THE ANASTASIA KILLER

Life on the Cutting Edge…

A 24 Frames-per-Second Thriller

by Richard W. Haines

Published by

Pigtown Books
for

New Wave Film Distribution, Inc.



The Anastasia Killer: Life on the Cutting Edge
Copyright © 2014 by Richard W. Haines

Cover design and logo by Richard Amari

Artwork by Kieron Edwards [www.kieronedwardsart.com]

The Anastasia Killer was originally published as a trade paperback
by Pigtown Books
(an imprint of Hidden Pearl Books, L.L.C.)
for
New Wave Film Distribution, Inc.
ISBN: 978-0-9863730-2-2

Library of Congress
Catalogue-in-Publication Data

The Anastasia Killer / Richard W. Haines
1. Fiction – Crime 2. Fiction – Mystery 3. Fiction – Thriller

LOC Copyright number: 1 1018060556

First Edition / First Issue

For further information, please contact:
info@pigtownbooks.com

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1-A



All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, mechanical or electronic, including manual re-input, photocopying, scanning, optical character recognition, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system without permission in writing from the copyright holder.

This novel is a work of fiction. All characters and events described herein are fictitious and wholly the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to events or actual persons, living or dead, is unintentional and coincidental.



BY THE SAME AUTHOR

Books
(as Writer)

Technicolor Movies
The Moviegoing Experience, 1968-2001

24 Frames-per-Second Mysteries

Production Value:

It will cost you your life…

Reel Danger:

Screen for Your Life…

Illustrator

Animal Kingdumb

Feature Films
(as Producer, Writer and Director)

Splatter University

Space Avenger

(Printed in 3-strip Technicolor,
co-written with Lynwood Sawyer)

Head Games

Run for Cover

(Photographed in StereoVision 3-D)

Unsavory Characters

Soft Money

What Really Frightens You



To Mary



PROLOGUE:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 18TH,

9:02 A.M.

George Carson was so startled by the door buzzer that he spilled coffee onto his mahogany desk. To avoid staining the finish, he immediately mopped it up with tissues. Glancing at the wall clock, he wondered who it could be. He wasn’t expecting anyone that early – the only other person in the building was the security guard at the front desk. The rest of the office staff had been delayed by the previous night’s blizzard. His Jeep Grand Cherokee had plowed through the snow-covered streets without much difficulty, and he had arrived around half-an-hour early.

Carson was forty-one, a financial advisor with graying hair and a trim physique. His blue pin-striped suit was tailor made to emphasize his flat stomach and broad shoulders. Recently divorced, he had been playing the field, dating women in the financial industry but avoiding those who worked for the firm. Even though some flirted with him, mixing business with pleasure wasn’t wise, and his company had a policy against it.

The door buzzed again.

He skimmed through his appointment book. A meeting at ten with Anastasia Aveena to discuss low-risk investments and another at eleven with Deborah Walker regarding tax loopholes. After the third buzz, he rose, walked out of the office and across the room.
He opened the door to a blonde in a blue down jacket, holding a purse. Her thick glasses made her blue eyes bulge, and even though they had never met, the woman looked familiar. She bore a superficial resemblance to one of his former associates at the defunct firm, Seleby International Investments.
“Oh,” he smiled. “Come on in.”
“Thank you.”
Her emails suggested that she was a local resident, so her Russian accent (which she strained to hide) surprised him.
The woman glanced around the office. The walls were a light gray, against one of which was a large sofa. Stacks of Wall Street Journals lay on top of a table. A coffee machine was beside a wide-screen television that usually played Fox news with subtitles, but Carson hadn’t turned it on yet.
“Anyone else here?” she asked innocently.
“They’re all running late because of the roads,” Carson replied. “How were they for you?”
“Not too bad. They must’ve been plowing them all night.”
“Let me take your coat.”
Anastasia took off her jacket. The pants of her gray suit were so long they almost touched the floor, but they served to hide the fact she wore high heels, which added two inches to her height.

