||Capital Crime Press
A father murdered. A daughter sexually assaulted, beaten, and left for dead. As a rule in the 1950s, a good girl didn't admit being raped--and she would never seek revenge for her father's murder. But Kristin didn't play by the rules.
Robert Fate Cyber Address
Excerpt from Baby Shark by Robert Fate
A month or so after starting with Sarge, I told Henry that I wanted to learn how to shoot, too. It was about numbers. I knew what it was like to be outnumbered. Pistols would be my backup if things started going south.
“Baby Girl have pistol. Point. Shoot.”
“No, Henry. I want to learn the right way to do it. Do you know someone?”
“Henry know man back from Korea. He like vulture.”
“What do you mean by that?”
“Albert smell blood like vulture. Kill people easy for Albert.”
That put a chill up my back.
“I want to meet him,” I said.
Less than a week later, Albert showed up.
It was the first day in quite a while it hadn’t rained; water stood in puddles, the sky was clear, the air was cool. Jim was still just a puppy, of course, but he was a German shepherd, so he told me someone was coming.
I dog-eared my book and got outside to watch a new Lincoln sedan leave the county road and drive the quarter mile to where I waited. Red mud had streaked the tires and fender skirts of the low-slung, shiny black car.
The young man driving was alone. As he parked, I saw that he was Mexican, or at least at the time I thought he was.
He rolled down his window and spoke to me. His accent told me Spanish was his first language. “That’s a big dog you got there.”
My puppy was sitting at my feet.
I said. “May I help you?”
“My name is Albert Sun Man Ramirez. Henry here?”
“He told me you were coming. He’s not back from town yet.”
“When I get out, will the dog attack me?”
“Not unless I tell him to.”
Albert opened the door and turned in the seat so he was facing out. Reaching back, he brought crutches up from where he kept them behind his seat. Putting them down in front of him, he pushed them into the gravel.
His movements weren’t fast just smooth and deliberate. He was up and moving toward me before I saw that he was missing half of his left leg.
He flicked the door shut behind him almost without my noticing since most of my attention was on his flying motion, his long, loosely cut dark brown leather coat, and the turquoise jewelry he wore everywhere.
Seeing the man’s swinging movements and the flapping coat unnerved Jim who moved behind my legs.
Albert ground his one, hand-tooled, snakeskin boot into the gravel in front of me, and came to an erect stop with his crutches clamped under his arms, angled back out of his way. He looked me in the eye. We were the same height. I could smell whisky on his breath.
“You like my car? It’s a V8. One hundred fifty-four horses under that hood, man. I could drive through the gates of hell with that car.”
I glanced over, but brought my eyes back to him.
“Here. Take my keys.”
I took his keys.
“I’ll take those back.”
I gave them back and wondered what that was about.
“So, what do you know about me?” he asked.
“Henry told me you’re a Korean War veteran and that you’re his friend.”
“Okay, yeah, that’s true, but what do you know about me now. Here. From meeting me just now?”
“I don’t know what you mean.”
“I’m missing a leg. Did you notice that?”
“I have cojones, did you notice that?”
I was a bug again, being examined.
“Okay, I get it. Your eyes are dark and don’t tell me anything. You have a nice smile, but it’s a tool you use. Your teeth are too white, too perfect. I think they’re Government Issue.”
“You’ve been drinking.”
“I like you already, Little Sister. You see things and you can talk. Tell me this, which of my hands gave you my keys?”
I had to think, but he had no patience for that and answered his own question.
“My left, and you took them with your right. What does that tell you?”
“You’re left-handed and I’m right-handed?”
“So, you know which hand goes for my pistol,” he said.
“Why would I think you have a pistol?”
“In Texas everybody’s got a pistol.”
“Even so, why would you go for it?”
“Why not? Who’s to say what’s going to happen? People kill people in pool halls for not very big reasons. Don’t you think?”
I was surprised at how indifferently he spoke of the deaths of my father and Henry’s son. I could feel a pressure begin at my temples.
“Watch this,” he said, and smooth as a jazz riff filled both his hands with guns.
He gave me a breath or two to grasp my situation. My heart was beating so hard I was certain that he could tell.
“Are you scared?”
“Because a man with pistols is a dangerous man?”
“Get over being scared, Little Sister. You’re going to be the one with pistols from now on.”
Albert Sun Man Ramirez was slender, almost delicate, with flawless light brown skin any woman would sell her soul for—gleaming ducktail haircut, narrow shoulders, very fast hands. Maybe twenty-two. High forehead, straight narrow nose, girl-pretty mouth.
Who would have thought by looking at him that he was an efficient and remorseless killer? The Marine Corps gave him medals.
“Marines like Albert. War okay for him, except lose leg,” Henry said.
