Same AuthorThe Max Royster MysteriesThe Gypsy TwistFunny Bunny Hunts the Horn BugBrownstone Kidnap CrackupCan Showbizzers Crush Crime?Softening FlatbushFeature FilmsSpy, The Movie
(co-written with Lynwood Shiva Sawyer
& Charles Messina)
When the Whistle Blows, Everyone
Goes: A Max Royster Mystery
Copyright © 2014 by Frank Hickey
Library of Congress
When the Whistle Blows, Everyone
Goes / Frank Hickey
1. Fiction – Crime 2. Fiction – Mystery 3. Fiction – Hardboiled
Published by Pigtown Books, an
Hidden Pearl Books L.L.C.
For further information, please
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
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.
leaves crunched underfoot through the frosty air. Bushy fat gray squirrels cavorted
near me and my favorite bench at the
A couple passed by.
“Why did you say that to me?” she asked him.
“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!”
lChapter 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.
“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
“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
“Lakeside Restaurant at the Loeb Boathouse right
here,” I said.
From those clothes, he could afford feeding me at
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
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
“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
, Central Park to the East River. It is The Playpen because you could live your
whole life here protected by nannies,au
ladies, doormen and cops without ever seeing the gritty and poor side
“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
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
lThe Max Royster Mystery Series
If you enjoy When the Whistle Blows, Everyone Goes,
enjoy Frank Hickey’s other novels featuring the adventures and misadventures of
this unique (ex) NYPD officer.The Gypsy TwistMax 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.
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.
lFunny Bunny Hunts the Horn BugTo 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
Late one night, patrolling wealthy brownstones,
he sees a burglar attacking a rich actress. Max chases him. They fight but the
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.
lBrownstone Kidnap CrackupWhen 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
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
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.
lCan 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,
Freezing, grieving my
lost shield, I hobble aboard an Amtrak train. America passes by outside my
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
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?
lSoftening FlatbushI, 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
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
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!”
(Retired Federal Special-Agent-In-Charge; authorPassport to Terror
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
(Board Member, Long Island
Shields/Association of Retired Police Officers, Inc.)
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.”
(Retired Sergeant, NYPD)