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First pages

Chapter One

British Columbia, Canada, 2002

The streetlamp lit up the body as though it was displayed under a spotlight. In a macabre irony of nature, blood had pooled around the man’s head in a semicircle giving the impression that he was wearing a halo. Drake hadn’t seen the man go down, but he knew the sound it would have made. He’d heard it before. There’s a popping sound a head makes when it hits concrete. It wasn’t the body lying on the sidewalk with the skull split open that made him wince. It was the memory of the sound – the familiar sound. That was what made him turn away.

A rustle from the two young men behind him, maybe even a laugh, he couldn’t tell. He let it go. They’d found the body and called it in. He was first attending and backup hadn’t arrived yet. There was no point causing a scene. He learned a long time ago where and when to pick his fights. The body was curled on its side and lay at the edge of the sidewalk, close to the road. He crouched down and put his fingers on the man’s neck. From the amount of blood and the way the back of his head was cracked wide open, he knew there was no life left in him, but he had to check.

The wailing of the sirens had begun as a muted noise in the distance. Gradually they became louder. One short, final blast sounded, and moments later two paramedics were standing on the other side of the body. The older of the two didn’t like him. Drake knew him; it was Rempel – the one he wished would retire and give him some peace. Hope was a small town. There were only eight or nine regular ambulance attendants, unless they called for additional manpower from one of the surrounding towns, so they often bumped into each other.

“What’s this, a dead saint?” Rempel eyed the halo of blood around the man’s head. He stood over the body, grinning, waiting for someone to laugh while Rose, his female partner, checked for vital signs and went through the ritual of confirming that the man was dead.

Drake wasn’t supposed to be here. He’d been working a shift and a half covering for one of the other officers. He’d been on duty since noon, and when the evening shift began at six p.m., or eighteen hundred hours, as the police referred to it, he kept going. He was partnered with the other rookie – Brandon Van Dyke, the real rookie, the twenty-four-year-old new police officer, not the thirty-eight-year-old rookie. Van Dyke was in the bathroom when the call came in. He was often in the bathroom with some kind of fecal problem. That’s what he called it. Officer Brandon Van Dyke was the most polite man to wear a uniform that John Drake had ever met.

Drake had been scanning a flyer from one of the two pizza restaurants that delivered food to the station – one of the only two that were open at eleven o’clock at night. He was rubbing his eyes, trying to stay awake, and attempting to understand why the pepperoni pizza cost less than the plain cheese pizza. Brandon told him it was the restaurant’s special deal and they were known for it. People ordered from them because of the lower price on pepperoni pizza. Then as though the thought of a slice of greasy pizza was enough to get his bowels moving, Brandon’s eyes widened and he spun around. Just like every time, he acted as though it was the first time it had occurred, and he couldn’t understand what was happening. His mumbled apologies could be heard all the way to the station house bathroom.

Drake was weighing up whether to pay the extra three dollars to get what he really wanted – his beloved cheese and cheese only pizza – when the call came in. A man’s body had been found on Cobalt Street – a few blocks away from the station. Cobalt Street was old houses and empty lots; he’d attended calls there many times. The closest patrol unit had been called out to investigate some kids drinking down by Coquihalla Lake, and it would take them twenty minutes to respond, but Drake could be there in less than ten. He yelled to Brandon that he should catch up to him, and because it was only a short drive he was the first police officer on scene.

He recited to the paramedics what he knew – which was nothing, or next to nothing. “No pulse, white male, fortyish, skull cracked.”

“You have a talent for observing the obvious, Drake.” Rempel bullishly leaned over the body, pointing a pen-sized flashlight at the man’s head while Rose moved to the other side and kneeled beside Drake.

This didn’t happen here. In Hope, people died in their beds, or in the local hospital. A few months earlier, a man had made it to the Goldminer Pub just before last call. He ordered a pint of beer, and once it was set in front of him, he took a sip and then keeled over and died from a heart attack. In this town they kept their dead bodies indoors; this was unusual.

