The Informant

The Informant

by Marc Olden

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Facing a long jail sentence, a woman takes a dangerous job for the New York Police Department

Lydia Constanza is not cut out for prison. Since she came to the United States from Cuba, she’s twice been convicted as an accomplice to a violent crime, and done two short stints in jail. The second time, her nerves went, and she vowed never to return. Back on the outside and living in New York with a five-year-old daughter, Lydia and her boyfriend hold up a check-cashing place, tripping the silent alarm and landing, once again, in handcuffs. To stay near her child, this three-time loser offers up the only thing she has left: information.

Harlem has become a dangerous place to wear a badge. Two cops have just been killed at a traffic stop, and Walter F. X. Forster is not going to lose any more men. Informants like Lydia are the lieutenant’s last chance to stop the bleeding. It’s the bad guys’ turn to die—if his snitches stay alive long enough to tell the cops who to kill.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781453259924
Publisher: Road
Publication date: 07/17/2012
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 310
Sales rank: 54,357
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

Marc Olden (1933–2003) was the author of forty mystery and suspense novels. Born in Baltimore, he began writing while working in New York as a Broadway publicist. His first book, Angela Davis (1973), was a nonfiction study of the controversial Black Panther. In 1973 he also published Narc, under the name Robert Hawke, beginning a hard-boiled nine-book series about a federal narcotics agent. 

A year later, Black Samurai introduced Robert Sand, a martial arts expert who becomes the first non-Japanese student of a samurai master. Based on Olden’s own interest in martial arts, which led him to the advanced ranks of karate and aikido, the novel spawned a successful eight-book series. Olden continued writing for the next three decades, often drawing on his fascination with Japanese culture and history. 

Marc Olden (1933–2003) was the author of forty mystery and suspense novels. Born in Baltimore, he began writing while working in New York as a Broadway publicist. His first book, Angela Davis (1973), was a nonfiction study of the controversial Black Panther. In 1973 he also published Narc, under the name Robert Hawke, beginning a hard-boiled nine-book series about a federal narcotics agent.

A year later, Black Samurai introduced Robert Sand, a martial arts expert who becomes the first non-Japanese student of a samurai master. Based on Olden’s own interest in martial arts, which led him to the advanced ranks of karate and aikido, the novel spawned a successful eight-book series. Olden continued writing for the next three decades, often drawing on his fascination with Japanese culture and history. 

Read an Excerpt

The Informant

By Marc Olden Road Integrated Media

Copyright © 1978 Marc Olden
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4532-5992-4


Buying dope on the street.

Nothing in the world like it.

Neil Shire loved it.

Just an ounce of white, he thought. One ounce of white heroin. A piece. That's all I want to score. But this sucker sitting across from me is jerking me around, upping the price from what we'd agreed on last night. Last night he wanted a thousand dollars. Tonight he wants fifteen hundred.

Can't have that now, can we? No, we can't.

Time to take care of business.

Neil Shire stood up slowly, stepping out of the booth, making sure he looked like a man with somewhere else to go.

The Cuban, whose smile contained all the gums he owned, stopped smiling.

"Hey, brother, hey, where you going'?"

"Away from you, dude. You're stroking me, and I don't like it. Last night's money ain't good enough for you. So it looks like you and I won't be doing a deal, looks like."

"Hey, hey, take it easy. Fifteen is cool for what I got. Good powder. I guarantee you it's nothin' but good powder. You like it I can get you more."

"You can get me nothing, friend." Neil looked down at the Cuban. Small dude pulling a small hustle. The Cuban was a tiny little man, thin, pale, a piece of chalk in a dark blue pea coat. And Neil Shire, who had money to spend, was a lot tougher.

Neil leaned over until he was almost nose-to-nose with the little Cuban.

"Friend, I wish you well. Get rich, but get rich off somebody else. With me, a deal's a deal, a price is a price. You told Lydia a thousand and that's why I'm here. Now, if you can't be righteous with me, that's just fine. I'll live. And you go connect with some other turkey. Me, I'm waiting for Lydia to come out of the john, then we quit this set."

Sure of himself, Neil turned his back on the tiny Cuban and took two steps toward the Mets-Pirates game on a color Zenith high in a corner behind the bar. No sound on the television. But a small radio on a shelf of liquor bottles crackled with a loud Spanish-language version of the ball game.

