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Murder by Proxy [A Benjamin Roan Thriller]
by Robert L. Hecker

Category: Mystery/Crime/Suspense/Thriller
Description: To Benjamin Roan, the secret mission seems simple: save the life of the President of the United States. The president is dying of leukemia. With no close relatives, a bone marrow donor cannot be found. He is doomed. Then--a confession--He has a secret daughter, the result of a liasion when he was in college. He has had no contact with her since. His only hope is for Roan to find his daughter and bring her to Washington. But the mission must be kept secret. If she is not a match, the scandal of having an illegitimate child can be kept quiet. Also, there are people who want the President dead. if they knew Roan's mission, they would try to kill the girl. Roan is dumfounded. "You want me to find a twenty-five year old girl, whose name you don't even know, without anybody finding out? Then talk her into coming to Washington without knowing why? And if the bad guys find out, they'll try to kill her? You think I'm crazy?" So why does Roan take the mission? His regrets begin the minute he meets the girl. She is gorgeous--and opinionated and suspicious. The regrets escalate when bad people begin trying to kill her--and him. And the regrets really get out of hand when he discovers he is falling in love. Now he not only has to save her life, he has to find a way to make her change her fear and resentment to love. It's won't be easy. She told him: "I hate you. I hate your mother. I hate your father. I hate your dog. I even hate your cat, and I love cats." Can he change her mind? Can he save the President? All he has to do is keep her--and himself--alive. [Cover art by Dirk A. Wolf]
eBook Publisher: Hard Shell Word Factory/Hard Shell Word Factory, 2006 2006
eBookwise Release Date: October 2006

eBookeBook

8 Reader Ratings:
Great Good OK Poor
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [399 KB]
Words: 92354
Reading time: 263-369 min.


"Murder by Proxy is a gripping tale of intrigue, murder and fight for survival. I found myself rooting for Roan on more than one occasion and fearing that there wasn't a possible chance that he could get out of yet another sticky situation. As well as keeping Benjamin Roan on his toes, Robert Hecker does a terrific job of sustaining interest and concern for all of the lives uprooted in this battle of endurance. Murder by Proxy has to be one of the best thriller novels I've read in a long time."--Carrie White, TCM Reviews

"So often a follow up book containing the same characters goes downhill and is extremely disappointing. Such is definitely not the case with Robert Hecker's new Benjamin Roan novel, Murder by Proxy. Instead, Ben is back and bigger and better than ever! The characterizations remain superb, with a male protagonist who remains an unlikely hero with a heart and a brand new female protagonist who is beautiful, strong, and sassy. Pick a time when you are not in a rush to read this novel, because you won't want to put it down. Rumor has it that this is only the second of a series of Ben Roan mystery thrillers. That makes this reviewer truly 'thrilled'. Give me more Benjamin Roan! 5 stars!"--Alice Klein, Sime-gen Reviews

"Author Robert L. Hecker has done it again! He has written a masterful action-packed thriller that keeps the reader turning pages. In my opinion he ranks up there with Ken Follett, Nelson De Mille, and Robert Ludlum in telling a convincing story of intrigue with wonderful, well-drawn characters, and details that keep the reader captivated. I found it a 5 star read."--Jeannine Van Eperen, GottaWrite Network

"Robert Hecker writes yummy action novels, and Murder by Proxy is no exception. He strings death-defying moments together so that the reader can't stop turning pages. His locations are exotic; his plot is full of action and conflict; the characters are steeped in sex appeal; and the tale is full of details that Hecker imparts due to his own varied experiences. Murder by Proxy is a barnstormer of a novel that is impossible to put down. Hecker really has a gift for suspense! Just when the reader things the characters are out of danger, another seemingly impossible obstacle is put in their path. Readers won't be disappointed in Hecker's latest effort!"--Shelley Glodowski, Midwest Book Reviews

"Murder By Proxy is fast-paced with witty and believable dialog. There are no James Bond-ish rescues and the plot is well thought out, although one bad guy is accursedly hard to defeat. Unlike many current novels, the man and the woman continue to allow sexual tension to build and it is not graphically consummated. That may be considered a minus for some readers, but I find imagination is a wonderful thing and the need to expose our base drives, merely to try and boast sales, isn't always good writing. Kudos to Robert Hecker for taking the high ground on this matter. Will Murder By Proxy be the second in a series of Benjamin Roan novels.... Let's hope so and let's hope that Robert Hecker offers us many, many more literary surprises. I give Murder By Proxy a four (4) star rating and am waiting for the next novel from Mr. Hecker."--Dr. Phil Rhyne, Huntress Book Reviews


Chapter One

BEING SHOT WITH a paintball the size of a grape is infinitely preferable to being shot with the smallest bullet.

