Series: Terry Luvello, PI, Book Two
Author: Joe Rielinger
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 06/13/2023
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Genre: Contemporary Suspense, contemporary, lit/genre fiction, transgender, private detective, mystery, crime, criminals, arson, explosives, computer nerds, law enforcement, financial terrorists, dark humor
Having just completed a challenging case, private detective Terry Luvello was hoping for some rest. Instead, a 3:00 a.m. visit from a thirteen-year-old neighbor is a prelude to what will soon become the most perplexing case of his career. The girl’s father, the director of the Cleveland Federal Reserve, has just been accused of murder. Even worse, the police are in possession of evidence that seems to confirm the father’s guilt.
Reluctant though intrigued, Terry is soon thrust into the world of deepfake videos—fabricated recordings so real they are virtually impossible to disprove. Shortly after Terry begins his investigation, similar videos implicate four other individuals with ties to high finance.
With the help of his partner and girlfriend, police detective Hannah Page, Terry soon realizes that disproving the videos is only half the battle. In a case filled with misdirection, Terry and Hannah must determine the true motive behind his client’s frame while matching wits with an unknown adversary willing to kill anyone who stands in his way. As they learn more about their enemy’s true intentions, Terry and Hannah race against time to prevent a crime on a scale far greater than they could have ever imagined.
A transgender male with a uniquely wry sense of humor, Terry seeks to solve his case while continuing with the clinical transition he began months earlier. As the investigation reaches a climax, he must decide just what he is willing to sacrifice to save the woman he loves.
Joe Rielinger © 2023
All Rights Reserved
The climax of every magic trick, the word abracadabra is derived from “avra kehdavra,” an ancient Aramaic phrase meaning “I will create as I speak.” As an origin theory, it makes more sense than most—the magician is attempting to create an effect as they wave their magic wand.
My first encounter with illusion occurred when I was nine years old as I followed my usual route home from Saint Jerome’s Grade School. The short, gray-haired man wearing an old-fashioned top hat appeared as if from nowhere, standing behind a small table in front of one of Mayfield Road’s many coffee shops.
Fascinated by the man’s rapid, precise movements, I watched along with three adults as one ball, then two, then three passed through the seemingly solid bottom of one of the three cups standing before him on the table. My adult companions clapped as the trick was completed. Two placed dollar bills in a glass jar already half full with cash.
The grown-ups in the crowd soon moved on, but I continued to watch. In part, I was fascinated by the man’s hands. More importantly, I wanted to know if I was right.
After readjusting his cups on the table, the old man became aware of the child still in his audience. Likely realizing I had no money, he continued his preparations, finally choosing to address me as he finished.
“I suppose, young one, you want to know how it’s done?”
I thought I already knew the answer, but I was afraid he wouldn’t tell me. Even at nine, I knew magicians never revealed their secrets.
“I’m guessing you had a fourth ball. I saw you move the bottom cup toward you, and I figured that’s when you stuck the ball in. After that, you kept doing the same thing over and over until three balls were on the bottom.”
The magician looked at me with an odd grimace as if he suspected I was some sort of double agent. His next words verified the accuracy of my guess.
“How come you didn’t tell any of the others? Most kids your age would have.”
“I figured they’d rather not know. Me telling would have just ruined it.”
He gave me that odd look again, but by then, another small crowd had moved in front of the table. The magician resumed ignoring me as he moved effortlessly into his next act.
He continued performing in front of his coffee shop perch for nearly a month, and I stopped every day to watch his exhibition. Some tricks I could figure out, others I couldn’t. For those tricks I couldn’t fathom, the magician enlightened me after the rest of his audience had moved away.
While I imagined an audience of my own, I never became as good as my teacher. Armed with his knowledge, I still couldn’t match the old man’s patter or the fluidity of his movements. Despite considerable practice, my misdirection skills remained second-rate.
My magical aspirations dashed, I discovered I could still make adult use of my illusionist training. Though private detectives rarely perform feats of misdirection, identifying them is essential to the trade. As Terry Luvello, private investigator, I managed to do so in cases that included cheating spouses, embezzlement, missing children, and, in one notable instance, a priest who spent his off-hours mentoring a serial killer.
But what if in doing your job, you found that one trick, that one con, where the right way to look is only a mirage? What if the misdirection was just another illusion, and the magician himself was never really there?
And as far as abracadabra is concerned, there is another, darker origin story that many now believe to be true. Instead of “avra kehdavra,” some scholars maintain the chant was spawned by “avada kedavra,” a very different Aramaic phrase popularized by Harry Potter and meaning “let the thing be destroyed.” Not being a linguist, I couldn’t say which claim was correct.
Though based on recent experience, I was betting on the latter.
Meet the Author
Joe Rielinger lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, Lisa, and their two fun-loving, though often borderline crazy golden retrievers. With a lifetime love of mystery, crime, and detective novels, Joe is currently working on a sequel to his first book, And God Laughed. When he isn’t writing, Joe likes to cook, read, and pretend he might someday learn something about training his two dogs.
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