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A ruthless son. A master strategist. In the mafia, nothing stays secret forever…
Vlad wants to rule the mob. The former FBI agent thinks a few lessons from Artur, his father’s former partner, will put him on the path to kingpin status in the Russian mafia. But Artur has his own agenda, and it could lead Vlad down a path he never saw coming.
When Artur’s beautiful daughter is drugged, assaulted, and framed for the murder of a rival mobster, Vlad and his new employer must fight a high stakes war that threatens to destroy them all.
Kings of Brighton Beach is a Russian mafia family saga of thrillers. If you like addictive mafia drama, turbulently passionate mysteries, and compellingly complex characters, then you’ll love D.B. Shuster’s gritty, sexy take on the Russian mob.
Buy Kings of Brighton Beach today to get lost in the suspenseful family saga that fans are comparing to the Sopranos and Sons of Anarchy!
Keep reading for an extended excerpt.
“Shuster wastes no time embroiling readers in the ensemble-cast-driven drama and tension that make up the seedy underworld of Brighton Beach. The settings are clear, the characters vivid, and the action peppered with authentic Russian dialogue …. Kings of Brighton Beach is a well-written, exciting read full of jealousy, revenge, retribution, redemption and love.” Read the whole review from BlueInk Review.
The door slammed open and Detective Saul Hersh stalked in. “I don’t fucking believe it,” Vlad blurted as one of the few men who could blow all of his plans to hell strutted into the room.
“Believe it,” Saul said. He was short and on the slight side for a cop, but his threat wasn’t in his physical strength. The man was clever, sneaky. He used to have a reputation as a hardcore interrogator, the kind who always got his answers. Sharp was only the warm up. The real deal had just arrived.
Another test, Vlad thought, as dangerous as the others. Artur had eyes and ears on the police force.
Saul placed scarred hands on his narrow hips, and the circular marks drew Vlad’s eyes, just as they had the first time he had met Saul. Ivan’s abuse hadn’t left visible scars on Vlad, other than the cleft in his eyebrow from where his head had hit the corner of a coffee table. Saul had told him his own father used to burn cigarettes on his hands. “I had a choice,” Saul had said, “to be like him, or go another way. You have that choice too. What will you choose?”
“Never thought I’d see you here again. On that side of the table,” Saul said now. “Thought I’d scared some religion into you. Guess I was wrong ’cause here you are. Playing your father’s favorite role—gangster with guns.”
“Stuff it, Hershey. We both know you’re the one who tried to play my father’s role,” Vlad said. “You thought if you saved Nadia from Ivan she’d shower you with … gratitude.”
“Does your mother know you’re here? That you’re gunslinging for Koslovsky—just like your old man?”
“I don’t talk to Nadia. The worthless whore,” Vlad said. He made a spitting sound for extra effect.
Saul got up in his face, grabbed him by the collar. “Don’t talk about your mother that way.”
“You’re defending her?” Vlad couldn’t hold back a mirthless laugh. The poor fucking sap, sucker punched by love for a woman who would never love him back, who would never love anyone save Ivan, even her own son. Ivan had beaten Nadia so hard she couldn’t stand and then turned his rage on Vlad, who had been too small to defend himself or his mother, and still she had professed her love. Sickening.
“She’s practically signed your death warrant,” Vlad said with a shake of his head.
“You want to talk about death warrants?” Saul tightened his grip on Vlad’s collar as if to prevent any sympathy from leaking out of him. “Let’s talk about what you were doing armed to the teeth at Troika.”
“My job,” Vlad said.
“Get a new job,” Saul said.
“Did they send you in to play good cop or bad cop, Hershey?” Vlad taunted, and Saul winced at the jibe. “It’s amazing they kept you on the force after what you did.”
“We all make mistakes, son, and that was a long time ago,” Saul said.
“I’m not your son.”
“I’m willing to help you—for your mother’s sake. Is there something you want to tell us?”
“Why don’t you speed things up and write my statement for me?” Vlad said.
Ivan had been guilty of plenty of murders, just not the one for which Saul had arrested him. If anyone deserved a life sentence, Ivan did, but Nadia had turned on Saul the moment the truth of what he had done came to light, despite the fact that his actions may have saved her life and Vlad’s. She had taken the story to the papers and spent every moment since lobbying to get Ivan’s case appealed, to have him freed, even knowing that the first thing Ivan would do once he got out was kill Saul Hersh.
Saul cuffed him on the ear. “That’s the way you want to play it? Fine by me.” He pulled a metal chair back from the table and sat down. “Maybe your statement goes like this. You and Artur walked in on Inna doing the horizontal tango in the nightclub.”
Vlad interrupted. “Say you’re right. Why would I bring out the heat? Not like I give a damn who she screws.”
“But Artur does. Heard he doesn’t want his little princess dating a gangster.”