Carson hung up her jacket and led her inside his office, a small room with the corner of his desk precariously close to the door. Anastasia took a seat in a leather chair, being careful not to touch anything. She noticed he didn’t have any personal items on his desk. No photos of his wife or family, which was unusual.
Carson opened a folder and handed her a copy of an investment portfolio he’d prepared. But she didn’t take it.
He placed the portfolio on the edge of the desk, and she leaned forward to examine it.
“So, is it Mrs. Aveena or Ms. Aveena?”
“Ms. I’m not married.”
“I see. Well, first I’d like to thank you for selecting us to manage your investments. How did you find us? Online? Or from another client?”
She stared at the folder without looking up, “Through one of your business associates.”
“Ah,” Carson smiled, “Who?”
“Mr. and Mrs. Yuri Arsenov.”
“Uh huh,” he nodded, straining his memory, “I don’t handle that account, but the name is familiar.”
Her tone turned icy, “It should be, Mr. Carson.”
Taken aback by her strange reaction, he decided to ignore it and began his pitch.
“Well, Anastasia, we represent many small investors, and I’m glad you’re planning for retirement at a young age. The sooner you create a portfolio, the better your standard of living will be decades from now.”
She stared at him without comment.
“Let’s discuss investment strategy,” he continued. “I’ve researched a number of low-risk investments that I think you should consider.”
As Carson read from the document, she surreptitiously opened her pocketbook. She slipped a tan workman’s glove on her right hand, then grabbed a Bowie knife hidden in the bottom of her purse.
“I’ve always been an advocate of owning gold and silver,” Carson droned on. “While prices can fluctuate, unlike some stocks, they never lose their value completely. I suggest purchasing pure silver or gold rather than jewelry, which usually isn’t made of pure precious metals. This brings up the question as to whether you should purchase the physical metals as opposed to a gold certificate. I’m personally in favor of owning the bullions or bars.”
“Mr. Carson,” she interrupted, “There’s something I don’t understand.”
“Then let me clear it up for you,” he reassured her, smiling.
Anastasia rose, holding her pocketbook in her left hand, her right hand inside. She walked around the desk to the surprised Carson.
“I’ll show you where I’m confused,” she continued.
She was now beside him.
“This doesn’t cut it for me,” she smiled.
Carson attempted to read the portfolio upside down, trying to figure out what she was talking about.

Natasha yanked her gloved right hand from her pocketbook.
Before Carson could react, she slit his throat with the razor-sharp blade of the Bowie knife. Her action was as smooth as if she were gutting a fish.
Carson was so startled he didn’t look up.
Blood squirted out of his carotid artery.
Natasha immediately backed away to avoid the blood spray.
Carson began to puke blood, drenching the front of his desk. He attempted to say something, but his mouth emitted nothing but gurgling sounds.
He lost consciousness, and his head hit the desk.
This was unfortunate.
She wanted him to identify her before he died. She would make sure that her next victim would be granted that final opportunity of recognition.
Anastasia dropped the knife onto the floor. She flipped the switch in the doorknob to Lock, then exited. She pulled the door shut, knowing this would delay discovery of his body for a while.
Still wearing the glove, she retrieved her jacket from the closet and walked casually out of the office.



She rushed to the ladies room at the end of the hallway.
When she bent down to pick up the travel bag she had previously stashed there, she suddenly felt queasy. She began to gag, trying to fight her nausea, but she lost control and vomited in the sink.
She carefully mopped up the detritus with paper towels. Then she washed off her heavy make-up, revealing dark circles under her eyes.
There was no time to re-apply any cosmetics. She needed to get out of the building immediately.
From her pocketbook she removed the bottle of perfume she’d purchased at the Moscow airport and dabbed herself. Then she poured some into the sink drain to mask the odor of vomit.
She ran out of the bathroom and pushed the elevator Down button with her gloved right hand.
It opened immediately. She got inside, pushed the Lobby button with the same hand, then removed the glove, stuffing it into her purse.
The doors opened, and she walked briskly past the security guard.
“Excuse me, miss!” he shouted, “You forgot to sign out.”
Anastasia ignored him and exited in such a hurry that the revolving door continued to spin for a few moments after she emerged onto the snow-covered streets.
The security guard ran around the console and dashed across the lobby.
But by the time he stood out on the street, the woman had disappeared around the corner.
Shivering, he decided not pursue her and went back inside.



