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Authors: Lawrence Kelter

Third Victim

Third Victim
Number III of
Stephanie Chalice Back Story
Lawrence Kelter
F Street Books (2015)

Yes, Chalice fans, Third Victim is on the cusp. If you enjoyed First Kill and Second Chance, you'll just flat out die for Third Victim.

The Back Stories feature NYPD Detective Stephanie Chalice in the days before she made the big time. She's righteous, rambunctious, and oh so ready ... for anything. Join her in Third Victim. She's funnier, ballsier, and just plain hell-bent for justice.

She's taken her first life, turned a sorely needed vacation into a nightmare, and is once again ready to mess with the wicked. When a bomb goes off in a house of worship, she questions the bomber's MO and the evidence staring her in the face. Rejecting the obvious conclusion, Chalice leaps headfirst into an investigation with no obvious suspects and clues that stymie NYPD's best and brightest.

Don't hesitate - you can preorder Chalice's third Back Story right now.

Third Victim

A Stephanie Chalice Back Story

#3

 

 

 

 

 

By

Lawrence Kelter

 

 

~~~

If you enjoyed
First Kill
and
Second Chance
, you’ll just flat out die for
Third Victim
.

 

The Back Stories feature NYPD Detective Stephanie Chalice in the days before she made the big time. She’s righteous, rambunctious, and oh so ready … for anything. Join her in
Third Victim
. She’s funnier, ballsier, and just plain hell-bent for justice.

 

She’s taken her first life, turned a sorely needed vacation into a nightmare, and is once again ready to mess with the wicked. When a bomb goes off in a house of worship, she questions the bomber’s MO and the evidence staring her in the face. Rejecting the obvious conclusion, Chalice leaps headfirst into an investigation with no obvious suspects and clues that stymie NYPD’s best and brightest.

~~~

Third Victim Copyright © 2015 by Lawrence Kelter

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by information storage and retrieval system, without written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

This book is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to events, locales, or persons living or dead, is coincidental.

Editing by

Pauline Nolet

Interior book design by

Bob Houston eBook Formatting

Acknowledgments

 

The author gratefully acknowledges the following special people for their contributions to this book.

As always for my wife, Isabella, for nurturing each and every new book as if it were a newborn child, and for her love and support.

For my children, Dawn and Chris … just because.

 

Third Victim

A Stephanie Chalice Back Story

#3

 

 

By

Lawrence Kelter

Chapter One

 

The first victim was male
. He was young with full round cheeks and wavy brown hair. His peyos were tucked behind his ears, and the fringes of his tallit were visible beneath the dust that had settled on him after the explosion. A blast had gone off at the Broadway Chabad, a place of worship for religious Jews in the Theater District. The source of the blast was readily apparent—a coffee-can bomb had been taped to the base of a kitchen table. The explosion had gone off shortly after eight in the morning, killing three kitchen workers.

“How ironic,” I lamented as I stared at the ruptured black and yellow vessel that had once contained Chock full o’Nuts coffee.

Gus Lido was my new partner. He was wet behind the ears but easy on the eyes, a former West Side patrolman who had recently been promoted to homicide. He was studious and had asked a lot of questions while back at the station house, which was good. His initial crime scene query, however, would not be memorialized as one of his more inspired efforts. “What do you mean, Chalice?”

“You don’t find satire in a student of the Talmud being killed by
that heavenly coffee?”
I shrugged and flashed my upturned palms.
“Nothing?”

“Oh,”
he spurted with revelation.

“You’ve got to pay attention to the one-liners, rookie. They’re pearls, Lido, absolute pearls.” He seemed preoccupied and my guess was that he was searching his mind for correct crime scene protocol. “Flipping pages in the detective’s handbook? I know that’s what I did the first few times.”

He nodded.

“Just remember the basics, Gus, the best search options are usually the most difficult and time-consuming, and physical evidence can
never
be overdocumented. So just take your time and ease into it. Let the crime scene soak into your head.”

The crime scene team had yet to determine how the bomb had been triggered, but there are so many options in this electronic age—a cell phone and an electronic detonator were the most common, but with the kitchen completely covered with debris, it would take them considerable time to sift through the rubble to find the gizmo, or is the technical term thingamabob?

