With the help of Vince, a retired Seattle homicide detective, Rick is determined to find the answer and in doing so a bizarre puzzle begins to emerge. But discovery usually brings more questions than clues especially when the pieces are scattered from Seattle to Vegas to LA showing five murders with common links spanning a nine year period. Rick knows there is more to the puzzle than the murders and so begins his journey to find, and fit, all the pieces. And in the process he finds something very unexpected.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)|
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The PeacoatA Rick Morgan Mystery
By G. William Parker
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2012 G. William Parker
All right reserved.
Chapter OneRacking the slide caught his attention. Looking up the barrel of my Glock was the face of the FBI, the same face that paid me a visit a year ago. At the time he was searching for a little black book that belonged to a former United States congressman—a political laundry list of dirty secrets. That meeting concluded on a sour note. This one wouldn't play much better.
For the past few minutes he and his younger partner had been interrogating my girls. Like vultures hovering over fresh meat, they were picking at them with the same question, "OK, let's try this one more time. When is Morgan coming back?"
Seeing a weapon pointed directly at his head and hearing, "Morgan is back," the special agent didn't flinch. But his younger partner did. As he reached for his weapon I redirected mine. A slight "no, no" shake of the barrel adjusted his heroic but misguided intentions to raising his hands. He may have been young, but he wasn't stupid.
The special agent's eyes appeared calm but his voice indicated aggravation. "You know, Morgan, pointing a weapon at a federal agent is a felony. You're looking at five years for this."
"He had me there," I thought, a fact that couldn't be denied. As for the other, "Ladies, did these gentlemen identify themselves as federal agents?"
Emily replied with a smirk, "No, Mr. Morgan, they did not."
A small cynical laugh crossed my lips as I holstered my weapon. The younger agent lowered his hands. "Gentlemen, it looks like we're at an impasse," I said. "Now, what the hell is going on?"
The special agent's attitude shifted to belligerent and his voice aggressive, "Morgan, you received a package this morning and we want it."
"Package? What the hell are you talking about?" I fired back. "I just got in from San Francisco." In the dark to the whole matter, I turned to Emily. "Did I receive a package this morning?"
Emily knew never to admit anything without consulting me first. While shaking her head "no," ours eyes locked. They told a different story. Turning back to the special agent I had a hunch and decided to play it. "Do you have a warrant for this phantom package you claim I have?"
Though he never directly answered "yes" or "no," his stumbling confirmed my gut was right. No warrant meant no legal leg to stand on. And since they were in my office uninvited ... Locking my eyes on his I said in a calm and quiet manner, "Emily, close my office door then take your seat again. Alicia, stay seated."
Emily quietly did what I instructed. Alicia didn't move a muscle. But the flush in her cheeks and rapid breathing indicated her heart was beating a million miles an hour. In all honesty so was mine, but I wasn't going to let the FBI know it. Hearing the thud of my door close I got into his face and barked, "What the crap do you think you're doing coming into my private office and bullying my girls?"
"Morgan, this is a matter of national security and ..."
"Bullshit," I interrupted. My bark had become a bite. "We're not going through this crap again. This company has a lot of connections on the Hill (remembering a conversation with Phil Carter, our CEO) and I have some senators' personal numbers in my cell phone. If you two assholes ever barge into my office again, with or without a warrant, or even think of intimidating my girls, I'm going to start pushing speed dial numbers. Before I'm finished, the balance of your careers will be at some deserted outpost where they'll need a compass and guide dog to find you. Now, get the hell out of here!" My outburst made the older agent irate, but I didn't care. Hell, it was my office and Emily and Alicia were my girls.
With a hostile stride, the special agent moved silently to the door, opened it and walked into the outer office. His partner trailed quietly, head down like a naughty puppy who forgot to use the newspaper. The girls and I followed. There the older agent turned and conjured a small smile to the ladies. Nodding to me he turned to the outer door. Now he may have been finished, but I wasn't. In a tone that walked somewhere between hostility and arrogance I said, "If you decide to have me tailed again, try a more creative approach than using a decoy." His stride broke for just a moment, indicating I had hit a nerve. And I was glad. As the outer office door closed I turned to Emily and Alicia and took a deep breath.
