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A Frank Nagler Novel Book 5
BY MICHAEL STEPHEN DAIGLE
Detective Frank Nagler has seen his hometown of Ironton, NJ go through many changes over the past several years, and lately scandals abound within the city’s government, the stench of its corruption imbedded deep, rivaling the dank stagnant stench emanating from the old bog just outside of town.
Detective Nagler has seen the worst of humanity, but nothing could have prepared him for the explosion that rocked the once thriving town, sending a section of Warren Street geysering into the air, suspended for a moment in time before collapsing into the rising flames in a shower of broken wooden walls, bricks, windowsills, bed frames, refrigerators and diner counter tops. The time had been recorded by the decorating, antique clock two blocks away whose cracked glass face shielded stopped hands.
The clues to this devastating crime are few and puzzling, leading down a rabbit hole and to a 15-year-old closed narcotics case, as well as a conglomerate of companies working towards an unknown goal – a goal that disregards the ever-increasing body count.
Danger always lurked in the shadows in Ironton but is Nagler prepared to face the most dangerous threat of all…Dragony Rising.
The story of Dragony Rising is of a conspiracy to take over the city of Ironton, N.J. In this scene, Detective Frankl Nagler meets for the first time one of the conspirators, Rodney McCarroll:
“Mister Noiglar, ya don’t look crazy to me.” The voice arrived at the same instant the ice in the muddy trail betrayed the entrance of Rodney McCarroll. Somewhere in the voice was a soft Irish lilt worn hard by smokes and too many years of American English.
Nagler turned. “McCarroll. Maybe you’re not looking hard enough. How much did Bennie soak you for?” He saw the Internet message, Nagler thought, pleased. One more channel to follow.
A coughing, laughing reply. “Another twenty. Talk is cheap. Mister Noiglar.”
McCarroll was five-six or five-seven, Nagler guessed. He was shrunken inside a leather coat he had apparently been wearing for years, judging by the worn seams and shiny edges to the collar and tail. Nagler wondered where his weapon was. It was hard to assess his age, Nagler thought. His face was scarred over and under his left eye and his cheeks were sunken. That leather coat was softer than his skin. Was this a man used up or one so hardened by the world the rough ways deflected all distractions? This man was not the gang leader, the brains, Nagler realized, but carried out orders. That’s somewhat disappointing. but in its own way, useful. A thug for hire.
Nagler smiled. “You do realize my twenty to Bennie was to get you here, not someone you might be chasing.”
McCarroll’s face was still a mask but his right eye jittered.
Yup, Nagler thought.
“Oi, Mr. Noiglar, we do understand this situation, then.”
“What situation is that, McCarroll? That one of your thugs tried to kill a friend of mine, two in fact, and that someone you know tried to blow up…”
“That blast was not mine, sir. If it was, nothing would be standin’. If it was me after that reporter fella, his brains would be in the roadway. But that queer girl was defacing property of the organization, so it had to stop.”
That was sort of weak, Nagler thought.
“Well, your messenger failed. He’s the hospital with a paint-can sized headache.”
“Ah, Mr. Noiglar, he’ll be soon gone.”
“He’s under guard.”
“And so he is, but who’s to say who is guarding him?”
Nagler steeled himself so not to react.
“So what’s your point, McCarroll? That the organization is untouchable? Am I supposed to be afraid? Nothing scares me, you know, not a threatening Irishmen and certainly not a faceless organization.”
“We are not faceless, Mr. Noiglar. The Dragony is large and as old as your oldest memories. You’ve dealt with it before. It’s in plain sight and hidden in the deepest shadows.” McCarroll’s face took on a sneering hardness. “If ya ever had the chance to crawl through them old mine shafts, you’d find our symbols scratched in the walls and beams. You’d find it tapped into the iron rails ribboned across the landscape and stenciled on the steel beams that raise buildings to the sky. It’s carved into the main beam of a canal boat and the stones that channeled the water, in the bank notes that paid for it all, one rolling and unstoppable many tentacled being, inescapable as procreation and as necessary as breathin’ with members so proud we gladly wear its mark.”
McCarroll pulled back his coat collar to display what was probably a tattoo, but to Nagler some feet away appeared to be an old bruise.
