Jesse Fulton has been tracking a serial killer. It is his obsession, even destroying his private life. George Murdock is the main suspect, but there isn’t enough evidence to arrest him. Then after Murdock issues Jesse a challenge to find him in ten days to save the latest victim, he finds him in four.
But there is no victim, and Murdock…well…isn’t just dead, he’s been ripped apart, limb from limb.
Faced with an improbable mystery, Jesse is soon visited by a man who warns him that Murdock wasn’t alone on his murderous journey.
Jesse knows his visitor is no ordinary man. Was he Murdock’s final victim?
Jesse Fulton sat at the end of the bar nursing his third drink. The Black and Blue cop bar located three blocks away from his Manhattan precinct should have been filled with celebration tonight. Instead, it was unusually quiet and half empty except for some oblivious rookies and their civilian friends.
The people who’d worked with him for two years on this case were conspicuously absent. He couldn’t help wondering if they were just relieved, or as confused as he was. George Murdock, one of the most depraved serial killers on record, had been found dead three hours ago, and it looked like he’d been torn limb from limb by his final victim, who was nowhere to be found.
Two years of his life he’d given to nailing the fiend, and Jesse could find no comfort in Murdock’s demise.
When he’d first been brought in on the case, the head investigator was Gail Morgan, a top-notch profiler from Boston. Morgan had worked on a similar case fifteen years before. The victims, all young men between the ages of sixteen and twenty, had been held for days, sexually tortured and then murdered by strangulation.
The killer always took his victim to houses or apartments with basements. After killing them, he would cut off their heads and display them somewhere nearby. The body would turn up somewhere else—in a lake, a ravine, behind a park bench. He’d killed over sixteen males in five years, and those were just the ones they knew about.
Gail lost her marriage and her health investigating that case. She got close, even narrowed down the suspects to one man, George Murdock, a fifty-two-year-old war vet, who lived with his mother. Gail tailed him day and night for weeks. Nothing. Then, the killings just stopped.
When they began again in New York fifteen years later, Gail was right there. She had become a closet alcoholic and one of the most driven cops Jesse had ever seen. She swore it was Murdock who was the killer and demanded a task force. Murdock’s mother was dead, and sure enough, he’d moved to New York City. The task force tracked him to an apartment block for which he was maintenance manager near the university. The area was filled with young men.
They worked day and night on that case. Three victims later, Gail was in a head-on collision. She died instantly. They said she was drunk and headed in the direction of the university. Her pursuit of Murdock bordered on the obsessive. Jesse remembered telling his boyfriend at that time If I ever get that obsessed with a case, it’s time to quit. Oh, how those words had come back and bitten him in the ass.
Up until Gail died, Jesse had had a semblance of a life. He’d worked decent hours and had someone to come home to. Then he was made lead investigator on the case, and when another victim turned up with the same modus operandi just a few weeks after they lost Gail, Jesse became her reincarnation. His boyfriend of six years left him for another man, Jesse started drinking every night, and all he could think about was George Murdock.
Then they got a break in the case. Someone reported that a man matching Murdock’s description had been looking in his bedroom window at night. It was enough to haul Murdock in for questioning, something they hadn’t been able to do.
Jesse would never forget what it felt like to be in the same room with him. He was a stocky man, with overgrown eyebrows, and he smiled the whole time he was in the interrogation room. But there was something in that smile that made you want to take a shower. And his eyes, the way he looked at people, as if he alone held the key to life and death.
When Jesse walked into that room, Murdock lifted a hand in greeting. “So, finally, I am in the presence of the great Detective Jesse Fulton. You were Gail Morgan’s right-hand on what they now call the Queen of Heart Murders.”
“How would you know that?” Jesse took a chair and sat opposite him.
“I spend a lot of time on the internet, Detective. I’m a bit of a murder mystery guy.” He was still smiling. “He’s had quite a career, this killer.”
“I wouldn’t call it a career.”
“Well, it’s impressive.”
“Really? You’re impressed by sadistic murder and torture?”
His smile broadened. “No, not that. It’s just that he’d been able to carry on without being caught.”
“We will catch him soon,” Jesse said, meeting his gaze. “You can count on it.”
“Good, we can all sleep better at night knowing you’re on the case, Jesse.”
“Detective Fulton,” Jesse corrected.
He smiled again. “I meant no disrespect.”
“Do you know why you’re here?”
“I have no idea, I’m afraid. You know, poor Gail, she really wasted a lot of time on me. It bordered on harassment. I’m not going to have to get some restraining order against you, am I, Detective?”
“Can you please answer the question.”
“I did. I have no idea why I’m here. It’s convenient, isn’t it, Jesse?”
He nodded. “Of course. Forgive me again.”
“What is convenient, Mr. Murdock?”
“To bring me in on some bogus accusation.”
“The young man said he saw you looking at him through his bedroom window.”
He inspected his nails. “I couldn’t be bothered to do that, especially late at night. I’d miss my favorite television shows. The new fall line-up is good this year.” He met Jesse’s gaze. “Have you seen any of the new shows?”
Jesse sighed. “Let’s begin again.”
“I think I can help you with the case.”
“Is that so?” Jesse eyed him. “Do tell.”
“I think I know the fellow who’s been looking into windows. He works on campus, special problems.” He pointed to his head. “He likes taking pictures, but he’s harmless.”
“Mr. Sean Aylmer gave your description. Do you have a twin?”