The Cottoncrest Curse

When they find out who you really are, you’re never safe.

Two decades after the end of the Civil War, an elderly Confederate Colonel viciously slits the throat of his beautiful young wife and then fatally shoots himself. Sheriff Raifer Jackson, however, believes that this may be a double homicide, and suspicion falls upon both Jake Gold, an itinerant peddler who trades razor-sharp knives for fur and who has many deep secrets to conceal, and upon Jenny, the multi-lingual daughter of a slave who has her own secrets that she does not want revealed.

Jake and Jenny must stay one step ahead of the law, as well as the racist Knights of the White Camellia, as they interact with landed gentry, former slaves, crusty white field hands, crafty Cajuns, and free men of color, all while trying to keep one final promise before more lives are lost.

The gruesome deaths of the Confederate Colonel and his wife are part of a trail of mysterious events igniting feuds that burn a path from the cotton fields to the courthouse steps, from the moss-draped bayous of Cajun country to the bordellos of 19th century New Orleans, from the Civil War era to the Civil Rights era and across the Jim Crow decades to the Freedom Marches of the 1960s, Orleans, from the Civil War era to the Civil Rights era, from Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education and into the present.

At the heart of this heart-racing thriller are the relationships across the decades among blacks and whites, former slaves and landed aristocracy, freedom fighters and segregationists, and people of different backgrounds and religions.

 

PROLOGUE
TODAY.

Nobody blanched as she described the gruesome event. They were captivated.

“It happened right up here,” said the docent, who was dressed in an antebellum costume complete with lace collar, crinoline skirt, and double petticoats. The tour group, which had been wilting while standing outside Cottoncrest in the intense Louisiana heat and humidity, gratefully jammed into the wide hallway that ran through the center of the massive plantation home.

The docent signaled to the tourists to follow her as she ascended the curved interior staircase. “The main house has been restored —y’all come up single file, please—has been restored to how it looked in the 1890s, when Colonel Judge Augustine Chastaine, the son of the original owner, lived here.”

The docent paused, her back to the wall, carefully avoiding an area near the banister. “This is what y’all came to see, right here, where the most notorious murder-suicide in Louisiana occurred.

“One step below where I’m standing. As you come up the stairs behind me, look . . . but don’t walk . . . on these Plexiglas panels. This is where the Colonel Judge brutally slit the throat of his beautiful young wife, Rebecca, and then took his own life. Their intermingled blood soaked the wood, permanently discoloring it. Think of the tremendous amount of blood there must have been!

“But the deaths of Augustine and Rebecca Chastaine weren’t the start of the famous Cottoncrest curse. And they weren’t the end of it, either.”


Download the full Cottoncrest Curse excerpt:

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The Cottoncrest Curse may also be purchased at the following local booksellers:

Cottonwood Books
3054 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, La. 70808
Ph: 225-343-1266
Visit Website

Conundrum Books
11917 Ferdinand St
St. Francisville, LA 70775
Ph: 225-245-5025
Visit Website

Octavia Books
513 Octavia Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Visit Website

IndieBound
A community of Independent Local Bookstores
Visit Book Page

Cashed Out

 

Holding $4 million in cash, given to you by your murdered client, makes you everyone’s target.

One failed marriage. Two jobs lost. Three maxed out credit cards. “Schex” Schexnaydre was a failure as a lawyer. Until three weeks ago, he had no clients and no cash. Well, no clients except for infamous toxic waste entrepreneur G.G. Guidry, who’s just been murdered. And no cash, except for the $4,452,737 Guidry had stashed with him for safekeeping.

When Schex’s estranged ex-wife, Taylor, is accused of Guidry’s murder, she pleads with Schex to defend her. He refuses, but the more he says no to Taylor, the deeper Schex gets dragged into the fall-out from Guidry’s nefarious schemes, ending up as the target of all those vying to claim Guidry’s millions for themselves.

Schex careens from the swamps and marshes of Louisiana’s chemical corridor to the deep water oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, from the river industries that pollute minority neighborhoods to the privileged playgrounds of New Orleans’ crime syndicate bosses, and from a notorious alligator processing plant to the halls of political power, all in an attempt to clear his name and claim Guidry’s cash for himself.

 

 

“If you like John Grisham and Michael Connelly’s Lincoln Lawyer, you’re gonna love ‘Schex’ Schexnaydre – a down-and-out-attorney who breaks all the rules looking for some kind of justice. Fast, funny, and filled with twists and edge-of-your-seat suspense. Michael H. Rubin really nails it!
– – R.G. Belsky, author of the Gil Malloy mystery series

Cashed Out features “a lawyer down and out enough to make John Grisham proud. He’s culled from the likes of Michael Connolly by way of James Lee Burke. A gem of a tale.”
– – Providence Journal

“Cash in on this thrilling read from Michael H. Rubin. Set in the sweltering heat of the Louisiana bayou, Cashed Out is enthralling.” 
– – Foreword Reviews

“Michael Rubin’s Cashed Out is a dark and gritty crime novel that is packed with plenty of suspense and enough turns to keep readers entertained from start to finish. Rubin slowly unveils one surprise after another on the way to a nail-biting final act that fans of Joseph Finder and Michael Connelly will appreciate.”
– – Book Spy Reviews

