DiscoverMystery & Crime

El Camino Drive

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A horrible murder in 1978 yields freedom for the killers, while a family takes matters into their own hands decades later to settle a score!

Synopsis

Detroit Detective John Valentino knows El Camino Drive all too well. His father was murdered there on Halloween, 1978. Antonio Valentino was killed after work by three men, alleging he was having an affair with one of their wives. Claiming self-defense, the murderers are exonerated, believing that a toy pistol in the victim’s pocket was an actual weapon. After the murder trial, a family vendetta is loudly placed against his father’s killers.
Forty years later, Detective Valentino is now an alcoholic, losing his wife and family to his drinking. After his mother dies, he cleans out the attic of her home, to find a wooden trunk with an evidence bag from the night of the murder. Included, is a blood-stained, water pistol he once owned as a little boy…the very toy pistol his father used to fool his killers.
One evening, the wife of one of the murderers is found brutally stabbed in her ex-husband’s home. Next to her body, is the stanza of a poem and a toy water pistol.
Valentino, the prime suspect, has no idea who the "Water Pistol Killer" is.
With every new murder, there's a new stanza to the poem and a toy water pistol.

First and foremost, a large thank you to Reedsy Discovery and Edward Izzi for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.


Edward Izzi returns with another of his sensational thrillers that toss a number of well-developed characters together into a story that will have the reader flipping pages well into the night. Detroit P.D. Detective John Valentino finds himself in quite the predicament. A recently divorced, raging alcoholic with an anger management problem, Valentino’s been suspended for beating up his partner. There are other underlying issues, including having been raised without a father. On Hallowe’en Night, 1978, Antonio Valentino was murdered by three men along El Camino Drive. Young Johnny was only six at the time and saw his family fall apart. At the trial, the men got off and skirted justice by claiming a twisted sense of self-defence. Bitter and shocked, one member of the family promised revenge. Now, Detective Valentino is unearthing some of the records and making sense of what happened all those years ago. Tackling some of his demons, Valentino stops drinking and finds himself in what he feels is a healthy relationship. He begins to better understand his philandering father and vows to find the men who caused his family such pain. However, it seems someone is a few steps ahead of him. A few of those tied to the previous murder end up dead, with a unique calling card left at the scene, as well as a small piece of poetry related to the El Camino murder. John Valentino is surely at the top of the suspect list, but is able to alibi himself. With an elderly uncle whose final goal in life is to kill the men who got away with murder, whispers of a mafia boss with a bone to pick with those who killed in such a sloppy way, and even a son who is just now learning the psychological complexities of life without a father figure, the list of suspects seems endless. Yet, someone is exacting revenge and trying to balance the scales for the bloodshed on El Camino Drive back in ‘78. An addictive novel that has so many subplots that the reader will have to stay attentive throughout this story. Izzi proves yet again that he is a master in the field and should let the creative juices flow. Recommended to those who love a great crime thriller, as well as the reader who finds complex storylines to their liking.


I discovered Edward Izzi’s work by fluke when I was offered a copy of another book he wrote a number of months ago. Since then, I have been devouring all of his books within days of receiving them. Izzi writes in such a way that the reader is drawn into the story, with momentum gained as the plot thickens. John Valentino is a perfectly chosen protagonist for this book, with a backstory that is quite complex and sensational development throughout this book. The reader will see his struggles, which are tied into addiction and the trauma of his father’s murder, as well as how he sought to pull himself up by the proverbial bootstraps. Valentino may have a temper, but his passion to resolve the miscarriage of justice related to his father’s murder remains high on his priority list. Pulled into some complex subplots along the way by those who seek to use his access to information only adds to the story and richness of his character. The handful of other characters that Izzi creates add even more flavour to a story that is a perfect mix of thriller and coming of age. Izzi uses a technique that readers who have read all his other pieces will likely see. He creates a character in one of his novels and has them reappear in a subsequent book, offering updates and connecting the pieces without creating a formal series. A central character in one book might return and receive passing mention in another, or a wallflower might take up a major role in a subsequent novel. This is a brilliant technique and yet still allow the reader to pick up any of his novels without feeling the need to read the collection (though who would not want to read all these books?!). Izzi develops an ironclad story around a murder in 1978 and builds from there, offering not only flashbacks/forwards between that time and the present, but also fills in needed aspects from the past to develop more suspects in the present murders. This technique, while requiring the reader to pay close attention, offers rich rewards for those who accept the challenge. While the book is longer (close to 500 pages), it reads so easily that the reader will find they can devour a third of the book in one sitting and feel no sense of time drag. His dialogue is crisp, his plots evolving, and his characters relatable. Finally, using Detroit as his central setting, Izzi writes what he knows best and offers those who know the area with some special treats. This is one of those stories that is sure to receive a great deal of attention if put in the right hands. I can only hope others will discover the magic of this gritty novelist and turn to some of Izzi’s other work, which is just as captivating. Brilliant writing with a collection of standalone novels that have a thread of connectivity. I can only hope Edward Izzi keeps writing, as I am more than happy to keep reading. He stands above all others in a supersaturated genre and keeps getting better!


