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TAKEDOWN

(Ruhl of Law Series: The Ben Joel Story Book #2)

Benjamin Joel was a fatherless eleven-year-old boy when he found his mother dead of a heroin overdose in a run-down Kansas trailer home.

Doing his best to shutter away her memory and his own violent past, Ben is now an attorney trying to make a life for himself and his family. While investigating a case for a client accused of murdering an ex-cop, a strung-out flesh peddler named Ricky Butler tells Ben he’s the spitting image of a guy Ben has never heard of named Paco Correa. Ben shrugs off the comment as the ramblings of a burnout until Butler references the death of Ben’s mother twenty-eight years earlier in shockingly familiar terms, claiming she and Correa were murdered by dirty cops. Ben’s search for the truth about the death of his mother and a father he never knew drags him back into the dark recesses of his past and puts him in the crosshairs of a ruthless sex trafficking ring.

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"A shrewd and energetic mystery series installment." - Kirkus Reviews

Popular Highlights

I told [Russ] about Annie’s allegation of rape and how that tied in with her possession charge. As I did, his eyes grew distant. Looked like he took it personal.

“You believe her about the rape?” he asked.

“Yes.”

He tilted his head. “A one-word answer from a lawyer?”

I shrugged.

“Yet, you think she lied about the photos. Explain that.”

“She was straightforward with me about when she was lying.”

“I believe it’d take three years of law school to learn some stupid shit like that. Is that lawyer logic?”

Butler glanced at Russ, then his eyes settled on me. His pupils were pinholes. He was on something. Probably opioids. I knew the look. He squinted, sort of tilted his head, gave me a confused look, then smiled a little. “Paco? I thought you was dead.”

Russ looked at me. I shook my head. “No idea.”

“You got shot,” Butler said. “They carried you off into the woods.”

Weird.

“I’m not Paco,” I said.

“Sure, you are.” He blinked several times. Licked beads of sweat off his upper lip. “I mean, you, you, gotta be. ’Cept, ’cept I saw you dead. Curtis shot you.”

“Curtis?”

“Dean Curtis.”

Russ and I exchanged a look. Dean Curtis? Curtis was a local billionaire socialite the media dubbed the Darth Vader of Dark Money two election cycles ago. Investigative reporters had pegged him as the likely source of tens of millions of dollars of so-called dark money funneled through nonprofits that anonymously funded everything from mayoral candidates in New York to campaigns for the presidency. Which meant Butler was somewhere off in dreamland.

Russ made a face. “You on the pipe now, Rick?”

I crouched in front of him. “I’m not this Paco guy,” I said again. “Whoever he is.”

Butler’s gaze sharpened somewhat and he searched my face. “You . . . then you’re like his son. Or something.”

I laughed, holstered Russ’s gun, and stepped down into the yard, still holding Rick’s crappy little pistol.

It was raining when Annie Black walked under cover of darkness down the street from the Ambassador and met her Uber driver in a McDonald’s parking lot. He took her south on Broadway over the John Macke Bridge past liquor stores and pawn shops, used-car lots, check-cashing joints and motels that rented rooms by the hour. She gazed through drizzle that was reflecting light from streetlamps along the strip, thinking about Russell Osborne and her last good kiss, back when she was sixteen, and how they had almost kissed again tonight. She’d felt her lips part when he leaned into her and caressed her cheek and said goodbye on his way out of her room, giving him a tender invite and a wordless yes, but one of them faltered. Maybe it had been mutual. She didn’t know. The moment was intense, her memory of it already shrouded in fog. She knew Russ had a job to do and she had secrets she would just as soon die with. Maybe he did too. Maybe that’s what stopped him—if he was the one that put on the brakes. Maybe he couldn’t get too close because he had things he didn’t want to tell her about himself. She hoped that was it. She wanted him vulnerable so she could accept him as he was and show him that none of it mattered. It would make it easier to tell him about her life, then there would be no secrets between them and they could finally see the truth of how the world conspired to keep them from a life together that should have been theirs.

Praise For The Book

★★★★★
“To put it quite simply this book is faultless, characters, plot, setting, delivery, the whole shebang! I was gripped from the first page. It is intense, moves swiftly with a myriad of supporting characters who all have their part to play in an intrinsic cat’s cradle of deception, murder and blackmail that spans decades… Relating with each of the characters, I cried, got angry, frustrated, happy, in other words became immersed in the story – what more could you ask for. Superb.”

– ARC Review

★★★★★
“[Ruhl] loads his pages with sharp, rapid-fire dialogue . . . This tale delivers unexpected shocks, as well, even before the final act and gratifying denouement. A shrewd and energetic mystery series installment.”

– Kirkus Reviews

★★★★
“Meting out intrigue and suspense at a gripping pace, the book develops its cast with deep backstories that ensure the audience’s emotional involvement . . . it has cinematic moments and is thematically absorbing.”

Foreword Reviews

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