For the past eight months most Mondays would find me strolling into the office about midmorning. Distant from the work that lay ahead, my mind was usually a million miles away, or more accurately six hundred seventy eight by air, and still filled with the laughing, teasing, romance and the beautiful woman I left in San Francisco. It was the second step into the office when something felt wrong. Alicia's desk stood idle and Emily wasn't at her post offering her customary sarcasms ... usually, "Well, well, look what the cat dragged in." My eyes fixated on my office door. It was open. It's not unusual for the girls to be in there working so my ears perked up to the sound of an older, heavy voice issuing some intimidating commands. Then, before it finished, a second voice sounded. Higher in pitch, it had the mimicking shriek of a parrot repeating everything. My daydream quickly moved to nightmare and reality slapped me hard across the face. It was then I drew the Glock.
"So, what the hell was that all about?" I began.
An excited Emily started, "A few minutes before you walked in, they just barged into our office looking for you. When we told them you weren't here, they ordered us into your office and to sit in the wingbacks. Then they began to search. When they didn't find the package they began shouting, asking where you were and where was the package. They said if we didn't cooperate, we would be arrested."
"So I did receive a package?"
With a devious smile Emily turned and headed into my office. Alicia and I followed. Sitting in my chair, tucked under my desk, was a package. "I put it here so you would see it as soon as you arrived. But when those guys came in demanding it, Alicia and I played dumb."
Kissing them on their foreheads, "My ladies did well. I think that's why I keep you."
"Rick Morgan, stop it," Emily said with a big grin. "You keep us because we can keep your calendar straight with all your women, especially that certain one. And by the way," she continued, "I didn't know you had any DC phone numbers in your cell."
Giving her a quick smile, "I don't. But those idiots didn't know it." Emily rolled her eyes and Alicia giggled.
My attention moved quickly to the package. It had my interest. About the size and shape of a medium-size book, it was wrapped in heavy brown paper, the kind your mother bagged her groceries in years ago. It was tightly sealed with a clear narrow tape, common to what you would find in any office. The tape had yellowed with age and had begun to peel. There was no return address or postmark. The only marking was the name "Rick Morgan" written across the face with a black, felt tip marker. Gripping two corners with my pointer fingers and thumbs, I picked it up. It wasn't very heavy. Holding it to my nose, I smelled the scent of fresh ink. I found it curious though the wrapping was old, the scribbling of my name wasn't. But what really caught my attention was the way it was wrapped. Perfectly.
"Rick, were those two guys really FBI?" Emily continued.
"Yeah, why?" I replied half-heartedly. My attention was still on the package.
"Somehow they just didn't fit the profile of law enforcement."
Her observation caught my attention. Did I miss something? Looking at her inquisitively, "What do you mean?"
"Oh, I don't know," she said innocently. "The way they walked and spoke, there was something different about them, not at all like the cops my Uncle Vince works with. But the fact they both had their backs to the door and let you get the drop on them made me wonder. Uncle Vince always says partners have to watch each other's back."
If ever a light should have come on in my head, it was then. Emily was right. No trained FBI agent, or anyone in law enforcement for that matter, would ever leave their back vulnerable. But my interest at the moment was somewhere else. Putting Emily's most brilliant observation on the back burner, a mistake I would regret later, my attention returned to the package.
Placing it on my desk, I took a pocket knife from my drawer. Slowly and with precision I cut the tape and pushed back each fold. Emily must have thought I was disarming a bomb. Completely opened, we were taken back by its content. Though it meant nothing to Emily, I knew why the FBI so desperately wanted it. Nestled between the flaps of old brown paper was a black leather-bound book. If I was to wager, it was a diary. Using the knife blade I carefully lifted the leather cover. The contents of the first page sent a chill down my spine. Taking a pencil from my drawer, I used the eraser to turn a few pages. And with each turn the chill became colder. If I wasn't mistaken it was written in Russian.
