Authors: Leslie Parrish
Table of Contents
“A romantic suspense genius.”
—Reader to Reader Reviews
PRAISE FOR THE NOVELS OF LESLIE
“Fresh, exciting, truly thril ing romantic suspense . . . the Extrasensory Agents
series delivers outstanding paranormal intrigue from a sharp, creative new
voice in the genre.”
New York Times
bestsel ing author of the Midnight Breed
“Wel -written, guaranteed to keep readers on the edge of their seat. Fil ed with
many plot twists, readers are going to have a tough time putting this one
“This story is action-packed and the romance is just right. Ms. Parrish has
written a story that wil hold your attention from the first page and keep it until
the last word is read. Her characters seem so real that they wil draw you into
—Night Owl Romance
“This is an entertaining paranormal whodunit starring an intrepid reporter and
a man with telemetric extrasensory psychometric abilities.”
—Genre Go Round Reviews
“Dark, emotional y compel ing romantic suspense with a light paranormal
element. I opened this book and didn’t close it again until the last page had
“Parrish blends her suspense and paranormal elements wel , and I found this
dark thril er immensely addictive . . . romantic suspense with an edge to it.”
—Al About Romance
“The only cold thing about this witty, steamy, and total y engrossing novel is the
high-powered air conditioner you’l need to sit under while reading it . . . a
—Romance Novel News
Black at Heart
“Dark, edgy, fantastic romantic suspense that readers and reviewers al over
the Web are buzzing about.”
—Al About Romance
“The emotional layers in this book, the descriptions, the plotting, the
characterizations are rich and satisfying.”
“Parrish’s Black CATs novels are taut, exciting, sweet, dark, and hot, al at the
—Errant Dreams Reviews
“The ultimate edge-of-your-seat thril er.”
“Parrish creates a heart-stomping story that takes you to the edge of your
—The Romance Readers Connection
Fade to Black
“Compel ing hold-your-breath romantic suspense with one of the most
chil ingly evil vil ains I’ve ever read.”
New York Times
bestsel ing author JoAnn Ross
“Al in al ,
Fade to Black
“A trifecta of good romantic suspense: good characters, good romance, and
—Al About Romance
“Dark suspense, sexy heroes, fiendish vil ains, and fantastic writing.”
—Roxanne St. Claire, award-winning author of
Edge of Sight
ALSO BY LESLIE PARRISH
THE BLACK CATS NOVELS
Fade to Black
Black at Heart
Please visit http://www.Demonoid.me for more books from our generous members.
Published by New American Library, a division of
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First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group
First Printing, July 2011
Copyright © Leslie Kel y, 2011
copyright © Leslie Kelly, 2010
All rights reserved
ISBN : 978-1-101-51643-0
SIGNET ECLIPSE and logo are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be
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permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the
author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or
dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or
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copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
To Caitlin—thanks for your invaluable help in keeping me on track with
these books. Oh, and thanks for being such a wonderful daughter, too!
And to my editor, Laura Cifelli—thank you so much for challenging me to
expand my writing into the world of the paranormal. I’ve loved working on
this series and would never have attempted it without your encouragement
Sincere thanks to Julie, Janel e and Karen, who, as always, were there to help
me untangle my big bal of plot at a moment’s notice. And to Bruce, who was
always standing by as my sounding board.
Thanks also to Googlemaps for giving me the amazing ability to walk the
streets my characters walked.
Though this story is set in the real—and lovely—city of Savannah, I have
taken some liberties with its history, politics, topography and geography for
the purposes of this story. Thanks for understanding.
“He’s gonna kil you.”
The boy’s voice shook with both sadness and fear. And with those four
whispered words, Olivia Wainwright’s faint hope of survival disappeared.
The boy, Jack, was he a victim, too? She wasn’t sure. She only knew that
during the three terrifying days she’d been tied up in this hot, miserable barn,
his sharp, angular face was the only one she’d seen. She’d caught brief
glimpses of him in the shadows when he shuffled in to bring her water or
sometimes a handful of stale nuts that she suspected he wasn’t supposed to
share. Once, he’d even come close enough to loosen the ropes on her wrists
and ankles a little, so at least she had some circulation again.
But he hadn’t let her go. No matter how much she’d begged.
He was a couple of years younger than her, twelve or thirteen, maybe.
Skinny, pale, with sunken cheeks and deep-set eyes. While he was free to go
in and out, she suspected he was a victim, too—of abuse, at the very least.
