Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir

Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir

Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir

Cold-Blooded: Killer Nashville Noir

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Overview

“Murder, mayhem, and mystery! Every story . . . is filled with suspense, sizzle and startling twists. I loved it!” ―Lisa Jackson, New York Times–bestselling author
 
Crime comes to the capital of country music in these all-new stories by mystery and thriller stars including Jeffery Deaver, Anne Perry, Robert Dugoni, Donald Bain, Jefferson Bass, and many more.
 
“Settings include backwoods hollows, late-night recording studios, seedy dives, quiet suburbs, sleek yachts, and tropical islands. Readers will meet Civil War re-enactors, college professors, song writers, spies, and the requisite lawyers and cops, as well as a being that just might be the devil. Among the highlights are Anne Perry’s ‘Shutter Speed,’ which takes the reader back in time to the fashionable haunts of 1930s British aristocracy, with Wallis Simpson and Edward, Prince of Wales, putting in an appearance. In ‘Regression,’ Jeffery Deaver offers a fresh and frightening look at the potential benefits and pitfalls of successful psychiatric treatment, and Mary Burton warms up a cold case in ‘The Keepsake.’ This is a book to keep by your bedside for those nighttime short story cravings.” —Publishers Weekly
 
Includes stories by Jefferson Bass, Catriona McPherson, Baron R. Birtcher, Donald Bain, C. Hope Clark, Jonathan Stone, Maggie Toussaint, Jeffery Deaver, Blake Fontenay, Jon Jefferson, Anne Perry, Heywood Gould, Dana Chamblee Carpenter, Mary Burton, Jaden Terrell, Robert Dugoni & Paula Gail Benson, Eyre Price, Steven James, Daco, and Clay Stafford

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781626818774
Publisher: Diversion Books
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: eBook
Pages: 330
Sales rank: 257,826
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

About The Author
Kevin Stillwell is an actor that has voiced a number of audiobooks, including" Careless Love", " Last Train to Memphis", " The First Assassin", " The Millionaire Affair", and others. His film and television credits include "Looper" and "Drop Dead Diva".
A Seattle7Writers project for literacy, this novel was written by Kathleen Alcalá, Matthew Amster-Burton, Kit Bakke, Erica Bauermeister, Sean Beaudoin, Dave Boling, Deb Caletti, Carol Cassella, William Dietrich, Robert Dugoni, Kevin Emerson, Karen Finneyfrock, Clyde Ford, Jamie Ford, Elizabeth George, Mary Guterson, Maria Dahvana Headley, Teri Hein, Stephanie Kallos, Erik Larson, David Lasky, Stacey Levine, Frances McCue, Jarret Middleton, Peter Mountford, Kevin O'Brien, Julia Quinn, Nancy Rawles, Suzanne Selfors, Jennie Shortridge, Ed Skoog, Garth Stein, Greg Stump, Indu Sundaresan, Craig Welch and Susan Wiggs. Foreword by Nancy Pearl. Introduction by Garth Stein.
Anne Perry (1938–2023) was a bestselling author of historical detective fiction, most notably the Thomas and Charlotte Pitt series and the William Monk series, both set in Victorian England. Her first book, The Cater Street Hangman (1979), launched both the Pitt series and her career as a premier writer of Victorian mysteries. Other novels in the series include Resurrection RowDeath in the Devil’s Acre, and Silence in Hanover Close, as well as more than twenty others. The William Monk series of novels, featuring a Victorian police officer turned private investigator, includes Funeral in BlueThe Twisted Root, and The Silent Cry. In addition to these series, Perry also authored the World War I novels No Graves as YetShoulder the SkyAngels in the Gloom, and others, as well as several collections of short stories. Perry’s novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world and have sold more than twenty-five million books in print worldwide.
 
