The GangsterClive Cussler
ALSO BY CLIVE CUSSLER
DIRK PITT® ADVENTURES
Havana Storm (with Dirk Cussler)
Poseidon’s Arrow (with Dirk Cussler)
Crescent Dawn (with Dirk Cussler)
Arctic Drift (with Dirk Cussler)
Treasure of Khan (with Dirk Cussler)
Black Wind (with Dirk Cussler)
Raise the Titanic!
The Mediterranean Caper
The Solomon Curse (with Russell Blake)
The Eye of Heaven (with Russell Blake)
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The Tombs (with Thomas Perry)
The Kingdom (with Grant Blackwood)
Lost Empire (with Grant Blackwood)
Spartan Gold (with Grant Blackwood)
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The Striker (with Justin Scott)
The Thief (with Justin Scott)
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The Wrecker (with Justin Scott)
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Ghost Ship (with Graham Brown)
Zero Hour (with Graham Brown)
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Medusa (with Paul Kemprecos)
White Death (with Paul Kemprecos)
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eBook ISBN: 978-0-698-40642-1
Endpaper and interior illustrations by Roland Dahlquist
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Also by Clive Cussler
Cast of Characters
PROLOGUE | Murder and High Jinks
BOOK I | Captain Coligney’s Pink Tea Chapter 1
BOOK II | Pull Chapter 17
BOOK III | Storm King Chapter 26
BOOK IV | The Gangster Chapter 45
EPILOGUE | THE CARTEL BUSTER
About the Author
CAST OF CHARACTERS
Antonio Branco Immigrant Sicilian “pick and shovel man.”
The padrone Labor contractor, Antonio Branco’s boss.
Isaac Bell, Doug, Andy, Larry, Jack, Ron College freshman classmates.
Mary Clark Student at Miss Porter’s School.
Eddie “Kansas City” Edwards Van Dorn detective.
Maria Vella Giuseppe Vella’s twelve-year-old daughter.
Giuseppe Vella New York excavation contractor.
David LaCava Little Italy banker, proprietor of Banco LaCava.
Sante Russo Giuseppe Vella’s foreman and blaster.
Antonio Branco Wealthy wholesale grocer, Catskill Aqueduct purveyor.
Charlie Salata Italian street gang leader; Black Hand extortionist.
Vito Rizzo Salata Gang lieutenant.
Ernesto Leone A counterfeiter.
Roberto Ferri A smuggler.
Francesca Kennedy A killer.
Ed Hunt, Tommy McBean Cousins, Gopher Gang graduates, founders of the West Side Wallopers.
Van Dorn Agency Private Detectives
Joseph Van Dorn Founder and Chief Investigator, “The Boss,” the “old man.”
Isaac Bell Van Dorn’s top man, founder of Black Hand Squad.
Wally Kisley, Mack Fulton Explosives expert and safecracking expert, respectively; partners known as “Weber & Fields.”
Harry Warren Born Salvatore Guaragna, head of New York Gang
Archibald Angell Abbott IV Blue-blood New Yorker, a “Princeton man,” former actor, boxer, Bell’s best friend.
Aloysius “Wish” Clarke A drinking man.
Eddie “Kansas City” Edwards Rail yard specialist.
Bronson San Francisco field office.
Grady Forrer Head of Research, New York field office.
Scudder Smith Former newspaper reporter experienced in vice.
Eddie Tobin Apprentice detective.
Richie Cirillo Underage apprentice detective.
Helen Mills Van Dorn intern, Isaac Bell’s protégée, Bryn Mawr College student, daughter of U.S. Army brigadier general Gary Tannenbaum Mills.
Friends of Isaac Bell
Marion Morgan His fiancée.
Enrico Caruso World-renowned opera tenor.
Luisa Tetrazzini Coloratura soprano, the “Florentine Nightingale,” a rising star.
Boss Fryer “Honest Jim” Fryer, political kingpin of New York City.
Brandon Finn Boss Fryer’s henchman.
“Rose Bloom” Brandon Finn’s paramour.
