Toby Ball Invisible Streets

ISBN 13 : 9781468309027

Invisible Streets

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9781468309027: Invisible Streets

In this visionary dystopian thriller, the hunt is on for a haul of explosives that shouldn’t get into the wrong hands . . . or should it?

A brilliantly imagined thriller, Invisible Streets is a sprawling, noirish epic of crime and corruption by an author who has been compared to Caleb Carr, James Ellroy, and Jonathan Lethem. It’s the mid-1960s, and the City is a hulking shell of itself. Bohemians, crooks, and snarling anti-Communists have their run of the place, but if Nathan Canada has his way, all this decline and decadence will soon be nothing but a distant memory. His New City Project will paper over the grit and the grime, making the City safe for the rich. According to Canada and his influential allies, the project is the City’s last best hope―but according to everyone else in town, it’s a death knell.

So when the Project’s cache of explosives goes missing, everyone is a suspect, and police detective Torsten Grip finds himself up against a ticking clock and a wall of silence. Meanwhile journalist Frank Frings―the last honest man in the City―sets out to find his friend’s grandson, who has gotten himself involved with Kollectiv 61, a radical group that Grip believes holds the key to the investigation. And in the middle of it all is Canada’s enforcer Phil Dorman, whose job is to ensure that the City’s corruption and chaos remain at a boil―but never more than that.

At once a cinematic journey through a city down on its luck and a gripping story all the way up to its shocking conclusion, Toby Ball’s Invisible Streets will leave you awed and breathless.

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About the Author :

Toby Ball works at the Crimes Against Children Research Center and the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. He is the author of The Vaults and Scorch City, also available from The Overlook Press, and lives in Durham, New Hampshire, with his wife and two children.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved. :

ALSO BY TOBY BALL

Scorch City

The Vaults

Copyright

For my sister, Susanna Kahn, and Julia, Jackson, and Peter

1

A ROW OF COPS KEPT THE SKITTISH CROWD AWAY FROM A GROUP OF CITY officials who had descended on this gray neighborhood to mark the first step in its demolition. This wasn’t Phil Dorman’s first such event, but he could never get used to the anger. At the front of the crowd a compact man with a trim white beard and some sort of uniform shouted in a language Dorman was having trouble identifying. Ukrainian? Others in the crowd yelled as well. The cops, submerged in riot helmets and gas masks, shifted nervously from foot to foot, batons held behind their backs, looking vaguely like huge insects.

Dorman looked over at Nathan Canada, the commissioner of Parks and Transportation, who was chatting with a couple of his deputies and with the foreman in charge of the imminent demolition of the condemned building behind them. Canada was not physically imposing—about average height, narrow-shouldered, paunchy—but there was something of the lion at the watering hole about him, and people watched him with a wary eye. Dorman respected that, the man’s mere presence putting everyone on edge.

He looked past Canada to the condemned building. Probably not a bad place to live, he thought. He’d picked it for this event because the empty lot next door offered a good sight line from the press area, a safe distance away. It had been a bitch to get everyone out of there—they’d had to bring the police in for the final few holdouts. The last guy turned out to be a hoarder—his little apartment stuffed with newspapers, magazines, pieces of mail, books, shit. He was taken straight to City Mental Hospital.

Dorman liked the beige stonework along the top of the building, the way it stood out sharply against the clear afternoon sky. He turned back to the press that had gathered on this side of the cordon, though still several yards from the officials. Photographers chatted with reporters, a couple of guys with movie cameras set up their tripods. One of the movie guys seemed to be filming the protestors. Dorman recognized him—thin guy, longish hair—thought he’d probably seen him filming at other demolitions. Maybe an explosives freak.

Canada had given a brief press conference earlier, answered some questions, posed for some photos, ignored the noise of the mob behind the hacks.

Art Deyna from the News-Gazette strolled over with his usual smirk. “Nice crowd you got here.”

Dorman looked past the cordons. There were a lot of people; maybe a couple hundred. He hated these events, but Canada insisted. Do it quietly and people think you’re hiding something. Do it with a fucking celebration and people will eat it up with a goddamn fork. Sounded good in theory, but these people didn’t have forks—they had pitchforks.

