“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Lord Acton could have been talking about Riverton, New York. The smallish town setting of my Romantic Suspense Series is a lovely place to live. So lovely – on the surface at least – it may be too good to be true.
Anything that appears too good to be true probably is. I have no idea who first said those words but I believe them. Lift even a slight wrinkle at the corner of a too-good surface and see what creeps out. Among those creeps in Riverton is the local police force.
They’ve been nicknamed the Grays for their precisely tailored gray uniforms. With creases so severely pressed “you could cut your fingers on them,” Matthew Kalli observes in A Wrong Way Home. Matt has personal experience of how cutting the Grays can be. That experience goes way back. Especially with the Gray in this scene.
Matt grew up with scary stories about the Grays. The scariest stories were always about one cop in particular. His name was Joseph Prozinski, but everybody called him Joe Pro. Prozinski was a police sergeant back when Matt was a senior in high school.
His younger brother Luke was the third in the Kalli boy line. Luke was just about out of middle school then, but he was already growing into his own nickname. The one he’d picked for himself from the title of an old black and white movie called The Wild One.
He loved to quote a Marlon Brando line from that movie. Luke would challenge anybody he could talk into it to ask what he was rebelling against. He’d plaster a wide grin on his face and answer.
“What ‘ya got?”
There was no way a kid in Riverton with an attitude like that was going to avoid trouble with Joe Pro. The trouble Matt remembered most happened late on a spring afternoon. That was the time of day Luke came home from school to grab a bite to eat before heading out again with his friends.
The gang of them would roar up the Kalli driveway crammed into whatever pickup truck or broken down car was available to whichever kid had a legal driver’s license at the time. Luke was too young to be licensed, but his friends tended to be older than he was.
They’d slam on the brakes inches short of the massive doors to Gus Kalli’s garage with Kalli Contracting painted in tall letters across the front. Luke would jump out from the seat where he always insisted on riding shotgun because it was the cool place to be.
Luke wasn’t riding shotgun on that afternoon, and he wasn’t in a friend’s pickup truck either. A police car brought him home, and when he got out it wasn’t with his usual swagger. He was pulled out of the car by Joseph Prozinski.
Matt was already working after school for Kalli Contracting in those days. He’d been crouched on the roof of the house replacing asphalt shingles when he heard the police cruiser pull into the driveway and roar up to the house.
He dropped his tools and climbed to the roof peak just in time to see Prozinski kick the car door shut and shove Luke hard up against it. Joe Pro slapped Luke then, not once but three times, back and forth across the face. Bam. Bam. Bam.
Luke’s head snapped from side to side like a punching ball on a stand. Joe Pro did that slapping with his back to Matt, but he could still tell that, for this cop, beating up on Luke was no different than punching a ball would be.
“Get your hands off my brother,” Matt bellowed from the top of the roof.
Joe Pro turned away from Luke and directed his nasty sneer straight up at Matt. He’d never forgotten the chill that sneer sent knifing through him or how small and powerless it made him feel. Like a bug crushed into the gravel driveway by Joe Pro’s heel.
Matt forced himself past that feeling and scrambled down the back slope of the roof to the ladder. By the time he reached the ground and ran to front of the house, his mother was there and Prozinski had backed off. Even Joe Pro knew enough not to tangle with Angela Kalli. Otherwise, Matt might have ended up in jail after all, with his brother Luke for a cell mate.
There it is. The corrupting influence of power and what may lie beneath an apparently too-perfect surface. The trouble right here in Riverton makes it a fertile setting for suspense. As in the nasty things folks sometimes do to each other and how all of that turns out.
The trouble in Riverton has a lot to do with power. Who has it and who doesn’t and how that mix can erupt when the two factions collide or when they try to coalesce. Those eruptions can be murder. That’s what makes Riverton more interesting than “too good to be true.”
Alice Orr – http://www.aliceorrbooks.com.
A Wrong Way Home – Book 1 of my Riverton Road Romantic Suspense series – is a FREE eBook at Amazon and other online retailers. All of my books are available at my Amazon Author Page http://www.amazon.com/Alice-Orr/e/B000APC22E/.