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They Tell Me You Are Crooked: Duncan Cochrane, #2

They Tell Me You Are Crooked: Duncan Cochrane, #2

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They Tell Me You Are Crooked: Duncan Cochrane, #2

363 pages
4 hours
Sep 24, 2016


Governor Cochrane holds the power to punish all criminals except his daughter's killer. Then a blackmailer threatens to reveal his ruinous family secret just as a sniper targets innocents in Chicago.

To protect his career and those he governs, he'll have to hunt both enemies.

EVOLVED PUBLISHING PRESENTS the second book in the critically-acclaimed series detailing Duncan Cochrane's rise to prominence and the personal cost of his public ambitions. [DRM-Free]

"Another fast-paced, can't-put-down book by David Hagerty. Like his first book, he keeps you guessing what will happen and then brings you an unexpected 'I didn't see that coming' ending. This book is another winner!" ~ Terez Lyle

"From the beautifully written opening chapter describing the sniping murder of a young boy in Cabrini Green, to the protagonist's moving into Cabrini Green in order to investigate the sniping (which is based on real events), to the ultimate satisfying, but not entirely happy, resolution, the writing rings of reality and truth. It draws the reader emotionally forward, and also conveys a terrific sense of time and place." ~ Theresa O'Loughlin


  • Book 1: "They Tell Me You Are Wicked"
  • Book 2: "They Tell Me You Are Crooked"
  • Book 3: "They Tell Me You Are Brutal"
  • Book 4: "They Tell Me You Are Cunning"


  • The "Syndicate-Born Trilogy" Series by K.M. Hodge
  • The "Payden Beck Crime Thriller" Series by Michael Golvach
  • "Forgive Me, Alex" by Lane Diamond
  • The "PI Kowalski" Series by Chris Krupa
  • "Banana Republic: Richie's Run" by Glenn A. Bruce
  • "The Oz Files Series" by Barry Metcalf


Sep 24, 2016

About the author

Stories about crimes have always resonated with me, whether it was Crime and Punishment or The Quiet American. Maybe it’s because I started my career as a police reporter, or because I worked for a time as a teacher in the county jail. More than a decade ago, when I decided to finally get serious about writing, I started with short stories based on real misdeeds I’d witnessed. I wrote one about my next door neighbor, who’d been murdered by a friend, another about an ambitious bike racer who decides to take out the competition, and a bunch of others based on characters I met in jail. Over time these got picked up by various magazines online and in print. More than a dozen now exist, with most of the latest in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Big Pulp. For my debut novel, They Tell Me You Are Wicked, I drew inspiration from the most infamous event in the history of my hometown: the real life killing of a political candidate’s daughter (though I made up all the details). Now I am at work on a second volume in the series, set two years later, after my hero, Duncan Cochrane, has become governor. He’s haunted by the family secret that got him elected, and fighting a sniper who’s targeting children in Chicago.

Book Preview

They Tell Me You Are Crooked - David Hagerty





Duncan Cochrane – Book 2

Copyright © 2016 David Hagerty

Cover Art Copyright © 2019 Kabir Shah


ISBN (EPUB Version): 1622536185

ISBN-13 (EPUB Version): 978-1-62253-618-4


Editor: Darren Todd

Interior Designer: Lane Diamond



At the end of this novel of approximately 68,640 words, you will find two Special Sneak Previews: 1) THE TELL ME YOU ARE BRUTAL by David Hagerty, the third novel from this Duncan Cochrane series of crime thrillers, and; 2) BROOMETIME SERENADE by Barry Metcalf, the first novel from The Oz Files series of crime thrillers. We provide these as a FREE extra service, and you should in no way consider it a part of the price you paid for this book. We hope you will both appreciate and enjoy the opportunity. Thank you.


eBook License Notes:

You may not use, reproduce or transmit in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews, or in accordance with federal Fair Use laws. All rights are reserved.

This eBook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only; it may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return to your eBook retailer and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.



Although inspired by real events, this is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.

