(The Drew Smith Series) by Norwood Holland
Minus One is the prequel to The Drew Smith Series
Back to the beginning of Drew Smith’s legal career this is a retrospective narrative of the attorney’s first case. The recent law school graduate awaiting his bar exam results Drew Smith takes a job as a Concierge in a 5 star hotel, and befriends two bellmen an Arab and a Latino, Medhat, and Julio. Medhat is a spoiled brat estranged from his wealthy father with a penchant for partying, cocaine, prostitutes and barroom brawls. Julio is a smart high school dropout and a former street gang member.
The son of peasant Nicaraguan immigrants he is forced to become the head of household when his father is killed in a construction accident leaving his mother and five siblings without a provider. This eclectic trio form a solid friendship put to the test when Medhat in his overindulgence runs up a drug tab he can’t pay. Kidnapped and rescued by Drew and Julio, Medhat becomes a prime suspect when the drug lord is found dead.
All three cope with romantic entanglements. Drew is captivated with the pretty Latina, Nina whose father objects to her dating a Black man. Julio falls head over heels and knocks up Chevy, a lovely Filipina. Medhat has a passion for blondes and night club owner Carol fits the mold perfectly.
Life takes a turn when Drew becomes a member of the bar. Medhat is caught red handed and charged with murder. Drew and Julio sleuth to uncover the real killer. Minus One captures Drew Smith’s evolution from youthful indiscretion to a professional burdened with the seriousness of purpose.
Excerpt from Chapter 1
The officers were dispatched on a possible domestic dispute. They didn’t know what to expect when Mrs. Oliphant met the two at the elevator, one Latino the other African-American, both towering over the blue haired dowager. Nervous and animated, she spoke as rapidly as she stepped, guiding them to the apartment door.
“Are you related?” asked the stocky dark haired Latino.
“No. I’m Carol’s next door neighbor. There was a fight and I heard the disturbance,” Mrs. Oliphant sighed and shook her head as though shaking off a secret annoyance. “Mind you, I don’t eavesdrop but I couldn’t help hearing–you know thin walls and vents carry conversations. This is her apartment.” They stopped in front of the corner apartment at the end of the hall. “I have the key,” she said.
Mrs. Oliphant’s tiny trembling liver spotted hand offered it up between the thumb and forefinger. With a nod the Latino urged her to open the door. “Hard to make sense of it all,” she continued her prattle fumbling to get the key in the keyhole, “I could only piece things together. She’s so distraught almost hysterical–it had to be something traumatic. I gave her a sedative.” She relaxed with the key finally in.
“Did you go in?” the Latino asked. He reached over her shoulder, turned the knob and pushed the door open.
“No, she told me to call the police.” Mrs. Oliphant followed the two in.
A deathly silence hung in the air of the spacious and well-appointed apartment. The other officer – a tall, black, athletic man – stepped around the sofa with Mrs. Oliphant right behind him. They both nearly tripped over something crumpled on the floor, and when they looked to see what it was, they found a body, lying face down in a pool of blood that trailed to the rear of the apartment.
“Oh dear,” uttered Mrs. Oliphant, when suddenly the distant sound of running water triggered the officers’ instinctive defenses. The Latino officer, with hand on his holstered Glock, slowly made his way down the hall to investigate.
The other officer knelt to inspect the body, but his attention was distracted by his partner’s conversation with another male voice.
“Oh dear,” Mrs. Oliphant repeated, as the officer escorted a man to the front of the apartment. “Medhat, where did you come from?” Mrs. Oliphant asked. He was drying his hands with a blood-stained towel. Twice stunned, Mrs. Oliphant tilted her head like a puzzled puppy.
“This dude’s dead,” the black officer announced, after finishing his analysis of the body. On bended knee, he looked up to Medhat and asked, “Who are you?”
* * *
“What do you think, Smith?”
Truth of the matter was I didn’t want Detective Washington to know what I was thinking. Medhat was looking more like a serial killer, but I knew better. He had a lot of bad qualities, but homicidal he was not. My friend was a lover, not a killer; nevertheless, I had the feeling he was dragging me down a road I didn’t care to venture on. I closed the police data file and shoved it back across the desktop.
“I’m not sure what to think, Detective.”
Unit Commander of the Metropolitan Police Homicide Division, Detective Lieutenant Richard Washington, waited patiently while I digested the contents. By granting me access to privileged information he was expecting a trade-off. We were bargaining hungry for the other’s perspective and inside information. Hence my unfettered access to what would ordinarily be classified information requiring, at minimum, a FOIA request for sensitive information related to an ongoing police investigation. I was a lead – a source, or informant – and as a friend of the court Detective Washington relied on my attorney status. He gave me some of what I wanted. Now I had to return the favor.
This wasn’t the first homicide in which Medhat was a suspect. So how did I end up sitting in a police precinct reviewing a police crime scene report? It started with a phone call from Medhat in the middle of the night.
* * *
Awakened by the ringing phone, I waited for Medhat to answer it. I had just assumed that he was asleep on the pullout sofa in the living room. Since he had moved in, the phone was almost always for him. After five rings, I regrettably figured he wasn’t there, and the ringing was not going to stop.
“Drew, I need your help. I’m in jail. Come get me.” Medhat.
“In jail?” I sat up. “What happened?”
“They think I killed him, but I didn’t do it.” There was desperation in his voice. “Somebody set me up. I didn’t do it. I tell you I didn’t do it.
( Continued… )
© 2013 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Norwood Holland. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher’s written permission. Share a link to this page or the author’s website if you really like this promotional excerpt.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Norwood Holland is a freelance writer, lawyer, and author of the Drew Smith legal thriller series based on the capers of an urban trial attorney. He is a graduate of Howard University School of Law with a bachelor’s degree in English from Fisk University where he studied under the renowned Harlem Renaissance author Arna Bontemps. Holland favors D.C.’s local color in his fiction and currently writes the blog: www.editorialindependence.com devoted to promoting independent authors among other things.
He has served in several government agencies including the National Labor Relations Board and a number of Washington’s top national law firms. In the mid 90s Holland began freelancing for the local media. Recent credits include The Writer Magazine, the Examiner, and Black Literature Magazine.
Following up on the success of Sleepless Nights, the prequel to the Drew Smith Series, Minus One is his latest and Snakehead will issue in the Spring 2014.