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The cemetery itself had already been closed off, yellow crime tape surrounding the area around the mausoleum. Jagger DeFarge had been assigned as lead detective on the case, and he knew he should have been complimented, but in reality he just felt weary—and deeply concerned.
Beyond the concern one felt over any victim of murder or violent crime.
This was far worse. This threatened a rising body count to come.
Gus Parissi, a young uniformed cop, stuck his head inside the mausoleum. The light was muted, streaks of sunlight that filtered in through the ironwork filigree at the top end of the little house within the "city of the dead."
Gus stared at the dead woman.
"Sweet Jesus," he echoed, and also crossed himself.
Jagger winced, looking away for a moment, waiting. He wanted to be alone with the victim, but he had a partner. Being alone wasn't going to be easy.
"Thank you, Parissi," Jagger said. "The crime-scene crew can have the place in ten minutes. Hey, Miro, go on out and see who's on the job today, will you?"
Miro was still just staring.
"And get another interview with Tom Cooley, too. He's the guide who saw her and called it in, right?" Jagger asked.
"Uh—yeah, yeah," Tony said, closing his mouth at last, turning and following Gus out.
Alone at last, my poor, poor dear, Jagger thought.
The dust of the ages seemed to have settled within the burial chamber, on the floor, on the stone and concrete walls, on the plaques that identified the dead within the vault. In contrast, the young woman on the tomb was somehow especially beautiful and pristine, a vision in white, like an angel. Sighing, Jagger walked over to the body. To all appearances, she was sleeping like a heavenly being in her pure perfection.
He pulled out his pocket flashlight to look for the bite marks that had to exist. He gently and carefully moved her hair, but there were no marks on her neck. He searched her thighs, then her arms, his eyes quick but thorough.
At last he found what he sought. He doubted that the medical examiner—even with the most up-to-date technology available—would ever find the tiny pinpricks located in the crease at her elbow.
He swore out loud just as Tony returned.
His partner was a young cop. A good cop, and not a squeamish one. Most of the crimes taking place these days had to do with a sudden flare of temper and, as always, drugs. Tony had worked a homicide with him just outside the Quarter in which a kid the size of a pro linebacker had taken a shotgun blast in the face. Tony had been calm and professional throughout the grisly first inspection, then handled the player's mother with gentle care.
Today, however, he seemed freaked.
"What?" Tony asked.
Jagger shook his head. "No blood here at all, no signs of violence. No lividity, but she's still in rigor. Is the M.E. here?"
"Send him in," Jagger said. "Have you interviewed the guide yet?"
Tony, staring at the body, shook his head. "One of the uniforms went to find him."
"He can't have gone far. Stay out there until they find him and interview him. And anyone who was with him. Then meet me back at the station, and we'll get her picture out in the media. I want uniforms raking the neighborhood, the dumpsters, you name it, looking for a purse, clothing, anything they can find."
Tony nodded and left.
The M.E. the Coroner's Office had sent out that morning was Craig Dewey. Dewey looked like anything but the general conception of what a medical examiner should: he was tall, blond, about thirty-five. Basically, until they found out what he did for a living, most women considered him a heartthrob.
Like the others, he paused in the door. But Dewey didn't stand there stunned and frozen as Tony and Gus had done. He did stare, but Jagger could see that his keen blue eyes were taking in the scene, top to bottom, before he approached the corpse. Finally that stare focused on the victim. He looked at her for a long while, then turned to Jagger.
"Well, here's one for the books," he said, his tone matter-of-fact. "On initial inspection, without even touching her, I'd say she's been entirely drained of blood." He looked around. "And it wasn't done here."
"No. I'd say not," Jagger agreed with what appeared to be obvious.
"Such a pity, and so strange. Murder is never beautiful, and yet she is beautiful," Dewey commented.
"Dewey, give me something that isn't in plain sight," Jagger said.
Dewey went to work. He was efficient and methodical. He had his camera out, the flash going as he shot the body from every conceivable angle. Then he approached the woman, checked for liver temperature and shook his head. "She's still in rigor. Other than the fact that she's about bloodless, I have no idea what's going on here. I'll need to get her into the morgue to figure out how and why she died. I can't find anything to show how it might have happened. Odd, really odd. A body without blood wouldn't shock me—we seem to attract wackos to this city all the time—but I can't find so much as a pinprick to explain what happened. Hell, like I said, I've got to get her out of here to check further. Lord knows, enough people around here think they're vampires."
