Boston Baked Churchill [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Mike Ryan
eBook Category: Historical Fiction/Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: It is the turn of the century in Boston, where Probation Officer "Cootch" Connolly investigates the murder of a client. Cootch learns that the victim was a member of a secret society known as the Fenians, a diehard Gaelic group seeking freedom for Ireland. Delving deeper into the terrorists' underworld, Cootch uncovers a looming attack on his beloved Beantown, beginning with the planned assassination of a visiting British dignitary, Winston Churchill. With the help of his Boston cop brother, Cootch embarks on a fateful mission destined for bomb, bullets and blood.
eBook Publisher: Charles River Press, Published: Charles River Press, 2006
Fictionwise Release Date: March 2006
3 Reader Ratings:
"Boston Baked Churchill thoroughly satisfied my cravings for a good, old-fashioned mystery. Spenser meets Sherlock Holmes."--Jonathan Womack, Author of A Cry For A Hero
"That son of a bitch just blew up Old Ironsides!" yelled my brother, Finn McCool Connolly, a Boston cop. Almost a week to Christmas, Finn had lost his holiday spirit. He pointed to a young man on his knees who I recognized in the fire, smoke, and snow as one of my clients.
"Great, Finn," I said in disgust, "here we were only worried about Winston Churchill getting killed tonight. What else could go wrong?"
"It might snow harder," replied my brother.
I had just arrived in a screeching coach with the two Winston Churchills. Behind me the shorter Churchill, a year my senior at twenty-six, was an English adventurer, writer, soldier, and soon to be new member of the British Parliament. The other Winston stood six feet in height with a broad physique. He also was a writer, penning a best-seller, Richard Carvel, earlier this year. The Englishman was touring North America and lecturing about his country's bloody war with the Boers in South Africa. Since both fellows were mistaken for each other in authorship and in personal mail, the English Churchill told the American in a letter that he would sign himself forevermore as "Winston S. Churchill" to cut down on the confusion. They hoped to meet each other one day in person. That had occurred earlier this day, December 17, 1900.
December 17th was fading. It had been a hectic, yet thrilling day, one I'll never forget.
In the early evening Winston S. spoke at the Tremont Temple, a site where famous religious and secular leaders have spoken, including Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens, a fair scribbler in his own right. After all the excitement of Churchill's appearance at the rostrum earlier that night, I pieced together all the craziness of the past year. One thing that history has always proved is that men are willing to kill others and perpetrate devilish deeds to achieve their goals.
Lost in my thoughts as I walked the city streets, I hadn't noticed the snow. I trudged with soft footfalls. I wasn't wearing any boots, but I was so immersed in my mind that I shrugged off any discomfort. Thankfully, I wore a hat and warm gloves to deflect the cold.
Heading up Beacon Street I passed the Athenaeum, the State House, and Boston Common. Poor visibility prevented me from seeing the capitol's golden dome. Past the State House I walked down Beacon Hill towards the Somerset Club where the American Churchill hosted his namesake for a post-lecture dinner.
All the pieces were starting to fit for me. I ran and walked in succession until I reached the Somerset.
I banged on the front door. The major domo appeared. He was an older gent who curled his lips at my soggy sight. I told him my business, and he let me into the foyer. Basking in the warmth, I tried to dust off the snow from my cap and coat.
The clubman brought me to the Churchills' table. I would have loved to study the confines of this Yankee preserve. Ma would not have been pleased that I had stepped inside this bastion of Protestant swells. This was no tour, but an emergency.
"Cootch, come join us," said Winston S., a drink in his left hand and a cigar in his right. There were eight people at his table, which had been cleared of plates and cutlery. The other diners with the Churchills I recognized from the lecture. Other clubbers had stopped and stared at my arrival, with me still dripping onto the plush crimson carpet.
"Gentlemen," I said almost gasping. "I would be delighted to stay out of the storm, but I need your help."
"There's more adventure?" asked the guest of honor, putting his snifter on the table.
"I thought attempted assassination was bad enough," I replied. "More terror is planned. I hope I'm wrong, but these fanatics are in search of bigger prizes than a new member of the House of Commons."
Churchill flagged down his waiter to fetch his bag, and the servant returned within moments. Churchill opened his valise, riffled through papers and from a small black leather case, extracted a large pistol, a German Mauser.
"I call this, 'the Ripper,'" he said with admiration. "This weapon has been of great service to me. I might not be here if it wasn't for the Ripper's deadly firepower."
"Isn't that the weapon you used during the charge of the 21st Lancers at Omdurman?" I asked in wonder.
"Indeed," replied the British Army veteran. "The Ripper contains a 10-shot magazine. Saved my life in the Sudan. Just before I left on the expedition I purchased this C96 German Mauser in London. I knew I couldn't wield a sword because of a polo injury to my shoulder."
I turned to the American who had walked over to the mantel by the fireplace and slid one of the two crossed cutlasses from its perch. "I have no Ripper, but I fenced at the Naval Academy."
I said to them, "We have to hustle."
They grabbed their coats and hats. One of the members generously offered the use of his carriage which was brought out to Beacon Street. We clambered aboard and the team of four horses pounded the cobblestones.
The redhead asked, "Where to?"
"The Boston Navy Yard. Murder planned earlier this evening was a ruse for more grandiose plans."
"How do you know?" asked the American Churchill.
"Not for certain, Mr. Churchill, but Irish politics, as your namesake can attest to, is very complicated."
"All this madness concerns Ireland?" asked the American.
"Yes, home rule, independence."
"Fenians?" asked the Missouri native.
"There are still a few."
"My dear Winston and my dear Cootch," said Winston S., "some men possess no sense of honor. Their cause cannot be achieved by traditional military means. What other cowardly devices do these thugs resort to? Assassination. Detonation. Terror. Thus far, they have failed. Although few in number, these Fenian diehards resist stubbornly."
Winston S. sat back to his thoughts and to his cigar. The coach flew down Charles Street towards the West End. When we reached Massachusetts General Hospital, smoke, not from Churchill's cigar, pervaded the air. A few blocks later, at the Charlestown Bridge an eerie glow disturbed the blankets of snow.
After we alighted at the yard confusion reigned. Fire crackled at the berth of the U.S.S. Constitution, oldest ship in the Navy. Marines, firemen, and police thronged the scene.
About 100 yards from the burning Constitution I found my brother holding the perpetrator by the scruff of the neck.
"Here's the bastard, Cootch," said my brother. "We found him with combustibles in a building next to the dock. He's drunk and he stinks. Daniel David McGreevy. Says you're his probation officer. Obviously, you didn't supervise him too well because he's made a mess of the yard."
I nodded. McGreevy broke from my brother's grasp, fell to his knees, and vomited.
Looking at Finn and the two Winston Churchills, I was disgusted by McGreevy and his act of wanton destruction. I was too slow to react to events. I was saddened to look at Old Ironsides, victorious in every fray, burn and start to sink. As the frigate slipped away, failure sailed over me.