The Legal Times hailed Kahn's first novel, The Jinx, as a "remarkably well-crafted book," and he has delivered another intricately-plotted whodunit that will keep readers turning pages into the wee hours. More than just a mesmerizing story, King of Paine offers fully-rendered characters who grapple with a range of intriguing end-of-life issues while everything they care about is at stake. Readers who liked The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo or the novels of Greg Iles will enjoy settling in with King of Paine for a sexy, thought-provoking ride.
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A desperate patient. A rumored cure. How far would you go to find the Fountain of Youth?
Frank Paine is not your prototypical FBI agent. He's an ex-Hollywood stud with a kinky past, an irreverent wise ass who craves forgiveness from the woman he loves. When a ruthless stalker uses Frank's indiscretions to ensnare him in an erotic cat-and-mouse death match, his investigation points toward a missing biochemist. His hunt for her secret haven takes one tragic turn after another, until he finds himself facing an impossible dilemma. Someone will die as a result of his decisions, and it may be his soulmate. Or him.
Frank tried to maintain calm, no easy feat for a control freak threatened by imminent destruction of a vital organ. He could handle a robbery. Everybody knew their roles. The thief waves the gun menacingly, takes the money, runs. The tough-guy victim stays cool, studies the perp’s face for later retribution, hands over his wallet with a defiant sneer. Nobody gets hurt. Egos remain more or less intact.
But now, unfamiliar with the ethos of the deep South, a series of dark questions reeled through his mind. How does a redneck obtain satisfaction for the sexual humiliation of his baby “sistuh”? Dueling banjos at dusk? A catfish eatin’ contest? Frank shook off the impulse to ask, “Is that a gun jabbed in my back or are you just glad to see me?” Midtown Atlanta wasn’t north Georgia mountain country, but no point inviting a Deliverance moment for the sake of one last irreverent wisecrack.
He recalled Jolynn had two older brothers, a lawyer and a construction worker. He hoped providence dealt him the lawyer. They tended to think through consequences and were less likely to act impulsively on pure emotion.
“You Josh or Zack?” Frank asked. “I’m with the FBI now. Check my ID. Inside coat pocket. Assaulting a federal officer is a felony.”
“Dang, a felony.”
A denim-clad left arm swung around Frank’s body and patted him down, leaving the credentials but lifting his gun from its holster. Then the force was withdrawn from his kidney, and a metal pipe clattered to the ground a few yards behind them.
“We’re pourin’ concrete tomorrow at a site ’bout a mile down West Peachtree. Don’t reckon it’s a felony if they never find a body. Any last words, movie star?”
Frank cursed his bad fortune. The construction worker, Zack. So this is how the movie ends. A scriptwriter might find something right, almost poetic, about his death at the hands of Jolynn’s surrogate, but he preferred a less dramatic way to fix the heart he had broken.
But how should he play it? He recalled Woody Woodbridge’s advice in the hallway at the Four Seasons. Slow everything down in your mind.
He sucked in a deep breath, thought about his opponent, how he might react to various strategies. The man built shit with his hands, danced on steel girders hundreds of feet above the city without a net. A mental image of Lee Fields added his two cents. Play it tough, Frankie Boy. Earn his respect.
He clenched his fist. “Tell Jo I always—”
He whirled and landed a roundhouse to the ribs. “—loved her.”
Hand stinging, Frank bounced on his toes like a boxer, poised to deliver another blow if Zack wanted to duke it out. The big guy’s surprise showed in his blue eyes, the only feature he shared with his kid sister. He looked like a denim gorilla. An angry denim gorilla with a forty-five caliber, FBI-issued Glock.
Frank recalled the famous scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark where an Arabian swordsman dazzles Indiana Jones with his ferocious blade work until Harrison draws his pistol and slays him with a smirk and a single shot. Maybe we should’ve thought this plan all the way through, old man. His mental image of Lee Fields shrugged. That’s why we have rewrites, Frankie Boy.
As Zack raised the gun, Frank braced for a bullet to the head, jaw thrust out, eyes unflinching. If he was going to die, it would be like a man. Like Travolta taking a cruise missile in the chest in Broken Arrow, the only decent piece of work that screwball Scientologist ever shot.
Frank stared down the barrel of the gun, breathing hard, sweat drenching his underarms. If the bastard didn’t shoot soon, he thought his heart might explode first. “Do it!” he shouted. “Kill me if you think it’ll fix Jo!”