Garn Press Chapters: Bloody Lane by Marty Lee and Matt Fleury

Garn Press Chapters. A new series from Garn Press featuring the first chapter of Bloody Lane, a new crime novel by Marty Lee and Matt Fleury. Available in hardcover, paperback and as an ebook on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo eBooks and Apple iBooks.

Marty Lee and Matt Fleury are receiving many accolades for Bloody Lane, and the new crime novel is gaining a large following of enthusiastic readers.

Robert Leonard Reid (Arctic Circle and Mountains of the Great Blue Dream) describes Bloody Lane as “a riveting, intricately plotted, beautifully written novel, with a rich cast of characters …”

Justin Martin (Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians) writes, “Felix Allaben is a vividly drawn, hard-boiled character in the tradition of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. After a murder at historic Antietam battlefield, Detective Allaben gets pulled into a murky and dangerous world, where nothing is as it appears. Stylish, taut, complex … a bloody good read.”

At Garn Press, we have no doubt that Felix Allaben with his wry sense of humor is going to become as well known as Nero Wolfe, and that Marty and Matt will become known for the subtle questions that they pose as well as their page-turning crime novels filled with crystal clear knife-edge prose.

It gives us great pleasure to present to you the first chapter of Bloody Lane, which is certainly a work of literary excellence and in the grand tradition of crime novels the solution does depend on the brilliant deductive abilities of the sleuth!



Chapter 1

Bloody Lane by Marty Lee and Matt Fleury


Felix Allaben had just turned to the obituaries when the telephone rang. His first thought: Don’t answer it. He wasn’t expecting a call, and at the moment he didn’t feel like talking to anyone. His daughter had phoned at 6:00 for her weekly debriefing from San Francisco, where she was staying with his brother. And his friends knew better than to call him on a Sunday evening, when it was his custom to sequester himself with the weekend papers – the Frederick Post and the Baltimore Sun – always in that order and always beginning with the obituaries.

He was settled in a roomy wicker chair on the garden patio, a tumbler of vodka and tonic close by one hand and the stack of papers by the other. Above the stuccoed wall at the far end of the garden the spires of Frederick rose into the pale August sky. The scent of honeysuckle hung in the air.

Pedro, Allaben’s big black Labrador, lay in a heap at his feet. Pedro knew his master’s ways; more than knew, he sympathized. With every bleat of the phone the dog answered a low growl. Six, seven, eight times. Allaben sighed in resignation. Slowly he got to his feet. The dog batted his tail against the flagstone. Allaben ordered him to stay, then trudged to the screen door.

He picked up the phone in the kitchen twilight. There was a prickly silence; then, “Allaben? Is that you?”

He recognized the reedy voice at once. It was Sam Folliard.

“Yeah, Sam, it’s me.”

“Is this a bad time?”

That was just like Folliard – let the phone ring a dozen times, then ask if it’s a bad time. Allaben never ceased to wonder how a man so contradictory could possibly have risen to an undersecretary’s rank, even one as shadowy as his.

“I was out back,” he said, “with the papers.”

“I tried the cell, left a message.”

“The cell’s upstairs on my desk, Sam. It’s Sunday.”

If Folliard got the hint, he gave no sign of it.

“I suppose you’ve heard,” he began.

No, thought Allaben, I suppose I haven’t. What’s more, he didn’t want to hear. But Folliard was undeterred.

“It’s Gwynn, that former colleague of yours. The whistle-blower.”

“Curtis Gwynn?”

“Found him shot at Antietam Battlefield.”

“Is he dead?”

“D.O.A. Looks like homicide. TV’s picked up the story but it’s not in the papers yet. Happened this morning, early. A park ranger found him – Hal Snyder. Does that name mean anything to you?”

“Snyder? Yes, I know Hal Snyder.”

Allaben heard the tap of the screen door. That would be Pedro. Two summers ago, Miranda had tied a length of rope to the handle and taught the dog to use it to open the door. That way she could go away to camp secure in the knowledge that he could come and go as he pleased. Miranda on her hands and knees, rope clenched in her jaws. See, Pedro?

The dog came ambling into the kitchen, nails clicking against the tile floor. He circled once, woefully eyed his master, then sat at his feet.

“Allaben? You still there?”

“Yeah, Sam, I’m still here. Funny coincidence – I just talked to Gwynn last week. He said he’d be taking part in the weekend’s battlefield events.”

Folliard waited a second. “And?”

“He called me, that’s all. Wanted to reminisce, stroll down memory lane.”

Not altogether true – Gwynn had hinted there was something more – but Allaben would keep his own counsel on that score, at least until he’d heard Folliard out.

“Who’s handling the case, Sam?”

“I’m hoping you will.” Folliard let this sink in, then went on. “Officially, it’s ours. The body was found on Park Service property, and that makes it federal jurisdiction.”

“Maybe so, but it’s still kind of a stretch, isn’t it?”

“It’s close enough,” said Folliard.

Allaben knew what that meant. If Folliard were sufficiently interested, he’d make it close enough.

“What’s in it for you, Sam?”

