Authors: Beverly Connor
Tags: #Fiction, #General, #Horror, #Suspense, #Mystery & Detective, #Women Sleuths, #Mystery, #Police Procedural, #Detective, #Fiction - Mystery, #Mystery & Detective - General, #Mystery & Detective - Police Procedural, #Fallon, #Women forensic anthropologists, #Georgia, #Diane (Fictitious character)
Raymond and Lynn laughed.
‘‘You wouldn’t catch me going down a black hole,’’
said Raymond. ‘‘Heard about too many people getting
themselves stuck. You sprain your ankle and it’s hell
trying to get you out.’’
‘‘You learn to be careful,’’ Diane said. ‘‘Knowing
your ropes and knots helps too.’’
‘‘I think he’s had his appendix out,’’ said Lynn. She
rubbed the area with a damp piece of gauze. ‘‘Let’s
had to be rescued?’’ she asked Diane.
‘‘No, but I have been on a rescue team. It can be
a dicey situation, for certain.’’ Diane collected several
surface specimens of insects while Lynn and Raymond
continued the external examination of the body.
Green was male. Taller than the woman, though it
would be hard to tell exactly until Diane could mea
stretch length was eight feet seven inches.
‘‘Other than the appendix scar, there are no visible
external markings. No needle marks or signs of defen
recorder in a monotone voice, quite different from her
Lynn didn’t run Diane out for the autopsy this time.
Diane stayed and continued to collect insect specimens.
At the crime scene and on the bodies a full range
of insects were present—insects that feed on flesh, and
insects that fed on the flesh-eating insects. The only
kind she didn’t see were the ground beetles that feed
out of their reach.
Lynn made the Y incision and pulled back the flaps
of tissue, increasing the putrid smell in the room. Lynn
was petite, even looked delicate next to the autopsy
table, but she had no problem cutting away the chest
plate, gaining her access to the block of organs.
Diane had to agree as she watched Lynn and Ray
mond locate the subclavian and carotid arteries.
‘‘Go ahead and tie them off, Raymond—if you can.
I’m getting a lot more decay in this one than the Blue
girl. Let’s get these organs out and, Diane, you’re wel
come to any insects you can find.’’
organs and took them to the other autopsy table for
Lynn to examine. There were very few insect larva in
the chest cavity, but Diane found several good speci
mens in the lower abdomen.
‘‘Go ahead and get at the brain,’’ Lynn told Ray
mond. ‘‘I hope it’s not mush.’’
about the unexpected mummy.
‘‘So he just kind of showed up on your doorstep?’’
said Raymond. ‘‘Now, that’s cool. Dr. Lynn, I’m going
to cut the neck, if you can . . . never mind, I think I
can manage it. These long necks are a mess to deal
with, I’m telling you.’’
‘‘At some point perhaps. We’ve got a lot of research
to do before then.’’
‘‘Oh, this fellow had a heart condition,’’ said Lynn.
heart Lynn had opened up.
turned her head toward Diane, ‘‘this might show up
in his bones.’’
‘‘It’s observed in about two-thirds of patients with
‘‘It’s not severe, so he may have been basically
The sound of the Stryker saw was of short duration.
being removed didn’t have the characteristic pop of a
‘‘Pretty soft,’’ said Raymond. ‘‘We may be able to
Out of the corner of her eye Diane saw him care
Little by little they were collecting bits of informa
tion about the victims—tattoos, scars, bad heart valve.
There was a good chance that all these things would
add up to a critical mass of information leading them
to the identity of the victims.
Surely, someone was missing these people—unless
slips through the cracks and becomes easy prey for
It was almost 9:30
. by the time they finished the
third autopsy and Diane arrived at the museum with
the evidence for her crime lab. David was there, tak
ing notes and checking on his insects.
‘‘I called the weather bureau. It’s been pretty redun
duplicated the environment for my babies here.’’ He
pointed to his rearing chambers.
‘‘Here’s some more insects. Larva and bug parts.’’
She handed them over and began logging in the cloth
ing and rope she had collected from the autopsies.
‘‘Discover anything new?’’ David asked.
