About the Book
In the first Cole Sage book, we find Cole at the low point of his career. In the past, Cole a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, worked for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Time Magazine. Now, he’s returned to the paper where he started his career, The Chicago Sentinel. Instead of writing the big stories, he’s doing the work of a rookie reporter. His “big story of the day” is a cat caught in a tree. During its rescue, the cat’s owner takes her Good Samaritan neighbor hostage. Cole witnesses something so disturbing it reawakens the journalist’s desire to write again.
Returning to the paper, Cole finds a desperate message asking for help from Ellie, one that got away. The one that has continually haunted his life. Cole drops everything and flies to California. He must find what would make her so desperate, she would call him after so many years. Cole finds her terminally ill, and abandoned by her husband. He discovers while Ellie was heavily medicated, she mistakenly signed a Power of Attorney. Now her estranged daughter Erin’s inheritance, won’t go to her, but her abusive step-father. Cole vows to find the girl and right the situation.
The path to keeping his word is blocked at every turn by the husband who abandoned her, his shady real estate deals, violent con men, street thugs and the lure of a fortune in diamonds that unite them. The anger, sorrow, and crippling guilt of twenty years fires Cole’s drive to keep a promise, that in the end, will heal and return the soul to the great journalist.
Beaten, bloody but determined, Cole Sage conquers greed and hatred with a strength that only love, and a will as hard as diamond, can achieve.
The Cole Sage Series has captured the imagination of readers worldwide. All six books in the series consistently get top ratings from reviewers.
Micheal Maxwell has found a niche in the mystery, suspense, genre that gives readers an everyman hero, short on vices, long on compassion, and a sense of fair play, and the willingness to risk everything to right wrongs.
The Cole Sage Series departs from the usual, heavily sexual, profanity laced norm, and gives readers a character driven stories, with twists, turns, and page turning plot lines, but most of all a hero they can relate to and root for with each new case he finds himself involved in.
With 500+ Five Star reviews on Amazon: A once great journalist, Cole Sage has finally hit rock bottom. When the daughter of his lost love goes missing, Cole sees a chance at redemption – but he’ll have to navigate a treacherous maze of con men, and shady deals to find her.
The Cole Sage series is a clean, character driven, mystery series with lots of twist, turns, and heart.
DIAMONDS AND COLE EXCERPT
The reality of where he was going and what he was about to do began to form a knot in Cole’s stomach. His first thoughts about meeting Allen Christopher were violent and colored in blood. Cole knew that was not the path he would take, but playing through scenes of bludgeoning Christopher with various objects helped vent his anger. He tried a litany of curses and profane names in his mental role-playing that helped hone the edge of his hatred for what this man had done to Ellie. What he would actually say and do were as much a mystery to Cole as the reason he was driving “out in the country” to see him.
Ahead on the left, Cole spotted a tall stone fence that curved into what the sign called “Vintage Glenn Estates, The Place to Be Who You Really Are.” This place would be who Allen Christopher really was, because it wasn’t the house he shared with Ellie. When they were first married, Ellie told Cole they had bought a single-story Victorian house built in the ‘20s. It was on a tree-lined street in the old part of town, across from a large park. Ellie described the things she had done with it, the way she had decorated. She was so proud, that she always had a Charles Dickens Christmas party during the holidays. She had confided to Cole that, as bad as her marriage was, she still took great pride in her home and her lovely things. Cole was sure she didn’t know that Christopher had sold the house.
Cole drove through the stone gates of Vintage Glenn Estates and found Peppertree Lane with no trouble; 1438 was in the middle of the block. The garage door was up, and the interior was nearly void of the stuff that usually crowds out all but the smallest car. The landscaping was obviously new; there were lines in the sod where it hadn’t grown together. Cole pulled up across the street.
A young man in a pair of baggy shorts and a faded blue T-shirt was coming out of the garage. An early ‘80s BMW was parked in front of the house behind a fairly new Mustang. In the driveway was a new Mercedes Benz. A young couple with a stroller passed Cole on the sidewalk and gave him a less-than-neighborly glare. He waved and smiled.
A door on the rear wall of the garage was open, giving Cole a straight shot into the backyard. As he watched, a young woman in sweatpants and a tank top walked by the door several times with a shovel. The young man who Cole took for Chad pushed a wheelbarrow full of peat moss behind the young woman who must have been his sister Ann. Then, there he was, Allen Christopher, carrying a sapling tree in a five-gallon pot.
