Tag Archives: Polis Books

A day in the life with Nikki Black by Kristi Belcamino

Without any blinds on my east-facing window, I was up hours too early, when the sky was still pink with promise. My head hurt a little bit and I wasn’t sure if it was because I woke up too early, needed caffeine, or a handful of aspirin. Or probably all of the above.

The fourth-floor bathroom in The American Hotel was all the way at the other end of the hall. I splashed cold water on my face, rinsed my mouth out, and finger combed my hair. I wasn’t surprised at the dark purplish ring around my eye from getting slugged the night before. Rummaging in my bag, I tried on my sunglasses and squinted in the mirror.

Of course when I opened the door, that band boy stood there—with only a towel around his waist. I tried not to stare at his smooth bare chest. His fingers were wrapped around a beer bottle.

“It’s eleven in the morning,” I said, jutting my chin at the bottle.

“My schedule’s a little different than yours,” he said and took a big slug of beer. “Obviously.”

I scowled. “Whatever.”

We sat there in silence for a few seconds staring at each other. He was standing right in the doorway. Right in my way. But he just stood there half naked watching me with this look in his eye. Like he wanted to laugh.

Finally, I raised my eyebrow. I have serious Brooke Shields eyebrows. They usually do the trick and they didn’t fail me this time.

He swallowed. “Sorry about last night. That girl I was with … God, I don’t know. She only cares about . . . I don’t know . . . stupid stuff. And she doesn’t get my passion for music . . .”

It was my turn to shrug. “It is obvious that we can no more explain passion to a person who has never experienced it than we can explain light to the blind.”

His forehead creased for a second. I wasn’t going to help. But he came through. “So . . . T.S. Eliot, huh? You like poetry?”

I didn’t point out that T.S. Eliot wrote more than poems or that his anti-Semitism was a huge turnoff.

“Not really. Remembered that line about passion. I’d rather read a real book.”

“You don’t think poetry is real?” That small smile crept back across his face.

“Sometimes it’s . . . affectation.” I peeked up at him through my bangs and saw his smile growing wider. “Some guy can scribble down a bunch of stream-of-conscious nonsense and then read it out loud in a theatrical voice and everyone around him will attribute some deep, philosophical interpretation to his rambling.

“Meanwhile, the audience — trying to seem cool and hip and with it — transforms it into some profound observation of life itself. So, yeah, poetry really doesn’t do much for me.”

Band boy burst into laughter, revealing that sexy gap, which immediately made my face grow warm.

“What?” I fidgeted and looked away.

“I just declared poetry as my minor in college.”

“Figures.” I rolled my eyes. “How old are you anyway?”

“Eighteen next month. Started kindergarten when I was four. My dad was a teacher and had me tested and stuff and I guess my IQ was off the charts, like 160 or something whatever that means.”

He stopped talking when he saw the look on my face. I decided not to mention that my IQ would give his, a run for his money. There’s only enough room for one overinflated head in this building.

“Jesus, I sound like an egomaniac,” he said, backpedalling. “I never tell anybody this kind of shit. I have no idea why I told you all that. Seriously, it doesn’t mean anything because now my IQ is back down to idiot range, which I’ve pretty much proved by acting like such a moron with you.”

I tried to hide my smile. “So, if you never tell people all this, why did you decide to tell me?”

He grew serious and looked away like he was embarrassed. “I don’t know.” He ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath. “Yeah, I do. I guess something about you makes me feel like . . . Well, I guess I don’t want you to think I’m just some dumb guy in a band.”

I looked at him suspiciously. Why would he care what I thought? I didn’t have time to figure it out. “I’ve got to go. I work today. Unlike some people.” I gave another pointed look at his beer.

I was halfway down the hall when he spoke again. “I broke up with her, you know. That girl. From last night.”

I kept walking.

“In case you care. Which of course you don’t,” he called after me. I heard him swearing softly and then mumbling something about what an idiot he was.

I didn’t turn around, but I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face.


You can read more about Nikki in City of Angels, a young adult novel.