The kid looked beaten down, his spirit crushed, al memories of happiness
Olivia began to shake, long shudders making her bound legs quiver and her
stomach heave. She’d eaten almost nothing for days, yet thought she’d be
This wasn’t supposed to happen. She’d tried so hard to be strong, to think
positively. Her parents loved her, and they had a lot of money. Of course they’d
pay the ransom. She’d told herself it would al be okay. But it wouldn’t be okay.
Not ever again.
“When?” she final y asked, dread making the word hard to push from her
“Once he makes sure they paid the ransom money.”
“If they’re paying the money, why is he going to kil me?” she asked, the
words sounding so strange in her ears. God, she was fifteen years old; the
very idea that she would be asking questions about her own murder had never
once crossed her mind.
Four days ago she’d been a slightly spoiled, happy teenager looking
forward to getting her driver’s license and wondering how much begging it
would take to get her overindulgent parents to buy her a Jeep.
Now she was wondering how many minutes she had left on this earth. She
could hear a clock ticking away in her mind, each tick marking one less
second of her life.
“He don’t want any witnesses.” Jack leaned back against the old plank-
“He don’t want any witnesses.” Jack leaned back against the old plank-
board wal and slid down it, like he couldn’t hold himself up anymore. He sat
hunched on the backs of his bent legs, watching her. A shaft of moonlight
bursting through a broken slat high up in the barn wal shone a spotlight on his
bony face. Tear tracks had cleared a path through the grime on his bruised
cheeks, and his lips—swol en, bloodied—quivered. “He’s afraid you can
“I can’t! I never even saw his face.”
That was true. She’d never gotten a glimpse of the man who’d grabbed her
from her own bedroom. Liv had awakened from a sound sleep to find a pil ow
slapped over her face, a hateful male voice hissing at her not to scream or
he’d shoot her and her sister, whose room was right next door. Their parents’
room was on the other side of the huge house, and Liv didn’t doubt that the
man would be able to make good on his threat before anyone could get to
A minute later, any chance of screaming had been taken from her. He’d hit
her hard enough to knock her out. By the time she’d awakened, she was
already inside this old abandoned barn. Jack was the only living soul she’d
seen or heard since.
“Let me go,” she urged.
He shook his head, repeating, “I’m sorry.”
“Please, Jack. You can’t let this happen.”
“There’s nothin’ I can do.”
“Just untie me and give me a chance to run away.”
“He’l find you,” he said. “Then he’l kil us both.” His voice was low, his tone
sounding almost robotic. Like he’d heard the threat so many times it had
become ingrained in his head.
“When did he take you?” she asked, suddenly certain this boy was a
captive as wel .
“Take me?” Jack stared at her, his brown eyes flat and lifeless. “Whaddya
“He kidnapped you, too, didn’t he?”
“Dunno.” Jack slowly shook his head. “I’ve been with him forever.”
“Is he your father?” she persisted.
Jack didn’t respond, though whether it was because he didn’t know or
didn’t want to say, she couldn’t be sure.
“Do you have a mother?”
“Look, whoever he is, you have to get away from him.
have to get away.”
She tried to scoot closer, though her legs—numb from being bound—didn’t
want to cooperate. She managed no more than a few inches before fal ing
onto her side, remnants of dry, dirty old hay scratching her cheek. “Come with
me. Untie me and we’l both run.”
run on her barely functional legs.
She thrust that worry away. If it meant saving her life, hel , she’d crawl.
“I can’t,” he replied, looking down at her from a few feet away. His hand
rose, like he wanted to reach out and touch her, to help her sit up. Then he
dropped it back onto his lap, as if he was used to having his hand slapped if
he ever dared to raise it.
“Yes, you can! My parents wil help you. They’l be so grateful.”
Again that robotic voice. Like the kid was brainwashed. If he’d been a
prisoner for so long he didn’t remember any other life, she supposed he
He reached into the pocket of his tattered jeans, pul ing out two smal pil s.
“Here,” he said. “I swiped ’em from the floor in his room. He musta dropped
’em. I think they’l make you sleep, so maybe it won’t hurt.”
A sob rose from deep inside her, catching in the middle of her throat,
choking and desperate. “How wil he do it?”
The boy sniffled. “I dunno.”
“Not a knife,” she cried, panic rising fast. “Oh, please God, don’t let him cut
She hated knives. In every horror movie she’d ever seen, it was the gleam
of light shining on the sharp, silvery edge of a blade that made her throw her
hands over her eyes or just turn off the TV.