"Emily," I began slowly, "who delivered this package?"
"I don't know," she shrugged. "It was sitting on your desk when I arrived this morning."
"Huh," I said turning a few more pages. "Was my office locked over the weekend?"
"Yes, it was. I remember locking it Friday when Alicia and I left and it was locked this morning when I got in."
"And the package was on my desk?"
Emily mumbled, "Yes."
With my eyes still glued to the book and the eraser still turning the pages, I continued, "Call security. I want to know if anyone was in my office over the weekend. If not, from the time you left Friday to this morning I want to know everyone who entered this building. I want the sign-in log and the security video. Have IT patch the video into my computer." Turning to her, "And if anyone gives you any crap have them call me. Then go down to the mailroom and get a pair of latex gloves."
Passing over Emily's comment, I had a hunch. The person who wrapped this—and if my gut was right, about eleven years ago—probably wasn't thinking that somewhere down the road, someone else would be unwrapping it. Somewhere on this book there just might be a fingerprint or two. And if so, I wanted it. I continued, "Bring me the digital camera and replace the memory card with a new one. And bring a zip-lock bag big enough to fit this book in and an old, unused Day-Timer. And lastly," handing her the wrapping paper, "make a photocopy of my name."
Bewildered at my requests, Emily nodded and headed out with her shopping list. Stopping at the door she turned, "The book, Rick ... what does it mean?"
It has been said that curiosity killed the cat and for the moment I knew exactly what this book meant. T R O U B L E!
As to Emily's question, I was stumped on how to answer without creating undue concern. But one thing was very sure, the cat and mouse game that I thought was put to bed eight months ago was about to begin again. Except this time I had a deep gut feeling that the mouse had been exchanged for a rat ... a very big one.
Again Emily asked, "Rick, what does it mean?"
With my eyes still fixed on the book I quietly muttered, "It means, Emily, dead people really can speak from the grave."
Chapter TwoNow normally I would have gone over and hung my suit jacket neatly on the coat rack. But this wasn't a normal morning.
After Emily left my office I left the book on the conference table and moved quickly towards my desk tossing my jacket haphazardly on a wingback. Stepping behind the chair, I removed my Glock from the holster. After ejecting the clip I racked the slide. The live round fell on my desk top. I placed it back in the clip then placed the Glock, clip and holster in my upper right-hand drawer.
Falling into my chair like a brick brought me eye level with the files needing attention. But the corporate business would have to wait. Swiveling toward the window, I sank into think mode. Occasionally I would ask my friend the Space Needle a question. But as usual, he never answered. The more I thought of that black book the more disturbed I became. After a long minute I picked up my cell and pushed a button.
On the third ring a gruff voice answered.
"Vince, Rick Morgan."
"Yeah, it's been awhile."
"No, I'm in the office. Could you meet with me at three o'clock?"
"The bar? Yeah, sounds fine."
"Sure, but make mine a double."
"And would you mind bringing that digital camera of yours with you?"
"Problem?" His question was an understatement.
The FBI agents knew exactly what they wanted and were not happy leaving empty-handed. Any dirt a United States congressman had on someone was valuable, even after eleven years. But the fact they had no warrant bothered me. It meant one of two things. Either they were working off the record or they had gone rogue. Either way it meant no legal oversight, accountability or recourse. I was lucky. I had the drop on them. Next time it might be a different ballgame. And knowing how much they wanted that book, you could count on there being a next time.
It had been about twenty minutes when Emily returned with her arms full. I requested she lay the items on my conference table and close the door on her way out. She silently complied with my request with one exception. Taking my suit jacket, she hung it neatly on the rack next to my trench coat (which she referred to as a "flasher coat").
In my soon-to-be meeting with Vince, I wanted him to see the contents of the book but knew it must not leave my office. I had a plan.
