I should probably give you lots of background to the scene I'm posting today, or talk about my writing process, or something with some vestige of depth to it. But I am here in Long Beach, at Bouchercon, and that means I would rather be A) Taking the Queen Mary Haunted Ship tour or B) drinking at the bar with 2,000 of my closest mystery-loving friends.
I will say it's getting harder and harder to find excerpts, because I don't want to give anything away about the plot of HID FROM OUR EYES, of course, and I also don't want to give anything away about a certain blessed event in Russ and Clare's life or what might be happenening with our latest pair of star-crossed lovers, Hadley Knox and Kevin Flynn.
So I'm playing it safe with a trip back to 1952, when Harry McNeil was in charge and future chief Jack Liddle was just a wet-behind the ears junior trooper.
Jack waved toward the folder in Harry's hand. “It's all in there.”
“You got the autopsy report?”
In the evening dimness, he could make out Jack shaking his head. “They didn't do an autopsy. Just a visual exam.”
“Oh, for--” Harry reined in his language. No need to set a bad example for the boy.
“Carruthers said they didn't need the added expense. The doctor did say she might haveit's possible she died from the cold. I've got a death picture of her I've been showing around Cossayuharie when I can. So far, nobody's recognized her.”
“Be careful. Carruthers finds out you've been working the case behind his back and he'll have your badge.”
Jack flipped his hand open in a big deal gesture. “He doesn't pay close enough attention to my beat to know what I'm doing.”
“Did they find anything else at the scene? Footprints? Tire tracks?”
“Nothing. And no witnesses to any traffic up that way in the small hours.”
Harry sighed. “Okay. If we're going to crack anything, it'll have to start with her identity.”
Jack pointed to the folder. “There's another death picture in there, along with a list of the folks I've shown it to.”
“You realize she might not have been from around here, right? She could have been passing through, or brought her from God-knows-where by her killer.”
“Yeah, but according to the doctor, she was alive at eleven or twelve o'clock the night before. So even if she were killed and brought straight here to be disposed of, she was only in the car for three hours. Less, with the time he must have spent getting her in and out of the vehicle.”
Kid, do you know how wide a circle three hours drive time spans? Harry kept the thought to himself, opting instead for a more optimistic, “Well, at least that limits the search area.”
Jack withdrew into the shadow of his car. “Chief, if you don't want to pursue this, I can--”
Harry shook his head. “No. I want to. I need to. Cossayuharie has been cheek-by-jowl to Millers Kill for two hundred years. Cossayuharie kids go to Millers Kill High School. Millers Kill boys go to work in Cossyuharie dairies.” He slapped the too-thin file he was holding against his steering wheel. “It may not be our duty, but by God I won't leave some poor woman dead and dumped without a question because the G – D state investigator won't do his job.”