Rosario's bar. Not much, and all Cuban, smelling of stale beer and cheap overcooked meat. Located in an all-Cuban neighborhood in Manhattan's Washington Heights, and no place for an outsider to enter without first being asked. Rosario's bar. Small, with an all-Spanish jukebox, a drinking bar parallel to six red leather booths, and in the back two small johns behind blue wooden doors. To the left of the johns, a bearded cook made a lot of noise in a tiny kitchen. Except for Neil Shire, a federal narcotics agent, everyone in the bar was Cuban.

Behind Neil, the tiny Cuban, who called himself Zarzuela, said, "Hey, man, hey, come on, sit down."

Neil, an expert at going for anybody's jugular, heard the whine in Zarzuela's voice and knew he had the little pusher. Fish is chewing on the hook, now let's reel him in and hang his miniature ass over the fireplace.

"I'm sitting," said Neil.

Zarzuela said, "I got to get by, you know? Got to make a living."

Neil, palms down on the black formica tabletop, looked at the backs of his hands and said nothing.

Zarzuela said, "You known Lydia long?"

"I'm interested in dope," said Neil. I'm being watched, too. Covering your ass, aren't you, Mr. Z.? Three men: a fat one in a pink shirt and gold cross, sitting at the bar digging wax out of his ears. And in the front booth, two more, one of them drooling over a hooker in a green jumpsuit and yellow platforms.

That's how Cubans did dope. Always where they felt safe. Always, always in a bar or restaurant that was totally Cuban, in a Cuban neighborhood, so that strangers stood out immediately. Blacks, Italians, and everybody else did dope anywhere, your place or theirs, in a park or in a church, but not Cubans. If you bought or sold dope to Cubans, the deal always went down in a Cuban neighborhood, in a Cuban bar or restaurant. Cubans were smart, tough, careful, and dealing more dope in New York than blacks and Italians put together.

Neil Shire was in Rosario's by invitation. Like most agents or cops undercover, he carried no gun. A stranger with a gun meant cop, and Neil was a stranger until he'd made enough buys to be accepted. Only then could he carry a gun around dope dealers without arousing suspicion.

Tonight's buy had been set up by Lydia Constanza, an informant Neil was working for the first time. Tonight was Lydia's first test, and if she passed it, if Neil copped good dope from Zarzuela, then Lydia would be used for more buys, and, more important to Lydia, she'd be able to keep out of jail. Like all informants, she'd flipped because she had to, because she'd committed a crime. In order to stay out of prison, she was betraying friends and associates.

"Lydia says you buy for people on the island." Zarzuela couldn't stop smiling. All teeth, gums, tonsils, and moist brown eyes pleading to be liked, to be agreed with.

Lydia says what I tell her to say, thought Neil. He said to Zarzuela, "Let's skip all the social shit, okay? Why am I sitting here? You tell me."

Zarzuela coughed, sniffed, wiped his nose on his pea-coat sleeve. Pusher-addict, thought Neil. Half of his supply goes into his arm, the other half gets hit with milk sugar, baking soda, or powdered laxative, and he deals it for money for some more to put in his arm. He'll try to waltz me around so he can look good in front of his three friends. But in the end, he'll take the thousand and make the sign of the cross, because he knows for sure he can wake up tomorrow and get well.

Don't blame the September chill for your sniffles, Chico. Blame your nasty little habit and that needle. Once you slip it in, it never comes out.

Lydia. Neil had signaled her to go to the john and stay there while the buy went down. If she didn't see the deal, she wouldn't have to testify. Being a snitch was a high-risk business.

You had to protect your informants, because without them, you had no case. They introduced you to people, got you inside, vouched for you, tipped you in advance, tipped you after the fact, helped you to make arrests, and by doing so, made your career. Neil was in Rosario's because Lydia Constanza had said she could set him up with Cubans dealing heroin and cocaine.

She'd said more, something that had made Neil Shire, an ambitious man, tremble with excitement and think that Lydia Constanza just might be his ticket to ride.

Lydia claimed to have seen Kelly Lorenzo in a Manhattan after-hours club. Kelly was the most-wanted federal fugitive in dope, a twenty-nine-year-old black who'd been dealing one hundred million dollars' worth of narcotics yearly before he'd jumped four hundred thousand dollars' bail six months ago. Good-looking Kelly, who'd killed at least a hundred people. Smart, ruthless Kelly, who was probably still dealing dope from wherever he was hiding.