Alderman James Martin Member of the “Boodle Board.”
“Kid Kelly” Ghiottone Former bantamweight prizefighter, saloon keeper, Tammany Hall’s man in Little Italy.
J. B. Culp Wall Street magnate, Hudson Valley aristocrat, inheritor of steamboat and railroad fortunes, founder of the Cherry Grove Gentlemen’s Society.
Daphne Culp J. B. Culp’s wife.
Brewster Claypool J. B. Culp’s lawyer.
Warren D. Nichols Banker, philanthropist, member of Cherry Grove Society.
Lee, Barry Prizefighters, J. B. Culp’s bodyguards and sparring partners.
Captain Mike Coligney Head of the NYPD’s Tenderloin Precinct.
Lieutenant Joe Petrosino Founder of the NYPD’s Italian Squad.
Chris Lynch Secret Service Counterfeit Squad.
Rob Rosenwald New York District Attorney sleuth.
Commissioner Bingham New NYPD official shaking up the department.
Sheriff of Orange County
Cherry Grove Bordello
Nick Sayers The proprietor.
Jenny A resident.
The White House
Theodore Roosevelt “Teddy,” “TR,” President of the United States, Spanish-American War hero, former Governor of New York State, former Police Commissioner of New York City.
Chief of the President’s Secret Service protection corps
The Catskill Aqueduct
Dave Davidson Contractors’ Protective Association, superintendent of labor camps.
Murder and High Jinks
New Haven, 1895
Chest-deep in a ditch, an Italian pick and shovel man looked up at a rush of custom-made shoes and broadcloth trousers inches from his face. Rich American students were scooping handfuls from the earth pile and sifting the sandy red soil through their fingers.
The Irish foreman, seated in the shade of an umbrella, shook a fist at him.
“Back to work, you lazy dago!”
The students took no notice. Set loose from geology class for impromptu field study, they were examining the fresh-dug outwash for traces of Triassic rock that glaciers had ground from the highlands above the New Haven valley. They were happy to be out of doors this first warm day of spring, and Italians digging holes in the ground were as ordinary a sight as red-faced Irish foremen in derby hats.
But the Italians’ padrone, the labor contractor the immigrants paid a stiff commission for the day’s work, did notice. The padrone was an extravagantly clad and perfumed Neopolitan with a sharp eye for profit. He beckoned the laborer who had stopped work to gape at his betters—a young Sicilian who called himself Antonio Branco.
Antonio Branco vaulted effortlessly up onto the grass. His clothes reeked of sweat, and little distinguished him from the others toiling in the ditch. Just another peasant in a dirty cap, a little finer-featured than most, taller, and bigger in the shoulders. And yet, something about this one seemed off. He was too sure of himself, the padrone concluded.
“You make me look bad in front of the foreman.”
“What do you care about a mick?”
“I’m docking half your pay. Get back to work.”
Branco’s face hardened. But when he did nothing but jump back in the ditch and pick up his shovel, the padrone knew he had read his man correctly. Back in Italy, the Carabinieri kept a tight rein on criminals. A fugitive who had escaped to free and easy America, Antonio Branco could not protest being robbed of half his pay.
Five freshmen closed the door, muffling the uproar of pianos, banjos, and horseplay shouts and crashes elsewhere in Vanderbilt Hall. Then they gathered around a tall, rail-thin classmate and listened spellbound to his scheme to visit the girls at Miss Porter’s School in Farmington, forty miles across the state. Tonight.
They knew little about him. He was from Boston, his family bankers and Harvard men. The fact that he had come down to Yale indicated a rebellious streak. He had a quick grin and a steady gaze, and he seemed to have thought of everything—a map, a Waltham train conductor’s watch, accurate to thirty seconds in a day, and a special employees’ timetable that contained schedules and running directions for every train on the line, both passenger and freight.
“What if the girls won’t see us?” asked Jack, always a doubting Thomas.
“How could they resist Yale men on a special train?” asked Andy.
“A stolen special,” said Ron.
“A borrowed special,” Larry corrected him. “It’s not like we’re keeping it. Besides, it’s not a whole train, only a locomotive.”
