Overview - HARRY SHALAN has waited for three months to hear from his wife DEANNA, who went away to decide if she could deal with the dangerous nature of his job as a private detective. Unfortunately, on the morning she finally calls, he's involved in an attempted murder-of which he's the intended victim. Read more...
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More About Harsh Prey by Joe Stephens
HARRY SHALAN has waited for three months to hear from his wife DEANNA, who went away to decide if she could deal with the dangerous nature of his job as a private detective. Unfortunately, on the morning she finally calls, he's involved in an attempted murder-of which he's the intended victim. With the help of his neighbor, Harry thwarts the bad guys, one of whom indicates the hit was put out by JOHNNY TUTTLE, one of his oldest and dearest friends. This sends Harry on the hunt to find out if the accusation made by the hit man is true, and if so, what could possibly have motivated his mentor to want him dead. Before Harry can get out of town, Deanna reappears. After a long discussion and a few other extracurricular activities, Harry offers to give up his job, but Deanna concedes that for him to do that would be to give up being the man she fell in love with. She would rather live with the fear of losing him than live with herself knowing she had allowed him to stop being the hero he was born to be. Harry drives to Chicago to search for Johnny Tuttle. Deanna plans to fly out the next day and join Harry. She doesn't make it, though, as she is kidnapped. BERNHARD STULTZ, one of her captors, is a dark version of Harry himself, although the version of the chivalric code by which he governs his life varies somewhat from Harry's. Regardless, Stultz agrees to free Deanna in exchange for a promise from Harry that he will drop the search for Tuttle. Finally back in each other's arms, Deanna and Harry decide the best way to cope with the danger of Harry's profession is to share it, so they become private eye partners. Fast forward five months. Harry and Deanna are enjoying Thanksgiving dinner at his parents' house when Harry finds he has several missed calls and some ominous voicemails from Tuttle. A cop friend informs Harry and Deanna that the calls have originated from a cell near the Shalans' house, so Deanna and Harry, hoping to save Johnny, hike home through a freak snowstorm. They find him hiding there, exhausted and injured. He weaves a chilling tale of how, several years earlier, with a seemingly innocent ten dollar bet, Johnny lit a fire of gambling addiction that took months to quench. By the time he got control of himself again, he'd gambled away his entire life savings and allowed himself to become hopelessly in debt to his mob-connected bookie. The next morning, Harry awakes to find that Bernhard Stultz has reappeared. Knowing that Stultz lives by his own code, Harry encourages Johnny to tell his story in the hopes that the hit man will see the injustice of taking Johnny and his wife back to face certain death at the hands of Stultz' boss, Merton Bell. Harry's instincts are right, and Stultz agrees to appeal to Bell on Johnny's behalf. In the meantime, Harry, Deanna, and Johnny, along with Johnny's wife Lilith, go on the run. But no matter how hard they work to cover their tracks, it seems that Bell's men are waiting for them. Eventually, Harry and Deanna begin to suspect that Lilith is hiding something. Their fears are confirmed when Lilith suddenly disappears, leaving behind evidence that she has not only been in touch with Bell, but has been carrying on an affair with him. Johnny, unhinged by this revelation, bolts from Harry and Deanna back to Chicago to get back the woman he loves. Harry and Deanna rush to Bell's home to find Johnny Tuttle and Merton Bell in a standoff with Bell holding Lilith hostage. Harry and Deanna step in, but an unexpected turn of events leaves Harry clinging to life and Deanna praying for a miracle.