“Michael H. Rubin catapults his main character, Schex Schexnaydre, into impossible situations, and the tension never lets up. Schex finds himself engulfed in a series of seemingly inescapable physical and mental traps. And then . . . neither our hero nor the reader has a way out of the growing, chilling suspense until the surprising conclusion.
— Steven W. Kohlhagen, author of “Where They Bury You” and “The Point of a Gun”

Michael H. Rubin’s new legal thriller is filled with great local color, entertaining characters, and plenty of action. CASHED OUT goes beyond the typical setting and deeper into Louisiana in a way that makes the reader feel she’s being pushed down the bayou at breakneck speed. It’s fresh, exciting, and well paced. I’ll be watching for the next in the series for sure. Five Stars!
Manning Wolf, author of the thriller, “Dollar Signs.”

 

 

Chapter 1

Failed lawyer? Damn right I’m a failed lawyer. Got a failed marriage, three maxed-out credit cards, and a broken-down office with a mortgage that’s underwater.

Until three weeks ago, I had no clients and no money.

Well, no clients except for G.G. Guidry, and he’s just been murdered. And no money, except for the $4,452,737 in cash that G.G. had left with me for safekeeping.

G.G. Guidry hired me on a Sunday morning. Less than a hundred hours later he was dead. His body was found on the industrial plant site of toxic waste processor Camellia Industries, floating in one of the “holding ponds” in a scummy mixture of petroleum waste, drilling fluid, arsenic, lead, barium, chromium, manganese, mercury, and who knows what-all.

The police initially thought that G.G. had been overcome by fumes and had fallen in. But when they pulled his body out, the cause of death was clear. G.G. had been shot three times. Once in the stomach. Once in the chest. And once in the forehead.

He was dead before someone dumped him in all that muck.


Download the full Cashed Out excerpt:

eadonaward

The award recognizes the outstanding novel of the year whose “characters are vividly portrayed as those individuals who can exist side-by-side with someone living in this world now, and dealing with issues of today in dramatic fashion,” in a “the setting that must be excruciatingly real.”

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Cashed Out may also be purchased at the following local booksellers:

Cottonwood Books
3054 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, La. 70808
Ph: 225-343-1266
Visit Website

Conundrum Books
11917 Ferdinand St
St. Francisville, LA 70775
Ph: 225-245-5025
Visit Website

Octavia Books
513 Octavia Street
New Orleans, LA 70115
Visit Website

IndieBound
A community of Independent Local Bookstores
Visit Book Page

Enflamed

A small group of homegrown terrorists affiliated with the alt-right decides “now is the time” and “New Orleans is the place” to make a statement in an effort to claim a more a dominant role in the white supremacist movement in America. Can a rural deputy sheriff piece together the clues they leave behind in time to save New Orleans’ tourist-laden French Quarter from being obliterated during a community festival celebrating diversity?

* * *

Former New Orleans homicide detective Starner Gautreaux, who was forced out of the Crescent City’s police department following a scandal, is now a paunchy, middle-aged, poorly-paid rural sheriff’s deputy relegated to writing his weekly quota of speeding tickets in a sleepy, sparsely populated South Louisiana parish. He drowns his sorrows in drink and finds his mundane life tedious until he stumbles upon a burning tractor-trailer that has just run off the road, its driver dead. This is but the first in a series of curious and seemingly unrelated incidents that occur on Starner’s watch. His boss, the longtime parish sheriff who is dying of cancer, maintains a political stranglehold on the area and chooses to ignore the implications of what’s going on. Downplaying each incident, he instructs Starner to perform only a perfunctory investigation rather than dig too deeply. The incompetent local coroner fails to declare any of the deaths as homicides even though Starner, thanks to his prior experience on the New Orleans police force, recognizes them as anything but accidental. The only other deputy on the rural sheriff’s payroll is a young, immature, hothead whose sole preoccupations are his girlfriend and his not-so-lofty goal of stopping more speeders than Starner, which leaves the older deputy with the sole responsibility for rooting out evil and maintaining law and order.

On the eve of executing their heinous plan, members of the fringe group become increasingly careless and violent. As dead bodies pile up, Starner becomes more and more suspicious of his ailing boss’ recalcitrance to let him thoroughly investigate. Going rogue, he races to make sense out of what appear to be disparate events and prevent further catastrophe. The taut action bubbles up from the swamps of Louisiana to the backwoods bayous through which contraband is hauled, from a rural bordello to New Orleans’ notorious underworld, and from a high-speed highway shootout to the heart of the French Quarter, as white supremacists seek to impose their will on an unsuspecting city.

COMING SOON!
Reviews will be posted as soon as they are available.

The soft buzz of cicadas rose from the alligator weed and button-willow that edged the bayou next to the swamp. As a quarter moon shimmered intermittently behind clouds blotching the night sky, the Precept carefully worked his way around the faded yellow school bus that had been backed into the gravel driveway, primed for the next day’s run. Although it was dark, he could discern the dim outlines of two derelict cars perched on cinder blocks, several rusty washing machines, and what appeared to be a disassembled refrigerator.