Jeffery Deaver (b. 1950) is an American author of thrillers. Born near Chicago, Illinois, he practiced law before writing his first novel, Manhattan Is My Beat, in 1988. This story of Rune, a video-store clerk who investigates a client’s murder, established Deaver’s talent for psychological suspense. He wrote two more novels starring Rune before moving on to Shallow Graves (1992), which introduced location scout and amateur sleuth John Pellam. The Bone Collector (1997) kicked off a long-running series starring paralyzed detective Lincoln Rhyme; this debut title was made into a film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie in 1999. Deaver alternates his Rhyme novels with standalone books such as Garden of Beasts (2004) and Edge (2010), as well as a series about body-language analyst Kathryn Dance. In addition to his success as an author, Deaver is an accomplished folk musician, and recorded an album to accompany XO (2012), the third Kathryn Dance novel. He lives in New York City. 

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

IN PLAIN SIGHT by Jefferson Bass

"If you have to puke, don't puke on the bones," I said.

Laughter — bravado on the surface, nervousness underneath — skittered through the group of students. Most of the thirty bleary-eyed undergraduates milling outside the wooden gate of the Body Farm would be fine, but judging from my experience in prior years — and my assessment of several queasy-looking faces today — a couple of these kids would lose their breakfast.

It was a sunny Saturday morning in late April. The spring semester was winding down, many of my students were desperate for extra credit, and the Body Farm — my outdoor human-decomposition research lab at the University of Tennessee — was due for its spring cleaning. Spring cleaning at the Body Farm didn't involve dusting, weeding, or collecting empty beer cans; spring cleaning, Body Farm-style, involved collecting bones — bare and not-so-bare — and hauling them into the processing facility for simmering and scrubbing. A Saturday morning might not be the kindest time to schedule the project, I reflected. Even under the best of circumstances, tugging bones from leatherized skin and plucking them from greasy, decomp-saturated dirt was not a task for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. For young novices whose Friday night parties had given way to Saturday morning hangovers, it could be particularly nausea-inducing. It was not entirely in jest that my facility — the Anthropology Research Facility, or ARF — was sometimes called the Brockton Anthropology Research Facility: BARF.

Unlocking the padlock on the outer chainlink fence, I swung the gate open, the corner of the gate scraping an arc across the asphalt for the final few feet. Then I unlocked the heavy chain securing the inner wooden gate — part of an eight-foot-high privacy fence that shielded the Body Farm's rotting residents from prying eyes and delicate sensibilities — and led the students into the clearing inside, so they could begin the messy work of cleaning up.

Today's bumper crop of skeletons — we planned to harvest forty — had spent anywhere from six months to a year-and-a-half ripening at the Body Farm. Most of the bodies had been donated, either through the wills of the donors themselves or by their families after death. A handful, though, were unidentified or unclaimed bodies from medical examiners in various Tennessee counties: John Does, Jane Does, and — in a few cases — people whose identities were known but who had no loved ones to claim them and bury them.

My graduate assistant, Miranda Lovelady, divided the students into ten three-member teams; two team members would collect and bag the bones, and the third would document each bone as it was found. Next, she handed each team a topographic map of the facility's three fenced acres, with X's and case numbers marking the location of every set of remains. On each team's map, four X's were highlighted in bright pink, indicating which four skeletons the team was responsible for bagging. Miranda's many jobs, as my assistant, included overseeing the osteology lab and tracking body donations. As a result, she tended to have a better handle than I did on who was out here, and where, and since when.

Following in Miranda's wake was another graduate student, Nick Costanza. Nick handed each team four red, plastic biohazard bags, as well as four copies of a diagram of the human skeleton. The diagram showed the bones of the body in outline form; as each bone was found and bagged, its outline on the diagram was to be inked in, creating a visual checklist of the skeletal elements. I didn't expect us to find every single element — squirrels, raccoons, and 'possums would surely have made off with a few small bones from hands and feet — but I felt confident that we'd recover somewhere around 8,000 bones by the end of the day.

Nick's help was a pleasant surprise. A second-year master's student, Nick was obviously bright, though lately — all of this year, in fact — he'd seemed to be floundering. His attendance had been spotty, and the first draft of his master's thesis was months overdue. His offer to help today was an encouraging sign, a sign that he still cared about doing well in the program, or at least had enough insight to realize that he, like the undergraduates, could benefit from some brownie points.

"Thanks, Nick," I said when he finished handing out the diagrams and biohazard bags. "Good to have you out here today."

He started to smile but then seemed to have second thoughts, self-consciously clamping his lips together and reddening.