Also obvious was that the bomb had been filled with steel ball bearings, many of which were embedded in the kitchen Sheetrock wall. A technician was busily prying them out of the wall and depositing them in an evidence bag. Two of the ball bearings were imbedded in the first victim’s forehead, and it appeared that one had pierced his cheek. The fireball emanating from the blast must’ve singed off his eyebrows and charred his exposed skin and clothing. My guess was that the victim’s death resulted from a cerebral hemorrhage or some manner of severe brain trauma. The force of the explosion-generated pressure waves must have slammed into his head with tremendous force and knocked his brain around within his skull. In extreme cases autopsies have revealed liquefied internal organs. Dried blood, visible in the victim’s ear canals, lent credibility to my theory.

“It’s a miracle the blast didn’t ignite the gas from the oven,” Lido ventured.

“I guess you don’t do a lot of cooking.”

“Scrambled eggs and coffee … I know my limits,” he replied. “You?”

“God, you can scramble eggs? I’ve been known to screw up boiling water. I’m insanely jealous.”

“So you don’t cook?”

“Not often, but my mother prepares Italian food like Emeril Lagasse and we just swapped her old worn-out stove for a brand new one.” I stepped over some debris and pointed at the brand logo on the oven. “This one was way above our budget, but I remember from doing research that it has an electronic glow bar ignition system.”

“Meaning?”

“There’s no pilot light. The gas remains off and doesn’t start flowing until you turn on the oven or a burner, then electric current runs through the glow bar and makes it hot enough to ignite the gas.” Still, he’d made a valid point, and I informed him that one of the first things we do after a fire or explosion is to turn off the gas main. I even threw in an atta boy for good measure.

Victim number two was female. She was short, round, and wore an apron that was way too small to be tied around her thick waist. Her hair was really something. It was stiff, wavy, and brushed straight back à la Gene Simmons of Kiss fame, the kind of barbwire hair a woman could do absolutely nothing with. It was “cut it short and stuff it under a hat” kind of hair. I’m not trying to be cruel here, but you couldn’t say that she was a pretty woman—in fact, she reminded me of Cornelius from the original
Planet of the Apes
. She was lying flat on her back in a puddle of water with a giant bloody divot in her forehead. An empty fifty-cup coffee urn lay alongside her on the floor. I had already formulated my hypothesis as to how she’d been killed but tossed it out there for the rookie to take a swing at. “So what do you think?”

“Hmm.” He was pensive for a moment before offering his explanation. “A woman that heavy shouldn’t wear leggings.”


Ha!
Love it.” Lido had been somewhat withdrawn up until that point and I was happy to see that he had loosened up a little, popped his cherry, so to speak. I mean what good is a partner if he can’t hold up his end of an inappropriate conversation. “No, but really, tell me what you see here. What caused the fatality?”

“Is this a quiz?”

I nodded. “Yer darn tootin’. Show me what you’ve got.”

“It looks like she was filling the coffee urn when the explosion went off and the force of the blast drove her head-first into the pot filler.”

“Yup. Sounds about right. Makes a good argument for buying one of those dainty little Keurig coffee machines.”

“Do I go to the head of the class?”

“Well, since it’s a class of one … yeah, sure, knock yourself out. You can clap out the erasers and collect the milk money as well. By the way, are you recording all of this?”

“Oh. Uh-huh,” he said as he reached for his notepad and pen. “Thanks for reminding me.”

“No worries. One day you’ll be schooling a newbie of your very own and I trust that you’ll be as gracious a mentor as I am.”

He sneered lightheartedly before moving onto the third victim. I saw him wince as he took in the deceased. The man’s face was gone. It was pulverized and completely unrecognizable. In essence, the back of the victim’s skull was a bowl filled with gray matter stew. Yeah, I know, that was one hell of a visual. Sorry.

“The poor son of a bitch,” Lido moaned. He covered his mouth with his hand. I thought he was going to lose his breakfast, but he managed to hold it together and actually got down on his haunches for a better look. “Dear Lord, what happened to this guy?”

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