Doug asked the big question on every mind. “Are you sure you know how to operate a locomotive, Isaac?”
“One way to find out!”
Isaac Bell stuffed his map, watch, and timetable into a satchel that held several pairs of heavy gloves, a bull’s-eye lantern, and a fat copy of Grimshaw’s Locomotive Catechism. Doug, Ron, Andy, Jack, and Larry crowded after him when he bounded out the door.
New Haven’s Little Italy had sprung up close to the rail yards. Locomotive whistles and switch engine bells were moaning and clanging their nightly serenade, and coal smoke sweetened the stench that the rubber factory wafted over the neighborhood, when the padrone stepped out of his favorite restaurant.
Belly full, head singing with wine, he stood a moment, cleaning his teeth with a gold pick. He strolled homeward along Wooster Street, acknowledging people’s deferential Buona sera, Padrone with haughty nods. He was almost to his rooming house when he saw Antonio Branco in the shadows of a burned-out lamppost. The Sicilian was sharpening a pencil with a pocket knife.
The padrone laughed. “What does a peasant who can’t read need with a pencil?”
Branco’s eyes glittered left and right. There was a cop. To give him time to pass, he drew an American newspaper from his coat and read a headline aloud: “Water Tunnel Accident. Foreman Killed.”
The padrone snickered. “Read the fine print.”
Branco made a show of tracing the lines with his pencil. He pretended to struggle with long words and skipped the short ones. “Foreman Jake . . . Stratton . . . injured fatal when Bridgeport water tunnel caved. He leaves wife Katherine and children Paul and Abigail. Four Italians also died.”
The cop disappeared around the corner. The earlier crowds had thinned, and the few people hurrying home would mind their own business. Branco drove the pencil through the padrone’s cheek.
The padrone’s hands flew to his face, exposing his ribs.
Branco thrust. His pocket knife had a short blade, well under the four inches allowed by law. But the handle from which it hinged was almost as thin as the blade itself. As steel slid between bones, Branco shifted his palm behind the knife and pushed hard. The thin handle forced the blade into the wound and shoved the needle-sharp sliver as deep in the padrone’s heart as a stiletto.
Branco took the padrone’s money purse, his rings, and his toothpick and ran to the trains.
Locomotive 106 sighed and snorted like a sleeping mastiff. It was an American Standard 4-4-0 with four pilot wheels in front and four tall drive wheels as high as Isaac Bell’s shoulder. Looming above the gravel embankment where the college boys huddled, silhouetted against a smoky sky set aglow by city lights, it looked enormous.
Bell had watched every night this week. Every night, it was trundled to the coal pocket and water tank to replenish its tender. Then the railroad workers removed ash from its furnace, banked the fire to raise steam quickly in the morning, and parked it on a siding at the extreme north end of the yard. Tonight, as usual, 106 was pointed in the right direction, north toward the Canal Line, which ran straight to Farmington.
Bell told Doug to run ahead of the engine and throw the switch. Doug was a football player, strong, levelheaded, and quick on his feet, the best candidate to switch the siding tracks to the main line. “Soon as we’re through, open the switch again.”
“So if they notice it missing, they won’t know which way we went.”
“You’d make a fine criminal, Isaac.”
“Beats getting caught. Soon as you open it, run like heck to catch up . . . Andy, you’re lighting the lights . . . O.K., guys. On the jump!”
Bell led the way, loping long-leggedly over rails, crossties, and gravel. The other boys followed, ducking their heads. The railroad police were famously brutal, yet not likely to beat up the sons of American magnates. But if they got caught at this stunt, the Yale Chaplin would have them “rusticated,” which meant kicked out of school and sent home to their parents.
Doug sprinted ahead of the locomotive and crouched with his hands on the switch rod. Andy, whose father had put him to work backstage operating lights in his vaudeville theaters, climbed on the cowcatcher and ignited the acetylene headlamp, which cast a dull glow on the rails. Then he jumped down, ran to the back of the tender, and lighted a red lantern.