When the Whistle Blows,

Everyone Goes

A Max Royster Mystery

by Frank Hickey

By the Same Author

The Max Royster Mysteries

The Gypsy Twist

Funny Bunny Hunts the Horn Bug

Brownstone Kidnap Crackup

Can Showbizzers Crush Crime?

Softening Flatbush

Feature Films

Spy, The Movie

(co-written with Lynwood Shiva Sawyer

& Charles Messina)


Printing History

When the Whistle Blows, Everyone Goes: A Max Royster Mystery

Copyright © 2014 by Frank Hickey

Library of Congress
Catalogue-in-Publication Data

When the Whistle Blows, Everyone Goes / Frank Hickey
1. Fiction – Crime 2. Fiction – Mystery 3. Fiction – Hardboiled

Published by Pigtown Books, an imprint of
Hidden Pearl Books L.L.C.

ISBN: 978-0-9863730-8-4

For further information, please contact:


This Electronic Edition is based on the trade paperback original published by Pigtown Books:

When the Whistle Blows, Everyone Goes: A Max Royster Mystery
By Frank Hickey

ISBN: 978-0-9863730-1-5


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.


To Michael Geary, 1952 – 2014.

Vietnam Airborne Ranger combat veteran

(Bronze Star winner).

Sergeant, New York State Corrections Department.

Special Agent, U.S. Department of Justice.



Autumn leaves crunched underfoot through the frosty air. Bushy fat gray squirrels cavorted near me and my favorite bench at the Central Park

Belvedere Castle.
A couple passed by.
“Why did you say that to me?” she asked him.
“Say what?”
“When I showed you my marathon pictures from years back, when I was thinner and more fresh, you said, ‘I wish that I had known you then.’ How do you think that makes me feel?”
I wanted to stop hearing them. But there were no more benches nearby.
Both looked like they had enough cash, in their forties, and single, not married now.
“I didn’t mean anything bad by it,” he said.
“To me, it meant that I have lost it.”
“Now, you know that I didn’t mean that.”
“Because you know me, Carole.”
“Who really knows anybody?”
“You’re twisting this way out of proportion,” he said. “And I don’t like it!”
“What about those other women you hear about? Their lover or husband isolates them, insults their looks, starts to push and then hit them and winds up killing them.”
They kept walking. I could barely hear them now.
“I didn’t do any of that!” he said. “I’m innocent!”


Chapter 1: Let Me Make You an Offer
Sky-Larkin’ in the Park

My cronies, lovers and characters, the Playpen Irregulars, twirled and spun through my favorite dance spot near the Bethesda Fountain on a wintry Manhattan Sunday afternoon.

We were doing a rumba number from the film Black Orpheus. Women in sheath cocktail dresses and filmy peasant blouses and men in sleek black outfits danced under a blue sky where the March sun warmed the city.
“Max?” A slim older gent that some would call ‘well-set-up,’ in a rich man’s gray dress suit, powder blue shirt and handmade shoes caned his way onto the gray stones. He scanned me.
“Max Royster?”
“Guilty,” I said. “I’m that guy.”
His voice did not match the rich clothes. He had a harsh New York accent and sounded like a knockaround guy who had clawed his way up.
“You’re teaching a dance right now?” he asked. “I can wait.”
“I’m just self-realizing now. Flirting, swapping lies, dancing to keep limber. Class at five.”
“I’m Jimmy Mowat. Is there someplace where we can talk, private?”
“Lakeside Restaurant at the Loeb Boathouse right here,” I said.
From those clothes, he could afford feeding me at the Boathouse.
“Okay. Let’s put grab a bite. Call me Jimmy. Everyone does.”
“Max, you’re leaving us?” Tisa asked. She was a South American beauty with a shock of raven hair thrown over one shoulder of her lime-green dress.
Jimmy Mowat ogled her. To me, it looked like something he did out of habit.
“Stephen can take over all the dances,” I said. “Manhattan’s best ballroom dance teacher. I just get in the way.”
Jimmy led the way past the large green statue at Bethesda Fountain alongside the Rowboat Lake. The Lake sprawled across Central Park’s waist and passed by the tree groves where bad things happened by dark.
Sometimes ignoring the cane, he moved light on his feet, like a boxer.
He looked rail-thin but durable. Foxy blue eyes rode over pink cheeks. The wooden cane had Asian figures hand-carved into it, with a silver tip.
He stood about five foot seven and weighed about one-fifty. His doctor would ask him to fatten up some. His fingers tapped out a pack of Marlboro Lights when we cleared the pavement.
We sat at the outside tables at the Lakeside Restaurant, waited on by chic blonde waitress in a black-and- white outfit and a heated smile that warmed her violet eyes.
“We’ll order in a minute,” Jimmy said. Command came easy to him.
The waitress beamed and smoothed away.
“My daughter, Sahbia, is living somewhere near Palm Springs, California,” he said. His voice showed that he had the time to speak. Nobody ever rushed him. He rushed them. “We’re kinda split apart. What I mean?”
“Yep,” I said.
“Happens in families.”
“Happened in mine.”
“Got no way of contacting Sahbia,” he continued. “Damn free spirit. Her mother was into Zen Buddhism, dharma and all that stuff and named her Sahbia like she was in India somewhere. Mother was Welsh-American and nutty. Nobody knows how to find Sahbia. Got a place in Stonington, Connecticut, where she can stay. Bring in whoever she wants. Bring in Charles Manson, all I care, with complete privacy. If you can find Sahbia, I give you the keys and the code to get in the house. She don’t got to deal with me at all. What I mean?”
His voice changed. It deepened.
Instead of saying, ‘Do you know what I mean?’ he used the expression “What I mean?” It was a city shorthand that fascinated me.
The waitress reappeared.
“That farm chicken plate, cup of espresso, please,” he said to her.
He did not react to her beauty. But I tried out my best smile.
“Boathouse Smoked Fish Platter and an American coffee, small, very light,” I said.
My smile did not move her to wild love expressions. But I gave it a valiant try.
“Yessir,” she said.
At least, we were talking. I felt a bit less lonely.
“You were a cop around here in this fancy-schmancy place, Upper East Side, and you live here now?” he asked.
“Can’t afford to move,” I said. “Like most New Yorkers. I dub this neighborhood ‘The Playpen.’ From

