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Crooked is the story of a Private Investigator’s battle to quit smoking cold turkey, which causes him to have dreams so terrifying sleep is the one thing he fears most until he receives a call that submerges him into an underworld so corrupt...when a notable mob boss is murdered Kelly must find out why.

The telephone rang at eleven sixteen P.M. Saturday, October eighth. Kelly, had a habit of gazing at the clock when he heard the phone ring, one of the many bad habits he picked up as a cop. The rain that beat against the kitchen window sounded like bombs dropped from an f-16.

Large bolts of lightning lit the heavens followed by thunderous claps of thunder making him think of his mother who had a habit of turning off all the electrical appliances in the house out of fear that it attracted lightning.

The voice on the other end was frantic, rambling about a dead body in a restaurant.

"Slow down," Kelly demanded as he looked at the unopened pack of Newport's that sat on the living room table with the clock, remote control and lamp. He reached for the remote and turned down the volume on Law and Order until it was almost audible.

Another clap from the heavens rocked the house again. Kelly sat almost upright. He almost pushed the power button out of fear that the light he saw bullied it's way through the living room window and in fact illuminated the T.V.

The constant turning of his stomach, which tormented him, was not caused by the weather outside, but by the constant yearning to smoke. This was much different from the childhood peer pressures, which caused him to start smoking in the first place. This addiction, which he tried to ignore, bought forth the feeling of death.

Trying to compose herself the caller continued. "I need you Mr. Kelly. You see my son was arrested for he could not have committed."

"Wait!" Kelly, interrupted. He watched two figures on the television set, one striking the other over the head with a gun, and dragging his body into the woods. "another -- my son is innocent until it is proven that he was indeed guilty story?"

"I can understand your being judgmental and I certainly can't tell you that my son is an angel," the voice continued. "but I was here when the telephone rang that night; I gave the phone to James myself. Even Miss. Black , his lawyer questioned the the idea that if he left here at two in the morning after he spoke on the phone, it is impossible he could have killed that detective because his got shot a little after midnight."

Kelly listened intently as the voice he recognized to be southern aroused his curiosity. "You mentioned Miss Black," he said as switched the phone to his left ear, freeing his right hand to pick up the pack of cigarettes. The sudden crack from the heavens above scared the day lights out of Kelly, causing the cigarettes to slip from his hands and fall on the floor. He picked them up and placed the;m back in the exact same spot. "were you referring to the lawyer, Miss Julie Black?"

"Yes she is handling my son's case and she said if anyone can find out what happened, you can.

"I'm sorry Mrs. James mother," the urge to rip open the pack of cigarettes and smoke until the shakes were gone gripped him. He stood up and went into the kitchen as another bolt of lightning lit the house. He put some ice into a glass, poured some water and returned to the couch. the phone was dead long before he realized he was talking to himself. He put the phone down and once again looked at the unopened box of cigarettes.

Tormenting himself through an unopened box of cigarettes made him intolerable. He knew this from the altercation with a police officer named Allen over a smart remark Allen made about Kelly not being a real cop and broke his nose a couple of days ago. He felt it best to stay away from people until he felt better. It was not long before the T.V. was watching him.

He woke with his fingers to his mouth, as if holding a cigarette. He mimicked blowing smoke rings before he realized the phone was ringing. He looked at the clock; it was 12:35 in the morning. The pack of cigarettes, which sat on his chest, fell to the floor when he reached to answer the phone.

I t was Julie, and he could always tell when she was upset because she would always begin her conversation with, 'Hello Mister!" then afterwards, she never gave him a word in edgewise. "Mrs. Turner called you earlier and you turned her down Kelly? Why?" Without a breath or even wanting an answer, she went on. "That boy could not have possibly killed that detective." she paused. Once again he knew to say nothing. "Just answer one question for me."

"Sure, if you give..."

"I clearly remember the day that you said you don't ever want anyone to go through what you did." Once again the phone went dead.

Frederick McClendon, a writer and inventor who was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, is the second youngest to one older sister and two brothers. He is married and has four daughters and five grandsons. He worked for the NYC Transit Authority as a bus operator. His love for writing began at the age of fourteen with an unfinished book entitled Comrad. He hopes an invention he is in the process of receiving a patent for will hit every store shelf in the near future. He enjoys chess, reading, and poetry. His passion is his family, which he lives every day for. His favorite quote is a self-coined quote: “Hate is a promise of an unsure tomorrow!”

Please look for Frederick McClendon’s upcoming works:

Three Dog Knights

Another Crooked Investigation

Spy Kill

Hoop Dreams


Flip side of Reality

Long Gone

A Brother’s Fate

Dance with the Devil

Memoirs: Scooter

A private eye's private battle with nicotine and familiarity with NYC streets add a twist and excitement to this classic-style detective novel. What happens when you quit smoking, cold turkey, and have to solve the murder of a noted mob boss all in the same week? Dreams of menthols chasing you and awkward situations involving men with guns control your days and nights. Forsaken packs of cigarettes haunt Kelly, a PI who is a former NYPD officer. They are never far from his reach and are always in his dreams, causing him to be very irritable and difficult to workwith. Peppermints are Kelly's constant companion. The ignored pack of cigarettes manages to invade every scene, and McClendon plays this unique twist to the hilt in his standard New York City private-eye story of good guys versus corrupt cops. On top of trying to beat his nicotine addiction, Kelly is drawn into a difficult case by his childhood friend Julie Black, now an attorney. Where is Nick and why has he disappeared? Kelly slowly becomes fond of James Turner, the young man haunted by Nick's disappearance. Kelly explores Nick's involvement with the local mob and investigates where the money is that Nick hid in his restaurant office. Kelly's relationship with Julie is standard detective-fiction fare. The unrequited love interest brings out Kelly'ssofter side and calms his nicotine cravings. When Julie disappears, the case takes on new meaning for Kelly and throws him into the ring of dirty cops and mob connections, all of whom are searching for the hidden cash. Characters show little growth, primarily because nearly every member of the cast is a well-known type in detective fiction. There is the taciturn detective with a heart, the police officer fighting against corruption within, the corrupt cop who will do anything to hang on to the money, the wrongly accused young man-they're all here.
The author's familiarity with his setting adds excitement to the story. McClendon clearly knows the places he describes, and this lends interest and an air of reality to his writing: "They drove to Buffalo Avenue and Eastern Parkway. Kelly recognized the park. Lincoln Terrace ... back in the day, prostitutes, johns, pimps and drug dealers had used the park. ... It was a murky cold day, no sunlight was able to pierce the clouds." There are minor grammar and word-usage issues throughout the book. Along with those, the dialogue is often clunky, rarely making use ofthe contractions that are generally present in natural speech: "I did not grab them when I left the car." Readers will likely have trouble envisioning the conversations because they seem stilted by formality. Though this is a fastmoving detective story, it often reads more like a Victorian novel. Those who are struggling with nicotine cravings will appreciate McClendon's take on quitting cold turkey, a plot element not often found in detective fiction.
~ Clarion Review
Crooked Is a very good read. I advise anyone who enjoy a good suspenseful crime story to read it.
Raynah McMillian 

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