Triple Cross Killer
By Rosemarie Aquilina
Fiery Seas Publishing
December 5, 2017
Have you ever wondered what really happens to Santa Claus letters? In Detroit and Sarasota some children’s letters are diverted and reviewed by Nick Archer, a religiously obsessed, narcissist. Nick responds, leaving a trail of devastation in the two cities.
In Detroit, co-ed partners and wise-cracking lovers, detectives Jaq McSween and David Maxwell, team up with Sarasota detectives Abel Mendoza and his partner, Rabbit, to find this daunting killer.
When Jaq’s friend, the lovely nurse, Rita Rose, takes a chance on love again, she gets caught in Nick’s web. Working with the ME, she joins in, adding her perspective when events take a sinister turn.
Can this diverse team of characters pool their insights, barbs, and taste for bad food to save Rita when she discovers the final clues or will she become the next victim?
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Reporters, crime-scene units, and curious neighbors crammed the constricted space in front of the dilapidated two-story brick colonial. David edged into a neighboring space between emergency vehicles stretched diagonally over pavement, curb, and lawn.
David, Recon, and Jaq quickly exited the Explorer and ducked behind the yellow crime-scene tape. In tandem, they shielded their faces. Reporters snapped pictures of them progressing toward the house.
“Don’t let that mutt compromise the crime scene,” Chief Hanusack bellowed. “Make sure you feed and walk her before you release her.”
“Seriously Chief, you know how we operate—” David met the Chief ’s stare, but held his tongue with Recon’s leash.
“You’ll understand once you’re in there.”
“Double Cross Killer?” David pulled his notebook and pen from his back pocket.
Hanusack scowled and began walking. “Intriguing work of art. Kitchen.”
With a firm hold of Recon’s harness, the team followed him through the center corridor to the kitchen in the rear of the house. Crime-scene photographers, technicians, and Dr. Towers repositioned themselves to allow full access.
David handed Recon off to an officer, then ambled behind Jaq. Together they circled the victim, careful not to disturb anything. David wanted to tell Jaq he’d investigate elsewhere. She understood his revulsion with corpses, but he couldn’t until the Chief left.
The pungent odor of stale beer overwhelmed the crowded space. Cracked eggs, shredded cheese, beans, lettuce leaves, and miscellaneous leftovers acted as window dressing, some stuffed inside the victim’s mouth, where a fork and knife were planted like victory flags on a battlefield. Mounds of a dirty white crystal-like substance were strewn over everything.
“Picturesque—” Jaq turned slowly. “In a demonic-frenzied sort of picture.”
“Obvious message,” David said. “Hungry, couldn’t decide on the menu. Ordered everything.”
Jaq leaned in for a closer view.
“What’s all over the top of the food—street salt?” David frowned.
Jaq grabbed a few pieces in her hand. “Exactly. Let’s find the container it arrived in.
“Find the cause of this meal-deal or your next assignment may be short-order cook.” Chief Hanusack pressed in his ear-bud. “Criminal Investigations wants in.”
“You assigned us—exclusive.” David worked to keep defensiveness out of his voice.
“You’ve got my support—tonight.” The Chief stared. “Don’t make the Department look like we’re idiots. FBI wants in as well. We need to at least show ’em the crimes are limited to the Great Lakes State, that there’s no big drug or gang cartel, so I can keep ’em backed off.” Chief Hanusack gritted his teeth. “So far there’s an impressive lack of evidence so they’re speculating big.”
The Chief jabbed toward them with the business end of his unlit cigar. “Get a handle on this perp. Now.”
“Yes, sir.” David tried not to sound belligerent. “A psychological profiler’s decoding the perp’s picture-messages. We’re unraveling him.”
Hanusack sounded dispirited. “There’s panic out there, real panic. I can feel the fear in the city. Detroit can’t handle another hit like this. Legislators at all levels are calling.” He paused and assessed the room. The support teams understood the silent hint and exited the kitchen. “Media’s demanding a press conference, details, an official statement—”
Jaq turned and locked eyes with the Chief. “They can’t force you to speak, Chief—”
David attempted to be the poster-boy for old-fashioned, dependable detective work. “Any premature announcement will put us months behind, draw out the nut jobs, copycats, create more fear and corpses.”
About the Author
Rosemarie Aquilina is the mother of five children. Elected as a 30th Circuit Court Judge serving in the General Trial Division, after having served as a 55th District Court Judge in Mason, Michigan, she takes pride in public serve.
In 1986, Judge Aquilina became the first female JAG Officer in the history of the Michigan Army National Guard, she retired in 2006 with twenty years Honorable Service. She is an adjunct law professor at both Western Michigan University—Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Michigan State University College of Law and has earned teaching awards at both institutions. Judge Aquilina is the former owner of Aquilina Law Firm, PLC, and former host of a syndicated radio talk show called Ask the Family Lawyer.
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