Albert was angered by what happened to Henry and me, and the fierce loyalty that he felt toward his friends and the friends of his family was enough to bring him out to the homestead weekly for over six months.
He was the second of my teachers. He also taught Henry. He taught us everything there was to know about pistols.
“With pistols you have to see it before it starts,” Albert told me in that excitable way he had of saying and doing everything.
“Like chess, Little Sister. He does that, you do this. Look everywhere at everything. When you’re facing several men with weapons, always shoot first. Especially shoot first if they think you won’t. Shoot the ones who look fast, then the others, and count your shots. Drop empty pistols, grab loaded ones, and when you start, don’t stop until you’ve killed everything that moves. Don’t stop for anything. And always, always know where you’re going when it’s over, and go there. Be on your way out the door while the hot cartridges are still bouncing around.”
“I’m not going to go around killing people,” I explained to Albert.
“That’s what you say, Little Sister. That’s what you say.”
Reviewing The Evidence
by Robert Fate
There are very few books that I read these days that take my breath away. But Robert Fate's BABY SHARK is one of them. It's certainly the best book I've read this year, and possibly one of the best I've ever read. That may sound like overblown hype, but believe me, this is an amazing debut.
Kristin Van Dijk is a 17-year-old nomad -- on the road of life with her father, Marvin Van Dijk. He is an existential hero to his daughter, a philosopher, a grifter, a pool shark. He takes Kristin with him from pool hall to pool hall, covering Texas, making money bilking others.
One night in Henry Chin's pool hall, it all goes terribly wrong. A biker gang erupts in violence, killing Kristin's father and Henry's son. Kristin is horrifically raped and beaten, and the bikers leave both Henry and Kristin for dead, burning down the hall around them.
Kristin and Henry recover, both scarred for life in visible and invisible ways. Henry, a Chinese American, takes Kristin into his home, where they plan their revenge and heal. She re-emerges as Baby Shark, a talented pool hustler, trained in the ways of death.
This is a story of love and revenge, of acceptance and deceit. The setting of this story is Texas in the 50s, a time when young women who run into 'trouble' are outcast or shamed into silence. As Baby Shark so eloquently and painfully puts it, "Not so many years ago I would have been called Soiled Dove instead of Baby Shark." Instead, Baby Shark finds herself, buried in the rubble of her soul.
The desolate beauty of Texas is a character unto itself. The people who populate Fate's book are so finely drawn they leap off the page. Add to that Fate's command of spare, devastating language -- all combine to make BABY SHARK a must read. To say much more would ruin this amazing title.
Reviewed by J. T. Ellison, All The Pretty Girls
Baby Shark by Robert Fate
Set in the 1950’s, Baby Shark is the story of Kristin Van Dijk a young girl who travels from town to town in Texas with her pool hustling father. Living out of her father’s car she spends her time reading books and listening to Jazz. Life is good until one horrible night in a local pool hall when a motorcycle gang turns her life upside down. Kristin is assaulted and left for dead. Her father is murdered along with the son of the pool hall’s owner. Henry Chin, the owner, is also beaten and left for dead but he manages to pull himself and Kristin out of the pool hall before it burns to the ground.
In the 1950’s girls didn’t admit to being raped and they certainly didn’t seek revenge for wrongs committed against them and their family. The local police don’t seem interested in finding the perpetrators so Kristin sets out with Henry Chin to find the killers and make sure justice is done.
She learns how to defend herself while also learning to shoot pool even better than her father. With the help of a local private detective, Kristin and Henry set out to find the members of the motorcycle gang responsible and exact their revenge.
Robert Fate’s first novel, Baby Shark, is a dynamite read. It pulls you in from the very first page with non-stop action, violence, and characters that live and breathe. Straightforward writing tells the story of a tough heroine who refuses to take life lying down. She refuses to play by the rules and she refuses to let the criminals responsible go unpunished. Fate has written characters who are full of life, tough yet tender. Characters you will find yourself jumping up and cheering for in this dark, almost noiresque novel. The tightly written plot will have your pulse racing, your heart pounding, and leave you breathless until the very end.
—Andrea Maloney, reviewer, Spinetingler Magazine
Baby Shark by Robert Fate
The finest read I've enjoyed in many moons. A marvelously spare writing style, tremendous sense of character and a plot that is a compellingly original reworking of a script dating at least to Homer, Baby Shark has a screenplay feel, in the very best sense. The plot stays on message, the dialogue drives the plot, the characters LEAP off the page in Technicolor, and the result is even more than the sensational parts. Any man or woman who remembers what it was like to push the bounds of convention in the 50s and 60s will treasure this book. Yet Fate's contemporary style appeals to Gen-Xers as well!
Ross A. Hugovidal at Amazon.com
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