The Killing Song

The Killing Song

3.8 13
by P. J. Parrish

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From the USA Today bestselling author of the Louis Kincaid mysteries comes a heart-pounding new thriller with a sizzling new hero—Matt Owens, a South Florida investigative reporter on a desperate hunt for his sister’s killer.

Matt Owens is a Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist, but at thirty-five, he’s adrift, more…  See more details below


From the USA Today bestselling author of the Louis Kincaid mysteries comes a heart-pounding new thriller with a sizzling new hero—Matt Owens, a South Florida investigative reporter on a desperate hunt for his sister’s killer.

Matt Owens is a Pulitzer Prize–nominated journalist, but at thirty-five, he’s adrift, more inclined to hit the bottle alone than the Miami Beach club scene. But when his beloved younger sister Mandy comes to visit, Matt wants to show her a new world. It’s the trip of her dreams, but the nightmare begins when Mandy disappears from a crowded dance floor. When her lifeless body is found, one clue—a grisly rock song downloaded onto her iPod—may be the calling card of a serial killer. Shattered with grief and guilt, Matt begins a lonely journey to find Mandy’s killer, following a chain of musical clues that lead him from an abandoned London rock club to a crumbling Scottish castle and finally to the ancient bone-strewn catacombs below Paris. Only one person believes in his quest—Eve Bellamont, a dedicated French detective whose own five-year obsession to find the phantom killer has left her an outcast in her own department. Together, they race to decipher the “killing songs” that the madman leaves with each victim and stop him before another beautiful young woman dies.

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Chapter One

Something wasn’t right. He could tell from the baying of the dog.

It wasn’t the normal barking that came when the dogs had come across a cow mired in a mud hole. It wasn’t the frenzied yelps that signaled the dogs had cornered a boar in the brush.

This was like screaming.

Burke Aubry shifted in his saddle and peered into the darkness. A heavy fog had rolled in before dawn, and it distorted everything—shapes, smells, but especially sound. The barking seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at once, rising and falling with every shift of the cold morning wind.

A rustling to his left. He turned, ears pricked.

Just a cabbage palm. Its thick trunk, hidden by the fog, seemed to float above the ground. The wind sent the heavy fronds scraping against each other. It sounded like the rasp of a dying man.

Movement in the corner of his eye. The dark mass took shape as it came toward him, the blur hardening slowly into horse and rider.

It was Dwayne. Aubry could tell from the red kerchief he always wore around his neck. A second later, another, smaller shape emerged, a large yellow dog following close behind the horse.

Dwayne drew his horse up next to Aubry’s. “You hear that?”


“You think one of the curs got into it with a boar?”

Aubry didn’t answer. He was listening to the baying. It sounded like it was coming from the south. But none of the men or their dogs were supposed to be down there.

He jerked the radio from his saddle. “Mike?”

A cackle of static. “Yeah, boss?”

“You working the east ten pasture?”

“That’s where you told us to go.”

“Are all of you there?”

A pause. “Yes, sir.”

“What about the dogs?”


“Are all your dogs with you?”

“They’re all—”

“Count ’em, Mike.”

Seconds later, he came back. “Ted says his dog has gone missing.”

A high-pitched yelping rose on the wind. It was coming from the south, Aubry was sure this time. He keyed the radio. “Mike, get the men down to Devil’s Garden.”

“Devil’s Garden? But—”

“Just do it, Mike.”

Aubry stowed the radio and turned to Dwayne. “Let’s go.”

Even in the fog, he knew where he was going. He had been working the ranch for nearly four decades now, and he knew every foot of the four thousand acres, knew every tree, every swamp, every fence. He knew, too, that no living thing, not even a dog, had any reason to be in Devil’s Garden.

They headed south. They crossed a stream and entered a thick grove of old live oaks. The gray fog shroud wrapped the trees, softening their black, twisting branches and webs of Spanish moss.

The baying was loud now. It was coming from the direction of the old cow pen. The pen was one of the largest on the ranch but had been abandoned twenty years ago. Aubry urged his horse on. Suddenly, the yellow dog darted ahead of them through the tall, wet ferns.

Dwayne whistled, but the dog was lost in the fog.

The men prodded their horses to a fast trot. The dark wood of the pen’s fence emerged from the mist. Two dogs now, barking and growling.

Aubry got off his horse, pulling out his rifle. He scaled the fence, and the barking drew him deeper into the maze of holding pens.

He reached the large central pen and stopped, rifle poised to shoot if the dogs were confronting an animal. But the mass that the dogs were hunched over wasn’t moving. Aubry heard Dwayne come in behind him and then Dwayne’s sharp command to the dogs to heel. Ears flat, fur raised, the dogs backed off.

Aubry approached the mass slowly, rifle ready.

The pale flesh stood out against the black dirt. At first, he thought it was a skinned boar carcass. Then he saw the arm. A step closer, and the rest of the mass took shape. A leg, and then a second one bent at a horrid angle under the hump of a bare back.

It was a man, naked.