CHAPTER 1:
MONDAY MORNING,
TWO DAYS EARLIER

Natasha Arsenov took a final look around her tiny one-room apartment.
It was clean, but sparse and dreary, typical of others in Ryazan, an industrial town southeast of Moscow. The faded tan wallpaper was peeling on the edges, and the wooden floor was stained. Her windows overlooked a block where noisy drunks and hoodlums roamed at night, making it difficult to sleep. It was a dangerous place to live, and she looked forward to leaving.
The room was bare – there was nothing else to sell. Neighbors had bought the television, DVD player, bureau and table.
The only item left was a worn brown travel bag in the middle of the room. It contained her clothes and a blonde wig, thick glasses and the blue contact lenses she had purchased to alter her appearance. There was also a white blouse and tan pants outfit that had been carefully folded to avoid wrinkles. She also included a pair of jeans, red sweater and sneakers for the plane ride. The gray pants suit and white blouse she was wearing would be packed later.
Natasha worked for the Plazma Corporation, located on the nearby Oka River and the largest company in Ryazan. They manufactured plasma screens for tanks and locomotives and other electronic equipment. Her parents, Yuri and Sonja, had worked as technicians for the industrial laser division.
Both had died in August of the previous year.
Natasha wasn’t in the manufacturing section, but a secretary, her salary barely enough to cover her living expenses. Although she was a fairly attractive woman of twenty-nine, she could have passed for late thirties. Thin, with Slavic features and brunette hair, the dark circles under her hazel eyes suggested a difficult life. Like so many Russians, she wanted to immigrate to America where there was greater opportunity. Her parents had lost their lives trying to fulfill that dream.



Natasha was born on July 3, 1985 in Moscow. As a child, she was unaware of the turmoil surrounding the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Her parents had spent their lives trying to escape communism, where every aspect of a person’s life – employment, housing, health care – was centrally controlled by the ruling party. The government bureaucrats had a better standard of living than ordinary citizens and exempted themselves from the restrictions and rationing everyone else had to live under. While conditions had improved since the Stalinist era, the future remained uncertain. The country switched back and forth between reformers and hardliners. Modest gains in civil liberties were often reversed, depending on who was in power. Yuri desperately wanted to immigrate but leaving the country was difficult. They needed a sponsor and money.
There was a risky alternative. Tax free rubles could be acquired by working for the Russian mafia, who supplied consumer products the government couldn’t. There were always shortages of household items like coffee and toilet paper. They also had a brisk business dealing in imports of American videocassettes and music CDs.
Then Yuri met a smuggler who went by the name “Bashkim”.
Bashkim was a shady criminal, with a pockmarked face, who imported these goods from the West. He offered Yuri a job, but Sonja refused to become entangled with the mob.
Turning down the gangster was just as dangerous as actually working for him, and Natasha’s mother lived in a state of fear that her daughter intuitively sensed.
Yuri tried to calm his daughter by kissing his index finger and placing it on her lips, promising he would keep her safe.
It was her most vivid memory of him.
In the summer of 1990, Natasha’s parents left Moscow during the confrontation between Yeltsin and communist hardliners. Sonja wasn’t certain their new democracy would last. If the Party regained control and nullified the election, there would be a purge of dissidents which included their family. Fortunately, Yeltsin survived the coup with tremendous public support. The Russian Commonwealth of Independent States was established. Communism died with a whimper instead of a bang.
Yuri was still traumatized by the mass starvation of the Stalin years and wanted his daughter to learn basic survival skills and often took her hunting. Since Russians were not allowed to own guns, Yuri acquired a bow and arrow from unknown sources. They killed small game – rabbits and bobaks, marmots that kept many Russians from starving during the frequent food shortages.
He trained Natasha the use of various types of knives until she eventually became an expert. How to use a guthook knife to make a small incision in the abdomen of the animal and remove the intestines to prevent puncturing them and thus ruining the meat. The first time Yuri demonstrated the technique, it made Natasha sick to her stomach, but he insisted she learn how to do it.
When Natasha was eighteen, she and her father had traveled to the medieval monasteries of Murom on the Oka River, to share outdoor activities. Yuri taught her how to select bait, where to find the best catches and how to gut the fish and remove the bones before cooking it.
He had always felt guilty not taking a stand when Sonja convinced him their safety took precedence over politics, and it became a source of conflict the rest of their lives. Natasha asked her mother about their differences, but the subject remained an off-limits topic.
Yuri finally mentioned it during that fishing trip.
“The world is divided into wolves and sheep, Natasha. Wolves are people who fight for their rights, no matter what danger or obstacles they encounter. Sheep are complacent people who allow those in power to control and exploit them. When a country has more sheep than wolves, you end up with a police state like the Soviet Union. Your mother doesn’t agree with me, but we were wrong to run away. Don’t make the same mistake. When you’re wronged, do something about it, or it will haunt you for the rest of your life.”
She never forgot her father’s advice.



