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Lust, Money & Murder: Book 2, Money

Lust, Money & Murder: Book 2, Money

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Lust, Money & Murder: Book 2, Money

3.5/5 (22 évaluations)
129 pages
1 heure
Jun 15, 2011


This is Book 2 of the series

Elaine falls head over heels for Nick, but discovers he’s not exactly what he appears. Elaine is called back to Washington to lead a top secret program to develop counterfeit-proof banknotes, but soon finds herself in Russia, running from the Mafia, and eventually in the hands of Giorgio Cattoretti, a master knock-off clothing manufacturer who has now become the world’s #1 currency counterfeiter.

Jun 15, 2011

À propos de l'auteur

Urgentiste, Professeur et consultant, Division of Emergency Medicine, University of Witwatersrand, et Netcare Union Hospital Emergency Department, Johannesbourg, Afrique du Sud

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Lust, Money & Murder - Mike Wells



Arrested? Nick LaGrange said, baffled. You must be kidding. What on earth would I be arrested for?

Elaine was breathing hard. She had to force herself to hold her voice to a whisper. For that money you’ve got hidden in the bottom drawer of your file cabinet! For starters.

Nick stared at her with disbelief. "You’ve been snooping around my office?"

You left me no choice, she muttered and began packing again. I can’t believe you would make me lie on our reports to cover yourself.

And I can’t believe you would take someone else’s word over mine! Who told you that I was about to be arrested?

Elaine didn’t answer.

That money...I just haven’t gotten around to changing it yet, that’s all. I...

Elaine would not look at him

Fine, he said. Run away to fucking Washington! I don’t give a damn.

He turned, and looked back and said, You know the real reason you’re running away? You’re afraid to get close to people.

Nick stomped out of the office.

Elaine hoped that the trip to Washington would make her feel better. Out of sight, out of mind. But it didn’t. She felt terrible about what had happened between her and Nick.

You know the real reason you’re running away? You’re afraid to get close to people.

That was nonsense. The reason she was running away was that he was a criminal, just as bad as the men they were supposedly trying to put in jail. Why did she have to get involved with a dishonest man? Nick was just like her father...a good heart, but a corrupt soul.

She ordered three cocktails on the plane and drank herself into a sick, troubled sleep.

Gene Lassiter personally met Elaine at Dulles Airport. They rode to the Treasury Department in an armored SUV, driven by a Secret Service agent. She had no idea what the new project was that Lassiter wanted her to work on. She hoped that it was as exciting as he said it was—anything to take her mind off Nick.

Elaine was awed as she and Lassiter got out of the SUV and walked up the steps between the Treasury Building’s impressive granite pillars. It was hard to believe that she would be working in this historic structure, right across the street from the White House.

During the drive over, Gene Lassiter had told her that he was in charge of all the covert features built into American paper money that help keep it from being counterfeited.

After she was given a security badge, he led her up to the third floor, to his office. He occupied one of the coveted semi-preserved suites.

The office boasted a spectacular view of the White House. The windows were fitted with walnut cornices ornamented in gold leaf. A gilded chandelier hung from the ceiling, which was painted with allegorical murals of Treasury and Justice. Lassiter told her that the space appeared more or less the same as it did in the 1860s. The only thing that did not look like an antique was a wall map of the world that had different colored pins pushed into it, mostly in Europe.

Your office is very impressive, Elaine said politely, as if it even mattered.

He smiled and motioned to her with his cane. Spend about forty years working here for the crappy government salary they pay you, putting up with all the bureaucratic bullshit they throw at you, slaving away, and they might give you one, too, about a year before you retire.

Elaine would have smiled, but there was real bitterness in his voice. Still, at least he was an honest man. Unlike some people she knew.

He offered her a seat in a comfortable leather chair, then hobbled on his cane to his antique desk and sat down, grimacing as he did so. His aging frame looked emaciated, his three-piece suit hanging from his limbs. Elaine noticed that there were tremors in his hands.