59th Street


96th Street

, Central Park to the East River. It is The Playpen because you could live your whole life here protected by nannies,

au pair

ladies, doormen and cops without ever seeing the gritty and poor side of Manhattan.”
“And I seen some stories about your group and the crimes that they solve. What I mean?”
“They are my Playpen Irregulars,” I said. “They go undercover where the police cannot and will not go. Bar-flies, trollops, fraudsters, defrocked ministers and praisers of their own pasts.”
“But you command them,” he said. “An ex-cop turned dance teacher.”
“Me? I’m fat, broke, divorced, whiskey drinker, lover of rich foods, limp sometimes, over sixty years old and am fast losing any fresh ideas. Nobody can command my Irregulars. That’s their value.”
A smile edged his lips.
“And you solved some impossible cases,” he said.
“In between personal disasters,” I answered.
“Plain talk,” he said. “Okay, my book. Don’t gimme a lot of ‘Who-Shot Willie?’”
“I haven’t heard that term ‘Who-Shot-Willie?’ in years,” I said. “What does it mean again?”
“Means bull. Empty talk. Don’t like it, myself. I came up a kid in the Army. World War Two, then the Merchant Marine. Shipped out my whole life. Made some money buying property. Plus, I gambled on sports and knew when to quit. So, I can afford guys like you. Your group got a good rep.”
“With my Irregulars propping me up. Alone, I have trouble opening an aspirin bottle. How old is your daughter?”
“Forty-six. Athletic, looks a lot younger. Like you, a dancer. Modern and jazz. Her mother and I divorced a long time ago. Her mother’s nuts. Maybe in my daughter’s DNA. Here’s her picture of her.”
The photo showed a slim woman with black curly hair bursting upwards and reaching to her shoulders. Her dark brows matched Jimmy’s look. Her eyelashes opened elegant and sooty black. She was standing on a sailboat deck and squinting against the sunlight.

“She’s not a minor or mentally challenged,” I said. “So nobody can force her to do anything. Hope you understand that.”

“Go ahead. Try cranking up your rates.”
“That’s capitalism,” I said. “Affects even me. Jimmy, you could get a team of antiseptic Mormon ex-FBI agents from some California security firm to do this. They’re licensed and bonded. Instead, you pick me.”
Those eyes gunned me again.
“You don’t want the job?”
“I don’t want whatever tragedy may strike me, from you holding secrets,” I said. “Trouble like that doesn’t feed the bulldog. So, I’m considering my answer.”
On the lake promenade, other Playpenners strolled past us in their Sunday best clothes. The winter sun warmed us all.
“The area near Palm Springs can be very remote,” I said. “Know the place pretty well. Desert, forest and mountains in climate changing, from hot to cold. Finding her may be like trying to sandpaper a monkey. What kind of trouble does your family have?”
He looked away, eyes hooding under the thinning hair.
“Just the normal crud,” he said. “Complicated, kind of. Most of my time, I was away at sea. But she’s not special or dangerous or anything like that.”
He was lying. But the real story would sneak up and clobber me. It always did.
“I’m just a messenger here,” I said. “Dancing teacher gone west to duck the Manhattan winter slush. So I’m not going to do any private eye work out there. Because I have no PI license in California or anywhere else. The police can jail me for working without a license. What are you planning to pay me, for this quest?”
“Six hundred per day, plus expenses. Plane fare, car rental and all else.”
“Okay,” I said, leaning back. “For that kind of cash, I can risk going to jail.”


