Cover image for East of the arch
East of the arch
Randisi, Robert J.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin's Minotaur, [2002]

Physical Description:
370 pages ; 22 cm
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X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Keough has been at his job in the Mayor's office for a year and he's not happy. He's been involved in more political functions and fund raisers than investigations. But when bodies of pregnant women begin to pile up on the Illinois side of the Mississippi, the Mayor of East St. Louis asks for help. Now out on loan, Keough heads up the search for a serial killer with only a Mark Twain quoting sidekick and young female clerk as his "task force." At the worst possible time his ex-girlfriend, Valerie, comes back into his life with a problem--the little boy, Brady, who tracked bloody footprints into Keough's life in In the Shadow of the Arch, is in trouble. And as if all this weren't enough, Keough is still trying to adjust to the fact that he has diabetes. When an offer to leave St. Louis to join a special state-wide serial killer squad comes his way, Keough has to make a decision that could change his personal and professional life forever. Throughout all this turmoil, Keough works frantically to discover the perpetrator of these increasingly sick and twisted crimes, before another young woman and her unborn baby are killed. Filled with modern images of St. Louis, Robert J. Randisi spins another thrilling, multi-layered murder mystery.

Author Notes

Robert J. Randisi was a mystery writer who, in 1979, was asked to create a Western Series to be published by Charter Books. He created the Gunsmith Series, writing under the pseudonym J. R. Roberts, which he followed with a story in the Tracker Series as Tom Cutter and seven other western series under seven other pseudonyms. He has also written several Mystery stories as well.

Randisi is the author of over 400 novels, 40 short stories, has edited 25 anthologies and has written under 15 pseudonyms. He founded the Private Eye Writers of America and created the Shamus Award. He is co-founder of Mystery Scene Magazine and the American Crime Writer's League. Randisi has also the edited Mean Streets and the Private Eye Writers of America's newsletter. He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Southwest Mystery Convention and has been nomiated for the Shamus Award four times.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

St. Louis detective Joe Keough is faced with what may be his grisliest case. The brutalized bodies of two pregnant women are discovered in East St. Louis, Illinois, with their unborn babies literally torn from their wombs. The mayor of St. Louis agrees to "loan" Joe to East St. Louis because of his special knowledge of serial killers. Joe is assigned a partner, neophyte detective Marc Jeter, who's eager to learn everything he can from the wily veteran. When the case stalls, the East St. Louis mayor, eager for good press, orders a suspect arrested. There's no hard evidence against the suspected killer so his attorney springs him, and the two detectives are made the scapegoats for failing to solve the case. Furious that things have gone badly, Joe is completely unprepared for the shocking climax that turns the case on its head. Another exceptionally entertaining and riveting mystery from genre stalwart Randisi. Emily Melton