He opened the desk drawer and popped a couple of tablets into his mouth. Parkinson’s Disease, he explained, swallowing the tablets dry. He motioned to her. So, I imagine you’re pretty curious about this new project I want you to work on...

To say the least, Elaine said.

You’ve been checking a lot of these fakes. As I’m sure you noticed, whoever is making them is getting better and better at it.

Yes, I noticed. She decided to focus her mind on the task at hand. From what I know, the Giori printing presses are very complicated—there’s a learning curve to master using them correctly.

That’s right. But it looks like the criminals recently made a major breakthrough.

How’s that?

Lassiter pointed to the map on his wall with the pins in it. Three weeks ago, in San Remo, Italy, a young woman took fifty thousand fake U.S. dollars into a casino and changed it into chips. All of the money— we’re talking five hundred of the counterfeit banknotes—passed right through the verifier at the casino’s currency exchange, completely undetected.

How were the fakes discovered? Elaine said, fascinated.

Someone at the casino’s home office in Marseilles examined a few of the notes very carefully. He noticed some fine discrepancies and sent one to the Secret Service for verification.

And the girl?

Lassiter shrugged. Gone missing. Some Italian hooker. She’s probably dead now. He looked evenly at Elaine. You realize what all this means?

Yes. It means banks and currency exchanges can’t tell these fakes from real U.S. currency.

Exactly. Which as you can imagine, is a goddam serious problem.

I’ll say.

The Secret Service’s solution is to try and physically track down the Giori machine. If you ask me, that entire approach is wrong, and it’s wasting valuable time. Nick LaGrange has thrown a further wrench into the works. Who knows where the goddam machine is hidden or how long it could take to find it? It could be sitting in the finance ministry of some government that’s hostile to the United States—in the Middle East, South America, Asia...anywhere!

True, Elaine said.

"From my point of view a much smarter and more efficient approach would simply be to update the software in the currency verifying machines all over the world so that they detect the bills from that particular printing press and keep those fakes out of circulation. It’s just a matter of sending out updated detection software, which is easy. The problem with this phantom Giori press would be solved like that! He snapped his fingers. Game over."

It sounds like a good plan.

I’m glad you think so, he said, smiling. Because you’re the one in charge of it.

Me? she said, taken aback.

Yes, you. Who else knows more about these particular fakes than you do? You’ve been studying their details for a year now, and you’ve seen more of them than anyone else. You have a strong background in intaglio printing, plus—

But I’ve never done anything like this before.

I’ll be personally supervising you. You’ll have access to all the resources you need, I’ll see to it. Our top programmer, our top covert feature designer, and the engineers at KBA Giori, in Wurzburg, if you need them.

Elaine was flabbergasted.

But still—

Besides, he said, I don’t trust anyone else to take this on. He motioned to the walls as if they had ears. Everyone around here has got too much political baggage. I want someone from the outside, someone I can trust.

I—I don’t know what to say.

Don’t say anything, Elaine. Just get to work.

The old man turned sideways in his chair, to a huge safe that was built into the wall. After entering a code into a keypad, he leaned forward and dialed in a combination, blocking her view so she could not see. He opened the safe and pulled out a plastic bag and pushed it across his desk to her.

It was full of $100 bills. There were sticky notes attached to all of them.

That bag contains every fake that has surfaced anywhere in the world and has been traced to the Giori machine. Time, date, and place found. Some of them you’ve checked already.

Elaine looked at them—there were several hundred banknotes.

"What you need to do is go through every one of those bills and find the common defects they have compared to real American currency. Defects that you think will be most likely to remain in the bills no matter how much the criminals

