Book Review & Excerpt: Transplant

How far would you go to save the life of someone you love? My heart was literally racing as I turned the pages of Transplant, author Daniel Side’s latest novel offering. Not since Robin Cook and his medical thrillers have readers been treated to such an edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Side’s attention to detail, realistic characters, and descriptive settings make this white knuckle mystery a summer must-read. He will keep you guessing until the end. That is…if you don’t suffer cardiac arrest while turning the pages.

Read on for an excerpt of,

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by Daniel Side

Chapter One

The evening rain had stopped, and the city air, still warm and humid, held the odor of damp concrete.

Katherine Alderson glanced at her watch and shifted in the car seat, her blouse and skirt sticking to her from the heat and humidity. 10:30. Cracking the window hadn’t helped at all. Parked across the road and down a block, she had waited an hour before the guy in the alley had been dropped off. Thin with long lanky hair, he stood shifting his weight back and forth as he smoked a cigarette. She had wanted to park closer but, at the last moment, thought it better to err on the side of caution.

She had been watching him for half an hour now and no one had come to buy anything; not so much as a joint. Katherine wiped the beads of perspiration from her upped lip and wondered if she was wasting her time. Perhaps the lead was bullshit, but then what was the guy doing here? Waiting in the alley for a taxi? Meeting his girlfriend? She didn’t think so. The source had been good.

Katherine opened the flap of the case and pulled out her camera. She tried to calm the annoyance that she felt. She had been excited about tonight but it was turning out to be a disappointment. Until now, all her research had been at the office on her computer. If she was going to get noticed, really noticed, and she wanted to get noticed, it was time to be a real investigative reporter. She was starting to think this was a waste of time. She should have pawned it off on Jimmy. He would have jumped at the chance to help her.

Movement across the street drew her attention. Someone, a male, walked down the sidewalk towards her dealer. He appeared young, his gait relaxed and unhurried. She didn’t think that he could see her man tucked back in the alley. Not a residential area. No bars close by. A trill of excitement ran through her. This could be it!

Katherine pulled the lens cap off and aimed at the newcomer. He paused at the alley’s entrance, then stepped towards her dealer. Success! She snapped a picture, then a second as they exchanged something. Check the shots. She did so and saw that in the dark, the distance was too far, the image grainy and useless. A taxi pulled to the curb some distance down the street. She raised an eye brow. More business? Maybe I haven’t wasted my time after all.

The taxi driver climbed out of the cab, eased the door closed, and walked to the back of the car. He was stocky, a baseball cap pulled down low on shaggy dark hair. Opening the trunk, he reached in and pulled out a baseball bat. Katherine looked back at the dealer and his customer, but the cabbie had parked far enough away that he hadn’t drawn their attention. She watched him gently close the trunk. Grasping the bat in his right hand, he held it up along the back of his arm so that it wasn’t visible, then walked down the sidewalk towards the pair, looking everywhere, as if searching for an address.

Katherine felt her pulse accelerate, uncertain of what was about to happen, but she sensed it wasn’t going to be good. Ahead of the cabbie the two seemed to have concluded their business and the buyer, after glancing over his shoulder, walked away. Katherine unscrewed the lens and dropped it on the passenger seat of the car as she looked back at the dealer whom she had hoped to approach. Her eyes went wide. He was pinned against the wall by the cab driver, held by the throat, the bat raised threateningly in front of him.

Holy shit! this is more than I bargained for! She couldn’t hear what was being said, but the intent was obvious. Unable to look away, riveted by what was happening, she groped in the camera case to find the telephoto lens. The dealer was helpless under the cab driver’s control Any doubts about the man’s intentions disappeared when the bat swung downwards, the dealer’s strangled scream piercing the night. The cabbie held him upright against the wall, despite his crumpled leg. Katherine felt the adrenalin surge, frightened energy building.

