Man on the Run
by Charles Salzberg
April 17 – May 12, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
Master burglar Francis Hoyt is on the run.
After walking away from his arraignment in a Connecticut courtroom, he’s now a fugitive who has to figure out what he’s going to do with the rest of his life. And so, he heads west, to Los Angeles, where he meets Dakota, a young true crime podcaster who happens to be doing a series on Hoyt. At the same time, he’s approached by a mysterious attorney who makes Hoyt an offer he can’t refuse: break into a “mob bank,” and liberate the contents.
Praise for Man on the Run:
“The stakes couldn’t be higher as the cat and mouse game moves to the Left Coast in Salzberg’s compelling Man on the Run. A superb mix of action, suspense, psychopathology.”
“One part heist movie, one part psychological thriller, three parts great character and blend. Salzberg’s superb Man on the Run will keep your head spinning from the first page to the last.”
~ Reed Farrel Coleman
“Man on the Run grips you from the opening page and doesn’t let go. The plot will leave you breathless with anticipation as a master burglar and a crime podcaster try to outwit and outmaneuver each other before an outrageous heist. There’s nothing better than smart characters, with smart dialogue, going head to head. You won’t want to miss a twist or turn.”
~ Michael Wiley, Shamus Award-winning writer of the Sam Kelson mysteries
“Francis Hoyt, Charles Salzberg’s brilliant burglar anti-hero from SECOND STORY MAN, is back on the prowl in Man on the Run. Old-school crime meets the podcast age as Hoyt tangles with a true-crime reporter as well as fellow felons and the law. Like his hero, Salzberg is a total pro who always brings it home.”
~ Wallace Stroby, author of HEAVEN’S A LIE
“Charles Salzberg is a genius at not only crafting a helluva page-turner of a heist novel, but he also manages to make the reader care about Francis Hoyt, master burglar and pathological narcissist. Hoyt is the man on the run, and the story of how he eludes the law, the mob, and a retired cop who has become his personal nemesis packs a solid punch and leaves you rooting for the guy who’d steal your family jewels without breaking a sweat.”
~ James R. Benn, author of the Billy Boyle WWII mystery series
“When it comes to Charles Salzberg’s work, you can expect a hard-edged story, crisp dialogue, and memorable characters. This is certainly true — and then some! – in his latest, Man on the Run. Featuring master burglar Francis Hoyt, a tough and intelligent criminal who can’t seem to turn down tempting criminal scores despite the inherent danger, Man on the Run features a true-crime podcast host, a criminal fence, and an investigator hot on the trail of Francis Hoyt as his most challenging and dangerous burglary comes into play. Very much recommended.”
~ Brendan DuBois, award-winning and New York Times bestselling author
“It’s a battle of wits and nerves as a cop, a robber, and a journalist dance around each other weaving a tapestry of deceit and suspense. Salzberg’s dialogue flows like water until it finds truth in this most entertaining read.”
~ Matt Goldman, New York Times bestselling author
“Smart, sly and compelling, with a fascinating main character – the very definition of intelligent suspense.”
~ Lee Child
Published by: Down & Out Books
Publication Date: April 2023
Number of Pages: 340
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads | Down & Out Books
Read an excerpt:
I ambush her as she’s coming out of Starbucks, a mega-size coffee cup in one hand, her phone in the other.
“Know who I am?” I say.
She’s confused. Or embarrassed. Like when you have no idea who someone is but you don’t admit it because you think you should.
“Noooo. I don’t think so,” she says, wrinkling her brow and cocking her head, like she’s giving it serious thought. “Should I? Have we met before?” she adds, shifting her weight to her back foot in an unconscious move to put a little distance between us.
This chick doesn’t know me yet, but she will.
It’s early Sunday morning. A typical late spring day in L.A. West Hollywood. The temp’s hovering in the mid-70s. This won’t hold for long. We’re in the middle of a heatwave and they’re predicting the low 90s by mid-afternoon. Above us, there’s that familiar low-hanging ceiling of grey cloud-cover they say will burn off by noon. They swear it always does. They even have a name for it. The June Gloom. Maybe all months should come with a warning label. I mean, life’s already full of enough surprises, right?