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Avis des lecteurs

  • (4/5)
    The author didn't promise too much. This novel was really "unputdownable".
    With lots of twists and interesting turns of events, such a well developed main character -- she almost felt alive. This makes the reader always ask for more and more and after finishing book 1, yes, I want more and I can't wait to read more about Elaine. I really hope she'll end up with Nick and they'll be fine. All in all, I enjoyed this novel a lot.
  • (4/5)
    This book does a great job of introducing you to the series. It leaves you hanging and waiting for the next book. I recommend this book to anyone that enjoys reading stories that the plot thickens as you read. The author does a great job of pulling you into his world and acquainting you with his characters. He builds a bond with this first book and it is a memorable storyline. I enjoyed the author's writing style and appreciated the effort he put into creating something fun for the reader. I only gave it four stars, as I felt it was shorter than I would have liked. However, that's not really all that bad when you can leave a reader wanting more. It's a good book and I don't think you'd be disappointed.
    Laney Smith
  • (4/5)
    This is the first in a series and as such I was disappointed that it was not a stand alone novel. You are in effect getting the first part for free and if you want the rest you need to buy the set. I assume like some eighteenth century novel, it is in three parts, but not as long, another Clarissa would be commercial suicide.The Prologue sets up the counterfeit storyline and proves that where money is concerned, people will go to any lengths. In contrast a father's love for his daughter, will illicit the same results. Going to any lengths to provide for her. From an ethical standpoint, we would condemn both, although the reader would be more sympathetic to the latter.Elaine's 'modelling' career shows her naivete and the way people can be taken in by the promise of a lucrative career. The writer demonstrates this through the shambolic nature of the agency, requiring ever more qualifications and sample photos.These chapters set up the motive for joining the secret service. The years of college are skipped over quite quickly, which raises the question why so much attention is given to the secret service training. How does it move the plot of the novel forward? It could be to show a diversity of knowledge and expertise, in addition to her tenacity and determination when dealing with difficult people.The sexual harassment at her first job, gives her a reason to move, but would a professional act in such a manner? In the UK sexual harassment was perhaps more prominent in the seventies, than in the power dressing environment of the eighties. Was America so different during this decade?The second job is based on her skills at detecting counterfeit bills. In one sense this is more believable. Every employee hopes that their skills will be recognised and they will be placed in a job that utilises their abilities. The fact that she falls for her boss, is again understandable. Their developing relationship and then the question over his integrity, sets up the suspense for the next book, but does not give a satisfactory conclusion for this book.Mike is a best selling author, his style is easy to read and the 'James Bond' type subject matter will undoubtedly appeal to a lot of people, due to the escapism. I have not had a lot of experience with this type of genre and it is very difficult to judge. It doesn't have the kind of imagery, or wider social themes that characterise a great, or classic novel. A charge made against Ian Flaming, by his wife, but it is very readable.
  • (5/5)
    This is a story that combines several genres in a very satisfying way. It's a "coming of age"/goverment agent/romantic suspense, that keeps on giving . One warning, this is the first book in a series, and ends in a wicked cliffhanger ! Loved it!
  • (4/5)
    An exciting, fast paced thriller that I was unable to put down!Synopsis:Elaine and her father live in a run down area of Pittsburgh. Despite not having a lot of money Elaine’s father does everything he can in order to send his daughter to a private school, and ensure she receives the best possible education. After spending two thousand dollars on modelling training from the Rising Star Agency, Elaine realises she has been the victim of a scam, threatening the sleazy owners of the company, they return her money. Feeling elated at having obtained the money she returns home and gives the money to her father. Days later the police arrest Elaine’s father for possession of counterfeit money. This ultimately rockets Elaine on to a career path to the secret service’s counterfeit money division, in order to obtain justice for her innocent father, but making it in the secret service is tough, and how does she know who she can trust?Review:Wow what a cliffhanger! This book is a wild ride, and you’ll be hooked from the first few pages. I sat down to read a few chapters before bed and before I knew it I was burning the midnight oil and the book was finished. It’s very fast paced and leaves you with such a shock ending, you’ll be desperate to buy books two and three.Elaine is a great character, she’s likeable she works hard and she is portrayed in a very realistic manner. I often think when you read thriller novels with secret service or FBI agencies they come off a bit over the top with James Bond car scenes and explosions. Lust does not follow that pattern, it’s exciting and fun but it doesn’t feel ridiculous, it’s extremely believable and Wells writes in a very detailed manner – I know very little about counterfeit money but everything seemed very well researched and informative – without being overly technical or dull.It’s a great little mystery that will keep you guessing, and I have seen many people compare this to the work of Sidney Sheldon. It holds all the key ingredients for a wonderful story, a great heroine, a touch of romance, a splash of mystery and all the interesting little tidbits in between. Lust is currently free via Amazon as well as the author’s website, so if you’re interested head over to Mike Wells’s Blog for more info, I promise you won’t be disappointed!
  • (4/5)
    I found this book to be quick paced but engaging. The writing is clear and concise. Author Mike Wells manages to put a lot of story into a short novella without making you feel as if depth is lacking. Elaine’s father was a hard working man who wanted to give her the world but he was by no means perfect. This tale is always at its darkest when expressing the actions which her father thought were necessary. This was a poor man who wanted to give his daughter an expensive education and basically did this by whatever means necessary. One frustrating aspect of the story is Elaine’s naivete, especially as it relates to her father’s actions. When the story begins and starts to develop the reader almost expects the main character to be a streetwise, no nonsense girl. But, she remains innocent and naïve into her college years. This characteristic results in her ending up in a compromising position. And this is where her life begins to unravel. Ultimately, this story is about a young girl who is taken advantage of, has a tragic loss, and then perseveres.