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his fourth action-packed outing (after 2000's Blood on the Arch), St. Louis cop Joe Keough finds himself embattled on all sides. Just as he's about to chuck his job, Joe is assigned to the East St. Louis PD to assist in investigating an especially nasty serial killer, a blood-curdling creep who preys on pregnant women. Unaware that he has become a pawn in one of the mayor's political games, Joe faces the hostility of the local police, who resent his "interference." In addition, two old nemeses, Angela Mason and Jack Gail of Internal Affairs, are willing to do absolutely anything to destroy his career. Then he gets sidetracked looking into a wife/child beater. As Noel Coward said, "No good deed goes unpunished." No sooner has Joe put the lid on the abuser than the guy is found murdered, leaving Joe the chief suspect. Much of this distracts from the more compelling hunt for the serial killer, and eventually Randisi gets back to business. Keough is no clich cop, but an engaging character with a welcome streak of compassion. His partner, Det. Marc Jeter, a young officer with a fondness for quoting Mark Twain, makes a splendid addition to the cast, and one hopes he will return. Randisi's well-paced procedural keeps the reader asking what happens next right up to the logical and effective finale. (Oct. 14) FYI: Randisi's most recent novel, coauthored with Christine Matthews, is The Masks of Auntie Laveau, the second mystery featuring Gil and Claire Hunt (Forecasts, Dec. 3, 2001). Randisi also writes the Nick Delvecchio and Miles Jacoby series. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Keough rolled over in bed and bumped into the woman lying next to him. Surprised, he sat up and looked at her, then at the clock on the nightstand beyond her. Three o'clock in the afternoon. Now he remembered. Marie Tobin. He'd met her two years earlier, when he was working on his first case in St. Louis, the Mall Rat thing. She was a very attractive brunette with a seriously sexy body who had come on to him during the case. Back then he'd avoided her because he made it a habit not to fool around with married woman. Also, he was just beginning a relationship with Valerie Speck at the time. Earlier that day he had run into Marie in-of all places-a mall, and the next thing he knew they were back at his house desperately going at it in his bed. Both of the obstacles that had kept them from this when they first met were gone. Oh, she was still married, but he didn't care now. And his relationship with Valerie had ended a few months back, right around the time he'd discovered he had diabetes, and his partner had been killed. There were a lot of things he didn't care much about, these days. "Marie," he said, gently. He touched her shoulder and she turned over onto her back. Her big, brown-tipped breasts were as sexy as ever, but right now he just wanted her to get up and leave. "Marie!" "Hmm?" "It's after three." "Hmm? What?" she asked, sleepily. She lifted her hands to her face and her breasts were no longer leaning to the sides. "Three o'clock," he said. "It's after three. You said you had to pick up your daughter at school." She opened her eyes, looked at him calmly for a moment, then her eyes widened and she said, "Oh shit." She was a flurry of activity then as she sprang off the bed and started searching for her underwear and clothes. She found her panties first and slipped into them, then grabbed her bra from atop a dresser where it had landed when he tossed it, and fitted herself into the cups. After that it was her sweater and jeans, until finally she started looking for her shoes. "Downstairs, I think," Keough said. "Shit, shit, shit," she swore, charging from the room. She was a big girl and made noise pounding down the stairs. He got up, put a robe on to cover his nudity, and went down after her. When he found her she was hopping on one foot, pulling on her second shoe. She looked around, spotted her purse and grabbed it. "Keys, damn it!" she snapped. "In the purse, I think." She stuck her hand in her purse, rattled around a bit and then came out with the keys. "I'm sorry I have to rush, Joe," she said, giving him a fleeing kiss on the lips as she passed on her way to the door. "It's okay," he assured her. "We shouldn't have fallen asleep." That stopped her. With the door half open she looked at him and smiled. "We didn't have much choice," she said, "did we? I mean, we went at it ... like ... wild, right?" "Right," he said, "wild." Although the word "desperate" still said it for him. She took a moment to look at him and asked, "We're not gonna do it again, are we?" "I don't think that would be smart, do you?" he asked. "Maybe not," she said, "but doing it this time wasn't smart either, was it?" "I guess not." "Well ... maybe we'll see each other again in a mall sometime and ... who knows?" He smiled back and echoed her words. "Damn," she said, looking at her watch. "Bye, Joe." He said, "Bye," but by the time he got to "Marie," she was gone, and the door slammed shut. He stood at the front window and watched her drive away, then remained there, staring. Something had changed in Joe Keough. He was making decisions lately he would never have made before, like a spontaneous romp in the hay with a beautiful young married mother. For Marie Tobin it had just been another stolen moment-or afternoon-from an otherwise predictable existence as a wife and mother. For Joe Keough it represented a major change in the way he led his life. Keough thought he was unhappy about where his life had taken him over the past year. His move into the mayor's office had not worked out as planned. He thought that as the