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The Gangster

Clive Cussler



  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)

  Trojan Odyssey

  Valhalla Rising

  Atlantis Found

  Flood Tide

  Shock Wave

  Inca Gold





  Deep Six

  Pacific Vortex!

  Night Probe!

  Vixen 03

  Raise the Titanic!


  The Mediterranean Caper


  The Solomon Curse (with Russell Blake)

  The Eye of Heaven (with Russell Blake)

  The Mayan Secrets (with Thomas Perry)

  The Tombs (with Thomas Perry)

  The Kingdom (with Grant Blackwood)

  Lost Empire (with Grant Blackwood)

  Spartan Gold (with Grant Blackwood)


  The Assassin (with Justin Scott)

  The Bootlegger (with Justin Scott)

  The Striker (with Justin Scott)

  The Thief (with Justin Scott)

  The Race (with Justin Scott)

  The Spy (with Justin Scott)

  The Wrecker (with Justin Scott)

  The Chase


  The Pharaoh’s Secret (with Graham Brown)

  Ghost Ship (with Graham Brown)

  Zero Hour (with Graham Brown)

  The Storm (with Graham Brown)

  Devil’s Gate (with Graham Brown)

  Medusa (with Paul Kemprecos)

  White Death (with Paul Kemprecos)

  The Navigator (with Paul Kemprecos)

  Polar Shift (with Paul Kemprecos)

  Lost City (with Paul Kemprecos)

  White Death (with Paul Kemprecos)

  Fire Ice (with Paul Kemprecos)

  Blue Gold (with Paul Kemprecos)

  Serpent (with Paul Kemprecos)


  Piranha (with Boyd Morrison)

  Mirage (with Jack Du Brul)

  The Jungle (with Jack Du Brul)

  The Silent Sea (with Jack Du Brul)

  Corsair (with Jack Du Brul)

  Plague Ship (with Jack Du Brul)

  Skeleton Coast (with Jack Du Brul)

  Dark Watch (with Jack Du Brul)

  Sacred Stone (with Craig Dirgo)

  Golden Buddha (with Craig Dirgo)


  Built for Adventure: The Classic Automobiles of Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt

  The Sea Hunters (with Craig Dirgo)

  The Sea Hunters II (with Craig Dirgo)

  Clive Cussler and Dirk Pitt Revealed (with Craig Dirgo)


  Publishers Since 1838

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street

  New York, New York 10014

  Copyright © 2016 by Sandecker, RLLLP

  Penguin supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin to continue to publish books for every reader.

  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

  Title Page


  Cast of Characters

  PROLOGUE | Murder and High Jinks

  BOOK I | Captain Coligney’s Pink Tea Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  BOOK II | Pull Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  BOOK III | Storm King Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  Chapter 41

  Chapter 42

  Chapter 43

  Chapter 44

  BOOK IV | The Gangster Chapter 45

  Chapter 46


  About the Author



  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.


  White Hand

  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.

  Black Hand

  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.

  Sicilian groom

  Francesca Kennedy A killer.

  Irish Gangsters

  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.

  Tammany Hall

  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.


  Irish foreman


  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?”

  “I learn.”


  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.