Nikki Black, 17, a self-imposed lone wolf since her mother died, fled suburban Chicago to escape her painful past. But when her so-called boyfriend reveals why he really lured her to Southern California — to star in child porn flicks — she ends up on the streets of L.A. with only the clothes on her back and a twelve-year-old addict named Rain trailing in her shadows. The girls seek refuge at a residential hotel above a punk rock bar in downtown L.A. a few months before the city erupts into chaos during the 1992 riots. At The American Hotel, Nikki makes friends and for the first time in years feels as if she has a real family again.

All that changes when Rain disappears. Everyone except Nikki, including the police, thinks Rain succumbed to the seductive allure of addiction and life on the streets. Nikki finds herself fighting for her own life the closer she gets to unveiling a sinister cover-up by a powerful group that secretly controls the city of angels. City of Angels is an edgy, gritty, mature Young Adult mystery about a teenager’s struggle to not only belong — but survive.

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About the author
Kristi Belcamino is a Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Award-nominated author, a newspaper cops reporter, and an Italian mama who makes a tasty biscotti. She writes books featuring strong, fierce, and independent women facing unspeakable evil in order to seek justice for those unable to do so themselves.

Her first novel in the Gabriella Giovanni Mystery Series, Blessed Are The Dead, was inspired by her dealings with a serial killer during her life as a Bay Area crime reporter. She is also the co-author of Letters From A Serial Killer, co-written with the mother of the girl kidnapped and killed by the serial killer who inspired Blessed Are The Dead. Her first YA novel, City Of Angels (Polis Books) was released on May 9, 2017.

Find out more at kristibelcamino.com. Find her on Facebook, or on Twitter at @KristiBelcamino. Sign up for her newsletter here.

All comments are welcomed.

My Musing ~ City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino

City of Angels by Kristi Belcamino is published by Polis Books, May 9, 2017

city-of-angelsNikki Black, 17, a self-imposed lone wolf since her mother died, fled suburban Chicago to escape her painful past. But when her so-called boyfriend reveals why he really lured her to Southern California — to star in child porn flicks — she ends up on the streets of L.A. with only the clothes on her back and a twelve-year-old addict named Rain trailing in her shadows. The girls seek refuge at a residential hotel above a punk rock bar in downtown L.A. a few months before the city erupts into chaos during the 1992 riots. At The American Hotel, Nikki makes friends and for the first time in years feels as if she has a real family again.

All that changes when Rain disappears. Everyone except Nikki, including the police, thinks Rain succumbed to the seductive allure of addiction and life on the streets. Nikki finds herself fighting for her own life the closer she gets to unveiling a sinister cover-up by a powerful group that secretly controls the city of angels. City of Angels is an edgy, gritty, mature Young Adult mystery about a teenager’s struggle to not only belong — but survive.

A riveting drama. A strongly worded plot that immediately grabbed my attention. This fast-paced drama was visually descriptive and led me to see and feel all that taking place in this action-packed drama. The narrative had me completely immersed in all that was happening, evoking all kinds of emotions that surfaced to the top. The trials and tribulations of Nikki showed determination and guts as she took on what life presented in her path. The author did a great job in telling a captivating tale filled with the tenacity and strength of a young woman and those around her in this tightly woven and intriguing story. This was an engagingly wonderful book.

FTC Full Disclosure – I received a digital ARC of this book from the publisher.

A day in the life of Pete Fernandez by Alex Segura

I’m not hungry. This is usually a bad sign.

We’re at a table near the back of El Rinconcito—the “tiny corner”—a small Cuban place on 157th Avenue in West Kendall. It’s a warm day, the Miami temperatures clocking in no higher than 82. Balmy for the area, hellish and humid for anyone else.

My sponsor, Jack, is sitting across from me, sipping his Cafecito and giving me a concerned look. I’ve just dropped a whopper on him. I slide my half-eaten plate of carne asada toward the center of the table.

We’ve just hit our regular midday AA meeting a few blocks from the restaurant. I needed one. After touching base with my partner, Kathy Bentley, I’ve got a lot to think about. Maybe too much. Definitely more than usual.