Brandon had caught up and was behind him, apologizing again for being indisposed. “I’m sorry; it keeps happening. I don’t know what it is.” Then he saw the body. “Holy, is that a halo? Did he fall?”

Drake had been an RCMP member for four months longer than Brandon Van Dyke, and he was almost fifteen years older than him. It wasn’t much experience in terms of seniority, and he had never taken advantage of it before, but tonight it seemed as though someone should take charge.

“Brandon, take a statement from those two boys over there. They called it in.” A handful of men and women had gathered. They were standing a few feet down the road, smoking, gesturing toward the body, and laughing nervously. “And call for assistance. We need to move these people back.”

Brandon was having trouble taking his eyes off the dead man. Drake waved him away and radioed for another patrol car himself. He pulled on a pair of latex gloves and reached inside the man’s back pocket. “A driver’s license and some business cards – Michael Andrew Robinson, born nineteen fifty-four. He’s local. He lives on Coquihalla Road.”

He looked over at Rose for an answer, knowing that she’d grown up in the area. “I know there are some Robinsons out on the Indian reserve, different Robinsons of course.” She shook her head and gave a sad little smile. “I don’t know him. There are some nice houses out on Coquihalla though. I’ll bet somebody is waiting for him to come home.”

Drake read from one of the business cards that had been in the man’s pocket. “Sales Representative, Mike Robinson. It’s from a car dealership; he sells cars.”

“A saint who sells cars; I mean a dead saint,” said Rempel.

Rose and Drake ignored him and continued analyzing the situation. “That’s quite a bang on his head,” she remarked. “It’s like he fell from a distance.”

The man was short – thin and slight. Drake looked up and down the street. There was nothing there. The body lay on a stretch of sidewalk in front of an empty lot. There was nothing above him – no building to fall from.

“He’ll turn out to be drunk as a skunk and have tripped over himself.” Rempel signaled to an attendant from the other ambulance to bring a stretcher and take the body away.

“Hold on a second.” Drake halted him. It didn’t look right. Rose’s analysis was close, but it still didn’t seem right. He might not have fallen from a distance, but it looked like someone or something had struck him. Drake leaned over the body again. The man was curled in a fetal position. His head had a deep split in it and his hands were in front of his chest – together, as if in prayer. “That’s a hell of a pounding to take from just a fall.”

“I can smell the booze on him, Drake. It’s an accidental.”

The rain had been threatening all night. As Drake stood up it began to rhythmically hit the ground, pitter-pattering on them, and gently all around them. This was Hope, British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. October was their in-between month – too early for snow, and too far away from summer to be warm. It might start as a light shower, but it never ended that way. There was only one type of rain here – heavy, relentless downpours, and it was just beginning. He let out a tired sigh. In this situation seniority meant nothing. It didn’t matter how long Rempel had been a paramedic. Drake was the police officer on the scene, and although he’d only been in this uniform, in this little town for barely a year, he knew the call was his.

“I’m declaring this a crime scene until I know what happened here. I’m calling GIS in.”

He spoke into his shoulder-mounted radio, giving instructions to the E-Comm operator to alert the General Investigation Service. Rempel swore at him and made his way back to the ambulance. In his agitated state, his voice was high-pitched, nasally. “Do you realize what this means? We wait for the cowboys to come from Chilliwack, or who knows, maybe they’ll consider this is a major crime and drive in from Vancouver. While we’re getting our asses soaked. Rookie, you’re making a mistake.”

He’d always be a rookie to Rempel. If he were on this job for another ten years, and the old paramedic was still climbing in and out of ambulances, he was sure he’d still be admonishing him the same way. Rose looked at the body again and then at Drake. He’d met her on calls a few times. Once, they’d spoken in veiled terms about the bedside manner of her partner. She’d stayed loyal but let it slip that she never enjoyed being assigned to work with him.

“I think you’re right. It’s worth checking,” she said in a low voice. She unfolded a yellow emergency blanket and put it over the body as another police cruiser pulled up and his sergeant and another officer emerged.