As a kid I loved watching old World War II movies, especially the part when the American spy snuck into the German headquarters. After picking the lock on the safe, he then microfilmed the pages of the secret documents. When finished, he placed them back in the safe, escaped safely and no one was the wiser. My thought, "Why not do the same with this book?"
Wearing latex gloves I spent the next hour taking a digital picture of each page. When done I downloaded each to a file on my laptop then moved each file into a folder named "Cindy," after the ex-wife. I figure the file, like her, was nothing but trouble. Finished, I took the memory card from the camera and placed it in the left front pocket of my pants. Now came the hard part, finding a good place to hide the book.
Scanning my office, there were a number of possibilities: the bookshelf, behind a picture, taped to the bottom of a drawer. But those were places even a stupid person, like my two visitors earlier, would look. There just had to be a place, but where? It has been said the best place to hide something is in plain sight. And there it was. Sitting in plain sight next to the wall where everyone could see it—the shred bin. Placing the book in the zip-lock bag, I dropped it through the opening. Since it was secure, meaning Emily and I had the only keys, there was no need to worry about it accidentally being shredded. Perfect.
Assuming the FBI would leave me a tail, after all they did before, I decided to play a game they taught me. A game called "decoy." Taking the old Day-Timer Emily brought, I wrapped it in the original packing paper. When going to meet Vince it would be carried conspicuously. If the Feds left me a tail, they would probably mistake it for the package. Question: would they make a move to take it? And if so, how bold would they be?
Opening my desk drawer I grabbed the Glock. There was no hesitation inserting the clip and racking the slide. Now normally I wouldn't think about carrying a gun to a meeting with the Feds, but if these guys had gone rogue they would be playing by a different set of rules—their own. Putting on my "flasher coat," I placed the Glock in the right pocket leaving the coat unbuttoned. With the package in hand I headed through the outer office advising the ladies I would be back in an hour. Emily announced the mailroom had just delivered the mail and there was something special for me. I told her to put it on my desk.
In the lobby I stopped before proceeding to the sidewalk and called Vince. He answered on the first ring.
"You at the bar yet?"
"Did you already order our drinks?"
"Well, leave them there for a minute and step outside."
"Are you packing?"
"Good. If I'm right, you're going to see a show."
"No, I don't think I'll need any help. Just watch inconspicuously. But if someone, including me draws a weapon, come running."
Outside on the icy curb I stood with my hands in my pockets. The Day-Timer was held against my body at elbow level by my arm—a firm but not secure grip. It had been snowing in Seattle through the weekend. Though the sun had broken through the clouds it was still cold, which was a good excuse for the "flasher coat." Its bright rays bounced off the fresh snow and ice creating a glare, giving a viable reason to wear sunglasses in January. To the north, you could see the dark clouds moving in fast. More snow was on the way.
Vince was now standing across the street. His hand was under his jacket. Using the reflection of the coffee place's large window (a trick I've used before), I panned the area around me to see if someone, anyone, looked suspicious. It didn't take long to find them.
Excerpted from The Peacoat by G. William Parker Copyright © 2012 by G. William Parker. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A great sequel to The Fifth Woman! There are plenties of clues to tease the reader along the way. I would have enjoyed the early portion of the book even more if I had read The Peacock shortly after finishing The Fifth Woman, before I had the opportunity to forget some of the details of the various characters. Parker provides sufficient information along the way, though, for The Peacoat to stand alone if the reader has not enjoyed the previous book. I can't wait for book three!
In this sequel to The Fifth Woman, Rick Morgan painstakingly assembles the pieces to an intricate puzzle, to reveal a secret long hidden. The plot twists kept me up late into the night, and I found myself constantly mulling over the details, racing against Rick to find the answer before the conclusion. And even though I didn't win that race, the ending was both surprising and utterly satisfying.
. This second book in the series was awesome!! The minute I started reading, I couldn't put it down. The story was captivating and had me hooked. Again, another surprise ending!! I can't wait until the next book! Great job! G. William Parker is such a great author.