Title: Desert Kill Switch
Author: Mark S. Bacon
Publisher: Black Opal Books
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About the Book:
Set against the backdrop of Nostalgia City, an Arizona retro theme park that recreates, in meticulous detail, an entire small town from the 1970s, Desert Kill Switch features stressed-out ex-cop Lyle Deming.
Deming, a cab driver for Nostalgia City, finds himself in strange circumstances when he discovers a bullet-riddled body next to a mint-condition ’70s vintage Pontiac Firebird on an empty desert road. Stranger still, when Lyle returns to the scene with sheriff’s deputies, the car is gone—and so is the body. Could this somehow be tied to Nostalgia City?
Nostalgia City VP Kate Sorensen, a former college basketball star, is in Nevada on park business when she gets mixed up with Al Busick, a sleazy Vegas auto dealer who puts hidden “kill switches” in cars he sells. Miss your payment by a few days—and your car dies. But when Busick is murdered and Kate becomes the prime suspect, Lyle arrives to help his tall, blonde, not-quite-girlfriend. As they plow through a twisted tangle of suspects and motives, Lyle and Kate soon realize that the best way to clear Kate’s name is to find out who killed Busick.
Turns out there were a number of people who might’ve wanted Busick dead. But when a video implicating Kate appears, along with a ransom demand, things take a deadly serious turn. Blackmail, murder, and a lengthy list of potential killers: hardly a wholesome or inviting image for Nostalgia City.
As the tension ratchets up, Kate and Lyle find themselves in increasing danger. Against a ticking clock and scorching desert heat, Lyle and Kate launch a pulse-quickening quest to clear Kate’s name, find the dead body, and figure out how a million-dollar antique Italian sports car fits in this deadly game. But time is running out—and it’s all fun and games…till someone loses his life.
About the Author: Mark Bacon began his career as a newspaper reporter in Southern California covering crime and city beats. As a writer, his work has appeared on television and in radio, magazines, newspapers, websites and fiction and nonfiction books. He and his wife, Anne, live in Reno with their golden retriever, Willow. Bacon is also the author of Death in Nostalgia City.
Desert Kill Switch
By Mark S. Bacon
Lyle didn’t know if Sergei had a gun or not. If he didn’t, maybe Lyle had a chance. But the Chechen stood a half head taller and looked like he had seventy-five pounds on Lyle. He walked slowly over to Sergei. Shit he’s big. But maybe.
Before Lyle came within ten feet of Sergei, the Chechen reached behind him and pulled out a large-caliber semi-auto. Lyle continued his stroll in a large circle, heading back toward the Mustang.
“Okay if I get out of the sun?”
Sergei motioned with the barrel of the gun. The car door was already open. Lyle sat in the driver’s seat and watched through the windshield as Sergei wandered along the road. He turned his back to Lyle, looking off the pavement to the dirt trail.
Lyle reached down, under the dashboard, and felt around for the wires he’d been working on. He twisted two bare wires together then slowly put his hand on the ignition, the key still in place. He turned it hard. As the engine burst into life, Lyle threw the car into gear, crushed the gas pedal, and the car’s nine-inch-wide tires grabbed the pavement. The Mustang sprang forward, the driver’s door slamming shut. Sergei spun around and saw the car racing toward him. He started to bring up the pistol but seemed to realize the car would smash him whether he fired or not. He leaped toward the side of the road, like a base runner diving face-first into home plate. The Mustang’s bumper caught the bottom of his legs and spun him halfway around before he hit the sand.
Lyle jammed on the brakes and jumped out. Sergei lay on the sand, groaning and clutching his left ankle. Lyle seized the gun and ejected the magazine and the round in the chamber. He threw all of them as far as he could into the brush. Sergei couldn’t stand so Lyle patted him down on the ground. He found Sergei’s cell phone, dropped it on the pavement, and stomped on it before throwing it into the desert.
Dashing back to the Mustang, Lyle saw one of their suitcases and a string of clothes along the pavement behind the car. The trunk lid had remained open after the Chechen’s search. He grabbed the clothes and stuffed them into the suitcase. Before tossing the case in the trunk, he opened a hidden compartment near one of the taillights and pulled out two handguns.
Like a thoroughbred, the Mustang was eager to run, its twin exhausts grumbling. Lyle gave it gas and the high-powered American fishtailed when it hit the dirt road, then righted itself and dug in. Lyle knew his dust tail would advertise his arrival, so speed was essential. But the Ford Mustang was not made for dirt roads. Four hundred horsepower is only as good as the traction. Lyle turned the wheel left and right to avoid ruts and keep the rear wheels on the ground. When he heard gun shots, he thought he was too late.
* * *
Kate touched the boulder to steady herself and almost pulled her hand away when she felt its heat. Nina tucked her small body into the ravine and kept her head below the level of their temporary fortress. Kate could see Alex and Viktor walking slowly toward them, holding their guns, ready to fire again. She ducked as low as she could.
“We come out there and kill you, woman,” Alex said as he advanced. “Then we just throw your body in desert.”
When Kate raised her head again she sighted down the barrel of a .38—the gun she’d taken from Viktor’s shop coat the day before. She fired.
One of her shots just grazed Viktor’s shoulder, the other thudded into the side of the SUV, but she got the reaction she wanted. Both men looked on in terror. Alex returned one shot that missed by six feet and the Chechens scampered over the rocks and back to safety behind their Suburban.
“Where’d you get the gun?” Nina asked, holding her ears.
“Took it from them yesterday,” Kate said. “Stay down.”
Kate knew she had only three shots left. If they just traded shots, she’d be defenseless soon. A ridge off to their right could give one of the Chechens cover to circle around behind her and Nina. Just a matter of time. Maybe if she fired at the Suburban they might decide it was too much trouble, too dangerous, and drive away. Dream on, lady
Blam, the shooting started again. Kate ducked until she realized the Chechens weren’t firing. She looked to her left and saw Lyle’s Mustang kicking up dust as it tore down the road spitting bullets. Staying behind the Suburban protected the Chechens from Kate’s shots, but exposed them to Lyle’s fire. Kate stuck her head up and fired twice. Lyle, too far away to be accurate, drove with one hand and fired with the other. But it was too much for the Chechens. Alex and Viktor got in the car and pulled out so fast they looked like actors in a Keystone Cops film. Kate stood up and waved at Lyle as he came to a stop where the Suburban had been. She still held the .38 when Lyle walked up.
“You okay?” Lyle said, stepping around the sagebrush.
“Yes,” Kate said expelling a big breath. “We’re glad to see you.” She gave Lyle a bear hug and held her head close to his for a moment.
“They were like, going to leave us in the desert,” Nina said coming out from behind the boulders. “Alex and Viktor, you should have killed them.” Nina’s face glowed red from anger, fear, or the sun. Maybe all three. They walked to Lyle’s car, Nina holding her blouse closed with one hand.
Lyle pointed to the revolver in Kate’s hand. “I assume that’s the gun you took from Stark’s guys yesterday.”
“Yeah, that idiot Alex didn’t even search my purse. Women don’t carry guns, do they?”