There was no going back. He’d made a decision that couldn’t be undone. He was the attending officer, and it was his responsibility to determine the severity of the incident. There was no nearby bar that the dead man might have stumbled from. It might just be a residential street, but it was still a dangerous street. Most of the houses were rental properties with families living in basements or upper floors, or young men and women living in groups sharing a place together. He’d been up and down the street several times investigating domestic disputes or drunk and disorderly complaints. He could point to some of the homes and list who lived there and how many times he’d visited. He knew who hit their wives and who hit their husbands. It was an easy street to read. The man might have been buying drugs from one of the houses or drinking with some of the residents, but when he wandered out onto the sidewalk he didn’t go down this hard by himself. Drake was sure of it.

 

<><><>

 

Drake had heard Sergeant Joseph Thiessen’s story more times than he cared to remember. His commanding officer routinely retold his story to the men working under him. Thiessen’s family had been RCMP officers for three generations. He’d grown up in Chilliwack, the closest major town that neighbored Hope. For years, Thiessen’s father or older brothers, and before that his grandfather, had made the drive into Hope whenever there was a problem. Five years ago when the satellite location was funded and a full-time detachment was opened, Thiessen was the first policeman through the door. And he was the station’s first detachment commander. He hadn’t grown up in this town, but he’d been close, and he’d made it his own.

Often when calls came in late at night he’d remind Drake or one of the other officers how lucky they were. He’d tell them that Hope had been underserved for years, and they were fortunate they didn’t have to make the long, dark drive along the base of the mountains that his father and grandfather had to make.

Thiessen was conferring with Rempel and nodding while Drake drew blank stares and shakes of their heads as he questioned the few bystanders who had gathered around. He knew some of their names and most of their faces, but all he received was the odd leer as they told him in no uncertain terms that people on their street didn’t talk to police officers.

Sergeant Thiessen stood in front of him with his face frozen in a sarcastic smile. He didn’t speak, but Drake knew what the question was.

“Judging by the severity of the split on the victim’s head, I think he had some help hitting the ground, Sarge. I don’t think this was an accident.”

“I saw the body. I think he fell. I don’t know how many dead bodies you’ve seen, Drake…”

His superior waited for an answer, and for a moment, Drake considered telling him the truth. He paused while Thiessen tilted his head to the side impatiently. He couldn’t do it. He kept his ghosts hidden away and evaded the question.

“I saw the native fellow who had the heart attack in the pub after ordering his pint.”

Rempel was still complaining in the background. Thiessen bristled and stood upright, staring hard at Drake. Shadows from the two men fell across the road as the light from the streetlamp showed the contrast in their builds. Thiessen was a couple of inches over six feet – every bit as tall as Drake, but he was slimmer. Drake had a deceiving build that men whose bodies are predisposed to muscle often have. On first glance he looked like a slightly larger than normal thirty-eight-year-old man, but he was carrying bulk, and that bulk was muscle. It was in his arms and shoulders and upper legs. Thiessen had the piercing blue eyes and four very prominent stripes on his shoulder though, and he used both assets to his advantage.

He spoke loud enough for Rempel and anyone else listening to hear, including the crowd of onlookers who still hadn’t been pushed back. “It’s on your head, Drake. It looks accidental to me, and the senior attending medic concurs. MCU is on their way from Vancouver.”

It was Drake’s turn to bristle.

“Major Crime? I called for General Services Investigation.”

The sergeant smiled his sarcastic smile once again. “MCU will be investigating. Dispatch called Chilliwack and Surrey for GIS, but they were all busy. You’ve got the top dogs attending, and it’s too late to stop them now. Go back to the office and type up a report and then get back here. I don’t care how tired you are, or how long you’ve been on shift. I want to be ready for these guys.” He raised his voice again, again making sure everyone could hear him. “This is your call, and I want you on site when they arrive.”

