The 19th Precinct, Book 1
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Genre: Romantic Suspense
Release date: 12 December 2011
WARNING: Graphic language and explicit sex scenes (M/F)
Deadly Fall was previously published in an altered form entitled Fall Dead by Cerridwen Press/Ellora's Cave in 2005.
When his latest case falls on him and his partner—quite literally—Detective Nick Markov knows the destruction of his car by a not-yet-cold body is the least of his worries. The deceased is prominent businessman, Andrew Langan, and suicide is swiftly ruled out after Nick pursues the killers down twenty-seven flights—and loses them.
To his superiors' frustrations, Nick doesn't believe Langan's soon-to-be ex-wife, Augusta, is guilty, even though she has motive, opportunity, no alibi and a shady past. The only reasons Nick has for going against logic are the feeling in his gut and the constriction in his chest.
Augusta is thrust back into an unwanted spotlight and her quiet life shattered. Then things go downhill. In between dodging the media, she confronts muggers, kidnappers and goons better dressed than she. With Nick, who dredges up a past she'd rather forget and feelings she'd rather not acknowledge, Augusta must race to unravel her late husband's secrets before she finds herself skydiving without a parachute.
"Damn it, Ethan," Nick Markov muttered, trying to steady his drunken partner and keep him from falling flat on his face and doing permanent damage to it. "Your wife's going to have my ass for this."
Ethan Murtagh's scowl bordered on a pout more suited to a two-year-old. "I can walk on my own two feet," he said, his words only slightly slurred. He stumbled, nearly taking them both down.
Nick grunted and muttered, "Right."
It was several frustrating moments before Nick managed to strap his partner into the passenger seat of the black SUV parked in front of the bar. Ethan had been, once again, trying to drink himself into a stupor. He didn't handle disagreements with his significant other well. The current dispute was over the photographer who had shot his wife's swimsuit spread the previous week in the Bahamas.
"You'd better hope Torie's asleep when I get you home," Nick said, getting behind the wheel.
A disgruntled sound came from the sprawled figure beside him. Nick answered with a grunt of his own as he pulled out. At almost one in the morning on a Wednesday night, it was relatively quiet in the Sixties on the Upper East Side, so it was a few short minutes before he was turning onto Fifth Avenue. Deciding it wouldn't take long to get Ethan upstairs and into his nineteenth-floor condo, Nick stopped the SUV in front of the building, killed the engine and flipped down his visor to display his credentials. He released his seat belt buckle, then reached over for his partner's. Ethan mumbled a protest, swatted at Nick's helping hand and fumbled with the door handle. Suppressing the urge to roll his eyes, Nick grabbed a fistful of his partner's jacket.
"Stay put," Nick said. "You open that door, you'll land on your pretty face and Torie will never forgive me."
Ethan fell back in his seat, head tilted back, eyes closed. Satisfied, Nick opened his door, got out and made his way to the passenger side door. Ethan didn't move when he pulled the door open. Nick silently groaned at the possibility of having to carry his less-than-petite partner upstairs.
Before Nick could reach for his semiconscious partner, small pebbles pinged the roof of the SUV and bounced off his head and the sidewalk. Frowning, he skimmed a hand over his hair and his gaze across the roof of his vehicle. The pebbles glittered faintly under the mellow glow of the streetlight.
Not pebbles. Glass shards.
Nick glanced up—and froze, his gaze transfixed by the body above him.
With a faint sense of incredulity, Nick stared, breath trapped in his lungs, as the blurred line of stark paleness grew larger and sharper as gravity closed the distance between its victim and the sidewalk. He couldn't tear his eyes away from the white face seemingly directly above him. For timeless seconds, that was all he saw, but his mind filled in the rest with disturbing clarity. He saw the wide open mouth and the rounded eyes, filled with the horrifying knowledge of one's own imminent death.
Nick was wrong about two things—the body wasn't directly above him, and the ground wouldn't stop its free fall.
It was directly above the SUV.
His own eyes widening at this realization, Nick fisted his hands in Ethan's jacket, hauled his partner from the vehicle and jumped back, grunting when the edge of the door caught his shoulder. Ethan stumbled and both men went down hard as the body met metal.
