In this New York Times bestseller with over 1M copies sold, a Muslim detective struggling with sobriety and the violence of his job on the Indianapolis force must solve the murder of his teenage niece.
Ash Rashid is a former homicide detective who can't stand the thought of handling another death investigation. In another year, he'll be out of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department completely.
That's the plan, at least, until his niece's body is found in the guest home of one of his city's most wealthy citizens. The coroner calls it an overdose, but the case doesn't add up. Against orders, Ash launches an investigation to find his niece's murderer, but the longer he searches, the more entangled he becomes in a case that hits increasingly close to home.
If he doesn't solve it fast, his niece won't be the only family member he has to bury.
About the Author
Chris Culver is the New York Times bestselling author of the Ash Rashid series of mysteries. After graduate school, Chris taught courses in ethics and comparative religion at a small liberal arts university in southern Arkansas. Between classes, he wrote The Abbey, which spent sixteen weeks on the New York Times ebook bestseller list. He, his wife, and their Labrador retriever currently live near St. Louis, Missouri, where Chris is working on his next novel.
Read an Excerpt
By Chris Culver
Grand Central PublishingCopyright © 2013 Chris Culver
All rights reserved.
I hated doing next-of-kin notifications. Most people guessed why I was there as soon as they opened the door. They put on airs of fortitude and strength, but almost all fell apart in front of me at some point. I could see it in their eyes. They looked at me and knew something, too. I'd go home afterward as if nothing was wrong. I might hug my family a little tighter than usual, but the world would go on for me without much of a hiccup. Most hated me for what I had to do, and I couldn't blame them. My Islamic faith told me that drinking to escape their stares was an abomination in the eyes of God, but I didn't care as long as it helped me sleep without dreams.
I pulled my department-issued Ford Crown Victoria to a stop beside the mailbox in front of my sister's house and took a deep breath, stilling myself as a familiar anxiety flooded over me. I knew as soon as I had volunteered for the duty that I was going to have one of those nights I'd need to forget, but it took that moment for it to become real. It tore at my gut like barbed wire.
My sister and her husband lived in a four-thousand-square-foot historic home that could have comfortably housed my entire extended family. As a resident of the poorer, smaller neighborhood next door, I was glad that it didn't. My brother-in-law Nassir smiled and put his hand on my shoulder when he saw me at the front door but stiffened when I didn't return the gesture.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"We'll talk in a moment," I said. "Where's Rana?"
"In the kitchen," said Nassir, leaving his hand on my shoulder a moment longer. "Come in."
I walked in, and Nassir shut the door behind me. The house's first floor was typical of well-kept historic homes. The woodwork was straight and clean with a rich patina that could only come from eighty years of polishing, and the rooms were open and bright. Nassir half led and half pushed me down the home's main hallway to the kitchen in back. Rana was in front of a gas stove large enough to have been at home in the kitchen of a Las Vegas strip hotel. The air smelled like garlic and yeast.
"Ash," she said, smiling at me. "I thought you and Hannah were going out tonight."
"We were," I said. "I need you both to sit at the table. We need to talk."
Nassir and Rana did as I asked. In return, I broke their hearts as gently as I could.
Nassir and Rana had taken the news about as well as anyone could expect. They hadn't cried in front of me, but they told me they wanted to be alone. If I went home, though, I'd have to tell my wife why I canceled our wedding anniversary plans. I didn't think I had the strength or stomach for that yet. Instead, I drove to my office. It wasn't my case, but I had enough friends in my department that I had a stack of eight-by-ten photos and notes on my desk when I arrived. They made my stomach turn.
I read through the timeline quickly. The call had come in at six in the evening. The caller reported the presence of a prone female, approximately sixteen to eighteen years old, in the guest home of one of Indianapolis's most wealthy citizens. The first officer on the scene checked her pulse but found nothing. He called in a probable homicide, and that's when the gears started moving. Within half an hour, five forensic technicians had arrived to process the scene, and Detective Olivia Rhodes had begun interviewing potential witnesses.
