Meet the Characters of The Cartel: Marco Toscano

From Chapter 1:

He looked exactly like you’d expect a cop named Marco Toscano to look. He was a six-foot, four-inch, barrel-chested, 270-pound mean motherfucker who, at 41, could still bench 475 on a good day.

The CartelHis head was shaved clean except for a thick goatee. The cord for his earpiece snaked behind his ear and down under the collar of his waist-length winter duty coat, the bulky inner liner making him seem even more massive than he actually was. The spiral cord went all the way down the inside of his coat to the Motorola portable radio that hung on the thick, black utility belt that hung around his expanding waistline and still shined like the day he’d bought it.

Sticking out from under the elastic band of his heavy winter coat was an array of tools he loved to use on drunken frat boys as much as Mexican drug dealers. Instead of the telescoping titanium rods that most cops like to carry nowadays, Marco preferred an old-school Billy club.

“Nothing like the sound of wood on skull,” he used to say with a smirk.

While that may seem like harsh language from a guy who’s supposed to protect and serve the public – all of the public – the truth was that Marco Toscano divided the world into two very distinct camps: good guys and bad guys.

The good guys – friends, neighbors, strangers in trouble – he treated like they were his own family. When Mrs. Bernardi, who’d been the fifth-grade math teacher at Oak Terrace Elementary School for as long as anyone could remember, was diagnosed with cancer and didn’t have a ride to her chemo treatments, Marco made sure that she got there, whether it meant taking her himself in the squad car when he was on duty, or driving into Highwood on his day off and taking her in his own car. When St. James Catholic Church needed help with something – the annual rummage sale, the food pantry, or hanging Christmas decorations – Marco Toscano was always there.

The bad guys, well…they were a little different. Hanging on the left side of his utility belt was a 7.8-million-volt Terminator stun gun, the most powerful model available. Snug to his right side was a nickel-plated Kimber .45, hammer back, safety on. With one click, he was ready to unload the full 8-round clip of hollow points into anyone who fucked with him.

Marco hadn’t fired his gun in 15 years on the job; mostly because one look at him and people knew not to mess with him. Even the hard cases – the career criminals who took the Metra train down to Highwood from North Chicago and Waukegan for a little midday B&E to feed their drug habit – were scared to death of him. Even if they’d never been to Highwood, they all knew the name Marco Toscano. If the train pulled into the Highwood Metra station and they saw him sitting in his prowl car or writing tickets in the parking lot, they wouldn’t even get off. They’d stay on the train for four or five more stops and get off in Wilmette or Winnetka, where they knew the cops weren’t as tough as Marco Toscano.


“The Cartel” is Wall Street Journal writer Mark Yost’s second installment in the critically acclaimed Nick Mattera Series. In the first book, “Soft Target,” former Marine EOD Tech turned Firefighter Nick Mattera and his crew from Station 37 took on a pair of Islamic extremists who opened up a whole new front in the War on Terror on the North Shore of Chicago.

In “The Cartel,” Mattera and his crew face a whole new enemy: Manny Banuelos is the head of the Sinaloa Cartel, one of the world’s most-powerful, drug-trafficking organization. In a ripped-from-the-headlines story, Manny and his gang don’t just go away when a newly elected Libertarian U.S. President legalizes marijuana. Instead, they fight back, sabotaging government labs, blackmailing executives, and hatching a plan to control the world-wide drug trade. The only thing that stands in their way is Nick Mattera and his brave crew of firefighters, who are caught in the middle of this bloody turf war that’s erupted in the neighborhood around their firehouse.

In addition to being a writer for The Wall Street Journal for more than 20 years, Mark Yost is also a part-time firefighter/paramedic on the North Shore of Chicago. “The Cartel’s” riveting story is punctuated with an unrivaled behind-the-scenes look at the calls and characters that make life interesting inside a busy urban firehouse. Add in a steamy love triangle, a crooked pharmaceutical CEO, and an Italian mob boss, and “The Cartel” is a fast-paced thriller that you won’t be able to put down.

About Mark Yost
Mark Yost is the author of the Rick Crane Noir series, published by Stay Thirsty Press. Rick Crane is the classic, anti-hero private eye in the spirit of Sam Spade and Jim Rockford. He works in the unmistakably noirish underworld of Upstate New York, running errands and fixing problems for Jimmy Ricchiati Sr., one of Upstate New York's most notorious crime bosses. But readers quickly learn that deep down, Rick Crane is one of the good guys. "Cooper's Daughter," the first book in the widely acclaimed series, is a fast-moving tale in which a heartbroken father comes to Rick and asks him to find out what really happened to his daughter, who was murdered and the details buried in the Unsolved Crimes File of the local police department. The second book in the series is "Jimmy's Nephew," which begins with the death of Joey "Boom Boom" Bonadeo, an up-and-coming boxer and the nephew of Rick's underworld boss. What starts out as a routine investigation turns into a case that will test Rick's faith -- in the Catholic Church and his fellow man. Book No. 3 in the series, "Mary's Fate" is due out in August 2015. Mark Yost also writes for The Wall Street Journal Arts in Review page, as well as the Book Review section. He is a member of the Mystery Writers of America -- Midwest Chapter, International Thriller Writers, and a number of other author groups. He is also a member of the Amazon Author's Program. Mark lives in the Loyola neighborhood of Chicago, but he and his son, George, call the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn "home."

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