The Showcase is a special feature of the Author's Spotlight. It is designed to highlight Spotlight author's NEW releases and their soon to be released novels.
The HBS Author's Spotlight SHOWCASES Jake Needham's New Book: Don’t Get Caught.
Jake Needham is a best-selling Mystery & Thrillers Author. He writes the Jack Shepherd crime thrillers and The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels series.
DON'T GET CAUGHT
The Jack Shepherd Novels Book 5
Author: Jake Needham
JACK SHEPHERD IS the kind of lawyer people call a troubleshooter. At least that’s what they call him when they’re being polite. Shepherd is the guy people go to when they have a problem too ugly to tell anyone else about. He locates the trouble, and then he shoots it. Neat, huh? If life were only that simple…
A little money is missing from the Malaysian Development Fund, a sovereign wealth fund run by the Malaysian government. How little? Oh, a billion dollars or so, give or take. Shepherd is tiptoeing around Hong Kong’s financial back alleys looking for Malaysia’s missing money when an old friend from Bangkok dumps a much bigger problem in his lap.
A military coup has just swept over Thailand and the Thai army is holding Thailand’s first female prime minister under house arrest. Her popularity is a major threat to army rule and that’s why things are about to get messy. The army is going to hold a show trial, convict her of corruption, and send her to prison. Then, when she’s behind bars, they’re going to kill her. The only way to save her life is get her out of Thailand before the trial starts, and her friends need some big-time help to pull that off.
Shepherd once lived in Thailand. There was a time when he loved the place, then things went sour and he’s sworn he’ll never go back. But the former prime minister whose life is in danger is a woman with whom Shepherd once had a relationship – well, sort of – and Shepherd is loyal to his friends. He’s also a sucker for a smart, good-looking woman, but of course that has nothing at all to do with it. Whatever the real reason, Shepherd can feel it happening. Thailand is reeling him right back in no matter how hard he struggles to stay away.
Okay, he decides, how hard can it be? Sneak into Thailand, track down Malaysia’s missing money, grab his old friend right out from under the nose of the entire Thai army, and keep her hidden and alive long enough to get them both out of Thailand.
A piece of cake for the troubleshooter, huh?
Excerpt from Don’t Get Caught
Monday afternoon in Hong Kong. The sky was the color of a dirty dishrag and I was on my way to Mongkok looking for a billion dollars.
The billion dollars wasn’t in Mongkok, of course. At least I didn’t think it was. What was in Mongkok was a guy who knew a guy who might know where I could start looking for it. Hong Kong works like that. There is always a guy who knows a guy. You just have to know who that guy is.
Mongkok is a Hong Kong neighborhood only three stops on the Mass Transit Railway north of the luxury hotels of Tsim Sha Tsui, but it might as well be on another planet for all it has in common with the Hong Kong most tourists see. The streets of Tsim Sha Tsui are lined with luxury boutiques, jewelry stores, and electronics shops. The sidewalks are overflowing with expensively suited men swinging leather briefcases and with elegantly attired women juggling Hermès, Chanel, and Armani shopping bags.
You won’t find many luxury boutiques in Mongkok. What you will find there are grimy storefronts selling the basics of urban life. You won’t see expensively suited men or elegantly attired women in Mongkok either. What you will see there is a massive crush of working-class Chinese. The throng of people jamming the streets of Mongkok is so great that it has all but driven away motorized traffic.
Mongkok is known to the world for three things. It is generally said to be the most crowded place on earth. It is the heart of the Hong Kong sex trade. And it is the stronghold of the Chinese triads.
About ten years ago, a massive complex called Langham Place opened in Mongkok. It had a couple of million square feet of shopping and offices, its own MTR station, and the ultra-modern Langham Place hotel. People predicted it would quickly gentrify the neighborhood, drive away the sex trade, and end the control of the triads.
Probably won’t ever happen.
