"It's a fast-paced mystery/thriller... A Tom Clancy-like affair, with billions of dollars at stake... A perfect read for a hot summer day at the beach, one that may keep you awake far into the evening..."

— The SandPaper

Cold Rolled Dead

A Novel

By Paul D'Ambrosio

A page-turner... Cold Rolled Dead is both compelling entertainment and a warning to keep our eyes on our public officials."
— Asbury Park Press

6x9” HC, 281 pp.
ISBN-13 978-1-59322-035-8

"Paul D'Ambrosio's hard-boiled novel...surely is an exciting first novel...[with a] narrative that makes The Godfather seem quaint and naive...it will keep you in suspense and you'll be surprised at the twists and double-crossing, the blackmail and treachery that are at the heart of this novel... If you can't get it for a beach-read, get it for a winter-read!"

—The Beachcomber




The body wore steel.

It’s the perfect seaside resort. Pristine sand, mansions galore and, oh yes, that pesky guy stuffed into a 55-gallon drum on the beach. No face, no fingerprints — all have been burned away. It’s enough to ruin Detective Matt Forge’s already miserable day. 

 In a first novel by veteran investigative reporter Paul D’Ambrosio, the New Jersey Shore and the Garden State’s reputation for corrupt politics and organized crime set the scene for a bizarre local murder that leads detectives into a world of global financial crime.

 Cold Rolled Dead is a dark, gritty and occasionally wry look at a murder that takes Forge deep into the underbelly of modern-day political corruption — a place where high-stakes power grabs have supplanted cash bribes. Forge soon finds himself in a race against time to unravel an international, billion-dollar land scheme that reaches to the highest levels of government.

 In a fast paced story, the author, a highly honored editor and reporter, applies his understanding of how political campaign laws are abused and skirted, of the New Jersey criminal underworld, and how money greases the many wheels of power. The author’s tech-savvy grasp of cutting-edge computer software, the latest in high-tech crime fighting tools and sophisticated digital security gadgets gives the book an of-the-moment vérité.

 Set on New Jersey’s summer Shore, the novel takes in all of the landscape — from the geographical (the resort beaches of Long Beach Island, the backwaters, and the Pine Barrens) — to the political and criminal. The story is a thrilling three-day ride that can only end, fittingly, by a historic lighthouse under Fourth of July fireworks.


The blowtorch unit was an effective device not only for human erasures, but changing reluctant minds. She had devised a small, mobile two-tank unit on wheels for those hard to reach jobs in odd places. Who needs prolonged beatings and threats when you have this at your side, she thought. Light the flame, let the guy get a good look at its hot tip and his mind will fill in the blanks. If he still didn’t see it your way, well, there was still the flame.

Consolina carefully unwound the double red rubber hoses from their holder. She turned the oxy-acetylene fed nozzle from a slow standby burn to its full force. It’s color instantly changed from a bright orange to a brilliant, almost colorless blue.

“I’m sorry, honey,” she said over the shrill hiss of the fire as she flipped the safety goggles slowly over her eyes. “But this is going to hurt very, very much.”


Grant turned his talent for gab into politics. Out of boredom from retirement, he had joined former Gov. Baylock’s reelection effort as a local fundraiser. His first foray into the grip-and-grin parties of the ward’s elite proved so lucrative for the party he was soon promoted to regional fundraiser.

Here he quickly learned the political trait of trading. In between embellished Army stories and backslapping donors as if they were long-lost buddies, Grant found that businessmen wanted something in return for as little as a $500 campaign contribution.

“Can I meet the governor?”

“Will I be invited to the Governor’s Ball?”

“I want to talk to the governor about a project of mine.”

The demands all sounded the same after a while. But Grant found the more he said yes, the more money he could extract from them. And the more money the party would kickback to him as a “finder’s fee.”

With a little coaching from the top fundraisers in the party, Grant developed his own silky way to woo a wavering donor.

“I’ve known this governor for many, many years,” Grant would lie. “The governor is a man of his word, and a man who appreciates his friends. If you can find your way to stand side-by-side with him in his reelection effort, I know he will find a way to repay your loyalty.”

Grant had his set fees: $1,000 would get you a telephone call from an aide. $10,000 will entitle you to one meeting with a cabinet level official in the department of your choice; $40,000 will get you in the room with the governor, usually with other donors vying for his undivided attention. And a $100,000 check to the party, with a separate $5,000 cash payment to Grant for his facilitator duties, will get you just about anything you wanted.

The mist was heavy this morning as they fought the chill from the damp air. Matty’s father held his son close as the elder one sipped hot coffee from a thermos cup.

Do you see them, Matty?” his father asked his seven-year-old son.

No, dad. Where are they?

They’ll be out there. They haven’t moved all winter. I don’t think they are in the mood to move now,” his father said.

Matty stared into the mist for a long time.

There,” Matty shouted. “It’s there.

In the distance, Matty pointed to a faint blinking green light of a channel buoy that marked the outer limits of the deeper waterway. It was the main highway for boat traffic, and the best way to determine your place in a foggy bay.

“Do you see the next one? Do you see the next marker?

No, dad. Where is it?

It’s out there. You know these waters. Just imagine drawing a straight line from us to the green buoy. Do you see it, do you see it?

No, I don’t see it…Wait, I think I see the red one.

Yes, Matty you got it. Remember, you will never get lost if you follow the markers.


“Ready to see the magic?” Singh said.

He twisted off the top of the bottle of liquid cyanoacrylate, quickly filled a small reservoir at the top of the blower and shut the cover. On the blower, he flicked another switch that said simply “Heat.” Within seconds a small mist of white smoke poured from the tube into the tent.

Forge watched as the acrylic fog moved into every spot of the twisted corpse. The smoke soon covered the entire body, making it nearly invisible to the observers. Singh, who was timing the smoking on his watch, flicked off the heat switch. Within seconds the white smoke vanished, revealing a body covered in a microscopic thin and eerie layer of white crystals.

“Awesome,” Singh said to no one in particular. “You just never get used to seeing this.”


 Copyright © 2007 Paul D’Ambrosio and Down The Shore Publishing Corp. All Rights Reserved.


Paul D'Ambrosio is the Investigations Editor for the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, one of the largest newspapers in Gannett Co. Inc. A highly respected investigative journalist, he is a 2010 Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal finalist and one of the most honored newspaper writers in the nation, having won many national journalism writing awards, defeating the best work from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.

His work has led to the exposé of corrupt political deals, crooked military contractors, dangerous doctors, faulty hospitals, land scammers and government waste. Several long-time New Jersey politicians have lost re-election because of D'Ambrosio’s work, which has been credited with igniting an ethics reform movement in New Jersey — deemed “the most corrupt state in the nation” by the district’s U.S. Attorney. His work has directly led to the passage of 23 New Jersey government ethics laws, and the state’s open public records law.

During his 25-year career, D'Ambrosio has covered more than 100 homicides and numerous criminal court cases. He is a nationally known expert in a branch of journalism called Computer-Assisted Reporting, which uses sophisticated computer programs to identify government corruption and waste. He has lectured about investigative reporting at national conferences as well as at Harvard, Syracuse University and the University of Southern California.

Among his awards are the prestigious Selden Ring Award for Investigative Reporting (the richest prize given for investigative reporting), National Press Club Awards, Scripps Howard Public Service Award and the National Headliner Award for Public Service.

He lives in southern New Jersey with his wife and two sons. Cold Rolled Dead is his first book.

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