Kudos, Mr. Izzi, for another formidable effort. I cannot say enough and hope your work ends up into the hands of many, for they will be as astounded as I was to read such high quality work!


Reviewed by

I love to read and review all sorts of books. My passion is crime and thrillers, but there are so many other genres that pique my attention.

While I am not a full-time reader, I try to dedicate as much time to my passion as possible, as can be seen on my blog and Goodreads.

Synopsis

Detroit Detective John Valentino knows El Camino Drive all too well. His father was murdered there on Halloween, 1978. Antonio Valentino was killed after work by three men, alleging he was having an affair with one of their wives. Claiming self-defense, the murderers are exonerated, believing that a toy pistol in the victim’s pocket was an actual weapon. After the murder trial, a family vendetta is loudly placed against his father’s killers.
Forty years later, Detective Valentino is now an alcoholic, losing his wife and family to his drinking. After his mother dies, he cleans out the attic of her home, to find a wooden trunk with an evidence bag from the night of the murder. Included, is a blood-stained, water pistol he once owned as a little boy…the very toy pistol his father used to fool his killers.
One evening, the wife of one of the murderers is found brutally stabbed in her ex-husband’s home. Next to her body, is the stanza of a poem and a toy water pistol.
Valentino, the prime suspect, has no idea who the "Water Pistol Killer" is.
With every new murder, there's a new stanza to the poem and a toy water pistol.

Detroit - Halloween, 1978

It was a warm, balmy evening on Halloween, 1978, as Antonio ‘Tony’ Valentino had just completed the night shift at the Ford Assembly Plant on Twenty-Three Mile Road and Mound. He punched out his timecard at eleven o’clock and walked toward his red and white Ford pickup truck parked outside of the plant parking lot. As he walked toward his vehicle, his girlfriend, Joni, was patiently waiting for him. She immediately flicked her cigarette as Tony approached her, standing next to his truck.

Joni kisses him as they warmly greet each other.

“How did your day go?” she eagerly asked.

“Not bad. I didn’t see you on break,” Tony replied.

Joni Williams worked in the sewing and upholstery department of the Ford Plant in the department adjacent to his. Tony Valentino was a forklift operator on the assembly line of the night shift at the Ford Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, about twenty-three miles north of Detroit.

“I was outside, having a cigarette with my girlfriend, Gina. She wanted to talk.”

Tony unlocked his pickup truck, and Joni got in from the passenger side. She put her lunchbox on the floor of his vehicle and gave Tony a hot passionate kiss.

Joni was a pretty, platinum blonde with big blue eyes and a sensual figure. She was very voluptuous, close to five feet, five inches tall, and carried herself as though she was walking onto the movie set of a Marilyn Monroe movie. Joni was in her late twenties but had been married for almost ten years, with eight-year-old twin boys at home.

“Are we going back to your place tonight?”

“Yes,” as Tony was getting excited. “Does your husband know you’re working late?”

“No, but he said he would be out tonight bowling with his friends and won’t be home until very late. Don’t worry, Tony. I’ve got a hall-pass,” she smiled. Tony smiled to himself as Joni opened his three-button blue Polo shirt and ran her fingers up and down his chest.

‘Going back to his place’ meant going to his house in Sterling Heights just off of Schoenherr Road. Tony had just closed on it about six months ago, which was still vacant and was in the process of renovating. He hadn’t moved his wife, Isabella, and their three children into the house yet, as their home in Warren, Michigan, was on the real estate market and had been for sale for a few months. Tony’s wife knew that he regularly visited the house after his late shift at the Ford Plant, but of course, she had no idea that he was using their second home as a meeting place for him and his married girlfriend after work.

“I’ll meet you at the house,” Tony quickly said, hoping that he would still be anxious and excited to amorously hook up with Joni at their usual, discrete location. 

Joni quickly got out of his pickup truck and climbed into her 1972 blue Mustang. As they began to exit the Ford Plant parking lot, another vehicle, a white 1970 Oldsmobile, which was parked two rows away, started its ignition. As the rear brake lights of the car turned on, the car filled with three men immediately began to follow the red and white Ford pickup truck.

Howard Williams had been stalking his wife at her place of work for the last two weeks and became well aware of the torrid affair his wife was having with Valentino. He had carefully planned this evening with his two friends, Jack Hansen, and George Johnson. Williams, who was a pipefitter by trade, was small in stature, but very quick-tempered. He was an abrasive, vicious alcoholic with a checkered past, and police record the length of his arm. He had done time for armed robbery, counterfeiting, extortion, and assault and battery. Howard Williams was an ex-convict who seemed to have something to prove to everyone and anyone who challenged him. He also ran one of the bookmaking operations on the East Side for the Licavoli Family, and Jack and George were into him for over a ‘G-note’ a piece.