If you find yourself in Hong Kong some summer night when the darkness is heavy and liquid, head for Mongkok and you’ll see what I mean. Start at the tourist-thronged Ladies Market. Then, just around the corner, find the alleyway with so many stalls selling knock-off Nikes that the locals call it Sneaker Street. Follow it to the end, take a left on Shanghai Street, and walk south all the way to Dundas. The garbage probably hasn’t been collected and the air will be filled with the reek of rotting food, the stink of sewage, and the stench of the exhaust of a thousand vehicles. That’s the smell of Hong Kong. It’s something you will never forget.
Walk past the dim doorways of shops, their steel grates pulled down, and listen to the men coughing and women whispering in the shadows. Out there in the darkness there are more people than you can imagine. You won’t see them, but you’ll feel them breathing softly in the night. Old men with their undershirts rolled up to their nipples and cigarettes clinging to their bottom lips. Worn-out women bent from a lifetime of labor. Hard-looking young toughs in dirty shorts, shirtless in the heavy heat.
It’s safe enough, white boy. No one will bother you. You don’t matter here.
Pay attention to the doorways you pass, the ones brightly lit in pink or white that open onto staircases watched over by elderly men called ausuks, uncles. If you can read Chinese, stop and look at the menus posted just outside. They describe the nationalities of women that are the specialty of the house. But I wouldn’t hang around. Stand there too long and you’ll feel the triad punks easing up behind you.
Move along, gwailo. Nothing here for you.
You thought you had been to Hong Kong when you windowshopped at the designer boutiques in Tsim Sha Tsui, took the tram up to the Peak, and rode the Star Ferry, didn’t you?
Forget all that. That’s not Hong Kong. This is Hong Kong.
My name is Jack Shepherd, and these days I call Hong Kong home. I do that mostly because I have to call somewhere home. Otherwise, I’d have to admit I really don’t know what home means anymore. Sometimes I think I ought to get myself a shopping cart and just be done with it.
That sounds like somebody introducing himself at group therapy, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s what this story really amounts to. A bit of group therapy.
If it is, you must be the group, and it’s my turn to talk, so just shut up and listen.
Not long ago I was a partner in one of Washington DC’s most powerful and politically connected law firms. Then, on not much more than a passing whim, I chucked all that power and the prestige to become a professor at the Sasin Institute of Business at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok. But that was several years ago, and a lot has happened since then. These days I work by myself practicing law again, or something more or less like it, in a one-room office above a Hong Kong noodle shop. That’s not a career path most people would be proud of, but I try not to dwell on it.
When I was a lawyer in Washington, I had a reputation as a master at creating international structures and using them to manipulate large sums of money. A lot of people called me an expert on money laundering, which didn’t sound too good, so I usually tried to find another way to put it. But no matter how I described what I did, it still came down to the same thing. I knew how to hide money, and I knew how to find money when somebody else hid it.
It’s a follow-the-money age, of course, so my counsel on the subject was much in demand. I made friends in powerful positions. I was even on occasion invited to dine at the White House mess with the staff of the President of the United States. Heady stuff. But I had recently been divorced and was a bit personally adrift, and even heady stuff can start to feel stale and routine when your outlook on the world is busy going sour.
That was exactly when an old friend who had retired from his law practice and become Dean of the Sasin Institute at Chulalongkorn University called. He asked me to come to Bangkok, join his faculty, and teach international business to graduate students from all around Asia. It would be an adventure, he said. It sounded like exactly the tonic I needed just then, and I accepted.
I soon discovered I had a knack for teaching. My lectures were popular and it was fun to tell war stories about my battles in the world’s commercial jungles to an audience of students who had no choice but to pretend to enjoy them. Soon I became a respected member of the faculty at Chula and began to pick up a few consulting gigs on the side. I even found myself a beautiful Italianborn girlfriend, a woman who would later become my wife, and together Anita and I moved into one of Bangkok’s toniest apartment buildings.
That was when things really began to move for me. Half the companies in Asia seemed to want an American academic on their board of directors, particularly one with big-time connections in Washington. Private clients all over the world began lining up to seek my counsel on money-laundering safeguards. There were piles of cash and there was personal prestige. There were private jets and there were suites at famous hotels. There was ego stroking on a massive scale. It was a great time. The best.
