Sudden Death (F.B.I. Trilogy Series #1)

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Overview

Heroic Justice

When a homeless veteran is found dead in a squalid Sacramento alley, FBI special agent Megan Elliott vows to find the murdered hero’s killer. Her investigation gets complicated fast, for the victim, a former Delta Force soldier, is just one link in a nationwide spree of torture and murder.

Straight off a job rescuing medical missionaries, soldier-for-hire Jack Kincaid returns to his home base in the Texas border town of Hidalgo ...

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Sudden Death (F.B.I. Trilogy Series #1)

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Overview

Heroic Justice

When a homeless veteran is found dead in a squalid Sacramento alley, FBI special agent Megan Elliott vows to find the murdered hero’s killer. Her investigation gets complicated fast, for the victim, a former Delta Force soldier, is just one link in a nationwide spree of torture and murder.

Straight off a job rescuing medical missionaries, soldier-for-hire Jack Kincaid returns to his home base in the Texas border town of Hidalgo only to receive the news that one of his closest colleagues–also ex-military–has been brutally murdered. Faced with an inept local police force, Jack takes matters into his own hands.

Now, as part of a national task force to stop the sadistic killings, by-the-book Megan and burn-the-book Jack form a tense alliance, sparked with conflict and temptation. But they struggle against more than passion, for a vicious pair of killers has only just begun a rampage of evil . . . and the primary target is much closer than Megan suspects.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410419057
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 9/2/2009
  • Series: F.B.I. Trilogy Series , #1
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 572
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Allison Brennan is the author of ten bestselling romantic thrillers, including The Prey, Speak No Evil, Killing Fear, and Playing Dead. For thirteen years she worked as a consultant in the California State Legislature before leaving to devote herself fully to her family and writing. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, and International Thriller Writers. She lives in Northern California with her husband, Dan, and their five children.

www.allisonbrennan.com

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The homeless man’s murder had been ritualistic, brutal, and efficient.

Megan Elliott swatted flies that swarmed near the body next to the Dumpster as she squatted beside the victim. It was midmorning and the temperature was already eighty degrees. The bullet had gone in clean, execution style, behind the ear. All signs suggested that he’d been killed right here, in a narrow alley separating a parking garage from the historic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament.

There didn’t appear to be signs of struggle, but here in the decrepit underside of Sacramento, that was difficult to determine. While the city did a fairly good job at keeping most of the streets clean, on the north side of downtown, away from the Capitol building and closer to the soup kitchen, the grime and unwanted bred. Here, homeless weeded through the garbage off K Street for something edible when the city rolled up the sidewalks; or they slept against brick walls, clutching their meager possessions in a desperate grip.

No sign of struggle, and based on the lack of blood spatter, the victim had been prone when shot at close range. But he had the same outward injuries as the other two known victims. His hamstrings had been cut clean through, incapacitating him. His wrists had been duct-taped to something, as evidenced from the chafing and band of missing arm hair. And he was barefoot.

“What are you thinking?”

Megan stood and, though she was five foot eight, she had to look up at Detective John Black, who had to be close to six and a half feet tall.

“All the appearances of an execution, but you’re absolutely right. The M.O. matches the murders on the recent FBI hot sheet.” And to maintain good relations with local law enforcement, she added, “You were right on the money there. Thanks.”

“His hamstrings weren’t cut here. Not enough blood. No spray or cast-off.”

Megan glanced around, but there was no blood on the brick wall or in the alleyway. Where had he been attacked?

Without touching the filthily clad victim, she inspected the deep gash in the back of his legs. She mim?icked a slicing motion with her hand and then said, “I’ll need the coroner’s report, but it appears that the killer sliced right to left, cutting both legs with an even, fluid motion.” She stood and said, “Turn around.”

Black did, looking over his shoulder. She said, “You’re much taller than the victim. If the victim was walking, the killer would have had to have walked up behind him and—slice—cut the hamstrings.” She mim-icked the motion against the back of Black’s knees. “It’s the only thing that makes sense. If the vic was lying down, why would the killer slice his legs across?”

“It would help if we could locate where he was attacked.”

Megan agreed. “If the vic went down on his knees, that should be obvious at the autopsy with bruising or evidence on his pants. But why shoot him here? Why did the killer move him at all after the inital attack?”

Wearing latex gloves and plastic booties over her shoes, an attractive, well-dressed woman who may have been thirty on her last birthday approached. “Nice theory, but maybe you should wait for crime scene analysis.”

Black’s lips twitched. “Simone, FBI Supervisory Agent Megan Elliott. Agent Elliott, Simone Charles, CSU Supervisor.”