“Another group of satisfied citizens.” He didn’t need to bullshit Deyna. The News-Gazette was on-board.

Deyna winked. “You guys make friends everywhere you go.”

They both turned to see a uniform walking their way. He stopped about ten feet short of them, looking inscrutably at Dorman.

“Excuse us,” Dorman said.

“Consider yourself excused.” Deyna walked back toward the press huddle.

The uniform stepped forward. “News for you, Mr. Dorman.”

Dorman glanced to make sure that Deyna was out of earshot. He saw the tension in the cop’s face—was it the news or the crowd? “Okay.”

“The site over on Kaiser, the dynamite trailer was hit last night.”

Dorman sighed. Theft was a constant problem at the sites, made worse by the knowledge that the department would be buying back the same supplies next week from some dealer four or five times removed from the initial theft. “How much?”

“The whole thing.”

“The whole thing?” That was a hell of a lot of explosives—a huge haul.

“That’s the report.”

“Okay, thanks.” Dorman noticed activity around the mayor. He dismissed the cop with a nod.

The detonator that would bring down the building sat on a small table positioned so that the cameras could catch the magical moment when Canada depressed the plunger. Canada said something to the foreman. People started to take their places. Dorman ambled over to meet Canada at the table.

“Everything okay?” Dorman asked. He wasn’t going to mention the stolen explosives right now.

“Let’s get this moving. I’ve got no desire to spend the whole fucking day here.”

Dorman checked the press clutch, raised his arm with his thumb up. The photographers readied their cameras.

“Any time, sir.”

Canada glanced at the press, nodded to himself, pushed the plunger down fast. Dorman looked to the building as the charges went off and watched it implode, dust billowing outward and up. There’d been a time, not too long ago, when this sight would have provoked in him a measure of awe. But in the two years he’d worked for Canada, he’d seen so many that the whole thing now seemed almost commonplace—another day at the office.

Dorman watched Canada shake hands with the foreman so the photographers could get a shot with the demolition-cloud in the background. Something was bothering Dorman, and it took him a moment to realize it was the sound. Usually a building implosion like this was met with a strange, awed silence. But now he heard the pitch of the crowd noise turn angrier, more aggressive. The police line took a step back and pulled their truncheons. A man came forward, tall and wiry, a bushy mustache almost covering his sneer as he entered the fray. A cop swung at his knees, brought him down hard. The man curled up, protecting his head with his arms. A second cop landed a couple of shots to his back.

Dust from the collapsing building reached the scene like the wispy edges of a fog. Dorman took Canada’s arm. “We need to get you out of here.”

He followed his boss’s eyes to the photographers shooting the increasingly agitated crowd. A handful of men broke through the barricade to be confronted by police truncheons.

Canada shook his head in disgust, but allowed Dorman to guide him to the waiting Lincoln. He paused before ducking inside.

“You’ll see to the press coverage?”

“I’ll take care of it, sir.”

Canada stooped into the car as something hard hit the hood. Dorman saw a half-brick drop to the sidewalk. He slammed the door shut and pounded on the roof. The car pulled away. A bottle shattered in the street behind it.

Other City officials ran to their cars, dodging rocks, bricks, bottles. Dorman protected his head with his forearm as he made his way to the police sergeant in charge. Cops were swinging their truncheons wildly in self-defense as more protestors broke through the cordon. People lay in the street, bleeding. Two men kicked at the ribs of a fallen cop, before being swarmed under by uniforms. The crowd behind the cordon howled in protest. Women held handkerchiefs up to their mouths to filter the dust. The police line pushed people back away from the street.

The sergeant turned. “We need to disperse these sons of bitches.” It wasn’t a question, but he looked to Dorman for confirmation.

Dorman nodded.

The sergeant yelled through a bullhorn for the crowd to disperse, doing it by the book. The scene continued to deteriorate. Dorman dodged a bottle. He scanned the crowd for familiar faces, habitual protestors, but the chaos made any kind of systematic survey impossible.

He heard empty thuds behind him. Tear gas canisters rolled into the street, gas spreading, mixing with the dust in the air. The crowd went silent and still, registering this new situation. Then, as if alerted by an unseen cue, confusion began anew as the protesters retreated in panic. A uniform shoved a gas mask into Dorman’s hands. It smelled musty inside, but it was better than the gas that was creeping their way.