Today, on the other hand, is not a great time. Not the best.
I date the beginning of my fall to the day I became a reluctant player in a drama that at first seemed nothing but a harmless lark. An international fugitive who was only slightly less notorious than O. J. Simpson was living quite comfortably in Thailand under the protection of some bent politicians. But he was an American and he wanted to return to America, and he thought a White House pardon was exactly what he needed to sort everything out. He also thought I was his ticket to getting one.
The case became an international media sensation, and my involvement attracted worldwide attention. The elders of Chulalongkorn University were scandalized at my name being linked to such a notorious figure and they asked me to withdraw from the case. I didn’t see how I could. No matter who this man was, I had agreed to represent him, and walking away because he had become a personal inconvenience was something I couldn’t bring myself to do. So, with suitable doses of face saving all around, Chula and I parted company.
Finding myself suddenly cut loose from my job in a strange country was bad enough, but the gods had an even more savage blow in store for me.
Anita left me and went to Europe to live with her lover.
They say the husband is always the last to know, don’t they? I certainly was. And take it from me, there are few experiences more devastating to a man than discovering that the woman he loves, and the woman he thinks loves him, has someone she loves more.
I suppose I could have gone back to Washington when everything fell apart in Bangkok. Perhaps I should have gone back then. Although I doubt my old law firm would have wanted me, I could have found something to do.
So why didn’t I go back? Simple. I couldn’t face the humiliation.
I was Jack Shepherd, the man who charged off to sail the seas of international adventure. What was I supposed to do now? Admit that my boat had sunk and I was swimming back to shore? Fuck that.
A guy I knew in Hong Kong was taking a year off to sail a few seas of his own and he offered to let me live in his apartment while I got myself organized. I accepted without a second thought.
Thailand looked like it was done for me and Hong Kong seemed to have possibilities as a landing place. After all, it was one of the great illicit money centers on earth. I figured I could probably drum up enough business there to keep myself going for quite a while and build a great new life. As it turned out, I was absolutely right about the commercial opportunities I would find in Hong Kong. Not so much maybe about the great new life part.
These days I earn my living practicing law again, or at least that is what I say when someone asks me what I am doing in Hong Kong since I have no better answer. I’m not even sure I really am a lawyer anymore, at least not in the literal sense of the term. It’s been so long since I was last in touch with the District of Columbia Bar Association that they’ve probably kicked me out by now for not paying my dues.
It doesn’t matter. Nobody asks to see my bar card because I don’t do the things most lawyers do anymore. I don’t lobby government agencies, I don’t negotiate deals for corporations, and I certainly don’t show up in court.
I work quietly, I work discreetly, and I work alone. My clients like that because the problems they bring me are generally problems they don’t want anyone else to know they have. They are often problems that involve vast sums of not altogether street-legal money.
The planet hums with anonymous foreign companies and secret offshore trusts. The sums of money buried in all these companies and trusts and the bank accounts they have scattered around the world would give you vertigo. I know, because I buried some of it. I understand how money moves.
I understand where it goes to hide. I’m good at finding it again when it disappears. And I’m even better at doing that very, very quietly.
And so, naturally, that is where this story begins. With an enormous pile of money. A billion dollars, give or take, that’s in the wind.
Just in case you’re the impatient type, let me tell you right now how this story ends.
I made some choices. They took me to where I ended up. I had another destination in mind, but now I am where I am.
I’ll bet you understand exactly how that goes, don’t you? I am going to tell you as nearly as I can recall exactly what happened and how it happened, but that is all I can tell you. I cannot tell you why it happened.
On the other hand, finding out the why of things is what group therapy is for, isn’t it?
Are you comfortably seated? Good. Then I will begin. Try to keep up, but please don’t interrupt. I’ll leave time for questions at the end.
Mystery & Thrillers Author
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JAKE NEEDHAM is an American screen and television writer who began writing crime novels and legal thrillers when he realized he really didn't like movies and television very much.