"Right, I know," Jagger said. "When did she die? I was estimating late last night or early this morning."
"Then you're right on," Dewey told him. "She died sometime between midnight and two in the morning, but give me fifteen minutes either side."
"I want everything you get as quickly as you get it," Jagger said.
"I have two shooting deaths, a motorcycle accident, a possible vehicular homicide—not to mention that the D.A.'s determined to harass an octogenarian over her husband's death, even though he's been suffering from cancer for years—" Dewey broke off, seeing the set expression on Jagger's face. "Sure, Lafarge. I'll put a rush on it. This is the kind of thing you've got to get a handle on quickly, God knows. We get enough sensationalist media coverage around here. I don't want to see a frenzy start."
"Thanks," Jagger told him.
He looked around the Grigsby family tomb one more time. It was what he didn't see that he noted. No fingerprints in the dust. No footprints. No sign whatsoever of how the girl had come to lie, bloodless and beautiful, upon the dusty tomb of a long dead patriarch.
He wanted the CSUs, Tony and the uniforms all busy here. He had some investigating to do that he needed to tackle on his own.
He lowered his sunglasses from the top of his head to his eyes and walked back out into the brilliant light of the early fall morning.
The sky was cloudless and brilliantly blue. The air was pleasant, without the dead heat of summer.
It seemed to be a day when the world was vibrant. Positively pulsing with life.
"Hey, Detective DeFarge!"
It was Celia Larson, forty, scrubbed, the no-nonsense head of the crime-scene unit that had been assigned. "Can we go on in? I've had my folks working the area, around the entry, around the tomb but, hey, with the cemeteries around here being such tourist hangouts, folks had been tramping around for an hour before we got the call. We've collected every possible sample we could, but we really need to get inside."
"It's all yours, Celia. And good luck."
She leaned into the mausoleum and said accusingly, "You and Dewey have tramped all over the footprints."
"There were no footprints."
"There had to be footprints," she said flatly, as if he was the worst kind of fool.
He shrugged and smiled.
"None, but, hey, you're the expert. You'll see what we missed, right?" he asked pleasantly. Celia wasn't his favorite civil servant with whom to work. She considered every police officer, from beat cop right on up to detective, to be an oaf with nothing better to do than mess up her crime scene. She didn't seem to understand the concept of teamwork—or that she was the technician, and the detectives used her information to put the pieces together, find the suspect and make the arrest. Celia had seen way too many CSI-type shows and had it in her head that she was going to be the detective who solved every case. Still, he did his best to be level-tempered and professional, if not pleasant. He did have to work with the woman.
"Get me a good picture of the face, Celia. We'll get her image out to the media."
She waved a hand dismissively, and he walked on.
This wasn't going to be an ordinary case. And he wasn't going to be able to investigate in any of the customary ways.
He made it as far as the sidewalk.
Then he saw real trouble.
He groaned inwardly. Of course she would show up. Of course—despite the fact that he'd only just seen the corpse himself, word had traveled.
She didn't look like trouble. Oddly enough, she came with a smile that was pure charm, and she was, in fact, stunning. She was tall and slim and lithe, mercurial in her graceful movements.
Her eyes were blue. They could be almost as aqua as the sea, as light as a summer sky, as piercing as midnight.
Naturally she was a blonde. Not that brunettes couldn't be just as beautiful, just as angelic looking—or just as manipulative.
She had long blond hair. Like her eyes, it seemed to change. It could appear golden in the sun, platinum in moonlight and always as smooth and soft as silk as it curled over her shoulders. She had a fringe of bangs that were both waiflike and the height of fashion.
And naturally she was here.
Sunglasses shaded her eyes, as they did his. The Southern Louisiana sun could be brutal. Most people walked around during the day with shades on.
"Well, hello, Miss MacDonald," he said, heading for his car. Officers had blocked the entry to the cemetery and the borders of the scene itself with crime-scene tape. But the sidewalk was fair game. The news crews had arrived and staked it out, and the gawkers were lining up, as well.
Before Fiona MacDonald could reply, one of the local network news reporters saw him and charged over, calling, "Detective! Detective DeFarge!" It was Andrea "Andy" Larkin. She was a primped and proper young woman who had recently been transferred from her network's Ohio affiliate. She was a fish out of water down here.
She was followed by her cameraman, and he was followed by a pack of other reporters. The local cable stations and newspapers were all present. And yes, there came the other network newscasters.