Books by David Hagerty



Book 1: They Tell Me You Are Wicked

Book 2: They Tell Me You Are Crooked

Book 3: They Tell Me You Are Brutal

Book 4: They Tell Me You Are Cunning (Coming Summer 2019)




What Others Are Saying about the Duncan Cochrane Series:


They Tell Me You Are Wicked:

It works as a whodunit, but it’s Cochrane’s story and political life that’ll provide the fuel for this series. ~ Crime Thriller Hound


They Tell Me You Are Wicked:

...a compelling picture of the Windy City when it was still in thrall to the mob and its own unique political machine. ~ Shots Magazine


They Tell Me You Are Wicked:

This is one of those surprise-ending novels that are so tightly constructed that it’s hard to write synopsis without giving away an important detail. Hagerty makes a contemporary political point, but gently enough that you can just enjoy the story if you are not interested in the politics. If you are interested in modern American politics, he may help you understand how people come to take sides on a current issue. ~ Scott D. Saifer


They Tell Me You Are Crooked:

Who’d have ever thought that a contemporary novel about 1970s Illinois state politics would be so engrossing. Imagine a David Baldacci novel, but with greater depth of character. ~ Larry Feign


They Tell Me You Are Crooked:

From the beautifully written opening chapter describing the sniping murder of a young boy in Cabrini Green, to the protagonist’s moving into Cabrini Green in order to investigate the sniping (which is based on real events), to the ultimate satisfying, but not entirely happy, resolution, the writing rings of reality and truth. It draws the reader emotionally forward and also conveys a terrific sense of time and place. ~ Theresa O'Loughlin


We’re pleased to offer you not one, but two Special Sneak Previews at the end of this book.


In the first preview, you’ll enjoy the First 4 Chapters of THEY TELL ME YOU ARE BRUTAL, the third book in this great series.





DUNCAN COCHRANE Series at Evolved Publishing

In the second preview, you’ll enjoy the First 4 Chapters of Barry Metcalf’s thrilling BROOMETIME SERENADE, an award-winning crime thriller from Down Under.





THE OZ FILES Series at Evolved Publishing

Table of Contents


Books by David Hagerty




Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25

Chapter 26

Chapter 27

Chapter 28

Chapter 29

Chapter 30

Chapter 31

Chapter 32

Chapter 33

Chapter 34

Special Sneak Preview: THEY TELL ME YOU ARE BRUTAL by David Hagerty


About the Author

What’s Next?

More from Evolved Publishing

Special Sneak Preview: BROOMETIME SERENADE by Barry Metcalf


As always, in honor of my wife, Diane.

Chapter 1

And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.

~ Carl Sandburg (1878—1967). Chicago Poems. 1916


Tyson Evans prepped for school early that morning. The night before, he’d laid out his clothes—brown jeans, a black sweatshirt with The Empire Strikes Back laminated on the front—and stuffed his backpack with vocabulary lists, fraction sheets, and the book Sounder. At breakfast, he’d rushed through a bowl of Lucky Charms, gobbling the green clovers, orange stars, and blue diamonds while pushing aside the pink hearts, which only girls liked.

You finish your cereal? his mother called from the bathroom.

Tyson looked over to where she was molding her hair with a pick. Yes, Mamma. He scraped the hearts into the garbage and covered them with a paper towel.

Then get your books ready.

From under his bed, Tyson removed a binder packed with baseball cards: Rod Carew, Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice, and others less famous, all encased in plastic sleeves. Checking over his shoulder, he saw his mother still working her natural into place. He didn’t want her freaking out about him getting robbed, so he slipped a couple sheets of cards into his backpack before walking to the living room. From the couch Tyson picked up his Chicago Bears warm-up jacket and ski hat. He pulled the latter down so it fell just above his eyebrows, then moved to the front door.

Each day he scrounged for change in the phone boxes near school, which by week’s end bought him a pack of Topps cards at the Liquor Mart. He’d toss the gum, which tasted stale and brittle, then scan the cards. Most packs contained duplicates of mid-market players, the ones nobody wanted, but once and again he’d find a treasure worth many times the cost of the pack. This ritual represented his version of the lottery, a long shot at scoring big.

As he reached for the doorknob, Tyson’s mother called, You can’t kiss your momma goodbye? so he spun and retreated to the bathroom, where she stood in her bathrobe and fuzzy slippers.

From her boom box, the Pointer Sisters sang:

I want a lover with a slow hand

I want a lover with an easy touch

He hugged her robe, which smelled of talcum and detergent, and endured her kiss on his forehead, then turned toward the door in hopes of a quick escape.

I got to work late tonight, she said, so you making dinner for yourself and your sister.

He paused in the hallway and looked toward the younger girl’s bedroom. She leaned out, her beaded braids clacking together, and said, I want SpaghettiOs.

In response, he stuck a finger down his throat and mocked gagging, then spun toward the front door.

Take the street, not the courtyard, his mother said. As he unlocked the deadbolt, she pursued, Tyson, you hear me?

