Hi lovelies! It gives me great pleasure today to host T.S. O’Neil and his new book, “Mexican Hat Trick”! For other stops on his Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above.
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Mexican Hat Trick
by T.S. O’Neil
GENRE: Contemporary, Action/Adventure
Mexican Hat Trick reunites Retired Sheriff’s Department Detective turned Private Investigator, Eidetic Eddie Doyle with Former Force Recon Marine, Michael Blackfox, in a rollicking tale of murder, counterfeiting and kidnapping south of the border. A rogue’s gallery of new villains, including a pathological ex-French Foreign Legionnaire, a bloodthirsty drug kingpin, and a conniving corporate attorney, conspire to corner the counterfeit apparel market. Mexican Hat Trick is Florida Glare—south of the border.
It was late afternoon; at least an hour after the last lunchtime dinner had swilled his final Tequila Anejo and well before the restaurant began serving dinner. The owner of the traditional French restaurant
was a good friend and fellow aficionado of Bolivian Marching powder and high class Russian fucking machines. He offered the location as a neutral meeting place after Chewy described his need.
A nearly new brown Ford Taurus—the kind you rented at the airport, entered the restaurant’s lot and parked next to Chewy’s Range Rover. A tall, dark-haired man exited, removed a leather case from the car and walked towards the entrance. Chewy retreated into the vestibule, backed into the lobby and nodded to the maître d’.
“Si, Senor, this way please,” said the Maître d'. The man led Chewy through the large ornately furnished dining room to a curtained off alcove at its rear. He parted the red velvet curtains with a practiced motion and pushed open the heavy wooden door. Behind it was a small darkly paneled room that looked more like a library than a dining area.
“Bring me a bottle of Don Julio Real and two glasses,” said Chewy. He figured a celebration might be in order. The owner of MM had agreed “in principle” to the deal, and Chewy felt that he would honor that commitment. If a celebration were not in order, he would just start his Friday evening a little early. Chewy took a seat at the far end of the round table with his back to the tapestry-covered wall. He carried a small snub nose revolver in an ankle holster but doubted he would need it. The gringo he was meeting was dressed more like a banker than a private detective.
The maître d’ opened the door, and the man entered. He smiled at Chewy, flashing a perfect set of bright white teeth and offered his hand. Chewy exhaled audibly and relaxed. He stood and took the man’s manicured palm in his meaty fist and forcefully shook it.
He handed Chewy a small ivory colored business card. “Eddie Doyle.”
“You got here quickly,” said Chewy.
“An important matter is deserving of the same level of attention.”
Chewy nodded thoughtfully. “Please sit down, I’ve ordered a bottle of excellent tequila—perhaps you will join me in a drink?”
The man smiled again. “There is always time for one.”
“Si, as we say down here, Uno, ninguno—which means one is nothing,” Chewy smiled as if proud for remembering to translate for the gringo.
The man nodded. “But first down to business.” He reached into a tan leather portfolio and removed a document and a small recorder. These are wiring instructions to your account. Please verify that they are correct. Once we complete your testimony, I’ll sign this document and fax it to the bank. You should have your money by close of business today.”
Chewy resisted the urge to smile—forcing himself to adopt the sober expression of a witness in a murder case. “I just want to do the right thing,” he said finally.
The man switched on the small recorder and placed in front of Chewy. “The microphone is very sensitive. Please tell me everything you know about who is counterfeiting Mountain Man apparel.”
Chewy sighed, unsure how to start. He hoped that the tequila would soon be delivered so they could have started with a toast that would perhaps lubricate his tongue. He licked his thick lips and smiled nervously.
The man sensed Chewy’s unease and poured him a glass of water from the pitcher on a sideboard and set it before him. Chewy shook his head in thanks and emptied the glass. The man refilled it, and Chewy took a short drink. He felt satiated and his initial nervousness dissipated.
Chewy spoke and did not stop until he had told all he knew about the international criminal enterprise involving the counterfeiting of MM apparel. And Chewy knew a lot—who was involved, where the goods were shipped, how they passed through customs undetected and most importantly, why no one at MM had discovered the operation.
“That’s about it,” said Chewy. “That is all I know.” He felt relieved his testimony was over but annoyed that the tequila had not arrived. As if on cue, the door opened, and a waiter entered caring carrying the ornate bottle, two blue tinted glasses and a small plate containing slices of lemon, lime and a tiny pile of salt. Chewy clasped his hands together. “Time to celebrate!”
The waiter filled the two glasses to the very top and retreated a few steps back from the table. Chewy reached for his glass and downed it. He grabbed the bottle, refilled it and drank another shot.
The man, Doyle, held his glass and stared at its content. “Salud,” he said, but his shot remained in the glass.
“What’s a matter, gringo, you don’t like tequila?” asked Chewy.
“Sorry, my friend, I’ve got a meeting with a very important man, and I can’t afford to have liquor on my breath.”
Chewy thought he detected something strange about the man’s accent but forgot about that as he suddenly felt nauseous. He thought he was going to be sick, and tried to get to his feet, but his legs felt like they had a mind of their own. He fell back into his chair as the room began to go in and out of focus. Chewy felt alternately dizzy and sleepy.
The man held the shot glass up to the chandelier, “you can’t see any of the particles—it dissolved completely.
The waiter laughed. “Fast acting as well. Fucking pendejo didn’t even have to be tricked. Puffer fish venom—very hard to get—I buy it from a dive master in Cozumel. He’s slipping into paralysis. The waiter reached out and slapped Chewy across the face. See, he’s numb, but fully aware. He’ll be unable to do anything except die. It should take about four hours or so.”
“I was hoping I wouldn’t have to drink it—they tell me the antidote is almost as bad,” said the man.