A detective had numbered and described each photograph, giving me a guide as I flipped through the stack. The first few pictures documented the layout of the building, orienting the crime scene inside the larger structure. The photographer had snapped pictures of a kitchen with light maple cabinetry and a living room with a television, lounge chairs, and pool table. A vase of calla lilies rested on the counter beside the stove. They were my niece's favorite flower; my wife and I always sent them to her on her birthday.
Rachel, my niece, lay in the center of the room. Her skin had paled, indicating that her blood had already begun to settle inside her body, and her arms were pressed against her sides like a supine soldier at attention. I stared at the picture for a moment, my stomach twisting. She didn't deserve that.
I skimmed through the next few pictures. The photographer had snapped more shots of the kitchen and living room. They were helpful for orienting someone in a crime scene but weren't particularly interesting to me. I stopped when the photographs started focusing on my niece. The photographer had started with wider shots of her placement and then continued by capturing her closely from her head to her feet. She had no obvious external injuries, nor could I see puddles of blood around her. That was comforting. Unfortunately, I knew without even reading the crime scene report that someone had staged her body.
I turned through the stack of photos until I found one focusing on Rachel's neck. She wore a light-blue polo shirt with an open collar. I couldn't see ligature marks on her neck, but the bottom button on her collar had been popped off, leaving a pair of strings in its place. The detective in charge might not have thought much of it, but that wasn't like Rachel. She was as meticulous about her clothes as anyone I had ever met. She wouldn't have worn that shirt until she had a new button sewn back on.
I shifted in my seat and flipped through a few more pictures until I saw one focusing on her waist. Rachel wore a denim skirt with buttons instead of a zipper in front. The buttons were misaligned, though, so the skirt would have ridden uncomfortably against her abdomen. She wouldn't have done that to herself.
I continued turning over photographs until I saw one I couldn't explain. It looked like a shot of the carpet. Puzzled, I scanned through the notes that accompanied the photographs until I found the appropriate one. The photographer had tried to capture track marks. I looked at the picture again, straining my eyes until I saw two long strips where the carpet's matte was flattened in one direction. I couldn't be sure, but it looked as if someone had pulled Rachel into the room by her arms, with her feet dragging behind her.
Bile rose in the back of my throat.
I stared at that picture, thankful I hadn't seen it before going to my sister's house. Since I had come right from home, I hadn't been able to tell her much about her daughter's death. That was probably good.
The rest of the pictures focused on something odd—a glass vial full of a brownish red liquid. The technician's notes said someone had found it on an end table in one of the bedrooms. It was roughly the size of a cigar, and when the technician picked it up to catalog it, the liquid inside coated the glass like cough syrup. The note for that photograph said the technician had found pink lipstick on the rim that presumptively matched Rachel's.
What were you into, honey?
My desk phone rang, startling me. I glanced at my watch. It was after ten, well past my regular hours, so I doubted it was a casual phone call. I picked it up.
"Rashid," I said. "What can I do for you?"
"Yeah, Detective Rashid. This is Sergeant Hensley at IMPD downtown. Olivia Rhodes brought in somebody in your niece's case, and I thought I'd give you a heads-up."
I nodded. Hensley was an old-school watch sergeant and had been on the force before we had civilian oversight committees or cameras in every room. When he was my age, interrogations had included rubber hoses and phone books. I envied him. Justice may not have been pretty, but shit got done.
"Suspect or witness?" I asked.
Hensley chuckled. "Fuck if I know," he said. "They don't tell me anything. If you want, I could do some poking around."
I almost snickered. Hensley had more friends and sources in our department than anyone else alive. He probably knew exactly who Olivia brought in and why, probably before she even entered the building. He wanted a handout.
"Don't bother," I said. "When'd she bring him in?"
"Just walked by my desk."