Drake returned the stare from his sergeant’s icy eyes. Control. Need to control. He took a deep breath and restrained himself. In another life, you’d be lying on the road beside the dead saint for talking to me like that. He breathed in and let it go, then spun on his feet – military-style. As he climbed into the squad car, his stomach rumbled from the lack of cheese pizza. He’d been here before. He was a little more familiar with dead bodies than he’d admitted. He knew they had a way of causing problems. It didn’t matter if you were the one cracking the skulls or cleaning up after them. They usually had a way of messing up your evening.

Chapter Two

It did not rain on the first day he drove into Hope. It was one of those rare days of autumn, or fall as the Canadians call it, when the sky is clear, a chill is in the air and the sun looks as large as the sky. It was the end of the year, the beginning of a new century – 2001, and the start of a new life.

An agent from the relocation team had furnished him with a map and a short written description of the area so he could familiarize himself before arriving. He didn’t go directly to the police detachment. He exited the highway at the optimistic sign that read “Welcome To Hope,” and parked his old pickup truck on the banks of the Fraser River. The sound of the rushing water drowned out the traffic noises from the highway. An eagle flew overhead toward the trees and made that strange sound that only eagles seem to make – its high-pitched wail piercing above the noise of the river.

He brushed the dirt off a large boulder and unfolded his map, tracing his fingers along the lines. If he headed south, a two-hour drive would take him into Vancouver, the largest city in the province, or if he forked off in the other direction he’d be right at the US border. His guidebook told him that north of Hope lay the tourist-friendly towns of the interior with their wineries and lake districts. Like Vancouver, those were towns with too many people – areas he knew he’d never visit. Hope sat miles away from them, surrounded by logging camps and farmland. The camps sounded like the mines from back home. The handwritten notes in his guidebook stated that local men and women typically worked for several months at a time at the hazardous profession, earning large sums of money. Then they came back to town where they’d pay a few bills, leave some money with their families, and blow off steam in the local taverns. Later he’d learn that some of those loggers lived in houses like the ones on the street where the man lay dead. They’d stay in rented houses along Cobalt and the neighboring streets during the winter before returning to work in the logging camps in the spring.

He didn’t hear about the pilgrimage until he’d been in town for a couple of months. If he’d known, it might have altered the initial feeling of relief he experienced when he first sat by the river. He was trying to stay invisible and fit in at the same time. One of his fellow officers told him about the annual springtime event. A famous actor had shot a movie in Hope twenty years ago, and every year since then, for one week, fans from all over the world descended on the little town, revisiting the settings where scenes from the movie had been filmed. They visited the site where the gas station was blown up, the wooded area where the disgruntled Vietnam veteran, who was the main character, ran away to, and the place where the old courthouse from the movie – the actual courthouse of the town – still stood. Each year there was a rumor that Sylvester Stallone, the actor who played the main character, would attend the gathering. He never came, but the rumors always surfaced, and fans were sure this would be the year. Movie buffs from Sweden, Australia, Great Britain, and across the border from the United States all visited, and that’s what concerned Drake. It wasn’t just the strangeness of the whole subculture of fans; he could deal with that. There were too many of them. He’d moved to Hope to hide, not to be confronted by someone who might remember.

There were two different groups of fans. The more civilized of the two camps spent time posing in front of the movie’s landmarks while talking to each other about their favorite scenes. They could often be overheard reciting dialogue they’d memorized or attending screenings at the local theater where the film was played almost continuously. The less-civilized of the two groups were there to get drunk. Some would wait until the evening, but for others the drinking took place all day long.

The pilgrimage was a boom to the local economy, and there was often pressure on the police officers to overlook certain incidents. Public drunkenness was deemed acceptable during the one-week period unless it got out of hand. On occasion some of the men reenacted fight scenes from the film, and it sometimes ended in arrests and a trip to the small hospital. Once when a couple of combatants had seriously injured each other, they had to be air-lifted out to the neighboring town’s hospital for emergency surgery. The first time Drake was called out to deal with some of the troublemakers, he discovered how passionate the participants really were.