Lydia said she saw him in the Palace, a legendary after-hours club operated by top pimps, a joint no law enforcement had ever set foot in, and a place most cops felt didn't exist. People throughout America, in Europe and in the Caribbean claimed to have seen Kelly Lorenzo, who had a thirty-thousand-dollar reward on his head.

Was he in Manhattan? In narcotics, anything was possible.

And Lydia Constanza, facing jail for armed robbery as well as prostitution and mugging charges, offered Neil Shire something else to keep herself out of the joint. Cubans and blacks, she said, were teaming to bring in the largest amount of white heroin New York City had ever seen. The deal was so big that both groups, who had never worked together on this large a scale before, were investing millions of dollars up front.

The deal was so big that it would take at least a year to plan and execute. At least one year.

Ambitious Neil Shire trembled with excitement at the thought of it. If Lydia Constanza was telling the truth about Kelly Lorenzo and the Cuban-black super white-heroin deal, then Neil Shire had nothing but green lights in front of him from now on.

If Lydia was talking good noise and Neil could stay on top of this case without having it yanked from under him, then there were promotions in his future, commendations, that desk job he and his wife both wanted for him, one of the few things the two of them agreed on. If Lydia was right, if, then Neil had the case of his life.

If she was wrong, then she was heading to the joint and Neil was on his way to oblivion. But think positive. Think that Lydia was righteous. Think about making this case, then getting promoted to group supervisor with men working under him. Think about becoming assistant regional director with a corner office and windows. Think about making this case and getting transferred to Washington.

To hell with having his picture taken with the head of the department, with the heavies down at Justice, with the attorney-general, with the president of the United States. Just give Neil a desk job, a higher civil-service grade, and the money that came with all of that, and he'd be singing in the rain louder than Gene Kelly.

It all depended on Lydia. Work her right, test her, stroke her, watch her. Turn her over and get her to introduce him to people. Turn them over, and keep moving up, keep moving up. The name of the game. That's what tonight was all about. A test for Lydia, with Neil's reputation and career riding on that test, because he'd had too much trouble lately. Too much.

He'd made mistakes and been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and besides all that, he was going nowhere, no goddamn where at all, making no cases, impressing nobody. He needed help.

And a friend on the cops had handed him Lydia because New York City narcotics was too broke to pay informants and too short of manpower to spare the time to work them properly. Neil's chance was now, now, and he was going to work Lydia Constanza for all she was worth. It was her or Neil, and it damn sure wasn't going to be Neil.

First time out, and she'd given him Zarzuela, and Zarzu had dope. Or was it all a hustle to buy Lydia time to think of some other way to stay out of the slam? Ripoff? Zarzu and Lydia teaming to sell Neil milk sugar? Christ, no. Don't even think that. That was last year. Old trouble. Christ, don't even think that.

But you had to think betrayal when you were working a snitch. A snitch would betray anybody to stay out of jail. Give a snitch a better offer, and he'd betray a cop, an agent, his gray-haired mother. It had happened before. Christ, don't even think that.

A lot to worry about these days. In law enforcement, you moved up or you were moved out. Times were hard, money was tight, and cutbacks had put cops and agents on unemployment insurance and back to mowing grass full time. Neil Shire, thirty-two, going nowhere, anxious for that desk job, had to move up soon.

The street was exciting, and buying dope was some kind of thrill, but you couldn't be out there when you were fifty-five—that is, if you lasted that long. If you didn't get blown away by a fucked-up dealer, if you didn't get killed by department efficiency reports, if you didn't get screwed by dumb partners, if you didn't get pushed into working on a shit case by an ambitious supervisor hot to look good at your expense. No siree, friends, Neil Shire didn't want to be on the street that long.

But to get off the street in a hurry, he needed a dynamite case.

Enter Lydia.

At the bar, the ball-game watchers cheered, shouted, clapped, whistled. Sounds like a fiesta, thought Neil. Who the hell would have thought I'd need an interpreter to watch a baseball game? You've got more Cubans in Manhattan than you got holes in Swiss cheese.

He watched the fat man in the pink shirt and tiny gold cross slide his thick ass and thighs off a barstool, eyes still on the game. When fatty walked past Neil's booth, he had a folded newspaper under one large arm.

"Yes or no," said Neil. "My ass is getting numb sitting here."