If they had just walked by the front desk, I had at least twenty minutes to get over to IMPD. While I was still officially a detective, I was on a permanent investigative assignment with the prosecutor's office, so I shared office space with the prosecutors about a block from the department's downtown bullpen. In another year, I'd hopefully finish law school and be done with the department completely. I still loved the work, but I could see only so many bodies before I became as broken as the victims I investigated.
"Appreciate the call, Sergeant," I said. "I'll be over in a few."
I hung up before Hensley could respond and grabbed my tweed jacket. My shoulder ached dully when I twisted my arm inside. I was thirty-four and generally too young to have arthritis, but I had been shot with a hunting rifle four years earlier while serving a high-risk felony warrant. I got off lucky; my partner had been shot in the neck and bled out before paramedics could stabilize him.
The concrete outside my building radiated pent-up heat from earlier that day. My throat felt dry and scratchy. I could see one of my favorite bars up the street, and for a brief moment I considered stopping. I decided against it, though. The station wasn't far, and I could probably find someone inside willing to give me a pick-me-up if I needed it.
I reached the building quickly. The city had built IMPD's headquarters in the early sixties and, judging by the musty odor that pervaded the building, the contractor they hired hadn't bothered to waterproof the foundation or basement. A middle-aged couple clung to each other in the white marble-clad lobby. Their clothes looked expensive, and I could see worry in their eyes. If I had to guess, I'd say they were picking up their delinquent kid for his first DUI. That happened a lot. I'd see them again.
I walked to the front desk. Sergeant Hensley sat behind it, reading Sports Illustrated. He dropped his magazine and looked at me with green, knowing eyes.
"You look like shit, Rashid."
"Feel like it, too," I said, reaching over the counter for the sign-in sheet. I scribbled my name and rank. Detective Sergeant Ashraf Rashid. I had been named after my father, although I hadn't ever met him. He had been a history professor at the American University in Cairo, but one of his students shot and killed him before I was born. Apparently that kid's family took grades seriously. The remnants of my family immigrated to the U.S. shortly after that.
I pushed the sign-in sheet toward Hensley and pulled out my wallet. I took out two twenties and put them on top of the counter.
"I think I missed your kid's last birthday. Buy him a football for me."
Hensley slipped the money into his pocket and smiled. "I'm sure he'll appreciate this," he said. "Detective Rhodes is in interrogation room three with Robert Cutting."
If Hensley thought that earned him another payoff, he was wrong. I thanked him and headed toward the elevators to the left of the desk.
The Homicide bullpen hadn't changed much since I had left it. Unlike most regular office buildings, IMPD didn't have individual offices. At least not for peons like me. It had desks in open rooms. The administration justified the arrangement by arguing that separate offices would impede communication on sensitive investigations. In actuality, I'm pretty sure they were just too cheap to spring for the extra materials when they last renovated the building.
I weaved my way through desks and columns of file folders. The interrogation rooms were designed to be oppressive and to give a suspect the feeling that there was no escape. They were cramped, they had no windows, and the airflow inside was carefully regulated depending on the interrogator's mood. If a suspect looked around before going in, he'd see a well-labeled express elevator that went directly to the holding cells on the top four floors of the building.
When I came to interrogation room three, the door was shut, but Detective Olivia Rhodes stood outside, cup of coffee in hand. She nodded at me when I drew close. Olivia was a good detective. I had been in Homicide for six years before being transferred to the prosecutor's office, and I spent one of those years as her partner. From what I had heard earlier, she fought to be assigned to my niece's case. I appreciated that and respected her even more for it.
"I thought you might be up," she said, turning down the hallway. She opened an unmarked door beside the interrogation room and held it for me. "Come on."
Police interrogations have come a long way in the twelve years I'd been on the force. Our station no longer had the infamous one-way mirror looking into the interrogation room. Instead, we had a sophisticated set of hidden video cameras and microphones placed around the room. Everything was recorded from the moment a suspect walked inside to the moment he walked out. I had heard those recordings could disappear if the right person got the right incentive, but I had never taken advantage of that. I liked having the option if I needed it, though.