Across the street, money and small bags of white powder fell to the ground at their feet. The cabbie let the pusher slide down the wall. He turned and scanned the area, shadows from a street light contorting his face. Katherine threw back against the seat, fear holding her frozen. It’s okay, he didn’t see you. With her eyes glued to him, she reached into the camera case, digging furiously to the bottom. Come on, Alderson. It’s why you’re here. Where is it?

The cabbie pushed the money and drugs aside with his foot, then kicked the cell phone towards the dealer. Slipping the bat under his armpit, he picked up the money and the white bags and walked to the street. His gait seemed to falter, the hand holding the drugs and money going to his chest. At the curb, he dropped the white packets down a storm drain then headed to the taxi.

Finally Katherine’s hand closed on the lens. She sensed movement at the wall; saw that the pusher was calling someone on his cell. Inside the taxi, the man just at there, his face hidden by the darkness and the baseball cap. “What the hell are you waiting for?” She couldn’t see what he was doing inside the cab. What if he did see me and is calling for more people?

The engine of the taxi turned over and the car started to pull away, triggering her to action, but she fumbled the lens as she fought to set it in place in the dark. Successful, she pulled the camera up, the shutter snapping furiously. It sounded loud in her ears, as if it would give her away, but she held the button down, training it on the license plate, hoping to capture it despite the distance the shadows. Then the taxi was gone around the corner.

Katherine lowered the camera to her lap, aware of her pounding heart. A nervous laugh escaped her. She closed here eyes, enveloped by the silence, the relief overwhelming. He hadn’t seen her. Raising a hand to her forehead, she wiped away the perspiration, studying the dealer she had hoped to interview. Not much chance of that now…unless I’m the good citizen rushing to help an injured man. It could work. She looked at him again, still rattled by the cabbie and what he had done. What she had seen him do so easily. Come on, stop stalling. Do it now. She moved the camera to the passenger seat then pulled it back, chewing on her lip. The guy with the bat’s the real story. Maybe he’s competition. No! Maybe he’s the father of someone the dealer sold drugs to. She liked that better. It gave him a reason, of sorts, for the violence. It would make a great human angle to the series she was working on, if she had got his license plate. She flipped the camera to view and thumbed the button. Nothing. She checked the next one. It too was black. Not possible. “Come on, it’s not that dark!” Again and again, nothing. “What the… shit!” She had left the lens cap on.

Katherine threw the camera down on the seat. “Damn it!” She looked again to the dealer. “Alright, I guess you’ll have to do.” She pulled a small digital recorder from her purse, set it to automatic and replaced it. Unconsciously she checked her hair in the mirror. With a deep breath, she pulled on the door handle as a car squealed to a stop across the street. She froze. Oh, shit, he did call someone! Peering through the dark, she saw three men climb out of the car. She pussed against the seat back again. These three weren’t like the tall scrawny guy lying injured on the ground. With their bulging muscles they looked all business. One of them stood looking around, checking the buildings and cars. Fear squeezed the breath from  her. He was still looking around, now focused in her direction. She remained frozen…until he began to walk slowly towards her car.

Katherine turned the ignition key and jerked the lever into drive. She tromped on the pedal and the car squealed away from the curb doing a u-turn. She kept her foot down for two blocks before she dared look back. The street behind her was empty. Breathing a sigh of relief, she turned at the next corner, again at the next, and kept going. It didn’t hurt to be too careful. She relaxed in the seat then sat upright again, tension returning. Sure, but what if he got my license plate?

Note: Transplant was previously titled Change of Heart. It was re-written and re-titled as Transplant by the author in 2023.

Transplant is available on Amazon. Visit the author’s website at where you can find out more about him and his other books (6 so far, and more on the way). You can also check out other reviews of his works at Goodreads Books by Daniel Side, and leave a review of your own. 

Joe Hamilton

Mystery novelist Joe Hamilton took up creative writing after a long career in banking. His short stories have appeared in numerous publications. His Eye on You Detective Agency crime fiction series featuring P.I. Gabriel Ross is set in 1970s-1980s Biloxi, Mississippi; plots are loosely based on real events of that era. When it comes to book reviews, what keeps him interested is a compelling story with a great plot and unique characters.

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