He hadn’t been there long. After attending Depot, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Training Academy in Regina, Saskatchewan, in the middle of Canada, he was assigned, with the assistance of the relocation team, to serve on the West Coast. He went from the frozen flatlands of Regina to the rainforests of British Columbia. It was the end of May, and his uniform still looked like it was straight out of the box. With military precision and a hot iron, he’d managed to keep the creases in his pants and shirt firm and straight. He’d been sent out as backup to Memorial Park, right in the center of town, to assist with a disturbance. When he arrived he saw Banman, one of the general duty officers, and another officer whose name he couldn’t remember, standing beside a group of men. They were watching two fighters circle each other, swinging drunkenly at the air between them and occasionally landing a blow.

Their backs were to Drake, but he recognized their attire. They wore shirts that had the sleeves torn off and frayed blue jeans with holes in their knees. And they sported bandannas tied haphazardly around their foreheads. These were their badges of honor, modeled after the character from the movie.

When Drake moved toward the melee, Banman motioned for him to grab the combatant closest to him – a particularly burly looking fighter. He stepped forward and grabbed the person from behind, expecting Banman and the other policeman to hold on to the other fighter. Drake put his hands on the combatant’s arms and pulled back. When he heard the cursing he knew he’d made a mistake. He dropped his arms and stepped back.

The voice he heard was significantly higher-pitched than he’d expected. Both fighters turned on him. It was only when he saw that one of them had her long hair tucked below the collar of her shirt and noticed the feminine features on their faces he realized he was dealing with two women.

They were angry with each other and happy to beat away until one went down, but they were even angrier that a man got in the middle of their conflict. The shock at realizing that it was women fighting stunned him. The two fighters cursed at him and instantly seemed to sober up. Silently, they joined forces and ran at him, ramming their heads into his chest like a pair of deranged television wrestlers. Drake went down, winded and humiliated.

Banman laughed as he and the other officer pulled the cursing women off Drake. Drake leaned onto one side to catch his wind, and when he looked up Banman was standing over him.

“Welcome to Hope, Drake.” It was the first time he’d seen Banman laugh. He always seemed disinterested in his job and everyone around him. After serving all over Canada, he was winding down his career, back in his hometown. Drake gave him his noncommittal look. He stared up at the man, silently informing him that the situation could go one way or the other. This might have worked on a regular rookie right out of the training academy, but Drake didn’t just get here. He waited until Banman’s smile faded and then took another long moment before accepting the offer of a hand up.

Banman teetered on his heels as he helped the larger man to his feet. He stood a safe distance away from Drake as he spoke. Drake wasn’t sure if he was trying to be friendly or condescending. “Don’t worry, that’s as bad as it gets here.”

The fighting was over, and Banman, being the senior officer, decided no charges would be laid. The women ended up leaving the scene with their arms around each other while they bragged about downing the big, tough police officer. The only negative comments came from the men who had gathered around and had been enjoying watching the women fight. They wanted more and Drake had ended their fun.

It wasn’t home, but it felt like Hope was a town where a man could hide. It was less anonymous than he originally thought, but it was where he had ended up. The town reminded him of nothing and nowhere, and that was what he needed.

 

<><><>

 

The older investigator from the Major Crime Unit agreed with Sergeant Thiessen that Drake should be present during his initial inspection of the crime scene. He even requested that he stand by his side while he examined the body. He wanted to know everything that Drake had noted when he first got to Cobalt Street. The man had a wrinkled complexion bordered by unusually dark hair and two bushy eyebrows that joined together when he screwed up his face. With each answer Drake gave, the investigator pondered while his eyebrows met in the middle of his forehead as though they too were contemplating what had been said. Thiessen stood off to one side with Rose, while Rempel sat steaming in the ambulance, impatiently waiting to deliver the body to the morgue.

He spoke with a slight accent – Scandinavian perhaps. “Your impression was that the injury to the head wasn’t concurrent with an unassisted fall, correct?”

“It didn’t look right.”

“Instinct or fact? What are you basing it on? Other bodies you’ve seen or just a feeling?”