Megan nodded. She’d worked with the prickly perfectionist before. “We’ve met. So, what does the evidence show, Simone?”

“My team just came off a triple murder in the Pocket. Sorry for being late.” She didn’t sound sorry, but Megan noticed the red eyes and tight expression. She’d heard about the murder-suicide before she’d left FBI headquarters. A man came home early in the morning, drunk, and shot his wife and two kids while they slept, then blew his own brains out.

“You’re not late,” Megan said.

Simone motioned for one of her team to photograph the scene and the body. “I’ll walk the area and be right back. You have a wide perimeter,” she noted to Detective Black. “Any reason?”

“To keep the vultures at bay.” He nodded toward the KCRA-3 van parked at the edge of the crime scene tape.

She grinned and walked away, dropping markers at specific spots.

Black said, “So was he killed here or not?”

Megan clarified. “He was definitely shot right here, small-caliber handgun is my guess, twenty-two caliber, behind the left ear. A twenty-two is very effective at close range.”

Megan had seen far too many execution-style murder victims when she was part of the national Evidence Response Team that went to Kosovo ten years ago. Which led to the question of why disable the victim first if only to shoot him?

If the evidence held true compared with the first two known victims, Megan already had the answer: between the time the victim’s hamstrings were cut to when he was shot, someone had received sick pleasure from torturing him. Handicapping the victim was to keep him from escaping.

“We need to find out where he was attacked and tortured,” Megan said.

The two previous victims had no visible marks until their clothing was removed. Then dozens of tiny pinpricks were obvious. “He plays before he kills.”

“Excuse me?”

Megan had forgotten that she wasn’t alone. The members of Squad Eight—the Violent Crimes/Major Offender Squad that she headed—were used to her talking to herself; she had to remember she was out of her element here, assisting SPD.

“Just thinking out loud.”

Megan itched to inspect the victim’s feet, but she didn’t want to touch the body until the coroner’s unit arrived.

First Austin, Texas, then Las Vegas, Nevada. Now Sacramento, California. The only thing those three places had in common, on the surface, was that they were large cities. The victims were single, male, between the ages of thirty-five and forty-five, tortured and murdered in their homes. While most serial predators stayed within one race, the first victim was black and the second and third were white. The first vic owned his own business and, though divorced, was by all accounts a devoted father. The second vic had never married, had a rap sheet for minor drug charges, and worked as a mechanic. There was some indication that he had a gambling problem, which delayed the local police from reporting the crime to the national database, mistakenly believing it was payback for an uncollected debt. The hot sheet possibly linking the two had only been sent out late last week.

As if reading her mind, or simply breathing too deeply, Black got on the radio and said to someone, “This body is cooking and it’s only going to get hotter. ETA of the coroner?”

A gender-neutral voice replied, “On scene.”

“Great.” Black looked around, frowned, and said to Megan, “I’ll find him.” He stalked off.

It wasn’t standard procedure for an FBI agent to go out to crime scenes alone, even aiding the local P.D., but there had been no initial certainty that this homicide was connected to the two other murders. Because her squad was already spread extremely thin, Megan had opted to check the scene herself.

But there was no doubt in her mind after viewing the body that the murder of this homeless man was connected somehow to the murders in Texas and Nevada. Why and how were the two big questions other than, of course, who.

She would wait to call it in until she had more information.

Megan frowned as she visually inspected the body again. Something else struck her as odd. Because the victim was homeless and had been living on the streets long enough to disappear into the backdrop of Sacramento, his age was indeterminate. At first glance, he could be as young as thirty, but the ravages of drugs and alcohol or simply the hard years living on the streets aged him. His clothes hadn’t been washed in weeks or longer, so his hands stood out.

They were clean.

She looked around for someone from the CSU or SPD, but all she saw were uniforms, and they eyed her apprehensively. Her boss, Bob Richardson, had made great inroads working with local law enforcement, but there were always a few who blamed the “Fibbies” for everything bad that happened on a call.

She took out her BlackBerry and snapped a couple photographs. Not SOP, but she didn’t plan to use the photos as evidence. She wanted to remember to ask the CSU about the hands, and this was Megan’s reminder.

Were clean hands part of the killer’s ritual? Or was this something new? Or special for this victim? Did this homeless man have some sort of hand-washing compulsion?

Or maybe there had been evidence on his hands and the killer had cleaned them. Very little could destroy evidence if the lab and technicians were good enough. But bleach or another caustic cleanser could be a sign that the victim had fought back and the killer had tried to conceal the evidence.

She knelt down and sniffed close to the hands.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 47 )
Rating Distribution

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4 Star

(9)

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(6)

2 Star

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(4)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 47 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 23, 2009

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    I Also Recommend:

    Great!!!