“He don’t use a knife, not usual y,” Jack said.
His consoling reply didn’t distract her from the implication: She wouldn’t be
the first person to die at her kidnapper’s hands. He’d kil ed before. And this
boy had witnessed those kil ings.
“Don’t let this happen, Jack, please.” Tears poured out of her eyes as she
twisted and struggled against the ropes. “Don’t let him hurt me.”
“Take the pil s,” he said, his tears streaming as hard as hers. “Just take ’em.
“You should have brought the whole bottle,” she said, hearing her own
bitterness and desperation.
“If I could get to a whole bottle, I woulda swal owed’em myself a long time
That haunted voice suddenly sounded so adult, so broken. The voice of
someone who’d considered suicide every day of his young life. What horrors
must he have endured to embrace the thought of death so easily?
It was his sheer hopelessness that made her realize she
hope. She was terrified out of her mind and didn’t want to die, didn’t want to
feel the pain of death—
oh, God, not a knife
—but she wasn’t ready to give up,
either. No matter what she’d said, if he had a bottle of pil s in his hand, she
didn’t think she would swal ow them, not even now with death bearing down on
her like a car heading for a cliff.
She wanted to live.
“Where you at, boy?” a voice bel owed from outside.
Jack leapt to his feet, his sadness disappearing as utter terror swept over
him. That terror jumped from his body into hers, and Olivia struggled harder
against the ropes. Like an animal caught in a trap, she could almost smel her
own extermination barreling toward her.
She tried to keep her head. Tried to think.
If her captor didn’t know the boy had warned her, maybe he’d let his guard
down. Maybe she could get him to untie her, maybe she could run. . . .
Or maybe she real y was about to die.
“Please,” she whispered, knowing Jack wanted to help her. But his fear won
out; he didn’t even seem to hear her plea. He had already begun to climb over
the side wal of the stal , fal ing into the next one with a muffled grunt.
No sooner had he gone than the barn door flew open with a crash. Heavy
footsteps approached, ominous and violent like the powerful thudding of her
Through the worn slats, she could see Jack lying in the next stal ,
motionless, watching her. She pleaded with her eyes, but he didn’t respond in
any way. It seemed as though the real boy had retreated somewhere deep
inside a safe place in his mind, and only the shel of a human being remained.
Her kidnapper reached the entrance to the stal . Stil lying on her side, Olivia
first saw his ugly, thick-soled boots. She slowly looked up, noted faded jeans
pul ed tight over thick, squat legs, but before she could tilt her head back to
see the rest, something heavy and scratchy—a horse blanket, she suspected
—landed on her face, obscuring her vision.
Confusion made her whimper and her heart, already racing, tripped in her
chest. She trembled with fear, yes. But there was something more.
He didn’t want her to see him. Which meant he might have changed his
mind. Maybe he knew she couldn’t identify him, and he was going to let her
“Up you go, girl,” he said, grabbing her by her hair and yanking her to her
feet, holding the smal blanket in place. He pressed in behind her, and she
almost gagged. The cloth over her head wasn’t thick enough to block the
sweaty reek of his body or his sour breath—the same smel s she’d forever
associate with being startled awake in the night.
Please, God, let there be more than just tonight.
“Looks like your Mama and Daddy ain’t sick’a you yet. They’re paying over
a lot of money to get you back.”
“You’re going to let me go?” she managed to whisper, hope blossoming.
“Sure I am, sugar,” he said with a hoarse, ugly laugh.
Olivia forced herself to ignore that mean laugh and al owed relief and
happiness to flood through her. She breathed deeply, then mumbled, “Thank
God. Oh, thank you, God.”
Ignoring her, he kicked at her bare feet so she’d start moving. She stumbled
on numb legs, and he had to support her as they trudged out of the stal —her
shuffling because of the rope. His grip on her hair and a thick arm around her
waist kept her upright as they walked outside into the hot Georgia night.
At least, she thought she was stil in Georgia. It smel ed like home, anyway.
Not even the musky odor of the fabric and her attacker’s stench could block
the scent of the night air, damp and thick and ripe like the woods outside of
Savannah after the rain.
Maybe she was stil in Savannah. Close to her own house, close to her
family. Minutes away from her father’s strong arms and her mother’s loving
Despite everything—her fears, the boy’s claims—she was going to see
Suddenly, he stopped. “Where you been at?”
A furtive movement came from nearby. Jack had apparently scurried out of
his hiding place. “Watchin’ the road.”