He stopped. Might as well handle the press now, he thought, though the department's community rep really should be fielding the questions. But if he dodged the reporters, it would just make things worse.
He held his ground, aware that Fiona was watching him from a spot not far from the cemetery wall. He wasn't going to escape the reporters, and he definitely wasn't going to escape her.
"Detective DeFarge?" Andy Larkin had apparently assigned herself to be the spokeswoman for the media crew. "We've heard a young woman has been found— drained of blood. Who was she? Do you think we have some kind of cultists at work in the area? Was it a ritual sacrifice?"
He lifted a hand as a clamoring of questions arose, one voice indistinguishable from the next.
"Ladies, gentlemen, please! We've just begun our investigation into this case. Yes, we have discovered the body of a young woman in a mausoleum, but that's all that I can really tell you at the moment. We'll have the preliminary autopsy reports in a day or so, which will answer any questions about the state of the body. We don't have an identity for the victim, and it's far too early for me to speculate in any way on whether this is a singular incident or not. However, at this time I have no reason to suspect that we have a cult at work in the city. As soon as I have information, you'll have information. That's absolutely all that I am at liberty to say at the moment."
"But—" Andy Larkin began.
"At any time that I can, without jeopardizing our investigation, I will be happy to see to it that the news media is advised."
"Wait!" A man from one of the rags spoke up; he was probably in his early twenties, taking the best job available to a young journalism graduate. His hair was long and shaggy, and he was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, and carrying a notepad rather than an electronic device of any kind. "Shouldn't you be warning the citizens of New Orleans to be careful? Shouldn't you be giving them a profile of the killer?"
Jagger hoped his sunglasses fully covered his eyes as he inadvertently stared over at Fiona MacDonald.
She had a profile of the killer, he was certain.
"We don't know anything yet. I repeat—we've just begun our investigation. I'm going to give young women in this city the same warning I give all the time: be smart, and be careful. Don't go walking the streets alone in the dark. Let someone know where you're going at all times, and if you go out to party, don't go alone. People, use common sense. That's my warning."
"But aren't serial killers usually young white men between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-five?" shouted a tiny woman from the rear. She was Livy Drew, from a small local cable station.
He reminded himself that he had to stay calm—and courteous. The public affairs department was much better at that, though, and he fervently wished they would hurry up and get there.
"Livy, there's nothing to indicate that we have a serial killer on our hands."
"You're denying that this is the work of a serial killer?"
"I'm not denying or confirming anything," he said, fighting for patience. "One more time—our investigation is just beginning. Yes, young women should take special care, because yes, a young woman has been killed. Now, if you'll let me get to work, I'll be able to answer more questions for you in the future. Though we have no ID on her yet, we may make a hit with fingerprints or dental impressions, and we'll have a picture available for you soon. And, as always, the department will be grateful for any information that can help us identify the victim—and find her killer. But no heroics from anyone, please. Just call the station with any information you may have."
Someone called from the back of the crowd. "Detective, what—"
"That's all!" Jagger said firmly, then turned to head for his car, parked almost directly in front of the gates. He looked for Fiona MacDonald, but she was gone.
Posted November 12, 2010
The otherworld or underworld has to have order and policing just like the human world and that's where The Keepers come in, in the form of three sisters each responsible for a sector or species of creature they make sure the rules are followed or the consequences could be deadly.
Fiona MacDonald is the keeper of the Vampire society and it looks like there's a rogue out there killing innocent and not so innocent victims and while she's hot on their trail she's constantly bumping into sexy Vampire cop Jagger DeFarge with who's help she intends to put an end to the killings even if it kills her. Jagger is a Vampire and perhaps a better New Orleans cop because of it, he can smell a rat and the rat seems to be a Vampire, but not all is as it seems and he with the help of sexy Vampire Keeper Fiona will have to battle to end the senseless killings.
These characters are literally out of this world and out of this world good as well, we have all manner of fantasy and paranormal species that could only be visited between the pages of a novel of which Ms. Graham is no stranger as she herself is the author of many, many previous paranormal reads. She gives us a dialogue mix between antebellum and modern slang with characters that could grace the cover of Vogue one minute and the cover of Sci-Fi magazine the next. Her hero Jagger and heroine Fiona give us mere humans something to yearn for as she mixes not races but species to race toward their HEA. The love scenes are as hot as the New Orleans summer and will make your palms sweat even in the Arctic in winter, and yet the love these two characters feel for each other make the explicitness of the scenes necessary.