The ramshackle cottage was just ahead. Looming branches of oak and hickory pressed against its roof.

He adjusted the strap on his shoulder, pulled on latex gloves, and started to expertly pick the lock on the mildewed front door. It was not fastened and squeaked open even as he touched it.

An ancient air conditioner wheezed loudly from its perch in the window of the bedroom off the front hall. A television flickered, blaring a canned laugh track that punctuated every other line of an old sitcom, but the snoring of the enormous woman on the bed cut through the din.

Sprawled across the flowered coverlet, in a faded night shirt that bunched up around her layers of fat, Boulette Babineaux looked far older than her sixty-plus years.

The Precept pulled a small tank from his backpack, turned the valve, and pressed the plastic face-cup tightly over her nose and mouth. As Boulette struggled into wakefulness, he put his other hand behind her tangle of grey hair and pulled her head forward, forcing her to inhale the fumes.

Boulette’s eyes opened. They were filled with confusion. Then puzzlement. Then panic. She began to writhe and kick.

The Precept’s grasp on her head was firm. The gas flowed into her mouth as she tried to scream.

Boulette struggled, but he easily eluded her flailing arms, keeping the plastic mask affixed to the lower half of her face.

Thirty seconds passed. She began to take short, frantic gasps. Gulping for air caused her to inhale the chemical mixture even more deeply.

Finally, there was no movement at all.

The Precept remained in position for another minute, just to be sure.

He turned the valve off, checked the veins in her neck for signs of life, and, finding none, carefully stowed his gear. They would find her eventually, of course. An autopsy would indicate that Boulette had suffered a heart attack. The obvious conclusion would be that natural causes finally did in this old, overweight black woman with numerous health problems.

Holding the tank, the Precept headed back through the living room towards the front door when he heard the sound of a vehicle pulling up. A car door squeaked open and then slammed shut. The dusty living room curtains, drooping from their warped wooden dowels, glowed yellow as headlights splashed the front porch.

He stepped back into the shadows and reached for his knife.

The front door burst open. The home’s entryway was now blocked by a massive figure, at least six foot five and as wide as the doorframe. The big man flipped on the light switch and, seeing the stranger in the corner, lunged for him.

 


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The Crescent City Killer

IN DEVELOPMENT
From the manuscript of Mike Rubin’s fourth novel.

Mardi Gras madness. Mutilated prostitutes. Crooked cops. Corporate corruption. Courtroom chicanery. Big oil. Big deals. Big problems. Just another series of strange coincidences cascading through the boardrooms and bedrooms of sultry New Orleans . . . or not?

The Crescent City Killer interweaves two tales: one involving Shanita Banner, a black female detective on the New Orleans police force, and the other involving Drey Soileau, a rising young star in the Crescent City’s premiere law firm. Shanita suspects a serial killer is preying on prostitutes working the downtrodden Achilles Street Projects but can’t get her superiors to take her suspicions seriously. Drey apparently misses a critical document in a major case involving one of his senior partner’s most coveted clients and gets unceremoniously fired and disbarred. When the body of Drey’s former girlfriend is found in the Projects, murdered in the same manner as the prostitutes, the two stories intertwine. The cops, no longer able to turn a blind eye to Shanita’s suspicions, pursue Drey, believing him to be the serial killer. As the police search for Drey, Drey searches for the truth behind both his diminished circumstances and the grisly death of his former girlfriend, all in an effort to find the real killer and resurrect his reputation.

COMING SOON!
Reviews will be posted as soon as they are available.

Chapter 1

Patrolman Joey Raguso steered the police cruiser into one of the many cul-de-sacs that made the Achilles Housing Projects in New Orleans so dangerous. His partner, Mac McHaver, kept a wary eye on the crowd, which dispersed as the flashing blue lights and screaming siren approached. Shadowy figures scattered, disappearing into the neighborhood of ill-kept structures, splintered siding, and shattered lives.

By the time Detective Shanita Banner had arrived in her unmarked car, the two patrolmen had secured the crime scene.

The doorframe of the first-floor apartment was missing. The entrance was a gaping hole leading into a husk of a building. Whatever human life it once possessed had long since vanished, replaced by tendrils of weeds groping the rotting wood siding.

“Joey’s in there with the d.c.” said Mac to Shanita. “I’ve called the coroner’s office but, as usual, there’re working several other scenes and are tied up. Unit One is over in the Irish Channel where some guy got popped. Number Two is on a domestic off of Claiborne. Some bitch shot her old man when he gave her a slap or two. TV reporters are already on site at that one. So, the coroner’s folks may not be here for a couple of hours or more. And, after we called in ours, two more shootings came in: one in Mid-City and one out in New Orleans East.”

Shanita Banner didn’t say anything. Five deaths in one night. A typical evening in a city that slithered beneath its tourist veneer.


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Mike-Rubin-Mini-Bio-Footer A nationally known legal ethicist, public speaker and humorist, as well as a full time appellate attorney,
Mike has had a varied career.

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