Excerpt from Inside Passage by Burt Weissbourd

Our story begins in 1989 with an event that will haunt our heroine, Corey Logan, 21 years later.

In the late ‘80s the former USSR supplied roughly a quarter of the world’s uncut diamonds. Not surprisingly, corrupt Russian government officials began to smuggle rough diamonds to California…

Lester Burrell was a method-of-payment specialist. He was an expert in gems, drugs, various contraband currencies, and laundering. Whenever he could, Lester worked with diamonds… He was always the middleman.

So it was unexpected for Lester to be partnered with a Russian seller of stolen state-owned rough diamonds. Nevertheless, in 1989 Lester found himself in a bungalow at the Miramar Hotel in Santa Barbara with his Russian partner, a gangster named Yuri. The declining hotel was between the beach and the railroad tracks. Kids liked to put coins on the tracks. Lester liked to knock them off with his cane.

The Russian gangster had worked with Lester on lucrative three point arms deals Most recently, it was Afghan drugs for stolen Soviet weapons. Diamonds had been the method of payment. Yuri trusted Lester, especially when it came to diamonds. He even liked the outdated suits Lester wore on his king-sized frame. Yuri said they reminded him of home. So he listened carefully when Lester proposed he steal fifteen million dollars of state-owned diamonds…

Yuri had the stones in a Nike gym bag. He had spread a sample on the formica kitchen table where they were being inspected by Lester and his diamond guy, Nick Season. Lester deferred to the guy, which surprised Yuri. The guy wanted to weigh and inspect each of the stones. So Yuri was cooling his heels—he had already counted the cars of two trains that went by out loud—while Lester and Nick inspected diamond after diamond.

When Nick Season was satisfied, he stood and stretched. He walked around the table, pensive.

“Good,” Nick finally said, and came around behind Yuri.

Yuri was thinking Nick was too good looking for a diamond guy, and he didn’t look Jewish. Still, Lester knew what was what. Yuri would already be dead if Lester hadn’t bailed him out of a broken-down arms deal….

Nick put a hand on Yuri’s shoulder, interrupting his musing. “Very nice.”

Lester poured shots of tequila, one for each of them. Nick was adjusting his belt while Lester raised his glass to Yuri. Then Nick had the buckle in his right hand. Attached to the buckle, somehow concealed under the belt, was a thin icepick-like instrument. In one easy motion, Nick thrust the pick through Yuri’s right eardrum. In one ear and out the other. Just as quickly, the pick was withdrawn. And Yuri lay dead on the tabletop.

Lester made a churlish sound. “Nice,” was all he said.

 

Reviews

“I don't remember a thriller that kept me going like this one since the days of John D. MacDonald writing about Travis McGee. The unlikely heroine and hero of this novel are breathtaking, the writing top-notch, and the plot gripping.”
– Chuck Gregory, founder, CWG Press

“Inside Passage is set in Seattle, Bainbridge, and up in the San Juans. I loved the setting, it’s so fun to see descriptions of things you know, but most of all I LOVED the characters. I cannot wait until the next installment to see what awaits Corey.”
– Adele Avant, Seattle Mystery Bookshop

“I got completely hooked to the point where I woke up at 3 a.m. … and read for four hours. ….  I wanted to keep turning the page because I wanted to follow the story … There’s a labyrinthine quality about the Northwest, the darkness, the gloom, trees, the rain.” 
– Nancy Guppy, host of Art Zone on Seattle

Inside Passage is a great thriller and the restaurants you include as part of the story: Canlis, El Gaucho, Tulio, Queen City Grill, Wild Ginger, are all very sexy places. You really captured our city!”
– Scott Carsberg, chef, restaurateur, Fran’s Chocolates executive. Scott was chef/owner of Seattle restaurants Lampreia from 1992 until 2010 and Bisato from 2010 until 2012.

“The descriptions are luscious. At times I could feel the cold, salty ocean spray and smell salmon being cooked over a beach bonfire.” – Marie Wreath in The (not always) Lazy W Blog


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