SIDE SLIP -- A Sam Deland crime novel. Book III
Reviewed by G. Lloyd Helm
Side Slip is not an easy read, but well worth it. There is nothing predictable about this book, but it does have a sort of familiarity. It has everything a crime novel reader could want. There are decent plot lines, but it is character driven all the way, which is why it is sometimes hard to read. Fuller has made the characters so real that the reader sympathizes with them, even the bad guys. And he gives you a wide range of characters to choose from, Pennsylvania State Troopers, Male and Female, Florida Sheriffs, Male and Female, Farmers that used to be Navy SEALS, Dope seller/ murderers, crooked cop/burglars, and dogs.
The search for a hidden key did not go well. All the usual spots came up empty. Dickie went down the steps to the garage but still no luck and then back up to where Ray stood next to the front door and sighed, "Well, ain't no key. Let's get it over with."
The pry bar didn't get it done. Ray had to whack the deadbolt a couple of hard hits with the sledge before the door flew inward. Dickie started in and stopped short. He smelled cinnamon. Ray almost ran into his back. Probably one a them plug in thingys.
Dickie held up his hand and then swiveled his head back and forth, trying to adjust to the slightly brighter light inside. Dickie heard nothing except the clicking of a wall clock somewhere. He shrugged and crossed to the kitchen door at the other side of the living room. Ray split to the right and did a quick walk through of the downstairs.
They met at the foot of the stairs and Ray pointed to a metal cabinet next to the cold fireplace, "I'll start on that, give me the bar, eh?" It wasn't a real gun safe, just a thin metal locker meant to keep kids away from the guns.
Dickie handed the pry bar to Ray and started up the stairs, shining the flashlight as he moved out of the light cast by the lamp. The cash and handguns were usually in the bedrooms. There seemed to be three upstairs and a bathroom. Dickie had to piss by now and stopped to go. He started and almost pissed on his hand when he realized there was a candle in a glass jar burning on the tub rim. That appeared to be the source of the cinnamon odor and was certainly the source of big trouble.
Ray was pounding loudly on the metal cabinet downstairs, and Dickie almost shit his pants as the figure of a small woman in a bathrobe passed by in the hall just outside of the bathroom. Dickie didn't even zip up his jeans and stuck his head out of the bathroom and looked down the hall. The small woman was there leaning out to try to get a look at what was making all the noise downstairs. Dickie's blood turned to ice when she turned toward him, and he saw the black automatic in her left hand.
She hadn't seen him yet. She just stood there but then turned to go back toward the bedroom. He knew there was probably a phone there, and he couldn't let her get to it. He tried to melt into the small space between the sink and the door, and as she moved past, he stepped in behind her and grabbed at the gun.
He missed. All that police training didn't help. She yelped and turned the pistol toward him. It was not quite full dark in the hall and Dickie could see it happening and knew what was coming. Without hesitating, he swung the heavy flashlight and struck her across her left cheek. The blow emitted a sickening crunch as bone gave way to the heavy metal light. She staggered but did not go down. The gun was waving in the short space of air between them and Dickie expected it to spit flame and his death at any moment. He stepped into her and brought the flashlight down with all his strength on top of her head.
She followed the motion of the blow and crumpled onto the hallway floor. Dickie was breathing in gasps by now, but he could still hear Ray pounding metal on metal. He tried to hit the button on the flashlight to see if the woman was still conscious but his finger slipped across. The wetness puzzled him for a moment but he got the light to come on and as he played the beam down on the figure at his feet, he was surprised to see blood dripping off the end and falling through the shaft of light onto the pink bathrobe of the very dead woman beneath him.
RELATED TITLES BY MIKE FULLER:
He’s worried about being due in Federal Court tomorrow and trying to enjoy his day off when it turns ugly once again. Corporal Sam Deland is drawn into another mystery double murder in his usually quiet suburban community and Sam’s team of state police investigators have to dig deep into the gang and drug underground to find the shooters. The Oz, Calvin and Johnny are as different as could be but these tough, smart state troopers meld together their talents to work through the twisting trail of leads on this bloody case with Sam. But just as Sam sees the mystery starting to come together he is slammed in the face with his own family tragedy when Sam’s 18 year old son and his son’s beautiful Cuban-American girlfriend turn up missing and in danger over a thousand miles away.
Corporal Sam Deland has a lot on his plate. He’s a dog lover, single dad, jet pilot, likes girls and his tight knit state police squad is buried under the weight of an unsolved brutal double murder that has stunned his quiet upstate community. The pressure mounts as Sam’s team tracks the bad guys into Philadelphia’s tough, gritty streets. The characters are the real story though, and with humor, hard work and luck, Sam’s team draws the reader’s mind to unexpected and surprising places. Realistic police work with a rich descriptive character and scene portrayal is carefully crafted into a story that you will not want to put dow