Suddenly, Olivia was overwhelmed with anger at the boy, fury that he’d
scared her, even more that he hadn’t helped her escape. Over the past few
days, there had been any number of times when he could have released her,
but he hadn’t done it.
Then, remembering the blank, dazed expression, the robotic voice, she
forced the anger away. He was a little kid who’d been in this monster’s grip for
a whole lot longer than three days. She couldn’t imagine what he had endured.
Once she got home, she was going to do what she could for him. Help him get
free, find out who his people were. She had to; otherwise that blank, haunted
stare and bruised face would torment her for the rest of her life.
“Good. I’m gonna need your help in a li’l while. Once I take care of this, I
want you to get some plastic and rol her up good and tight to bury her. You
know what to do.”
And just like that, her fantasy popped. He wasn’t hauling her outside to let
her go. Jack had been right al along. Olivia shuddered, her weak legs giving
out beneath her as the world began to spin and the faces of her parents and
little sister flashed in her mind.
“Get me my hunting knife.”
Her every muscle went rigid with terror. A scream rose in her throat and
burst from her mouth. He clapped a hand over it, shoving the fabric between
her split lips. “Shut up, girl, or it’l go worse for ya.” Then, to the boy, he
snapped, “Wel ? Get goin’!”
“Knife’s broke,” Jack mumbled. “I was usin’ it to tighten up the hinges on the
barn door, and the blade snapped.”
Her kidnapper moved suddenly, the hand releasing her mouth. A sudden
thwack said he’d backhanded the boy. Jack didn’t cry out, didn’t stagger
away, as far as she could hear.
“What am I supposed to do now?” the man snapped.
Jack cleared his throat. For a second, she thought he had worked up the
courage to beg for her freedom, that he would try, however futilely, to stand up
Instead, in that same brainwashed voice, he made another suggestion. And
her last hope died.
“Why don’t you drown her?”
Pul ing into the gravel parking lot of a burned-out honky-tonk on Ogeechee
Road, Detective Gabe Cooper eyed his watch, then the temperature gauge
on the dash of his unmarked sedan. Six twenty-five a.m., eighty-two degrees.
Humidity about eighty percent.
It was gonna be a hel of a day. Or a day in hel . With any summer in
Savannah, there wasn’t much difference, and this August heat wave had
already been one for the record books. Not just for the high temps but also for
the crime rate. Because with heat came anger; with anger, violence. And,
more than anybody on the Savannah-Chatham Metro PD would like to admit,
that violence ended in death. Which was why he was here, outside what had
once been Fast Eddie’s Bar and was now one giant hunk of burnt.
Kil ing the engine, Gabe pushed his dark sunglasses firmly over his eyes,
then glanced out the window at a car that had just pul ed in beside him. His
partner, Ty Wal ace, had gotten the cal on his way in to the central precinct,
too, and had detoured to meet him on the scene.
Theirs weren’t the only vehicles present. The fire department had reportedly
gotten the cal at around three a.m., and it had taken crews from two stations
to beat the flames into submission. Now, the smoldering ruins of a once
troublesome hangout were ringed by a handful of trucks, a squad car, a fire
chief vehicle, and a crime scene van that said forensics was already on the
job. From up the block, an early-bird crew from one of the local news stations
ogled everything, hungry for a story to lead off the seven a.m. broadcast.
Fortunately, the few sad, ramshackle houses nearby remained quiet, either
abandoned, or their occupants were sound asleep, tired out after the middle-
of-thenight fire excitement. The only close neighbors likely to be attracted to
the action now would be watching from the afterlife: The North Laurel Grove
Cemetery cast its shadow of eerie-genteel Southern death over the entire
area from directly across the street.
From what he’d heard on dispatch, the initial cal had sounded like just
another random fire, possibly an arson case. The kind where some roughneck
got mad about being cut off, then flicked a match on a tank of propane and
roared away into the night. Then they’d found the body.
Too early to say who it was, how they’d died, or who’d lit the match. But
things had definitely gotten a lot stickier.
Stepping out of the car, he braced himself against an assault of pure heat
against his air-conditioned skin. A sheen of sweat immediately broke out on
his brow. The scorched air was sharp in his nose, the smoky embers leaving a
his brow. The scorched air was sharp in his nose, the smoky embers leaving a
haze that rose to meet the one fal ing from the humid sky. But even that didn’t
quite cover up the smel of old paper and damp cel ar that seemed to
permeate the state in August.
The keening screech of a mil ion cicadas deafened him for a moment.