Over the next decade, Yuri had moved his family from city to city, finding whatever work he could. Natasha was lonely, finding it difficult to make friends and feeling like a gypsy as they moved from town to town.
As the Soviet Union slowly adopted market capitalism, Yuri felt as if little had changed. Kickbacks and bribes to officials remained standard operating procedure.
The Russian mafia had always infiltrated businesses, regardless of what economic system was in place. As soon they penetrated an industry in which Yuri was working, he quit.
Since American products could be sold legally after 1991, Bashkim refashioned himself as a drug trafficker.
He contacted Yuri again, and once again, Sonja rejected Bakshim’s offer.
The family eventually settled in Ryazan, where the Plazma Corporation was located. Yuri had engineering experience and was able to secure jobs for himself and Sonja. Natasha worked in the accounting department. They made a modest living, but still weren’t happy. Her father was disturbed that the city was populated with political extremists. Marxists and fascists painted graffiti on walls. Swastikas defaced the doorways of some buildings, and hooligans had painted red stars on the windows of structures slated for demolition.
Natasha’s life changed when she met Grigor, a young Ukrainian who worked as an oil refinery technician. He was short, but handsome and muscular. Most impressively, he was ambitious. They dated for six months, then lived together for a year despite Yuri’s objections. Things were going well and Natasha thought she had finally found her soulmate.
But when Grigor had the opportunity to move to Canada and advance his career, he abandoned her. The emotional scars made her wary of everyone, a trait she shared with her father. It would especially take extraordinary circumstances for her to trust another man.
She was forced to move back with her parents, and her next eight years were miserable. The tedium of her life combined with failed relationships left her feeling desperate. Yuri kept promising that they would immigrate, but he was never able to save enough money from their meager salaries.



On Natasha’s twenty-eighth birthday, her parents gave her a very special present. Yuri told her he found a sponsor to pay for their trip to America. He wouldn’t disclose any information about the source, and despite the good news, her mother seemed very disturbed. They would go to New York City first, find a place to live and open a small business. Natasha would follow as soon as her parents made arrangements with an immigration attorney. They didn’t want her to enter the country illegally and live in the shadows under threat of deportation. Although difficult, they were able to obtain a visa for her trip.

Her spirits were revitalized. Her parents scraped up enough money for a tutor who taught her how to speak English. It was a difficult experience since Russian and English convey meaning through the verb systems in very different ways.

“‘Must you work on Friday?’” she asked her teacher.

“Wrong, Natasha,” her teacher scolded. “The correct question is, ‘Do you have to work on Friday?’”

She eventually became fluent although she spoke with an accent difficult to hide.
Natasha read books about the United States, watched pirated videos and television shows, and became enamored with the American Dream. While a myth, it was also an incentive that inspired people to accomplish things.
But then her parents died on the plane to New York. Their death shattered her dreams. It took her several months to find out exactly what happened and another three to devise a plan of her own.
One day at her accounting job, Natasha overheard secretaries discussing their website dating scam. They flirted with American men online, then conned them into sending presents or money. Natasha didn’t believe it was possible until Yana, a fellow employee, showed an expensive gold necklace sent by her mark.
“How does it work?” Natasha asked.
“It’s very simple,” Yana explained, “Send sexy emails for a few weeks as bait. Once he’s hooked, start asking for presents.”
Natasha smiled. She knew all about fishing.
“You’ll need to do some web surfing,” Yana advised. “To find the right target.”
“Can’t you get in trouble?”
“Not if you’re clever. Don’t send him your real picture. Digitally enhance your profile. Change your hair and eye color so you can’t be identified if the sucker gives the photo to the police.”
Natasha researched the scheme and discovered that it was not without risk. The Russian government had gotten numerous complaints from overseas victims and was cracking down on dating scammers. She read an article about one woman who was charged with fraud under the Section 4, Article 159 of the Russian criminal code and received a sentence of five years of imprisonment plus a fine.
She would have to be very careful.