It took no more than a minute for the crowd to flee, leaving only the injured to be shoved roughly into waiting paddy wagons. The calm allowed Dorman to think, his breathing loud in the mask. He needed to call Lieutenant Zwieg, get someone on the explosives heist.

He looked back to the building, reduced to a pile of rubble, the dust from its collapse dissipating. In the distance, he heard police sirens, but wasn’t sure if they were headed his way.

2

THAT NIGHT, FRANK FRINGS LEANED BACK IN A FOLDING CHAIR, SMOKING a reefer, watching a black-and-white film silently projected on the wall of a narrow basement theater. The cameraman must have been shooting out a window or from a roof, probably thirty feet up or so. The scene: a sidewalk packed with people, most of them moving from the right and passing under the camera, then continuing off to the left. The camera stayed stationary as people—dozens, hundreds—passed below. Suddenly, without apparent catalyst, the shot racked in to focus on a woman walking in the crowd and stayed with her. There was nothing that particularly stood out about this woman; she was professionally dressed, carried a handbag, was probably in her thirties, attractive, but not unusually so. She was clearly unaware of being filmed. The camera stayed with her as she walked directly below, and followed her down the sidewalk. The shot ended and jumped abruptly to a new scene. It took a moment for Frings to figure out what was going on: the cameraman was now on the street, trailing the woman, maybe ten yards behind her. Pedestrians glanced quizzically at the camera as they walked past.

Noise from the Cafe Adaggio upstairs filtered down into the tiny makeshift theater: footsteps, dozens of muted conversations, the muffled clink of silverware and dishes. In the theater, three dozen folding chairs, all filled, were arranged in nine rows of four. Sitting in a wheelchair next to Frings was his former editor at the Gazette, Panos Dimitropoulos. The projector’s light traveled through a long cone of smoke; the dank smell of the place was not quite masked by the scent of cigarettes and marijuana. The occasional sound of scuttling rats could be heard from the front. The movie itself was silent, the ambient noise from above and outside providing the soundtrack, along with occasional coughs and whispered comments from the audience.

Frings leaned over to Panos. “How’d you hear about this movie?” he whispered.

“Rappaport,” Panos wheezed. Rappaport had been the art critic at the old Gazette.

“This seems a little avant-garde for you, chief.”

Panos glared dolefully back. “This is not a joke, Frank. You pay attention, the moment is coming up.”

Frings nodded, wondering what could happen in this strange little movie that would be so important to Panos. Panos had not been forthcoming, insisting that it was absolutely necessary for Frings to actually see the film and that, no, he couldn’t tell Frings why, that Frings would need to see it for himself, with his own eyes. Telling him would apparently ruin the moment.

Frings turned his attention back to the screen, the camera continuing to follow the woman through several jump cuts—one extended, maybe to change film. The woman turned onto a side street, leaving the teeming sidewalk behind. The cameraman paused, presumably to maintain his cover, then followed, keeping his distance so that the woman wouldn’t notice him. She was farther away now, standing on a stoop. The camera zoomed in and the image went grainy as she fingered through a set of keys before finding the right one, unlocked the door, and disappeared from the street. The camera hovered on the street, now empty, for close to a full minute, nothing happening until a young couple holding hands turned onto the block from the opposite end. At this, the screen went black for a few seconds, and then a new scene began.

Panos tapped Frings’s hand. “This is the one.”

The camera focused on a girl—not the woman from the prior scene—tall, skinny, and … well … distinctive looking, Frings thought—an oval face with big, surprised eyes. College age, probably. She was like a painting in her slim dress, straight hair brushing her high shoulders. The camera lingered on her, providing time for the audience to read the sign she held in her hands: When the people are subjected to pervasive deception, popular will ceases to have meaning. Behind the girl, far enough to be out of focus, a group of young men smoked cigarettes, holding something by their sides—pistols?—and watching the camera.

Frings considered the aphorism on the sign for a moment—the ideology was familiar, though not the actual words. He had a feeling that he knew where they might have picked up the saying, but Panos interrupted this train of thought. The old man gripped his arm with an unsteady hand.

