Bushwick Brooklyn in the 1970s is a cesspool of drugs, violence, and depravity. Every aspect of life in the blighted neighborhood has been contaminated by the Mafia. Butchie Bucciogrosso is an Italian cop who detests the Mob. A survivor of the streets, he returns from Vietnam only to find Bushwick in ruin. His partner, Fast Eddie Curran, had to kill his way out of Belfast. They are the only cops with the courage to take on the Mob, becoming a deadly nuisance trying to win back their streets. Only the Mafia, their own dirty Department, and a corrupt federal justice system stand in their way. With themselves and their loved ones squarely in the crosshairs, can they destroy the Mob's criminal empire before they are killed? Can they outwit a crooked Department of Justice before they are framed and imprisoned? The clock is ticking with Bushwick's survival in the balance. A reckoning in Brooklyn is the new historical crime thriller from Detective Michael O'Keefe, the author of the breakout novel, Shot to Pieces.



July 12, 1979

Butchie found the numbness washing over him perplexing. He had relished this moment for years—expecting to be elated celebrating his triumph over a hated enemy. Instead, he felt nothing—save the brief instant of exhilaration when the opportunity lay before him. Now that the deed was done, he was left with was a tired ambivalence and a wave of nausea. He chalked-up the urge to vomit as an artifact of the rich coppery taste from all the blood—mixed with the acrid smoke from the expended gunpowder hanging in the air. A malevolent cloud, it lingered on Butchie’s tongue, and in the back of his throat, invading his nostrils and staying there like a vagrant accusation. He chose to ignore the slight tremors in his hands and aching in his joints. Surely, they weren’t anything like regret.
  There were three dead men on the ground, scattered about the rear courtyard, which served as an extra dining room for the small, Italian eatery on Knickerbocker Avenue. Butchie knew all of them. Two were associates of the hated Carmine Lilo Gigante, the head of the Bonanno Crime Family. The third man, at Butchie’s feet, was the Don himself. Butchie didn’t know who killed the associates, and frankly didn’t care. They were criminal scumbags who deserved every bullet—in this case, shotgun blasts. But he knew who killed Lilo. He understood he would have to look that murderer in the face when he shaved every morning. He was surprised when the realization didn’t seem to bother him, struggling right now to feel something…anything.
As he stood over Gigante, he could feel the residue of Lilo’s fear-sweat on the fingertips of his right hand. He wiped them absently on the leg of his uniform duty trousers, considering what he had just done, killing the last living witness to a mob rub-out with his bare hands. It certainly didn’t sort well with the vow he took when he was sworn in as a police officer almost a dozen years before. To protect life and property, but he had come to realize some lives deserved more protection than others, and some lives deserved none at all. Gigante needed killing. So Butchie rationalized his murder as a community service, or at least a lesser sin. Besides, he reasoned, the mob boss was already dying when he and Walton came into the courtyard. Lilo wouldn’t have identified his shooters even if he had survived. So, the final squeeze was of little consequence to anyone, save Butchie’s conscience, which was surprisingly untroubled.
Surveying the shot-up remains of the mobster he had just dispatched, Butchie saw Lilo had been struck twice by the shotgun, once in the lower abdomen, and a glancing blow to the right side of his face. But, he mused, glancing is a relative term with shotguns. Like hand grenades, it’s hard to miss, and they do fearsome damage just the same when you do. It had torn up the right side of Lilo’s face and took the eye. Butchie knew both wounds would have ultimately killed the thug, irrespective of even a herculean effort to save him.
If by some miracle Lilo made it to the hospital, he would have been brought to the Old German Hospital on Wyckoff Avenue. It was well-known in Brooklyn there were only hacks, quacks, and witchdoctors at that particular temple of medical malpractice.
So, Gigante was a dead man, with or without Butchie’s help. It was not a matter of necessity, but principle which prompted his hand. He had predicted, even promised he would be the one to usher Lilo out of this world. Now he had. He wasn’t sure what he expected to feel, but it hadn’t been nothing. He had just rid the world of the vilest man he had ever encountered, in a short life chock-full of wicked men. He thought he might derive some satisfaction from the act—even an epiphany of sorts. Instead, there was only the maddening numbness.
The closest he came to an emotion was enjoying the fear in Lilo’s eyes at the moment the Don recognized him. The last spasms and final futile kicks, as the helpless mobster died with Butchie’s hand clamped like a vise around his throat should have elicited some sort of satisfaction. But all he felt after was a nagging sense of hopelessness, and the urge to puke. He had slain a monster, but Butchie suspected there would be more monsters to fill the void left by Lilo’s murder, and they might be far worse.
Strangely, Gigante’s broken eyeglasses remained propped—however askew—on his mangled head. Butchie thought the only thing missing from the picture was the little Cuban cigar Lilo always had sticking out of his sneering maw. He had looked for it, but it was nowhere to be found. He spotted it’s substitute earlier when his partner for the day, Ernie Walton, returned to the courtyard from the street with an anisette cheroot sticking out of his fat face.