Aubry stopped. There was no head.

“Hey, boss, what we got—”

Aubry heard Dwayne’s sharp intake of breath as he saw the corpse.

“Jesus,” Dwayne said.

Aubry pulled out his radio.

“Ah, sweet Jesus, where’s his head?” Dwayne whispered.

Aubry keyed the radio. “Mike? Get back to the house and call the sheriff.”


“Just do what I say, Mike. Tell them there’s a dead man. Give them directions to the old cow pen in Devil’s Garden.”

“Dead man? Who?”

“I don’t know.”

Aubry clicked off and pocketed the radio. He heard a retching sound and turned. Dwayne was leaning on a fence, wiping his face.

Aubry looked back at the body. He felt the rise of bile in his throat and swallowed hard. Shifting the rifle to his back, he squatted next to the body.

He could see now that there were deep slashes across the back, like the man had been cut badly. And it looked like the head had been cut off cleanly, almost like it had been sawed off. He scanned the pen as far as the fog would allow but didn’t see the head.

He looked down. He realized suddenly that what he thought was black dirt was sand saturated with blood. The black pool spread out a good four feet from the body. He stood up and took two long strides back. The toes of his boots were black.

His radio crackled, but he didn’t hear it. His brain was far away, and suddenly, the memories he had tried so hard to bury were right there with him again. Another spread of blood, a different body. Once again, the outsiders would come here, men with guns, badges, and questions. Once again, he would have to stand silent and watch as the waves ate away yet more of his island.

The pain hit him, a knife to the heart, and he closed his eyes.

The wind died suddenly, and the quiet moved in.

He looked up, to where the fog had burned off, leaving a hole in the sky. He blinked rapidly to keep the tears away, watching the patch of sky until it turned from blue velvet to gray flannel.

An owl hooted. A hawk screamed. Then came the soft mewing cries of the catbirds. The day was coming alive in this place of death.

© 2009 P. J. Parrish

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Meet the Author

P. J. Parrish is actually two sisters—Kristy Montee and Kelly Nichols—who pooled their talents and their lifelong love of writing to create the character of Louis Kincaid. Their New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novels include An Unquiet Grave, A Killing Rain, Island of Bones, Thicker Than Water, Paint It Black, Dead of Winter, and Dark of the Moon. They are also the authors of a standalone thriller, The Killing Song.

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The Killing Song 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
avd-rdr More than 1 year ago
The sisters have done it again! I have read all of their Louis Kincaid series and their new hero Matt Owens is just as determined and admirable in his pursuit of a very ruthless, but highly intelligent serial killer. Hopefully, they will continue a series with Matt Owens.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read Patricia Cornwell books in the past. I picked up one of PJ's novels from a thrift store and fell in love with the series. A+++++
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CONSTANTREADERMO More than 1 year ago
I read a lot of mysteries, thrillers, and adventure fiction; and am always looking for books by good to great authors. I enjoyed this one very much.
ToReadPerchancetoDream More than 1 year ago
The author of The Killing Song, P.J. Parrish is actually two sisters, Kelly Nichols and Kris Montee. How I have not been aware of this writing team, I do not know, but I want to read more. This book was intense. I could feel the evilness of the serial killer seeping off the pages. He was twisted, disturbed, kinky, and very cunning - everything I love to hate in a villain. Matt Owens is the ideal broken hero. From Putlitzer Prize nominated to just shy of an alcoholic, he has to pull himself together to find his sister's killer. He's not perfect, but he's determined, and I found it easy to care about him and root for him to succeed. The story moves quickly from clue to clue with snippets of the killer's evil-doings in between. It's not a fast read, but it's a gripping, emotional one. When you start reading it, be prepared, and hang on for the ride. It's worth it! *Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher for free, I was not required to write a positive review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
Thirtyish Pulitzer Prize nominee Miami Herald investigative reporter Matt Owens feels disconnected from everyone because he rebuffed anyone who tried to get close to him. The only person he feels a tie to is his younger sister Mandy who is visiting him. On her last night in town, he takes her to a club, tragedy strikes when she disappears from the dance floor and her body found shortly afterward. After Mandy's funeral, Matt listens to his sister's BlackBerry when he realizes one of the downloads is by the killer. The song is a clue to a previous homicide of an American woman in Paris. Matt goes to France but gains no information. When another American is murdered, Inspector Eve Bellamont joins forces with Matt as she has hunted this serial killer since she worked the first known case five years ago. Clues take them to London and Scotland where they learn of more murders. They travel back to Paris where they remain determined to end the killing spree even if that alienates local authorities. A combo investigative thriller and police procedural, The Killing Song focuses on a creepy serial killer who will fascinate readers in a macabre way. Eve and Matt play off each other's strengths including turning their weaknesses into strengths as both share the obsession, which enables them to become friends rather quickly; though one must wonder what will happen to their friendship if the link is removed. Filled with action and a strong cast, fans of P.J. Parrish's Louis Kincaid mysteries will relish the new guy on the block. Harriet Klausner