Introducing St. Louis' Most Wanted Private Investigator
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Mike Shannon, the St. Louis’ private investigator who had made a career out of solving the cases the police couldn't-or-wouldn't take, has killed more men then he cares to remember and it's beginning to take its toll on him.
Tracking down a runaway should have been an easy case, that is, until Shannon finds cocaine stolen from the police department's evidence room, hidden in the girl's bedroom. Things get complicated when Shannon discovers his ex-partner, Detective Steve Holland, is linked to the runaway and missing drugs. Before Shannon can confront his friend, Holland is gunned, execution style, his body dumped on the steps of City Hall.
His investigation of the runaway and Holland's brutal murder plunges him into a world of police corruption and a major international drug traficking scheme, where he comes face to face with his ex-wife's new lover, a shadow government and "the Sandman", a rogue CIA hitman, who has resurfaced from Shannon's past.
In all the confusion, Shannon is sure of one thing, he's not done killing yet.
They wanted him dead.
He heaved a deep sigh. It was almost dawn, and the muted darkness was eerily quiet. Mike Shannon, the private investigator who had made a career of taking cases the St. Louis Police Department couldn’t-or-wouldn’t take, stood alone on the balcony of his loft apartment overlooking the river, wearing only his white cotton boxers. His cover had been blown. He held a cold can of Dr. Pepper in his left hand and a Springfield Armory XD .45 in his right, half expecting to take a sniper’s bullet in the chest.
He carefully scanned the neighborhood below. Last night’s horde of tourists and locals had deserted Laclede’s Landing. A couple of cars and delivery trucks dashed across the Martin Luther King Bridge into the city, ahead of the rush hour traffic. The small grey squirrel he fed in winter was making its early morning rounds, jumping through the trees that lined the narrow cobblestone streets.
The slight odor of stale beer from Big Daddy’s bar, and garlic from the Spaghetti Factory, permeated the heavy, humid air. In the background, the tireless movement of the Mississippi River passed under the massive cantilever truss bridge. It was quiet, except for the serene hum of three ceiling fans and the ticking of an antique wall clock coming from inside his apartment.
Shannon was a highly decorated Marine Corps veteran and a member of an off-the-books paramilitary unit with tenuous ties to the Central Intelligence Agency. After two tours with the Marines, he had served eleven years with the St. Louis Police Department as a tough and uncompromising street-wise cop. Newspaper headlines often recorded his exploits and he became one of the most decorated police officers in the city’s history.
He glanced at his watch. Forty-eight hours ago he had led his black ops team, Sabre 6, and successfully rescued the daughter of a U.S. ambassador from the hands of what was left of the Escobar drug cartel in Columbia, South America. In the name of God and Country, he had fought in unconstitutional wars, carried out clandestine commando missions, participated in the never-ending, futile war on drugs, and the misguided war on terror. He had killed more men then he cared to remember. Their ghosts haunted him. His unwanted memories fueled his relentless pursuit for redemption.
He had often tested fate and usually took danger in stride without apparent concern for his own well-being, but he harbored no illusions of his own invincibility, but Mike Shannon harbored no illusions of his own invincibility. He had just walked away, virtually unscathed, from another deadly gunfight, and it was beginning to weigh on his mind that his time could be running out. He was conscious of his own brutality. He wondered how long could he could fight monsters before he became one? Each time he took someone’s life, he felt a piece of himself die.
He could hear the rumble of the distant thunder and a sense of dread washed over him. He knew they were coming for him. He was living on borrowed time, but he’d be ready for them. He was experienced at war and experienced at killing; it’s what he did, it’s who he was.
Pacific Book Review
In the world of hard-boiled detective fiction, the story is generally not so much about solving a mystery as it is setting things up for the hero to take on the bad guys and win, usually with bullets flying and plenty of bloodletting. Unfortunately, too many writers have turned this into a template for a lot of bad stories filled with clichés, caricatures, and stereotypes, not to mention a lack of any shred of originality.
The Gateway to Hell is certainly a part of this genre. Thankfully, it manages to avoid many of the pitfalls of this type of fiction, and turns out to be an entertaining read. That’s not to say it doesn’t have its share of clichés, caricatures, and stereotypes. In fact, the private investigator at the heart of the story is introduced to us being very much an over-the-top, cliché of a detective.
Mike Shannon is a St. Louis’ private investigator who has made a career out of solving the cases the police couldn’t or wouldn’t take. He’s killed more men then he cares to remember. He’s fiftyish and his work is starting to wear him down.
Shannon is also a former Marine sniper, former St. Louis police detective whose exploits often landed him in the newspaper, and the leader of a covert CIA op team known as Sabre 6, who we learn has just rescued an ambassador’s daughter in South America from the Escobar crime cartel.
Shannon is one very tough, hard-to-kill, private dick, uncorruptable and a boy scout at heart.
And if, by the bottom of page two of the book you aren’t convinced of this, well, you just haven’t been paying attention. Admittedly, the opening chapters don’t really get the ball rolling. But the fact is, author Ray Mileur is just using those early chapters to set us up for a great ride, as Shannon ends up having an assortment of bad guys-- the mafia, the Escobar cartel, corrupt cops—all out to kill him.
His rescue of the ambassador’s daughter has led to a $1,000,000 bounty on his head, and resulted in the New York mob, at the prompting of the Escobar family, sending hit men to St. Louis to do him in. On top of that, the “Sandman,” a former marine sniper—trained by Shannon and now a freelance hit man— is also in St. Louis to perform a hit. And while Shannon isn’t his target, the Sandman clearly wouldn’t mind having a shot of Shannon.
And when Shannon pays a visit to the local mob boss, Salvatore Salerno—a Don Corleone-type who wants nothing to do with drugs, the FBI turns up. Their agents initially arrest Shannon in a ruse to get information out of him to help in their investigations into a cocaine trail that leads to St. Louis.
In the middle of all this, Shannon is hired by a minister and his wife to find their missing 17 year old, runaway daughter, who may be linked to one of Shannon’s police buddies, Steve Holland. When Holland turns up dead, and appears to have been a dirty cop involved in the drug trade, the action amps up, as things get increasingly personal for Shannon.
What ends up setting Shannon apart from so many other similar characters, is that it turns out he’s not superman-- he manages to nearly get killed while trying to catch the runaway. Shannon gets hurt, physically and emotionally, and he makes mistakes, e.g., had he returned a phone call he might have been able to save Holland. He’s also got an ex-wife who manages to complicate things even more for him.
Wendy Davis - 5 Stars
Mike Shannon has done it all. He was a Marine, a CIA agent and a St. Lois Police officer. After all this he has decided to go into business for himself as a Private Investigator. He is just coming off a case in South America where he saved the Colombian Ambassadors daughter from a drug cartel. When he gets back he finds out someone has leaked his name to the press and his face is all over the news. Then he finds out the drug cartel has put a million dollar hit on his head.
He decides to take on the case of a missing teen and things start to get crazy . His ex partner is found dead and it's made to looks like he was dirty cop. So now Mike has to try to stay alive long enough to find the missing girl, prove his partner was a good man and find out who set him up.
I really loved this book! The main character is great and would love to see more books with him in them. It's full of action, mystery, suspense and everything else that makes a book good. I would definitely recommend this!
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