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Steve Sees Sciways

Agent search for second novel: Fatal Deadline

SYNOPSIS: Fatal Deadline, a novel by Stephen Berberich, sberberich@copper.net

Maryland Inquirer’s boy reporter Christopher Gilley, 20, is desperate. He must answer two questions quickly, or lose his career at best, his life possibly.

1. Who killed the state’s most cunning and underhanded builder, Johnny “Boss” Martin? and,

2. Who blew up and destroyed Martin’s masterpiece, the First Union Credit & Mortgage tower?

Chris hails from a tiny town in Appalachia. His first job is in gridlocked Rhoadesville, near Washington, D.C. He is lonely, broke, and anxious for his first big story. Cynical seaoned reporters going through the motions at the Inquirer see genious in young Chris. But one day he foolishly agrees to ride along with 31-year-old Dickie Randim for a tour of his new statewide real estate beat, his predecessor, now banished upstairs in PR. Dickie is the son of the paper’s biggest ad purchaser. He is rich, handsome knows how to play the ladies. 

Dickie and Chris inadvertently witness the bombing of the FUC&M tower, called the FUC‘M tower by locals It’s hated by the community for housing the worst predator lenders in the East. Chris swings into action brilliently filing stories from the bombing site. But the next day managing editor Michele LaProbe takes him off the story. Other media had reported witnesses saying Chris and Dickie fled the site.  

Chris goes underground to get HIS story, but steadily he lets his pure newspaper ethics get corrupted, desperate to report the true at all cost. The plot gains pace as he needs get information by smoking weed with gang leaders, lying to his editors, taking money for disguises, risking his best friend Liza’s career, stealing Dickie’s source book, burglarizing a lender’s files, and getting beat up at a strip club. He's  exposed to the killer while posing as a phony server at the luxury box at Redskin football stadium. the box owner, horrible, racist mortgage lender Sam Johnson, threatens to kill Chris if he writes one word of the story. The hunter becomes the hunted.

Chris‘ last hope may be Dickie, who has an inside track to the criminal lenders. Dickie is having an affair with Martin’s flashy wife “Peeps” Martin, a hotel concierge, while moonlighting for Johnny Martin as an informant on Martin‘s arch enemy Johnson. He is blackmailing Johnson with Dickie’s evidence that Johnson has blatantly violated federal civil rights laws for years. The story is set in King’s County, the richest majority black county in America.

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