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Strays of Rio by Edith Parzefall - DramaLisa Kerry witnesses a private death squad attack street kids close to her bookstore. When the police take no action, she vows to purge Rio of the ruthless killers. To keep him out of the line of fire, she must quell her affection for the one man cut out to exorcise the demons of her past. Drawing strength and rage from the abuse she suffered as a young girl in a juvenile detention center, Lisa closes in on her marks.
Unable to get to the rich and powerful leader of the recreational killers, she enlists the older brother of one of her street urchin friends—a drug lord. Lisa's pursuit of justice spirals into a violent struggle to survive, for herself, her young charges, and the man she loves.
Reader Rating: 5.0 (3 Ratings)
Excerpt:The air conditioning in the car chilled the sweat on Félix's skin. He glanced over at the American slumped in the passenger seat. Wet spots marked his blue shirt.
Félix pointed ahead. “The Sugar Loaf. Have you been up there?”
Norton straightened in his seat. “No, not yet.”
“You should go.” Félix had no clue where the fame of this particular rock originated, but the view from the top was stunning. “I can drop you off at the cable car station if you want.” Would save him a few kilometers drive. He should have put Norton in a cab instead of offering a ride.
“No thanks, I'll take a city tour.”
Félix smirked. Maybe he was one of the timid guys who didn't dare to set a foot outside the hotel on his own, calling in the hookers, drinking at the hotel bar. Of course, Norton had buckled up as soon as he got in the car. Félix never wore a seat belt.
He was not afraid to die—and he loved to make money off the fear of weaker men. His customers called themselves the elite, because they had money and power, but they wouldn't survive one night out, alone in the city. Without his security installations, they'd be scared shitless in their luxury apartments and villas. Even the fortresses built for the rich wouldn’t be obstacles, without the alarm systems, cameras, electric fences, and armed guards.
They entered the tunnel leading to Copacabana.
“How did you get into this line of work?” Norton asked.
“It gives me a deep sense of satisfaction to work for the good of the community, to help protect people and businesses.” What he hated about his job was acting as if he actually cared about their safety. “We can't let the scum take what honest people have worked so hard for.” He glanced sideways at the American. Norton stiffened. He probably thought that was a bit extreme, but what did he know?
The car in front of him slowed. Félix slammed the brakes and honked. “Kind of ironic,” he continued. “In the sixties your government sent security specialists to this country, now the roles are reversed. I'm advising you.”
“Not sure what you're talking about.”
“Specialists teaching police procedures...”
“You mean torture and intimidation? No need to put it so politely. We screwed up the major part of South America. Nothing to be proud of.”
“No, this country would have gone to hell if it hadn't been for the support from the U.S. against communism. My uncle received some training in interrogation techniques.” Félix could feel Norton's stare and decided to back off. “I grew up with some pretty gross stories.”
“You mean he was one of the torturers under the military regime? Your uncle?”
“Fortunately those days are over. Now it's all about business. And, once again, security.” Back on track, Félix smiled at Norton, who seemed to relax.
“What's the actual risk of burglary to a company like ours—or maybe even armed robbery?”
Félix stopped at a red light and revved the engine. He grinned. “If you go with our full surveillance system, you and your company will never find out.”
Norton laughed. “I sure hope not. Almost got shot yesterday evening. That's enough excitement for me.”
Always the same with the stupid gringos, stumbling into places they shouldn't go. “Already? How did it feel?”
“To have a gun pointed at you. How did it feel to be at the mercy of a criminal?” Félix asked with growing excitement.
Tony snorted. “Rather the mercy of a pretty girl. I asked her out for dinner and she reached for her gun. Didn't fit my picture of Brazilian women.”
Félix laughed until the image took on shape in his head, her gun pointing at him instead of the gringo. “Must have been quite an experience. Who was she?”
Tony chuckled. “You'll never believe me. She sells books and does city tours.”
Excitement coursed through his body. “Books and guns. Fascinating.” Why did something like that never happen to him?
“Do you know where the Copacabana Palace Hotel is?” Norton asked.
“Of course.” Only the best for the gringo. Hopefully he'd also buy the best security system. His. He turned into Avenida Atlantica and saw the large colonial building. Just a little longer and he'd head back north to find a playmate.
Norton looked at his watch. “Actually, do you mind taking me a few blocks farther and turn right?”
“Not at all. Tell me when.”
“At the next light.”
And the light turned red. Merda! Félix stopped the car. They sat in silence until it changed to green. He gunned the engine. From the corner of his eye he saw Norton grab the overhead handle. Félix smiled.
“Nice little car,” Norton said.
What an idiot. The low growl of the two-liter engine agreed with him. “A Mazda MX-5.”
“Turn left here, please.”
He did so, grudgingly.
“Okay, kick me out wherever you can stop.”
Félix pulled into a driveway. “I'll see you tomorrow,” he said and held out his hand.
Norton shook it. “Obrigado.”
Félix winced when Norton slammed the door shut. What piece-of-shit car did he drive back home? He waited and watched the gringo cross the street and walk straight up to a woman pulling down the shutter of a bookstore. He jerked up in his seat.
The girl with the gun? He released his grip on the steering wheel and studied her: tall, slender, dark blond hair. The color of her skin showed a trace of slave blood.
She smiled when the gringo materialized by her side. As she turned, something bulged above her right hip.
They walked down the street, not in the direction of Norton's hotel but towards the beach. Félix felt tempted to follow them, get a better look at her. Maybe she'd make a challenging playmate. A woman who'd fight back.
Reader Reviews (2)
Submitted By: Dragonmuse on Oct 10, 2012Strays of Rio is a `must read' thriller. From the first page the tension begins to wind up. The gritty, gutsy heroine Lisa Kerry has a dark past of her own. Now she offers a better future to a group of kids making their way through life on the streets of Rio. Strays of Rio is tightly written. The characters each bring to the intriguing plot their own problems, backgrounds and goals. Once the scene is set, Parzefall's novel accelerates to an edge of the seat ride. Grab your copy now!
Submitted By: bexdk on Oct 7, 2012I don't usually read thrillers, but I loved Parzefall's earlier work _Wind Over Troubled Waters_, cowritten with Francene Stanley. And I sure am glad I gave it a chance anyway! It is so much more than "just" a thriller. It is the story of a woman struggling to deal with a traumatic past and struggling to protect other children from horrors from a similar situation. The book is well-written, enthralling, and filled with tension and excitement. Both characters and setting are credible.
Strays of RioBy: Edith Parzefall