Max Tempest, lead investigator for the Governor’s Violent Crime Task Force, has never come across a case like this. He has never even heard of one like it. Ritual brutality, mutilation, curious ceremony, Ancient Artifacts and eerily similar procedures at all crime scenes. Each as confusing as the next.
Excerpt from Chapter I: Contagious Insanity
“Maximilian Tempest, the governor got you housebroke yet?” Bryony Ambra, Cook County Medical Examiner said as she walked into the room.
“The Governor and I were just about to have a look around. You’re welcome to join, Bryony,” Max said. “Just don’t touch anything,” he added with a chuckle.
“One of these days I’m going to have your badge, Tempest, on toast.”
“I’ll bring the pickles,” Max replied. He also noticed that except for the coffee table that had been knocked over, there wasn’t much sign of struggle.
“And there’s another one for the collection,” Max said pointing to a small ceramic container next to the body. It looked like a heart, filled with ashes.
“A crude, probably homemade, version of a ceremonial Mayan incense bowl, just like the last one,” Bryony said.
“And the five before that,” Max added. “And still no hard leads. Let’s hope we get lucky this time.”
Bryony carefully photographed the scene, documenting everything before she physically inspected the body. She kneels to examine the shaved head, brain exposed, pieces missing.
“What do you think, Brea? Another devil’s communion?”
“Can’t speak to that, Max. But I’m convinced that your killer is obsessed with the victim’s memories. In each case the head is shaved, skull cut with a crude saw he hippo-campus and amygdala removed.”
“We have been over this. Functions of memory and emotion,” Max said.
“That’s correct,” Bryony confirmed. Max sent a deep frustrated exhale through puffed cheeks.
“And then the pieces of brain are burned in some sick ceremony, with those little urns. Hands tucked into pockets cut under the breasts and on top of that, the toes are missing. Now that one has me stumped. The question is why? Why all this? Is it personal? Is this nut bag on a mission? Did all of the victims see something they shouldn’t have? Does he have orders from Satan, or a command from God? Who knows, maybe he sees it in his freaking Cheerios.”
“Settle down, Maxie, you’ll figure it out.”
“Yes, I will. But how many bodies. . . Okay, so give me a cause of death, Brea, as if I didn’t already know.”
“We both do,” she said, rolling the victim on her side. “And there is was. A knife wound that perfectly mirrored the last six murders. “Can’t confirm anything until I get her to the lab, but we both know what I’ll find.”
“Yeah, evidence of a long, wide, curved blade. It went through the heart. Death was instantaneous, and then the killer — blah, blah, blah. . .
“If anyone can solve this, it’s you Max,” Bryony said, taking him by the hand.
Lieutenant Carl Briggs, possibly the most by the book cop in the city, maybe even the state, walked in, eyes scouring the scene.
“Tempest. Over here, now.” The Lieutenant barked.
“I’ll be right with you, Briggs. Give me a minute,” Max said. Briggs scowled, looked down and shook his head angrily. Max actually had nothing more to do. He just didn’t like the tone. He looked down at the victim’s body, and then at Bryony. “You’ll keep me in the loop, yes?”
“As always, Maxie. Even when we were married you were a relentless pain in the butt, but I happen to like the governor.
Targeting completion of this book, first in the series, by mid twenty-eighteen. But sure would like to finish it sooner. Only at about ten-thousand words, at the moment.