Yes, Mamma.

Outside, in the open-air hallway that his friends called the holding pens, Chicago’s winter winds blew in off the lake and stirred up stray papers. Because steel fencing enclosed the walkway, these abandoned sheets had no escape. Tyson pushed aside the confetti as he made his way to the stairwell, ignoring the view that took in not only the lakeshore but also high rises of downtown only a few miles distant.

While descending the fourteen flights, he stepped over garbage bags and broken furniture left there months before when gangs occupied the elevators and the trash chutes backed up. Since people refused to haul it down all those flights to the dumpsters, he had to pass landings reeking of spoiled milk, rotting meat, and dirty diapers. Graffiti by the local sets—a smiling devil with a pointy beard, the letters BDs written in bubbly blue script—decorated many floors, but thankfully the stairwells stretched out empty of people, the hour too early for hustlers.

The lobby also sat vacant. Even Saul, the CHA rent-a-cop on the morning shift, had abandoned his post. Usually, he sat immobile in a plastic chair leaned against the wall, his stomach so large that it prevented him from tucking in his uniform at the waist. At the sight of Tyson, he would raise his coffee mug in salute.

May the force be with you, he’d say.

Everybody knew the mug contained not coffee but Crown Royal, and that by noon Saul would disappear to some back office to finish his bottle, but in the morning he maintained the optimistic cheer of a new day. Looked like he’d started early.

Through the glass doors, the courtyard yawned vacant as well. A patchwork of dirt and concrete paved the two blocks to his middle school. Across the way Tyson saw The Reds—brick towers that mirrored his own concrete one. Though right next door, Tyson had never ventured inside them since they belonged to the Rebel Angels. Even though he wanted nothing to do with the gangs, his residence in The Whites made him a rival.

For age ten, Tyson measured small and light, which frustrated him, but which also bore advantages, since older boys ignored him. Most called him shorty, which depending on its intonation could be either a put down or a free pass.

On the blacktop, Tyson spotted three other kids about his age, none that he knew, but none sporting gang colors either. He waited for them to clear the parking lot and checked once more for stragglers before setting out. The most direct route cut across the courtyard. Taking the streets required circling all the way around Cabrini Green and would waste ten minutes. Even with time to spare, Tyson didn’t want to risk it. His friends Jamal and Danny planned to swap baseball cards before class, and they both claimed to have Reggie Jacksons to trade, though neither had shown him yet. Their moms also had forbidden them from bringing cards to school, but with just the three of them in the know, Tyson saw little risk.

After debating his path, Tyson set off across the tarmac at a race walk, leaning forward against the wind and the weight of his backpack, both of which conspired to push him backwards. The air bit into his skin and made him look toward the ground, where he watched his own kicks—black, low top Converse All-Stars, a gift from his mom for his last birthday—growing damp and stained in last night’s snow melt. He’d have to stop at the cafeteria for napkins to clean them before meeting his friends.

As he neared the asphalt of the parking lot, Tyson heard a single gunshot. Its pulse echoed off the high rises like a bullet ricocheting through a hallway, making the origin hard to pinpoint. It seemed to come from above. Instinctively, Tyson ducked, though he quickly thought better of it and ran as fast as his pack and the winds would allow. He dodged between cars looking for cover—a doorway, a canopy, even inside The Reds would be better than the shooting gallery—when a second shot cut through the urban canyon.

Next thing he knew, Tyson lay on his back, struggling to right himself like a capsized bug. Pain pierced his right side like a spear to the heart, yet when he reached for it he found only a small hole in his puffy coat. His breath came in rapid gasps, but none of it seemed to reach his lungs. When he tried to sit up, his strength left him.

Lying on that dirt patch, he stared at the sky and watched the clouds spread into a uniform gray that ate up everything around them.

Chapter 2

Duncan Cochrane didn’t need to check the clock on his bedside table to know the time. 2:34. Every night for months he’d awoken at the same hour, minute, probably second. Sometimes he found sleep again quickly. Often, though, he lay awake cataloguing the sounds outside: cars, planes, and trains.

On this night, he’d counted four freighters already. The boxcars made a distinctive and rhythmic thu-thunk as they passed through downtown Springfield, two blocks from the governor’s mansion. That, combined with the squeal and clang of their engine, always reminded him how far he’d moved from his home city of Chicago. Only a farm town would stop traffic for cattle cars.