So get your bite on and experience the first in this wonderfully new, inventive and imaginative paranormal trilogy The Keepers is a keeper.
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 5, 2010
The Keepers is the first novel in a new trilogy, each by a different author. Fiona MacDonald, along with her sisters Caitlyn and Shauna, have jobs that most of the rest of the world doesn't know exist. They are the Keepers of New Orleans, charged with keeping order among the supernatural races that have settled in their city. When a killer begins killing beautiful blonde women, the three sisters, particularly Fiona, are faced with the first real challenge they have faced as Keepers since inheriting the job from their parents.
A long-time fan of Heather Graham's, I was thrilled when this book, and the following two, were offered to me as review reads from the publisher. I generally love Graham's writing style, but I did find the prologue a little difficult to get through, as it was primarily informational, rather than an integral part of the story, to set the stage for the paranormal aspects of the plot. That being said, once I was past it and into the main part of the book, it was engaging and well-paced. I liked Fiona as a main character, her struggle to prove herself as a Keeper being relatable. I also liked Jagger as the main male character, as he struggled to overcome the stereotypes of his own race. The two together were a force of good and I liked that, although I did feel like the romance between them was a little rushed. The plot was fast-paced, with lots of twists and turns and unexpected events. I love a whodunit that keeps me engaged to the end and that keeps me off-kilter, and The Keepers did that for me.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 30, 2010
In New Orleans, Fiona MacDonald is one the Keeper sisters who watch over the city's vampire, shapeshifter and a few unmentionables population though her focus is the bloodsuckers. Her job is to resolve conflict as quietly as possible and to insure the species behaves themselves so as to keep the humans ignorant that the otherworldly reside in their midst.
A serial killer who apparently is a rogue vampire strikes the city. The psychopath drinks blood dry of blond females before dumping their corpses on cemetery crypts. Fiona and vampire detective Jagger DeFarge work together to end an undead reign of terror while her Keeper peers and her siblings warn her not to trust a bloodsucker.
This exhilarating romantic urban fantasy is an otherworldly police procedural that grips the reader with Heather Graham's vividly dark view of New Orleans. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists. The investigation makes for an interesting paranormal whodunit in which the Keeper and the Vampire try to ignore their attraction as they are natural enemies and critically understand ending the fiend's murderous terror supersedes all else.
1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 22, 2012
Posted June 2, 2012
Posted April 3, 2012
This book seemed to have so much potential. It was interesting in the begining, by the middle I could not figure out if I even liked Fiona. She whined so much "I'm The Keeper". I could not even develope enough empathy for the sister's to even care about any future stories the author might have for them. At least Jagger had a personality.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 22, 2012
Posted November 26, 2011
Posted October 12, 2011
Bestselling author Heather Graham launches the delightful world of the MacDonald sisters with the introduction of "The Keepers". Born with an extraordinary link to a concealed global community-hidden in plain sight within the folds of humankind's ignorance-it's an inheritance and lifeblood that ties them to the destiny of the world.
In the heart of New Orleans are shape-shifters, vampires, werewolves and the like, living discreet lives, many with lofty hopes of keeping the hard won, yet tenuous peaceful balance recently found. Fiona MacDonald, the oldest of the three exceptional sisters-the keepers of this group of living myths and legends-has a very specific job. She is to keep the calm in a place where a single vampire's bite could easily start an all out war. When vampire, detective and acting human, Jagger DeFarge is called in to find a murderer with a very distinct calling card, both he and Fiona are compelled to join forces.
Jagger isn't about to let anything stop him from finding the murderer who is sucking every last drop of blood from innocent humans-including working with the sexy and wary Fiona. As more drop dead, it's obvious this isn't the work of a run-of-the- mill vampire. Everyone is at risk. When the killer's focus turns to Fiona, will Jagger chance annihilating his own kind or the reputation he's worked so hard to build in order to safeguard the woman he so fervently desires?
Graham's expertise is in weaving a tale where the unbelievable seems believable. She blends deeply developed characters with her clear love of New Orleans and does so flawlessly. A fan for many years, I come back to her work again and again, because her work carries a mystique that most authors strive for and fail. With a fresh and innovative outlook, Graham gives her all to everything she writes. Bravo!
Reviewed by Shannon Raab for Suspense Magazine
Posted September 25, 2011
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Posted February 19, 2011
This was my first Heather Graham book to read. I am already looking for another one. i enjoyed the characters, the plot and as i was in NOLA on a trip while reading it, made it even more awesome!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 12, 2011
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