When he finally saw his wife, Joni, making out with Valentino in the parking lot two weeks ago, he decided on an evening where he would violently do something about it. And that evening would be on Halloween. 

Howard brought two of his former prison friends along with him. His friend Jack brought along a .25 caliber pistol he had borrowed from a friend.

The white Oldsmobile quickly followed the red and white pickup truck that Valentino was driving, going southbound on Mound Road. The three men must have been following Valentino too closely, as he had immediately taken notice of them while sitting at the traffic light on Fourteen Mile and Mound Roads. When the light turned green, Tony accelerated his truck and began dodging the late-night traffic going southbound. Because it was Halloween and was close to midnight on a weeknight, the traffic on Mound Road was almost empty. He sprinted his truck, quickly changing lanes and trying to lose the three men.

At some point, Joni must have noticed the ensuing chase between her boyfriend’s truck and her husband’s white Oldsmobile. She turned off of Twelve Mile Road, making a left-hand turn on a red light and going eastbound, hoping that her husband didn’t see her.

The chase continued down Mound until Tony approached Eight Mile Road. As the light turned yellow, he quickly accelerated his truck and went eastbound down Eight Mile, hoping that the white Oldsmobile would get held up at the traffic light. Since Howard Williams was driving and had no respect for traffic laws, he stepped on the gas and made the left-hand turn onto Eight Mile, again following Tony’s truck closely. This chase continued for another fifteen more minutes until Tony turned his vehicle into a side street off the main, four-lane highway. He tried to lose the three men, turning off of different side streets, trying in vain to lose the white Oldsmobile. Finally, Valentino turned off of a side street that he didn’t realize was a dead end…a street called El Camino Drive.

When Tony recognized that he was on a dead-end street, he decided to foolishly park his truck and confront the three men that were following him. He suddenly remembered that his young six-year-old son, Johnny, had left his green water gun in the glove box of his truck when he was playing in it over the weekend. Valentino grabbed the toy squirt gun and put it in his right jacket pocket. With his truck still running, he opened his door.

The white Oldsmobile parked adjacent to the pickup truck, and the three men got out.

“What the hell do you guys want?”

“You know goddamn well what we want. You’re fucking my wife, you asshole!” Howard Williams immediately replied, with his two men were backing him up and standing behind him.

Although Howard was only 5’ 4” tall and significantly smaller than Valentino’s almost six-foot frame, he had brought along his more enormous ‘gorillas’ with him, both over six feet, four inches tall. Jack Hansen grabbed the .25 caliber pistol that he had hidden underneath the seat, wrapped in a white towel. When he saw Valentino come out of his truck with his hand in his right jacket pocket pointed at the three of them, he immediately believed that Tony Valentino had a gun in his jacket.

“Stay away from my wife, you fucking dago-greaseball,” Howard said, getting within several inches of Tony.

“I’m not with your wife,” he lied.

At that point, the three men together shoved Valentino up against his truck. Tony, still pointing the squirt gun in his jacket pocket at the three men, continued to maneuver his hand to look as though he was about to shoot at Williams.

Hansen, holding the unwrapped pistol in his pocket, immediately pointed the gun at Tony’s head. As the scuffle continued to ensue, Hansen pulled the trigger, firing the weapon three times.

Two of the bullets pierced the left side of Valentino’s head. As his body began to slump down against his truck, the third bullet hit his shoulder. The three men stood still as they watched Tony Valentino slump down from the side of his vehicle and fall onto the hard, concrete pavement of El Camino Drive. As he laid face up under the opened truck door of his truck, his right hand fell out of his pocket, along with his son’s green toy squirt gun onto the middle of the street.

The three men stood there, watching Valentino lay dead in a pool of blood under his red and white Ford pickup truck.

“You were only supposed to scare him with that gun, you asshole!” Williams immediately blamed Hansen for firing the pistol.

“I thought he had a gun in his jacket, and he was pointing it at you!” he immediately responded. Because the street was surrounded by residential houses, they immediately climbed back into the Oldsmobile and backed up, then quickly drove off onto Eight Mile Road. It was still dark, past midnight, and no one on the street seemed to hear or see what had just happened. In the middle of the road, laid Tony’s body, his head face up in a pool of blood. The lights of the truck were still on, and the motor was still running.

Located less than a foot away, was little Johnny’s green toy squirt gun, laying in the middle of El Camino Drive.

 

It was soaked in his father’s blood. 

About the author

Edward Izzi, CPA is a native of Detroit, Michigan, with a successful accounting firm in suburban Chicago. He has written many fiction thrillers, including “Of Bread & Wine”, “A Rose from The Executioner” “Demons of Divine Wrath”, "Quando Dormo (When I Sleep) and soon "El Camino Drive". view profile

Published on September 01, 2020

Published by Cassino Publishing

110000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Mystery & Crime

Reviewed by

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