Natasha exited her apartment in a blue down jacket, her pocketbook over one shoulder, the brown travel bag over the other. She walked briskly down the block, chain smoking. The scorching tobacco smoke was still not hot enough to the warm the freezing air hurting her lungs.
She headed towards the Gorky Library on Nikolodvoryanskaya Street, which opened an hour before she was due at work. The library had Internet access, and Natasha had created an online persona, Anastasia Aveena.
She had culled her list of American men to three marks, and the library enabled her to use the Internet for a half hour each day to contact them.
John Walker was an NYU student living in a dorm in Greenwich Village. She had contacted him via Facebook, posing as an exchange student who wanted to visit his university that winter. They flirted for a month before she asked him to wire money to her to pay for her plane fare. Natasha said she’d stay in his room during the visit with a hint of sexual favors if he agreed to send her the money. Thus far he had sent her two hundred dollars.
But it was uncertain whether he could scrape up the rest of the cash.
Robert Bateman was a thirty-year old investment broker. He was married and interested in having a fling when she visited New York.
She suggested he pay her travel expenses and a rent a hotel room where they could meet. She was not sure that Bateman was a reliable sponsor, since he was trying to hide their relationship from his spouse. He had wired her some money but not enough to cover all of her expenses.
Her third mark was the most promising, but least appealing – a pornographer named Larry Hoffman.
Hoffman had posted a notice on his adult website that he was seeking foreign woman to star in his hardcore digital video productions. He promised travel expenses and $5,000 in cash if they were “willing to perform” – meaning be photographed while having sex.
Natasha had no intention of making a porn but was willing to lead him along if he would pay for her airfare to the U.S. The money from the first two marks plus the proceeds from the sale of her belongings gave her enough cash for a return ticket, some food and two days in a hotel.
To hook Hoffman, she asked Yana to take a digital photo of her wearing a blonde wig.
Natasha then digitally touched up the picture, using the Dodge tool to lighten the dark circles under her eyes. Then she cut and pasted her head onto a nude shot of Lilly Lustoff, a porn star from one of Hoffman’s X-rated movies in the seventies. Next, she clicked on the Soften option to blur the pixels of her neck, to make it appear that her head belonged to the body of the voluptuous naked woman.
Finally, she changed her eye color to blue. The pornographer accepted the digitally altered photo as real, not realizing that the body in the picture actually belonged to one of his own stars. He offered to cast Natasha in his next production, From Russia with Lust.
Gorky Library had two wings, the original constructed during the Soviet era in the early sixties and the second, which had opened in 2011. Its modern interiors featured computers with Internet access.
Natasha tossed her cigarette onto the pavement and entered the building, the first patron that day. Only staff members were present, bringing in books that had been returned to the bin outside the doorway.
She sat at the last computer to make sure no one saw whom she was emailing. She booted up, typed in her library ID number and logged into Anastasia Aveena’s email account. Most of the emails were spam but there were three from her marks.
She opened Walker’s first.

Dear Anastasia,
I can wire you more money at the end of the month. I’m expecting
cash from my folks for my birthday. Sorry for the delay. Can’t wait to
see you and show you around campus.
Love,
John

Natasha deleted the email without responding, then opened one from her second contact, Robert Bateman.

Dear Ana,
We have to postpone your trip until April. My wife will be gone for
two weeks visiting her folks in Florida. That will let us spend more
time together.
Let me know if that works for you and I can make arrangements.
Love,
Bob

She pounded the table with her fist and deleted email. The final email was from Larry Hoffman.