“Here it is, Frank.”

The focus of the camera changed so that the girl was now blurred and the men behind her sharper, though the distance left their features indistinct.

“Look.”

Frings strained to pick up what Panos wanted him to see. The four men casually dropped their cigarettes and bent to pick up some rocks. The camera zoomed closer as they hurled their rocks over the girl and at the camera. The camera kept steady despite the incoming rocks, the men’s faces now in closer focus and, though not exactly sharp, at least giving an idea of their features.

Frings focused on one of the four: black hair, his eyes and mouth dark patches on his blurred face. “Panos?”

“You see him?” Panos whispered.

The young man was skinny, his white shirt hanging from his shoulders, and Frings might not have recognized him if he hadn’t been looking for … something.

“Is that Sol?”

“Yes. Yes!”

Sol Elia—Panos’s grandson, his daughter’s child, whom he hadn’t seen in more than two years.

The men hurled more rocks at the camera as the girl stood impassively. The shot pulled back out, bringing the girl into focus again, blurring the men who continued to throw rocks. The girl, Frings thought, was very beautiful in her own sort of way. He’d somehow missed that before. The scene ended. Darkness. Jump to a Negro section of town at night easing by, presumably shot from a car window, people on the sidewalk mostly oblivious, but some giving wary looks.

Panos grabbed Frings’s arm. “You saw him, Frank? You saw Sol?”

“Yes, Panos.”

Panos sighed heavily. “You need to find him for me.”

As soon as they’d arranged this meeting, Frings knew that Panos would ask something of him, and knew that he would accept. Panos had supported Frings’s work at the Gazette for decades before the old man’s health finally confined him to the wheelchair, sapped him of the strength necessary to withstand the daily stress of the newspaper. The bartering of small favors was a constant in Frings’s life—with police, criminals, politicians, businessmen. But this was something different. This was friendship, and Frings would do anything Panos asked. Panos had earned that and Panos knew it.

“Okay.”

Panos didn’t immediately reply. Frings turned to see the old man’s shoulders shaking as he quietly wept. “His parents are gone, Frank. His grandmother’s gone. It’s just me and him, and I haven’t heard from him in over two years. His friends said they hadn’t heard from him. I thought he was dead, Frank. But now, maybe, I face the possibility that he wanted to be done with me; that his friends lied to me so that I wouldn’t find him. Why would he hide from me, Frank?”

Frings put his hand on Panos’s shoulder. “We don’t know anything, Panos. We don’t know when this film was made. We don’t know what Sol was doing”—he corrected h...

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Description du livre Overlook Press, United States, 2014. Hardback. État : New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. So when the Project s cache of explosives goes missing, everyone is a suspect, and police detective Torsten Grip finds himself up against a ticking clock and a wall of silence. Meanwhile journalist Frank Frings--the last honest man in the City--sets out to find his friend s grandson, who has gotten himself involved with Kollectiv 61, a radical group that Grip believes holds the key to the investigation. And in the middle of it all is Canada s enforcer Phil Dorman, whose job is to ensure that the City s corruption and chaos remain at a boil--but never more than that At once a cinematic journey through a city down on its luck and a gripping story all the way up to its shocking conclusion, Toby Ball sInvisible Streets will leave you awed and breathless. N° de réf. du libraire BTE9781468309027

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Description du livre Overlook Press, United States, 2014. Hardback. État : New. Language: English . Brand New Book. So when the Project s cache of explosives goes missing, everyone is a suspect, and police detective Torsten Grip finds himself up against a ticking clock and a wall of silence. Meanwhile journalist Frank Frings--the last honest man in the City--sets out to find his friend s grandson, who has gotten himself involved with Kollectiv 61, a radical group that Grip believes holds the key to the investigation. And in the middle of it all is Canada s enforcer Phil Dorman, whose job is to ensure that the City s corruption and chaos remain at a boil--but never more than that At once a cinematic journey through a city down on its luck and a gripping story all the way up to its shocking conclusion, Toby Ball sInvisible Streets will leave you awed and breathless. N° de réf. du libraire BZV9781468309027

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