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The Little Death

The Little Death

4.3 13
by P. J. Parrish

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When the headless corpse of a young man is discovered in glamorous Palm Beach, Louis sets his sights on his most likely suspect—a prominent female U.S. Senator with a history of scandal and a known penchant for sadistic and dangerous sex. Then a second headless body turns up and the trail runs cold, allowing the real killer to slip in dangerously close, intent


When the headless corpse of a young man is discovered in glamorous Palm Beach, Louis sets his sights on his most likely suspect—a prominent female U.S. Senator with a history of scandal and a known penchant for sadistic and dangerous sex. Then a second headless body turns up and the trail runs cold, allowing the real killer to slip in dangerously close, intent on making Louis’s best friend the next victim.

Beautifully written yet packed with raw power, The Little Death is a suspenseful thriller of the highest order and will satisfy fans of writers such as Ed McBain, James Patterson, and Michael Connolly.

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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

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 Little Death 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
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+++++
bicoastal More than 1 year ago
Louis and "friend" old and new at their best
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just think it's awesome that my professor Dr. Sue Steffel is in this book. That alone makes me like it. Dr. Steffel should be in more books because she is amazing.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Devil's Garden on the Archer Ranch, cowboys find the body of a man in approximately the same place that the corpse of the owner's son was found twenty-eight years ago. The police identify the dead person as Mark Durand, lover of Reggie Kent of Palm Beach. Reggie is a walker who escorts wealthy women to events that their husbands do not want to attend. The work enables him to enter the upper crust of society without spending any of his money and excludes sex. Police detective Roy Barbary believes Reggie killed Mark during a lover's quarrel and in a further fit if rage decapitated the victim. Private investigator Louis Kincaid with his friend former cop Mel Landeta, who is going blind, arrive to help the latter's pal Reggie clear his name. As they investigate, they discover two more similar homicides spread out over the years with the decapitated bodies found at that same spot. The men have in common being studly handsome in physique and looks and financially needy. Louis believes if the killer(s) is not stopped soonest, a fourth murder will occur, but the answers are concealed inside the close knit elite of Palm Beach society; a place where a dick and an ex cop will never gain entrance. P.J. Parrish always provides a strong tale starring a special hero who is black working in white Palm Beach without regard to the rage of the affluent locals that a working class African-American dare question any of them; three strikes and he still swings the bat. Filled with plenty of action but clearly character driven, The Little Death is a top notch whodunit. Harriet Klausner
Tregjm More than 1 year ago
The Little Death by P.J. Parrish The newest Louis Kincaid book will be out in February. I got a sneak peak, and wow what a ride! Mel has a friend in Palm Beach that needs help. He's accused of killing his boyfriend. Mel takes Louis along to help figure out who really did it. The mystery is soon complicated by more bodies, many more suspects and very un-accommodating law enforcement. They do have one cop that is willing to help, Lt. Swann, and I hope we haven't seen the last of him. He was a great character. There are quirky rich women, irate husbands, illegal aliens, cowboys, an actual sex scene for Louis, and so much more. This has a mystery that will keep you guessing to the end and the ending will floor you! This is an outstanding mystery that you won't be able to put down. The Parrish sisters are on a roll and keep getting better and better. Put this on your list of MUST READS! Best book of 2010!
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Peachs44 More than 1 year ago
The plot - Mallory has a one-night stand with vampire Jonathan. He has only one rule, to never spend more than one night with a woman. Unfortunately, Cian has a tendency of tracking down Jonathon’s conquests and Mallory is the next one on the list. He stalks her, he wants her to be his grail. However, that’s not something she wants to be. Mallory is a scared but does a fairly good job holding her own against Cian – with Jonathan’s help. Because of course, he can’t stay away and that’s what attracts Cian to her. Now if only Jonathon can save Mallory from Cian – without falling in love.  Is it wrong that my favorite character was Cian? Nothing against Mallory or Jonathon, I like Cian as the antagonist. He has the smarmy conscienceless attitude that makes him creepy yet interesting. The interactions between all three that eventually lead to the ending really kept me hooked. However, I have mixed emotions regarding this book. I loved the story line. What I found irritating was the dialog. Not what they said because frankly whether it was sexual or in the vampire gonna-scare-you style, it was fitting in the story. What annoyed me were the constant… broken… unfinished… sentences of dialog that were wearing me down. The story is told in first person by Mallory and her internal monologues didn’t seem to have this issue. Only the external… conversations… did. Really, I get that there is a time and place for unfinished sentences. However, I felt that there was an excessive amount of them and after a fashion, they began to distract me from what was really a good story. But then again - it could be just me… Stilted conversation aside, this was a good story. The characters were well fleshed out enough to make you either like or hate them. The plot was fascinating with its quick twist. This is my first book by author Scarlett Parrish and would not hesitate to read any more of her writings. Anyone who like vampires story will enjoy this book. I received this book from JeepDiva for the express purposes of an honest review. The opinions and rating of this review are solely mine and in no way was I compensated. Stars– 3, Flames – 2.5