He is a lawyer by education and held a number of significant positions in both the public and private sectors where he took part in a lengthy list of international operations he has absolutely no intention of telling you about. Then, somehow, he became a screenwriter following a series of accidents and coincidences too ridiculous to be believed.
Mr. Needham has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand for over twenty-five years. He, his wife, and their two sons now divide their time between homes in Thailand and the United States.
You can read excerpts from all Jake Needham's books as well as his occasional 'Letters from Asia' at his web site: www.JakeNeedham.com.
Author's Book List
THE GIRL IN THE WINDOW
- The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels Book 4
Singapore is a good house in a bad neighborhood.
Three hundred million Muslims live in Indonesia and Malaysia completely surrounding the barely five million people living in the secular city-state. Islamic terrorism in Asia may not get much attention in America or Europe, but it gets plenty in Singapore.
They’ve been hit once already. Not long ago, coordinated truck bombs laid waste to three American hotels in Singapore. Thousands were killed and injured. And everyone knows it’s just a matter of time before Singapore gets hit again.
Abu Suparman is the messianic leader of a radical group of Indonesian Muslims fighting for ISIS in Southeast Asia. Most people think Suparman was personally responsible for the Singapore hotel bombings. When Singapore receives a tip that Suparman is slipping into the country to meet a sister having cancer surgery, Inspector Samuel Tay gets the job of finding him before something nasty happens.
It seems at first to be a straightforward assignment. Tay is given two officers to work with him: his own sergeant, Robbie Kang, and Sergeant Linda Lee, a capable officer with whom Tay once had a disastrous and blessedly brief personal relationship. All they have to do is keep the sister under surveillance until she leads them to Suparman, right?
But things go bad. Really bad.
The surveillance turns into a shambles, people die, and Suparman vanishes. Tay’s only clue to what really happened that rainy night on Serangoon Road where everything went down is a girl he briefly glimpsed watching it all from a building next door.
Tay’s quest for the girl in the window takes him on a terrifying journey into a no man’s land where there are secrets so big governments will kill to protect them. With the help of John August, a shadowy American with murky connections, Tay battles governments determined to bury the truth in order to unmask the politicians using their power and position to hide their own crimes.
Tay knows exactly how to do that.
If he can just stay alive long enough.
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THE DEAD AMERICAN
- The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels Book 3
They steer a tight ship in squeaky-clean Singapore. No dissent, no opposition, no criticism. It’s like an entire country run by Walt Disney. Disneyland with the death penalty, somebody once called it.
A young American software engineer hangs himself in his Singapore apartment. At least that’s what the police say happened. Emma Lazar, a writer for the Wall Street Journal, thinks otherwise. She thinks Tyler Bartlett was murdered to keep him quiet, and the Singapore police are covering it up.
Emma asks Inspector Samuel Tay to help her investigate the young man’s death. Tay is a senior inspector in the elite Special Investigation Section of Singapore CID. He’s pretty much the best investigator the Singapore police have, but Tay’s father was an American and from him Tay inherited a strong streak of American individualism that has made him an outsider in tightly wound little Singapore. That’s mostly why Tay has been placed on leave. He shot a man and everyone knows it was self-defense, but Tay’s enemies have seized on the incident to try to get rid of him once and for all.
Tay is reluctant to get involved. It won’t help him get his job back to challenge the government’s official narrative about the death of Tyler Bartlett. But Emma’s story tickles his curiosity, and…well, the truth is she's beautiful and he’s bored, so he tells her he will help anyway.
Learning that Tyler Bartlett’s death was no suicide is easy enough for Tay. What's more difficult is finding out what the young man knew that made him worth killing. When Tay realizes his superiors are working behind the scenes to keep the secret, he becomes more determined than ever to discover what, and who, is really behind Tyler's murder.
Of course, there’s a problem there. If Tay does find out, won’t that make him worth killing, too?