“That’s for you to find out. Right now the locals are running the show. Washington County Sheriff’s Department.”

“That’s Wick Mallory’s turf.”

“Right. I talked to him an hour ago. Smoothed the way. He had nothing but good things to say about you. You practically walk on water, to hear him tell it.”

Allaben watched the dog’s flanks bellow and cinch. The clock in the study struck eight. He glanced at the window. The sky was turning indigo.

Folliard decided to interpret the silence.

“Problem with Mallory?”

Allaben pictured the sheriff’s big, rugged face.

“He’s a good cop, Sam.”

“But …”

“But he likes the easy ones.”

“Maybe this is an easy one.”

“Then why call me?”

“Because I’m a worrier, Felix, and a worrier likes to share his worries. Maybe you’d like me to pull some strings?”

“Come on, Sam. You’re already pulling them. What about Snyder?”

“Snyder’s a big fan, too. I guess he heard about the Shenandoah case. He’ll help you out at the battlefield. Anything you need. He knew Gwynn, or recognized him. And it’s practically in your back yard. The usual per-diem, plus expenses. Interested?”

“Let me sleep on it, Sam,” Allaben said. “I’ll call you in the morning.”

He sat for a while after he’d hung up the phone, staring at nothing. Night had come down and the kitchen was dark. The house settled into silence around him, the only sounds the steady pant of the dog, the idle drip in the sink, and the locust rhythm of his own thoughts.

Why the obituaries? Because they leave nothing unresolved, no loose ends. No miscellaneous details. The entire story – beginning, middle, end – boiled down to a few column inches of newsprint. Everything in its place, each parcel – schooling, jobs, memberships, survivors – neatly tied up with a phrase. The inexpressible grit and grime of experience scrubbed away, consigned to the ghostly life that can only be read between the lines.

Mrs. Rebecca Allaben died yesterday at St. Luke’s Hospital in Baltimore. She was 37 years old. Mrs. Allaben succumbed to gunshot wounds suffered on April 22 in an armed robbery in Baltimore. Her husband, Felix Allaben, was also wounded in the attack. The district attorney’s office announced this morning that murder charges would be added to those already pressed against the man alleged to have committed the assault, Ronald Gillespie, 17, of Baltimore.

Mrs. Allaben, the former Rebecca Lacey, was born in Frederick on October 9, 1979. She was the daughter of the late Franklin Lacey II and Emily Heath Lacey. Mr. Lacey was from 1994 until his death in 2012 the president of County Federal Bank.

Rebecca Allaben attended Frederick schools. After graduating in 1997, she spent two years in the Peace Corps, chiefly in the African nation of Sudan. Upon returning to the United States, she entered Johns Hopkins University, from which she graduated in 2004. She went on to earn a Master’s degree and then a Ph. D. from Vanderbilt University.

Mrs. Allaben joined the faculty of Hood College in 2008, and in 2013 became the Chair of the English Department. She resigned from that position in 2014, and at the time of her death held the title Professor of English Literature.

Rebecca Lacey married Felix Allaben in 2003. Mr. Allaben, formerly a Lieutenant in the Baltimore Police Department and an investigator for the Justice Department, is now a private security consultant.

Besides her husband, Rebecca Allaben is survived by her mother and a daughter, Miranda Allaben. A memorial service will be held on Saturday at 11:00 at All Saints Church in Frederick.

Six paragraphs, set in sturdy Times Roman. As intractable as the dates chiseled into the headstone.

The plot to the left of hers was reserved for him. Earth to earth, ashes to ashes.

If only it were as simple as that.


Bloody LaneBloody Lane

Authors: Martin Lee and Matthew Fleury
Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  Apple iBooks | Kobo Ebooks
Hardcover: $27.95
Paperback: $17.95
eBook: $9.99 *eBook on sale $4.95 in February.
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-942146-23-0
Paperback ISBN:978-1-942146-25-4
eBook ISBN: 978-1-942146-27-8





“A body lies dead on the battlefield at Antietam. Nothing unusual there – so did 23,000 others, victims of the bloodiest day of the Civil War … however, the time is today, not 1862, and the dead man is a victim of murder, not war. So begins this riveting, intricately plotted, beautifully written novel, with a rich cast of characters and a plot that brilliantly parallels the events of September 17, 1862 …” – Robert Leonard Reid, author of Arctic Circle and Mountains of the Great Blue Dream

“Loved it! If you’re a Civil War buff, you won’t be able to put this book down. But even if you know nothing at all about that history, you’ll quickly be hooked by an ingenious plot and a fascinating cast of characters. Martin Lee and Matthew Fleury are natural-born story-tellers, and I congratulate them for keeping me guessing right up until the surprising climax. Bloody Lane is a bloody good read!” – Krin Gabbard, Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook University

“Felix Allaben is a vividly drawn, hard-boiled character in the tradition of Philip Marlowe or Sam Spade. After a murder at historic Antietam battlefield, Detective Allaben gets pulled into a murky and dangerous world, where nothing is as it appears. Stylish, taut, complex … a bloody good read.” – Justin Martin, author of Rebel Souls: Walt Whitman and America’s First Bohemians




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