Other than a few people out for an early run, or picking up breakfast, the sidewalk is empty. Except for the two of us.
She looks like she’s in her mid to late twenties. But I know she’s older than that. Closer to thirty-five. She isn’t as pretty as I’d imagined. It’s probably the voice that throws me off. Soft. Sweet. Seductive. A sexy, midnight radio voice. Or one of those sex line phone voices. The kind of voice that makes promises without actually promising anything. And any promises made she has no intention of keeping. Not that she’s a dog. Not by a long shot. It’s just that she isn’t going to win any beauty contests. Not here. Not in L.A. where good-looking chicks fall from palm trees like coconuts. Third, fourth runner-up, maybe. First place? Not a chance. Her looks don’t quite fit with her voice. Still, there’s something very sexy about her. Not hard-on sexy. But sexy enough so you can’t help but wonder what she looks like on the beach, in a bikini.
But it’s more than just the voice. Maybe it’s the short, blonde hair which gives her a pixie look. Maybe it’s the face. A mishmash of sharp angles. A nose that looks like it’s been broken—if she were a guy you might guess in a barroom brawl—tilting slightly to one side. Like that Ellen Barkin chick. Her skin is lightly tanned and smooth. She has a slight overbite. High cheekbones. Makes me think of those Picasso paintings. But in a good way. Maybe it’s the tight, faded black jeans, stylishly frayed just below the knees. Or the sky-blue Rolling Stones T-shirt with the image of a giant red tongue unfurled. Maybe it’s because she isn’t wearing a bra. Maybe it’s because she’s confident enough to wear no make-up to cover up the freckles scattered haphazardly across her cheeks and nose. Do not, under any circumstances, underestimate confidence. It’s a definite turn-on.
Whatever it is, it works.
This isn’t a pick-up. Or a stick-up. This is business. More than business, actually. Curiosity. No. More than that. Self-preservation. But there’s always that promise, like her voice, that it might turn into something else.
She doesn’t recognize me because we’ve never met. But recently our lives have unexpectedly intertwined. Her doing, not mine.
“Trust me. If you’d have met me, you wouldn’t forget me.”
“Really? Why’s that?” she asks, cocking her head to the other side, as she slowly turns her coffee cup away from me. I know why she’s doing it and I’m impressed. She’s got a quick mind. The barista has scribbled her name on it in black magic marker. This is the kind of information, assuming I don’t already have it, she would not want me to have.
I’m starting to make her nervous. I can see it in her eyes. They swivel wildly in their sockets like she’s some kind of whacky cartoon figure. She’s a couple, three inches taller than me, but that doesn’t give her the kind of advantage height sometimes offers. I should know. I’m small of stature. I claim five-four, but I might be lying. Or exaggerating. Take your pick. It’s not a handicap. Never has been. It works for me. Always has. It’s been a long time since anyone’s tried to take advantage of me because of my size. A long, fucking time.
“Maybe it’s the baseball cap. It kinda of hides your face,” she says, straining to figure me out. Am I harmless? Is she in danger? Should she dial 9-1-1? Should she turn tail and head back into the relative safety of Starbucks?
I take it off in one swift, flowing motion and wave it across my body. The only thing missing is me bending forward in a bow. Like the Japs do.
She shakes her head. I put the hat back on.
“Maybe the sunglasses?” she says.
“Let’s see,” I say, as I slip them off.
I know what she’s doing. Making sure she gets a good look at me. Taking a mental snapshot of my face. Just in case later she has to describe me to the cops. It should make me feel like a specimen under glass, but it doesn’t. Actually, I’m enjoying the attention. Besides, by the time we’re finished she’ll know who I am and then she won’t have to describe me to anyone.
Even after all this she’s still baffled. I put my sunglasses back on and adjust my cap so it angles down slightly over my forehead.