Oblivious to man’s drama, the insects drowned out the chatter of the on-site
responders and the rumble of a city waking up to another steamy morning.
Summertime in Georgia. You had to love it ’cause you’d just go crazy hating
it. Never having lived anywhere else—he’d been raised on a farm less than a
hundred miles from here and had gone to community col ege, and then the
state university, SSU, right here in Savannah—he didn’t know how he’d react
if a summer day didn’t include sweat and haze and hot air in his lungs. And
bugs . . . Lord knows, you couldn’t forget the bugs.
“Beats some Northern city with ten feet of snow in the winter,” he reminded
himself. Besides, while Savannah might have cockroaches as big as his
hand, he wouldn’t trade them for dog-sized rats in someplace like New York.
Eyeing the smoke stil rising from the charred, blackened remains, he found
himself hoping this was an openand-shut kind of case—arson as revenge,
owner caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. He didn’t know if his
boiling brain was ready for much more than that this early, especial y with no
“Hey there, partner,” said Ty, who’d hopped out of his car with his typical
jaunty air. His freshly shaved head gleamed, and his light-colored suit was
crisp and fresh. As usual, the guy looked like he’d stepped off the cover of
Gabe, on the other hand, could maybe pose for
Field & Stream
on his very
best day. A suit-and-tie kinda guy he wasn’t, though, of course, he’d made the
tie concession since earning his shield three years ago.
“Lucky us—getting to work in the great outdoors this fine morning,” his
partner added. “One of the best parts of the job, isn’t it?”
“Cheery SOB,” Gabe muttered, knowing the man was trying to get a laugh
out of him.
“Broughtcha somethin’,” Ty said, lifting his hand to reveal a large, plastic cup
containing some beige Slurpeelike confection topped with whipped cream
and chocolate syrup that wouldn’t be consumed by any selfrespecting coffee
He grimaced. “No, thank you.”
“That’s mine.” Ty placed the drink on the car roof and bent back inside.
When he stood, he held a foam cup, the steam rising out of the tiny sippy hole
at the top.
Ahh. Perfect. His partner might have peacock genes, but he did know Gabe
wel . Didn’t matter if the heat index was two below molten lava, he needed his
coffee hot and dark to start the day. “Thanks. You’re forgiven for sticking me
with the report on the liquor store holdup so you could go out with that tranny
you met at the racetrack.”
Always good-humored, Ty grinned. “She was al woman, partner. Just big
Gabe knew that; he’d just been giving his partner shit. Ty was purely
straight. The younger man loved women, probably a little too much,
considering how many different ones seemed to drift in and out of his life.
Gabe had been warning him that one day he was either gonna get the Bobbitt
treatment, or else he’d fal crazy in love, for real, with a woman who wouldn’t let
him touch a hair on her head.
Watching him take a sip, Ty gave him a sly look and asked, “So, whaddya
say? Is it strong enough to float an anvil?”
Gabe chuckled. One thing he had to say for his young partner, he sure was
tenacious. Ty had picked up some book of Southern expressions and was
forever trying them out. He had moved here from Florida, which any Georgian
would tel you was about as much a part of the true Deep South as New York
City. Tired of losing the argument that south of the Mason-Dixon Line meant
—which it didn’t—the man was blasted determined to fit in like a
born-and-bred Georgian, one col oquialism at a time.
“Y’al just about got that ’un right,” Gabe said with a grin, letting his own
Deep South accent, which he usual y kept under control, slip out. “But
remember, it’s pronounced ‘tuh’ not ‘to.’”
The younger man saluted. “Got it.”
Leaving their cars, the two of them approached the scene and were
greeted by a sweating firefighter wearing about forty pounds of gear. The red-
faced man eyed Ty’s froufrou drink, and without a second’s hesitation his
partner wordlessly handed it over. “For you.”
Pain-in-the-ass clothes-and-women hound or not, Ty was one hel of a nice
guy. In the year that they’d been partnered up, Gabe had come not only to
respect him but also to like him more than just about anybody else he knew.
Of course, that didn’t stop him from giving the rookie detective shit just as
often as he felt like it.
“Thanks,” the firefighter said, sounding truly grateful. His soot-smeared hand
shook a little with visible exhaustion as he lifted the icy drink to his mouth and
“So whadda we got?” Gabe asked after the exhausted firefighter had
“Remains were found hidden inside a wal . Looks like they’d been there a
Taken by surprise, since he’d expected an arson victim who’d gotten
trapped by the flames or smoke mere hours ago, Gabe frowned. “How long?”
