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“...the heart of the art district of Santa Fe, and uncovers a web of intrigue involving adultery, art forgery and the Russian mob.”
Niels Larsen, a forty-year old Houston philanthropist is murdered late at night in southwest Santa Fe. Police find cocaine in his rental car, a nine millimeter gun in his hand, and officially report the crime as the result of a drug deal gone bad. Larsen’s wife, Jan, hires Rhett and Toni Sanders to determine the real motivation for the murder, thus becoming the first client for the Sanders Investigation Agency. The investigation leads Rhett and Toni to Canyon Road, the heart of the art district of Santa Fe, and uncovers a web of intrigue involving adultery, art forgery and the Russian mob. Even though the FBI and local police get involved, there are more murders, near murders, and plenty of suspense in this fast moving tale set mostly in the enchanted capital city of New Mexico.




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Chapter 1
Friday Night. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Many men envied Niels Larsen.  He was handsome, well educated, filthy rich, lived in a magnificent home, was a member of River Oaks Country Club, and was married to a gorgeous woman with whom he had two nice-looking, athletic sons, Niels Jr. and Lawrence. 

Many men envied Niels Larsen until that Friday night in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
That Friday night was two days after he’d seen something in Houston that troubled him so deeply that he rushed to Santa Fe as soon as he could.  At eleven o’clock at night he was waiting alone in his rental, a black Cadillac SRX, in the parking lot behind a liquor store on Agua Frio Street in southwest Santa Fe.  Alegria Liquors had closed one hour earlier and it was dark, as the nearest street light twenty yards away had been disabled over a month ago by a brick thrown by a teenager with an evidently strong right arm.  It was not one of Santa Fe’s safest neighborhoods.  The moon was half full.  Most people would have been afraid to be there alone at such a late hour, but Niels was smiling.  Niels believed that a very private meeting scheduled to be held in a few minutes would go well.  He believed he knew why he was asked to meet at such a secluded place. 

At 11:15 PM, a black Tahoe exited Agua Frio.  Its headlights were immediately turned off as it was slowly driven behind the liquor store where it stopped beside Niels’ rental.  Niels recognized the driver and rolled down his window.  They nodded to each other as another man, wearing a gray overcoat and black felt hat, exited the front passenger seat and walked slowly around the back of the Tahoe, apparently in no hurry.  That man, wearing suede gloves, was carrying a black leather bag—to Niels it looked like a doctor’s bag.  Niels believed there was cash in the leather bag -- a lot of cash.  Niels didn’t recognize the man.  But at that moment, Niels didn’t care that the man was a stranger.

The man stepped to Niels’ window and in a Russian accent, said, “I dink I have someding for you.”
           
Niels smiled at the man.  He noticed an old scar on the man’s left cheek that went from his ear to his chin.  The scar was a half-inch wide and the narrow strip of dead skin glistened in the moonlight like apiece of reflective tape.  The stranger smiled, reached into the black leather bag, and pulled out a pistol and aimed it at Niels’ head.
           
Niels looked at the gun.  Though he’d never seen a silencer except in movies or television police dramas, he correctly recognized the black cylindrical device on the gun barrel that was aimed at him as a silencer.  He didn’t have time to realize he’d been wrong about what he’d thought was in the black leather bag.  He didn’t have time to realize that he’d been wrong about the purpose for the private meeting in a secluded part of Santa Fe.
           
Pfffft.  Pfffft.
           
The pistol was a .38 caliber automatic.  Niels died instantly.  The first bullet went through his head, entering above his left eye and exiting through his jaw on the right side of his face.  The second bullet was unnecessary.  A waste of the twenty cents the man with the Russian accent had paid for each of his bullets when he bought them by the case.  Niels’ upper body collapsed like a sack of potatoes over the console of his rental Cadillac.
           
The man with the scar, placed his pistol back into the leather bag from which he retrieved a second pistol—a nine millimeter.  He reached through the Cadillac’s car window and placed the gun into the left hand of the dead man from Houston, wrapping his lifeless fingers around its grip.  Then he retrieved three Ziploc plastic baggies—sandwich size—from his coat pocket and dropped them inside the rental.  Inside of each baggie were three ounces of cocaine having a street value of five thousand dollars. 
           
When the man with the scar walked in front of the Tahoe, he glanced at the driver who’d turned pale.  As he got back into the vehicle and closed the door he said, “You owe for de coke.”

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