    When Elaine reaches adulthood and heads off to college the reader becomes more in tune with her personality through a series of fumbling sexual encounters. We have our first laugh out loud moment when she shares her experience with her roommate. After college Elaine is selected to become a Secret Service agent and we follow her on her difficult journey through their rigorous academy. There is a hint that we may now see some action when she has to take a martial arts exam however the action in that scenario is anti-climactic. I would say that my one complaint about the story is the lack of action. I can say from personal experience that the life of a law enforcement officer is much more mundane in real life then portrayed in the movies or on TV. But, since this novella is a fictionalized version of what law enforcement officers do I was hoping for some edge of your seat thrills. Her first assignment goes horribly wrong and she is transferred to Bulgaria where things heat up. It’s on this assignment that she really gets to do her job and show off her talents. This is also where she meets a fellow Secret Service Agent named Nick who she proceeds to fall madly in love with.

    I did enjoy this story overall. Elaine is a smart girl who you come to care about. Her journey is easy to relate to and you want to know what will happen to her in the future. bookie-monster.com
  • (3/5)
    Lust, Money & Murder is really a teaser. It is part one of three parts that make up a complete book; therefore, this volume is short and didn’t take long to read.The author, Mike Wells, grabs the reader’s attention in the prologue, but then there is no connection with the rest of the story; perhaps that comes later. Some things are somewhat contradictory, such as this: Elaine looked down at it, unable to move. She abruptly rose. Later in the story, the man Elaine is falling for is somewhat cool toward her but then …. well, that changes abruptly, too.Lust, Money & Murder takes the reader through Elaine’s life from a little girl doted on by her father, to a coming-of-age young woman. She becomes super focused, though, on her libido, and does some crazy things for a crazier reason. Later, she applies herself to her future goal and becomes highly regarded in her chosen field – chosen for the purpose of revenge – through which she meets the rather secretive man she thinks she can truly love.Even though there are sections that could have been delved into more to extend the read, and the story could have benefited from more editing and development, Lust, Money & Murder is a good start. The groaner is the last line, which ended up being a cliffhanger mid-scene. (If you are tempted to get part one, please don’t spoil it for yourself by reading the end first!) The continuation is in book two, and since there are three parts it is likely the same thing happens at the end of book two as a lead-in to book three. Apparently, together they make one complete novel.If you enjoy reading suspense, thrillers, espionage, you may enjoy Lust, Money & Murder, book 1, by Mike Wells, and want to purchase books 2 and 3 to continue the story.
  • (5/5)
    This is a fantastic mystery! It delves into a world of secret service agents and counterfeit money that normally could get a bit boring but here I felt glued to every page. I even feel like I might have learned a thing or two. Well researched. The main character is feisty and strong and I loved following her in this story. Definitely in anticipation for the sequel!