“So Artur kills Romeo to keep him away from Juliet? In his son’s nightclub. In the middle of prime time when he might get caught. When he would bring the cops breathing down his neck. Are you out of your fucking mind? Artur Koslovsky doesn’t even carry a gun.”
“But you do. Two of them,” Saul’s partner interjected. He tapped his pen against his notepad.
“Thanks, Einstein. And we’ve already established that neither of them fired tonight,” Vlad said.
“All right,” Saul agreed. “Let’s say you and Artur weren’t the shooters. Inna fired the gun.”
“Because Zviad was raping her,” Vlad said, again imposing his favored theory. Sharp raised his eyebrows at Saul, sending him some secret communication.
Saul cleared his throat. “Because of what he knew,” Saul said quietly.
The statement wasn’t a question, and it caught Vlad off guard. There was something else going on here, some part of the story Vlad didn’t know. He was missing something. He needed to focus. He sat up a little straighter, alert now to whatever clue Saul or Sharp might cast in his direction.
“You think he was blackmailing her?” Vlad asked. The detectives exchanged another glance. They didn’t like this theory any more than the one about the rape. Why didn’t they want to see Inna as a victim?
“While we’re playing this game of hypotheticals, tell me this,” Vlad said. “Inna’s in her little dress, hot and heavy with her Romeo. I didn’t see a purse or a holster on her. Where exactly did she hide the gun if she was planning all along to seduce and kill him? Even strapped to her thigh, the Glock would have been conspicuous.”
“Maybe the gun was his,” Saul said.
“Sure. Okay. So why don’t you think he might have held her at gunpoint? That there could have been a struggle, and she won?”
“We’re asking the questions,” Sharp said.
This time the defensiveness was unmistakable. Another shifty look from Sharp to Saul, and realization hit. The detectives couldn’t stomach the idea of Inna as a victim because they didn’t want Zviad to be guilty—of anything. It was as if they were protecting one of their own.
One of their own. Vlad’s mind started to race with the possibility. What if Zviad was an undercover cop? He would have been investigating the Georgians. What could he have found out about Inna? Was she involved with whatever was happening at Troika—the drugs and women Dato had mentioned?
People did stupid things, sure. Supposing Zviad had something on Inna, Vlad still didn’t buy that she would off him like that at the club where they were sure to be found. If silence were her game, she had nothing to gain from a messy murder that would lead to so many questions. And why at Troika?
A nasty suspicion took hold and stoked the rage inside Vlad even higher. The Georgians would surely benefit from killing the cop who was spying on them and framing someone else for the deed. Even better to have the murder at Troika, have the cops swarm the place, and shut down their supposed competition.
But why involve Inna?
Vlad silently kicked himself. He should have paid more attention to Inna these last few months. She worked closely with Artur. She pointedly avoided Vlad. Come to think of it, Artur actively kept Vlad away from her. He always sent Vlad on an errand when she was in the office. Vlad had assumed Artur had been giving him a signal, well within his rights, that his daughter—his much younger daughter—was off limits. Vlad had done his best to dampen his natural interest in her long legs and inky hair and the smoky quality of her voice that made his thoughts wander. Not for me. Not for me.
Now he wondered whether there was more to Artur’s separation of them. Perhaps Inna was central to Artur’s plots and schemes and Artur still didn’t trust Vlad enough for him to know. Or perhaps Artur wanted to keep her clear of the intrigue.
She might be innocent. Or she might be another spider at the center of an elaborate web. She wouldn’t escape Vlad’s notice now. He would learn all of her secrets. First, he needed to stop the Georgians from killing her.
“Dato and Goga were eager to blow her brains out,” Vlad said. “Said they wanted retribution. But maybe it was a smoke screen. Maybe one of their crew killed Zviad—because he had something on them. And now they want to make sure Inna stays silent about the murder.”
Saul shook his head with sad wonder. “You’re in the wrong profession. With a mind like yours, you should have been a detective.”
“Yeah? Would that help you sleep at night? You could say it was all worth it, all the lies, as long as Ivan’s son turned into one of the good guys?”
“It was worth it,” Saul said solemnly. “Whatever happens—to me, to you—it was worth it.” Saul’s intense gaze, the fatherly worry etched in the strained lines around his eyes, unsettled Vlad. He looked away.
Saul clutched Vlad’s forearm, squeezed, made him meet his eyes. “I would make the same choices all over again.”
Detective Sharp coughed, and Vlad was aware once more of the awkwardness of his predicament, the need for the utmost discretion. “You’re a piece of work, Hershey. You know that?” Vlad shrugged him off. “Let me tell you the real difference between us. We both tell lies when it suits us, but at least I don’t lie to myself. And just for the record, I tried my hand at law enforcement. It fucking sucked.”
Saul blew out a heavy breath and pushed back from the table. “You’re free to go.”