Zarzuela sighed, shrugged. "You got it. A thousand."

No shit, Dick Tracy, thought Neil. But he was excited. Man, you always got turned on when the buy went down and you had lied so beautifully. He said, "Tell me again how good it is."

"White. Fifty percent. Stepped on just once."

"You sure about that?"

"Talking straight, man. Dynamite package, nothin' but dynamite."

Neil knew better. Street pushers were the end of the line in dope, creeps selling leftovers, buying last and getting dope that had been hit so many times it was usually one percent heroin and ninety-nine percent baking soda, lactose, dextrose, procaine, quinine, mannite. Street pushers sold the weakest dope and were the most dangerous people to deal with.

That was one of the strange things about dope. Buy a lot, buy kilos, and you dealt with people you could almost always trust. Big guys kept their word, stayed away from violence most of the time, and were dependable, cool, together.

But God help your ass when you bought small. These were the people quick to use a gun, to rip you off, to play games. The small guys, the ones selling ounces, eighths, quarters, nickel and dime bags. They were the ones you had to watch out for, the ones who would blow you away in a second.

Fifty percent pure. Sure, Zarzu. And the bear has signed a paper never to shit in the woods anymore.

Neil Shire passed him the envelope. Ten one-hundred-dollar bills, and that had also been a problem today, one of several. Upstairs had been unable to give Neil smaller bills, and he'd bitched, but the broad with a face as long as a broom handle had said it wasn't her fault, take it or leave it.

So he took it, filling out the forms, hating having to carry around hundreds. But it had shortened his paperwork, since he had to list only ten serial numbers. The bills weren't marked; listing the serial numbers was enough. Just keep an eye peeled for those numbers, and check out anybody who shows up with one. Chances are, whoever showed up with one of the bills was associated with Zarzuela, which Neil knew was a phony name.

Nobody in dope ever used a righteous name. Nobody. Nicknames, aliases. That's all you ever got, and law enforcement went crazy wading through ten or more names to get their hands on one man. Cubans tended to use the names of hometowns and provinces back in Cuba. Zarzuela was the name of a popular fish stew.

Zarzuela looked up from counting the money, smiling as though a coat hanger was stuck in his mouth sideways. "All C's. Nothing but hundreds. Goddamn, my man. All C's." He was impressed. "Mr. C Man. That's you. Mr. C Man."

A name is born, thought Neil. Why not? He said, "I'm waiting."

The fat man in the pink shirt walked by the booth again, eyes on the ball game and no folded newspaper under his arm this time.

Zarzuela stood up, pocketing the envelope, a satisfied man. "Men's room. Trashcan. Side facing you as you come in. Anytime you need another package, Mr. C, I'm ready."

Let's see what the lab tells me about this one, Zarzu. Neil said, "If you're righteous, anything can happen." For some reason, Zarzuela had gotten the idea in his head that Neil was buying dope for young Italians on Long Island, some crazy guineas breaking away from the old-time Mustache Petes in the Mafia and going into business for themselves.

Neil had gone along with it, letting Zarzuela think whatever he wanted to. Lydia's idea probably, since she'd done all the talking with the Cuban. Not a bad idea. Maybe she wasn't the useless spic that Katey kept calling her behind her back. Katey was Edward Merle Kates, detective sergeant, New York Police Department, assigned to work with Neil and Lydia.

Katey didn't like Lydia, which might turn out to be a problem in the future. A snitch had to be treated right, if you wanted him to work for you, and for God's sake, don't ever say "snitch" to their face.

In the small, dimly lit, piss-smelling john, Neil found the folded newspaper. His heart was beating faster, and that's how it was in narcotics. When you were going to score dope, or the bust was about to go down, you got excited, you couldn't help it. The juice practically ran down your leg. Neil felt the lump inside the folded paper. It's here, goddamn it, Lord, it's here.

Clear plastic bag. The kind sold in supermarkets. A fourth of a cup of white powder in the bottom, the bag folded over several times. Yes. Neil closed his eyes, exhaled, counted to ten.

Outside on the street, he shivered in the cool darkness, eyes on Lydia.

"Went down fine. Laboratory will tell us what we just copped. Zarzuela says it's fifty-percent pure."


Excerpted from The Informant by Marc Olden. Copyright © 1978 Marc Olden. Excerpted by permission of Road Integrated Media.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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