"Remember, it's not a race," Miranda cautioned as the teams prepared to disperse. "It's more important to be thorough than to be fast. And it's most important of all to be careful. If you step on a bone and break it, you've made it a lot less useful for teaching or research."

"Step on a bone and you lose five of your ten extra-credit points," I added. "Step on two, and we'll be bagging up you a year from now." More laughter, not quite so nervous this time. "Okay, let's get to work. Lunch in three hours. Pulled-pork sandwiches and barbecued ribs."

* * *

Eight hours, three barf bags, and six broken bones later — damaged skeletons, not injured students — the sun was dropping toward the low, wooded ridgeline of Sequoyah Hills and the Cumberland Plateau beyond. Miranda cross-checked her list of teams and assignments as the final groups straggled in with bagged skeletons.

I snuck an impatient peek over her shoulder. "Is that it?"

She scrunched the left side of her face, her telltale early warning sign of irritation. "Should be, but it's not. There's one team still out. The ones calling themselves the Skelenators."

"Really? Those guys? I thought they were working pretty fast." I scanned the deepening shadows in the woods, but saw no signs of movement. "Weren't they the first ones to bring in a skeleton?"

"Yup." She checked her log. "They brought in number one at noon, just before we broke for lunch. Gave the other teams a ton of shit about being slowpokes, too." Her eyes scrolled down the page. "They brought in their second at two o'clock. Number three at 3:15. At that rate, they should've delivered the last one at 4:30." She checked her watch. "How come it's five o'clock with no sign of 'em?"

I shrugged. "Maybe they're having trouble finding some of the elements. What's the case number?"

"Well, let's see. They've brought in 63-12. And 89-12. And 97-12." She tapped the corresponding X's on the map, the numbers signifying that those were the 63rd, 89th, and the 97th donated bodies of 2012. "So the one still out is 28-11."

"That one's been out here a while," I noted. "A year? More?"

"Since February 21, 2011."

"Not surprising if that one's harder. Plenty of time for the critters to scatter things. Where is it?"

"Up top." She pointed to an X high on the hillside, in a seldom-used part of the facility. The terrain there was steeper, which meant that heavy rains could wash bones down the slope. Besides, hauling bodies up there was a lot of work. Down near the facility's gate — especially around the edges of the main clearing, which was easily accessible by pickup — you couldn't swing a cat without hitting a body or three. In the woods higher up — especially the parts farthest from the one-lane gravel track that meandered halfway up the hillside — the Body Farm's population density grew mighty sparse.

Leaving Nick to supervise the loading of the bagged skeletons into the back of the department's pickup truck, Miranda and I headed up the gravel, pausing occasionally to consult the topo map. When we reached the spot marked by the X, we saw a dark, greasy spot on the ground — the stain left by volatile fatty acids as a body had decomposed. At the base of a nearby tree, I spotted a red biohazard bag and a clipboard. The bag was sealed, and the clipboard held a skeletal diagram labeled "28-11." Miranda picked up the clipboard and studied the diagram.

"Huh," she said, handing it to me. "Looks like they actually found all the elements. They're done. So where the hell are they?" She made a V of her index fingers and tucked the fingertips between her teeth, then produced an earsplitting whistle. "Hey!" she shouted. "Skelenators! Where are you?"

A moment later, from farther up the hill, a voice called, "Coming," followed by the crackling, shuffling sounds of three pairs of feet scampering downhill.

"Sorry," puffed the first of the three to arrive, a rangy, red-haired junior named Kyle.

"We were just about to lock y'all in for the night," Miranda groused. She pointed to the bag and the clipboard, then eyed the three suspiciously. "Why didn't you bring these down already? You guys up there getting high?"

Kyle, the group's self-appointed leader, flushed. "No, nothing like that. We were trying to decide whether we'd get extra points if we brought in that extra skeleton."

"No," snapped Miranda; then, "What?" Her look of annoyance gave way to one of confusion. "What are you even talking about? What extra skeleton?"

"The one up there," Kyle said, pointing up the hill. "Up by the corner of the fence." He exchanged uncertain, sidelong glances with his comrades.

