Saturday Sampler: Reservations by Richard Paolinelli


In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Saturday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Reservations, a mystery/thriller by Richard Paolinelli.

As one reviewer said: Not knowing the complexities of crime solving on Indian Reservations made this a most compelling read. Not only do you have a serial killer on the loose, taking out the tribal leaders, but it is taking place within their territory. How would the US government handle it?

The Story

Reservations, a mystery/thriller, is set near Gallup, New Mexico where the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni reservations are adjacent. Three tribal leaders have been murdered —murdered in a fashion that suggests the deeds were carried out by the COYOTE, a legendary evil trickster feared by many Native Americans.

The tribal president contacts his old friend in the FBI for assistance in solving the crimes and preventing more murders. The FBI selects its star agent, Jack Del Rio, and dispatches him to New Mexico. Del Rio finds a situation tangled in political intrigue, and must work through those issues on his way to solving the mystery.

Assisting him in his quest is Officer Lucy Chee. A romantic interest develops between the two. Del Rio identifies the murderer, but not without further bloodshed and loss.

The Sampler

Richard Paolinelli
Richard Paolinelli

Jack Del Rio felt the projectile whip past his head and heard it angrily impact the wall behind him.

That was entirely too damn close, Del Rio thought to himself as he crouched his tall, lean frame a little further down, no longer feeling as safely concealed in the place he’d chosen as shelter. His gun was drawn; he was ready to return fire, but while his quarry could fire away indiscriminately, Del Rio’s hand was stayed by the hostage. A pretty young blonde who’d gone to work at the bank that morning like any other day, never expecting to find herself right in the middle of a gun battle before lunch, was being used as a human shield by the gunman.

As an FBI Agent, Del Rio’s first duty was the young woman’s safety, but her captor had a lengthy record of killing his hostages once he no longer had need of their protection. As much as he couldn’t risk the woman’s life in a straightforward confrontation, he also didn’t dare let this killer get away to put someone else in jeopardy.

“Come on out here Lawdog,” the bank robber called out in a mocking drawl, “or I’ll splatter this pretty little lady’s head all over this street.”

Del Rio rolled his eyes at the “Lawdog” jibe. The man’s affectation for all things Old West extended beyond the cowboy attire he wore at all times. He even talked like the stereotypical cowboy.

Despite the tense situation, Del Rio found himself admiring the young woman’s courage. She hadn’t made as much as a sound throughout her terrifying ordeal. Clearly, she knew there was little she could do with a gun pointed at her head, and was expecting the federal agent to rescue her. There was only one way he was going to be able to do that. If he pulled it off, he’d be a hero. If he didn’t, she would be dead, and he’d be in a hell of a lot of trouble. The one thing he had going for both of them was that he’d successfully done this kind of thing before.

His eyes narrowed in thought as he quickly reviewed what his next move would be. It was in this type of situation the intensity that seemingly radiated from Del Rio’s face, even in a relaxed environment, intensified. He’d inherited his mother’s fair complexion and good looks to go along with his father’s athletic build, jet black hair and dark blue eyes. Those eyes had often been described as being as dark as the blue of the upper atmosphere just before the black of space and, when angry, they were just as cold. They were very cold right now.

“Tell you what,” Del Rio called out. “If I stand up and step out there, you let the girl go and we’ll talk about what happens next.”

As soon as he finished talking, Del Rio quickly made his way down the length of the delivery truck he’d taken refuge behind. He moved as quietly as he could; hoping his change of position had gone unnoticed. His hope was answered as his quarry laughed aloud and fired another round where Del Rio had last been seen.

Reaching the front of the vehicle, Del Rio popped up and found himself perfectly positioned. The hostage was still pinned against her captor; her left arm extended away from her torso just enough to present Del Rio with the target he needed.

Without a second’s hesitation, and before his appearance had been noticed by either hostage or captor, Del Rio squeezed the trigger and saw both bodies silently tumble to the street in a frighteningly large spray of red.



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