The sickening thud was nearly drowned out by the explosive crunching of metal and shattering of glass as the SUV gave like an aluminum pie plate under the sudden force.
As the squeaky sound of the SUV's shocks being tested beyond their limits mingled with the other sounds of destruction, Nick, his heart somewhere in the vicinity of his throat, found himself flat on the ground, face first, his head covered with his forearms. The damp, industrial scent of the sidewalk filled his nostrils as he took in the heavy, metallic clinking sounds as parts fell off the vehicle.
Nick opened his eyes, lifted his head and pushed to his feet. Without conscious thought, he withdrew his gun and turned around. He stood on the street, the worn handle of his Glock comfortable and familiar in his grip, and took in the remains of his SUV. The new hood ornament had slammed onto it with enough force to bend the front hood into an imperfect V, partially obscuring the body from Nick's view. The windshield, torn from the top of its frame, was split in two down the middle. The jagged, incomplete halves—spider webs of shattered glass held together by the thin, inner layer of plastic laminate—disappeared inside the SUV's dark interior.
Nick took a step closer, his mouth tightening as his gaze dropped. A stark face stared at him from the dashboard. Dark hair topped glassy, unseeing eyes, a bent nose and a mouth opened wide in a silent scream. Blood, thick and dark, seeped from the matted hair to pool on the leather. There was no need to check for a pulse.
Ethan's shocked whisper brought Nick's attention around to him. His partner swayed for a moment, then slapped one hand against Nick's shoulder to steady himself. Blood trickled down the left side of his forehead from a gash that disappeared into his hair. He was sobering up by the second as he stared at the body. Homicide detectives they might be, but they've never had a case fall on them literally.
Nick swiveled his gaze back to the front of his SUV and blinked, but the image before him didn't waver.
The male body was a tangle of arms and legs bent at awkward angles nestled in the damaged hood of the SUV.
There was nothing that he could do.
Something heavy settled inside Nick, as it did every time he saw a body. Not bothering to shake off the feeling, he peered up the high-rise—and caught a flash of pale color on the top terrace.
The suicide just became a homicide.
Copyright © 2005, 2011 by Ann Bruce. All rights reserved.
Note: Praise for Fall Dead (2005).
"Very few books have achieved this reviewer's 'ne plus ultra' but Ann Bruce's Fall Dead warrants it! Nicely done! Fall Dead is a sexy, satisfying read!"
— Romance Designs, A+
"The pages sizzle!"
— Romantic Times BOOK Reviews,
"The sex practically sends the pages up in smoke."
— Super Librarian, B-
"Non-stop action and surprise twists will keep you glued to the pages."
— Ecataromance, 4.5
"I can easily imagine that I will adore Ann Bruce's future books... The characters...are well-written and the chemistry between them is well-developed."
— Mrs. Giggles
"Ann Bruce has done it again with Fall Dead just from the first page it pulls you into the story line and you don't want to put it down."
— Fallen Angel Reviews
"Fasten your seatbelts for this wild ride. Fall Dead will keep the reader on the edge of their seat... The sex scenes between Nick and Augusta will leave the reader breathless and fairly scorch the pages."
— Love Romances, 4.5
"[Fall Dead] is definitely a keeper and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Bruceís great storytelling."
— Romance Junkies, 4.5
"A quick, sexy, suspenseful read and very hard to put down."
— Night Owl Romance, 4.25
"Filled with heat and danger!"
— Romance Reviews Today
"Bruce penned a wonderful romantic suspense with lots of twists and turns, ins and outs, that get you dizzy. The sex scenes are so hot they should have warning signs."
— Coffee Time Romance, 4
"Fall Dead...will keep readers guessing until the end."
— Lighthouse Literary Reviews, 4
Note: Reviews for Fall Dead (2005).
"I don't read many romantic suspense novels. However, Ann Bruce's Fall Dead may just have changed that way of thinking! Fall Dead is a darn good novel. Bruce's storyline is entertainingly vivid and by the end of the book, I was truly glad I had read it!
