Anyone who brings grief to the people NYPD detective Paul Devlin loves is going to have to pay. That's why he's accompanying Adrianna Mendez, the lady of his heart, to Cuba, where Adrianna's aunt Maria has met with a serious "accident." A great hero of Castro's revolution, revered throughout the island as Angel Rojo, Dr. Maria Mendez was burned beyond recognition in a car wreck, then her body was stolen by members of a bloodthirsty voodoo sect. Now Devlin is determined to recover the Red Angel's remains and unravel the dark secret behind her death. But the New York cop's legendary street sense may not be enough to keep him breathing in this unfamiliar world of corruption, terror, and potent black magic -- especially when a vengeful madman and his killers land on the enigmatic island with one immediate goal: to watch Paul Devlin die.
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New York City
Vinnie "Big Head" Tedesco stood on the sidewalk, one hand pulling at the tight crotch of his trousers. His eyes roamed the street, as if searching for someone or something he wanted to avoid. Both were nervous affectations, which if recognized, Vinnie would have preferred to hide. Even so, there was an underlying cockiness about the man. His black silk shirt was open to mid-chest, allowing sunlight to reflect the glimmer of a heavy gold chain, and he occupied the sidewalk as if it were his private domain, forcing passersby to move around him. He was a large man, not exceptionally tall, but put together like a block of cement. His hair was long and dark and thickly curled, and it made his already large head seem enormous, almost a caricature: thus his street name, Vinnie Big Head. He was thirty-six years old, an up-and-coming member in the Rossi crime family, and in less than two minutes he would be dead.
Ollie Pitts stared at the body, already outlined in chalk. He made a sucking sound as he tried to remove a bit of food from his teeth. Then he belched.
"How do you see it?" Paul Devlin asked.
Pitts gave an almost imperceptible shrug. "The one witness we got saw him about five minutes before it went down. Says our boy was standing here, takin' up half the sidewalk like he was waitin' for somebody." A small grin flickered across his lips. "Of course it coulda been just bad luck for Vinnie. A couple of shooters from another family drivin' around lookin' for a target, and Vinnie just happens to be standing there scratching his ass." Pitts paused and belched again. "But I don't buy it. To me itsmells more like a setup. Our boy here gets a call and somebody he knows says, Hey, Vinnie, meet us on the corner and we'll go get some scungilli, or a blow job, or whatever Vinnie happens to be up for today. Then the car pulls up and Vinnie Big Head gets two in the chest before he knows what hit him." He raised his chin, indicating the sunburst splatter of blood and bone and tissue that surrounded Vinnie's head on the sidewalk. "Then the shooter gets out and pumps two in his head, just to make sure. Typical mob heart-and-head stuff." He paused, thinking about that. "Looks like a heavy-caliber, though, not the twenty-two peashooters they usually use for this kind of thing." Another shrug. "But Vinnie was a big guy with a nasty rep. Maybe they wanted to make sure the first ones knocked him down. They also didn't have to worry about noise. Not in this fuckin' neighborhood."
Devlin studied the surrounding buildings. The body lay on Broome Street, just off Mulberry in Manhattan's Little Italy. it was one of the city's landmark districts, an area forged more than a century ago by a continuous flow of Italian immigrants and the Mafia goons who lived in their shadow. Today, only a few Italians remained. Over the last twenty years nearby Chinatown had gradually spread across Canal Street, taking over the once fabled neighborhood so noted for its reticence with police. But that attitude of silence had not changed with the ethnicity. Pitts was right. This was still a see-no-evil kind of place, and not a single neighborhood denizen could be found among the tourists who stood gaping at Vinnie Big Head's blood-soaked body. Those who lived and worked here knew better than to stand around where they might be asked questions they did not want to answer.
Devlin smiled at the thought. The one "witness" they had found was a tourist, a man from Iowa who had been inside a nearby shop when the shooting took place. He had been a good citizen and had waited to tell police the little he knew, excited about a story he would now have for his friends back home. Had he known anything at all, he might have returned to those friends in a box.
"This is number five," Devlin said. "All of them Rossi's people. And, so far, no retaliation. I'm starting to think John the Boss is really sick this time."
"It should only be cancer of the throat." Pitts grinned at his boss. He knew Devlin shared the sentiment.
Giovanni 'John the Boss" Rossi had plagued police for more than thirty years, the last twenty as head of a Mafia family whose criminal enterprises stretched from New York, to Miami, to Las Vegas. It was a fact disputed by his doctors, and one very suspect Catholic priest, all of whom swore that Rossi had developed Alzheimer's disease more than a decade ago and was little more than a sick old man, barely capable of finding the bathroom in his Ocean Parkway home. In short, Rossi was an enigma who had kept police at bay by feigning mental enfeeblement, as he regularly went about the city, conducting mob business, dressed in pajamas, bathrobe, and slippers, his retinue of accompanying thugs acting more like keepers than the bodyguards they were. Police attempts to question him were often met with blank, drooling stares. The media, of course, loved the act, and had even dubbed him "the Bathrobe Don."
Devlin had gone after Rossi on his last high-profile case, the death of socialite Natasha Winter. But the don had again proved too elusive. He had entered a private sanitarium, and had managed to wiggle free of the various crimes surrounding that death, including a near-successful attempt on Devlin's life.
Now Rossi seemed to be at the center of the storm. Five of his underlings had been gunned down in the past two months, all supposed victims of a gang war between Rossi and the rival Columbo crime family. The media had beaten those war...
Red Angel. Copyright © by William Heffernan. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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New York Police Detective Paul Devlin is back and in the midst of a Mafia showdown when he shifts gears and heads to Cuba with his girlfriend, Adrianna, after she learns that her aunt is dead and her body is missing. When they arrive in Cuba they are met by an overly attentive policeman named Martinez. He proceeds to tell them that Adrianna¿s (Devlin's girlfriend) aunt was a healer, staunch Castro ally and revolutionary war heroine that the Cuban people worshipped and nicknamed the 'Red Angel'. He also believes that her body may have been stolen by a mysterious religious sect known as the Abakua to use as part of their voodoo rituals. When the threesome set out to find the Red Angel¿s body, they confront the sinister head of the Cuban secret police, Colonel Cabrera, who says he wants to help, but is actually in cohoots with the Mafia henchmen that Devlin has been dealing with in New York. So much for the beginning...the plot only thickens from this point on. There are so many twists, turns, political innuendos, and black magic to absorb in this book that you're guaranteed to lose some sleep, if not from the action, then certainly from trying to keep up with who¿s who and what¿s what. Overall this was a very entertaining read. Although it does get bogged down with details in several spots, I made it to the end quite satisfied. I would rate this 3 and 1/2 stars. The characters lack some depth, the explanations were a bit too long in spots, but Heffernan is a very smart writer who handles a ton of information and a very eager audience quite deftly.