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THE UMBRELLA MAN
- The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels Book 2
The first bomb cracked the Hilton like an egg; the second gutted the lobby of the Marriott; and the third peeled the front off the Grand Hyatt. Three massive explosions, all at American hotels in the heart of the city, and all within a few horrifying seconds. Hundreds are dead and thousands are injured. Singapore is bleeding.
Inspector Samuel Tay is a senior inspector in the Special Investigation Section of Singapore CID, but he is frozen out of this investigation from the beginning. He's made serious enemies in Singapore's Internal Security Department, and he has even more enemies at the American embassy, so Tay is assigned routine cases while his colleagues join with the CIA and the FBI in a feverish search for the bombers.
Three days after the explosions, the smell of death still sticky in the city's air, Tay is sent to a run-down apartment near the Malaysian border where two children have found the body of a Caucasian male with a broken neck. Tay feels an immediate connection with the dead man, although he doesn't think he has ever seen him before.
As Tay searches the dead man's past for clues to who he was and who his killer might have been, Tay's own past begins to give up its secrets. A long-dead father he can barely remember reaches out of the grave to point to the truth about both the murdered man and the bombings. And the horror of Singapore's destruction becomes a personal horror for Samuel Tay.
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The Ambassadors Wife
- The Inspector Samuel Tay Novels Book 1
The first body is in Singapore, on a bed in an empty suite in the Marriott Hotel. The second in Bangkok, in a seedy apartment close to the American embassy. Both women. Both Americans. Both beaten viciously and shot in the head. Both stripped naked and lewdly displayed.
The FBI says it's terrorism, but the whispers on the street are that a serial killer is stalking American women across Asia.
Inspector Samuel Tay of Singapore CID is something of a reluctant policeman. He's a little overweight, a little lonely, a little cranky, and he smokes way too much. Thinking back, he can't even remember why he became a police detective in the first place. He talks about quitting all the time, but he hasn't. Because the thing is, he's very, very good at what he does.
When bodies of American women start turning up, Singapore CID calls in Inspector Tay. It's a high profile case, and he's the best they have.
Then why is it, Tay soon begins to wonder, that nobody seems to want him to find the women's killer? Not the FBI, not the American ambassador, not even his bosses at CID.
When international politics takes over a murder case, the truth is the next victim.
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THE KING OF MACAU
- The Jack Shepherd International Crime Novels Book 4
JACK SHEPHERD is the kind of lawyer some people call a troubleshooter. At least that's what they call him when they're being polite. The truth is, Shepherd is the guy people go to when they have a problem too ugly to tell anyone else about. He locates the trouble for them, and then he shoots it. Neat, huh? If life were only that simple...
One of the world's largest casino operators hires Shepherd to stop a massive money laundering operation targeting its casino in Macau, a tiny place on the South China Coast that is the biggest gambling center on earth. While Shepherd is looking for the source of the black money moving through the MGM Macau, a frightened man approaches him who claims to have detailed knowledge of the most secret schemes of the North Korean government. All Shepherd's new pal wants in return for spilling all those secrets is political asylum in the United States and a house in Hawaii.
Plunged into a modern-day Casablanca on the South China Sea -- a bubbling caldron of gangsters, gunrunners, money launderers, hustlers, gamblers, con men, and spies -- Shepherd joins forces with the beautiful and enigmatic daughter of a man everybody calls the King of Macau to shut down the black money flow and bring his defector in alive.
Move too fast, and he'll lose control of everything. Move too slow...and Macau just might kill him.
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A WORLD OF TROUBLE
- The Jack Shepherd International Crime Novels Book 3
Jack Shepherd was sick of Washington politics, sick of corporate law, and even a little sick of himself. So he hit the road looking for a new start, made a couple of wrong turns, and somehow wound up in Hong Kong. Now he needs a job, and being General Chalerm Kitnarock's lawyer is a job, so he takes it.
Shepherd could certainly have done a lot worse for himself. Charlie Kitnarok is the world's ninety-eighth richest man. But he's also a former prime minister of Thailand now living in exile in Dubai. When he's not making money, he's plotting his return to political power.