Miranda was looking at the map with such laser-like intensity, I half-expected the paper to burst into flames. "There isn't one up by the corner of the fence."

I was looking at the faces of the students. "Isn't supposed to be one up there," I corrected.

* * *

"So tell me again why you dragged me out of bed at seven o'clock on a Sunday morning?" Art Bohanan, the Knoxville Police Department's senior criminalist, was peering down at the bones near the corner of the fence. Sunday morning had dawned cool and foggy, but by now — by nine — the fog was lifting.

"Well, I didn't see any point in calling you out last night," I said. "This guy wasn't gonna get any deader."

"Not what I meant," he said. "I wasn't criticizing the timing. I was questioning the logic. This is a body ... we're at the Body Farm. What's wrong with this picture? Not a thing, far as I can tell."

"But it's not our body," I told him. Again.

"How can you be sure? You've had, what, a thousand bodies come through here over the past ten or twelve years?"

"Fifteen-hundred," said Miranda.

"Twenty years," I added.

Art heaved a dramatic sigh. "My point, hair-splitters, is that: that's a bunch of bodies, over a bunch of years. Be surprising if one didn't slip through the cracks every now and then."

"Art," I said, "we're talking corpses, not paperclips." He shrugged, unconvinced. "Come on, you've spent a lot of time out here," I reminded him. "Hell, you've come along when we've brought bodies here from crime scenes. What's the first thing we do when we bring a corpse through that gate?"

"Lemme think. Hold your nose?"

"Ha ha," Miranda said sarcastically. "Before we hold our noses, we put I.D. tags on the body."

"Not one, but two," I added. "Wrist and ankle. Case number on both." I pointed at the skeleton at our feet. "This guy's not tagged."

"And you don't think it's possible, barely possible," Art persisted, "that just this once, some hungover, sleep-deprived graduate student didn't do it?"

Now it was my turn to sigh. "And that Miranda didn't notice that we had more bodies than case numbers? And that I didn't see that our numbering was out of sync?"

"Hey, no slam," he said. "I'm just asking. What if the tags came off? Washed away in a heavy rain? Got chewed off by critters?"

"They're zip-tied, tight, on the narrowest parts of the arm and leg. They don't slip off. And a critter's not gonna go for a plastic zip tie when there are all these tasty tidbits of carrion to be had." I was trying not to get defensive, but I was having a tough time. "Look, pretend we're not at the Body Farm," I suggested. "Pretend I'm not Bill Brockton, forensic anthropologist, but John Q. Public, Ordinary Citizen. Pretend I've called you because I've found bones on my property. If you look at it that way, what do you notice?"

"I notice your property stinks to high heaven, John Q," he cracked. "I notice you've got a fence the Border Patrol would envy. I notice you're probably up to no good in here." Art's sense of humor was one of the things that made working with him a pleasure. Another was his forensic expertise: Art was considered one of the nation's top fingerprint experts and had even patented a superglue-fuming device, the "Bohanan Apparatus," for revealing latent prints on weapons and other pieces of evidence.

Art peered down at the skeleton, then up at the fence corner that bracketed the bones on two sides. Next he pivoted in a complete circle, surveying the woods surrounding us. "Let's walk back down the hill partway, then come up again. Let me try refreshing my screen."

We retreated downhill fifty feet or so, then returned to the scene. This time Miranda and I lagged slightly behind Art, so as not to obstruct his view or distract his thoughts. "Well, John Q," he said as we got close, "looks like maybe somebody was trying to break in and fell off the top of your fence. See how he's lying there? On his back, but with his head twisted and his arms and legs at those unnatural angles?"

"I do see," I said. "We wouldn't have laid him out like that." Miranda and I had already discussed the body's unnatural positioning, but I hadn't wanted to influence Art's interpretation. "We also wouldn't've snagged a piece of his shirt up there in the barbed wire."

Art spotted the shred of faded flannel and laughed. "Okay, okay, maybe y'all didn't put him here. Any reason some fool might be trying to break into the world's nastiest patch of woods?"

"Sure," I said. "Happens every couple years or so. Usually it's a fraternity prank — make the new pledges sneak into the Body Farm and bring back pictures." I shook my head. "Thing is, if this were a student who'd gone missing, we'd've all heard about it. It'd be all over the news."

