is a former Senior Writer at Newsweek.

His freelance journalism has appeared in The New Yorker,
Time, Slate, The Boston Globe, Fast Company,Washington
Journalism Review, American Journalism Review,
American Heritage and TV Guide, and on PBS. He’s also
been a writer/producer on television comedies including
“Anything But Love,” “Cafe Americain” and “Townies.”
He lives in Santa Monica, CA.
ThAhkS F08 k| LL| h6 N£is the first novel from
veteran journalist Bill Barol.
Meet Ray Finney, a charming but dim con man, and Shelly Muzzo,
the ex-LAPD detective who looks after him. The partners have a
good thing going with a fake murder-for-hire scam, and the future
looks bright… until they try to con Robin Tandy. Robin isn’t about
to be conned. She has other plans, like finding an escape from
her deadening marriage to a wealthy investor. That’s when the
tables turn. Then they turn again. Before the three know what’s
happening they find themselves racing the clock in a 40-foot,
$500,000 motor coach, accompanied by the con men’s previous
victims and a yellow Lab named Laz, and pursued toward the
bright lights of Las Vegas by a remorseless ex-Marine who works
as a fixer for Robin’s husband.
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is a former Senior Writer at Newsweek.
His freelance journalism has appeared in The New Yorker,
Time, Slate, The Boston Globe, Fast Company,Washington
Journalism Review, American Journalism Review,
American Heritage and TV Guide, and on PBS. He’s also
been a writer/producer on television comedies including
“Anything But Love,” “Cafe Americain” and “Townies.”
He lives in Santa Monica, CA.
ThAhkS F08 k| LL| h6 N£is the first novel from
veteran journalist Bill Barol.
Meet Ray Finney, a charming but dim con man, and Shelly Muzzo,
the ex-LAPD detective who looks after him. The partners have a
good thing going with a fake murder-for-hire scam, and the future
looks bright… until they try to con Robin Tandy. Robin isn’t about
to be conned. She has other plans, like finding an escape from
her deadening marriage to a wealthy investor. That’s when the
tables turn. Then they turn again. Before the three know what’s
happening they find themselves racing the clock in a 40-foot,
$500,000 motor coach, accompanied by the con men’s previous
victims and a yellow Lab named Laz, and pursued toward the
bright lights of Las Vegas by a remorseless ex-Marine who works
as a fixer for Robin’s husband.
THANKS FOR
KILLING ME
Bill Barol
Minty Goodness Press
Santa Monica, CA
Also by Bill Barol:
“Mr. Irresponsible’s Bad Advice”
(Volt Press: 2005)
www.billbarol.com
Copyright © 2011 Bill Barol
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any
form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying,
recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without written
permission from the Publisher.
ISBN 978-0615533827

