, he could lobby for more.
But, right now he was where should be . . . back to work and out of Doris’ hair.
“I married you for better or worse—but not for lunch,” she’d said. “Get back to work before I kill you.” She knew that was his best route to recovery.
So, he had two murders to help solve, and no more time for self-pity.
He felt better already.
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