Olivia turned on a flat-screen monitor attached to the wall. The picture showed a kid in jeans and a blue T-shirt. He had curly brown hair and one of his arms was handcuffed to the wall, keeping him upright. He stared at the steel table in front of him, apparently unaware that he was being filmed.
"Is this Robert Cutting?" I asked.
"He goes by Robbie," she said. "He's your niece's boyfriend. Was your niece's boyfriend, at least. I appreciate you doing the next-of-kin notification."
"That's no problem," I said. "The kid have a lawyer yet?"
"Meyers," she said. That figured. John Meyers was one of the best defense attorneys in town. "He's on his way in."
"Did the kid ask for him?"
Olivia shrugged. "Sort of. Nathan Cutting called him, and Robbie agreed to use him. I think we can nail this kid, so I'm not going to push and try to talk to him before Meyers comes in."
"What do you think you have?" I asked.
"You seen the crime scene photos?" she asked.
"Upper-class victim without signs of trauma or injury," she said, slipping her hands through her blond hair and securing it in a ponytail. "I think she overdosed and Robbie tried to cover it up."
I shook my head. "Rachel wasn't on drugs," I said.
"You sure about that?" asked Olivia.
"Yeah. She's got a scholarship to play tennis at Purdue University next year, and her high school tests randomly to make sure the kids aren't doping. My sister would have said something if Rachel wasn't clean."
Olivia bit her lower lip. "We'll see how things go, then," she said. "You hang around here. I'm going to wait downstairs for Meyers to show up and get this started."
Olivia left shortly after that. I sat and waited, staring at the monitor. Robbie looked thin and awkward. Appearances could be deceiving, but I doubted he was Islamic. That wouldn't sit too well with Rana and Nassir, which might have been part of his appeal to my niece.
I leaned back in my chair, wishing I had thought to grab a cup of coffee on my way in.
Approximately five minutes after leaving the observation booth, Olivia entered the interrogation room with John Meyers in tow. Meyers looked to be in his fifties. He wore a lustrous blue suit and carried a soft leather bag over one shoulder. He sat at the table in the interrogation room beside his client while Olivia sat across from him with a file folder in front of her. The microphones inside were sensitive enough that I could hear the clatter of the metal buckles on Meyers's bag strike the steel table.
"Okay, so why don't we get this started," said Olivia. "For the record, it's eleven in the evening on August nineteenth, and this is Detective Olivia Rhodes interviewing Robbie Cutting. Sitting in on this interview is Mr. Cutting's lawyer, John Meyers. Is that correct?"
Robbie mumbled, "Yes," but he didn't meet Olivia's gaze. I took a closer look at him then. He had bags under his eyes, and he swayed as if he were being buffeted by wind. He looked lost.
"Good," said Olivia. "Right now, this is an information-gathering interview. I'm trying to figure out what happened. You're not under arrest, but I can use what you tell me here in court. Just to be clear, you don't have to say anything, and you're free to leave at any time. Do you understand these rights, Mr. Cutting?"
Robbie looked up, hope in his eyes. "Does that mean I can go?"
Excerpted from The Abbey by Chris Culver. Copyright © 2013 Chris Culver. Excerpted by permission of Grand Central Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Abbey was a good enough story. I thoroughly resented the typos, the misplaced words, the added words, the grammatical mistakes which hindered my reading all the way through. Several times I decided to quit reading, but wanted to find the ending, so I kept on. PLEASE proof read! Spell check is not enough.
I read this genre all the time, Patterson, and the rest. I thought this was good for a first time out. Someone said that there were a lot of typos, but I read so fast that I did not notice that, so I would not let that review stop you from buying this. I felt that for .99 cents and over 500 pages, that were not "fill" I truly got my money's worth. I didn't catch on till the end and was surprised by the ending and not dissappointed. The story doesn't just end or fall apart, you go, " I should have contected the dots, but I didn't" That is good writing when you can't figure it out, till the main character lets you know he solved the crime. He needs just a little polish and he will be right up there with Patterson, and Deaver in my estimation. I would buy the next Chris Culver book. I liked the character Ash, has some flaws, which makes him human and you root for him. The bad guys were very interesting. A new slant on that.
