By Marisa Chenery and Edward Holzman
Heat Level: 2
Book Length: Novella
Genre: General Fiction, Mystery
The lives of a seductive, ingenious psychiatrist and an emotionally bruised and professionally embittered detective entwine when some of Century City’s most prominent men are murdered.
Detective Rick DePrince is on the hunt for a female serial killer, but finds his attempts at solving the murders blocked from those who are higher up. The only lead he has is Dr. Chris Clark, a woman who stirs emotions inside him that he once thought dead.
As Rick digs deeper, and each murder victim ends up having been a patient of the lovely doctor, what he learns about her past comes into question. He then must ask himself if he’s prepared to accept what she truly is or walk out of her life for good.
Rick drove his Chevy Camaro into the parking lot of the same hotel that the award dinner the night before had been held. Barry sat in the passenger seat. Once he found an empty space and turned off the engine, they both got out and headed inside the building. They didn’t stop to talk to anyone as they went to the bank of elevators. Rick pushed the “up” button to call the car. Once it arrived, they both stepped into it. He then hit another button that would take them up to the penthouse suite.
“The chief’s pissed,” Rick said as he watched the floor numbers light up above the doors. “That means the captain is pissed too. This won’t play well in the press. Three hundred cops, drinking scotch and sodas and patting themselves on the backs, downstairs last night while a civilian was iced upstairs. The chief and captain want it finished fast.”
Barry shook his head as they reached their floor and the elevator doors quietly slid open. They stepped off into the penthouse. Inside the foyer there were two LAPD officers and a uniformed security guard from the hotel. Rick flashed his badge as he and his partner walked farther into the suite.
They headed into the living room where a forensic team member poured flat champagne into a container before he placed the glass in a zippered plastic bag. Rick and Barry continued on to the bedroom.
There were two more forensic team members, a police photographer, their sergeant, John Sloan, and another man with a nametag pinned to his suit jacket. The forensic guys were busy going through the scene while a flash went off every once in a while as the photographer took a picture.
The sergeant came to stand in front of them. “Hi, John,” Rick said. “What have you got?”
Before Sloan could answer, the man with the name tag approached and interrupted. “Excuse me. I’m the hotel manager. Are you the officer in charge of this case?”
Rick nodded. “Yeah. I’m Detective DePrince.” He jerked his head in Barry’s direction. “This is my partner, Barry Johnson.” He nodded again toward John. “And this is Sergeant John Sloan.”
The manager looked at each man as they were introduced, then said, “We’ve got to keep this thing quiet, as quiet as you can…”
“We’re with you, pal.” Rick turned his attention on Sloan. “Have them use the freight elevator and take the body out the service entrance. The less media coverage and photo ops on this the better. It’ll leak soon enough.” He focused back on the manager. “Now if you’ll excuse us, we’ll need to speak with you later. I’ll also need the victim’s guest file and a complete list of your staff who were anywhere near this room last night.”
The manager nodded. “Of course.”
With that said, he left as Barry ushered the manager out of the room. He returned in a matter of seconds.
Sloan walked over to one of the forensic guys and asked for a pair of latex gloves. He returned to Rick and handed them to him. “We don’t have a lot yet. Guy’s name is Louis Penn. He was a local and married. He registered as a double. Comes in about once a month.”
Rick took a deep breath. “Chances are, not with the wife. No. Bet he checks in alone and his company discreetly joins him later.”
Sloan and Barry looked each other before Sloan spoke. “Anyway, one gunshot. Looks as if it’s directly through the heart. Judging from the powder burn, I’d say it was at pointblank range. I checked his clothes. The wallet, if he had one, is gone.”
As the two forensic guys approached the victim, Rick stopped them and went over to it. “Is this the exact position you found the body in?”
Sloan nodded. “Yeah. It hasn’t been touched.”
Rick ran his gaze over the dead man, then noticed something on one of Penn’s wrists. It looked like a whitish residue. The other wrist had the same thing on it, but had a blonde hair stuck to the side of it.
“Get me a couple evidence bags,” he said.
After he was handed one of the evidence bags and forceps, Rick scraped some of the white residue off Penn’s wrist, bagged it, then handed it to one of the forensic team. He bagged the blonde hair as well before he touched the victim’s wrist. His gloved finger stuck to it a bit.
“It’s an adhesive. Tape maybe,” he said. He gently rolled the body over, revealing the back exit wound, which was relatively large. “Small entry, big exit. Dig out the slug and take the mattress too. Okay, when you guys are done, get him out of here.” As the forensic team moved in to continue their duties, Rick stepped back and spoke once more to Barry and Sloan. “Okay…let’s do this one by the book. I want everything, and give me an update on what you have by closing tonight. Get him straight to the coroner and the slug to forensics. Tell Anna I want to know what that crap on his wrists is and a full analysis on the strand of hair. That’s to start. Sloan, I’m pulling you to stay on this with us.” After Sloan nodded, Rick looked at Barry. “Let’s go.”
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