"Good point," he conceded.

"We did have a more serious break-in about a year ago," Miranda noted. "Somebody stole six skulls."

"I remember that. Anybody ever caught?"

I shook my head glumly.

"And you never got 'em back?"

"We got back two," I said. "Police found them in a crack house. Pentagrams painted on the walls. Couple of dead cats on a makeshift altar, their throats cut. Some kind of drug-fueled cult crap."

"Well, you're still down by a few skulls," Art said, studying the bones, "but you're gaining. You know, this could be your thief. Coming back for more skulls? Maybe he's high on something, takes a tumble?"

"The Case of the Karmic Payback," Miranda quipped.

Art smiled, then looked up and studied the fence again. "Other possibility here," he mused, "is that this guy — it is a guy, right?"

I nodded. "We haven't touched him yet — didn't want to disturb the scene — but yeah, definitely a guy. White male. Young adult, looks like."

He nodded. "Other possibility here," he resumed, "is that this guy didn't die coming over the fence. Other possibility is, he died first, came over the fence second."

"Meaning maybe he had some help?" I said. "Not just with the fence-climbing, but with the dying, too?"

"Maybe. Probably. If he didn't break his neck scaling the fence, then somebody went to a lot of trouble to get him over it. Why do that, if it's not a homicide?"

I knelt and reached for the skull, looking a question at Art. "Sure, go ahead," he said, and I picked up the skull for the first time. The left side, which had been turned upward, was clean, dry bone. The right side, which had lain on the ground, was dark, greasy, and dirty. As I brushed off a few leaves clinging to the cranial vault, Miranda let out a low whistle. In the center of the thin, oval temporal bone was a neatly punched hole — a perfect rectangle, a slot measuring a half-inch wide and a quarter-inch high. Beside it was a second, smaller puncture. This one was triangular; two of its sides formed a 90-degree angle; the third side served as a slightly crooked hypotenuse.

"Well, I guess that eliminates 'fall from fence' as the cause of death," Art noted.

"Chilling with the corpses at the Body Farm," said Miranda. "Talk about hiding in plain sight."

* * *

Carrying an aluminum extension ladder up a steep, wooded slope isn't easy. Carrying two of them is even harder. "You sure you don't want to wait and let the junior forensic techs do this?" I huffed at Art.

"What, and let them have all the fun?" he puffed back. "Besides, they're still working another scene right now. Won't be here for a couple more hours. Might as well do something useful while we wait."

"I can think of a dozen useful things to be doing that would be a lot easier than this." The morning's foggy coolness was long since gone, replaced by sweltering heat more suited to July than April.

"Easier and cooler," he conceded, guiding his end of the ladders into the corner of the fence. "But not as interesting."

I grunted in grudging agreement.

(Continues…)


Excerpted from "Killer Nashville Noir: Cold-Blooded"
by .
Copyright © 2015 American Blackguard, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of Diversion Publishing Corp..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Dedication,
Special Thanks,
Introduction,
"In Plain Sight" by Jefferson Bass,
"Kissin' Don't Kill" by Catriona McPherson,
"Ripple" by Baron R. Birtcher,
"The Hunt for Skippy Walker" by Donald Bain,
"Rich Talk" by C. Hope Clark,
"Mailman" by Jonathan Stone,
"High Noon at Dollar Central" by Maggie Toussaint,
"Repressed" by Jeffery Deaver,
"The Coal Torpedo" by Blake Fontenay,
"Giving Blood" by Jon Jefferson,
"Shutter Speed" by Anne Perry,
"He'll Kill Again" by Heywood Gould,
"Lullabies and Lightning Storms" by Dana Chamblee Carpenter,
"The Keepsake" by Mary Burton,
"Peace, Sometimes" by Jaden Terrell,
"A Matter of Honor" by Robert Dugoni & Paula Gail Benson,
"Sad Like a Country Song" by Eyre Price,
"Second Thoughts" by Steven James,
"The Virgo Affair" by Daco,
"Savage Gulf" by Clay Stafford,
Author Biographies,

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