It’s almost imperceptible, but she’s slowly inching away from me. Like she’s getting ready to bolt. She has that thin, athletic build of a runner. We have that in common. Maybe, if we get to know each other, we’ll run together. But no matter how fast she might be, I’ll leave her in the dust. Maybe it’s because you might say I run for a living. Maybe it’s because I’m always in excellent shape. Especially for someone flirting with his mid-forties. But it’s not just that. It’s more like I don’t take losing very well. I never hold back. That’s the real reason I never lose. Ever.
Her eyes dart back and forth as she slowly dips her right hand, the one holding her cell, into the black leather satchel dangling from her shoulder. Maybe she thinks I can’t see what she’s doing. She’d be wrong. I’ve trained myself to note every detail, every nuance. When I walk into a room, any room, I immediately know two things: where the exit is and exactly where everyone is standing. I’m a fucking living, breathing motion detector. It’s one of the things that makes me as good as I am at what I do. I doubt she has a serious weapon in there. Maybe pepper spray. Maybe a set of keys she’s been taught to use as a weapon in one of those self-defense classes for women. The key chain held tight in your fist. The keys poking out between your index and forefinger. A sudden thrust to an eye. If your aim is good, you can do some serious damage.
But neither of these things will do her any good. I’m much too quick. I’ll have hold of her wrist before she gets her hand out of her bag.
I smile, hoping this will lighten the mood. I don’t want her to think I’m a predator and she’s the prey.
Maybe she is. Maybe I am. But I don’t want her to think so. Not yet.
“I’m a memorable guy,” I say, smiling. I’ve been told I’ve got a killer smile. They say it makes me look very approachable. This can be a good thing. A very good thing. I inject a dramatic pause. “What’s that expression? The Most Unforgettable Character You’ve Ever Met? That would be me.”
“You’re starting to frighten me a little,” she says, glancing over my left shoulder, then my right. Looking to see if anyone else is around. In case she needs help. She even looks back into Starbucks to see if anyone might be coming out. Someone who might rescue her. Though she can’t possibly know from what. Not yet.
Her right hand is frozen inside her purse. She isn’t quite ready to commit herself. There’s still time to defuse the situation.
“I’m not going to hurt you, if that’s what you’re afraid of,” I say, raising my hands, palms out, midway to my chest.
“I’m not afraid,” she says. Not very convincingly.
“Good. Because you haven’t seen my scary face yet.”
She starts to laugh, then realizes maybe I’m not trying to be funny. Hollywood is the land of weirdos and crackpots. She has no way of knowing I am not one of those.
“Then why are you acting so creepy?”
I shrug. “This is me, darlin’. It’s just the way I am. But I swear, I really am harmless. You sure you don’t know me?”
“Pretty sure,” she says, hesitatingly, like she thinks maybe she should know me but still can’t quite figure out why.
“Don’t worry,” I say, with a wink. “You will.”
Excerpt from Man on the Run by Charles Salzberg. Copyright 2023 by Charles Salzberg. Reproduced with permission from Charles Salzberg. All rights reserved.
Charles Salzberg, a former magazine journalist (New York magazine, Esquire, Redbook, New York Times and others) and nonfiction book writer (From Set Shot to Slam Dunk, an oral history of the NBA, and Soupy Sez; My Zany Life and Times with Soupy Sales), has been nominated twice for the Shamus Award for Swann’s Last Song and Second Story Man, which also won the Beverly Hills Book Award. His novel Devil in the Hole was named one of the Best Crime Novels of 2013 by Suspense magazine. He is the author of Canary in the Coal Mine and his short stories have appeared in Mystery Tribune, Down to the River, Lawyers, and Guns and Money. He’s been a Visiting Professor Magazine at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University and he teaches writing in New York City for the New York Writers Workshop, where he is a Founding Member. He’s also on the Board of PrisonWrites and is a former Board Member of MWA-NY.
Catch Up With Charles:
Instagram – @charlessalzberg
Twitter – @CharlesSalzberg
Facebook – @charles.salzberg.3
YouTube – @CharlesSalzberg
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