Dear Anastasia,
Will get you a one way plane ticket to Kennedy Airport. 7 p.m. flight
arriving in NY 9 p.m. I’ll pick you up and drive you to the hotel. We
begin principal photography on Wednesday.
Your scene is slated first.
After the shoot I’ll pay you cash, give you the return ticket and
drive you back to JFK.
If this is acceptable, please sign the enclosed release form, scan
it and email it back to me. I’ll have the airline email your ticket to.
Thank you and I look forward to working with you.
Sincerely,
Larry Hoffman,
Super Orgasmic Productions.

Natasha bit her upper lip in frustration. Time was running out. She had no choice but to agree to his terms and sign the release form. She’d been able to track down the five people she wanted to visit through Bateman who had contacts in the investment community. It wasn’t certain how long they would remain in the New York area. She had to see all of them within two days before returning to Russia.
She quickly typed a reply.

Dear Mr. Hoffman,
I accept your offer. Enclosed are my electronic signature and my
profile thumbnail.
Love,
Anastasia.

Natasha pulled out a CD from her purse, then inserted it into the disc slot of the computer. Two JPEGs appeared on screen. Glancing around to make sure no one was watching, she dragged them onto the computer’s desktop.
The first image was a scan of her signature which she inserted into the release form. The second was her digitally enhanced nude image.
She attached them to her email, clicked Send and deleted the JPEGs. Next, she printed out maps of Westchester and New York City with thumbnail images of individual streets.
Stuffing the pages in her pocketbook as she left the library, Natasha did not look back.



SPECIAL THANKS…

… to Mary, Barbara, Lesia and Richard D. Haines for their editorial assistance.



THE ANASTASIA KILLER – Back Cover

Maybe you’ve met this luscious Russian babe online.

Even thought about bringing her over to the U.S. for a wild fling.

Maybe you should think again.



The Anastasia Killer knows exactly which buttons to press in the contemporary psyche. With great verve, dynamic storytelling and vividly descriptive prose, Author Haines plays on primal urges and electronic erotic promises that will ultimately unleash a Pandora’s Box of murder. Haines does what all great genre fiction should; he entertains whilst playing on our deepest fantasies and fears in the aftermath of the collapse of the U.S.S.R. to the U.S.S. Were.

~ Martyn Pick (Director: Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie, Evil Never Dies, 12 Guardians [TV Series]; Animation Director: The Age of Stupid)

An exciting, fast moving story ripped from the headlines, integrating film lore with a tale of international intrigue while exploring a devastating social problem.

~ M.P. Ilich (Professor of Film Studies; Producer: I Was a Teenage Zombie and The Suckling)

A sleek, seductive and lethal thriller.

~ Frederick Friedel (Director: Axe, Kidnapped Coed)



AUTHOR’S BIOGRAPHY

Richard W. Haines is an independent producer/writer/ director of genre films.

In 1987, he created New Wave Film Distribution, Inc. to market his feature films, which have incorporated such complex cinematic techniques as the 3-Strip Technicolor process and cutting edge 3-D technology.

His pictures include Space Avenger, Run for Cover, Unsavory Characters and What Really Frightens You.

Haines is also a noted film historian and wrote the books Technicolor Movies and The Moviegoing Experience 1968-2001.

He also illustrated the children’s book Animal Kingdumb.

Currently he writes the 24-Frames-Per-Second Mystery Series, chronicling the always near-lethal adventures of screenwriter Nick Slade and his actress girl friend, Clarice Andrews.



The 24 Frames-per-Second Mystery Series:

Reel Danger: Screen for Your Life

Movies can make for a deadly business.

Especially when you are screenwriter Nick Slade or his girlfriend Clarice Andrews. And you don’t have the career-destroying porn film that a politician (who starred in it as a student) and his hired killers think you do.

In 1978, pornographer Larry Hoffman persuades college student John Prescott, Jr. to let him shoot a scene from a new porn movie, Horny Teacher’s Pets, in his dorm room. As an added incentive Hoffman allows the teens to have sex with the X-rated star, Lilly Lustoff.

Senator John Prescott, Sr. finds out and is furious that his son was foolish enough to be filmed in a porn movie.

He bribes Hoffman to destroy the negative.