In between transports, he listened to his wife, Josie, breathing rhythmically in the bed next to his. Once his sleeplessness had become chronic, she’d demanded separate queens so he would not wake her fidgeting about, as she put it. In truth, he wasn’t that active an insomniac, mostly logging a mental to do list for the next day, but he accepted her desertion without complaint.

With his budget for the state due in two weeks and rumors of a massive deficit circulating through the capital like the stench of death, Duncan knew he wouldn’t enjoy any more rest that night. He rolled to the bedside, groped for his slippers and robe, then padded out the doorway.

Even allowing for the ungainliness of early morning, he felt heavy and clumsy. Only photos remained of his athletic college body. A few years before—prior to his entry into politics—he’d felt solid and handsome for a man in middle age, but lately he’d disguised his bulk with tailored suits and his age with cosmetics.

The mansion waited cold and still. Radiators clanged through the night but could not repel winter’s chill, which blew in through wood-framed windows and seeped up from the frozen ground. In the hall, dim sconces pointed from his private chambers to the public sector of the house. He followed them through the double doors separating the two realms and immediately smelled the wood soap and furniture polish that preserved the place. In a house dating to 1855, everything needed constant tending, as though it were some octogenarian in a nursing home trying to stave off death.

He took a few tentative steps, testing to see if the floors remained slick from all the polishing. They did, so he changed to a slide. It reminded him of learning to skate as a child on the ice rinks of Grant Park.

He passed the Lincoln bedroom, with its oppressive antiques and its stiff bed, said to have held the great man himself, and a half dozen other rooms appointed with equal impracticality. All exhibited the same textured wallpaper and frilly furniture popular with the Victorians but rarely since. At times, living in a museum made him feel trapped in an anachronism.

His doctor claimed that walking would induce fatigue, so Duncan descended the elliptical stairwell, grabbed a down coat from the hall closet, and pushed through the heavy front doors. In the garden, he could imagine himself in a botanical preserve. Iron gates closed him in, and the foliage grew so dense that even in winter he could see no other buildings. Probably not even the guards would notice him. Although the state police watched their chief executive at all hours, they avoided patrols at night without first giving notice. No one wanted to surprise the boss in his boxers.

For February, the temperature felt warm, maybe in the thirties, which to a Chicago native counted as spring. The night air smelled of the pine and sweet gum trees that lined the drive to the metal gates. At that hour, the city stood silent, the one thing Springfield could boast over Chicago. Not that it benefitted him much.

Two years into his first term as Illinois’ governor, Duncan wondered why he’d ever aspired to the job. It offered constant combat with the legislature (newly controlled by Republicans), the judiciary (second guessing his prison reforms), and the civil service (slowing every initiative to stagnation). He felt far more powerful when he’d headed his own company, even if it produced only sausages. At least they satisfied people’s hunger.

He skirted the fountain, following a brick oval to his favorite spot, the Lindsay bench, named after Springfield’s resident poet, Vachel Lindsay. Despite being hard and cold, the stone seat felt oddly comforting. He sat still for a time until a birdcall startled him, raising his hopes that morning approached. Then another song replaced that one, and another, as though the birds meant to awaken each other. Moments later, Duncan heard not a chorus but one mockingbird filling the night by itself.

A plaque by the bench quoted the poet’s most famous verse, Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight. He glanced to it but did not bother with reading. Many nights Duncan had sat and recited it to himself—the story of the country’s greatest president wandering sleepless in the town—so often that he knew the last verse by rote:

It breaks his heart that kings must murder still,

That all his hours of travail here for men

Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace

That he may sleep upon his hill again?

Honest Abe had slavery and the Civil War to disturb his slumber. Compared to that, what could Duncan grieve? Only a murdered daughter and a wayward son, and the guilt that he had sired them both.


Hours later, as he sat in a leather chair before his broad walnut desk in the state capital, Duncan still felt the fatigue of his early ambling. Many days he medicated himself with caffeine and sugar, but with habituation the effects faded.


Duncan leaned forward to address his intercom. Mrs. Gordon.

The budget director is here to see you.

As we expected.

Though he’d requested this meeting, protocol required that every visitor pass through the screening of his personal assistant. The warning afforded him a moment to check his appearance in a hand mirror he’d stashed in his bottom drawer: blue eyes cleared by drops, graying hair dyed brown, age lines smoothed by wrinkle cream. Even from his staff he felt compelled to hide his fatigue. He also checked his tie—an opalescent blue, knotted in a Windsor, matched to his slate gray suit from Brooks Brothers—then stashed the looking glass before his visitor arrived. As governor, he needed to maintain the appearance of vitality without the suggestion of vanity.

