We Have a Winner!

The 2014 edition of Novel Rocket’s LAUNCH PAD Contest: Boosting You Out of the Slush Pile is on a mission: to search the galaxy and seek out a new Grand Prize winner.

Today we’re orbiting above the planet Suspense/Crime/Mystery/Thriller (weird name for a planet, huh?) and have discovered a category winner there.

One judge said, “This is definitely a book I would keep reading… I was drawn to the characters…” The other called it a fast-moving story with a well developed plot, observing that even the synopsis was riveting. Both judges liked the Memphis setting and the fact that the protagonist is with the ATF rather than being a city cop or detective, as is usually are found in crime stories.

But I won’t keep you in suspense any longer (that was supposed to be a pun, in case you hadn’t picked up on that): the first category winner of this year’s contest is Fatal Assignment, by Loretta Eidson of Byhalia, Mississippi. Please enjoy the opening chapters of her story:

Fatal Assignment
Loretta Eidson
            Two punks emerged from
an alley blocking her on the sidewalk. The waistlines of their jeans

hung loose
on their hips. One wore a white cap turned backward and an oversized green
coat. The other had a red and white bandana tied around his head and wore a
gold earring. He spit on the sidewalk using the gaping hole from his missing
front tooth. They both fit the description of Memphis thugs with a record.

            “Hey yo pretty mama,
where ya going with them hot drinks?” The guy with the missing tooth reached
for the coffee carrier. “Sho will warm us up.”
            Special Agent Angie
Drummonds turned it away from his reach only to face the taller one with the
green coat. “Sorry guys, these are taken.”
            Green coat leaned into
her face. His body odor mixed with sour breath was deadly. “And we’re doin’ the
            She squared her
shoulders back and clenched her jaw in anticipation of an attack. Her
self-defense training at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms served
her well.
            Green coat jerked the
coffee carrier from her, while missing tooth pulled the sack from her grip.
            Take that kind of crap
from these punks, no. A firm swift kick to the groin sent green coat to the
ground. She spun, catching the coffee while pulling her weapon. Missing tooth threw
the sack at her feet and tossed his hands in the air. 
            “Back off. I won’t be
so nice next time.”
            “We’s cool.” Green
coat moaned as he stood. Continuing to hold their hands up, they inched
backward. “We’s just foolin’ with ya.” When they reached the broken concrete of
the alley entrance they ran and disappeared around the back corner of the
downtown liquor store.
            Angie slid her pistol
back into her purse. A small crowd of tourists wearing matching Elvis t-shirts
cheered her as they dispersed. Smiling, she scooped the sack off the ground.
            Drawing attention
wasn’t her idea of being inconspicuous. Let some punks get the best of her? Not
after that attack in Chicago.  Heading
straight to the stake-out van would have to wait until the crowd was gone. She
leaned against the liquor store’s brick wall until everyone was gone. New faces
strolled past without a glance in her direction. It was safe to continue her
            Raymond’s Electrical
Service van with Mechanical Engineers written in yellow under the title was
parked at the curb. Special Agent in Charge (SAC) Billy Decker had cleverly
disguised his mobile undercover surveillance office. She approached the rear
door of the van and lightly tapped as Decker instructed when she called about
getting in on more of the action. He eased it open.
            Decker looked younger
than she’d expected, but her coworkers at the hotel warned her not to challenge
his genius IQ. Baggy blue jeans, plaid flannel shirt, and Nike tennis shoes
allowed him to blend in on the streets.
            Her eyebrows lifted.
“Agent Decker.”
            “Agent Drummonds. Saw
you walk up.” He pointed at the short circuit camera. “Thought you’d never get
here.” He shuffled papers and trash, clearing the extra chair.
            “Just call me Angie.
Sorry about the time. I had a slight delay. Two young thugs thought the coffee
was for them.” She climbed inside the van and stepped over the piles of trash
at the foot of both seats.
            Decker pushed the lock
on the van door. “Just now? Which way did they go? Would you recognize them in
a line-up?”
            “Forget it. I handled
the situation. Here, we still have breakfast.”
            “From now on call me
Handyman. I’ll come up with a name for you when I decide if you’re a fit for
this job.” He opened the sack and smelled the delicious aroma. “I’m starved,

            She pressed her lips together.
Working her way out of that desk job and finagling her way to a surveillance
position put her another step closer to working the streets again. Aiding an
undercover agent posing as a homeless man sounded intriguing and dangerous.
Flirting with death didn’t bother her. She had nothing and no one to live for.

[to continue reading, click here.]