Sudden Death Playoff


Sudden Death Playoff

Author: Brian Strangman

 

A clandestine meeting of ruthless Russians sets the stage for this novel set in many locations from New York, Los Angeles, Kiev, Ontario and even Florida’s Alligator Alley. Meeting to discuss their many lucrative but illegal business ventures the focus seems to be on art theft, money laundering, arms deals and murder. Tucked away in a room within this apartment complex in Kiev is an unwelcomed guest of one of the participants whose about to make her exit but not in a fashionable way. As the author relates the events of this meeting and the many players are revealed he allows the reader to know that this Russian Syndicate is just the tip of the iceberg for what is about to happen.

 

Yuri Mechulayev our visitor at the start of the novel plays an integral part in what the FBI in New York will now investigate along with the man who murdered this poor innocent woman. Anton Kvitov is an assassin and looking good for more than just one murder as we now move the story to meet our main character Jack Ballantyne. But, first let’s go to Australia and the Star City Casino and meet some of the pro golfers who will also play an important role in this novel. Gary Sands is one of the golfers hoping to win this tournament. But, first he wants to have some fun before the real practice begins the following day. But, Gary is not your typical love them and leave them guy and he’s enthralled with journalist Kate Banks from the moment he meets her and hopes for more of a relationship with her. As you get to know her you realize she is smart, plays her cards in many different tables or directions and is definitely out for her career first and anything else she tables until she has the time.

 

Jack Ballantyne live in lower Manhattan and is here on exchange to the FBI from Australia for the next two years. The investigation he is working on is one that appears to be a suicide but would definitely upon looking at the evidence and focusing on the clues would turn out to be anything but. The deceased was a New York Property Developer by the name of Jeremy Covell in debt for about 20 million dollars. Directions found pointed him and his team in the direction of “a lender of last resort,’ a Russian led corporation who with a simple handshake seals the deal and your fate too. Upon checking the body and doing the autopsy the coroner found no foul play. However, the FBI disagrees.

 

Forward to Australia as the author flashed back and forth between locations and now we get to know Kate Banks who was covering the tournament with other journalists. Fascinated by sports photographer Mike Peters she agrees to a short meeting or date with him before flying off to do more interviews. Spreading herself rather thin and not committing to anything permanent seemed to be her style. But, let’s get into the Covell case as the FBI and NYPD work together to uncover the truth.

 

Jack and his partner Detective Villegas discuss the case with the rest of the team and go out to the scrap metal factory owned by Vic Lubin to find out more about Yuri and Anton. So, how can this murder of Covell be linked to what is about to happen at the tournaments as something changes the complexion of everything when the next one is in Honolulu and the players complete their rounds, winner is crowned and Gary Sands gets the news that would change everything. After calling Kate to confirm a date and getting no response he is torn apart when he learns she is dead. Thought to have drowned the police are looking into her death. Going back to Jack as he reads about Gary’s standing in the last tournament and wonders why he faltered and the name Mike Peters comes up once again. When Jack and his team go to the scrap metal company, question the staff and check out Anton’s apartment things start to fit into place as one man tries to escape, another is held for questioning and the workers are brought in for aiding and abetting. But, a shoot out at the scrap metal factory and men hiding in the plane hangars and several brought in and others burned to a crisp as Jack and his team are trying to figure out just what Vic Lubin is really selling and what they might find in Anton’s apartment that would change the complexion of the investigation. But, as the pieces start to come together more are created as art theft is involved, prestigious galleries are receiving expensive paintings and good police work links the murders to the golf tournaments and the victims. Just why someone targeted these victims remains to be uncovered as Jack and teams across the country and around the world work feverishly to find the killer before the next play is their last.

 

Investigating the art theft would bring out the fact that the buyers were kidnapped and possibly dead. But, when one of the investigators goes to speak to the owner of the gallery what he finds is another dead body this time the owner of the gallery. Questioning the staff and others involved in the gallery would enlighten the agent in charge of the case but there is much more. An original Monet is the painting in question where and how it was transported just part of the investigation. But, while he is dealing with one murder Jack and his new partner Jennifer are investigating the Golf Murders and interviewing those that attended all four tournaments within the five years of all of the murders. But, let’s not forget the major players who are involved in the thefts and have orchestrated them. Thinking they have it all under control with paintings being shipped, drugs and arms just what will Lubanavich do when he realizes his business might just go under. Questioning the people at the Open Championship Jack and his partner would not only meet some famous stars but some great players in their quest to find the answers they needed. Realizing that Mike Peters attended all four tournaments, as did several others hoping they would provide a link to Korolev Imports and Globechase.

 

But, Jennifer Brownlee proved quite astute as she realizes certain nuances when they were interviewing Mike Peters, which flagged that he might be withholding information. What they find out would link him to the art thefts and to the Russians but how you will have to learn for yourself. Victor Lubin and Mike Peters are not only in this together but linked in more ways that one as they search for him on different flights and at the tournament where he seems to have disappeared. Meanwhile agent Nick Nicolaides and his partner were in heavy pursuit of the art thieves and the abducted art experts missing from the gallery.

 

The author’s research into how golf tournaments are run, investigations are handled is quite extensive keeping the plot moving and the reader’s interest. The characters are quite dynamic and do their jobs in a methodical and professional way even when working with different agencies and sharing information. But, when Brownless is attacked and in a coma and the major players in the art theft and arms deals are caught what is still left are those behind the murders that are linked to the thefts, arms deals, drugs and the murders as well as Jennifer’s attack.

 

The attacks keep coming and what happens to Jack and the other detective lets the reader know that these people are playing for keeps as many different agencies continue to battle together to find the Russians behind all of the deaths and more. When Jack is kidnapped by the very people who claim they bought the Monet and five other paintings what he’s offered is nothing short of a ten million dollar bribe and what he does will surprise the reader as he is tempted by an young woman, clever enough to stay alive but not able to escape but with the help of female companion he might be able to let the FBI know where he is but will they find him in time as the clock is ticking and more murders seem apparent and the end result might be a traitor in the midst.

 

Finally rescued but faced interrogation by his superiors for some of his actions Jack reports his suspicions about one their own. Will they believe him or will they think it’s a ploy to get the spotlight off of him? Betrayals, double crosses, traitors, greed and many other factors come into play before all the players are revealed, the paintings are returned , the final outcome and who remains alive, who is finally caught and an ending you just won’t see coming. Jack with the help of many FBI agents and one loyal detective names Logorno from the LAPD force and his own Captain Delgardo, fights more than just the Russian syndicate, the art thieves, the arms dealers but some demons of his own before all is said and done.

 

Some killers are elusive and one is a man of many disguises and for some reason keeps getting away. Others caught, betrayals brutally dealt with and what remains in the interim you won’t believe as the tournaments continue and more deaths take place unless someone finally stops him but can they. Russian syndicates, art thieves, golf pros in danger, FBI agents killed and many others will be taken out before all is said and done. This is one fast paced novel that will keep you guessing until the very end as the players come together in many different directions and the tournaments are set and the competitions in place but who wins, who dies and who will survive the Sudden Death Playoff: Find out when you read this novel yourself. One ending you definitely won’t see coming and one man named Jack Ballantyne we want to see more of. What is next for him? Find out when the author writes the sequel.

Fran Lewis: reviewer

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