Authors: Arthur Hailey
Tags: #Mystery & Detective - General, #Detective, #Police Procedural, #Miami (Fla.), #Police, #Mystery & Detective, #Catholic ex-priests, #Fiction - Mystery, #Hard-Boiled, #General, #Mystery Fiction, #Mystery & Detective - Police Procedural, #Thrillers, #Crime & mystery, #Fiction
Novels by Arthur Hailey
THE EVENING NEWS
IN HIGH PLACES
THE FINAL DIAGNOSIS
RUNWAY ZERO-EIGHT (with John Castle)
CLOSE-UP ON WRITING FOR TELEVISION
BERKLEY BOOKS. NEW YORK
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A Berkley Book / published by arrangement with
Crown Publishers, Inc.
Crown Publishers, Inc., edition / July 1997
Berkley edition / August 1998
All rights reserved.
Copyright ~ 1997 by Arthur Halley.
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PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10 9 87 6 54 3 21
To the Memory of
Stephen L (Steve) Vinson
Sometime Detective-Sergeant (Homicide)
Miami Police Department
Adviser and Good Friend
Who died, at age fifty-two, shortly
before completion of this book
the banquet of
sword is ever
At 10:35 P.M. on
January 27, Malcolm
Ainslie was halfway
to the outer door of
Homicide when a
phone rang behind
he paused to look
back. Later, he
wished he hadn't.
swiftly to an empty
desk, where he
picked up a phone,
then called to
Ainslie. "For you,
Ainslie set down a
book he had been
carrying and re-
turned to his own
desk to take the
call. His movements
were ordered and
easy. At forty-one,
Ainslie was solidly
built, a half-inch
short of six feet
and not too
appearance from his
days as a high
Only a slight belly
bespoke the junk
food he often ate a
staple for many
to eat on the run.
Tonight, on the
fifth floor of the
main Miami Police
the Homicide offices
were quiet. In all,
teams worked here,
each team consisting
of a sergeant
supervisor and three
detectives. But the
members of tonight's
duty team were now
all out, probing
into a trio of
reported in the past
few hours. In Miami,
Florida, the pace of
human mayhem seldom
4 Arthur Dailey
Officially, a Homicide duty shift
lasted ten hours, but was often
longer because of continuing
investigations. Malcolm Ainslie and
Jorge Rodriguez, whose own duty
shift had ended several hours ago,
had continued working until moments
Almost certainly the phone call
was from his wife, Karen, Ainslie
thought. Wondering when he was
coming home, and eager to begin
their long-planned vacation. Well,
for once he'd be able to tell her he
was on his way, the paperwork
completed, loose ends tied, and the
lights now green for Karen and Jason
and himself to board tomorrow's
early-bird Air Canada flight from
Miami to Toronto.
Ainslie was ready for a break.
While physically fit, he lacked the
limitless energy he'd had when he
joined the force a decade earlier.
Yesterday as he was shaving, he'd
noticed the ever-increasing gray in
his brown, thinning hair. Some extra
wrinkles, too; for sure, the
stresses of Homicide caused those.
And his eyes vigilant and prob-
ing betrayed skepticism and
disillusionment from witnessing,
across the years, the human
condition at its worst.
It was then that Karen had
appeared behind him and, reading his
thoughts as she so often did, run
her fingers through his hair,
pronouncing, "I still like what I
He'd pulled Karen toward him then
and held her tightly. The top of
Karen's head came only to his
shoulders, and he savored the
softness of her silky chestnut hair
against his cheek, the closeness of
their bodies exciting them both as
it always had. Putting a finger
beneath her chin, he tilted her face
upward as they kissed.
"I come in a small package," Karen
had said soon after they became
engaged. "But there's lots of love
in it along with everything else
you'll need." And so it had been.
Expecting to hear Karen's voice
now, Ainslie smiled and took the
phone from Jorge.
A deep, resonant voice announced,
"This is Father Ray Uxbridge. I'm
the chaplain at Florida State
"Yes, I know." Ainslie had met
Uxbridge a couple of times and
didn't like him. But he answered
politely, "What can I do for you,
"There's a prisoner here who's
going to be executed at seven
o'clock tomorrow morning. His name
is Elroy Doil. He says he knows
Ainslie said tersely, "Of course he
knows me. I helped send Animal to
The voice came back stiffly. "The
person we're speaking of is a human
being, Sergeant. I prefer not to use
The response reminded Ainslie why
he disliked Ray Uxbridge. The man
was a pompous ass.
"Everybody calls him Animal,"
Ainslie answered. "He uses the name
himself. Besides, the way he killed
makes him worse than an animal."
In fact, it had been a Dade County
assistant medical examiner, Dr.
Sandra Sanchez, who, on viewing the
mutilated bodies of the first two
victims in the twelve murders
attributed to Elroy Doil, exclaimed,
"Oh dear God! I've seen horrible
things, but this is the work of a
human animal! "
Her remark was repeated widely.
On the telephone Uxbridge's voice
continued. "Mr. Doil has asked me to
tell you that he wishes to see you
before he dies." A pause, and
Ainslie visualized the priest
checking his watch. "That's slightly
more than eight hours from now."
"Has Doil said why he wants to see
6 Arthur Halley
"He is aware that you, more than
anyone else, were the cause of his
arrest and conviction."
Ainslie asked impatiently, ''So
what are you saying? He wants to
spit in my eye before he dies?"