Chewy tried to speak, but his tongue felt numb. He mumbled something unintelligible. The men ignored him and continued talking.
“Just make sure you clean everything up,” said the man.
“No worries,” said the waiter. “I’ll dump the body in a tub of Muriatic Acid and most of him will dissolve in a few days. We do it all the time.”
The tall man shook his head, “The body needs to be found, and I’m not sure that they will determine he was poisoned—forensic science may not be the Federal Police’s strong suit.”
“I’ll choke him out after he’s unconscious,” said the waiter.
The gringo nodded in the affirmative. “I suppose that will do. Just make sure he has the business card on him and leave the body where it can be found.”
Chewy struggled to breathe. He almost surrendered to unconsciousness when the talk of his murder brought him back. He struggled to concentrate and summon himself to action. He had been poisoned—of that much he was certain. With what vigor he could muster, he reached down to his ankle and felt the reassuring handle of the revolver. He withdrew it and struggled to point it at one of the figures.
The waiter grabbed his wrist, forced it down to the table and easily removed the revolver from Chewy’s hand. “I’m keeping the pistol.”
“You can have the recorder as well. It just needs some batteries,” said the man.
Chewy struggled to maintain consciousness. He stared at the back of the waiter’s hand and recognized a small tattoo. The last thing Chewy Mendlevich would see on this earthly plain was a small black Z tattooed between the waiter’s thumb and forefinger.
What is Florida Glare and Why Should You Care?
About five years ago, I wrote a book about a casino heist on the high seas and found out some time later that I had inadvertently written my book, “Tampa Star, “in the literary category commonly referred to as “Florida Glare.” What the hell is Florida Glare you might ask? It’s a subgenre that can trace its ancestry back at least to John D. MacDonald’s hard-boiled “Salvage Consultant,” Travis McGee—living on his yacht, The Busted Flush, at a marina in Fort Lauderdale. Other notable Florida Glare authors are Charles Willeford, Elmore Leonard, (both deceased), and Carl Hiaasen—just to name a few adherents to the genre.
What makes Florida Glare a distinctly different subgenre? Well, for starters, as hinted at by its name, Florida is always the backdrop. David Barry describes the particular genre as “South Florida wackos—all heavily armed, all loquacious, all barely aware of one another’s existence—blunder through petty crime, discover themselves engaged in actual murder, and then move in unconscious unison toward the black comedy of a violent climax.”
My particular version has Western Florida as the backdrop, specifically the Tampa Bay area, with occasional detours to Mexico and the Caribbean, but Barry has got the rest of it dead to rights. The prose is heavily loaded with dark humor, usually based on the buffoonery of the various evil actors sometimes doing horrible things in furtherance of mostly greedy endeavors.
Another attribute that defines the genre is a plethora of uniquely bizarre characters, such as Puggy, the tree-dwelling, Frito-eating Hippie in “Big Trouble” or Hoke Mosley, the seemingly overmatched, plodding gumshoe who appears in several of Charles Willeford’s books or my hero, Char Blackfox, a Seminole Indian Former Green Beret, wounded by a dead guy in Vietnam.
When Florida Glare is transferred to film—we get such classics as Willeford’s “Miami Blues “and Hiaasen’s “Strip Tease”—both containing bone breaking mayhem and large doses of greed and sex. Lesser examples are films such as “Big Trouble”—which borders on outright comedy. Another indicator of the subgenre is that rather than intricately woven and planned intrigue, we get thugs blundering into situations that erupt into explosive mayhem. As in “Miami Blues,” when a Hare Krishna tries to cajole the wrong passerby out of spare change and gets killed for his trouble, or when thugs in “Big Trouble,” stumble on a nuclear bomb in the back of a bar frequented by a hippie who lives in a tree. Seemingly isolated acts of mayhem—as when Fred Frenger, the antagonist in “Miami Blues,” breaks the finger of a man in the Miami Airport, causing his untimely demise, but unknowingly setting in motion a series of events that will ultimately result in Frenger’s own undoing.
Cops, Ex-cops and Private Investigators normally traipse through the narrative, trying to make sense of the carnage and occasionally, acting in time to speed the demise of some of the villains as when Eidetic Eddie Doyle, one of my characters, ends the criminal career of Sally Boots, an exiled Mafia Capo, in “Tampa Star” or when Hoke Mosley finally catches up with Frenger in “Miami Blues.”
Why should you care? Because there are a lot of laughs to be had. Some of the dark humor is belly laugh-inducing, and that’s part of the lure of the genre—if not the underlying theme. Of course, some authors are funnier than others. Dave Barry writes a more comedic version of books within the genre, and I like to think I can get the reader to chuckle on occasion. Carl Hiaasen contribution to the genre includes the aforementioned “Strip Tease, “as well as “Lucky You,” “Tourist Season,” “Skinny Dip” and “Bad Monkey.” They are all solidly written sometimes amusing novels without a recurring cast of characters. In my opinion, you have to at least smile at the absurdity of Hiaasen’s character, Congressman David L Dilbeck, wearing Cowboy boots filled with petroleum jelly in “Strip Tease.” The bottom line is that Florida Glare represents a sometimes funny, but usually entertaining subgenre of books that offer most readers a welcome distraction from humdrum reality.
TS O’Neil graduated with Honors from Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts with a Degree in Criminal Justice and graduated with High honors from the University of Phoenix with a Master’s in Business Administration in Technology Management. He served as a Rifleman with the Marine Corps Reserve, an Officer in the Military Police Corps of the United States Army, and retired from the Army of the United States (AUS) as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2012. He is a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. TS is currently employed as a Senior Security Consultant, specializing in Information Security. He lives in Seminole, FL with his beautiful wife, Suzanne. He has written four books, Tampa Star, Starfish Prime, Mudd’s Luck and Mexican Hat Trick.
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