Cole got out of the car and crossed the street. He had never seen such an empty, sterile garage in his life. The walls were taped and textured, but not painted. A small stack of paint cans, probably for touch up, sat in the corner. A recycling bin was on the wall opposite the water heater, and a snowboard and two pairs of skis were hung on the right wall. On the wall next to the rear door was a white plastic sign that said “Mercedes Benz Parking Only.” The floor was swept clean, the broom leaning strangely out of place next to a door that led into the house. Cole walked into the backyard.
“When’d you move in?” Cole said, trying to sound friendly.
“We’re not buying anything!” Christopher called across the yard.
“Not selling anything.” Cole’s tone cooled.
Christopher set down the tree he was carrying and removed his leather garden gloves. The children gave Cole a blank, disinterested glance and went back to spreading peat in the planter. As he crossed the yard, Christopher shoved the gloves into the back pocket of his cargo shorts. Allen Christopher was not what Cole had envisioned. He was taller than Cole, thinner, and had more hair.
All his life, Cole had found too-neat people very suspect. Maybe it was a vanity thing— theirs, not his. Cole always felt haircuts were a nuisance, something that you did a couple weeks after it was absolutely necessary. Allen Christopher, in Cole’s eyes, was coiffured. He had a George Hamilton tan and the look of the guys at the gym who watched themselves in the mirrored walls as they jogged on the treadmill. Christopher approached, pushing his sunglasses back on the top of his head, holding back thick, probably dyed, hair. (Yet another pet peeve of Cole’s. Men just didn’t do that.) Even without his resentment of Christopher’s treatment of Ellie, Cole wasn’t going to like this guy.
“What do you want?” Christopher asked coldly.
“That’s not very friendly.”
“I don’t like strangers in my backyard.”
“Not very neighborly, either,” Cole said, trying to appear friendly.
“Are you my neighbor?” Christopher’s confidence seemed momentarily stalled.
“No, but I might have been. If I had been, I would have been very disappointed in my reception. My name is Cole Sage, I’m an—”
“Cole Sage? I know who you are,” Christopher cut him off. “Same question. What do you want?”
Cole considered the overwhelming urge to punch Christopher in the nose. He flashed back on all the things he had said when he had role-played this scene in his head. Then he thought of Ellie and resisted both.
“I saw Ellie yesterday.”
“You know, I thought I was just going to pay you a friendly visit. Try to sort a few things out.”
“We’re not friends. You mean nothing to me. Neither do the mythical romantic adventures I’ve been forced to endure hearing for years.”
Cole took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Ellie and I are old friends. She seemed in some distress and called me for some assistance,” Cole said, trying to remain calm. “I simply wanted to see—”
“Ellen is none of your concern. She is my wife. She is terminally ill and is being taken care of. Whatever she told you is no business of yours, and I would thank you to stay away from her.” Christopher’s voice was now just below a shout.
“Like you’ve done?”
Out of the corner of his eye, Cole saw Chad approaching on his left. He had none of his father’s concern about appearance. His thin wispy hair came almost to his shoulders and needed to be washed. From his temples to his chin ran the raw, over-pinched signs of untreated acne. Chad wore a sweaty faded T-shirt with the words “Island of LESBOS—Every Man’s Dream” across the chest. Cole thought he looked sweatier than his activity could have produced. As Chad got closer, Cole recognized the acrid stench of a methamphetamine user.
“This guy givin’ you trouble, Dad?” Chad said, trying to stand with a threatening posture.
“So, you must be Chad.”
“That’s right. Who are you?”
“He’s no one,” Christopher barked. “I think it’s time for you to leave.”
“Yeah, leave,” Chad echoed.
“How long you been a tweaker, kid?”
“You think you’re so smart. What makes you think I use meth?”
Allen Christopher looked from his son to the stranger in his backyard but didn’t speak.
“Well let’s see. Your skin looks like hamburger, your gums are swollen, you’re skin and bones, you smell like a chemical plant, and you’re sweating like it’s a hundred degrees out here. Should we look for tracks, tin foil and lighter, or bags of pills?”
“Chad, what is he talking about?”
“Shut up. Who are you, anyway?” Chad shouted.
Across the lawn came Ann. She must have taken after her mother. She was neither tall nor slim like her father. Ann was no more than five-two and about 50 pounds overweight. Her tank top was too small, and the top of her sweat pants was rolled down, exposing a flabby belly like the white underside of a fish. She had small breasts, and her stomach protruded beyond them. Unlike her brother, she had clear, smooth skin and a nice color. Her eyes were light brown, almost golden. When she reached them, she planted her feet, and folded her arms across her chest, where they seemed to rest on her belly.
“What’s going on?” Ann said, nervously uncrossing arms and pushing her hair behind her ears with both hands.
