“We’ve got the prints back.” Elliot banished the serenity with practiced ease.
Carlisle looked up from her computer — fucking thing — and gave her partner a stare. “Prints? From what? The meticulously clean van? Or from inside the bar with the ten thousand other prints? No — you’ve got good news, I can see it from your face. Something from the shotgun?”
Elliot’s smirk was almost unholy. “You work too hard. Maybe you should just take the rest of the day off. Shoot some pool. You’re clearly not made out for the long hours of real police work.” He had a manila file, CONFIDENTIAL in faded red ink blocked out in capitals on the front. He tapped on it with a finger. “Leave this one to us.”
“You’re just sore you lost the bet.”
“I didn’t lose the bet. It’s just been… deferred.”
“Deferred my ass.” The murderer had been meticulous enough to stack the bodies in a single location, but had left two things out of place. One, a body impaled on an elephant — sans head — and two, a severed hand. The body had printed easily, ex-military records describing a man better off dead. Sealed file, no name, but the memo from Defence had described an SAS officer deployed into Afghanistan, then dishonourably discharged. The only thing longer than the crimes against noncombatants was the list of heroic missions. The memo had politely suggested they contact Ebonlake Associates, a private security contractor known to pay good rates for men with moral flexibility.
It was on her to-do list.
No, the bet was all about the hand. Elliot thought it had simply been misplaced, that they’d find a matching right hand, or maybe an arm. Carlisle didn’t think so — the killer was too particular. Forensics had done a pretty good job of assembling near complete cadavers from the remains, only a few pieces still out of place. Smart money was on the hand belonging to someone who got away.
So far Carlisle was in the lead. The hand hadn’t matched any of the bodies. Sure, it was possible that it was all that remained of someone, but the killer hadn’t seemed to take trophies. Complete corpses remained, albeit disassembled. It wasn’t conclusive, but it wasn’t looking good for Elliot.
“Prints from the hand on the sidewalk. Valentine Everard, works in computers. Haven’t been able to track down his boss yet. Everard’s on file — we got him for DUI a couple years back.” Elliot flipped a page in the file. “Here it is. Vehicular homicide.”
“Let me guess. He’s not turned up at the hospital yet?” They’d thrown up nothing but dead ends at the ER when they called from the scene, the staff harried and unhelpful. Yes, they were sure that they’d have noticed someone coming in without a hand. Of course they’d call if something turned up.
“Nada.” If anything, the smirk grew wider. “So why’s a guy missing his left hand not turn up to the ER?”
Carlisle turned off her screen, grabbing her jacket from where it hung in a crumpled mess over the back of her chair. “The only reason I wouldn’t go to the hospital is if I’d just killed twenty guys.” One arm through her jacket sleeve, she scrabbled around the clutter on her desk for a notebook. “What I don’t get is why you’re so happy. This is only going to prove that I’ve won the bet.”
Elliot nodded. “I just took your view, opened an office pool. I might lose to you, but I’m going to win against — so far — five other fine detectives.”
“Even if you lose, you win?”
Valentine’s an ordinary guy with ordinary problems. His boss is an asshole. He’s an alcoholic. And he’s getting that middle age spread just a bit too early. One night — the one night he can’t remember — changes everything. What happened at the popular downtown bar, The Elephant Blues? Why is Biomne, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, so interested in him — and the virus he carries? How is he getting stronger, faster, and more fit? And what’s the connection between Valentine and the criminally insane Russian, Volk?
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Genre – Action, Thriller, Urban Fantasy
Rating – R16
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