Authors: Kathy Reichs
Tags: #Fiction, #Crime, #Mystery & Detective, #General
When forensic anthropologist Dr Temperance Brennan is unexpectedly called in to the Charlotte Police Department’s Cold Case Unit, she wonders why she’s been asked to meet with a homicide cop – especially one who’s a long way from his own jurisdiction.
The shocking answer: Two child murders, separated by thousands of miles, have one thing in common – the killer.
Years ago, Anique Pomerleau kidnapped and murdered a string of girls in Canada, then narrowly eluded capture. It was a devastating defeat for her pursuers, Tempe and police detective Andrew Ryan.
Now, as if summoned from their nightmares, Pomerleau has resurfaced in the United States, linked to victims in Vermont and North Carolina.
When another child is snatched, the reign of terror promises to continue – unless Tempe can rise to the challenge and make good on her second chance to stop a psychopath.
is the author of sixteen
New York Times
bestselling novels featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan. Like her protagonist, Reichs is a forensic anthropologist—one of fewer than one hundred ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. A professor in the department of anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, she is the former vice president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and serves on the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. Reichs’s own life, as much as her novels, are the basis for the TV show
, one of the longest-running series in the history of the Fox network.
Death du Jour
Break No Bones
Bones to Ashes
Spider Bones (published as Mortal Remains in hardback in the UK)
Flash and Bones
Bones Are Forever
Bones of the Lost
Bones in Her Pocket (eBook original)
Swamp Bones (eBook original)
Swipe (eBook original)
Shift (eBook original)
Alice Taylor Reichs
born August 3, 2012
Miles Aivars Mixon
born August 11, 2012
I RECEIVED THE
message first thing Monday morning. Honor Barrow needed me at an unscheduled meeting.
Not what I wanted, with cold germs rolling up their sleeves in my head.
Nevertheless, coming off a weekend of Sudafed, Afrin, and lemon-honey tea, instead of finishing a report on a putrefied biker, I joined a billion others slogging uptown in rush-hour traffic.
By seven-forty-five, I was parked at the back of the Law Enforcement Center. The air was cool and smelled of sun-dried leaves—I assumed. My nose was so clogged, I couldn’t sniff out the difference between a tulip and a trash can.
The Democrats had held their quadrennial soirée in Charlotte in 2012. Tens of thousands came to praise or protest and to nominate a candidate. The city had spent $50 million on security, and as a result, the ground floor of the Law Enforcement Center, once an open lobby, now looked like the bridge of the starship
Circular wooden barrier. Bulletproof glass. Monitors displaying the building’s every scar and pimple, inside and out.
After signing the register, I swiped my security card and rode to the second floor.
Barrow was passing as the elevator hummed to a stop and opened. Beyond him, through the door he was entering, arrows on a green background directed
Crimes Against Property
to the left,
Crimes Against Persons
to the right. Above the arrows, the hornet’s-nest symbol of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
“Thanks for coming in.” Barrow barely broke stride.
“No problem.” Except for the kettledrums in my head and the fire in my throat.
I followed Barrow through the door, and we both turned right.
Detectives crowded the corridor in both directions, most in shirtsleeves and ties, one in khaki pants and a navy golf shirt featuring the intrepid wasp logo. Each carried coffee and a whole lot of firepower.
Barrow disappeared into a room on the left marked by a second green sign:
2220: Violent Crimes Division.
Homicide and assault with a deadly.
I continued straight, past a trio of interview rooms. From the nearest, a baritone bellowed indignation in strikingly inharmonious terms.
Ten yards down I entered a room identified as
2101: Homicide Cold Case Unit.
A gray table and six chairs took up most of the square footage. A copy machine. File cabinets. White erasable board and brown cork-boards on the walls. In the rear, a low-rise divider set off a desk holding the usual phone, mug, withered plant, and overfilled in- and out-baskets. A window threw rectangles of sunlight across the blotter.
Not a soul in sight. I glanced at the wall clock. 7:58.
Seriously? Only I had arrived on time?
Head pounding and slightly peeved, I dropped into a chair and placed my shoulder bag at my feet.
On the table were a laptop, a cardboard carton, and a plastic tub. Both containers bore numbers on their covers. The ones on the tub were in a format familiar to me: 090431070901. The file dated to April 30, 2009. A single call had come in at 7:09
The numbering system on the carton was different. I assumed the case was from another jurisdiction.
A bit of background.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department had roughly five hundred unsolved murders dating back to 1970. Recognizing that this was a lot of bodies and a lot of folks waiting for justice, in 2003 the CMPD established a cold case unit.
