A Christmas Killing

A Story


By Richard Montanari

Formats and Prices




$2.99 CAD


ebook (Digital original)


ebook (Digital original) $1.99 $2.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around November 10, 2015. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

Meet Detective Kevin Byrne, rising star of the Philadelphia police force. Christmas Eve, 1988: Partnered with streetwise veteran Frankie Sheehan, Byrne is called to investigate the brutal assault of a young woman in a crime-ridden neighborhood, The Devil’s Pocket.

There, with the rest of the city hunkered down in their holiday celebrations, relentless rookie Byrne must step out from his partner’s shadow to outwit a terrifying predator. It’s the beginning of a long career for Byrne, who will revisit the same vicious streets in Richard Montanari’s beloved Byrne and Balzano series. “A Christmas Killing” is a short story that includes an excerpt from Richard Montanari’s terrifying Byrne and Balzano novel, Shutter Man.


Begin Reading

A Preview of Shutter Man

Table of Contents


Copyright Page

A Christmas Killing

The first time Detective Kevin Francis Byrne heard a reggae version of “The Little Drummer Boy” he was standing next to a pool of blood.

Each subsequent Christmas, whenever he heard any version of the song, it would remind him of this night—the gouache of lights on the street seen through the fogged windows, the mélange of long-boiled coffee and powdered sugar, the tang of road salt.

The heart of the memory, the shadow that crossed his dreams, was the young woman.

It was her blood.

It was Christmas Eve.


Since becoming a gold badge Detective Kevin Byrne had become known, division-wide, as a comer. As much as he shunned the limelight, he could find no argument against it. In the past year he had closed a number of mid- to high-profile cases, had twice made the newspapers, had twice stood behind both the commissioner and the mayor on TV.

Byrne knew that this reputation was partly due—in great part, he would tell anyone interested—to his being teamed with a lifer named Frankie Sheehan. Sheehan was a Two-Streeter in his late fifties, a family man who got married his senior year in high school, an outdoorsman who tied marabou jig lures in his spare time, sold them, and donated the proceeds to the Police Athletic League.

The running joke was that Francis Xavier Sheehan had been a cop so long that his badge number was in Roman numerals.

But now, in this brightly lit bodega, he looked every minute of his fifty-nine years. Maybe more. Sheehan had dropped twenty pounds in the past six months; his skin was sallow and soft, had a yellowish cast; his suit coats seemed to drape over his broad shoulders.

Byrne knew the man well, but not brother-cop well, not yet, not well enough to inquire after the man’s health in any late-night, last-call detail. He wanted to, but hadn’t yet found the moment.

Tonight felt like the right time. He would ask.

But first there was this job.


Byrne skirted the blood on the floor. Five big droplets near the front door of the convenience store, a pool near the end cap of a rack of bagged candy. The victim had begun to bleed out there.

Byrne checked his notes, a short summary compiled from what his supervisor had gleaned from the responding patrol officer’s report.

According to the store’s counter man, one Marko Tarasenko, the victim, a woman in her twenties, had entered the store—a small food market near the corner of Christian and Stillman Streets—at approximately eight pm, made a purchase, then left. Approximately five minutes later she returned, reentered the store, her face covered in blood. Just inside the door, without saying a word, she collapsed.


  • Praise for Richard Montanari:

"A master storyteller. Be prepared to stay up all night."—James Ellroy
  • "Montanari weaves a mesmerizing tale."—Lisa Gardner
  • On Sale
    Nov 10, 2015
    Page Count
    22 pages
    Mulholland Books

    Richard Montanari

    About the Author

    Richard Montanari is the internationally bestselling author of The Stolen Ones, The Echo Man, The Devil’s Garden, Badlands, The Rosary Girls, The Skin Gods, Merciless, and more. He lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Learn more about this author