“Skeleton long,” the main replied with a shrug.
Meaning years. Talk about a cold case turned very hot.
“The body musta been wrapped up in plastic or something, which pretty
much melted under the flames. But there wasn’t much corpse left to melt from
what I could see. Just bones.”
“You found the remains yourself?” Ty asked, jotting a few notes in a smal
“Uh-huh,” the firefighter said. Offering his name and badge number, he
added, “We were walking down the site, just to check for any hot spots. Didn’t
think there were any victims—the owner lives nearby and came in right away.
Said the bar had been closed for an hour and nobody shoulda been here.”
Gabe glanced around the parking lot and spied a dejected-looking older
man with long, graying hair. His loose shorts, T-shirt and flip-flops said he’d
dressed and gotten here in a hurry. “He the owner?”
“Yeah, that’s him, Fast Eddie himself. He’s been wailing’bout some cracker
who was hassling a waitress the other night.”
Gabe couldn’t prevent a tiny, reflexive stiffening of his spine at the casual,
derogatory slang. Pure product of his upbringing, he knew. He was long past
being bothered about the fact that he’d been labeled a cracker, a redneck, or
just a white-trash bastard as a kid, having grown up on a dirt-poor farm with
his racist asshole of a grandfather.
Huh. He couldn’t even imagine what the old man would say if he knew
Gabe’s new partner was a black man. If Gabe had actual y spoken to his only
living relative once in the past seven years, he might be tempted now to cal
him up, just to tel him that.
“Fast Eddie suspects the guy came back tonight and set the blaze for
revenge,” the firefighter added.
Maybe. But judging by what they’d heard so far, this “cracker” probably
hadn’t been the one who’d left a plastic-wrapped skeleton on-site, unless he
had a twisted sense of humor and a liking for dramatic cal ing cards. “Okay,
we’l talk to him, get a description of the guy.”
The firefighter finished the drink Ty had given him and mumbled, “Thanks,
man. I owe you one.”
“Next one’s on me, I swear,” he said with a grin. But it quickly faded. “Hel of
a thing, finding something like that. Never seen anything like it. Who’d expect
to stumble over a bunch of old bones stuffed inside a wal ?”
The big man looked shaken. Working homicide, dealing with bodies had
become an unpleasant habit for Gabe, but this guy might never have seen
human remains before. Firefighters went into their field to save lives, while
cops like Gabe eventual y got used to the fact that they spent more time
helping victims after crimes were committed than before.
The old adage said an ounce of prevention was worth a pound of cure. But
in this day and age, with budgets stretched so thin that states were sending
IOUs instead of tax refunds, cops were badly outmanned and often
outequipped. Playing solve instead of prevent seemed to be the name of the
game everywhere, including Savannah.
“Where exactly did you find ’em?” Gabe asked.
“The masonry was stil intact in the corner of what was once a storage
room, but, fortunately, not the liquor storage room, or we might not’a found
anything at al . We got this wicked bitch under control right before she made
contact with about fifty cases of beer and dozens of bottles of Jack, Johnnie
and Wild Turkey.”
That would have been bad. Real bad. The dead over at Laurel Grove
Cemetery might have been rattled out of their graves if that room had gone
“Looks like the body had been wedged up against the wal between two
studs, then closed in with drywal . Once the wal came down, the bones did,
“You’d think they’d have noticed the smel ,” Ty muttered.
Maybe. But in a bar fil ed with the smel of beer and sweaty bodies, maybe
a nasty odor coming from a packed storage room wouldn’t have stood out too
Thanking the firefighter, Gabe nodded to a man who’d just exited the ruin
—Wright, one of the crime scene investigators. Good. In fact, he was probably
the best. Wright wasn’t a grandstander or a typical science geek. He was
friendly, though methodical and thorough, never missing a thing. Every cop in
homicide hoped he’d be the one they drew on a case.
“Mornin’, detectives,” he said, heading straight to his van and talking over
his shoulder. “I don’t have anything yet.”
“You’re losing your touch then; figured you’d have the vic’s name and
driver’s license number by now,” Ty said with a grin.
Wright, usual y good-natured, didn’t laugh in response. Instead, he shook
his head in disgust. “This poor kid was too young to have one.”
“Damn,” Ty mumbled, rubbing a hand against his jaw.
Wright reached into the van and hauled out a sizable equipment case—he’d
apparently gotten here just ahead of them and hadn’t done much more than
walk into the building and take a look. “He’s been there a long time—years