    Awesome book. Brennan does romance and suspense equally well. Add in the "OMG, I can't believe that just happened" angle and you have a book that you can't put down.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Thrilling, exciting!

    This author is outstanding ~ each time I read on of her books, I think she can't get better but each book is better than the one before. I can't wait for her next book. Definite reading for mystery fans!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 17, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Sudden Death hits the mark!

    I have read each of Allison Brennan's novels and each one keeps getting better. I like the way that she incorporates the Kincade Family in the story lines giving the reader an insight into the family. This helps to bring something special to each of the stories. The suspense builds while you read how she has the characters interact and solve the mystery. I would recomend this book to those readers who enjoy the mysteries of Nora Roberts and Catherine Coulter.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 2, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    This was a first time read for this author and sub-genre for me

    This was a first time read for this author and sub-genre for me and I can honestly say that I really enjoyed it. I won't hesitate to pick up
    another book from Allison Brennan nor will I hesitate to read another cozy romantic mystery!

    I listened to the audio version and at first thought that it was a little awkward listening to the narrator, Ann Marie Lee, for the character
    that she was playing. However, once I got into listening to the story, it didn't seem to bother me, it just struck me as odd at first. I think
    the narrator did the story great justice.

    As for the characters, I felt like they were in depth and to the core. I was interested in reading about them and learning more about
    them as the story progressed. I felt like all the characters blended together nicely to create a great story.

    I thought that the storyline ran smoothly without any delay. I really enjoyed the romance with a serious mystery. The romance part was
    not overdone, but a perfect fit with the story just to give it that extra spice. I do think that it would have been nice to have received a little
    more background on the characters, but for the most part, the story was easy to follow.

    Overall, I enjoyed listening to this story, and will certainly continue reading with Allison Brennan in mind.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 26, 2011

    Bad match

    This is just another example of the reader not matching the material. It is very distracting to me. All the characters sound alike. Needs a stronger voice.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent romantic suspense

    The killer murdered vets in Austin and Las Vegas before the third victim appeared in a Sacramento alley. Each was single, between thirty five and forty five years old, and former Delta Force soldiers; they were tortured with their hamstrings cut so they could not escape. FBI special agent Megan Elliot knows she has a serial killer to contend with, but who and why remains out of reach. She turns to the military to learn more about the Delta Force, but the Pentagon refuses to cooperate; going so far as claiming a corpse due to national security.

    Ex-Army Ranger Jack Kincaid runs a mercenary team in Texas. When someone tortures and murders one of his associates, a Delta Force vet, he vows justice for his fallen brother in arms. His breaking the rules leads him to frustrated by the book Megan.

    Readers meet the two killers and the motive before Megan investigates the Sacramento crime scene so the tense story line is more a cat and mouse contest with death being the most likely outcome. Jack and Megan are opposites as he flaunts the rules while she embraces them. They are a wonderful pairing, but the prime reason fans will enjoy this exhilarating FBI romantic suspense is the chilling serial killing duo Karin and Ethan, but especially her.

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    1/18/13

    1/18/13 My introduction to this author...not impressed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 16, 2012

    Amazing

    Another awesome read!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2009

    She is a great author

    I've read alot of her books and have never been dissapointed

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I am a great fan of Allison Brennan

    I am a huge fan of romantic suspense novels but I think there should be a balance between a thrilling edge-of-the-seat plot and the development of a realistic romantic relationship, especially given the darkness/evil acts of the criminals involved in many suspense plots. Ms. Brennan has been able to find the correct balance that has made reading her novels such a wonderful expereience. I thought Sudden Death was quickly paced, showed attention to detail without getting boring and had great character development of all the characters including the supporting characters. As for the actual romance between the two primary characters, the reader is able to get invested in characters as individuals before the romance actually kicks in, which makes the culmination of the relationship that much more satisfying. I look forward to the remaining two books in the trilogy.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Another great Brennan book

    Ms. Brennan does it again and ratchets up the tension, thrills, and danger. There were several nice surprises that I won't ruin by revealing and if you've read her books all along, several special people make an appearance. If you haven't read all of her books, this is still a nice stand-alone book and the beginning of the FBI trilogy.

    Jack Kincaid and Megan Elliot are a great pairing. She is by the book and he is burn the book, who needs rules. The romance between the two is gritty and realistic for the life Jack has led as a mercenary.

    The story of war veterans being victims of a serial killer is revelent and as timely as the front page news.

    Can't wait for the next two in the series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted November 15, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2011

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    Posted March 7, 2011

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    Posted May 16, 2009

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    Posted January 8, 2011

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    Posted May 10, 2009

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    Posted June 7, 2011

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