Diane sat down in a chair and stretched out her legs
in front of her. ‘‘Some. Right now the vics all look to
be in their twenties. Blue is a female and has a tattoo
of a butterﬂy on her ankle. Green’s a male. He’s had
his appendix out and has a heart condition. Not seri
ous. Red’s another female. She has a tattoo of a hum
another one of a rose on the upper part of her left
David ran his hands through what was left of his
asked him. ‘‘None of the bodies had theirs.’’
From the cable marks on the tree branches, I’d say
he hoisted them up with a winch.’’
‘‘How’s Neva doing? Jin said you took her out for
He wavered his hand from side to side. ‘‘She’s about
They just assigned her here, you know, didn’t ask her
if she wanted it. But she’s no different than any other
newbie I’ve trained.’’
‘‘How are you doing?’’ asked Diane.
David Goldstein had shown up literally on Diane’s
friends at the mission in South America had left him,
like her, on the edge of sanity—burnt out and with
no place to go. Diane’s loss of her daughter had so
was adrift when he arrived in Rosewood. Diane was
glad to be able to give him a job. It surprised her that
he requested to work in her new crime lab.
‘‘Are you sure you want to do that?’’ she had asked
concrete rooms splattered with dark stains you know
are going to be blood, and you look at the shackles
and dirty rusted tables and you know that no matter
tions you get, those responsible will never be put on
was to have some poor schmuck arrested who was just
guarding the place.
Bring killers to justice. I need to know that what I’m
doing will make a difference.’’
‘‘Our record out there was a little better than that,’’
Diane had whispered almost to herself, but she knew
what he meant. Rarely did they get to the top of the
about the museum here is when things get tough with
the crime evidence, I can go look at rocks, or shells
or the big dinosaurs. I particularly like the shells. The
colors and the curved shapes are very soothing. Re
were near a museum? It’s like that.’’
Gregory had been their boss at World Accord Inter
national and a mentor to Diane. Gregory even carried
The everyday scenes painted by Vermeer were his fa
vorite. He could look at them for hours.
She had adopted Gregory’s love of looking at beau
tiful art when she needed a break from the grim reali
ties of human rights violations. She understood what
David meant about the museum. It was a refuge for
‘‘Dr. Lynn Webber. Nice. Hospitable.’’
‘‘And that means?’’
‘‘Just what I said. Seems pretty competent.’’
‘‘You don’t like her?’’
‘‘I didn’t say that.’’
‘‘You didn’t have to. I was listening to your ringing
‘‘I got the impression that she kind of likes to be
the star.’’ Diane hesitated a moment. ‘‘I think she’s
going to get the time of death wrong. She doesn’t have
much experience with hangings.’’
‘‘And for that you don’t like her?’’
‘‘I didn’t say I don’t like her. Just that she reminds
me a little of Leah.’’
‘‘A cherry bomb waiting to go off?’’
Diane made a face. They had worked with Leah for
a while in South America. She was a bit of a prima
donna, albeit a competent one.
gracious. Even wants me to take her caving.’’
‘‘You going to take her?’’
‘‘I thought I’d ask Mike about some easy caves.’’
‘‘Don’t you guys have to take your clothes off to
cross a body of water in a cave—to keep the water
‘‘You can leave your underwear on.’’
‘‘So, do you wear Victoria’s Secret or those cotton
‘‘I think I’d better go home. See you tomorrow.’’
was well after ten o’clock before Diane got home.
She was tired and couldn’t wait for a shower. After
letting the water run over her for a long while, she
ran a warm bath, put a capful of lemon juice in the
water and just lay and soaked with her head resting
water, letting the smell of death become overwhelmed
with clean pure water. She would have stayed if her
telephone had remained quiet.
followed the directions to a small house in a
University campus. The house, a bungalow with white
wood siding and fieldstone columns and steps, looked
like it might have been built in the late 1920s.
walked across the yard. She looked brieﬂy up at the
second-ﬂoor gabled window and leaning rock chimney.
It looked like housing rented to students. Maintained
enough to keep the roof up, but not enough to rent
to anyone looking for a family home.
showed her badge to the ofﬁcer guarding the
door, slipped covers over her shoes and went in.
A girl was sitting on a futon sofa in the living room,
sobbing. The room was in disarray, drawers pulled out
of a desk, their contents emptied onto the floor, couch
pillows scattered about, chairs overturned.