"...I can honestly say that Ann Bruce's tale was a completely satisfying indulgence. I found Fall Dead fascinating. The mystery flowed in bits and pieces, the pace was excellent, and using complete control, Ann Bruce built the momentum, one step at a time. This drew me in and the more I read, the more I wanted. Ms. Bruce's expressive style kept me turning the pages.
"Any storyline that can completely pull me in and keep me involved certainly deserves the perfect 10 rating. Over the years, very few books have achieved this reviewer's 'ne plus ultra' but Ann Bruce's Fall Dead warrants it! Nicely done! Fall Dead is a sexy, satisfying read!"
— Romance Designs, A+ (Read entire review)
"The pages sizzle as Augusta and Nick form a tentative trust. Nick uses his intuition and detective skills to find the true murderer, and even though Augusta's not used to trusting men, with Nick she can't hold anything back. Nick is a protector to his bones, and Augusta is a survivor. Together, they make an unbeatable team."
— Romantic Times BOOK Reviews, (Read entire review)
"The sex practically sends the pages up in smoke."
— Super Librarian, B- (Read entire review)
"From the first page to the last, non-stop action and surprise twists will keep you glued to the pages of Fall Dead by Ann Bruce.
"The story of Nick and Augusta was captivating as Nick defied procedure and decided to personally protect a murder suspect. Augusta was confused and not sure what to do but knew she could not continue to deny the desire she felt for Nick. As the story unfolds, a series of twists and turns kept my interest as I tried to figure out what would happen next. Explosive passion and danger from surprising sources combine to make Fall Dead a book that will keep you up all night as you devour the story. Ann Bruce has written an A+ story."
— Ecataromance, 4.5 (Read entire review)
"I can easily imagine that I will adore Ann Bruce's future books... While Augusta is set up to be a familiar tortured heroine, she is a realistically level-headed heroine with flaws as well as strengths that make her come off like a realistic character instead of merely a Superwoman or Victim stereotype. Nick is a more familiar standard sexy cop hero but I like the way Ms Bruce gets Nick all jealous and worked up without turning Nick into a complete twit who forgets his job in the heat of the moment. The characters...are well-written and the chemistry between them is well-developed. Ms Bruce manages to balance romance and the external subplot without each one getting in the way of the other too much."
— Mrs. Giggles (Read entire review)
"Ann Bruce has done it again with Fall Dead just from the first page it pulls you into the story line and you don't want to put it down. Nick and Augusta are like two people so right for each it's hard not to hate Nick for his over protectiveness. This is a must read not only to find out who the real killer is but to see the love that brews between Augusta and Nick."
— Fallen Angel Reviews (Read entire review)
"Fasten your seatbelts for this wild ride. From the very first page, Fall Dead will keep the reader on the edge of their seat... The sex scenes between Nick and Augusta will leave the reader breathless and fairly scorch the pages. Romantic and sexy, the romance that buds between the two main characters is totally satisfying. Secondary characters enhance and not draw away from a wonderful plot of murder, betrayal, and intrigue. Fall Dead is a highly enjoyable book. Run, donít walk to purchase Fall Dead. You will not be disappointed."
— Love Romances, 4.5 (Read entire review)
"[Fall Dead] is definitely a keeper and I look forward to reading more of Ms. Bruceís great story telling in the future."
— Romance Junkies, 4.5 (Read entire review)
"A quick, sexy, suspenseful read and very hard to put down. The plot was well planned and fast acting. The characters jumped off the page and were a pleasure to read about. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good suspense novel."
— Night Owl Romance, 4.25 (Read entire review)
"Ann Bruce writes a romantic suspense filled with heat and danger in her newest book, Fall Dead. With a mind-gripping plotline and well-created, believable characters, Ms. Bruce puts her mark on the writing world."
— Romance Reviews Today
"...Bruce penned a wonderful romantic suspense with lots of twists and turns, ins and outs, that get you dizzy. The characters are well defined with tremendous depth and history. The plot is perfectly thought out and will keep you immersed until the end. The sex scenes are so hot they should have warning signs. This is a fabulous read you do not want to miss."
— Coffee Time Romance, 4 (Read entire review)
"...Fall Dead has a twisting plot that will keep readers guessing until the end."
— Lighthouse Literary Reviews, 4 (Read entire review)