Nagler tensed as McCarroll fiddled in his jacket pocket.
But he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter and looked around the clearing for a place to sit. Finding none, he leaned against a dead tree. “Now you also been tying me to that old Dixon case, father and daughter. Believing I killed all those folks and took the money.”
“Well, did you? Weren’t you sentenced to jail?” Nagler asked, losing patience. “We have a couple current murders. I could arrest you on suspicion.”
McCarroll sucked in a deep draught and exhaled. The ripeness of burned tobacco cut through the chill and moistness of the bog. “Ya got nothing on me, Mr. Noiglar. Nothing from then. Nothing now. I don’t kill people.”
Nagler exhaled a breathy cough. “Oh, well, pardon me. You’re just around when people die. Is that why you haven’t shot me yet?”
McCarroll’s face cracked into a sad grin. “Ah, I ain’t carryin’. What good would it do us to have me shootin’ the most famous copper in this dingy burg. The Dragony endures because it does not engage in the petty day-to-day, but strings events together over time.”
“That makes no sense, you know. What are you doing here, besides following me around and threatening people I know? What good is this great Dragony if it can’t be seen in the light of day but must hide in shadows. For whose benefit does it act, other than its own?”
“Ah, Mr. Noiglar, we are acquiring. That’s what the Dragony does, acquires, absorbs, and then settles, digests if you will, until another opportunity arises.”
“If Ironton is such a dingy burg, what do you want it for? What value has it? Or does it have no value, and that’s why you want it, the almighty Dragony.” He spit out the name, tired of the drama.
McCarroll settled back into his tree, “Your granddaddy knew, Mr. Noiglar. Back in the day. Jock Newton and he battled for the soul of the mining crew. It was a draw in the end. Old Newton vanished, dumped in a sealed shaft, hauled away in a pile of slag and buried, it was said. Your granddad went to other employ. Some say your old granddad did him in when the fight got too hot. But, me. No. Not the case. Your grandad and Old Newton, like you and me now, were foot soldiers in this great arc of time. This everlasting everlasting.”
Nagler covered his mouth and stared at the ground to hide the mild shock of hearing the name “Newton.” Maybe an uncle of the old mayor Howard Newton, maybe grandfather?
“Ah, the Newtons. Proud family, that.” Nagler was covering, trying to find a way in. “Left this city in ruins more than once.” He shifted one step forward, a test. This is the challenge, Nagler thought as McCarroll scrubbed out his cigarette on the tree. This little bragging man fronting for someone of greater power and danger. If I locked him up, the trail might go cold.
“So, look, McCarroll, got anything else? If not, leave my friends alone. They have nothing you need.”
“Ah, Mr. Noiglar, my presence here today is the message. What does it say that I can draw you to this stinking swamp for little more than a few dollars? It says we know you, know your life and its aches. So it gets ya thinking, what else might we do? That is the Dragony. Besides. I was never here. I am just a rumor.”
(Photo credit: Dave Norton)
Meet Author Michael Stephen Daigle…
Michael Stephen Daigle grew up in the Northeast U.S. from the snowbelt shores of Upstate N.Y. to the woods of Maine and the piers of New Bedford, Mass., all the while writing. He and his family now live in New Jersey. His first job was picking blueberries in Maine and his last job was a 33-year career as a newspaper writer and editor. He wrote his first novel at 22, and a second at 24. The second one years later became the first book of his Frank Nagler Mystery series: “The Swamps of Jersey” (2014); “A Game Called Dead” (2016); “The Weight of Living” (2017); “The Red Hand” (2019); and “Dragony Rising” (2022).
The award-winning Frank Nagler series follows the story of Ironton N.J. Detective Frank Nagler as he solves crimes and tries to sort out his troubled life.
“I like creating messy mysteries with lots of moving parts and layers of story. It lets my detective hero Frank Nagler lead the reader through the twists and turns.”
Links to Michael’s website, blog, books, etc.
Amazon.com: Dragony Rising: A Frank Nagler Novel – Book 5: 9781944653231: Daigle, Michael Stephen: Books
(paperback and Kindle ebook)
Thanks, Michael, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!