A momentary hesitation. "The
prisoner and I have had a
discussion. But I remind you that
what passes between a priest and a
condemned man is privileged and "
Ainslie cut in. "I'm aware of
that, Father, but I remind you that
I'm in Miami, four hundred miles
away, and I'm not driving all night
because that wacko suddenly decides
it would be fun to see me."
Ainslie waited. Then clearly the
priest made a decision. "He says he
wishes to confess."
The answer jolted Ainslie; it was
the last thing he'd expected. He
felt his pulse quicken. "Confess
what? You mean to all the
The question was natural.
Throughout Elroy Doil's trial for a
ghastly double murder, of which he
had been found guilty and sentenced
to death, Doll had maintained his
innocence despite strong evidence
against him. He had been equally
emphatic about his innocence of ten
other murders clearly serial
killings with which he was not
charged, but which investigators
were convinced he had committed.
The merciless savagery of all
twelve murders had aroused a
nationwide sensation and horror.
After the trial a syndicated
columnist had written, "Elroy Doll
is the most compelling argument for
capital punishment. Pity is, from
electrocution he'll die too easily,
not suffering as his victims did."
"I have no idea what he plans to
confess. That is something you would
have to find out for yourself."
"I beg your pardon!"
"I said 'shit,' Father. Surely
you've used the word a time or two."
"There is no need for rudeness."
Ainslie groaned aloud at the sudden
dilemma he faced.
If, at this late stage, Animal was
ready to concede that the charges at
his trial were true and that he was
guilty of other serial killings, it
had to go on record. One reason: A
few vocal persons, including an
anti-capital-punishment group, even
now supported Doil's claims of
innocence, arguing he had been
railroaded through the courts because
an aroused public demanded the arrest
of someone, anyone and fast. A
confession by Doil would crush those
What was in doubt, of course, was
what Doil intended by the word
"confession." Would it be a simple
legal one, or something convoluted
and religious? At Doil's trial he was
described by a witness as a religious
fanatic mouthing "crazy, garbled
But whatever Doil had to say, there
would be questions that Ainslie, with
his intimate knowledge of events, was
the most qualified to ask. Therefore
he must, simply must, go to Raiford.
He leaned back wearily in his desk
chair. This could not have come at a
worse time. Karen, he knew, would be
furious. Only last week she had met
him at one o'clock in the morning
just inside the front door of their
home with a firm pronouncement.
Ainslie had just returned from a
grisly gang-related homicide for
which he had had to miss their
anniversary dinner. Karen, dressed in
a pink nightshirt, blocked his
entrance and said forcefully,
"Malcolm, our life simply cannot go
on like this. We hardly ever see you.
We can't rely on you. And when you
are here, you're so damn tired from
sixteen-hour workdays, all you do is
sleep. I'm telling you, things have
got to change. You have
8 Arthur Halley
to decide what you care about most."
Karen looked away. Then she said
quietly, "I mean it, Malcolm. This
is not a bluff."
He understood exactly what Karen
meant. And he sympathized. But
nothing was ever as simple as it
"Sergeant, are you still there?"
Uxbridge's voice was demanding.
"Well, are you coming or not?"
Ainslie hesitated. "Father, this
confession by Doll would it be a
confession in a general sense?"
"I'm not sure what you mean."
"I'm looking for a compromise not
to have to come to Raiford. Would
you agree to have Doil confess to
you in the presence of a prison
officer? That way it would be
official, on the record."
A long shot, Ainslie knew, and the
explosive reply didn't surprise him.
"In God's name, no! The suggestion
is outrageous! Our confession is
sacred and private. You, especially,
should know that."
"I suppose so. I apologize." At
least he owed Uxbridge that. It had
simply been a last-ditch attempt to
avoid the journey. Now it seemed
there was no alternative.
The fastest way to the State
Prison was by air to Jacksonville or
Gainesville, with the prison a short
drive from either one. But the
commercial flights all left during
the day. Now the only way to reach
Raiford before Doil's execution was
to drive. Ainslie glanced at his
watch. Eight hours. Allowing for
time he'd need there, it was barely
He beckoned to Rodriguez, who had
been listening intently. Covering
the receiver with his hand, Ainslie
said quietly, "I need you to drive
me to Raiford now. Check out a
marked car. Make sure it has a full
tank, then wait
for me at the motor pool. And get a
"Right, Sergeant." Briskly, Jorge
disappeared through the outer door.
The priest continued, his anger
sharper now, "I'll make this clear,
Ainslie. I find communicating with
you distasteful. I am doing it,
against my conscience, because I was
asked by this pathetic man, who is
about to die. The fact is, Doll
knows you were once a priest. He
will not confess to me; he has told
me so. In his warped, misguided mind
he wishes to confess to you. The
thought is thoroughly repugnant to
me, but I must respect the man's
Well, there it was, out in the open.
From the moment he heard Ray
Uxbridge's voice on the phone,
Ainslie had expected it. Experience
had taught him two things. One, that
his own past had a habit of
surfacing unexpectedly, and clearly
Uxbridge knew of it. Also, no one
was more bitter or prejudiced toward
an ax-Catholic priest than an
incumbent priest. Most others were
tolerant, even Catholic laity, and
clergy of other denominations. But
never priests. In his jaded moments,
Ainslie attributed it to envy the
fourth deadly sin.