Jacket design by Murray H. Smith.
Cover image, “Highballin’,” by Noel Kerns.
©2011 by Noel Kerns.
www.noelkernsphotography.com
Author photo by Jennifer Cecil.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Kevin Baker, Ellen Barol, David Lidsky and John Schwartz
offered invaluable support at various stages in the writing of
this story. Murray Smith looked at the manuscript with the
eye of a skilled designer; Paul Morton read it with the
shrewdness of a cop, the empathy of a writer and the
generosity of a friend. Noel Kerns graciously provided the
extraordinary image that appears on the cover. I’m grateful to
them all.
DEDICATION
To my wife and consigliere Jennifer, for her ferocious loyalty
and unswerving support. Thank you, baby.
“Keep a light, hopeful heart. But expect the worst.”
Joyce Carol Oates
CHAPTER 1
This can’t be the guy, Tandy thought as he entered the
coffee shop, the overstuffed gym bag on his shoulder. This
can’t possibly be the guy. It was 3:00 and he was here as
instructed, which hadn’t been easy for him: He was a busy
man, an important man, and his time was valuable. He was
scheduled down to the minute every minute of the week, and
3:00 was prime time for him, the sweet spot in the afternoon,
just after the last of his people had straggled in from lunch
and just before their minds started to wander to the commute
back home. He’d had to move things around just to be able to
get out, and now the guy wasn’t even here? Because this
couldn’t possibly be him. Balding, rumpled, just about as wide
across as he was tall, his gut bumped up against the worn
chrome-trimmed edge of the table in the last booth in the
back, right where Tandy had been told to meet the man he
wanted to see, exactly at 3:00. The guy was wearing a sport
coat that seemed to be made out of the stuff they cover
airplane seats with. He looked to Tandy like the sort of
person who had three sport coats, and they all looked exactly
like that. Tandy didn’t know what he’d been expecting to see
when he got to the meeting, but this wasn’t it.
“Mr. Tandy,” the guy said, looking up over the chipped
lip of a china coffee mug. “I’m Sheldon Muzzo. Good to see
you.” The wide guy gestured across the table to the other side
THANKS FOR KILLING ME
1
of the booth. It was a short movement, brisk and decisive:
Take a seat -- like he was used to issuing declarative sentences.
Tandy slid into the booth. He and the wide guy regarded each
other over the smooth span of Formica for a moment.
“I thought I was going to meet Mr. Finney,” Tandy said
finally, because somebody had to say something, and the wide
guy looked perfectly comfortable sitting there not saying
anything. He seemed like he spent a lot of time sitting in
booths in coffee shops. He seemed like he could have sat
there all day and never said a word.
The wide guy took a sip of coffee, returned the heavy
mug to its place on the table, produced a paper napkin from
the expanse of his lap and wiped the corners of his lips...
once, twice. He flipped the napkin along its long axis and
creased it carefully down the middle, and made it disappear
into his lap once again.
“Nobody meets Mr. Finney,” he said. “Not right away.”
“Okay,” Tandy said. “But I thought the point of the
meeting was I get to meet Mr. Finney. That’s what my man
Harbin said.”
“Yeah,” Muzzo said. “About that. We were expecting to
see Harbin again.”
“Harbin works for me,” Tandy said. “He goes where I
say. He doesn’t go where I… ” He seemed to lose track for a
second. “Where I say,” he concluded.
Muzzo shrugged. “You want some coffee?” he said.
“Is it any good?”
“It’s unspeakable,” Muzzo said, taking another sip.
“Why are you drinking it, then?”
BILL BAROL
2
“The worst coffee I ever had was fantastic,” Muzzo
said.
“I’ll pass,” Tandy said. Muzzo shrugged equably: Your
funeral. Another moment or two ticked by. Tandy could hear
what sounded like two people, a man and a woman, arguing
in Greek in the kitchen. It built to a crescendo and died away,
leaving the coffee shop mid-afternoon quiet. It was just after
the lunch rush and too early for dinner. Every business had a
moment like this in its day, Tandy thought. This was the fat
middle of the day in his office too, only he was sitting here
not meeting the man Harbin had found for him.
“Let me try this another way,” Tandy said. “You’re the
guy who... I don’t want this to sound like I’m insulting you.”
Muzzo blinked across the table at him. “You’re the guy who
fronts for Mr. Finney.”
“Something like that,” Muzzo said. “We work
together.”
“But he’s the guy who does the job?”
“If he decides to, yes.”
“You mean, if you decide I’m worth his time.”
“Something like that,” Muzzo said again, pouring more
sugar into his mug and stirring with an audible clink.
“So what exactly do I have to do to meet him?” Tandy
said.
“Turn around,” Muzzo said.
Tandy stared across the table, past Muzzo to the back
of the restaurant, where a waitress in a starchy white blouse
and some kind of flowing bow-tie sat lazily working away on
something with a pencil. She looked like she didn’t see
THANKS FOR KILLING ME
3
anything. She looked like she didn’t hear anything. She looked
like the place could burn down around her and she’d finish
whatever it was she was doing with the pencil. A small puff
of air brushed across the back of Tandy’s neck. At least he
hoped that’s what it was. He twisted around on the cramped
bench seat.
“Hi,” Finney said. He was sitting in the booth behind
them. All right, Tandy thought. A party trick. Pretty good too.
“Okay,” Tandy said. “Now I guess, what, I turn around
again and we talk without looking at each other?”
“Why?” Finney said, sounding genuinely puzzled.
“I thought... I don’t know.”
“No,” Finney said. “Mr. Muzzo decided you were okay
and gave me the signal. That’s good enough for me.” Tandy
thought back a few seconds: The thing with the teaspoon.
Finney came around and slid in next to Muzzo.
“Ray Finney,” he said. Tandy saw a youngish guy,
medium tall, in an expensive suit, his hair fashionably ragged,
a pair of those ridiculous Oakley shades wrapping around his
face like a parenthesis. He looked like a kid who’d had dreams
of being a professional surfer and then grown up and
thought better of it. He didn’t offer a handshake.
“You can leave the gym bag on the floor,” Muzzo said.
“So,” Finney said. “Should we talk business?”
Tandy didn’t know what to say. He’d thought hard
about this moment, imagined what it would be like, but now
he realized he’d just been recycling old movies and bad novels
in his head and he didn’t have a single real instinct about how
to say what he needed to say. It wasn’t that he felt that if he
BILL BAROL
4
said it, finally said it out loud to the guy who could actually
make it happen, he’d be doomed or something. It wasn’t
anything like that. It was simpler than that. He didn’t know
how to say it without sounding ridiculous. Finney smiled.
“Let me say it for you,” Finney said. “And it isn’t that
I’m a mind reader or that I’m trying to get some
psychological advantage by being the one to say it first. It’s
just that Mr. Muzzo and I have seen that look on people’s
faces before and it always means you’re having trouble saying
it out loud. And we have things to do today. So let me say it
out loud for you. You want to hire me to kill your wife.”
“I do,” Tandy said, surprised now at how easily the
words came. There was no hesitation at all. “Yes,” he said.
“Will you?”
Finney shrugged. “Sure,” he said.
THANKS FOR KILLING ME
5

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