It Happened at Two in the Morning
by Alan Hruska
Cover Artist: Cover design by Howard Grossman
Review by Mel Jacob
Prospect Park Books Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781945551178
Date: 14 November 2017 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
An heir to a mega-rich father and a newly fired lawyer find themselves the object of a police hunt for the killing of the father. Kidnapped and imprisoned, the two must escape and find a way to catch the real killers or face life in prison or even execution.
Those with reason to kill the rich man include his other daughters and their husbands, his second in command, an agent or agents for a foreign power, business rivals, bankers, and assorted others.
The young lawyer, Tom Weldon, uses a rake to escape from a stone storage area where he and Elena Riles, the dead man's heir, are imprisoned. They are in the middle of farm country among a number of empty foreclosed farms. Food and water are scarce. Local police soon arrest them and hold them in a cell. Fearing their kidnappers will come for them, Tom proves surprisingly clever and they escape from the police station in rural Pennsylvania.
Their odyssey continues with a long-haul trucker who tries extortion, a slow-moving freight train, and a stop in a small town in Kentucky. They manage to find Tom a job, money, and a place to stay. Then, when the enemy tracks them and shoots up their bed in an attempt to kill them, they escape thanks to a friendly warning from a local waitress.
They head to New Orleans with the killer in hot pursuit and again manage to escape. Tom decides they're better off returning to New York and talking with the District Attorney who is suspicious of a frame-up. Because of the overwhelming evidence, he indicts them but sets them free to pursue whoever is framing them.
Tom puts his skills to work on identifying possible killers. The victim was engaged in a high stakes take-over. Tom and Elena don't know who they can trust. Big money provides a major motive, but so does national pride when a foreign country becomes involved.
Hruska keeps the reader guessing even as some of the suspects are killed. He weaves a highly tangled web of greed, pride, and corruption. Most readers will enjoy the chase and marvel at Tom's ability to stay ahead of both the law and a relentless killer. Some will also enjoy the interplay between Tom and Elena. Hruska has four other published novels and has worked in films and videos.