It was three a.m.; he’d been on duty since noon the previous day. He’d been back and forth to the station and endured long stares from Thiessen and Rempel. A member of the Major Crime Unit had taped off the body, a photographer had taken pictures, and another investigator had recorded measurements. They had located a doctor and awarded him the duties of temporary medical examiner. He had performed his initial examination and was sitting in the ambulance with Rempel waiting for the body to be released. It had been a long day. And he was wet. The rain kept falling.

He let out a little bit of one of his secrets. “Fact. Definite fact.”

The investigator nodded immediately. “I agree. Let’s alert the coroner that this is a homicide investigation.”

Drake resisted the urge to look at his sergeant, but he did notice a smile on Rose’s lips. It quickly faded as her partner stormed toward them.

Ten minutes later the officers were crowded under a small canopy that had been erected. Along with the tent, a portable table was procured from the trunk of the crime team’s vehicle, and the contents of the dead man’s pockets were placed on it. The team from Vancouver had been in situations like this before and it showed. One of the officers hung a light under the canopy. It illuminated the table, making the policemen’s shadows dance when the poles of the tent were jostled.

The older officer – Sergeant Matt Ryberg – introduced the rest of the team to Drake and Sergeant Thiessen. There were two other plain-clothes investigators. They were both corporals, and senior to Drake’s lowly constable ranking. The officer who had re-interviewed the young men who found the body was Pringle, a large man with short-cropped red hair. He was in his mid-forties and had a hard, dour expression. The photographer and measurer was introduced as Myron. He was younger, in his late twenties, and in contrast to Pringle, he was short and stocky with a barrel chest. He rarely looked up as he studiously wrote in his notepad. Drake didn’t know if Pringle and Myron were their first or last names, but standing on a damp, rainy night it didn’t seem to matter.

Ryberg observed the men in front of him with a stern expression. He spoke slowly as if he were talking about them, and not to them, making sure they understood exactly what he was saying.

“Constable Drake, you’re going to stick with us for today and possibly tomorrow too. Do you know the area?” He waited until Drake answered in the affirmative before continuing. “Good. Chances are this incident is going to turn out to be very simple, but until that has been established we will make no assumptions. We are going to assemble the jigsaw puzzle that is Michael Robinson’s life. We will start at the end and trace back toward the beginning as far as we need to. We’ll find gaps from time to time, and fill them when we can. If we have to, we’ll skip over those gaps and come back to them later. We need to keep moving backward, putting the pieces together. Sometimes, it’s important to go backward in order to move forward.” He looked around the group while the officer he’d introduced as Myron continued taking notes and Pringle spoke into a portable phone. “Does everyone understand? The most important thing is to deal with facts. There is a place for instinct, and we will utilize that, but facts are what we convict on, facts are what make the world go around.” Myron and Pringle stopped what they were doing and mumbled the last sentence along with Ryberg. The old sergeant’s eyes flickered, but he did not look at them.

Drake would look back on Ryberg’s speech as being the most useful information he’d yet to receive when it came to solving a crime. He’d revisit the sergeant’s words and retrain himself every time he felt like he was making a mistake. He was a general duty officer. In his twelve months on the job the only infractions he’d been involved in were break and enters or trying to determine who assaulted whom. Sometimes he solved the cases and sometimes he didn’t. When he didn’t, he tried to make it more difficult for the perpetrator to commit the same crime again. That’s what police work had been like until then. After Ryberg’s speech something shifted; everything felt different.

“Contents of Mr. Robinson’s pockets included a driver’s license and some business cards, but did not include a wallet, cash, or credit cards, and there were no coins or car keys in his pockets, correct?”

Pringle, the investigator who had been on the phone, was wearing a long, brown corduroy sports jacket. He looked like a large, imposing insurance salesman. He smoothed out the jacket with the palms of his hands as though he were very proud of it, and answered Ryberg. “That’s correct, Sarge. I found out a bit from his identification. Mr. Robinson was unmarried. Next of kin is his mother and she lives locally, a house on Coquihalla Road. I’m waiting to hear if he has any criminal history as a juvenile, but his adult records are clean, other than an excessive amount of speeding tickets. This man liked to drive fast.”