Since assuming office, Duncan had found many surprising and unpleasant aspects to the job, chief among them the endless dirge of meetings: with advisors, legislators, lobbyists, dignitaries, campaign donors, applicants for state appointments. As a candidate, Duncan assumed that his time would free up after the election. Instead, his tenure felt like a protracted campaign. His schedule stretched from eight in the morning till at least the same hour every night, assuming he had no state dinners or fundraisers to attend. These frequently ran to midnight, further shortening his sleep.

This meeting, though, he’d highlighted on his calendar. He’d anticipated it for days after reading news stories, quoting a chorus of unnamed sources, about the growing state deficit. The Tribune sat folded on his desk with the headline face down so he didn’t have to see it, yet it clotted his mind. Recession Deepens. Thus, he both wanted and dreaded an official tally of the state’s finances.

A moment later, Ted Guinn walked in. Pale, balding, overweight, and dressed in a gray suit cinched tight at the belly, Guinn looked the prototypical middle manager, the kind Duncan ridiculed when he worked in business. He’d appointed Guinn as head of his Office of Management and Budget not for his style but for his fiscal conservatism. He never worried that the former economist for First Chicago Bank would mislead him unless asked to do so.

Right behind him walked Parish Steves, his chief deputy. He too wore the uniform of business, in pale tan, though it fit as though off the rack and bore a dull sheen. Probably to counter his Afro-American heritage, Parish acted as stiff and wonkish as any blue blood. He stood rigidly and offered a firm handshake every time they met. Though the two had never bonded, Duncan felt beholden to Parish for his service during the campaign, when he’d bought publicity with mere promises.

I see you’ve brought your enforcer with you, Duncan said.

True to form, Parish said nothing but only nodded in reply.

With a wave, Duncan offered the two men seats opposite his desk in tall, high-backed chairs whose formality made most visitors uncomfortable. Sitting before him, grim and disconsolate, the men looked as though they faced their high school principal. To put them at ease, Duncan leaned back in his swivel chair, unbuttoned his jacket, and clasped his hands atop his head.

So how bad is it? he said.

From his briefcase, Guinn withdrew a thick packet of papers. I’ve brought the summary you asked for, but I suggest we go through it point by point.

Duncan stared at the document—at least three hundred pages—then glanced at his calendar, which promised two hours of numbers and charts before lunchtime.

Before we bore into the innards, can you give me a taste?

If you look at page thirty-eight, Guinn said, you’ll see our revenue balance sheet.

Duncan ran his finger down the column of numbers to the very bottom, where he saw ($900).

Am I reading this right? We’re nine hundred million in deficit?

Guinn rubbed his thick thighs with both hands as though they itched. That’s our best estimate, but we’re still tabulating tax receipts for the second quarter.

Duncan looked to the ceiling for inspiration but found only ornate moldings and gold leaf. A French Renaissance rip-off, the capitol building strained for grandeur but achieved mostly formality.

How is that possible? Duncan said.

The recession is really cutting into revenues, Guinn said. Sales taxes have fallen ten percent, and income taxes have dropped even further. Plus, President Reagan is going after federal funding to the states on everything from special education to public transit.

Duncan exhaled and verified the bad tidings in the faces of both his budget experts, who looked as nervous as Al Capone’s messengers with news of a heist by rival bootleggers.

Any ideas? he said.

Guinn reached forward and flipped the pages in front of Duncan to another column of figures. These represent current versus projected receipts with a variety of measures designed to enhance revenues.

Duncan’s eyes tripped over the numbers, which listed individual income, corporate income, sales, personal property, motor fuel, and utility. You’re suggesting tax increases?

That’s correct.

Duncan could already hear the jibes from his opponents in the state house. After campaigning as a fiscal conservative, they’d brand him as another tax-and-spend Democrat. And our other options? he said.

Guinn turned to Parish, who withdrew another lineup of columns from his briefcase. We’ve done some projections on the cost of your legal reforms. In the next fiscal year, construction of two prisons will run the state $639 million, not including operating expenses. Over five years, we anticipate a doubling in costs for the Department of Corrections.

What do you suggest we do with all those inmates?

Parish sat back in his chair and folded the charts onto his lap like a penitent child. We aren’t in a place to advise you on that.

Duncan sucked his teeth until he realized his gaffe. Ever since he’d quit smoking a year earlier, he’d bit his bottom lip whenever he felt a craving. Now even

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