What if you discovered that relatives had won a large multimillion dollar lottery but disappeared a short time afterward? What if you discovered they weren't the first?
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Curiously suspicious over the mysterious circumstances surrounding the accidental deaths of his paternal aunt and uncle, third-year UCLA law student, Dillon (Jaeger) Dorin, uncovers evidence suggesting possible conspiracy and murder. His aunt and uncle, who were also his godparents, were winners of a sizable lottery jackpot; however, by the time of their deaths, most of the funds had disappeared.
A series of explosions and violent murders have a seasoned U.S. marshal, and an inexperienced IRS agent tracking a money laundering suspect whose path crisscrosses that of Dillon’s research, drawing attention to Dillon, his family, and friends, and sending them all fleeing hired assassins.
All the while, a plot is being developed by a sinister international banking cartel to fix one of the nation’s largest multi-state lotto games.
Greed and power are the motives; but murder and mayhem chase our young protagonist from the beaches of Los Angeles to the back alleys of storm-tossed New Orleans. Along the way he discovers what true treasure is.
FOUR SQUARE BLOCKS around the explosion had been evacuated and cordoned off. An army of investigators were busy combing for clues. Twelve restaurant employees had been hospitalized, and the unfortunate patio waiter, killed. One other life was claimed in the blast: Margot Ketchum, a twenty-year veteran of the service, and wife of a retired Houston police officer. They had just moved to Phoenix.
Armin introduced himself to the FBI agent in charge, a tall, lean man with a Stetson hat, and an equally hard, bone-lean demeanor of a frontier lawman and a name to match: Marshall Burrows. He had been informed of Armin’s coming, and was instructed to grant him full immediate access to computers retrieved from the fourth floor data vault.
There was just one hitch.
A typical vault housing IRS data hard drives was routinely constructed of two-foot walls of steel and concrete on six sides and supplied with its own sprinkler system. This being a new regional office in a new building, long overdue and behind schedule, procedures were somewhat lax in its preparation. Although the room had been built and the sprinklers functional, the hard drives themselves had yet to be relocated from their temporary room in the basement garage. Unprotected and vulnerable to fire, there wasn’t much of anything left to retrieve after a blast of that magnitude. And that’s where they found Margot Ketchum.
Armin stared at the large hole that was once the restaurant’s patio. The epicenter of the explosion was directly above the garage storage room in question. If the true purpose of the blast was to destroy IRS records, then a better location could not have been chosen, short of the room itself. That being the scenario, he quickly surmised that the bomber—or bombers—knew exactly what they were doing, and more important, knew confidential information not available to the public.
Armin had to find a place where he could talk privately on his cell phone.
“I told you that you wouldn’t find anything.”
Armin turned sharply to find U.S. Marshal Kremp crouched at the street curb near the base of a large royal palm bent over from the blast. He had a pair of needle-nose pliers and was extracting bits of debris from its trunk.
“C-4, at least five pounds,” Kremp said, studying his specimen.
Armin stepped from the curb for a closer look. “You can determine that from a piece of concrete?”
Kremp sighed as if attempting to tolerate Armin’s ignorance. “From the depth it penetrated this palm, yes.”
“I thought that stuff was hard to get.”
“It is—for a civilian.”
“What do you mean?”
“The military has boatloads of it.”
Armin found that incredulous and shook his head, grinning. “Oh, sure…the military blew up a government building.”
“I only said that the military has ample supplies of C-4.” He gestured down the street where the three officers that had flown in with them were huddled together. “But still…it makes you wonder why so much brass is here, doesn’t it?”
Armin’s smirk slowly disappeared.
“And I wasn’t suggesting our military exclusively,” Kremp said, dropping the tiny chunk of concrete into a plastic zipper bag while rising to his feet.
“What? Do you know what you’re saying? That would mean a declaration of war!”
Kremp smiled. “You better go back to your desk.” He pocketed his pliers and the plastic bag and clapped his hands together in a manner that not only demonstrated ridding them of any dirt, but himself of their conversation. “Have a nice day—and watch where you step,” he warned as he walked away.
Armin looked at his feet, sidestepped a small pool of green fluid, and then watched Kremp cross the street. He noticed that the three military officers were also giving him their full attention. He pulled his cell phone from his coat pocket and pressed the programmed speed dial button.
“This is Cassarian.”