Special Thanks

Once again…

To Detective-Investigators Mark Baldessare and Gerry McQueen and all the other cops and federal agents who taught me so much about hunting our real-life serial killers.

To the Spy, the Movie team – Jim MacPherson, Alex Klymko, Charles Messina and all the rest of the gang for a grand adventure in screenwriting.

To Kieron Edwards, the newest member of Team Pigtown, the newest member of Team Pigtown, for his vivid cover illustrations.

To Nad Wolinska for her always inventive cover illustrations.

To Richard Amari for his equally inventive cover design.

To my screenwriting partner, Lynwood Shiva Sawyer, for his support and encouragement over the years.

And my thanks to that wonderful woman, companion and friend from Guangzhou, China, who shares my adventures and my life.


The Max Royster Mystery Series

If you enjoy When the Whistle Blows, Everyone Goes, you might enjoy Frank Hickey’s other novels featuring the adventures and misadventures of this unique (ex) NYPD officer.

The Gypsy Twist

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


One autumn night, someone strangles a teenage boy jogging in Central Park.
In Brooklyn, street cop Max Royster risks his life to disarm a madwoman with a knife without harming her. Nevertheless, her lawyer charges Max with brutality. The Department decides to punish Max a.
Max's protector is Sgt. Lipkin, an expert detective working the Central Park murder. Lipkin knows that a killer like this seeks a new sexual thrill, a "Gypsy Twist," with each new murder. The dead boy is the son of one of the wealthy elite of the Upper East Side. Max is the only cop in the city from that world, and on scholarship years before, Max had even graduated from the dead boy's school.
Lipkin summons Max for the assistance that only Max can provide.
Max probes the tony school and neighborhood, ignoring bosses who, out of jealousy, try to block his progress.
A beautiful, free-spirited reporter, Diana, woos Max to try and make him reveal insights about the case. Denying him nothing, she lures Max onward.
The killer seizes another school-boy who was playing soccer in the park and drags him to death with a car.
Wealthy New Yorkers scream that someone is butchering their sons. The city rocks.
One night, muggers attack Sgt. and Max, who freezes on the trigger. The muggers cripple Lipkin.
The Department moves to fire Max.
But the dead boy's tycoon father hires Max to track down the killer. Max and Diana live below the radar in the New Orleans and San Francisco underworlds, hunting the killer until a shocking conclusion reveals the killer’s true identity.


Funny Bunny Hunts the Horn Bug

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


The Upper East Side of Manhattan is one of the richest neighborhoods in the world.
But Max Royster, a maverick, outspoken and erudite NYPD foot cop, who grew up working-class in this tony area, calls it “the Playpen.” Money protects the bluebloods in this area like the bars on an infant’s playpen.
Late one night, patrolling wealthy brownstones, he sees a burglar attacking a rich actress. Max chases him. They fight but the burglar escapes.
The burglar is a sexual predator, known in cop-speak as a “Horn Bug.”
For losing the suspect, Max’s captain deems Max “a Funny Bunny,” too unstable for police work. He strips Max of his gun and badge, then orders Max into Bellevue Hospital for observation and maybe for the rest of his life.
Without any tools or support, Max ten days to stop this Horn Bug.


Brownstone Kidnap Crackup

When Max witnesses a debutante’s kidnapping, he becomes the FBI’s prime suspect. Or is he actually their salvation?


It’s Christmas in Manhattan.
A blizzard whips the city.
The Beautiful People, in the elite Upper East Side, celebrate in their brownstones.
Until a kidnapper seizes a beautiful young debutante.
Max Royster, fired from the NYPD for mental illness, fights the kidnapper but loses.
The kidnapper flees. Stripped of gun, shield and power, Max has only his wits to save the victim.
The FBI treats Max like a suspect and tramples roughshod on his rights.
During this long sleepless night, an unknown FBI agent cracks up. Over the radio, he quotes J. Edgar Hoover and plants false clues.
To solve the case, Max must smash through the facade and mysteries of millionaires in their snug brownstones.
Exotic women tempt him to give up.
The blizzard worsens.
As the winds howl and snowdrifts deepen, Max risks his life and his freedom in a desperate bid to save the victim.
Once again, Max Royster is back on the street in Brownstone Kidnap Crackup.


