Moon Musicby Faye Kellerman
Just outside the city's neon Strip, in the bleak wastelands of Nevada's desert, the Las Vegas Metro Police discover the mauled corpse of a young and beautiful showgirl. Even in a city known for its excesses - from Arab sheiks to casino billionaires - this crime is particularly shocking because of the animalistic destruction of the body. Called to the crime scene is… See more details below
Just outside the city's neon Strip, in the bleak wastelands of Nevada's desert, the Las Vegas Metro Police discover the mauled corpse of a young and beautiful showgirl. Even in a city known for its excesses - from Arab sheiks to casino billionaires - this crime is particularly shocking because of the animalistic destruction of the body. Called to the crime scene is Detective Sergeant Romulus Poe - a thirty-five-year-old Vegas native and a seasoned, fifteen-year veteran. A loner with a love of justice, Poe immerses himself in the horrific case. Poe is particularly struck by dread similarities to a slaying by an anonymous monster dubbed the Bogeyman. Immediately, Poe forms an investigatory team consisting of the handsome detective Stephen Jensen, his colleague but no friend; Detective Patricia Deluca, a homicide newcomer; and forensic pathologist Rukmani Kalil, who is also Poe's part-time girlfriend. From Native American mysticism and medieval folk legends to untold twentieth-century secrets, Poe must explore Vegas's sordid past and dark underbelly to solve a series of gruesome murders - and save a beautiful woman he once loved - before all of them are caught in a deadly dance of moon music.
- HarperCollins Publishers
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- 4.19(w) x 6.87(h) x 1.38(d)
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Ignoring the subtle vibrations under his pillow because he was just too damn comfortable. Warm and sated, inhaling the rich sensuality of musky sex. With force, Jensen opened a rebellious lid, his vision assaulted by the Strip's strobic neon. Outside the winds moaned, pushing everything in their paths. Grit crackled against the picture window as his eyes swept over the vista. A panoply of garish colors nonexistent in nature.
Looking away from the glass, back down at his covers. Beside him, Gretchen sleptyoung and littlebeads of sweat lining the crack of her small, round ass. He wanted to take a bite out of it. His breathing became pronounced, audible.
Then his pager went off again.
Jensen swore to himself, then, with resignation, lifted his head from the pillow. He'd never realized how much a cranium could weigh. Digging his palms into the mattress, he hoisted his large frame forward until he was sitting. He tried to make out the number in the dark, but gave up and flicked on the light.
"Hmmm," she grunted. "Turn it off."
"In a minute."
"What time is it?"
Jensen's heart jumped as he read the number. Rom's mobile phone. How long had he been beeping in?
"One-thirty," he snapped back.
"One-thirty?" She was whining now. "C' mon, baby. Bebe says we got the room until three. Turn off the light."
Jensen already had his pants on. "I've got to go."
"But it's so nasty outside."
"Nasty" was an understatement. The wind was howling dust and sand. Jensen slipped on his shirt and socks and tiedhis size eleven shoes. Brought up the hotel's outside line and punched in Rom's numbers. Static over the wires like lightning. Still he could make out a terse "Poe."
"Lemme go inside my car. If we get disconnected, call me back."
The line managed to keep as whooshing sounds, like tidal waves, came through the receiver. Jensen knotted his tie, then stroked Gretchen's ass. She purred, then rolled over and made a little snoring noise. Just as well. No sense starting what couldn't be finished. He heard the pop of the car door closing, the gusts die down. "What's up?"
"You turn your pager off, Stephen?"
"Why? How many times did you beep me?"
"Half a dozen."
Jensen knew Poe was exaggerating. "Must have slept through it."
Not a total lie, but one Poe wasn't about to buy. "You know, I almost broke down and called your house."
Jensen's heart started hammering. For once, he paused before speaking. Rom had said "almost."
As if Alison didn't know. Yet she chose to play dumb. After fifteen years of marriage, he still hadn't figured her out. In the early years, she had kept him at arm's length. He had put it down to her youthful shyness . . . their difference in age. Later on, her mental state made her impenetrable, her mind blocked by a steel-trap door of undiagnosed illness.
Jensen was all professional now. "What's going down, Rom?"
"Single desert dump off West Charleston."
"In Red Rock?"
"Before." Poe gave directions. "And, in answer to your unasked questionhow someone came upon the body by happenstance at this time of night and in this weatherno, it doesn't make any sense. The call came through a public phone outside Big Top." A beat. "Where are you, by the way?"
"Big Top." Pause. "Want me to go downstairs and check it out?"
"You have a print kit on you, Steve?"
"I meant to guard the phone." Jensen's voice rose a notch. "You got a problem with me tonight, Rom?"
I've got a problem with you every night, Stevie. Instead, Poe said, "I've already sent someone down to dust. But sure, go down and take a peek if you think it'll do some good." A hesitation. "I've got to get back, watch the corpse to make sure the sand doesn't totally bury it before the ME gets here."
"Stiff a male or female?"
"Female. One of her breasts was partially exposed. I can't tell if her entire body is nude, because the rest of her is coated with sand. I couldn't find a purse or any ID. Useless to search now. Tomorrow we'll go on a treasure hunt to look for things tossed and blown."
"You, me . . . probably Patricia." Poe swiped limp, dark hair from his black eyes, stared out the windshield of the Honda. Darker than syrup and about as thick. Even the moon was having trouble breaking through. "After you check out the phone booth, get down here. And bring some light. The grit is so thick I can barely make out my shadow."
Over the line, Jensen said, "Why don't you hammer down a stake and go home?" A pause. "Body'll keep till morning."
Poe could picture Steve's flip smile as he caressed the backside of his latest mistress. What was her name again?
Greta? Something like that. "I'm hanging up."
And he did.
To prevent hair from blowing into his eyes, Poe had attempted a ponytail. But the lank tresses were too short and kept coming loose, tickling his eyes, making them red and irritated. He blinked repeatedly, wishing he had brought his protective goggles. His disposable face mask did little to cut the sting of the grit. He snapped his fingers through gloves, then caught himself and dropped his hands at his sides. A makeshift tent had been erected around the stiff, an attempt to give it and the pathologist some protection. Inside, flashlight beams shimmied in strobic fashion. Jensen was standing a few feet away, hands tucked into his pockets, coat collar turned up. Poe sensed the burn from the big man's suspicious eyes. Jensen was ten years older than he, a good six inches taller, outweighed him by fifty pounds of muscle. But circumstances had dictated that professionally the younger would rule the elder.
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