“Good, let’s visit the mother personally and break the news. Myron, you do it. Take a uniform with you, and try to locate a grief counselor too. If you can’t find one to attend this late, make sure they’re at her door first thing in the morning after you’ve spoken to her.”

Myron looked up from his notebook and checked his watch.

“I know; it’s morning already. I know that.” Ryberg looked out from the tent at the rain as though he was silently willing the sun to appear. “Now, the body had not been touched when we arrived, is that also correct?”

Drake explained that he’d found the man in a curled position at the edge of the sidewalk, facing away from the road, just like the investigator had seen.

“It’s strange that there was nothing else in his pockets – not even car keys or a house key. Where are the two lads who found him? Are they brothers?”

Brandon Van Dyke had initially interviewed the two men and then disappeared; Drake assumed he was running around trying to find a bathroom. Sergeant Thiessen was standing in the background, arms folded in front of him. “My officer interviewed them, and then your man took another statement and sent them home. They live at the end of this street…no I’m wrong; it’s the next street over.” He looked around for one of the local policemen to confirm while he gave the information. Then he raised his eyes to the sky, rolling them in the same manner that small-town people have closed their minds for years. “And no, they’re not brothers; they’re just friends – close friends.”

“Okay, that’s good.” Ryberg turned and addressed Pringle again. “Let’s run a bureau on the deceased and find out if he owns any credit cards and whether they’ve been used tonight. It doesn’t make sense that he wasn’t carrying any cards with him.” He waved the officer off before he could reply. “I know, it might take a while before some of the charges come in, but let’s ask anyway. And while you’re at it run a credit check on him – bank accounts, assets, whatever they’ll give us without a warrant.” He paused a moment and then exclaimed loudly as though the thought had just come to him. “And a car – where is his vehicle? This man sells cars, he likes speeding down our roads, yet he’s out walking? I don’t get it. I know this is a small town, but it’s not that small. Somebody find out where his car is.”

Ryberg scanned the small crowd of officers. “And what about forensics, is Ident on site yet?”

The younger investigator, Myron, looked up. “They’re en route. I’ve done what I can; I measured and took some photos.”

Ryberg grimaced.

“I know. It’s not ideal, but the Ident team was delayed. The lead officer coached me over the phone. He assures me they’ll be here shortly.”

Ryberg nodded, accepting. The efficiency of the man energized the small group of policemen, and the officers began to move and work at various tasks. Within a few minutes he had opened up some possibilities and given them direction. Shaking his head, he looked out from the little tent they were standing under. “Investigator Pringle, I need the address of the boys who found the body please, and Drake, you’re coming with me. We’re going to go and get wet.”

Pringle copied the address onto a small card and handed it to his superior. As Drake stepped out into the night he nudged one of the poles at the side of the tent. The light swung back and forth, and a small river of cold water ran off the roof onto his cap and down the back of his neck.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

In a press release, Amazon called Martin Crosbie one of their success stories of 2012. His writing journey has been chronicled in Publisher's Weekly, Forbes Online, and Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper. Martin's debut novel, My Temporary Life, was an Amazon top ten bestseller and #1 in Romantic Suspense. He makes his home in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada.

Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
The scheme that the main characters participate in is based on a true story. Years ago I met a man who participated in the same type of endeavor. He was fortunate enough to live through it. I always wondered why he did what he did and how he felt when his was the last name on the list.
Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
Getting the facts right! I wanted the police terminology and procedural action to be accurate. I was fortunate to have several police personnel assist with fact-checking. These folks put hours into making sure the scenes were written correctly. I'm very lucky to have had their assistance.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A.
I'm a fan. I love Henning Mankell, Gordon Ferris, and of course Sherlock Holmes. I've known the story of "The Dead List" for many years. After several failed attempts to put it on paper I decided to listen to my characters and let them tell their own story. I'm very glad that I did.

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