by Joseph DiFrancesco

Homicide detective, Bob DiStanza, has been doggedly pursuing an active serial killer operating throughout the city of Philadelphia. As the lead investigator of a dedicated taskforce commissioned to stop this highly disciplined yet unyielding predator of women, Bob struggles with the situation's grim reality. The investigation is going nowhere. That's about to change.… See more details below


Homicide detective, Bob DiStanza, has been doggedly pursuing an active serial killer operating throughout the city of Philadelphia. As the lead investigator of a dedicated taskforce commissioned to stop this highly disciplined yet unyielding predator of women, Bob struggles with the situation's grim reality. The investigation is going nowhere. That's about to change. Abrupt alterations in the crime's behavior begin to further baffle the long stagnant detective. There are sudden changes, changes that make little sense considering the strict adherence to repetition the killer has shown throughout his reign of terror. Bob, however, isn't the only one who's become aware of these variations in activity. The killer has taken notice as well, and he isn't happy about it. Sometimes an entity can work between good and evil, exist only amid the gray shadows that connect black to white. Steadfast in its purpose, neither cop nor criminal can stand in its way.

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Double Dragon Publishing
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Present Day

Bob DiStanza was patiently waiting outside the women's dressing room of a new hot and trendy clothing store in Old City Philadelphia. The store boasted its New York origins, which apparently was too much for his girlfriend, Rose, to pass by. But that was okay. She could take all the time she needed. It was a beautiful day and he was just happy to be with her out and about.

Patience wasn't a virtue found naturally in Bob. It had grown with time and understanding. Having been a Philadelphia police officer for fourteen years, the last eight as a homicide detective, he had learned the importance of slowing down, enjoying the moment, embracing the serene. He'd earned the right.

As a uniformed officer, he had the chance to explore and improve upon his gut instincts, physical prowess, defensive driving, takedowns and holds. He qualified with his 9mm Glock in both his right and left hands. He had developed the kind of skills that enabled him to diffuse certain situations with discussion, when less experienced cops would have resorted to a more physical resolution. He had also cultured an ability to read a person's eyes. He had an uncanny way of knowing when someone was about to "go off." The whites of their eyes, usually pinched off at the top and bottom of the irises, would instead widen at the base. This usually told him that no attempt at rapport would be of use here-that he'd have to make his move, and make it fast and strong.

Still, standing there with several potential summer outfits draped over his right arm, he was okay. Oddly, he didn't miss the action-all that much. He had sort of morphed into becoming adetective, as if being in uniform was a way of growing up. He had learned that, unlike what is portrayed on TV, detective work wasn't about kicking in doors, high-speed pursuits, or rolling around on the ground with the "doer." It was mostly quiet, yet dogged paperwork and fact finding. It was about leaving no stone unturned, about being pathologically persistent.

He had seen his share of cops who came on the scene with the kind of hotshot antics they thought were expected of them, guys who tried to be the rebel , the nonconforming maverick of the police district. Preferring their own car to a city issued, unmarked vehicle, they'd whip into the parking lot with their brand new Ford Mustang. It was always a Mustang. They'd then come sauntering into the station wearing sunglasses, tight leather jackets, and two hundred dollar shoulder holsters. They'd spend most of their time on the street, instead of behind the desk where they belonged. Once out there, they'd make their lion's share of arrests, make no mistake about it, but did so in such a slipshod manner, that most of their perps would be back out in twenty-four hours.

Detective DiStanza didn't get a lot of sun. He happily drove his city issued 2002 Saturn sedan, and he had a penchant for polo shirts and cotton Dockers, by and large, for their roomy comfort. He took his coffee black, and when he arrested a person, they were going away for a long, long time.


Dorian Coffer was playing a little joke on his wife, Linda. He hid one of the cat's toys, a fake mouse made with rabbit fur, inside one of her shoes. Tolerantly, he watched her pad around in stocking feet, trying to find her favorite pair of earrings.

It was early afternoon and the mood was relatively unhurried as the couple moved about the master bedroom of their ten thousand square foot mansion.

"What time will you be getting home tonight?" asked Dorian.

"No idea," Linda responded, still focusing on her earring hunt. "I have to make my rounds by three o'clock. I'm hoping the symposium doesn't run that long." Looking at him with a smirk, she playfully asked, "Why, afraid I might come home while you're entertaining your girlfriend?"

He smiled and winked at her. "All the other women in my life pale in comparison to you."

Linda just laughed while continuing to get ready.

Getting dressed up this morning was a big deal for her, and her mind was busy replaying the lecture she was to give at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, or HUP, as it was known. Being an anesthesiologist, she usually reported to work in scrubs and sneakers. Today, however, was special and she was a little fretful.

Watching her get dressed, Dorian felt her attire was largely unimportant. In all actuality, Linda could be wearing a circus outfit and still convey the kind of confidence and competence that most people struggled to exude everyday. She was a powerful woman. It was the primary reason he married her in the first place.

Patiently, he waited for his prank to payoff. Pretending to fumble with his Girard-Perregaux wristwatch, he watched from the corner of his eye.

Finally, Linda stepped up to her shoes. She slipped her left foot in first, which was perfect, considering the target was in the right. This would mean she'd be fully committed during the find and would most likely give a more satisfying performance. She then slipped her right foot in. There was a pause, a shudder, and a noise not quite a scream. Kicking off the shoe, and leaning back in one high heel, her balance was thrown way off. Regaining her stability came quick, but not before a few awkward gyrations here and there. She swore at the absent feline. Dorian simply smiled a secret smile.

Dorian loved having a secret.

• • •

Later that day, the two had gone their separate ways via their professions. Dorian's world was far different from his wife's. His was a world that often began in lobbies of polished marble and shimmering chrome, which, in turn, led to mirrored elevators and city skylines.

Arriving at the top floor of the Mellon Bank Center, Dorian stepped into the Pyramid Club for the day's power luncheon. The private club, sporting twenty-foot tall windows and lying five hundred feet above city streets, was reserved for Philadelphia's top executives. Power, not celebrity, was what was required in order to become a member of the Pyramid Club, and even that was no guarantee.

Entering the enchanting dining area adorned in rich carpeting, cherry wood and brass fixtures, Dorian was immediately greeted by men and women whose influence on the city below matched his own.

Copyright © 2006 Joseph DiFrancesco.

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