For Shepherd, that could be a real problem. Thailand already has a prime minister, and she's a woman with whom Shepherd once had a brief relationship. It will get particularly messy if, as Shepherd suspects, Charlie is smuggling arms to his supporters and intends to use the Thai army to seize control of the country. Can Shepherd keep his two friends from destroying each other and prevent Thailand from sliding into chaos?
Thailand is hurtling closer and closer to a bloody civil war. And as unlikely as it may sound, Jack Shepherd is probably the only person on earth who can stop it.
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- The Jack Shepherd International Crime Novels Book 2
Plato Karsarkis was an international celebrity straight out of Vanity Fair until a New York grand jury indicted him for smuggling Iraqi oil and charged him with racketeering and espionage. There was also the matter of a woman he may or may not have murdered to cover it all up. When Karsarkis flees the United States just ahead of the FBI and promptly vanishes, the world's media whips itself into a frenzy.
Jack Shepherd was a politically connected American lawyer until he traded the fierce intrigues of Washington for the quiet life in Bangkok. Then one day he walks into a bar on the jet-set island of Phuket and finds the world's most famous fugitive waiting for him.
Karsarkis wants to hire him. He wants a presidential pardon so he can return to American and he knows Shepherd's connections to the White House just might get it for him. But the U.S. Marshals are in Phuket as well and they want something from Shepherd, too. They're there to kidnap Karsarkis and take him back to the US for trial and the Marshals want Shepherd to help them set a trap.
What Shepherd wants is for everybody to go away and leave him alone. At least he does until he discovers a chilling secret, one that plunges him a violent spiral of friendship and betrayal and pulls him straight back into the life he thought he had left behind in Washington.
The Marshals aren't really in Phuket to arrest Plato Karsarkis. They're there to kill him.
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- The Jack Shepherd International Crime Novels Book 1
Once a high-flying international lawyer, a member of the innermost circles of government power, Jack Shepherd has abandoned the savage politics of Washington for the lethargic backwater of Bangkok, where he is now just an unremarkable professor at an unimportant university in an insignificant city. Or is he?
A secretive Asian bank collapses under dubious circumstances. A former law partner Shepherd thought dead reveals himself as the force behind the disgraced bank and coerces Shepherd into helping him track the hundreds of millions of dollars that disappeared during the collapse. A twisting trail of deceit leads Shepherd from Bangkok to Hong Kong and eventually to an isolated villa on the fabled island of Phuket where he confronts the evil at the heart of a monstrous game of international treachery.
A lawyer among people who laugh at the law, a friend in a land where today's allies are tomorrow's fugitives, Jack Shepherd battles the global tide of corruption, extortion and murder that is fast engulfing the new life he has made for himself in Thailand.
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THE BIG MANGO
From the Big Apple, to the Big Orange, to the Big Mango. It does have a kind of nutty logic to it. Bangkok is about as far as Eddie Dare can go without falling off the edge of the world, although at times Eddie wonders if that isn't exactly what he has done.
$400,000,000 is in the wind, the result of a bungled CIA operation to grab the Bank of Vietnam's currency reserves when the Americans fled Saigon in 1975. A few decades later, the word on the street is that all that money somehow ended up in Bangkok and a downwardly mobile lawyer from San Francisco named Eddie Dare is the only guy who can find it.
The problem is, Eddie knows nothing at all about the missing money. At least he doesn't think he does. But so many other people believe he's got an inside track that he and his old marine buddy Winnebago Jones figure it's worth a shot to head for Bangkok and try their luck.
But first Eddie and Winnebago have to battle the jagged netherworld of modern-day Thailand - a corkscrewed realm where big-time dealers tango with small-time hustlers, criminals on the lam mingle with politicians on the take, and the merely raffish jostle with the downright scary for center stage in the big leagues of weird.
If they can overcome all that - as well as outmaneuver a freelancing CIA man, a pack of angry Secret Service agents, and a ruthless Vietnamese intelligence woman - maybe they can find out what really happened back in Saigon all those years ago.
And where those ten tons of money are.
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