Honor Barrow, twenty years at the murder table, had run the CCU since its inception. The other full-timers included a police sergeant and an FBI agent. A volunteer review team composed of three retired FBI agents, a retired NYPD cop, a civilian academic, and a civilian engineer provided support in the form of pre-investigation triage and analysis. The cold case unit regulars gathered monthly.
As a forensic anthropologist, I work with the not so recently dead. No secret why I was sometimes invited to the dance. But I usually got a heads-up about why my presence was being requested. A query concerning a set of remains. A question about bones, trauma, or decomposition.
Not this time.
Impatient, and curious why I’d been summoned, I drew the tub to me and pried off the lid. Inside were hundreds of pages separated by dividers. I knew the headings on each of the tabs.
Victimology. Summary of the Crime. Crime Scene Report. Evidence/Property Recovered/Analyzed. Medical Examiner’s Report. Witnesses. Related Investigation. Potential Suspects. Recommended Follow-up.
Lying across the files was a case review summary written by Claire Melani, a criminologist and colleague at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. I flipped to the first section of her report. And felt my neck muscles tense.
Before I could read further, voices sounded in the hall. Moments later, Barrow appeared with a guy looking like something off the cover of a survivalist manual. Washed-out jeans. Faded army jacket over long-sleeved red tee. Dark hair curling from below a neon-orange cap.
I replaced the report in its tub. “Everyone stuck in traffic?”
“I didn’t invite the volunteer team.”
Though that surprised me, I said nothing.
Barrow noticed my gaze shift to the survivalist and introduced him. “Detective Rodas is down from Vermont.”
“Umparo. Umpie to my friends.” Self-deprecating smile. “Both of them.”
Rodas extended a hand. I took it. Umpie’s grip matched his appearance, rough and strong.
As Barrow and Rodas took seats, a familiar figure framed up in the doorway. Erskine “Skinny” Slidell, cop legend in his own mind.
Can’t say Slidell’s presence thrilled me. Since Skinny works homicide, and I work the morgue, we are often thrown together. Over the years our relationship has had more ups and downs than a polygraph chart. His manner is often grating, but the man clears cases.
Slidell stretched both hands in a “What gives?” gesture and drew in one wrist to look at his watch. Subtle.
“Glad you could pry yourself free from the computer porn.” Smiling, Barrow hooked a chair free from the table with one foot.
“That sister of yours does love a camera.” Cushions
ed as Slidell deposited his substantial derrière.
Barrow partnered with Slidell back in the eighties and, unlike most, claimed to have enjoyed the experience. Probably their shared concept of witty repartee.
Barrow had just introduced Rodas and Slidell to each other when the door swung out. A man I didn’t recognize entered the room. He had a weak chin and a too-long nose and, standing ramrod, matched me in height. His polyester shirt, tie, and off-the-rack suit suggested midlevel management. His demeanor screamed cop. The four of us watched as polyester man took a place at the table.
“Agent Tinker is SBI.” Barrow’s reference to the State Bureau of Investigation conveyed zero warmth.
I’d heard of Beau Tinker. Intel had him as a narrow thinker with a mile-wide ego. And a player with the ladies.
“Don’t seem like such a long drive was warranted.” Slidell spoke without looking up from the fingers laced on his belly.
Tinker regarded Slidell with eyes as gray and bland as unpolished pewter. “I’m right up the road at the Harrisburg field office.”
Slidell’s jaw muscles bulged, but he said nothing.
Like everywhere else on the planet, North Carolina has its share of interagency rivalries. Sheriff’s, campus, airport, and port police versus local PD’s. The state versus the city boys. The feds versus the world.
Except for some offenses in which it’s required—such as drug trafficking, arson, gambling, and election fraud—SBI involvement in criminal investigations was usually at the request of local departments. The chill coming from Barrow and Slidell suggested no such invite had been issued.
Was Rodas the draw? If so, why the interest in Raleigh about a case from Vermont?
Slidell considers himself a hot property in the homicide squad. Too hot to gasbag around a table, as he’d once put it. I also wondered why he was here.
I remembered the file in the plastic tub.
I glanced over at Slidell. His gaze was up now, aimed at Tinker with the kind of expression normally reserved for pedophiles and mold.
Did the hostility go beyond turf issues? Did Slidell share history with Tinker? Or was Skinny just being Skinny?
Barrow’s voice cut into my thoughts. “I’m going to let Detective Rodas start off.”
Barrow leaned back and repositioned the neck chain holding his badge. He often reminded me of a large leathery turtle. Skin dark and crinkled as that on a shrunken head, eyes wide-set and bulgy above a pointed little nose.