mayor's top cop he'd be able to pick and choose his cases. Instead most of his work had involved security for the mayor at fund raisers and political functions, not what he had signed on for at all. He was a detective, not a bodyguard or security specialist. The mayor had a security specialist, and the man didn't like Keough at all. Most of the cops in the city didn't like him much either, because he had become the mayor's "Top Cop." In fact, a recent issue of St. Louis magazine had featured him on the cover with that very sobriquet beneath his picture. He had done the accompanying interview at the mayor's behest, but naturally the mayor was thinking of his own political future when he made the request. Since arriving in St. Louis just over two years ago, Keough had been involved in two very high profile cases and had closed them both out. He was a media darling, and a valuable asset to the mayor's office. His own life, however, seemed to have been put on hold. And then there was the diabetes. Diagnosed about six months ago, during the case that landed him in his present job-a political murder where the body had been found at the base of the Arch-he had not yet come to terms with it. Oh, he thought he had. He took his pills, and drank diet soda, and thought he was unhappy about it, but in reality he wasn't dealing with it at all. He had stopped checking his sugar levels each day, and he constantly broke his "diet" with donuts and beer and other forbidden items. He thought he was dealing with it, but what he was feeling was unmitigated anger, and an immeasurable resentment that this had happened to him before he was even forty. And that was another thing. In a week he would be forty, and where was he? In a job he didn't like, a city far from home-Brooklyn, New York-with no relationships to speak of, not even a partner. His last partner had died of a heart attack during their last case together and shortly afterwards he'd made the move into the mayor's office. He hadn't had a partner in six months, and the romp in the hay with Marie Tobin was the first time he'd had sex in-well, since he broke up with Valerie. The diabetes, the death of his partner, Al Steinbach, and the breakup with Valerie had all occurred during the same tumultuous week in his life. But as bad as all of that was, at least something had happened. That had been the last week in his life that he'd actually felt useful, and alive. He turned away from the window and looked around the living room. Boxes. He'd been there two years and was still surrounded by boxes he had not bothered to unpack since moving from New York. Was that because he knew St. Louis would not be his last stop? That he'd be moving on, again? And if so, what was his next stop? Chapter Two A month earlier Joe Keough had been complaining to the mayor about not having done any real police work-that is, detective work-for some time. Neither one of them could have known how quickly that situation would change. "I need someone experienced with serial homicides, Your Honor," Will Emery, the mayor of East St. Louis, said into the phone. He stared down at the Japanese garden his twin teenaged daughters had given him on his last birthday-the Big Five-Oh-to help manage his stress. It wasn't helping, especially now. "Well, I have just the man for you, Will," his counterpart across the river said. "Your man Keough?" The hopeful tone was plain in the other official's voice. "Exactly." "That's what I was hoping you'd say." "Of course," the mayor said, shrewdly, "we'll have to discuss the terms of the, uh, loan." "Well, of course," Will Emery said. "What kind of terms did you have in mind?" * * * When Keough got to City Hall the next morning he got the word that His Honor wanted to see him right away. Maybe, Keough thought, today should be the day he quit. He'd been tossing around a lot of possible scenarios for a change in his life, but it had come down to two. He could quit the mayor's office and go back to working with the St. Louis PD. Or he could quit altogether and start again in a new city. Every time he thought about that last possibility, though, he thought about the unpacked boxes in his living room. How could he move to another place when he'd never really unpacked for this one? Maybe he just hadn't given St. Louis a fair shot. But had he really had time? His life had seemed to literally explode from the moment he first arrived, right from three-year-old Brady Sanders wandering into the Richmond Heights Police Station leaving a trail of bloody footprints behind him, to the death of his partner, Al Steinbach, and his move into the mayor's office. Bottom line was, as he walked to the mayor's office, he hadn't made up his mind yet. He was ushered directly into the mayor's office. That meant the Man really had something important on his mind. Normally anyone waiting to see him had to do just that. Keough had the feeling it was more a superstition with the mayor than anything else. As he entered the office the mayor was seated behind his desk, talking on the phone. He looked up at Keough and waved him to a chair. Keough sat and watched as the handsome black man talked to some political crony, charming the pants off of him. Working for the mayor was not a bad job. It paid well, and the man was okay, for a politician. It had just gotten so ... stagnant. He wondered again, for the umpteenth time, if going back into the regular department on any level was a viable option. Would they take him back? "Well," the mayor said, hanging up, "I'm glad you came in early today, Joe." Excerpted from East of the Arch by Robert J. Randisi Copyright © 2002 by Robert J. Randisi Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.