“Hello, Ann. My name is Cole Sage, and I’m talking to your father about your mother and her condition.”
“My mother’s dead!”
“He’s referring to Ellen.” Christopher still seemed stunned from Cole’s exchange with Chad.
“She’s not my mother!” Ann said angrily.
“Ellie is an old friend of mine, Ann.”
“I want you off my property. Now!” Christopher shouted.
Cole reached up and took Christopher by the collar. He twisted the shirt around his hand until he was sure he had Christopher’s attention. Christopher grabbed Cole’s wrist but then released it when he looked into Cole’s eyes.
Chad immediately dropped to his knees and sat cross-legged on the grass. He had a noticeable twitch in his right cheek.
“Are you going to behave and listen to what I have to say?”
“Just don’t hurt my children.”
Cole laughed. “It’s your ass I’m about to kick, but nice sentiment anyway.”
Christopher nodded. Cole released his shirt.
“I came here,” Cole began, “because a dear friend of mine said she was in trouble. How she ever got tangled up with you three, I will never understand. She wanted my help, and now I see why. I will help her any way I can. First, I want to know where Erin is.”
“I don’t know.” Christopher spoke first.
“Not good enough.”
“Who cares about that stuck-up little bitch?” Ann snarled.
“I do and her mother does. Do you know where she is?”
“Hell, I hope,” Ann sneered.
Chad chuckled. “Good one.”
“How about you, zit face? You know where she is?”
Chad started to get up until he saw the look Cole was giving him. Then he twisted, pulled at the grass and re-crossed his legs. “I don’t care where she is.”
“I don’t even know her, but somehow I think she is very lucky.” Cole shook his head in disgust. “You had Ellie sign a power of attorney when she got sick. She wants it back,” Cole said looking straight into Christopher’s eyes. “She’s going to seek legal counsel to help straighten out her affairs,” Cole bluffed.
“And you think I’ll hand it to you?”
“Could save you a lot of money and trouble.”
“She has nothing.”
“California law says she owns half of the proceeds from the house you sold. So, I guess that means this one, too.”
“Without my support, they would’ve put her in County Hospital. She’d be a
“And you would let that happen?”
“I have my family to look out for.”
“She’s no longer part of your family?” Cole said in amazement.
“She chose to go to the nursing home. She—”
Cole suddenly whipped the back of his hand across Christopher’s face with all his strength. “Next time you lie to me, it will be my fist. Your treatment of Ellie is, is—” Cole couldn’t think of a strong-enough comparison. “She gets sick, you dump her in a home. Hell is too good for you.”
“Not that I owe you an explanation,” Christopher began, “but I work hard for my money. It is my money and I will spend it how, and on whom, I choose. Ellen made her choice. I took her in. I gave her a home, and her spoiled brat, too. She’s not even my kid. With everything I’d done for her, she chose Erin over me and my children. After that, I had no desire for her, no need for her. Frankly, what happens to her now is not my concern. I’ve let her stay on my insurance and haven’t divorced her, just out of pity. If she wants to play the ingrate, I’ll cut her off without a cent. Do you have any idea what it costs to care for her?”
“And Erin’s inheritance? How do you justify that? It’s from her grandparents, and as you so plainly admit, no relations of yours. You need to give up power of attorney. You are on dangerous ground here.”
“This is none of your business.”
“I’ve made it my business. Hear me and hear me well: I am not a sick woman confined to a wheelchair. I have little in life that matters to me more than those I love and who need my help. If you do anything to harm Ellie or make her life unpleasant, you will answer to me. God help you if you put me in that position. Am I clear?”
“Are you threatening me?” Christopher glared.
“I am promising you.”
About the Author
Micheal Maxwell was taught the beauty and majesty of the English language by Bob Dylan, Robertson Davies, Charles Dickens and Leonard Cohen.
Mr. Maxwell has traveled the globe, dined with politicians, rock stars and beggars. He has rubbed shoulders with priests and murderers, surgeons and drug dealers, each one giving him a part of themselves that will live again in the pages of his books.
Micheal Maxwell has found a niche in the mystery, suspense, genre with The Cole Sage Series that gives readers an everyman hero, short on vices, long on compassion, and a sense of fair play, and the willingness to risk everything to right wrongs. Maxwell is committed to writing a clean, character driven, mysteries series with lots of twist, turns, and heart.
The Cole Sage Series departs from the usual, heavily sexual, profanity laced norm and gives readers a character driven stories, with twists, turns, and page turning plot lines.
Micheal Maxwell writes from a life of love, music, film, and literature. Along with his lovely wife and travel partner, Janet, he divides his time between the Central Valley and Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
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