To put it another way, a paintball, with a velocity of 300 feet per second, can sting like a demented killer bee, but the end result is a washable stain. However, taking a hit by a fully-jacketed, .38-caliber bullet traveling at 1,240 feet per second will definitely ruin one's day.

Actually, being a target for a killer was my own fault. I have no idea why I allowed Jack Blutcher to talk me into going to war with him, even though it was to be a faux war with lethal looking weapons firing plastic balls filled with paint instead of death-dealing bullets. I suppose it was because I could see some value in learning battlefield survival skills, although my gut feeling was that it would be like learning to fight by punching a bag.

So it was with a great deal of skepticism that I rode with Jack in his huge, gas-guzzling Land Rover to his battlefield located in California's Cleveland National Forest about twenty miles inland from my office in Newport Beach. It wasn't really a battlefield, simply about fifty acres of scrub brush and native oaks on land so cut up with gullies and shallow arroyos that nobody wanted it, not even Orange County real estate developers who it seemed were building houses on any patch of land that wasn't spouting molten lava.

Jack called the place "Wingate Park." He had hired some contractor to throw together a few buildings on the property: principally an office and a store where paintball warriors could either buy or rent supplies and equipment. Out in the park, the contractor had also put up a number of freestanding walls of plywood to turn a few acres of level ground into a makeshift village where the erstwhile commandos would practice urban warfare.

Even though it was July and hadn't rained since February, the brush and chaparral were still green under scattered oak trees. Despite the lateness of the season, sprinkles of wildflowers were fighting savage grasses and weeds for what little moisture was left in the rain-challenged soil. The place was far enough inland that, at seven o'clock in the morning, the sun had already burned away a typical coastal overcast and was beginning to generate heat that would soon be in the nineties. It was going to be a hot but gorgeous day, a good day for going into battle and pretending to kill a couple of bad guys.

Jack and I were in his supply shop getting me equipped for the action when the two potential victims drove up in an appropriately dusty pickup truck that was jacked up so far off the ground by huge tires and lengthened shocks it could have run over a Volkswagen without noticing. Two guys swung down from the cab with the agility of healthy gibbons. Although their bodies were camouflaged by bulky jackets and pants, they gave the impression of being fit enough to be stuntmen from some Hollywood movie like Spartacus or Gladiator. Poor guys. They didn't know that in about an hour Jack and I would be shoveling dirt on their graves—figuratively, of course.

While they were unloading their equipment, I concentrated on what Jack was saying as he handed me a paintball gun and showed me how to use it. "This is semi-automatic, meaning it fires one round with each trigger pull."

I was a little miffed to think that Jack felt he had to explain the meaning of "semi-automatic" to me. I'd taken enough courses and exercises while qualifying for my security license to be considered an expert in the use of handguns and most rifles. I even had a couple of medals for marksmanship.

This paintball gun didn't look much different from a long-barreled automatic pistol. True, it had a large plastic container screwed into the top to hold the paintball ammunition, and there was a hose coming from a coupling mounted ahead of the trigger that attached to a bottle of compressed carbon dioxide, but in effect, it was nothing more than a souped-up BB gun.

Squinting along the gun's sights, I asked, "How accurate are these things?"

"You can get a spread of about six inches at a hundred feet, depending on wind and how clean your barrel is and the spin of the ball."

I was impressed. "Not bad for a round ball with no rifling."

"Some markers have rifling. But it's designed to reduce or eliminate side spin."

"I'd think spin would improve accuracy."

"You're thinking of bullets. But these balls have got a seam, and if they spin too fast it's like throwing a curve ball. And no spin at all is like throwing a knuckle ball. The trick is to get them to spin end over end but not too fast."

"Wouldn't that make them break downward?"

"Yeah, but if it's a slow spin the break won't have much effect for a couple of hundred feet."

"Two hundred feet. Can they shoot that far?"

"Farther, actually. But you'd need a tougher paintball."

"So why aren't they?"

"They have to be fragile so they'll break when they hit. But not too fragile or they'll break in the barrel."

"I imagine that could ruin your day."

"Not too bad." He picked up a short cable that had a brush on one end. "You always carry a squeegee to clean your barrel. But you're right. Cleaning your barrel when somebody's trying to shoot your head off can really screw up your day."

I picked up one of the small paintballs, which looked like gumballs made out of plastic. "They could make this plastic thicker."

"It's not plastic. Gelatin, like in a pill."

"Gelatin? Why's that?"

"Biodegradable. And if you get hit in the mouth, it won't kill you."

"They should fill 'em with chocolate."

Copyright © 2006 Robert L. Hecker.


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