KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
A PRIVATE PRACTICE
BY E.J. LINDEN
Someone is murdering men in the city of Pittsburgh. The victims have one thing in common—they are all perpetrators of domestic abuse. The carved letter on their palms make the murders a very personal and very private practice.
A dark-clad figure stepped out from behind the pillar. A hood shadowed the face. Slender and slight, it could have been a young boy. Far too young, or at least too scrawny, to take down a man of nearly six feet and two-hundred forty pounds. Inside the run-down house a TV blared and, from an upstairs open window, heated voices exchanged curses and threats.
The first blow struck between the shoulder blades, slicing through flesh and muscle, hitting on vertebrae. The man gasped in surprise and went to his knees. Blood spurted as the assailant slashed savagely until the man lay motionless on the rotting wood. Gloved hands turned the man’s palms upward, holding each one while using the tip of the knife to carve.
The figure leapt over the shaky railing of the porch and rounded the corner of the house, following a trail through the woods. The murderer moved between trees, first shedding the black hoodie. Plastic coverings were slipped off the boots. Finally, the gloves were removed and all items rolled inside the hoodie. At the waiting vehicle, a trash bag was removed from the trunk and the evidence of the attack placed inside, with the exception of the hunting knife. That was soaked with alcohol and wiped clean, the rags then stuffed into the bag for disposal.
On the opposite side of the city, in a more affluent neighborhood, a Dumpster sat behind a closed dance studio. Stopping at a dark corner, the driver got out, removed the evidence from the trunk, and tossed it inside. It would be buried in a landfill by Monday.
Hyped up from adrenaline, the driver headed for the Liberty Tunnels. A kill always had this effect, gave a rush and made it impossible to sleep. A night drive helped bring down the heightened senses. The trick was to monitor speed, not risk getting stopped. Atop Mt. Washington, the figure, now clad only in dark jeans and a navy blue tee shirt, leaned on a railing, staring at the city lights. Pittsburgh was beautiful on a night like this. And, now—safer.
* * *
Flashing blue lights cut a swath across the trees and reflected in the windows of the house at the end of Margaretta Street in Pittsburgh’s East End. Yellow police tape stretched the width of the top porch step of the battered Victorian. Dim light shone in the windows, some with pull shades half drawn, giving the house a sleepy, sad-eyed look.
Her partner met her at the base of the steps. “That was fast.”
“I was awake, and I wasn’t busy. What do we have?” She surveyed the scene.
“White male, stabbed repeatedly.”’
Susan swung a long, slender denim-clad leg over the crime scene tape.
Frank cursed as he struggled to maintain balance while hefting his bulk over the barrier. “Do we really need this damned tape?” he asked the uniformed cop. “What do we know?”
“Looks like someone really hated this guy. And check out his hands.”
Dillard squatted and directed his flashlight to the victim’s right hand. The palm had a bloody ‘Z’ carved into it.
The uniform bent closer. “Same thing’s on the other hand. Looks like Zorro rides again,” he said with a laugh.
Dillard grunted as he pushed himself upright. “What else?”
“Nothing. Just this guy, barely cold. I didn’t want to move the body until the coroner arrived, but I can count at least seven stab wounds to the back without rolling him. No footprints around the house. No weapon. No witnesses.”
“This is personal. Very personal.” Susan studied the multiple stab wounds and the carvings on the man’s palms.
E.J. Linden is a writer of mystery and suspense, words that also define the author. A Private Practice is E. J.’s debut novel featuring Detective Susan Wycoff. E. J. lives to write. When not writing, E. J. enjoys pizza and beer with friends, watching pro football, and long walks in the park. (Okay, that last part isn’t quite true.) Watch for more to come from E. J. Linden.
Links to E.J.’s website, blog, books, etc.
Linden Mystery and Suspense Facebook Page:
Thanks, E.J., for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!