A collection of short fiction from crime-noir maven, Michael O'Keefe, author of the Detective Paddy Durr novels. Gangsters, dead poets, zombies, serial killers, and other malcontents come together in an eclectic assortment of contemporary fables and morality tales that span the genres. Full of ironic twists and outlandish premises,13 Stories is guaranteed to leave the reader breathless in anticipation for what happens next.

Tic, Tic, Boom!


Tic realized on the way to the Tack Room that he probably wasn’t going to pry his ten grand from Bernie The Bug Kowakalski.  Still, he needed that money.  He had been counting on it to take care of his rent for a while and pay for his last semester at Saint Francis College.  He was that close to earning his degree, making him able to realistically seek employment that didn’t involve hurting people, or destroying their property.  He had grown weary of being the heavy and was sick of being avoided out of fear.  He didn’t hit everyone, just welchers and deadbeats.
  Everyone knew he was the collection guy for Tomasso The Hatchet Mattone, the local Cosa Nostra Capo. If you were reckless enough to get yourself into debt to a man with a name like The Hatchet, it should stand to reason that you ought to pay it back on time, if you have any regard at all for your safety and wellbeing.  Failing to pay got you a visit from Tic.  A visit from Tic was a dreaded thing, to be avoided if at all possible.
     Tic was not his given name.  He was baptized Francis Xavier Culleen.  Orphaned at thirteen, he had spent the last few years bouncing from friends’ homes, until he hooked up with The Hatchet.  Now he was more or less getting by, but there was no cushion.  That’s why he laid that enormous bet on the Bears for the Super Bowl.  He knew it was a sure thing.  The Patriots sucked. 
He was less sure The Bug would be expeditious in paying out.  Tic always had a bad feeling about that guy.  He was one of those miserable people you meet who have a bad word for everyone.  One look into his scheming little eyes and you were convinced he was angling to screw somebody out of something. That’s why Tic called the bar to feel him out. 
“Go fuck yourself!  You never laid that bet with me,” The Bug said.
Tic wasn’t totally surprised, but he was infuriated.  This was not a good thing for anyone.
     Tic came by his nickname when a sixth-grade gym teacher who had to keep sending him to the Principal’s office for fighting, told the Principal, Sister Kathryn, that “Francis Xavier Culleen was a ticking time bomb with a short fuse.”  Unfortunately, this conversation was overheard by a student who was perpetually in trouble himself.  Eddy Ruane was all ears sitting outside Sister Kathryn’s office.  He shared this conversation with anyone who would listen.  It wasn’t long before young Francis X was known as Tic, Tic, Boom by everyone.  Soon enough, it got shortened to just Tic.
     So, he already had anger issues when Tic found himself orphaned in the eighth grade.  A suspicious gas explosion cast him parentless into the street.  The neighborhood closed ranks around him and took turns sheltering him and seeing to his welfare.  Even still, rootless as he was, it was a little like being raised by wolves. 
It wasn’t long before Tic thought of himself as a hammer, and to a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  The results were predictable.  When he grew up big, mean, and hard, he came to the attention of The Hatchet, who needed someone with Tic’s skillset, and the moral flexibility to use it.

Michael O’Keefe is a retired 1st Grade Detective from the NYPD.  For twenty-four years, He worked in the toughest neighborhoods in New York, specializing in homicides and other violent crime.  He was born and raised on the streets he likes to write about, where he encountered the colorful characters who appear in his fiction—on both sides of the law.
He has written two novels and is at work on a third for which he is seeking publication.  His debut novel, Shot to Pieces, premiered in early July of 2016.  The novel has garnered over one hundred seventy 5-star reviews on Amazon.  It is presently being considered for film or TV adaptation.  In addition, Shot to Pieces has been adopted into the curriculum at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Saint John’s Universities criminology programs.

13 Stories-Fractured, Twisted & Put Away Wet is a collection of prize-winning short fiction.  Released in 2019, the book has become a favorite for discussion by library book clubs.
A Reckoning in Brooklyn, released this November, is the prequel to Shot to Pieces. A historical crime thriller based upon real events, the novel paints a vivid picture of Brooklyn when the Mafia, dirty cops, and political corruption held the decency and the rule of law hostage.  A Reckoning in Brooklyn is the story of two cops with the courage and integrity to fight for justice.
Dabbling in poetry, Michael has had several poems published in the on-line and print magazines The Raven’s Perch, and The Bard’s Initiative.  In addition, his first book of collected poems is due for publication shortly by Long Island Gems Press.  He likes retirement, but he loved homicide investigation and would still be doing it if he hadn’t been injured in the line of duty and disabled.  He now lives on Long Island with his family, where he writes a little, coaches football, and practices the ancient martial art of swimming pool maintenance.






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