Sunday, February 13, 2005

Overtime Opportunities by Patrick J. Lambe

Overtime Opportunities” by Patrick J. Lambe, Shred of Evidence, February 2005

In this story the main character is a dispatcher for a company that supplies building materials to contractors. (I’m going to call him Harvey since Pat doesn’t name him, and this review is going to be hard to write without naming him.) Harvey has worked his way up the ladder to this position, and, along the way, he discovered how to make extra money by skimming supplies off the top and selling them to contractors at a discount. Not being a greedy man, unlike the owners of the company for which he works, he has spread the wealth around among other employees and has a nice little organization going.

Harvey has also learned to take advantage of his knowledge of what construction jobs are going on to uncover other overtime opportunities. He, his buddy, Hal, and usually one other trusted member of the organization, find a job where the owners are rich and will be away for extended time periods while the construction is going on. They then manipulate deliveries so that the site will be unoccupied for a couple of days. That gives them time to go in and rob the place.

Harvey and Hal invite the new kid at the yard to join them, saying that they expect a few opportunities to come up soon. George, the new kid, offers them a piece of a job he has been scoping out for a while. They’re a little hesitant, they don’t know the kid and don’t know the house he’s talking about robbing, but what the hell.

They do the job, but it’s too easy. The kid not only knows the exact location of the safe, he knows the combination as well. On top of that, there’s $200,000 dollars in cash in the safe. This is by far the biggest score they’ve ever made. Harvey is even more suspicious when they discover that there is a fourth person involved that George neglected to mention.

Even with his $50K share, Harvey can’t help feeling uneasy about the whole thing, so he goes out to the house to find out to whom the house belongs. He finds out when the owner, Tullio “Trifecta” Mazzucco, a Mafia member with a history of extreme violence, shows up as Harvey is leaving.

Both Hal and George are as shaken up by this knowledge. What are they going to do? Then the contractors on the house suddenly have a serious accident, one of them dead and the other nearly so. The deaths among those involved start piling up. Did Tullio find out?

This is a well-written story with a good twist on expectations at the end. Harvey, even though that isn’t his name, is well-drawn, and Hal is just full of surprises. I’m familiar with the construction industry and saw right off that Pat had done his research. I didn’t see a single false note.

In short, an enjoyable story by a skillful writer.