Can Showbizzers Crush Crime?

Can I, Max Royster, fired from the NYPD for mental disease, 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?


Freezing, grieving my lost shield, I hobble aboard an Amtrak train. America passes by outside my window.
When we reach the California desert, my spirits rise. Hope for a new life makes me exit in the small sandy town of Basta.
The sun and beauty cheer me. But the town suffers from crime. A thug mugs me, taking my cash and ID.
That turns me sad again.
A group that I dub “My Showbizzers” – out-of-work dancers, actresses, dog trainers and writers – rescue me. They remind me of my live-for-the-moment cronies back in Manhattan, “The Playpen Irregulars.” Thrilled by their energy, I fall in love with Koy, a beautiful Asian dog-handler.
Some Basta deputies duck work or bully innocents. Their sloppiness angers and frustrates me, and their laziness helps a local criminal genius, Crosswaite, rob a bank.
My Showbizzers have many skills. Maybe they could use those talents and creativity to fight crime. They might do better than some lazy deputies.
Nobody else believes in my idea. Locals mock me. The sheriff and the FBI block me. But I force myself to push my idea forward, while my Showbizzers must fight their own bias against government and rules.
But when Crosswaite starts killing, I train my Showbizzers. They go undercover. Their beautiful bodies use sex as a weapon. Koy trains dogs to burgle homes and seize evidence.
To avenge his childhood of horrors, Crosswaite vows to destroy Basta.
Frightened but passionate, without guns, power or respect, my Showbizzers and I risk everything to stop Crosswaite.
Our deadly showdown will answer the question once and for all: Can Showbizzers Crush Crime?


Softening Flatbush

I, Max Royster, fat, broke, divorced, thrown off the NYPD for mental illness. Now in Flatbush, Brooklyn, I 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?


Flatbush, Brooklyn, a neighborhood that used to be the borough’s jewel.
Sixty years later, street crime plagues the area.
My love, Cooper, and her friends want to clean up the neighborhood and improve Flatbush’s image. That way, they can ‘flip’ their homes and triple their profits
I join a security agency, thinking I can transform the guards from unhappy minimum wage-earners to passionate, hardworking crime fighters.
If I succeed and make Flatbush safe for Cooper and her friends, we will buy a home there and enjoy a happy marriage.
My new employees and I fight to take back the Flatbush streets. I give them better training, uniforms and weapons. The guards buff their new badges with pride.
My boyhood friends, out-of-work actresses, barflies and story-tellers, join us in our quest.
But some guards refuse to let go of old vices. Others turn vigilante and bully innocents.
Curbing their zeal, I try to teach them to uphold civil rights as I hunt the suspect in the comedian’s murder.
Then, under cover of night, good and evil clash at the Lefferts Historic House. Facing disgrace and prison, I must decide what matters most in life to me.
Come walk with me on that razor edge between brutality and staying alive as Cooper and I, my Flippers and my guards give everything to try Softening Flatbush.


Back Cover

“I enjoyed reading this book and got a kick out of a New York cop winding up in jail. I recommend the book to other cops. And to anyone interested in prisons. Being a federal agent myself, and not really knowing much about Bureau of Prisons (except putting people into their charge), I liked learning about the agency. I especially enjoyed the jail scenes, with the Boppers dancing all around. It would make a hell of a movie!”

~ Patrick O'Hanlon (Retired Federal Special-Agent-In-Charge; author

Passport to Terror)

“The sixth Max Royster Mystery showed me a different side of Max – not only the gritty, tough, hard-nosed ex-cop but the soft hearted guy who tries to prove the innocence of his cellmate. I got to meet Max’s friends behind bars – the guards, the cons – and to follow Max as he tries to find the real killer from inside incarceration.”

~ Dave Fischer (Board Member, Long Island Shields/Association of Retired Police Officers, Inc.)

“Combining the grit of Mickey Spillane and the elegance of Raymond Chandler, the Max Royster series is well placed among the greats of American crime fiction. Hickey has a real flair for action writing and a eye for detail. His protagonist, Max Royster, is authentically flawed, yet brilliant. Somehow, Max always seems to prevail, but in incarceration in the bowels of the Federal of Prisons make the odds seem insurmountable.”

~ Louis Panarella (Retired Sergeant, NYPD)

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