My name’s Pete Fernandez and I’m a private investigator in my hometown, Miami. It’s taken me a few years to come to terms with that. I’ve crossed paths with mysterious mob guns for hire, raving-mad serial killers and weapon-smuggling drug dealers, but I’ve always tried to avoid the truth: that this is my gig, and I’m pretty good at it. I’m especially good at it when working with Kathy Bentley, a former colleague in my past life as a newspaper employee at The Miami Times. Even better at it when I’m not drunk. The not-drinking part is a relatively new development. Here’s hoping it sticks.

“You gonna take the case?” Jack asked before polishing off his drink.

“Not sure yet. Not sure what the case is, really.”

Jack cleared his throat. He wasn’t the biggest fan of my pre-case wishy-washiness.

“Anyone over the age of thirty knows the Gaspar Varela case,” he said, leaning over the table. “The guy killed his wife. End of story.”

“Some people think otherwise,” I said, motioning for the check. “And they’ve reached out to Kathy.”

“And she’s reached out to you, huh?”

“They want to see if they can find any evidence to get him a new trial,” I said, grabbing the billfold from the waitress. “He was an Narcotics cop. Perfect record before all this.”

“I’m just an old, overweight ex-cop myself, Pete,” Jack said, shrugging. “What do I know? But the whole thing sounds fishy to me. The case has been closed over ten years and you’re supposed to find one sliver of new evidence to save the day? There’s a needle comparison here.”

I laughed. He was usually right. But something nagged at me about the case. There was more to it than what Kathy told me and I wanted to find out. My curiosity was helpful in my line of work. It also got me into a lot of trouble. I wasn’t sure which it was doing right now.

I slipped a twenty and a ten into the fold and got up.

“Gone so soon?” Jack said.

“Gotta run and do some errands,” I said, shaking his hand. “Tomorrow’s gonna be a busy day.”

“It’s starting again, isn’t it?”

It. The case. The next obsession. The dance around the darkness, where I get close enough to maybe pull someone out, but also risk getting myself dragged in. I’m not sure I can survive another bout like the one from last year. Jack doesn’t think so, either.

I nod.

“It’s starting.”


You can read more about Pete in Dangerous Ends, the third “Pete Fernandez Miami” Mystery, out April 11 from Polis Books.

Pete Fernandez has settled into an easy, if somewhat boring life as a P.I.. He takes pictures of cheating husbands. He tracks criminals who’ve skipped bail and he attends weekly AA meetings The days of chasing murderous killers are behind him. Or are they?

When his sometimes partner Kathy Bentley approaches him with a potential new client, Pete balks. Not because he doesn’t need the money, but because the case involves Gaspar Varela, a former Miami police officer serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife – one of the most infamous crimes in Miami history. The client? None other than Varela s daughter, Maya, who s doggedly supported her father s claims of innocence.

As Pete and Kathy wade into a case that no one wants, they also find themselves in the cross-hairs of Los Enfermos, a bloodthirsty gang of pro-Castro killers and drug dealers looking to wipe Pete off the Miami map. As if trying to exonerate Varela wasn’t enough, they find themselves entangled in something even older and more surprising–a bloody, political hit ordered by Fidel Castro himself, that left a still-healing scar on Peteand his dead father’s past.

Fast-paced, hardboiled and surprising, Dangerous Ends pushes Pete Fernandez into a battle with a deadlier, more complex threat, as he tries to shake off the demons haunting Miami s own, sordid past.

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About the author
Alex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. He is the author of the Miami crime novels featuring Pete Fernandez, Silent City and Down The Darkest Street. The next Fernandez mystery, Dangerous Ends, will be released in April 2017 via Polis Books.

He has also written a number of comic books, including the best-selling and critically acclaimed Archie Meets Kiss storyline, the “Occupy Riverdale” story, Archie Meets Ramones and the upcoming The Archies one-shot.

He lives in New York with his wife and son. He is a Miami native.

All comments are welcomed.

Dangerous Ends is available at retail and online booksellers or you can ask your local library to get it for you.