Curtis Culver is on his way to standing beside Lutz, connelly,olsen,,,,i loved this book and CANNOT. wait to read more from him...way to go Curtis...and thank for a fabulous read!
It's hard to believe this is a debut novel. It reads as well as any established author! There are many twists and turns in the action that build as the reader does not know who the hero can trust. This author will go far, and I thank him for writing such a great story.
This is a great book from a new and thrilling up and coming author. The only reason I didn't give it five stars is due to whom ever edited this missed a number of grammatical errors, punctuation errors and a few words hear and there that were doubled together in sentences. I will certainly keep an eye out for Chris Culver in the future. I only hope some one makes sure to proof read and correct any mistakes.
I was pleasantly surprised by the book. It was cheap,so I didn't go in expecting much, but it turned out to be quite good. Ash was a great character. If the author writes a sequel, I'll pick it up.
Good book. Needs a little tweeking, and some extra editing, but the story and characters were awesome! It was the right amount of excitement, ans intrigue. I loved it. and will recomen it.
I so enjoyed this one! Could NOT put it down. The writer did not go overboard with graphic details (my pet peeve), knew what was just enough. Very suspenseful, exciting, humorous, and quick to read. A+++ So glad I tried it, hoping for more!
this book was a great story - i want more!
very much enjoyed this book. well written with just the right amount suspence and dry wit. i feel like i connected with Ash! i look forward to hanging out with him again soon. well done. thanks for a great read!
best 99 cents i have ever spent a great book if u r froogle buy it you wont reggret it
If you want to loose yourself for a while this book will take you away, Cant waite to see what ASH will get himself into next.
Really enjoyed this one. Highly recommend. Pretty easy to keep up with the characters. Moves at a good pace.
Okay, at first I thought this was a vampire book, wrong! Then I thought because the main character was a Muslim, I thought the book was going to be political, wrong! What Mr. Culver has done is just write a good old fashioned detictive story using these great characters that you will like, love and hate. Detective Ash Rashid is a very human cop, and that makes him a very believable character. I dont want to say too much about this book that you don't already know but I will say, if you like detective books, and mystery books, you'll enjoy this book. The only negative I have is that some of his minor bad guys in the book who are suppose to be good, and some of the good guys who seem to be bad, are easily determined by any astute reader before devulged in his story. It's my hope that in Mr. Culver's next book, he'll make us guess harder.
I enjoyed the story.Characters needed more depth.Sometimes the story felt as if it were written by two seperate people. Unique main character.
Enjoyed it very much it had twists and turns I wasn't expecting. Some humor in just the right places to take the edge off of the predicaments the character finds himself in. Great plot and awesome characters keeps you turning the pages wanting to know what was going to happen next.
This book was hard to put down. Lots of twists and turns. Only one twist did I see coming. My one criticism with the writing; was that in some cases the twists were underplayed. They could have been more dramatic to make the reader more excited about the twist. Ash is a believable character, more realistc and human than a lot of main characters today. The inner conflict of balancing his religion, love of family, and his faults makes him likeable, believable, and intriguing. I live near Indianapolis and enjoyed the setting and references to places I am familiar with. I did not like the use of Plainfield as the location for The Abbey. It was a bit of a stretch for me, but it does have a lot of warehouses. Overall a great read, I look forward to reading about Ash in the future.
Well written and very engaging!
I know Chris Culver is a debuting author and for that I would give him 100 stars if I could. But... the book itself is lacking. This may be a matter of personal preference but I thought it started a bit dark, dry, painful even? The main character is entirely too depressing. I honestly feel like the entire book happened at night because I kept picturing a lone detective burning his bridges and drinking heavily while roaming the dark streets and findung himself in truly implausible situations. It was a bit over the top. It didnt come together properly. Just too much 'stuff' and not much intrigue. I think he has a future if he can work on toning down some of the storyline and create characters the reader feels more than indifferent towards.
