The Wayward Path by Mark Love

About the Book

Charity Gray was an intelligent, inquisitive teen who disappeared fifteen years earlier. When her body is discovered, it should be a typical cold case. Before the Detroit police can get started, the FBI commandeers the investigation, with a prime suspect in mind: retired mobster Leo Agonasti. 

When Agonasti slips through their grasp, he reaches out to Sergeant Jefferson Chene. Their unusual friendship draws Chene into the thick of the case. Burdened with two reluctant FBI agents, Chene is working against the clock and the feds to find the real killer.

Chene senses they are getting close to the answers. Will he be able to solve the murder and clear the old mobster of this heinous crime before time runs out?

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“I can’t remember the last time you actually went on vacation, Pappy,” I said. “Nice to know you’re confident in our abilities to keep things going.”

“Y’all okay, Chene. But keepin’ an eye on them young’uns will keep ya busy. Suarez is still gettin’ used to the way we do business.” Pappy grunted. A tilt of his head preceded a plume of cigarette smoke. It drifted out the window. Smoking wasn’t allowed in public buildings in the state. Pappy torched the memo. If he stepped outside every time the nicotine urge hit, his office would have to be a lean-to in the parking lot.

“Bet you’re looking forward to that vacation,” I said.

“Yup. Leavin’ Friday. Two weeks in the Blue Ridge Mountains. No Yankees allowed. Y’all on yer own. Think you can handle anythin’ pops up?”

“We got it covered.”

“Lot can happen inna few days.”

A knock on the doorframe interrupted my response. The desk sergeant poked his head in the room. “Sorry to bother you, Captain. Chene has a very impatient visitor.”

“Expectin’ someone?”

I shook my head. “You get a name, Burnley?”

The sergeant nodded. “Not sure I believe it. Maximo Aurelio.”

I’d been slumped in the chair, legs out and crossed at the ankles. Before I could move, Cantrell was at his computer, clicking buttons and pulling up the security camera that focused on the lobby. “F*** me hard,” he muttered.

Maximo Aurelio was standing three feet from the reception desk. His hands were out, palms up and empty. He was looking right up at the camera.

“Hope y’all ain’t got a date, Chene.”

I pushed out of the chair. “I’ll go see what he wants.”

Pappy was right beside me. “We go together.”

Max greeted me with a bone-crushing handshake and a brief attempt at a grin. He and Cantrell exchanged nods. This was no social call. Just the idea of Max being inside a state police post was enough to put me on edge. No doubt he was as well.

Maximo Aurelio was a reputed lieutenant for one of the Detroit area’s largest organized crime families. There was a history of violence that many had tried to attribute to him over the years, without success. Ten years ago, Max, who was also known as Maxie A, had gone into retirement. The Mob had changed a lot in the twenty-first century. Max was supposedly living a quiet life, spending a great deal of his free time with Leo Agonasti, a childhood friend. If Max was a lieutenant, then Leo was a captain. Our paths had crossed occasionally since I became a cop.

Pappy turned his full attention on Max. Cantrell wagged a finger back and forth, his variation of “get on with it.” Max understood the unspoken message.

“The FBI has an arrest warrant out on Leo for murder,” Max said slowly, his gravelly voice reaching even lower on the register than normal.

“Why come to us?” I asked.

“Leo’s instructions. When he heard the charges, he told his lawyer two words. ‘Get Chene.’ Far as I know, he’s not saying anything else. The lawyer called me. Guess she didn’t know you.”

“Where’s Leo at?”

Max swiveled slightly to face Cantrell. “He disappeared. I think he’s still in the area but can’t even begin to guess where he’s at. Chances are he’s going to keep moving. But he’s no murderer, Chene. You gotta believe that.”

Pappy squinted at Max. “We ain’t gotta believe nuthin’. We’re talkin’ ’bout criminal activity. Y’all ain’t exactly a couple a Girl Scouts sellin’ cookies.”

“Leo was a background guy. He’s not violent. He couldn’t murder someone.”

“He had y’all for that?”

Max clenched his jaw before swinging to face me. “This isn’t about me. Can you at least check into the warrant?”

My gaze flicked to Cantrell. He gave me a minuscule nod in response. “The FBI does not normally handle homicide investigations. Are you sure the information you got is accurate?”

Max slid a business card across the table to me. It bore the FBI logo and contact information for the Detroit office. Getting involved in an ongoing federal investigation was contrary to the way Cantrell operated. But I didn’t think walking away was an option.

“I’m going down there.”

Pappy shook his head. “Un nuh. We goin’.”

Max raised his palms. “I’m not stepping foot in that building. Surprised they’re not looking for me.”

“Give ’em time,” Cantrell growled. “Day ain’t over yet.”

About the Author

Mark Love lived for many years in the metropolitan Detroit area, where crime and corruption are always prevalent. A former freelance reporter, Love honed his writing skills covering features and hard news. He is the author of the Jamie Richmond romance mysteries, Devious, Vanishing Act and Fleeing Beauty, and the novella Stealing Haven. His short story, Don’t Mess with the Gods, was written with Elle Nina Castle and included in the Magic & Mischief anthology. Love also writes the Jefferson Chene mystery series, WHY 319? and Your Turn to Die and The Wayward Path. Love resides in west Michigan with his wife, Kim. He enjoys a wide variety of music, books, travel, cooking and the great outdoors.

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  1. Enjoyed the excerpt. This book looks good.

  2. Great excerpt, The Wayward Path sounds like a thrilling read! Thanks for sharing it with me and have a sunshiny day!