Douglas Garnett, chief of detectives of Rosewood,
and Whit Abercrombie, county coroner, were standing
at the entrance to a room off the living room. Whit
was Lynn Webber’s counterpart, but he wasn’t a medi
cal examiner. He was a taxidermist with a master’s in
biology. They nodded to Diane.
Chief Garnett was a large, lanky man in his midfor
ties with a full head of salt-and-pepper well-kept hair.
‘‘In here,’’ he said.
The body was on its knees, leaning forward against
a rope around the neck and tied to the clothes rod in
the closet. The closet door stood open, and the fulllength mirror showed a side image of the gruesome
scene. Diane looked at the purple swollen face with
its dead stare and protruding tongue. Even with the
distortion of death, she recognized the face.
‘‘Oh, my God,’’ she whispered.
know this kid?’’ Garnett asked.
‘‘I know who he is.’’ Diane shivered—not from the
‘‘It’s Chris Edwards. He’s one of the two men—the
in the woods.’’
She looked around the bedroom, the single bed with
its sheets pulled away, the chest of drawers open with
floor. A bloody hand weight lay in the middle of the
‘‘We need to contact the other man who was with
‘‘Miss... Beck, Kacie Beck?’’
‘‘Miss Beck,’’ said Garnett, ‘‘do you know . . .’’ He
turned to Diane.
‘‘Steven Mayberry,’’ supplied Diane.
‘‘Where does he live?’’
‘‘Over on Udell. He has a trailer over there.’’
‘‘Do you have his telephone number?’’
‘‘Telephone number? No . . . Chris knows it.’’ She
started sobbing again.
phone. ‘‘Steven Mayberry, did you say?’’
called for the address.
‘‘We need to get Miss Beck out of the crime scene.
She can sit in my car until Garnett questions her. I’ll
call my team to start working this. . . . And I’ll need
‘‘Garnett has one coming.’’ Whit pushed his straight
the bedroom. ‘‘You think this is connected with your
‘‘I don’t know. If not, it’s an amazing coincidence.’’
Garnett got off the phone.
David obviously had been asleep, as Diane wished
‘‘David, Diane. I need you again tonight.’’
‘‘Gee, Diane, if I’d known you’re this demanding,
Diane explained, and he was quiet for a moment.
‘‘Can’t be a coincidence.’’
‘‘I’ll call Jin. You’ll have to wait for a warrant be
fore you can go in.’’
Her voice sounded sleepy, and Diane heard the rus
‘‘Jin, this is Diane. We have another crime scene. I
need you and David to work it tonight.’’ She gave him
the address. ‘‘I’m sorry to do this to you.’’
‘‘No problem.’’ Jin sounded wide awake.
Diane turned to the chief. ‘‘I’d like to ride out to
the Mayberry house.’’
He gave her a curt nod, and she climbed into his
Lexus and buckled herself in.
‘‘It’s going to be a test of our new crime scene unit.
Several ways of answering him flitted through Diane’s
her into housing the new crime lab and heading it up.
But when she opened her mouth, it was her good friend
Gregory’s wisdom that tempered her tongue.
‘‘It’s a good unit with good people. We’ll find all
the evidence that’s there to find.’’
That seemed to satisfy him. He said nothing for the
remainder of the trip. Instead, he tapped the steering
wheel with his fingers as he drove. Diane was glad it
wasn’t a long ride.
As they rounded a corner and turned into a drive
parked out front. The single trailer was lit, revealing
silhouettes of two uniformed ofﬁcers moving through
the length of it.
As Diane and the sheriff stepped out of the car, the
two uniforms emerged. One was Janice Warrick.
Good thing her eyes aren’t phasers,
thought Diane as
they came face-to-face. Warrick held her chin high and
jaw clenched and addressed the chief of detectives.
‘‘He’s not here.’’
‘‘How’s it look inside?’’
‘‘A mess,’’ said Janice Warrick. ‘‘Chairs overturned,
Mayberry now. Ofﬁcer Wallace is calling his parents
and friends, and we have an APB out for his car.’’
‘‘Did you see any blood, drug paraphernalia...?’’
Janice shook her head. ‘‘Nothing but the mess. We
do.’’ Her eyes darted in Diane’s direction and back
find him,’’ said Garnett. He turned to step back into
There was nothing for Diane to do but go back to
the crime scene. With three people working, perhaps
it wouldn’t take the entire night.