I found the writing style to be short and choppy; never engaging me in the story. The plot line is good, and almost believable, but there is a lack of character development. I never really related to lead character on any level. Also, there was so much dropping of brand names that I began to wonder if the writer was collecting royalties from the companies. It was unnecessary and became very distracting. Don't let the page count of 575 scare you away; on my Nook Color the page number routinely advanced two or three pages at a time. Along with the 8th grade level writing style, it made for a quick read. So I think the book is worth the $0.98 I paid, but not much more.
Great, interesting story. Main characters well drawn and you care about them. Secondary characters not so much. But FANTASTIC for a new writer. Not for fans of Tough Guy Cop stories. Look forward to next book!
my favorite new detective....excited to read the next book.......
Found this to book to be very entertaing. keep my interest liked the characters.
Reviewed by Katelyn Hensel for Readers' Favorite Chris Culver is one of the new greats in suspense and thriller fiction. The Abbey explodes onto the scene in delightful audio book format to the enjoyment of suspense fans everywhere. Meet Detective Ash Rashid. He's a cynical and jaded homicide detective with no desire to see ANY more dead bodies for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, they seem to follow him everywhere, and one of his worst fears comes to life when his niece's body is discovered in the home of one of the elite of the city. Ash is NOT amused by the coroner's diagnosis of an overdose and starts an illegal investigation to find who or what he believes is his niece's killer. What I loved most was the originality of the character in Ash. Because he is a Muslim cop and a kind of multi-cultural character, he had many dimensions that are lacking in typical "white-bread" cop characters. I learned a lot of cool things about Muslims that I never knew, and I had a great time learning about Ash's strengths, but more importantly his weaknesses. I would have liked even more character development, but I suspect that is coming in the next book of the series: The Outsider. There was some kind of odd vampire thing tied into the plot that I didn't really understand, but it kind of worked with the story itself. As for the audio, the narrator was pretty great. I loved the clarity of voice and the diction and flow of speech patterns. It did get a tad dry at times, but overall I thought the voice quality was exceptional, especially for a crime-ish kind of novel.
Several reviewers have referred to Ash as an alcoholic. Gulping down a couple of slugs of booze after a long day of death and deceit does not mean he is an alcoholic. In fact, it doesn't even make him a drunk. In my world it makes him a normal guy,especially for a cop, at the end of a very stressful day. The problem I see with the booze is drinking and driving and the need to drink in secret--not because he's an alcoholic but because he's a Muslim. Yes, he's a Muslim, which also elicited comments from readers. Unlike most of those reviewers, I liked that Culver included this as just another part of Ash's ordinary, every day routine, no different from tucking his child into bed. I suspect if he had been a Catholic stopping off for confession, no one would have mentioned it at all. Culver created a character who is flawed. He drinks on the sly and he's right on the verge of violence most of the time. HELLO--he's a cop! They don't grow up wanting to be Mr. Rogers. He keeps secrets from his wife. Gosh, who doesn't? Of, course mouthwash doesn't hide the smell of alcohol; it's a common self-made delusion. Ash, like most of us, creates his own private fairy tale about his weaknesses. Now to the book as a whole. (And aren't you all relieved I'm finally jumping off my soapbox?) This book was a very slow starter for me. I put it aside several times, but I kept coming back mostly because I wanted to give a new writer a chance to show me his work. I am glad I stuck with it. The plot got more and more interesting the further I got into it. I found Ash's dark side - hhmmmm - very human and his character complex. I still wanted to whack him over the head for DUI, but I liked him. Another big point in Culver's favor is the surprising ending. Who is good and who is baaad? I've probably read a couple of thousand mystery books, and I did NOT see that coming. I only gave the book three stars because the first third to half of the book was sooooo slow. I would give the last half five stars. Mr. Culver desperately needs an editor, and I bet there are about a million Nook and Kindle readers who would be glad to do it for nothing more than a first read of his books!