34 years later Representative John Prescott, Jr. has followed in his father’s footsteps and is running for re-election.

But has a serious problem.

A single print of the porn movie has surfaced. If word of it gets out, his political career will be destroyed.

Prescott will do anything to find it...

Including murder!



“A fast-moving, engaging, and occasionally humorous thriller tailor-made for a leisurely day at the beach, or that long airplane trip you want to pass a little more quickly.”

~ Richard Helms (Derringer and Thriller Award-winning Author, The Mojito Coast)

“A jet propelled joyride through piracy, politics and porn.”

~ Alex Klymko (Director: A Killing and Spy, The Movie;
Producer: A Perfect Fit and Shanghai Hotel)

“A 21st century film-noir novel for a new generation, awash in both political and cinematic sleaze, and a great read!”

~ John Mangan (Author, The Haunting of Harry Payne [Novel and Screenplay])



Production Value: It Will Cost You Your Life

To find one dumped corpse is a shock. To discover another a few days later, this time the dismembered body of a beautiful woman with whom you’d been briefly involved, makes you a suspect.

Life for screenwriter Nick Slade takes a far more perilous turn when his actress girlfriend, Clarice, decides she’ll help Nick clear his name.

… ‘Now here’s how it is,” Luan whispered to Clarice. “You’re also going to tell me who else you talked to. If you scream, I’ll slice off your nose. If I think you’re lying to me, I’ll cut out your tongue. Nod your head if you understand me.”

This novel unspools during the seismic shift from celluloid to digital filmmaking, proving once again that nothing in the movie biz, especially the world of independent cinema, is ever what it seems.



“Production Value is a wild, sexy thriller. The writer gives a 5-D perspective as to what happens when the wrong people seep into the soft underbelly of suburbia. Reader beware. No one is safe!”

~ Fred Pierce (Publisher, Valiant Entertainment)

“This is pulp fiction at its best. As a filmmaker reading about the world of film depicted in such a vivid and stylish way with such edge and style! A great novel and highly recommended!”

~ Johnny Kevorkian (Director, The Disappeared)

“Exactly the kind of novel my high school English teacher would have forbidden me to read. If the late Pauline Kael were a crime novelist, her nom de guerre would be Richard W. Haines, and her debut novel would be Production Value.”

~ Daniel Bernardi (Filmmaker)

Coming Soon: What Really Frightens You, Too

Three college students are assigned to make a video documentary.

They select an unusual subject matter for their thesis: a haunted housing project where residents died mysterious deaths.

The students intend to spend the night in the building and chronicle their experiences with camcorders.

Each one discovers a portal to another dimension where their primal fears might frighten them to death.

Will they survive a new kind of un reality show?



Also from Pigtown Books

If you enjoyed The Anastasia Killer, check out the Max Royster Mystery Series, written by career law-enforcement officer, Frank Hickey.



The Gypsy Twist

Misfit NYPD Officer Max Royster’s hunt for a sadistic serial killer takes a startling turn when he realizes that not all predators are born alike.

Funny Bunny Hunts the Hornbug

To catch a sex killer targeting Upper East Side beauties, NYPD Officer Max Royster goes undercover...as an NYPD cop.



Brownstone Kidnap Crackup

The Eve of Christmas Eve, Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side, Max Royster witnesses a debutante’s kidnapping and becomes the FBI’s prime suspect. Or is he actually their salvation?



Can Show Bizzers Crush Crime?

Can I, Max Royster, fat, broke divorced and now on crutches, train a ragtag group of performers, my Showbizzers, to use their skills and bodies to stop a genius crime lord in the High Desert town of Basta, California?



Softening Flatbush

Now in Flatbush, Brooklyn, can I, Max Royster, thrown off the NYPD for mental illness, find new love, new murder and new career. Can I keep my love? Crack the case? Can I inspire and change private security? And maybe regain my NYPD shield?



When the Whistle Blows, Everyone Goes

A shady tycoon hires me, Max Royster, his beautiful, but disturbed daughter. Immediately after she seduces me in Palm Springs, I find myself jailed for murder of her neighbor.

How do I find the real killer and prove my innocence from inside a cell when incarceration has stripped me of every resource?

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