Business is war.
And Luke Tanner is about to be its latest casualty. He's overheard
men conspiring to gain control of a $1 billion piece of business
by using a unique strategy - the murder of the two CEO's who control
The conspirators discover that Luke has overheard
them and try to kill him. But he gets away. To silence him, they
kidnap his girlfriend, pediatrician Dr. Jenna Johannson.
When the kidnappers try to kill them,
Luke and Jenna manage to escape, only to discover that the $1
billion business - a massive worldwide automotive advertising
account - is his. Luke also discovers that it's too late to save
the lives of his CEO and client - because at that very moment,
the two men are in the Yucatan Peninsula, unreachable by phone
and about to walk into the assassins' trap.
An excerpt from Business
to Kill For:
sat in a hushed alcove of Detroit's cavernous Renaissance Center,
staring at shimmering silver coins in a nearby fountain, unable
to look away, even though he should have been writing a television
commercial with a cool forty million dollars riding
Sipping lukewarm coffee, he forced
his attention up to the multi-floored atrium. It reminded him
of a concrete canyon. Balconies hunched over balconies, people
leaning over them, peering down, watching people. He liked watching
people watch people.
Tanner had slipped away from his
office upstairs, where he was creative director of Connor Dow
Advertising. He often tried to escape in the afternoon to work
in his creative cranny, a quiet refuge that, he noticed, was quickly
becoming less quiet.
Men, unseen and mumbling, scraped
chairs up to a table on the other side of the alcove abutment
that blocked his view of them.
He considered leaving, but decided
to stay and finish the commercial for a prospective client with
an amazing new glue. He wanted to create a commercial as exciting
as the product, but so far his ideas packed all the excitement
of a wet sock. And he didn't have much time. His producer wanted
a concept for the commercial in thirty minutes.
The men were whispering now. Terrific,
he thought, knowing he was hooked. He leaned closer to hear.
"Let's get this over with,"
said a deep, impatient voice. "Is everything arranged?"
"Yes, everythin'," said
a man with a thick Spanish accent. "What about these Siamese
Twins guys? They still hunt in same place?"
"Yes," the first man said.
An American accent.
"Their accident is arranged?"
"It must look like an accident."
"Tell me about it," the
Noses' we call them. Six-foot black serpientes. Snakes. Killers.
Jungle full of them. The Twins will walk into a nest. We help
"And if the snakes don't kill
"Amigo," the man said,
chuckling, "when this many cuatro narices bite you, you die."
"This Sunday," the American
Tanner grinned. This had to be Berger and the bozos from the office,
faking accents. They almost had him. He started to shout, "What
time Sunday?" then something told him not to.
voice cleared his throat. "You never tol' us how come you
wan' these two men, these Twins, killed so bad."
"Business decision," the
"What kind of business?"
"When they die, their advertising
business will switch from their present agency to another one."
"This business--it's worth
"Maybe we should get bigger
Another man grunted, "Sí
American said. "It's four hundred thousand! For you two and
your colleague. That's it!"
"Easy, amigo, just kidding,"
Spanish accent said. "But when do we get our fee?"
"Half was deposited in the
Banque Bruxelles Lambert account in Brussels this morning. The
rest, as agreed, will be deposited when you handle the Twins."
Tanner broke out in a cold sweat.
Jesus--this is real. These men were finalizing plans for a hit,
talking about a fee sent to the Banque Bruxelles Lambert and cuatro
narices, things his agency pals wouldn't know about.
saw Herb, the ancient waiter, working tables nearby, start to
walk toward him, coming to warm up his coffee. Luke tried to wave
him off, but as usual the old man's eyes were drilled to the floor.
Herb's fog-horn voice would boom over the alcove wall and let
the men know Luke had overheard them.
Luke looked down, pretending to
concentrate on the script, praying Herb would go away. But Herb's
feet clomped closer and stopped.
"Care for something?"
Luke looked up, then realized Herb
was on the other side of the abutment.
"No," the American said.
"My friends and I are leaving."
Luke exhaled like a slow leak. He
heard chairs scraping, the men walking away. If they turned right,
they'd see him, know he knew. He pretended to write, white-knuckling
his pen. The footsteps faded left, the way they'd come, along
the balcony. Luke had to see them. He stood, peered around the
abutment and saw two short, dark-skinned men wearing blue-black
windbreakers and walking with a tall, blond, bearded man in a
grey suit. They vanished into an elevator heading up.
Luke sat back down and stared at
the floor. Incredible. He'd just overheard men plan the murder
of two businessmen connected to an advertising account, two men
called the Siamese Twins. He couldn't recall anyone in the business
referred to as Siamese Twins. Which meant he had to phone his
pal, Hank Redstone, a lieutenant with the Detroit Police. Hank's
people would somehow have to identify the two men in an industry
which employed hundreds of thousands--and warn them before Sunday.
And the police had nothing to go
on. No personal names. No company names. No clues. Unless, Luke
wondered, the men left something on their table. A cup with fingerprints.
A matchbook. A crumpled note...
* * *
Two levels above him, the three
men stepped off the elevator and walked along the balcony, circling
behind the alcove tables below.
Mason Bennett was pleased. Despite
the Mexican's absurd request for a larger fee, things were progressing
exactly as planned. And they would. Bennett wasn't about to fail
on this assignment. He had a reputation to maintain. He delivered.
The Siamese Twins would suffer a most unfortunate snakebite accident
and die in the jungle, which would make him a wealthy man. And
he had a secret plan to make this assignment--his most lucrative
ever--even more lucrative.
He glanced at his watch. Time to
Suddenly, something caught his eye
on the lower level.
Quickly, he jerked the two Mexicans,
Carlos and Paco, over to the balcony and pointed down at a tall,
chestnut-haired man getting up from a table next to theirs. He's
been sitting there, Bennett realized. The man walked around the
wall, carefully inspected their table and the surrounding area,
then hurried toward the elevators.
Mason Bennett squeezed a waste-bin
lid, turning the plastic white.
"Think he hear us?" asked
Carlos, the taller Mexican.
"Fuck yes, he heard us,"
Bennett whispered. "He checked our table for clues, then
rushed to the elevators."
Bennett watched the man waiting
for the elevator. The guy looked anxious, worried. He had heard.
Bennett turned to the Mexicans. "Wait in your car. I'll phone
"Why you wan' us to wait?"
"You may have another assignment."